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life with which we are cursed, I must allude to another monstrous evil which has already been hinted at, growing out of the senseless and sensualized conceptions of our people; I refer to the boardinghouse system. Such is the scale of expense which young married people find it essential to adopt, that housekeeping is impossible. Lodgings are therefore taken; where the childless wife, for eight-tenths of
}; her waking hours, is thrown upon her own resources, among such acquaintances and associates as the common table may bring her into contact with. Her life is one of leisure, if not one of ease and indolence; and who does not know that the idle brain is the devil's work-shop? The female inmates of these houses lounge in each others' apartments; discuss the gossip of the house; “read, mark, learn, and inwardly digest” the records of divorce trials, and such other tit-bits of scandal as our family newspapers” provide them withal; stroll out for an hour's aimless walk; return to loll or sleep for an hour, and then dress for dinner. The narrow income of the clerk or younger partner fails to supply the youthful wife with all the expensive decorations which she deems requisite to show off her fine person. The chances are that she will begin by ogling and end with infamy; that her expensive tastes will be gratified by her husband's recourse to fraud, or her own to more ignominious means. I cannot but regard the growing habit of boarding, with the train of risks, evils and horrors inseparable from it, as one of the most terrible dangers by which the domestic and social interests of our country are threatened.
Another appalling fact demands an instant's consideration. The exaggerated notions with which our young people are imbued, are tending more and more every year, to prevent marriage between persons who, but for their ill-judged and absurd views, might be most fitly wedded. The result is that many of our very best young women must linger out unmated lives, while young men with less scruple, and less respect for public opinion, accept the horrible alternative of an illegitimate connection, thus deliberately dedicating themselves to vice and crime. Ineither overstate nor croak.
These are truths patent to every one familiar with the city life of this country. They are facts pregnant with mischief and disaster. They are facts chargeable upon the ill-regulated, eren monstrous social life of the country. They are facts demanding a prompt, full, earnest consideration from the best men and women among us.
From whom have we a right to ask the initiation of reform? Who, by their constitution, their position in the family, the delicate pervasive influence with which they are endowed, may inaugurate the revolution and carry it forward to a successful termination The child is father of the man; and the child's char
WOMAN THE TRUE REFORMER.
acter is moulded by the mother. The nurseries of to-day contain the Society and the State of the next generation ; and in the child's world, woman's dignity and sway are regal. I have little confidence in political or moral reforms; in measures which attempt to persuade and rectify men. If society is purged it must be by the sanctification of home, by the sway of female influence over childhood. I have frequently heard it complained by women who revolted at the narrow theatre assigned them, “ You send us back to the care of children; condemn us to be nurses and enslave us in the drudgery of the family." Let us calmly survey the lot of the housekeeping wife and mother. The school-girl pines for the free air and joys of society. She is enfranchised at sixteen or eighteen; and leaving the dull routine and harsh trammels, as she esteems them, of her novitiate, she bounds with a glad step into the sunny places of society. She ceases to woo the muses, that herself may be wooed in turn; and either devotes a few years to the jilting career of a coquette, or quickly surrenders her heart and her hand to the man of her choice. Hitherto she has been under parental conservatism and restraint; her aspirations have been checked, her movements controlled, and many of her ó rights” denied ; but now she will be free. The future lies before her, a garden of pleasure. It is a land of enchantment. Alas! the nuptial blessing
is hardly uttered before the spell is broken, and she finds her future a schoolmaster more harsh and stern than any she has yet known. Love is an episode in the life of most men; a brilliant, humanizing, divine episode; and her husband is not an exception to the rule. He came to her decked with garlands, and moving to the soft voice of music. She is no sooner his bride, than he doffs his paradisiacal habiliments and manners, and returns to his working-day world, where he is soon absorbed almost as much as if there were no such person as herself in existence.
For a while she carries the freshness of her hope and her youth along with her. After a time is heard a faint, childish wail. A fountain of blessings is opened in her breast, of whose depth and sweetness she never before had dreamed; but with the joy of motherhood comes its care. Years come and go. A brood of little ones encompass her; and now her need is sore. The endless details of housekeeping, the necessity of regulating her expenditures in accordance with her husband's income, the ceaseless use of the needle, the sleepless vigilance for the welfare of her best beloved, the thousand anxieties and toils which men never reckon, never appreciate, duties in the performance of which she can hope for no sympathy, bind upon her shoulders a load, and fasten in her heart a weight of anxiety, which threaten to crush her to the earth. She has scarce a
moment which she can call her own. Once she dreamed of literary culture; the sweet companion
; ship of books, the refining influences of art, the blessings of gracious hospitality; but now she has neither leisure nor heart to bestow upon them. Many a time she piteously murmurs, “ Why was I born? Am I not a slave ?" Sickness, disappointment, sorrow, do their work upon her; she is weary and heavy laden. The conflicting tempers of her children are to be regulated; their tumultuous little world harmonized, their ailments nursed, their afflictions softered. The attempt to bring a clean thing out of an unclean must be made, by governing awkward, deceitful, treacherous Irish domestics. Her life seems consumed by trifles, and yet their accumulation threatens a devouring fire of inextinguishable fagots. There can be no continuous effort in any one direction, because of momentary interruption. Her existence is broken into fragments. The constant calls upon her involve her in perplexity, and her steps are ever taken amidst confusion. And then come the seasons when the pulse stands still, as she bends in an agony of suspense over the sick child, in whose breast the wave of life ebbs and flows uncertainly. The issue is determined, and there is a vacant place in the little bed, and another tiny hillock in the grave-yard. The days dedicated to petty cares are darkened by the shadow of a great grief, and the light broken slumbers of a mother are