Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 23.djvu/429

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415
EDITOR'S TABLE.

processes of gestation and lactation. But will progress, under such heroic interpretation, leave even this shred of a domestic sphere? Is not the stirpiculturist abroad with his lamentations over the evils of the unregulated multiplication of human beings, and is he not predicting the time when human perfection shall be attained through the total disappearance of present domestic relations, and their better discharge under the control of outside organization? Dr. Blackwell declares that the personal relations in the family are "a fixed and constant element"; what is her warrant for the declaration in the light of the slow-working progress she invokes.

Dr. Blackwell's argument rigidly carried out would sweep the family and the home out of existence, and merge it in the outside life of society, where all regulation falls within the province of the state. Her reasoning goes to the most chimerical lengths through a failure to recognize that there is a permanent sphere of legitimate distinctive womanly work. Her affirmations that "there is no one kind of work which absolutely belongs to domestic life," and that "there is no necessary connection between domestic life and domestic work" can not for a moment be accepted as true. They are no more true than would be the proposition that there is no necessary connection between life and work at all. There are plenty of people who live and never work, but it remains true that human life is inexorably conditioned upon work. There are women who never do domestic work, who abandon the home, and live in hotels; but it is still true that domestic work is a condition and necessity of home-life—sotrue that, if domestic work disappears, the home is impossible. If there is a house, there must be housekeeping; if there are children, they must be cared for; if there are invalids, they must be nursed; if there is food, it must be prepared, and all these things involve work as a simple practical necessity. Because there has been a great deal of foreign and unfeminine work carried on in the household is no reason for asserting that there is no such thing as proper feminine domestic work. The home has, of course, been burdened by these industries, and women made drudges to them, and we all bid Godspeed to their exodus. But for what reason? That woman may be released from exhausting, unfeminine occupations, togive more strength to the proper performance of her legitimate duties as wife, mother, and household administrator. Weaving, cheese-making, and domestic manufactures stand in no relation to the essential nature and characteristic duties of woman. Such occupations have robbed her of leisure for self-improvement, and want of suitable culture has hitherto prevented the mass of women from properly performing the duties which lie in the very heart of home. Every step of progress from the primitive state to the present has been in the direction of woman's emancipation from the hardships of physical labor, and coincident with this relief there has been an improvement in her nature, the gentler virtues appear and the finer qualities of the feminine mind are developed. But the ideal of womanhood toward which such considerable progress has been made is not the fine lady, idle of hand and brain, the gadding and gossiping woman of leisure and society, who evades or discharges with wretched incompetence the cares and responsibilities of domestic life. Womanly talent and cultivation are demanded in the line of strictly feminine occupations, that the home shall become more and more instead of less and less in the social life of the future.

We have no space here even to enumerate the varied forms of womanly activity involved in the home, when all its extrinsic burdens are removed. That which progress must bring us is not exemption from them, but their more