Puslapio vaizdai

honor attaching to the age of a family, and the importance of health outside of, and above everything else in, its relation to the continuance of the family; and this, perhaps, influences the physical habits of the women even more than those of the men. Parents understand that a fine physique comes next after birth and wealth in its influence towards securing for the daughters a favorable marriage. The oldest son of an old family, or of a family that hopes to become old, would rarely be willing to ally himself with a physically weak woman without a good deal of compensation in the way of superior position or superior wealth. Hence physical training for the daughters is never lost sight of by the parents, and is eagerly accepted by the daughters themselves as soon as they have begun to consider the main chance in life.

The wealth and political power of the aristocracy makes them the natural social leaders, and the affectionate admiration in which they are held by the other classes is an additional reason why their manners and habits go down as the models through all grades of well-to-do life; and it is not too much to say, that the children of all these classes are so thoroughly trained into good physical habits that these habits remain with them as a second nature.

Looking to the lives of the families that make up the populations of American towns and cities, we find everywhere an effort to make the best possible appearance for the outlay of money. Except in the wealthiest families, the appearance exceeds the means, while, in consequence, the comfort is below what it ought to be. Good domestic service is scarce, and mothers can rarely free themselves from the intimate supervision of every department of the housekeeping, any more than they can from the constant oversight of the children. They can neither leave their homes in pursuit of health, nor send away the children; and the governess, so indispensable a help in an English family, is rarely seen with us. In the place of home instruction the children are sent to school, and this often interferes with health by preventing the application of proper and timely restoratives. The child is unwilling to fall behind his class, and this leads the parents to neglect the remedies that could readily be applied under the system of tutors and governesses. While English mothers only occasionally see their children, American mothers are almost constantly with them

night and day. This is due largely to the inferior quality of the help, but not a little to the national sentiment that imposes this upon the mother as an unconditional duty. The orderly administrative English woman contents herself with seeing that her children are well taken care of. The more sympathetic and affectionate American woman overwearies herself in devoting her constant personal attention to their care. Children are too little in the open air; nurses are untrustworthy; but, more than this, there is not with us, as there is with the English, a systematic plan of keeping them in the open air just as there is of giving them food. The absence of a regular system is largely due to the changing conditions of our families. Our farmers have no occasion to trouble themselves about fresh air and exercise. Enough of these are incident to their regular duties, and the children are put out of doors to save the trouble of taking care of them in the house. When the sons and daughters of these farmers set up life in the city, they do not consider the changes that ought to be made in the domestic regimen. They are intent upon the idea of economizing and getting forward. American thought limits itself to the present generation. No one thinks about "founding a family;" and, as a matter of fact, very few families remain long upon the foundation energetic parents have made for them. There is little thought about health except as a means of present success. The continuance of the family scarcely enters into the consideration.

As our families advance in wealth the natural routine of duties for the women involves less exercise, and as a sanitary offset, there should be a corresponding increase of artificial exercise; but this is not generally the case. They lack the habit and appetite for out-of-door exercise that belong to English women of corresponding wealth. The life in every respect is quite irregular. Families do not remain long enough in the same grade of wealth to allow the different elements of their lives to get well adjusted. Our town people spend very little time in the country. fathers and sons are in business, and cannot get away except for a very short holiday at best. Good, unambitious clerks, like good, unambitious domestic servants, are scarce.

Those below the ranks of the decidedly wealthy rarely get out of town even for a

those against whom no suspicion could rest, that they had injured their health by overwork. The best scholars sometimes injure their health by too close confinement to their studies; but as a matter of fact, I am certain that they oftener protect it by the more regular habits which their school-work induces, and by having before them an aim for the accomplishment of which health is necessary. And if we look to the women who are studying in the colleges, we shall find this to hold true in a still greater degree. These young women are considerably above the average of women in health, and the records show they are not more frequently incapacitated for their regular work than the young men are. Any one who has observed Antioch College as I have, is forced to say that it is not the hardest students who are most likely to decline in health. The greater intelligence and self-control lead to more sanitary habits which offset the severer work.

few weeks, unless driven by exhaustion and incipient disease. There is no regular provision for outings as with the English, in order to avoid the conditions where disease will be possible. But the course pursued by the English would be impossible for us. Our life does not afford the conditions. We have no cheap railway trains, because we have not a large class of people who are willing openly to avow the social position that traveling by cheap trains indicate. There is little cheap board to be got. Our country people and villagers will not be troubled with strangers who do not pay them well. A demand for cheap country board would doubtless create a supply, but the trouble lies in this, that there is no national consciousness of the importance of health, nor an habituated instinct towards the best methods of securing it. But scarcely more is to be attributed to want of a regular system of out-of-door exercise and outings, than to the irregularity in the food, which is equally dependent upon the same absence of a caste condition of society. It is not our farmers, nor, for the most part, our "old fam-glish men; and in both cases I am satisfied ilies," but the people, who have come into new conditions of wealth and new habits of life, that suffer the ills that result from bad digestion.

Society is very exhausting to American women. Girls know that their marriage prospects depend largely upon the personal impression they make. Hence there is a constant effort to produce an effect in dress, in manner, and in conversation; and all American women know the value of these personal matters in securing social consideration. On the other hand, an English woman understands that when her name has been announced, she has only to sit on quiet exhibition, and await the attentions that may come to her.

Among our town populations I am quite certain that the health of the women is inferior to that of the men. Without having accurate statistics to exhibit, I have the impression that girls are more frequently detained from school on account of illness than boys are, and that a larger proportion of the women are disabled from full regular work than of the men. But if we examine carefully the school life of our girls, we shall find that the origin of this ill-health can not be attributed to the severe study. The records of any school will show that the majority of those withdrawn on account of ill-health are VOL. VII.-48

American women suffer no more in comparison with English women than American men suffer in comparison with En

that the real difference is not quite what it appears to be to a superficial observer. The brilliant complexion of English people is doubtless largely attributable to the damp air, which shows its influence upon Americans who reside here. As to the origin of the very plump, meaty-looking muscles that so often characterize middleaged English men and women, particularly in the less refined ranks of life, I am not quite certain. Ireland and Scotland have the same climate, but the physical aspect of the people is about half-way between that of America and England. We might attribute it to race, and look over to the Teutons on the other side of the channel; but, unfortunately for this, the members of the Society of Friends exhibit almost nothing of this English peculiarity, and yet they stand high when ranked according to health. I am disposed to believe it is due to the heavy beer and wine which the Friends, Irish and Scotch use more sparingly than the average English people.

When we come to test English women by what they consider their capacity to meet the regular duties of life, or to do severe exceptional work, they do not seem to me to have so great advantage over American women as one might expect. It is no very uncommon thing in England for a girl between the ages of eighteen and

twenty-five to be one or two years prostrated on her couch; and I know a good many older women who have been equally unfortunate. I do not chance to know a single American girl who has been an invalid for a similar length of time, and only a very few older women; and, what is very strange, these English girls and women look pretty well all the time. They do not lose their flesh nor their color.

English women are constantly complaining of "bad nights," and breakfasting in their chambers, when they do not look ill. They seem to me to lack the nervous energy, or will-power, that enables our women to struggle against pain and weakness. Among the women who are doing public work, the women who are pressing on the educational and franchise movements in England, I do not know one who would think herself capable of the exhausting work that several of ours go through; and very generally they are less disposed to undergo fatigue than our women are, except in the matter of long walks and rides. Whether this difference is to be attributed wholly to habit, or partly to a peculiar faculty of endurance in our women, I am unable to say; but as a matter of fact, in every grade of life, English women not only do not take upon themselves the severe work of our women, but they would not think themselves capable of it.

The most of the ill health of this country, whether it shows itself in protracted invalidism or acute illness, is caused by gout, rheumatism, and chest and nervous diseases, all of which point to the climate and luxurious living. Our illnesses, aside from those caused by the malaria, particularly among the women, are largely due to weakness, which, in many cases, is to be attributed to over-exhaustion, and in many more to the lack of exercise and fresh air, and irregularities in the food. It is often said that American families decline in vigor after a few generations, and the small New England households are instanced as proof; but, even without any statistical reference, the consideration of our physic-| al habits would afford a sufficient basis for this prediction.

The climate is against us as compared with England, and in the free struggle for social position that our life affords, doubtless the fittest survives; but a large number of the weaker come to an untimely end, and the strongest have their vigor impaired.

In the changing conditions of our families, it is impossible for us to have fixed sanitary habits adopted to the different grades of wealth, and we must substitute an active intelligence in its place. The increased study of physiology during the last twenty years has done something to awaken the public to a consciousness of the importance of exercise, fresh air, and a wholesome diet. But these principles need to be instilled at a very early age, when they can mold the tastes, just as the English habits do.

Kinder-Garten schools would do much to relieve mothers of the care of the young children, and, if properly managed, would secure for the children the needed open air exercise, and a general healthful training far superior to what they are likely to get from their nurses and overburdened mothers; and I am disposed to believe we would find it no inconsiderable advantage to adopt the system, very common in Germany, of employing the physician by the year, whose interest then is to keep the family well, rather than to effect remarkable cures; and under this system more particularly, I am certain, too much stress can not be laid upon the importance of competent women physicians for women and children, and especially in consideration of the care they would be able to take of young girls.

Unfortunately, we have an ill-trained eye in this matter of physique. Accustomed to see the women of our leading families, the best-bred women, slight and thin, we naturally associate this physique with refinement and ladyhood, and it comes to be the ideal which is admired, and to which girls are stimulated to aspire. The large feet, thick waists, and strong hands of English women might be thought very suitable for comfortable and efficient wives and mothers in America, but they would not help women to marry.

[ocr errors][ocr errors]

Jules Verne's New Story.


We have provided for our readers a rare treat in the story by JULES VERNE, which we begin with the present issue. It is to be well translated from the French periodical in which it appears, and will be brilliantly illustrated by the original engravings. The American public has familiarized itself with the exquisitely ingenious works of this author, and the French publisher, in his preface to the new story-"The Mysterious Island"-declares it to be the best book he has written.

From this preface we gather that M. Verne is not content with De Foe's Robinson Crusoe, and

Wyss' Swiss Family Robinson. They did well enough for simple, unscientific times, but now it is necessary to show how scientific castaways can manage to live, without a vessel to break up, and convenient domestic animals at hand, with other necessaries which "turn up," always at the right time. This will give the author his finest field, and the curious reader cannot fail to be immensely interested. The story will not be less attractive from the fact that the characters start from America in a balloon, and are American,-at least as American as Jules Verne can make them.

The Taxation of Church Property.

THE taxation of church property has recently become a topic of public discussion, and promises to be more than of passing interest and importance. We do not approach it with any decided opinions, and we hope that the public will not do so, for there are two sides to the question, and the advocates of taxation are armed with specious if not strong arguments. Those who are interested in church property, knowing how hard it is to collect and embody it, and how severe the tax already is for the support of the institutions which it represents, will naturally protest that any new taxation would be intolerable. They regard the church, in its various fields and denominations, as a great, benevolent institution-a voluntary gift to the country and the world for the country's and the world's good. It is not a business enterprise; it is not a productive industry; it procures no material return. In short, the money paid into the church is money for ever parted with, and, as it goes into a charity, ought not to be taxed. Indeed, taxation would be regarded as a new obstacle to the spread of Christianity, which could not be imposed save through an un-Christian or anti-Christian motive. The church is regarded not only as a religious institution, but as a great public school of morals, which ought not to be taxed any more than the public schools for educational purposes are taxed. Indeed, it is taken for granted that the State is under

[blocks in formation]

That there is something worthy of consideration in this view of the case is not to be questioned, but the advocates of taxation, speaking on behalf of the State, have a case also. We cannot better show this than by giving an extreme illustration. It is said, for instance, that there are in Rome three hundred and sixty-five churches, or one for every day in the year. The enormous piles of church architecture, the gold and jewels, the wonderful treasures of art contained in the churches and re

ligious houses of Rome, have absolutely absorbed the wealth of the State. To suppose that pure and undefiled religion has sequestered all this property, simply for the good of the State, is to suppose an absurdity. Religion has had something to do with it, but superstitious fear has played its part. Many a man who has lived an ungodly life has sought to purchase peace for his soul by death-bed bequests to the church. These bequests have been made, not because the church needed them, but because the givers supposed they needed to make them. Nobody supposes that Rome needs all the churches she possesses, and, in her case, at least, the State has the right to feel that it has been cheated out of its taxable property. The people are poor. They are ground into the earth almost by taxation, while the church is rich. A million dollars taken from the taxable property of the State and put into a church, or a number of churches, increases the taxation of every dollar left remaining. This is what the destruction of monasteries and nunneries at various crises of European history has meant. Church property has called for, and insisted on, the protection of the State, while not lifting the burdens of the State by one of its fingers. There have been brotherhoods of beggars, in the name of religion, who ceased to be producers, and self-supporters, and defenders of the State. What wonder that the State has occasionally scattered them? The State must live, and when a church absolutely sucks into itself all its sources of revenue, what is left but taxation or destruction?

The Protestant mind can comprehend this. It can also look on and see the Catholics in this country piling up cathedrals, buying land for an advance, and thus taking it out of the reach of taxation, and absorbing capital by the million with steadily advancing accretions, and see that something is going on here very much like what has been going on in Europe for centuries, with disastrous results to State interests. It can see this, and can wish that some, thing could be done to prevent it; but it cannot see that taxation ought to be applied to Protestant church property.

Let us, then, suppose a case. Suppose that those who have the care of the State, or those who have a lively and intelligent interest in State affairs, see that, in most of the towns of the United States, there are two church sittings provided for every one there is occupied, and that half of the property set aside to church use, and thus removed from taxation, is really devoted to the advancement of sectarian interests; that if many of the feeble church organizations were killed it would be better for the community, and better for the real interests of Christianity, while it would considerably increase the taxable property of the State; that millions of property are invested in churches that are marvels of costliness and luxury; that for every dollar thus uselessly retired from taxable conditions the tax upon all remaining property is increased, what then? When they see a million dollars put into a church that for every practical purpose could be built for a quarter of that sum, what then? When they see churches which are simply combinations of private proprietary interests, which are bought and sold like stocks, or fractions of any other private property. what then? The Catholics, at least, furnish houses where all who come are theoretically on an equality: do the Protestants do this?

How far our supposed case is a representation of a reality we leave our readers to judge. What we have said we have said by way of suggestion of the lines of argument for and against taxation. We give no opinion upon either side, but we would like to have the Christian world understand that if this question shall ever rise, in a practical form, there are weak points in its armor that must be mended before it can hope for a successful struggle. In- | deed, we do not think the question would ever have arisen but for the schemes of church aggrandizement that are visible on every hand. If the church had always confined itself to the simple work of doing good to the country and the world, and if it had not retired from taxable property untold millions that are practically useless for that purpose, the State would have had nothing to say except to give it God-speed. The question whether the church would be benefited or harmed by the taxation of its property is an open one. It may be that such taxation must come at last, as the only corrective of the disposition to grasp at power, whether social or political, on the part of the church, or to strive after sectarian aggrandizement.

Social Usages.

THERE are some details of social usage that are so childish, and, withal, so inconvenient and burdensome, as to demand a public denunciation. Nobody likes them, everybody desires to be relieved of them, and all seem to be powerless to reform them. Their burdensomeness forms a serious bar to social❘ intercourse, and their only tendency is to drive some


men and women out of society altogether, and to worry and weary those who remain subject to them. A person is invited to an "informal" reception. Special pains may be, and often are, taken to impress him with the idea that such a reception is, indeed, "informal." The idea is very good. proposition is to bring together a circle of friends in a familiar way, without expensive dress on the part of the guests, or an expensive entertainment on the part of the hostess. It is an attractive sort of invitation, but woe to the man or woman who accepts it according to its terms. The man and the woman who attend in anything but full evening dress will find themselves singular, and most uncomfortable. They have taken their hostess at her word, and find, instead of a party of familiar friends, who can sit down and enjoy an hour of social intercourse, a highly dressed "jam," which comes late and departs late, and which finds itself treated to an elaborate supper. People have, at last, learned that if there is anything that must be dressed for elaborately, it is an "informal reception,” and that there is really no greater cheat than the invitation which called them together. The consequence is that we have no really informal gatherings of men and women in what we call "society."

Again, when we invite a guest to dinner at six, we expect him to come at, or before, that hour. It is counted the height of impoliteness for a guest to keep a dinner waiting a moment. This is just as it should be; but when we invite a guest at eight o'clock, to a reception or a party, what then? Why, we do not expect him until nine, we do not ordinarily get him until half-past nine, and are not surprised at his entrance at any subsequent hour before the company breaks up. Why the rule should be good for the dinner that is not good for the assembly does not appear, except that in the case of the dinner it is a question of hot or cold soup that is to be decided. At eight the host and hostess are in their vacant rooms, be-gloved and waiting. They are there for an hour, wishing their guests would come. At last one makes his appearance, and with a guilty look whips up stairs. Then he waits until another joins him, and another, and another, and so at last he descends. All have lost the only opportunity they will have for a pleasant chat with those who have invited them-lost, indeed, the only chance they will have of a look at the flowers, at the pictures, and the enjoyment of an undisturbed chat, with comfortable seats and surroundings. All dread to be first, and so all wait, and thus thrust far into the night their hour of departure. The company that should be at home at eleven, and in bed at half-past eleven, do not find their beds until one the next morning.

To the man of business such hours as mingling in social life imposes are simply killing. They are the same to women who have family duties to perform. They wipe the bloom of youth from the cheeks of girls in from one to three seasons; and thus social

« AnkstesnisTęsti »