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The educated poor- the thousands who have "seen better days" and who have no training which can serve them when evil days have come -form often the most hopeless class of would-be earners. Cultivated, yet cultivated in that halfway fashion which is one of the curses of American society, they had ample power for pretty work which could not stand before any genu
wastes the most susceptible years in mere routine, and makes any genuine education of brain and heart and hand the almost unattainable thing.
Few of the recruits who fill the new building have any knowledge of the various forms of industrial training which have kept pace with the work of the Association and are now
A COMMITTEE MEETING.
in more definite shape than anything yet attempted since the organization of Dr. Felix Adler's most successful work. Such training for the children of the poor began as a branch of practical philanthropy, and the endeavor to teach domestic industrial arts to children whose home-life held no possibility of such knowledge. The Kitchen Garden Association, formally incorporated in 1880, had its origin in the endeavor of Miss Emily Huntingdon to apply some of the principles of Froebel's kindergarten system to domestic service, her theory taking form in an admirable little book published in 1878. Twenty-nine classes and 990 children were taught in New York alone during the first year, the results demonstrating the entire practicability of the idea, and 13 other cities at once organized similar classes.
Here then stand two phases of the work already accomplished for women in New York. They deal chiefly with a class to whom selfsupport was from the beginning a necessity. For another class no less needy, yet shrinking from any public recognition of such need, there was no provision, until wise heads and gentle hearts a few years ago made a way of escape.
ine criticism. So long as it meant merely the production of ornamental nothings for their own houses,- sketches, draperies, embroideries, decorated china, and the myriad possibilities of bric-à-brac,- they were safe, for critics and criticized were alike ignorant. But when an artistic production to be judged by artists became the question, once more the inherent falsity of the system of modern education demonstrated itself, and the wretched victims found themselves compelled to accept a fresh training and to demolish with all speed such foundations as they had counted firm and sure. The Decorative Art Society and the Associated Artists came to the rescue of the best order of intelligence in these directions, and with the Woman's Exchange have acted as a high training-school, the work accomplished in the last ten years showing what quick perception and patient effort have worked together to produce the results we see. In the Woman's Exchange the object was simply to offer a place where the handiwork of gentlewomen, of whatever nature, might be put on sale. Later, when success had become certain, the clear-headed projector of the undertaking told of her conster
nation at the first meeting, when "thirty almost worthless articles covered a small table, and letters in great numbers waited to be answered, from anxious women, wanting to know what would sell."
Naturally the Exchange became instantly a school. General intelligence did its usual good service as background, and out of sharp necessity was born the inspiration that gave invention and skill. Anything and everything good of its kind, from a pickle to a portière, found place in one or another department, and the
PHOTO-NEGATIVE RETOUCHING AND DRAWING FROM CASTS.
Exchange has been forced to enlarge its borders, the cheerful house at 329 Fifth Avenue overflowing with the handiwork of women. In seven years it has sent to its consignees $19,074.06, one woman alone receiving in a year over $1000, and eight societies have been established in other cities on the same plan.
The Associated Artists have taken but one side of the same work,-all that could properly come under the head of decorative art, and have done work of inestimable value in educating not only the worker but the buyer. A new sense has been born in both. The presiding officer, whose instinct for beauty is only less strong than her nice sense of what definition VOL. XXXVIII.-30.
best fits the word, has faced every obstacle of ignorance, prejudice, and a false standard of taste, and one after another seen them diminish to the vanishing-point. It was perfectly evident that the time was ripe for a more thorough education in artistic work, not alone as a means of help to workers to whom such outlet of energies was the only practicable one, but as a necessity for the people at large.
The tyranny of the Puritan creed trampled out and well-nigh obliterated any æsthetic sense, and our homes represented a consecrated ugliness against which few revolted, because few had the trained eye to distinguish ugliness from beauty. Yet an instinctive protest was made. The æsthetic sense was not dead, but sleeping; but save for the few who traveled, and thus discovered what part beauty had in life, there was small hint of awakening till the Decorative Art Society began its work. The
sense of harmony and fitness in color and fabric was an American possession, gradually discovering itself in the dress of our women, but our houses defied every law of taste. We have yet an infinite deal to learn. We still overload with ornament and are apt to measure by quantity rather than quality; but the tide has turned. The "impassioned seekers after the invisible truth and beauty and goodness" counted any earthly type a distraction from the contemplation of the heavenly. But they were idealists-the disciples, not of things as they are, but of things as they ought to be; and the time came when idealism asserted itself in other lines than the religious, and men claimed the long-withheld inheritance in every form of art. Everywhere the sense of beauty was groping its way to the light, and if its first glimpses held slight distortions, they were at least prophecies of something better to
To awaken even in faintest degree this sense of beauty is an instant enlargement of the poorest life, and it is hardly possible to exaggerate its influence on the utilitarian character of the average American, whose life is more barren of beauty than that of any civilized people under heaven. The old idealism had fallen and vanished in the struggle for life on a new continent and the growing passion for getting on, and only in a rousing and quickening of the sense in every child can there be hope of emancipation from the bondage that is the portion of all. To the student of social conditions this fact demonstrates itself at once, and such student alone can rightly estimate the value and importance of a work at which the mere utili
tarian sneers. Industrial art is a prime essential of the new industrial training, and is the first hint to the child of this generation of the beauty that coming generations will own. For such possession industrial education in its largest sense is the only foundation. With the many who accept it, as I have lately written elsewhere, "it stands merely an added capacity to make money, and if taken in its narrowest application this is all that it can do. Were this all, it would be simply an added impetus. towards the degeneration that money-making for the mere sake of money inevitably brings. But at its best, perfected as it has been by patient effort on the part of a few believers, it is far more than this. Added power to earn comes with it, but there comes also a love of the work itself, such as has had no place since the great guilds gave joyfully their few hours daily to the cathedrals whose stones were laid and cemented in love and hope and a knowledge of the beauty to come that long ago died out of any work the present knows. The builders had small book-knowledge. They could have been talked down by any public-school child in the second or third year. But they knew the meaning of beauty and order and law; and this trinity stands to-day, and will stand for many a generation to come, as an ideal to which we must return till like causes work again to like ends."
The factory dominates daily life. Wholesale manufacture, while it cheapens and gives to the mass the "store clothes" craved by the country lad, destroys all possibility of individual, characteristic work. Reaction is inevitable, and thus the meaning bound up in the phrase "handmade" has at last made itself plain, and the
true disciple of beauty revolts against the deadly monotony of factory production and demands that the human hand shall once more lend its mysterious quality to the fabric which long ago parted with it.
Thus an invaluable part of the work projected as well as that accomplished by the Associate Artists lies in the fact that this necessity has been recognized, and that through their means we see again the opening for the slower processes still in vogue in the mountains of the South, whose women have begun to ask what will sell. And broader outlook still is the possibility that in every quarter of the United States women may come to see how they may associate themselves together, settling upon what industry best suits their special locality, and developing it to its highest point. Thus far all work has been hap-hazard, the result of circumstance, seldom of concerted or deliberate action. A thousand opportunities all untried await women who must earn, but who have never yet sought to discover the real meaning of organization. Practically it is becoming the principle in all philanthropy; but it grows slowly, the intense individualism born of our principles and institutions dominating all life and thought. The organized charities, the Industrial Association, the many industrial schools, the kindergartens managed on this system, are all demonstrations of what may come when the laws of concerted action are taught us from the beginning; and in accepting this wisest type of socialism, the evils of socialism fall away.
I have dwelt at length upon this phase of
work, because to my mind its importance as a reconstructing agent can hardly be overestimated. What is true of one great city must, with certain exceptions, be true of all, and the theories that hold regeneration for one hold it for all. Were this article a catalogue of charities, a minutely detailed account of the noble work done by women for women, it would even then point to the same end. From the Wilson Industrial School- the pioneer of much of the work now going on under other names— to the latest trades-school, the one aim is to restore to labor the place it held in the old days, when the poorest cottage possessed what we know now as works of art, and the poorest child had its inheritance of beauty for eye and ear. To all such beauty is still possible, and once a national possession, grosser ideals fall away and new possibilities lie before every child of the Republic. The training-school underlies any and all work of the future. The women who work to-day in countless ways seeking to alter existing conditions know this as truth, and bend every energy towards reaching the children and setting their feet in the only path that leads to freedom or fulfillment of desire. We have had enough of charity. All that is needed now is simple justice - a chance for the child whose time to earn has not yet come; a chance for the earner, for whom life can be made less barren. Accept this, and institutionalism dies naturally. Reject it, and we remain at its mercy, and have no refuge save in never-ceasing additions to the long list, which, if it means honor to warm and tender hearts, means also unending shame to senseless heads.
We want no more institutions. Rather we want to empty those that already exist; and this will be done most effectually by precisely the order of work imperfectly recorded here.
It is not pessimism or even a momentary despair that impels the final word which must have place. We want no more institutions, and we want as little the palaces of pleasure which at present are the latest ideal in philanthropic work, unless, indeed, these palaces be owned and built by the people themselves. That there is need of them need not be affirmed, nor that in time every city will see great buildings dedicated to such happy uses.
"Every great city must have, every great city will have in time, its 'People's Palace,'" said an eager philanthropist not long ago. "Here we have the wealth to endow it, the poverty that needs such solace, and the philanthropy to utilize the first for the benefit of the second. Let us have more and more 'people's palaces.'"
Can there be any question of the beauty, the fitness, the justice of such action? For the writer the first doubt was silenced; but as, more and more, a question seemed involved, words were spoken for a few, that have reproduction here only because time appears to seal their truth, and to make such interrogation the first necessity for every eager worker. Till it arises, it is the instinct of such worker to urge the rich everywhere to give from their abundance towards the creation of such tre
mendous redemptive forces, and to bend every energy born of personal conviction to the same ends. Hope and desire and fruition seem marching hand in hand in this new path. Is it possible that it is still a side path, and that the king's highway to the Delectable Mountains has been missed? Can ardent souls have lost the way, and is the palace not the Palace of the Interpreter, but the fortress in which Giant Despair still crouches, and from which he will still issue to destroy? It is hard to question anything so beautiful, so filled with promise; hard to doubt where the best that man can do for man would seem to be at work; and yet never was there sterner need of question. Manhood is emasculated, freedom abolished, slavery of mind and soul perpetuated by every new form of charity; and there is no hint of anything but charity in these free schools, free baths, free concert halls, and all the appliances of the "palaces." Could they be built like the great cathedral in New York, from the small contributions of untold numbers, so that each might feel his or her personal share in work and ownership, this curse of mere charity might be annulled. But the gift of one or of many, to whom fortune may have come through a lifetime of oppressing their fellows, holds small justice. Better such return than none; yet for many of these givers the very stones will cry out and some day bear witness against them. The man who sees before him a Palace of Pleasure as the end for which he works is