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order upon public occasions, than her presence at the polls, or in the halls of legislation.
But it is too frequently the case that the housewife's cares absorb her time so much that she has but little left for educating her children and for the culture of her own mind, as deficiencies are disclosed and higher aspirations developed. Hence maternal influence is too little felt in society. The young and frivolous give it its tone. Woman's influence is too valuable to be thus neutralized. Her delicate sensibilities and virtuous inclinations indicate her as the pioneer in moral, æsthetic and hygienic reforms. To secure this end matrimony should afford opportunities for the health and beauty of maidenhood to ripen into graceful and dignified womanhood, and time for the many important services woman can render. Numerous obstacles, unavoidable in a measure, perhaps, have heretofore supervened to prevent this desirable consummation. We have, however, profound faith in the power of human genius, in view of the mechanical triumphs of the last century. The steam-engine, the railroad and steamboat, the spinning jenny, the cotton gin, the printing-press, the nail and the pin machines, and the magnetic telegraph have revolutionized the world of manufactures and commerce. Aid has now been vouchsafed to woman in the household, and genius has achieved in her behalf one of its grandest triumphs. We allude to the sewing machine. The point is well established, that nearly all kinds of sewing can be done better and cheaper by machinery than by hand, and at a vast saving of time and health.
Although the evils of hand-sewing have fallen heavily enough upon wives and mothers, with their alternation of labor, the effects upon the health, virtue, and happiness of professed needle-women are frightful in the extreme. Poverty, sickness, hunger, rags, and general squalor are too generally its concomitants. Avarice, extortion, and lust here find their victims. The confined attitude, the stooping posture, cramping the lungs and stomach, retarding respiration, circulation, and digestion, the curvature of the spine, the paralyzing stillness of the limbs, the minute, unremitting attention required, the strain upon the eyes over a monotonous task, have told with terrible effect upon the needle-woman.
And what are its wages?
A bed of straw, a crust of bread, and rags.
It is the most effective device of the arch enemy of mankind to perpetuate the original curse beginning with the fig-leaf aprons in the garden of paradise. War and the wardrobe may count their victims by millions. The glittering needle and the gleaming sword have pierced the hearts of the lovely, and drank the blood of the brave. A change is taking place. The sewing machine has revolutionized the drudgery of the seamstress. Doubtless this will cause individual suffering, but where it will inconvenience one needlewoman it will benefit ten housekeepers. No great change can take place in society without deleteriously affecting some. Should the prayers of saints be answered, and the millennium down upon us now, judges, and lawyers, and manufacturers of locks and safes might be injured in their business. If thousands of women were released from bondage of any kind, it would momentarily derange the channels of business, but the community would gain by it. Still the change now will not be so great as has. been imagined. New applications of sewing will be invented; garments will be better made, and seamstresses will be better paid. At any rate, society will be greatly benefited by the change which the sewing machine will effect.
Prior to 1846 no sewing-machine had been constructed of any great practical value. In 1846 Elias Howe, Jr., patented his shuttle "lock-stitch" machine. The commissioner of patents remarks, in the report for that year, that this inventor had struck out a new path, and that it would be impossible by any other known means to sew as fast or as well. The stitch invented by Mr. Howe is illustrated by the following diagram, and may be made by hand, thus:
Take a soft piece of cloth, (c,) and two needles threaded in the ordinary manner. Tie the long ends of the thread together, and thrust the needle h head foremost partly through the cloth. Withdraw it slightly, and through the loop formed of the thread e, between the cloth and the eye of the needle c, pass the other needle, carrying the thread z. Withdraw the needle h, inclosing the lower thread, z, and the two will be interlocked, and the point of interlocking may be drawn into the fabric. Each surface of the cloth will show a seam of similar appearance, a single line of thread extending from stitch to stitch. The thread e, seen up the upper surface, is not seen at each alternate stitch upon the lower surface and the upper surface, but that seen upon the lower surface is exclusively the thread z. In making this stitch, Mr. Howe employed a needle with the eye near the point, to carry the upper thread through the fabric. The loop being formed below the cloth, the lower thread was passed through it by a shuttle, carrying a small bobbin, upon which it was wound. The cloth to be sewed was suspended from a plate upon small pins projecting from it; and was carried forward before the needle, which had a horizontal action. This machine was better adapted to seaming by giving the needle a perpendicular action, laying the cloth to be sewed upon a plate beneath the needle, and moving it forward by a wheel with points upon its periphery, which penetrated the cloth. The stitch invented by Mr. Howe is all that can be required for sewing, and no attempts have been made to improve it. The seam formed presents a beautiful appearance upon each side, and cannot be raveled; and when made of suitable thread, is as durable as the fabric sewed.
Many attempts have been made to improve the shuttle sewing-machine, but with little success. Mr. A. B. Wilson patented a machine in 1851, making the Howe "lock-stitch," but by a mechanism almost totally different, in which objections to the shuttle-machine were obviated, and many improvements were added. The Wheeler & Wilson machine is constructed according to his patents; and as it combines the qualities of a good sewing machine for families and general use, we have selected it to give point to our description, without, of course, intending to VOL. XII.-39
disparage, or undervalue any of the other machines now in use.
The merits of Mr. Wilson's invention consist in a "rotating hook," by which the stitch is taken; the "rough surface intermitting feed," by which the cloth is fed forward, and the length of stitch regulated; and the "yielding spring pressure," by which the cloth is held upon the cloth plate. The stitch may be made by hand in a manner analogous to the method of making it by Mr. Wilson's invention. This is illustrated by the following figure :
Take a needle, (h,) threaded in the ordinary manner, and a small ball of thread, (f;) tie the ends of the threads together, leaving an inch or two of the thread () unrolled from the ball. Thrust the needle (h) through the fabric, head first; withdraw it slightly, enlarge the loop of the thread, (e,) and pass it around the ball of thread, (f) instead of passing the ball through it; then withdraw the needle entirely from the fabric, and draw up the loop, so that the points of the threads (e and z) interlocked, will be in the center of the fabric.
In Mr. Wilson's invention the thread, upon being thrust through the fabric by an eye-pointed needle, is caught by a rotating hook; the loop is enlarged, and carried around a bobbin containing the lower thread, as the loop is carried around the ball of thread in the foregoing figure.
Various appliances are furnished for regulating the width of hems, etc. 42, 42, Fig. I, represents a guage for this purpose which is attached to the fixed arm, 19, by the thumb-screw, 43, and extends down to the cloth plate, with various projections for guiding the work. It is slotted and jointed so as to be adjusted in various positions, and is removed when not in use. A smaller one, very commonly used, but not in conjunction with the larger, is fastened to the cloth plate at the screw hole, 44.
A "hemmer," 48, is furnished for turning hems of any width, as 50 and 51. This is substituted for that purpose in place of the cloth presser, 20. The hem is turned and stitched in passing through the machine. Motion is communicated to the needle arm, connecting by a driving wheel which may be arranged so as to give more or less strokes of the needle at each tread of the foot.
Five is the usual number, and from seven hundred to one thousand stitches are made per minute, while the number that can be made by hand is ordinarily not more than forty or fifty. Seven hundred stitches form upward of one yard of seam with fifteen stitches to the inch, and about the same length of thread is required as in ordinary back stitching. The machine makes but little noise, so little
that one hundred operated in the same room would not interrupt ordinary conversation. The bearings are so light and the friction surfaces so small that the driving power is merely nominal. The machine is placed upon a neat work-table, or furnished with a cabinet, as at the head of this article, and driven by a band and sandal treadles. The position of the operator is healthful, and the exercise of the lower limbs in using it is invigorating.
Baby-dresses and web-like mouchoirs are headed with pearly stitches; a shirt bosom, covered with tiny plates, is completed almost while a lady could sew a needleful of thread; three dresses, heavy or fine, are made in less time than is required to fit one; coats, vests, and the entire catalogue of the wardrobe, are gone through with railroad celerity. In hemming, seaming, quilting, gathering hemming, felling, and all sorts of fancy stitching, it rivals the daintiest work of the whitest fingers, and works with more thoroughness than the most careful housewife. The housekeeper is soon surprised at the facility with which she runs up seams, sews on facings, tucks, hems, plaits, gathers, quilts, stitches on cord, sews on bindings, etc., and wonders how she has
endured the drudgery of hand-sewing so long. Her spring and fall sewing, which dragged through the entire year with little intermission, becomes the work of a few days with this machine, and that relief is afforded which is necessary for women to discharge their proper duties. It only requires a drop of oil, now and then, and you have a ten-power seamstress in your parlor, eating nothing, asking no questions, and never singing the mournful "Song of the Shirt." It is warranted to work equally well upon silk, linen, woolen, and cotton goods, from the lightest muslin to the heaviest cloths, and is warranted one year, a sufficient time to test it thoroughly.
Full instruction for operating it is given at the sales-room. When sent some distance, so that personal instruction is inconvenient, a card of directions is sent, which are a sufficient guide. The mechanism, however, is so simple, and the arrangement so easily understood, that no serious difficulties need occur. The slight difficulties are readily surmounted, and practice makes perfect in the use of this as in anything else. Thousands of them are used successfully by persons of ordinary capacity.
instrument of human invention is more effectively and cunningly devised than the machine for cutting the diagonal groove upon the periphery of the hook. Upward, forward, and lateral movements are combined with rotary motions in the two latter directions, and the hook, simple as it is, embodies all the efficiency that those various movements would afford in elaborate machinery for which it is the mechanical equivalent. This is but an illustration of the economy and combination of parts in the machine, and exemplifies the spirit that pervades the establishment. Without noise or confusion the various parts of the machine are elaborated, unconnected with each other, but kindred through the genius that devised them all. When assembled they instinctively recognize their position, relationship, and offices, and combine in an effective and harmonious whole.
Each machine, on being completed, is tested by three skillful machinists; and should the second or third trier detect the slightest defect, it is returned to the factory, the defect is remedied, and the machine again passes the same ordeal. Every machine is submitted to the in
The family machines are all alike, all spection of a man who has been connectof the parts being made by machinery.ed with the enterprise from its commenceThey are, however, differently mounted. ment. Being removed to the sales-room The principal varieties are the plain table, and sold, it is again examined, and put in the half case, and the full case. The complete running order. cabinet or full case, of rosewood, black walnut, or mahogany, constitutes an elegant article of furniture. The half case (of various woods) is equally useful, less expensive, but less ornamental. Every part of the machine is enclosed, when not used, and secured from dust and injury. All of then are outfitted with extra needles, bobbins, and everything necessary to operate them successfully.
The manufactory for these machines, at Bridgeport, Conn., is organized upon the system adopted in the United States armories in the manufacture of fire-arms; the various parts of the machine being made by machinery. This system not only increases manifold the efficiency of the force employed, but secures great excellence of workmanship, and perfect similarity of parts for all the machines. The skillful hand, guided by intelligent mind, has apparently exhausted mechanical principles in securing mechanical combinations for effecting desired results. Probably no
Thousands are used by seamstresses, dress-makers, tailors, manufacturers of skirts, cloaks, mantillas, clothing, hats, caps, corsets, ladies' gaiters, umbrellas, and silk and linen goods, with complete success. But the great source of demand is now for family use, and the time is not far distant when a sewing machine will be deemed an essential piece of furniture in every well-ordered household.
Appropriately we may close with the "Song of the Sewing-Machine," from the pen of G. P. Morris, Esq. :
I'm the iron needle-woman!
Wrought of sterner stuff than clay;
Never mourning friends untrue,
Poverty brings no disaster!
Merrily I glide along,
No extortioners oppress me,
I'm of hardy form and feature,
For endurance framed aright;
With the wealthy ones of earth,
In the attic-chamber lone,
My creation is a blessing
To the indigent secured,
Which so many have endured:
Born to toil and not to feel.
DON'T AGITATE-A MATTER OF FACT.
NO, we must not agitate, though such scenes as the following be enacted every day. Come, reader, with me into the sunny South. Let us visit a church in the beautiful state of South Carolina. It is a lovely place. Nature and art have lavished their best gifts to render it delightful. We will enter and join with the worshipers on this holy Sabbath morning, perhaps we may find food for our hungry souls. We enter. The inside equals the outside for beauty and comfort. Nothing dashing or imposing, but all bears the mark of Christian elegance and neatness.
The minister is already in the pulpit, and as he reads his morning's lesson, we will scan his person a moment.
His form is lithe and sinewy, of medium height, high square forehead, raven hair, and a keen black eye, that seems to flash fire, as it turns with a quick, restless motion, from one to another of his hearers. His thin lips, and deep-set eye, say plainly that no obstacle can long stand in the way of his determined will.
His subject is the sufferings of Christ. How vividly he portrays the scene in the garden, and the agony on the cross. How clearly and forcibly he brings before our
minds those" three dreadful hours." We almost look around to see the weeping, heart-broken mother, as the Saviour turns his dying eyes and says, "Mother, behold your son. We see the gleaming eyes of the soldier as he lifts the spear to his side; and involuntarily shudder as the red tide trickles down to the ground. But the scene closes while the audience are yet in tears.
We leave the house with a feeling of remorse for having done so little to honor Him who endured such contradiction of sinners against himself for us.
After service the minister approaches, and kindly inquires if we are strangers in the place. We answer in the affirmative, and with true Southern hospitality, he gives us a cordial invitation to his fireside. We cheerfully accept the hospitality so freely given, and taking a seat in his family carriage, we are soon enjoying his pleasant home. We are introduced to his family, and in the society of his lady and two lovely daughters we pass a pleasant evening.
Our host is affable and entertaining, the daughters a little haughty, but polite and beautiful. At a late hour we retire to our room favorably impressed with Southern life and manners.
After a variety of remarks called up by the circumstances in which we find ourselves placed, we drop into an uneasy slumber, in which the auction-block and the pulpit are strangely blended, from which we are aroused by the breakfast bell.
Breakfast over, the "Family Bible" is brought forward, and our host engages in the morning devotion with great zeal and fervor. Surely the yoke must sit lightly upon this man's servants, and before leaving we will just take a stroll over a part of the plantation. We start out, and soon find ourselves in the midst of the
negro quarters." The cabins look neat and comfortable, but hark! what sound is that? surely it is a cry of pain! Listen ; 1 hear the sharp crack of a whip. Drawing near the spot from whence the sounds proceed, to our horror and utter consternation we behold a negro man of about thirty years tied to a tree, his hands are drawn up so that nothing but his toes can reach the ground, with a strap around his body, by which he is fastened to the tree. And our host, the Christian minister, ap