Readings for Rural Life

From Moore’s Rural New-Yorker in Rochester, NY

July 16th, 1864

Woman’s Work Enlarged by the War.

The social condition of woman is being influenced by our civil, war, to a larger extent than is generally supposed. Silently and imperceptibly, and also rapidly and surely, a revolution is being effected which seems destined to accomplish the work of years in a few months, and produce an important and lasting change in all the relations of society. The withdrawal during the last three years of a million and a half of men from industrial pursuits, has produced a deficiency in the labor market which for some time past, has been opened to them which have been hitherto closed. The change is also hastened by the various trades combinations and the increase of wages, which makes it the interest of employers to seek other sources to supply the demand for laborers.

 

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Readings for Rural Life

From Moore’s Rural New-Yorker in Rochester, NY

July 2nd, 1864

Advantages of Crying

A French physician is out in a long dissertation on the advantages of groaning and crying in general, and especially during surgical operations. He contends that groaning and crying are the two grand operations by which nature allays anguish; that those patients who give way to their natural feelings more speedily recover from accidents and operations than those who suppose it unworthy a man to betray such symptoms of cowardice as either to groan or to cry. He tells a man who reduced his pulse from one hundred and twenty-six to sixty in the course of two hours, by giving full vent to his emotions. If people are at all unhappy about anything, let them go into their rooms and comfort themselves with a loud boohoo, and they will feel a hundred per cent better afterwards.

In accordance with the above, the crying of children should not be too greatly discouraged. If it is systematically repressed, the result may be St. Vitae’s dance, epileptic fits, or some other disease of the nervous system. What is natural is nearly always useful, and nothing can be more natural than the crying of children when any thing occurs to them either physical or mental pain.

Probably most persons have felt the effect of tears in relieving great sorrow. It is even curious how the feelings are allayed by their free indulgence in groans and sighs. Then let parents and friends show more indulgence to noisy bursts of grief, on the part of children as well as older persons, and regard the eyes and the mouth as the safety-valves through which nature discharges her surplus steam.

 

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Readings for Rural Life

From Moore’s Rural New-Yorker in Rochester, NY

June 25th, 1864

What is Becoming.

The effects of color on complexion are learned from experience, and the subject cannot be treated successfully in a short paper like present. Portrait artists know how many are the colors that mingle in one face, and slightly varying porportions[sic]and small omissions produce difference in the skin, so that colors which suit one person are not becoming to another, although the complexions of the two are supposed to be the same. A candid friend, or the more candid looking-glass, must be the ultimate appeal. Now that we have touched the delicate subject of the mirror, let us notice the fact of how much the position of a glass, in reference to the light, has to do in making a person satisfied or discontented with his, or her, appearance. The most flattering position for the glass is when placed between two windows, the equal cross-light reducing inequalities and roughnesses to a minimum. The most unbecoming reflection is from a glass in front of a window, the only one in a room. It is remarkable, and perhaps unexplained, that any irregularity of the features, anything out of drawing in the face, is increased when seen in a glass. There is a great difference in the color of the glass itself; some glasses are very pure and white; some have a greenish tinge, necessarily producing disheartening reflections.

 

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Readings for Rural Life

From Moore’s Rural New-Yorker in Rochester, NY

June 11th, 1864

The American Young Lady Talking

I said that all the young ladies can talk. A flow of sharp, shrewd, intelligent talk, is the shinning attainment of all American ladies, and from the school-girl upward. All the school-girls themselves talk with an ease and volubility that would astonish the superintendents of the ladies’ colleges at home. There is no blushing, no stammering, no twiddleing of the fingers, no plucking at boquets, or nervous unhemming of handkerchiefs. The vapid inanities that pass between partners at the English ball would be scouted. To be shy is to be unpatriotic. The American young lady goes straight to the point. How is your health? How long have you been in the country? Do you like it? Have you had a good time? What do you think of the actions in the present struggle? Are you not stuck with admiration at the deeds of valor performed by the nation’s armies? Have you read Longfellow’s Wayside Inn? When is Tennyson’s Boadicea to appear? Was not England convulsed with enthusiasm at the appearance of Rev. Ward. Beecher? Don’t you think the room wants oxygen? Are not the monitors triumphs of mechanical construction? Have you been to Niagara? These are a few of the queries she rattles out. You are the first delighted, then amazed, and at last puzzled; for the intelligent and well dressed young lady continutally addresses you as “sir,” and every now and then she asks you a question so naïve, so artlessly ignorant, that you pause to inquire of yourself whether she can be more than six years old. Salo.

 

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Readings for Rural Life

From Moore’s Rural New-Yorker in Rochester, NY

June 4th, 1864

Woolen Under Clothing Best for our Variable Climate.

I was much pleased to see those articles in the Rural on wearing woolen under clothes, copied form Dr. Ball’s excellent periodical, the Journal of Health. Cotton goods had been so cheap among us for many years previous to the two last, that they had gradually displaced much woolen.

If the latter were more universally adopted by both sexes, colds, fevers, rheumatism and consumption, and all diseases superinduced by them, would be greatly lessened throughout our country. I have not a doubt that the average of life thereby would be extended fully five years, and the average of deathe lessened in early life at least one-fifth.

Our climate is an extreamly variable one, and requires to be closely watched and guarded against, a particularly by females and children. Nothing will do this more effectually than wearing woolen under clothers summer as well as winter. Moreover, by so doing, we greatly benefit our flock masters and manufacturers, and adopt a truly patriotic course.

If Cottton be King, let Wool be President. The latter si the more appropriate style of ruler for our Republican Government and variable climate. A.B. Allen. New York, May, 1864

 

Woman’s Wages

Why is it that women are so poorly recommended for their labor? If a man hires for a week with a farmer, at the very lowest rates, he will receive six dollars and board for that length of time. But if a frial woman hirse to work in his kitchen, she must be content with one dollar or consider herself well paid if she receives one dollar and a quarter! She is not expected to complain if the fatigueing task of milking, churning, baking, washing, ironing, scrubbig, and “cooking for hands” is almost too much for her strength less than the man? Or, has she a greater amount of strength than he, so that less effort is necessary on her part? If not, why this difference? Why is it that she must rise earlier, and work later, than he? As a general thing the man is not required to be at work before six o’clock in the morngin and is allowed to quit at six in the evening, with an interval of an hour for dinner.

Now we repeat, why is this? You may say “she does not do as hard work as a man.” It is just as hard for her. The man does not work as long as she does; he has the hours from six in the evening, ‘till time for him to retire to rest; also a time for repose in the mornign, which she is denied. Her work begins with the day, and lasts until it is high time she should be resting her tired limbs on a comfortable bed.

If the man is so minded, he can spend these hours in mental improvement, with a view to bettering his condition in life; or, he may spend them with aged and infirm parents, comforting them with his presence; and, they in turn encouraging him with kind words of hope-cheer; or, if he has a family he can spend them with it. He can be free from other people’s work, long enough for his mind and body, both, to rest; she is expected to take the care as well as the labor. He can support a parent, a delicat sister, or both if required, and still have enough to supply her with nexassary clothing. “Hardly,” did we say? it is positively not enough; besides, if she is taken sick, what is to become of her? Few, if any, of her employers would nurse her and pay a doctor’s bill for her; but, as is too ofthen the case, she might find a home among some poor, but kind friends; and when health returned she might deny herself some necessary articls of clothing, in order to pay her doctor’s bill. And thus she must toil week after week, with no hope of ever bettering her condition by her own exertions!

How often, too, does she support a feeble parent, brother, or sister, by her labor and kind self-denial, and toil on ‘till the end of the week, hoping to go to them and spend the Sabbath – the poor man’s gift from God – with them; but in this too she is too often disappointed; for, “she can’t be spared – going to have company home from church and go right into work.” And thus the poor girl is cheated our of what God has given to every one alike; for does he not say, “Thou, nor thy man servant, nor thy maid servant,” &c? Who ever heard of a white man having to work on a Sabbath as hard, and sometimes harder, than any other day? and yet white girls do it, often, very often. You may talk of slavery, but what is this? May Godd speed the day when woman shall be rewarded as she deserves for her labor, and no one dare to point thr finger of scorn at her because she dares to work for her living, and to “earn her bread by the sweat of her brow.” May the ablest pens of our land agitate this subject and show forth the world the wrong that is perpetuated on woman. Libbie Linwood. Cadiz Branch, 1864.

 

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Mrs. Bright’s and Mrs. Blank’s Journals – December

I stumbled across something I found to be a fun read in the 1866 American Agriculturalist. The Ladies Column included a full year through the eyes of two women. I’ll share each month for the next two weeks (ish) side-by-side. (The excerpts are a bit challenging to read.)

December

 

Mrs. Bright’s and Mrs. Blank’s Journals – November

I stumbled across something I found to be a fun read in the 1866 American Agriculturalist. The Ladies Column included a full year through the eyes of two women. I’ll share each month for the next two weeks (ish) side-by-side. (The excerpts are a bit challenging to read.)

November

Mrs. Bright’s and Mrs. Blank’s Journals – October

I stumbled across something I found to be a fun read in the 1866 American Agriculturalist. The Ladies Column included a full year through the eyes of two women. I’ll share each month for the next two weeks (ish) side-by-side. (The excerpts are a bit challenging to read.)

October

Mrs. Bright’s and Mrs. Blank’s Journals – September

I stumbled across something I found to be a fun read in the 1866 American Agriculturalist. The Ladies Column included a full year through the eyes of two women. I’ll share each month for the next two weeks (ish) side-by-side. (The excerpts are a bit challenging to read.)

 

September

Readings for Rural Life

From Moore’s Rural New-Yorker in Rochester, NY

May 28th, 1864

Out-Door Etiquette – A gentleman meeting a lady should always take the right of the walk
A gentleman meeting another, should always pass to the right.
A lady, as a general rule, should not take a gentleman’s arm in the street in the day time. However, it is not improper when the walk is thronged with passengers.
A gentleman meeting or passing a gentleman and lady should pass on the gentleman’s side.
A gentleman should never fail to salute a lady of his acquaintance when within a proper distance, unless she wear a veil, in which case it would be highly uncivil to recognize her.

 

Reply to “The Unprotected Female.”

That any person in this enlightened age – the year of our Lord 1864 – should write such sentiments as those contained in the article on the “Unprotected Female,” passes my understanding. I was shocked more than words can express upon first perusing it! And the subject occurred to my mind again and again; the more I endeavored to banish it, the more it wouldn’t go; and that the author was the victim of a strange hallucination, and optics sadly obscured, as though seeing darkly, through smoked glass, and with mental vision in the same unfortunate predicament, would continually suggest itself.

Nevertheless, to relieve my mind, I will use a woman’s privilege, and express my opinion. It may seem egotistical, but Dr. Winship remarks: – “In every man’s experience – that of the humblest, even – there is something of value to the race;” therefore, I conclude there must be in every woman’s.

I, for one, believe it to be a man’s prerogative and pleasure to protect a woman whenever necessary; she being physically the “weaker vessel,” custom sanctions it – and every refined, intelligent person must approve it. In some cases, however, it is quite uncalled for. Alas, when she loses her shrinking modesty, and so far unsexes herself as to be seen striding in “male attire,” stamping around with a cigar in her mouth, she should not “demand any more interest or sympathy than an unprotected male,” but can insure the hearty contempt and disgust of every right-minded one.

I have yet to be convinced that fashion required us to be encumbered with “many boxes and bundles.” Doubtless many take more baggage than necessary, but in my travels I have observed but comparatively few who have not availed themselves of the express to take charge of their trunk or trunks, troubling themselves only with a small traveling bag, when the distance made it necessary, which could be carried on the arm, leaving “both hands free.” I have seen many travel hundreds of miles with noting save the above mentioned trunk, which being in the hands of the express need be no trouble or care to any one, and which niceness would render indispensable a the journey’s end. I have further known ladies to visit the city of New York and sister cities, and, without ignoring fashion, remain at a hotel a whole week, with by a small basket containing only necassaries for the toilet, and wearing their traveling dress during the time.

It seems wonderfully pertinent (?) comparing the quantity of a gentleman’s baggage with that of a lady’s, with their different style of dress; for did neither take a useless article and indulge equally in the luxury of cleanliness, a lady would absolutely require far more. It is a notorious fact that gentlemen need only changes of linen; and it may be a slander of the sex, but I never supposed a little dirt, more or less, would effectually disturb their equanimity.

Aside from the exaggeration conspicuous in every paragraph, the writer betrays an entire ignorance of “fashon.” Allow me to ask if it is not the fashion to wear stockings and boots, rivaling men’s in warmth and thickness?

And the hoop skirt, that many of the masculine sex raised such a hue and cry about, and with their usual consistency concerning anything pertaining to ladies’ dress, were unwilling wife or daughter to appear without, has been growing “small by degrees, and beautifully less,” until none need now complain of their dimensions, which it is to be hoped will continue the same. Without dwelling on their gracefulness or excellence in making a handsome dress appear to the best possible advantage, they are indispensable in a physiological point of view. Women need their powers of locomotion assisted rather than impeded. In the words of the editor of the Scalpel, “We consider the modern hooped skirt one of the most admirably artistic and health-giving devices of our time.”

And, pray, is it not the day of “Garibaldi’s,” “Zouave,” and other kindred jackets, that leave the waist in perfect freedom? It strikes me as being an exceedingly lame, one-sided argument because it is a deplorable fact that some, through ignorance, carelessness, or folly, injure themselves with tight-lacing, that the corset should be discarded. It is useless to mention that they are necessary to insure a perfectly fitting dress, and essential to that distinction of style which marks the well-bred lady; for I trust the author referred to is above any little weaknesses of any kind’ and I fully believe a French corset scientifically adapted to the figure, to be conducive to health, as many of our best physicians assert; so loose when laced as to readily place the hand under, and with whalebones so this as only to be perceived by the delightful feeling of support they give. Many with weak sides and irresistibly inclined to stoop have been permanently benefitted by them. Suppose wine should be abandoned as a medicine, because so many unfortunately became intoxicated? What if an unbeliever should bring forward as conclusive evidence against the need, the power of Christianity, that in a fit of religious phrenzy some have committed suicide?

Perhaps because tight dresses are sometimes worn, they had better be rejected altogether! Indeed, although the present style (without apparently knowing what that style is) was sweepingly condemned, as nothing better was suggested, I am at a loss to determine whether the writer considered it preferable to return to the primitive state of our first parents, or don masculine habiliments which seemed to find much favor in her eyes. As dress, in a measure influences character, likely the next innovation would be chewing, smoking and swearing; for, without the provocation of “trailing skirts,” far too many of the “sterner sex” in our small villages and cities, as well as in far-famed Gotham, seem to cultivate and esteem the latter as an accomplishment.

It is a painful thought that any woman can have perverted views, such questionable delicacy and modesty, as to advocate such a change. The Bible expressly forbids it: “The woman shall not wear that which pertaineth unto a man.” I well recollect the effect of the first “Bloomer costume” I ever beheld. It was at the “Crystal Palace,” and attracted more attention than any of the miracles of workmanship and art exhibited there. Is such conspicuousness pleasant? – that sort of notoriety desirable by a refined, cultivated, judiciously educated, or even by a modest woman?

Sufficient exercise in the open air, with regular hours and habits, would go far toward restoring the health and strength so greatly heeded. As “seeing is believing,” I can show Miss (or Mrs.) “Amanda Roberts Keyser” a woman past “her sixteenth year,” and dressed for the last three years with considerable “regard toe the dictates of fashion,” who has not been troubled for an instant during that period to “draw a natural breath.”

I would also assure her that for some time past, it has not been the “fashion” to let the skirts trail in the dirt, but to wear them looped up. I certainly admire the queenly gracefulness of the long flowing skirt, which has the prestige of antiquity; was worn and admired by the haughty Grecian and Roman ladies. But I consider other place more appropriate for the trail than the dirty streets of New York.

It seems equally reprehensible to follow every varying phrase of fashion, or excite undue notice by the ridiculous outer appearance that must inevitably follow an entire disregard of the prevailing mode. Among the multiplicity of designs, something genteel and pretty can always be selected, which will occupy no more time in making than would the most singular, uncouth costume that could be imagined. I believe it woman’s duty to make herself pleasing, and dress according to the station in which she may be placed; nor do I believe she could perform other more important duties, by a disregard of this. Nor need a person gratifying a fine aesthetic taste by dressing in a becoming robe, necessarily neglect the preparation of the immortal soul for the life to come, more than if poorly clad in somber hues, – any more than one’s a better Christian for wearing such a gloomy, sour, woe-begone visage as to frighten children, and cause them to think religion something terrible.

There will always be pratting about the inferiority of women by a certain class of men, whose morals are fearfully out of repair, and where brains are decidedly at discount; and probably some women will, too, parrot-like,  repeat their opinion. The writer has the advantage of me, however, if she has ever heard anything more silly emanating from the lips of women than men.

In closing, I can not forbear giving, for future consideration, the injunction of Horace, Sumite materiam vestris, qui scribitis, acquam Viribus. Lancillotti.

 

(translation of the last line – let those who write fix on a subject to which their force is equal)

 

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