Readings for Rural Life

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

July 23rd, 1864

Sensible Talk About Waltzing

Waltzing is a profane and vicious dance always. When it is prosecuted in the center of a great crowd, in a dusty hall, on a warm and summer day, it is also a disgusting dance. Night is its only appropriate time. The blinding, dazzling gas light throws a grateful glare over the salient points of its indecency, and blends the whole into a wild whirl that dizzies and doses one; but the uncompromising afternoon, pouring in through the manifold windows, tears away every illusion, and reveals the whole coarseness and commonness and all the repulsive details of this most alien and unmaidenly revel. The very pose of this dance is profanity.

Attitudes which are the instinctive expression of intimate emotions, glowing rosy red in the auroral time of tenderness and unabashed freedom only by a long and faithful habitude of unselfish devotion, are here openly, deliberately and carelessly assumed by the people who have but a casual and partial society acquaintance. This I reckon profanity. This is levity the most culpable. This is a guilty and wanton waste of delicacy. That it is practiced by good girls and tolerated by good mothers, does not prove that it is good. Custom blunts the edge of many perceptions. A good thing soiled may be redeemed by good people; but waltz as much as you may, spotless maidens, you will only smut yourselves, and not cleanse the waltz. It is itself unclean.

There is another thing which girls and their mothers do not seem to consider. The present mode of dress renders waltzing almost as objectionable in a large room as the boldest feats of a French ballet-dancer. Not to put too fine a point on it, I mean that these girls’ gyrations, in the center of their gyrating and centrifugal hoops, makes a most operatic drapery display. I saw scores and scores of public waltzing girls last summer, and among them I saw but one who understood the art, or, at any time, who practiced the art of avoiding an indecent exposure. In the glare and glamour of gas-light it is only flash and clouds and indistinctness. In the broad and honest daylight it is not. Do I shock ears polite? I trust so. If the saying of shocking things might prevent the doing of shocking things I should be well content. And is it an unpardonable thing for me to sit alone in my own room and write about what you go into a great hall, before hundreds of strange men and women, and to?

I do not speak thus about waltzing because I like to say it; but ye have compelled me. If one member suffers, all the members suffer with it. I respect and revere woman, and I can not see her destroying or debasing the impalpable fragrance and delicacy of her nature and without feeling the shame and shudder in my own heart. Great is my boldness of speech toward you, because great is my glory of you. My opinions may be rustic – they are at least honest; and may it not be that the first impressions of any unprejudiced observer are as likely to be natural or correct views as these which are the result of many after-thoughts, long use, and an experience of multifold fascinations, combined with the original producing cause? My opinions may be wrong, but they can do no harm; they penalty will rest alone on me; while if they are right they may serve as a nail or two, to be fastened by the masters of assemblies. At. Monthly.


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Readings for Rural Life

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

July 23rd, 1864

Female Independence

In the present age of the world, as, indeed, in all ages, female self-dependence and independence, are very seldom constitutes of the female character – the lack of which no intellectual nor moral accomplishment can supply. The modern female born and reared the younger portion of her life, perhaps, in the home circle, and when she has attained a proper age, is transported to a fashionable boarding school, where she may expand her intellect to the supposed utmost limits – where she attains, in her opinion, to the highest degree of female excellence, and enters upon the cares and vicissitudes of life. But upon departing from the parental roof, how very seldom has she been found to possess the most substantial basis of female honor and respect, vis: Independence!

In is conclusively proved that the female mind, if left unchained and free from all common lady traits, is capable of as broad expansion, and as sound thoughts, as the opposite sex; and although they have been heretofore the subjects of ridicule, and sometimes of public amusement on account of their innumerable foolish weaknesses and foibles – yet, by self-culture and independence of mind to resist the tempting allurements of the fashionable worl, and obey the dictates of common sense and sound judgment, they may lay up a store of information and science, which they now can not appreciate, because of their fondness of novels and fictitious writings, which they can summon to their use at all times, and which will prove a passport through cultivated society, more reliable and more respected than mere external beauty.

How common a circumstance it is to see young and middle-aged female puffed up with price and self-exaltation, who have not independence sufficient to oppose public opinion, but are guided wholly by the opinions of others and prevailing fashion! And how many devoted mothers sacrifice the comforts and even the necessaries of life to educate and accomplish their daughters, in whom, perhaps, there is not the least hope of future usefulness. It is a lamentable fact that the majority of females at the present day, have no more exalted view or aim in life than their own personal gratification in the way of dress and food, and allow their minds to grow gradually weaker until they are entirely engrossed in idle gossip or the most trivial subjects of earth.

But it may be asked how can this defect in female character be remedied? By simply turning our attention from trifles, applying our energy and zeal to some purer mental and moral excellence than is generally stained by those who are termed ladies.

If this great, visible defect could be supplied in the female mind, the world would be freed of a vast amount of female gossip and dependence upon others, and their views of life would be exalted; they would strive to emulate those who are worthy, and ere long the great fact would illumine their dependent minds, that by a little exertion on their part, a little more genuine thought, they might release themselves from  the fetter of entire dependence on male intellect, and gain such a store of knowledge as will be their guide and support at all times without the overseeing hand of man.

It is to be hoped that before many generations shall pass, females will avail themselves of independent minds, and stand before the world in the highest sense, ladies. A. Aikin. Tekonsha, Mich., 1864


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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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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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Readings for Rural Life

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

May 21st, 1864

This is going to be a partial transcription because the original article is quite lengthy. I encourage you to click over to Moore’s Rural to read the entirety.

 The Ladies’ National Covenant

Address to the Women of America – Home Products to be Encouraged.

A meeting of ladies was held at Washington recently, to inaugurate an important National movement. It is proper we should give the results thereof in this department of the Rural. The meeting was composed of the wives of members of the Cabinet, and of Senators and Representatives, of well-known authoresses, women of fashion, mothers who had lost their sons, and wives who had lost their husbands. There was an earnestness and a unison of feeling in this great meeting, which has never been exceeded in this land.

Address to the Women of America.

In the capital of our country we have this day organized a central society for the suppression of extravagance, the diminution of foreign imports, and the practice of economy in all our social relations. To this society we have given the name of “The Ladies’ National Covenant.” Its object is a good and generous one, which should inspire a spirit of patriotism worthy of women who are the glory of a great nation. For this society we have an example a precedent at once august and encouraging.

In 1770, the women of Massachusetts, actuated by the same impulse that inspires us, assembled in the City of Boston, as we have met here, and resolved to serve the country by an effort of self-sacrifice far greater than we are called upon to make.

On the 9th of February [of that year], 300 matrons, each the mistress of a household, met as we do now, and signed a pledge to abstain from the use of tea, the greatest luxury of the time, and the very life of all the social gatherings for which our New-England ancestors were so famous. Three days after, twice that number of blooming young girls met in the same place and signed like pledges. From that brave assemblage of women non-imporation societies sprang up, that produced an effect upon the mother country almost equal to that created by the success of our revolutionary armies. During all the terrors of the war these noble women held firmly to their pledges, and by their earnestness awoke the sympathy and co-operation of every sister colony in the land. The spirit thus aroused extended itself to imported goods of all kinds, and every hearthstone was turned into an independent manufactory. Thus it was that the flax-wheel, the hatchel, and the hand-loom became sublime instruments of freedom in the hands of American women. The house mothers of ’76 not only kept their pledge of non-importation, but with their own hands wrought from the raw materials the garments which clothed themselves, their husbands, and children. The pledge which they took and kept so faithfully evoked not only great self-sacrifice, but hard, hard toil, such as the woman of the present day scarcely dream of. Had they not endured and labored while their husbands fought, we should have had no might Union to pray and struggle for now.

We, the women of ’64, have the same object to attain and the same duties to perform which were so nobly accomplished by the women of ’76. Shall we not follow their example, and take up cheerfully the lesser burdens that the welfare of our country demands? They gave up the very comforts of life without a murmur; can we refuse when a sacrifice of feminine vanity is alone required? Can we hesitate to yield up luxuries that are so unbecoming when the very earth trembles under our feet from the tread of armed men going down to battle, and almost every roof throughout the land shelters some mother lamenting the son who has fallen gloriously with his face to the foe, or a widow whose husband lies buried so deeply among the masses of slain heroes, that she will never learn where to seek for his grave? 

In order to invoke this spirit of self-sacrifice, it is important that the great object of the covenant we have made should be broadly circulated and thoroughly understood. It discourages profligate expenditures of any kind, recommends the use of domestic fabrics whenever they can be substituted for those of foreign make, and advises simplicity of attire, both as a matter of policy and good taste. It asks the great sisterhood of American women to aid in this reform before it is too late. Thank God science has given us the means of reaching thousands on thousands in a single hour. While we make this covenant, the thought that thrills our hearts may tremble in fire along the telegraph, and awake kindred inspiration throughout the entire land. By every means of communication in our power, let us urge the necessity of prompt action. In every town and village throughout the Union, some woman who loves her country is implored to establish an auxiliary society and forward the names of the ladies invited to act for the State in which her duty lies. We ask simultaneous action, earnest work, and generous self-sacrifice at the hands of our sister women. With their ardent help, a work will be accomplished so important in its results, that the woman who shares in it may, hereafter, leave the emblem of our object as the richest jewel that she can leave to posterity.,no.21.pdf


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Readings for Rural Life

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


May 14th, 1864

Woman’s Dress

Considerable has been said on this subject by your correspondents and exchanges, and I have hitherto been silent, hoping that out of so much argument might come some practical reform.

The equestrian dress was a bold dah, in which it advocates showed their independence; and why may not they and others throw aside Fashion’s demand and make as decisive a move in the right direction, and defend it as persistently? They claimed to have the “silent consent,” if not the direct approval of the other sex, and while I can not believe that fathers, brothers, husbands, or true friends could regard with pleasure, or event indifference, one for whom they cherished either affection or respect, in such a costume and position, they still have an interest in whatever is for our physical or moral benefit, and, where both can be combined, will give us their hearty support without hesitation. If to this any demure, shall we not find their true motives unworthy of our attention and their relations to us such as shall not entitle them our acquiescence?

It seems to be acknowledged by all that our mode of dress is imperfect in two particulars, – its unequal distribution of warmth over the body and limbs, – and its manner of adjustment about the waist.

Men have their feet, legs, and arms well covered; and while high-necked, close-sleeved dresses are an improvement in our clothing, still, the low bands and short sleeves of our undergarments leave a want they do not experience. Loose skirts might, with propriety, it seems to me, be replaced by more comfortable and just as becoming drawers and “knicker-bockers,” beneath dress, balmoral, and if you will, crinoline. Striped balmorals and stockings take the place of so long filled by white; and why not “knickerbockers” be made of “Highland plaid,” or something similar, as well, with our gaiters enough higher to meet them and protect our ankles, and laced in front! India-rubber sides are too cold. Just about the waist, where there should be the least pressure, is the only place our clothing is close, and if anyone objects to looser belts and ladies’ suspenders, because we shall not look quite as trim and tidy, tell them not to say anything until “Garibaldis” are forgotten. Grace Glenn. Michigan, 1864.

About “Cheap” Sewing Machines.

Eds. Rural New-Yorker: – In answer to an inquiry of “A Rural Reader of Fairfield, O.,” in regard to sewing machines, I wish to say that the Union Ten Dollar Sewing Machine has been  (not used) in my house for the last year, and that instead of being a “Union,” it is a Disunion machine from the following facts: – 1st it will not unite cloth firmly together, but will disunite the cloth by friction in passing between the rough cogwheels. 2d, it will disunite the needle, (separating it in two parts,) every half minute; and, finally, the different parts of the this is easily disunited, the shafts upon which the wheels are placed being a round wire and the wheels fitted loosely to it, not being keyed, allows them to slip entirely from the shaft; and the same is true as regards the crank. It is the opinion of those competent to judge, that it is not manufactured for the good of the people but to smouge them out of four dollars each machine, which has been done to a great extent. Now, if your reader of Fairfield wishes to pay a dear price for wit, let him order a half dozen of “[sic] Clark, Dayton, Maine,” but her can get with at my expense much cheaper; for if he wishes I will send him one free, except express charges, and be glad of the chance; for I ordered a half dozen, and can neither sell, lose, or give them away here, though my friends generally take anything that is given to them.

Yours, for the good of the public, D. Allen. Byron, Wis., April 25, 1864.

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