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Martha B Mosher.

Child culture in the home. A book for mothers online

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which makes a man master of himself and of
the conditions which environ him."

It has been already suggested and the idea
will gain weight with time and experience, that
criminal and viciously immoral parents should
not be entrusted with the rearing of their off-
spring, for criminality is thereby multiplied to
the number of the progeny of such parents;
not by the fact of vicious heredity alone, but
by the fact of their environment and solidarity.



Civic Duties 231

The right of separation of children from their
parents because of physical abuse is recog-
nized, and is not the soul to be considered as at
least the equal of the body ? The family is a
sacred, God-given institution, and in its rightful
conditions the dearest and sweetest relation of
man on earth. But when it deteriorates to the
point of imperiling the soul, the severing of
such ties becomes no hardship ; even if it were,
the affection of vicious parents should be sacri-
ficed to the spiritual welfare of the child, and
if their love be right and true, they will con-
cede the necessity. What are only tendencies
in childhood become fixed qualities and often
diseases in adult age, and while every effort
should be made for recovery even there, results
of such efforts are far from encouraging. Until
preventive methods have been established and
have done their good work, alleviation must
continue, but an intelligent study of the cause
of the situation should accompany the relief,
and as much thought and prescription be given
the source as is given its effects.

Incompetency is as prolific a cause of poverty
as can be found, and the best philanthropy is
now directing its efforts to the industrial train-
ing of inefficient indigents which shall remove
such incapacity. The only true charity is that
which helps a man to help himself, and every
opportunity should be afforded the man or



232 Child Culture

woman who is willing, but, for any cause, un-
able to do his or her best work.

Some service should always be exacted of the
recipient of relief, if he be not prostrated by
sickness or otherwise disabled. Continuous
poverty is a disease and should be treated as
such, at the same time relief should be admin-
istered in a manner that will, as little as pos-
sible, mar the applicant's self-respect, for when
that is lost the case becomes more hopeless.
Whatever is given should be clean, wholesome,
and offered in a spirit that will not degrade the
recipient, but on the contrary awaken his self-
respect.

Devitalization is another cause of continued
poverty, for a body that is not well nourished
cannot generate the energy and vitality neces-
sary to sustain it in labor.

Ignorance of the best use of money, the
proper foods, the most nourishing preparation
of the same, are all impediments which obstruct
the path of thrift, and it is the office of the
state and of philanthropists to redeem the poor
from their ignorance and to educate them in-
dustrially. Cooking schools will be more ap-
preciated by future philanthropists, and sewing
schools for children and young girls are indis-
pensable adjuncts to thrift and economy ; it is
astonishing in visiting among the poor to note
how many women who have reared families



Civic Duties 233

have no use of the needle, and to reflect what
a serious detriment such ignorance is to the
economy and good order of a family. " Bear
ye one another's burdens " is a text of Scrip-
ture, which also adds " For every man must
bear his own " that is when by the assistance
of his more fortunate fellow-man he has been
made capable of bearing them himself. The
altruistic education must have its beginning in
youth; from children contributions to charity
should never be exacted, for if they be not
emanations of the spirit of love and helpful-
ness, they are valueless. The child's whole
education should tend to the end to make him
less selfish, less self-centred, more impersonal
than he is by nature, and to feel that no man
has the moral right to live for himself alone ;
then, no suggestion of generosity will be neces-
sary it will be the result of his development.
While all possible aid should be extended the
worthy and unfortunate poor, more effort should
be made to distinguish these from the unworthy,
the professional mendicant. The soft head and
the soft heart induce beggary, and create the
professional beggar, who asks no better subsist-
ence than what comes from this softness. To
administer charity wisely and justly requires
much hard will and sound judgment. The
world contains many sentimentalists who are
unwilling to mete justice to a man, no matter



234 Child Culture

how unworthy he may prove himself; their
sensitive hearts refuse to witness suffering,
however well deserved it may be ; but true
philanthropy and justice are inseparable.

The pleasure of ministering to human needs
and of relieving human misery and pain is
very alluring, and refusal to extend aid a great
self-denial, but when one knows that such
methods only beget poverty and manifold un-
worthiness, one has not the right to gratify
one's own feelings to the detriment of wisdom
and justice? If a man who is able will not
work when he has an opportunity, he should suf-
fer, and hunger and freeze until he is driven by
suffering and necessity to the right activity;
no man has a right to be a consumer who is not
in some degree a producer. All of God's laws
are hard when broken, and shall man intervene
between the wrong-doer, and the just results
and retribution of wrong-doing, when God him-
self in his immutable laws has linked them ?
Man should be ready to recognize the rights of
others, and when he recognizes them he will
know his duty, and should fulfil it whether it
be a pleasant or an unpleasant one.

Society can advance only in so far as the in-
dividuals which constitute it are advanced, and
individual interest is promoted by association
and cooperation ; the social man and the indi-
vidual are one and inseparable, and act and



Civic Duties 235

re -act on each other. Socialism, the shibboleth
of modern times can have but one just solution
of its problems. Though the real and personal
property of the globe were evenly apportioned
once a year, at the close of the year the capable
and clear-sighted men would have increased
their portion a hundredfold, and the weak and
incapable ones would have lost theirs ; so it is
impossible to devise means that will prevent
greater accumulations falling to the master
minds of the earth, except forcibly and arbi-
trarily to maintain an even distribution ; that
would mean stagnation in every department of
human enterprise, and standstill to all human
progress. Therefore, the only just solution of
the difficulty is the acknowledgment on the
part of the possessors of wealth of a moral
trusteeship, of a moral obligation to use sur-
plus wealth for the general good. Such recog-
nition can be effected only by the right moral
education of the youth of the present gener-
ation, who will be the capitalists of the future.
Only by the mental and moral education of the
moneyed class, and by the moral and industrial
education of the indigent class, can the prin-
ciples of cooperation be put in operation.
Every consideration of policy and progress, as
well as the higher claims of humanity, calls for
a larger recognition of the inherent right of
those who do the manual work of the world ;



236 Child Culture

and the ruling factors of industry and society,
the men of influence and power, should apply
the cooperative principle to institutions which
they control.

Industrial institutions for the education of
those who may be made capable and for the
employ, at LESS WAGES, of such as are inher-
ently weak and can never be competent, must
be created and largely maintained by the cap-
ital of the prosperous. The number of such in-
stitutions should be limited only by the num-
ber of persons requiring such education and
such assistance, but they should not compen-
sate the same as self-sustaining industries not
operated for philanthropic purposes. Charity
work should be HARD and UNDERPAID and de-
cidedly disadvantageous compared with regular
work, otherwise it encourages men to depend
upon it who might find work by their own
efforts elsewhere. Charity institutions are only
intended as last resorts when all others have
failed. The right methods of philanthropy are
those which inculcate the lessons of self-help.
of individual responsibility, rather than de-
pendence on outside aid. It is only by com-
bining the various elements of industry into
free, voluntary and strong organizations under
the direction of wise and efficient manage-
ment that the end of true economy may be
subserved and the competition of the world be



Civic Duties 237

regulated. It is the underpaid labor competing
with justly compensated labor ; it is the workers
under the sweating system that degrade the
dignity of labor, reduce its payment to starva-
tion wages, and constitute the workman's worst
foe. This is the foe that he should resist more
than he resists the capitalist, for the latter will
then have no alternative but to give laborer's
wages above the pauper level of subsistence.

Upon this subject the great Mazzini gave the
Italians wise counsel : " The remedy is to be
found in the union of labor and capital in the
same hands. Association of labor and the
division of the fruits of labor, or rather the
profits of the sale of its production in propor-
tion to the amount and value of the work done
by each, this is the social future."

The ideal solution of the problem of wage-
earning is the moral concession of the capital-
ist ; whether this method will ever be practica-
ble remains to be demonstrated. When one
realizes the intense greed of wealth, the hard
crust of selfishness in which some men are en-
cased, it seems a vision of far futurity, and the
poor wage-earner may not be able or willing to
abide this millenium. When times are pros-
perous, he gets only a bare living, the " market
price of his labor," although the proprietor may
earn fifty per cent, net on his industry ; but
when hard times break over a community they



238 Child Culture

who shared not in the profits of prosperity are
compelled to " share the losses " and submit to
a reduction of wages. If the stipend of the
wage-earner were based on the profits of the
business, then it would be entirely just that he
should share in the losses sustained in an in-
dustrial panic.

If moral and economic arguments are un-
heeded, monopolies may in time have legal force
brought to bear on them, compelling them to
share in a limited degree the profits of their
industries. The ordinary employer is under
the same pressure as the laborer; he is com-
peting strenuously and against great odds with
the large monopolies, and cannot afford to in-
crease the wages of his workmen. It is the
great employers who control immense capital
that reap the immense profits, and can afford
to share them.

But to bring this subject more strictly within
the confines of its own domain, there is a phi-
lanthropy within the reach of every house-
keeper, which all who have not the leisure or
inclination to pass beyond the limits of the
home can practice ; that is a consideration of
the servants of the menage. How few Ameri-
can girls one finds engaged in domestic service !
Nearly all are immigrants or of foreign parent-
age. Doubtless one cause of the reluctance to
enter such service is the loss of individuality it



Civic Duties 239

entails, and the fact that in the average house-
hold so little consideration is given the comfort
and welfare of the servants. If the girl is the
sole servant she is doomed to a solitary exist-
ence ; she has no one with whom to converse,
or to sympathize with her ; being the only serv-
ant she has fewer opportunities of escaping
from her solitude, as she is always more indis-
pensable than where there are several servants.
She has, however, the advantage of occupying
her room and bed alone, and this privacy is so
precious to some girls that they are willing to
endure all the disadvantages of being a lone
servant to have that one privilege. No matter
how many servants there are, they should each
have a separate bed and a private washroom ; a
self-respecting girl has the same sense of mod-
esty as her mistress has, and finds it as great a
hardship to be compelled to perform the details
of her toilet before the eyes of another. A half
hour of leisure, at least, should be accorded
servants in the afternoon that they may recuper-
ate and freshen up their toilets. If they rise
at five or six o'clock, they should not be obliged
to wait for a cup of coffee until after the family
breakfast at perhaps nine or ten o'clock. If it
is a serious derangement of household affairs
for them to have their breakfast earlier, they
should be permitted coffee, bread and butter,
previous to the regular breakfast ; the time from



240 Child Culture

eight in the evening to nine the next morning,
three hours after rising is too long a fast to
require of them. When a girl has been con-
fined to the house all day, especially if her oc-
cupation is of a sedentary nature, she should be
encouraged to go out for exercise and fresh air
in the evening, and even to seek the society of
her friends. Carefully selected books and sto-
ries should be placed at the disposal of servants
for perusal in leisure moments, and many little
considerations shown which will attach them to
the family and make them feel that they are
in a Christian home. In many ways domestic
service is more educative to a girl than shop or
factory work can be, for if she is in contact
with refined, cultured people, she is instructed
in habits of order and neatness and the art of
decent living which will be advantageous to her
when she goes to a home of her own. The as-
sociation, morally, should also benefit her, and
the observation of the ways of superior, well-
disciplined people if she is so fortunate as to
serve such should be a distinct gain to her.
Mothers and housekeepers have a greater re-
sponsibility in this matter than they often real-
ize ; we are all our sisters' keepers, and no one
should go forth from our roof and our employ
without an increase in knowledge, more refined
manners and higher principles than when she
entered under it.




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Online LibraryMartha B MosherChild culture in the home. A book for mothers → online text (page 13 of 13)