Lindsay, Anna Robertson Brown
Part 3 out of 3
Competition is the battle of the strongest, the quickest, the meanest! I
must know tricks. I must get in with people, get hold of some sort of
pull, learn to dissemble, to flatter, manipulate, hedge, dodge. Success
is a matter of being sly. Anything is allowable which comes out ahead,
which adds to the dollar-pile, or which makes the loudest
To buy at the least, and sell at the most, regardless of the conditions
under which least and most are attained--the man who enters life with
this idea of trade in his mind might just as well be born a shark and
live to prey. Every free dollar in the world will tease and fret him,
until he sees it on its way to his own pocket. If this is all there is
in trade, the noble-minded will let it alone: it gives no human outlook.
It not only undermines personal character, it is the root of national
ignominy and dishonor.
What has Christianity to do with this shark-instinct? with the rapacity
which looks on the world as a vast grabbing-ground, and upon all natural
resources as mere commercial prey? The value of Christianity lies in its
reasonable and intellectual appeal. It does not spring upon one like a
highwayman and say, Hands up! Give me your purse! It says gently, Son,
give me thy heart. It then proceeds to refashion that heart, to fill it
with new principles and with world-dreams.
Trade is a just exchange of what one man has for what another man needs.
It may take place individually between man and man, in which transaction
a horse, an ox, or a tool may change hands. Or one man may assume a
responsibility for a number of people, and say: I will give this whole
town shoes, in return for which you may give me a house, market-produce,
clothing, and an education for my children. The thing will come out
even, if you and I are honest. Or a climate, a civilization, may give to
another that which the other lacks. We send school-books and machinery
to China; she sends us tea, matting, and bamboo. The whole right theory
of trade is a give-and-take between men and nations, based on a just
price, and with a deep law of Value, not yet wholly formulated,
underlying each transaction.
Bargains should not be one-sided. Trade, in a large sense, is a way of
exchange in which each party to the trade receives an advantage. Not
only this, it is a process of distribution, by which each one receives
the greatest possible advantage. Money-making is a secondary result: in
true trade it is not the final benefit.
Take the case of a specially helpful and paying book. The author
receives a royalty, and has an income. The publisher receives his
profits, and makes a living. The public gains inspiration and ideals.
Who is loser? This is sheer business, yet it means loving service for
To illustrate further: A physician has a frail child, with which the
ordinary milk in the market does not agree. To build up its health, he
buys a country place and a good cow. The child thrives. In his practice,
he sees many other frail children, and it occurs to him that they, too,
can be benefited by the same kind of care and watchfulness that he is
giving his own child. He buys more cows, has them scientifically cared
for, and his agents sell the milk. He finds himself, in the course of
time, the owner of a dairy farm, and a man of increasing income. But his
trade is not trade for the sake of money! it is trade to make sick
children strong and well. He exchanges professional knowledge, executive
ability, and human sympathy, for money; in return for which, children
receive health, parents joy, and the race a more athletic set of men and
women. This is an instance of the inner spirit of the true trade: the
spirit which may rule all trade, deny it, or discount it, or scorn it,
as you will.
Price is a value set on material, on labor, on interest, on scarcity, on
excellence, on commercial risks; it is the approximate measure of the
cost of production. The ethical price of a commodity is the price which
would enable its producer to produce it under healthful and happy
conditions--which would insure his having what Dr. Patten calls his
This joyous exertion is not harmful; it is tonic. Excellence is an
inspiration, an intoxication. Let excellence, not Will-it-pass? be the
standard of exchange. From the very endeavor after excellence comes a
certain exaltation of spirit, which ennobles the least fragment of daily
toil. When the producer brings forth somewhat for sale, let him say:
There! That is the best that I can do! It is not what I tried to make of
it--the thing of my dreams--but it is the very best which, under the
given conditions, I could produce. Then the shoddy side of trade will
The Law of Equity is the final law of trade. But in whose hands is
equity? Who appraises value? Who sets price? In whose hand is the final
price of the necessaries of life--wheat, rice, sugar, soap, cotton,
wool, coal, milk, iron, lumber, ice? The man who puts a price on an
article, as buyer or seller, enters an arena which is not only
commercial--it is judicial and ethical: he declares for what amount a
man's life-blood shall be used.
No one absolutely sets price. It is determined by far-reaching
industrial conditions, and by economic law. War, weather, famine,
stocks, strikes, elections, all have a say. Yet, to a certain degree,
there are those who rule price. As a representative of the ideal, as
executors of social trust, how shall each one use his Power of Price?
The man who has control of a price--a price for a day's labor, for
wages, for a cargo, or for any kind of product--has control of the
living conditions of the one who works for him. The question is not: How
shall I grind down price to the lowest? It is: What price will be an
ethical return to this man for his social toil?--just to me for my
brains, my capital, my energy, my distributing power,--just to him for
his brains, his time, his skill, his artistic perceptions, his fidelity
and honor? Each buyer must henceforth not only resolve: I will buy only
what I can pay for, but, what I can pay for at a just rate. So far as
lies in my power, I will make an adequate return to society for this
Some one says: Do you realize that you are making a moral laughing-stock
of much of our system of trade? that you are setting an axe to that
system, more cutting than the axe of any Socialist, Nihilist, or
Anarchist in the world? Oh, no. I have simply set myself to answer the
question: How can the business man stand among the ideal-makers of the
world, so that he shall no more, in spiritual assemblies, be told to
Woman is the real economic distributer. The millionaire manufacturer
imagines that he himself runs his business. Oh, no. It is run by
farmers' wives. When they do not care for yarn or calico, his looms
stand idle for a year; the vast machinery of the world turns on woman's
little word: _I want_. Hence the education of women should include this
factor: the desire to want the right things. Extravagance is not a part
of woman's make-up; it is extraneous.
_Gain is that which permanently enriches the life._ By every act of
charity, or justice, or insight, or right barter, the soul is made more
grand. True trade everywhere may be made a new method of inspiration,
growth, and power.
Money is a makeshift of the race. God is the only real appraiser, and we
never get back a money-value for our soul's toil. Whether we pass
wampum, or nickels, or taels, or bank-checks, we are not yet paid for
The higher value of money is its spiritual capacity. Not what it will
bring me is primarily important, but what I can buy with it for the
race. Sometimes the question comes over me: What am I trading for money?
My time? My energy? My ideals? Part of my soul is passing from me: do
dollars ever repay? Hence it comes about that all money transactions are
fragmentary and symbolic.
Money may lead to poverty, or to spiritual wealth. The gift of trade is
a gift of God, as much as the gift of prophecy or song. In a right way,
we should all love gain. We are not born to go out of the world as poor
as when we came into it. We should gain stature, wisdom, strength,
influence, ideals. If our latent business capacity were more fully
aroused, we should get much more out of life. We would refuse to barter
a spiritual heritage for carnal things.
We trade thoughts and feelings. But it is very hard to trade fine
impulses with those who are intrinsically vulgar. Their treasury is
empty of spiritual coin, and their storehouse contains no
world-thoughts. We can send a caravan across the desert, a ship across
the sea, but we cannot send a Thought into a flaccid or a pompous brain.
We trade position and influence. The evil of the spoils system is not
that one gets something for something,--it is that one gets something
for something less, or for nothing. Whatever we have to give may be
rightly given; the wrong comes when we give it to the idle or unworthy.
When we trade political preferment for high merit, both the
office-holders and the country are gainers by the exchange.
Marriage is the great mart of exchange. Here the possessions of one sex
are set up against those of the other. Everywhere marriage is spoken of
as a good or a bad "bargain." Each man shall say: "Sweetheart, in Myself
I offer you the treasures of manhood. I give strength, courage,
magnanimity, action, protection, and the indomitable will." Each wife
should say: "Dear, in me are all gentleness, courtesy, beauty, grace,
patience, mercy, and hope. I, too, am brave, but my courage is of the
heart. I, too, am strong-willed, but my will is deep-set in love." As
years go on, there comes a time when Love says: "Between us now there is
neither mine nor thine. The universe is ours together!"
Human love is not all. There is yet a higher impulse. The most
business-like question that ever touches the heart of man is this: For
what shall I trade my soul? We hold our souls high: we perceive that
eternity itself is not too much to ask. And hence the highest barter is
that of the earthly for the spiritual; of the temporal for the unseen
and eternal. We say, Give me God, give me heaven, give me divine and
sacrificial Love, and I will give my heart. And thus the last
transaction is between God and the soul. Godliness is great Gain, and to
exchange earth for heaven is a satisfying and unregretted Trade.
IV. THE WORLD-MARCH: OF WORKERS
Jesus, Thou hast bought us
Not with gold or gem,
But with Thine own life-blood,
For Thy diadem.
With Thy blessing filling
Each who comes to Thee,
Thou hast made us willing,
Thou hast made us free.
By Thy grand redemption,
By Thy grace divine,
We are on the Lord's side;
Saviour, we are Thine!
Not for weight of glory,
Not for crown or palm,
Enter we the army,
Raise the warrior psalm;
But for love that claimeth
Lives for whom He died,
He whom Jesus nameth
Must be on His side.
By Thy love constraining,
By Thy grace divine,
We are on the Lord's side;
Saviour, we are Thine!
FRANCES RIDLEY HAVERGAL
What is work? Work is energy applied to the creation of either material
or immaterial products. The digging of the soil preparatory to raising a
corn-crop is work; the making of brooms; the writing of fugues. There is
no one who does not work, at one time or another, and a man's social
value depends largely upon the amount of work that he can do.
Even the energy which is seemingly applied to destructive tasks is
really subsidiary to a constructive ideal. Thus the hewing of timber is
a destructive task, but its object is not to scatter trees around, but
to make a clearing on which to plant wheat; or to have lumber, in order
to build a house. So, also, we blast rock, in order to get stones for a
stone wall, or for the filling of a road-bed. And we rip up old clothes
in order to have rags, and to make room in our homes for other things.
Destructiveness from a sheer love of destructiveness is not work--it is
vandalism. The true Man works. When Adam's crook-stick turned over the
brown earth to make it fertile, he began the industry of the world. The
whole horizon of man's endeavor is spanned by one word, Work. It has
built cities, bridged rivers, united continents, and sent the myriad
spindles of trade whirring under a thousand changing skies.
Work is the open-sesame of success. It is curious to see how uneasily
some men will roam from one end of the earth to the other, trying to
find an easy place, a place where work will not be needed or required.
There is no such place. The higher the honor, the harder the work. The
power to work is ordinarily the measure of a man's possibilities of
success. Long hours, hard toil, lack of recognition and appreciation,
drudgery, a thousand attempts to one successful issue,--these are the
ways in which the colossal achievements of mankind have been built up.
Work, as has well been said, is an ascending stairway. On its broad base
are ranged all the multitudes of the earth. Those who can climb mount
the higher and ever-narrowing stair.
The great man can begin anywhere, or with any task. He says, If I am
going into the giant-business, I may as well begin now! Born and bred in
the forest, he lays hand to his axe, and looking up at some tall oak,
cries out, I will begin here! With the first stroke of the axe, success
is not less sure than in his last endeavor. Success of the right kind is
a scientific achievement.
The line has not yet been drawn, and I doubt whether it ever can be
drawn, between productive and non-productive labor. There is a cleavage
of tasks, however, which may be approximately expressed, as work that is
done for support, for daily bread, and work which is done because
certain faculties of mind and heart and soul demand expression,
development, and scope. We all have powers which are willing to be set
in action primarily for self-preservation--for personal, material, and
transitory ends. We are also endowed with faculties which react,
primarily, in behalf of universal aims, though that may not debar them
from also bringing an advantage to ourselves. In proportion as we are
talented, magnanimous, and high-minded, we delight in spending a part of
our lives in working for the race.
Thus Thoreau, when he, "by surveying, carpentry and day-labor of various
other kinds," had earned $13.34, was doing income-work, the work by
which he had to live. For the same purpose, he worked at raising
potatoes, green corn, and peas. When he wrote _Walden_, he did a kind of
work which also in time brought him an income. But he did not write
_Walden_ for food or money; he wrote it primarily because he liked to
write, and for the benefit of mankind.
In order to be contented and happy, each normal adult human being must
have at least the chance of doing these two kinds of work. Unless he or
she can do income-work, he or she is not economically independent;
unless he can do universal work, he is not socially and
Much of the present-day discontent is owing to the fact that these two
kinds of work are not represented, as they should be, in every
The problem in regard to the working-man is not how to pet him, nor to
patronize him, but how to educate him and inspire him! He is not a
parasite to be fed by the capitalist, nor is the capitalist a parasite
upon the working-power of the working-man. Both are men. The problem is,
How shall the capitalist lead the noblest, most public-spirited, and
helpful life in relation to those in his employ? How shall the
working-man lay hold on the best that life can give? How shall he find a
work which he is competent to do, and likes to do, and may be supported
by doing--and at the same time have a chance to grow; to enter into the
large, free culture-life of the world?
The complaint of the working-man, when really analyzed, runs down to
this: I do income-work, but it does not bring me bread enough to live.
Not only that, but ground down as I am by toil, all possibility of the
larger, universal work is shut away from me. My faculties are
atrophied--paralyzed--and hence my soul smoulders with deep and angry
discontent. This ceaseless and sordid anxiety for bread cuts me out of
my world-life, my world-toil. I cannot do scientific research-work, or
write the books and papers that I ought. My universal labor is
interrupted: I cannot be happy until I can take up this larger
As the trade of civilization advances, the meaning of bread changes. The
university professor, no less than the day-laborer, finds his income
too small for him, and says, "I, too, do income-work which does not
bring me bread, books, travel, society, a summer home, and surroundings
which are not only decent and sanitary, but refined and beautiful."
Is it not also the source of the discontent to-day, among almost all
classes of women, except the most highly educated and efficient? Women
say--our modern daughters, wives, and mothers: "In the home, we do
income-work for which we do not receive income. When strangers do this
work, they are paid, and we are not." In addition, many a woman is so
bound down by daily tasks, that her whole soul cries out, and we hear of
the high rate of insanity among farmers' wives, of nervous prostration
of the housewives in our towns, and become accustomed to such
expressions as "the death of a woman on a Kansas farm."
This discontent takes many restless forms. It leads daughters, who ought
to be at home, out into morally dangerous but income-earning work; it
takes wives out into all manner of clubs, without regard to the fact: as
to whether the particular club, in its atmosphere and influence, is good
or bad; it brings discouragement, disorder, and unrest into the home,
dissatisfaction with house-duties and home-tasks, and is sapping our
life where it should be best and strongest--in the home--taking out of
it youth, spirit, enthusiasm, inspiration, and content.
The three questions asked in regard to each worker are: 1. What work
can he do? 2. Of what quality? 3. In what time? The difference between
industry and idleness is that work is one thing which no one may
honorably escape. Since it must be done, the problem of life is not how
to escape work, but how to find the right work, and how best to do it,
and most swiftly, when the choice is made.
"_Forth they come from grief and torment; on they wend
toward health and mirth,
All the wide world is their dwelling, every corner of the
Buy them, sell them for thy service! Try the bargain what
For the days are marching on.
"These are they who build thy houses, weave thy raiment,
win thy wheat,
Smooth the rugged, fill the barren, turn the bitter into
All for thee this day--and ever. What reward for them
Till the host comes marching on._"
The trade of toil for money has led to many problems and discussions.
To-day the trenchant question: "What More than Wages?" is a matter of
eager talk. Is this a living-wage?--Just enough warmth, not to freeze.
Just enough clothing to be decent. Just enough food to go through the
day without actual hunger. Just enough shelter to keep out the wind and
rain and snow. Just enough education to learn to read and write
No. As the theory of bodily freedom demands for each man life, liberty,
and the pursuit of happiness, so the highest theory of to-day lays down
demands of economic freedom beyond the mere fad of possible existence.
Dr. Patten has formulated certain "economic rights" of man. Each
employer must say: Before I settle back with a serene belief that I have
given my men a living-wage, let me ask: Have they sun? air? sanitary
surroundings and conditions? medical care? leisure? education? a chance
to grow? Have they enough money for ordinary occasions, and a little to
give away? No man or woman has a living-wage, who has no money to
Education and comfort add to the value of the employed. The cook who has
a rocking-chair, a cook-book, and a housekeeping magazine in her kitchen
will do more work, and better work, other things being equal, than the
cook who has none. The workman who lives in a clean, sunny, well-aired
place, where he can found a home, and bring up healthy children, will do
more work, and better work, than the workman who lives in a damp, dark,
ill-ventilated tenement, and who goes to his day's work with a heart
sullen and broken because of avoidable illness and sorrow in his poor
little home. Five thousand employees who have a night-school,
luncheon-rooms, little houses and gardens, a savings-bank, and a library
of books and pictures are worth more than those who are given no such
advantages of happiness, growth, and content. The Railroad Young Men's
Christian Associations are said to be a good economic investment, as
well as an uplifting moral influence.
This appears to be a fundamental economic law: _Every physical, mental,
or spiritual advantage offered to an honest working man or woman
increases his economic efficiency_. Therefore even the selfish policy of
shrewd corporations to-day is to screw up, and not down; while the more
philanthropic are beginning to see, in their social power, a luminous
opportunity to do a god-like service.
But the capitalist, however just or generous, cannot do for a man what
he cannot or will not do for himself. Too many workers imagine that a
living-wage is to be given to each man, no matter how he behaves or
works. This is a false assumption. Underlying all human effort, there
runs a final law, that of Compensation: _What I earn, I shall some day
have_. This is a very different proposition from this: _What I do not
earn, I want to have_! For every stroke of human toil, the universe
assigns a right reward--a reward, not of money only, but of peace of
heart, joy, and the possibilities of helpfulness. But when the work done
has not been done faithfully, or well, or honestly, or in the right
spirit, the reward is lessened to that exact degree. To the end of time,
the idle and the lazy must, if they are dependent on their own
exertions, be ill housed and fed. If a man wastes, or his wife does, he
must not complain that his income will not support him. If he lets
opportunities of sustenance and advancement go by, the capitalist is not
to be held to account.
There are two chief kinds of economic difficulties. One is the problem
of the capitalist: How much ought I to pay? The second is that of the
working-man: How much service must I render? How much ought I to be
paid? Of the second kind, nearly every phase of it begins right here,
that men and women demand for labor something which they have not
earned. They do careless, indifferent, shiftless, reckless work, and
then demand a living-wage. The capitalist is not inclined to raise his
scale of prices, knowing that he has built up his business by prudence,
sagacity, and tireless application--the very qualities which his
dissatisfied employees lack.
We need not pay--we ought not to pay--for incompetence, for
impertinence, for disobedience of orders, for laziness, for shirking,
for cheating, or for theft. To do so is a social wrong. It is the wrong
that lies back, not only of sinecures and spoils, but of employing
incompetent and wasteful cooks and dressmakers.
What we make of our lives through wages depends upon ourselves. For
instance, a man gives each of five boys twenty-five cents for sweeping
snow off his sidewalks. One boy tosses pennies, and loses his quarter by
gambling. One boy buys cigarettes, and sends his money up in smoke. One
boy buys newspapers, and sells them at a profit which buys him his
dinner. A fourth boy buys seeds, plants them, and raises a tiny garden
which keeps him in beans for a whole season, The fifth boy buys a book
which starts him on the career of an educated man: he becomes an
inventor and a man of means. The man who paid out the twenty-five cents
to each boy is in no way responsible for the success or failure of their
investment of this quarter. He is responsible only for the fact that he
did or did not pay a fair price for the work.
God, the great Paymaster, gives to each of us the one talent, the two
talents, or the ten talents, of endowment and opportunity: after that,
we are left to our own devices!
There are four things which every employee should constantly bear in
mind, if he wishes to advance,--skill, business opportunity, loyalty,
and control. Until a man has mastered what he has to do, he cannot be
expected to be accounted a serious factor in the economic world. The
moment he achieves skill in what he has to do--and this is a question of
thoroughness, accuracy, and speed--he has achieved power, a possibility
of dictation in the matter of hours and wages.
The next point is business opportunity. Two men, of exactly the same
opportunities and endowments, take up the same task. One man idles and
is surpassed by the other, or he does only what he is told to do,
without further thought. The other performs his set task, but at the
same time he is examining into the principles of his engine, or into the
conduct of the factory or business. In a few years he is the foreman, or
an inventor, or a partner, with independent capital of his own. Again,
there is a blind way of doing skilled work, or of merely doing it
without noticing where it is most needed, or how the market is going for
this special kind of work. The one who has his eyes open reads, notes
the state of the market, adds to his skill the power of counsel, and can
gradually take a larger responsibility upon him, which will advance the
economic value of his time, as well as the work. There is a constant
flux in the labor-world, which is the result largely, not of special
opportunity, but of worth, application, and concentrated thought.
Third, loyalty has a high mercantile value. Disloyalty is a sin.
The fourth point is control. Does it not strike wonder to think how some
men have under them, either in their industrial plant, or in their
railway systems, or in their syndicate-work, anywhere from a few hundred
to ten, fifteen, or twenty thousand men? How do they maintain
discipline, either themselves, or through their subordinates? This
problem of control is a serious one in business. Every angry threat,
every sullen hour, each case of insubordination, every strike, every
widespread dissatisfaction, means economic waste. It means expense both
of time and money to send for Pinkertons to keep order and preserve
discipline. The man who adds to his technical skill, and his knowledge
of the market, the power of control adds great force and value to his
work. Higher yet is executive force, the power to adjust
responsibilities and duties in such a way as to get back a high economic
return in the way of service. But above all, there is that force of
character which impresses itself on a company, on a decade, on a
generation--so that some names are handed down in business from
generation to generation, all men knowing that from father to son, and
again to his son, there will pass down that certain integrity, nobility,
steadfastness of purpose, fidelity, and honor which give credit
throughout the business world, and which promise health and happiness
for those who are happy to be in their employ.
Before a man complains of his wages, then, let him ask himself: Have I
mastered my work? Am I loyal? Am I capable of larger responsibilities,
and of wider control?
WILLIAM MORRIS says: "_It is right and necessary that all men should
have work to do which shall be worth doing, and be of itself pleasant to
do: and which should be done under such conditions as would make it
neither over-wearisome, nor over-anxious._"
This theorem cannot be upheld in its entirety, though there is a deep
truth beneath it. There are many things, such as the collecting of
garbage, the washing of the dead poor, the cleaning of cesspools, the
butchery of cattle for the market, and the execution of capital
criminals, which can scarcely be called pleasant to do, and must yet be
done. As long as the world is the world, and there is in it sin, decay,
disease, and death, we cannot hope to make the work or the conditions of
work absolutely ideal: we _can_ make ideal the spirit in which work
A fine story is told that long ago, when the cholera once broke out in
Philadelphia, the hospitals fell into a fearful state. One day, a plain,
quiet little man stepped into the chief hospital, looked about a moment,
and set to work. No task was too dirty or disagreeable for him; no
detail was too disgusting. He did anything he saw to be done,--called in
additional doctors, organized the nurses, and himself waited on patients
night and day. He soon had the hospital in good shape again. When the
crisis passed, and every one began to demand, Who is this man?--they
were told: It is Stephen Girard. The work was not pleasant, but the
spirit was kind, and the heart delighted in its self-appointed toil.
Work in general, however, that has worth has several elements. First, It
must be individual. It must be joyfully done: there must enter into work
the vitality of a happy spirit. It must be spontaneous. This is why
machine-work can never be thoroughly beautiful: it lacks the spontaneity
of life. The hand never makes two things alike. With the mood, the
weather, the occasion, there are little touches added which a machine
cannot give. Life always varies and thinks of new effects.
When we try to realize what work is, when it is merely an amount of toil
prodded out of man or woman by a hard taskmaster, we have only to look
back to the bondage of Israel in Egypt, or to the time of Scylla, when
there were thirteen million slaves in Italy alone: slaves whose set
tasks were of over two hundred and fifty kinds; who worked on the
road-building, on public works, and in rowing in the galleys of the
slave-propelled ships. In Carthage agriculture was for a time largely
carried on by slave-labor. How different is this slave-labor from the
craft-work of mediaeval times, when, under the protection of the guilds,
manual labor became exalted to an artistic rank, and the workers at the
loom, the metal-workers, the wood-carvers, the tapestry-weavers, and the
workers in pottery and glass produced objects whose beauty has never
been either equalled or surpassed. Andrea del Sarto and Benvenuto
Cellini were workers, and their work remains.
Again, good work is born of affection. Love teaches more art than all
the schools. What we love, we instinctively beautify. The artist
beautifies the material on which he works. He loves his task, and from
his love there begins a gradual shaping of the ideal. The product gains
a touch of beauty. The needlework of Egypt and Byzantium, the laces of
Venice and of Spain, are historic. It is said of Queen Isabella, that
she was one of the best needleworkers of her age; that "her _motifs_
were the great events of the time."
A peasant girl of Venice was once given a beautiful coral-branch and
some rare leaves and shells which her lover had gathered for her from
the sea-depths. She was untaught in art, and making fish-nets was her
wonted work. Day by day as she wrought her nets, she looked upon the
lovely sea-treasures, their beauty passed into her heart and mind, and
she began to copy, spray by spray, the coral-foliage, the leaves of the
sea-grasses, and the curves of the sea-shells, until after a time, in
the meshes of her fish-nets, she had imprisoned forms of exquisite
beauty, and one saw there reproduced, in dainty and artistic grouping,
what her very soul had loved and fed upon. Her fish-nets became works
Work of a high order is always based on high ideals and on great
thoughts. It implies a vast amount of toil. The Capellmeister of the
Vatican choir to-day is that wonderful young genius, Perosi, who is
stirring all Europe by the beauty of his musical work, and by the
spirituality and fervor of his musical imagination. He has set himself
to compose twelve oratorios, which shall body forth the whole life of
the Saviour. He believes that the music-lover and the church-lover may
be identical, and has set his hand to the uniting of all true
music-lovers with the great offices and services and influences of the
Church. Here is Work exalted to its spiritual office: to carry out, not
only ideals of beauty and harmony, but to advance spiritual progress.
This is the final aim of all true work: it must be not only aesthetic,
and honest, but spiritual. The prayer of the true workman is ever to
make himself a workman approved unto God. "May the beauty of the Lord be
upon us, and the work of our hands, establish Thou it!"
The worker should have change of work. Nature never intended that a man
should do one thing all his life. This is in harmony neither with man's
infinite capacity, nor with her inexhaustible variety. Change is
cultural, and a man's work Should, from time to time, engross every
working-power he has.
Working-surroundings should not only be sanitary, they should be
beautiful. What influences one most at college, and makes most for one's
happiness, is not the fact of the work in recitation-rooms, out of
books, laboratories, and under teachers. The glory of college life is,
that wherever one goes, the eyes look out on beauty, and wherever one
works, there are those whom we love who work beside us.
As one passes down the long college corridors, the eyes fall upon palm
and statue, upon frieze and fresco, and the carbon copies of immortal
paintings. Everywhere there are the inspirations of sculpture and
architecture, of music, literature, and art. Beauty is in and about the
place in which one thinks and works. This is the undying charm of
Oxford--the gathering traditions of centuries, the gleaming spires, the
age-worn walls and buttresses, the clinging vine, the tremulous light
and shadow on the ancient halls, the sculpture of porch and clerestory,
and the light that falls through richly tinted windows.
This beauty should not be monopolized by any one class. About the places
where we work, we should have, as far as possible, something of the
beauty of the world. We should have wide, shaded streets and parks, even
in great cities; towers and pinnacles; sky-lines of vigor, grace, and
massive strength. Cannot department stores be artistically fashioned and
built? Cannot market-houses have arches and arabesques? May not even the
Bourse have something about it suggestive of great art? Cannot our
streets have curves and storied cross-ways? Cannot porters and draymen
have somewhat to arouse and satisfy aesthetic instincts? Cannot our
day-laborers be granted vision?
Why should we have the Gothic cathedral, with its exquisite traceries
and carvings, pillars and reredos and screen, for men to pray in, one or
two hours a week, and the hideous, grime-covered, foul-smelling,
overheated factories, in which men and women spend their working-lives?
This is what Christianity must do: it must implant joy and beauty, as
well as honesty and fidelity, in the way, place, and thought of work!
When religion, education, art, and brotherly affection have joined hands
in a charmed circle, we shall have new ideas of working-places, as well
as of praying-places, and of living-places! It is not enough that a
factory should be situated, as the best factories now are, in the open
country, with sunshine and fresh air. The blockhouse parallelograms and
squares should be replaced by something that has intrinsic beauty and
the haunting completeness of memory and association, so that the place
where a man works shall no more be to him a nightmare, but the
atmosphere and inspiration of his dreams!
And those we love shall work beside us! Here is another thought: Shall
all association in work be arbitrary? Is there not a more human way than
the chain-gang way? Could not friends work more together, so that one's
daily work should be, not a time of separation from all we love most,
but a time of intellectual sympathy and helpfulness, of companionship
and true-hearted loyalty? This, and many other good things, it is not
too much to hope for. Truly, as Morris writes, "_The Day is Coming_."
"_Then a man shall work and bethink him, and rejoice in
the deeds of his handy
Nor yet come home in the even too faint and weary to
"_Men in that time a-coming shall work and have no fear
For the morrow's lack of earning and the hunger-wolf
"_And what wealth then shall be left us when none shall
To buy his friend in the market, and pinch and pine the
"_Nay, what save the lovely city, and the little house on the
And the wastes and the woodland beauty, and the happy
fields we till_;
"_And the homes of ancient stories, the tombs of the mighty
And the wise men seeking out marvels, and the poet's teeming
"_And the painter's hand of wonder; and the marvellous
And the banded choirs of music:--all those that do and
"_Far all these shall be ours and all men's, nor shall any
lack a share
Of the toil and the gain of living in the days when the
world grows fair_."
Good workers are trained in the home, the school, the shop, the wider
world. Every home is an industrial establishment. In it go on the
industrial processes of cooking, cleaning, sewing, washing; the care of
silver, glass, linen, and household stores; the activities of buying
food and clothing; the moral responsibilities of teaching and training
servants and children. If any healthy member of the home is excused from
at least some form of active work, he will inevitably be a shirker when
he grows up. Cannot almost all the problems of human training be run
down to this: How to teach a child to work? If he can work, he can be
happy; but if he does not want to work, he shall never be happy. No
work, no joy, is the universal dictum.
This is the great hardship of the children of great wealth: they are not
taught to work. To avoid this difficulty, in two very wealthy families
that I know, the boys were even obliged to darn their own stockings and
mend their own clothes. One young hopeful once tore his clothes
a-fishing, and mended his trousers with a scarlet flannel patch! Some
mothers do not allow their little girls to go to school until their beds
are made up and their rooms in order. Other equally wise parents have
tools in the house, and allow the boys to do all the repair work, the
daughters all the family mending, or to care for the linen; the boys to
put in electric fixtures and bells, and keep the batteries in order.
Queen Margherita of Italy, Queen Elizabeth of Roumania, Queen Alexandra
of England, and the Empress Augusta of Germany are all women who have
been from their childhood acquainted with simple and practical household
tasks. This principle is a right one and underlies much after-success.
Each child should, first of all, have a mastery of home-tasks. Then,
whether on the prairie or in the palace, he is free and independent.
What makes the differences in the social privileges given to one class
of workers above another? In reality, we are all workers. No one ought
to live, if in health, who does not work. But for some forms of work,
men and women receive an income, and nothing more. For other work, men
and women may or may not receive a large personal income, but their work
is recognized, they are a part of the best social circles, and when they
die, a city or a nation grieves.
The essential difference is this: that one is honor-work, and one is
not. Wherever in the world work is done in a spirit of love and
fidelity, it brings its own reward in recognition and in personal
affection. Sooner or later, honor-work receives honor.
Another reason for exaltation of one form of work above another, is
that some kinds of work are so very hard to do. They involve the intense
and complicated action of many and of complex powers. It may be hard
physical work to break stones for a road-way, but the task itself is a
simple one--the lifting of the arm and dropping it again with sufficient
force to split a rock apart. But the writing of a prose masterpiece,
such as the _Areopagitica_, involves the highest human faculties in
harmonious action. If we add to the requirements of prose, the rhythm,
the exalted imagery, and perhaps the assonance and rhyme of verse, we
still further increase the difficulty of the task, and the honor of its
successful achievement. The king-work of a powerful monarch, the
president-work of a republican leader, is serious work to do. Our honor
is not all given to the king or president income, salary, or office; it
is a tribute to hard and royal-minded work.
Household service is personal service. It cannot be made a thing of set
hours, and of measurably set tasks, as office-work maybe. We may talk of
"eight-hour shifts," but they are scarcely practicable. Not every baby
would go to successive "shifts"! House-demands vary, not only with every
household, but with every day.
When love-making is wholly scientific, then domestic service will be.
There is in it the same delicate personal adjustment, the changing
requirements of weather, health, temper, and season, of emergency and
stress, that are to be found in the most purely personal relation. When
there is a period of unusual sickness through the community, not only
the doctors have extra tasks, but all household servants as well.
What social recognition can be given to servants who lie, steal, who
shirk every duty that can be shirked, and who are both incompetent and
unfaithful? The here-and-there one faithful helper receives her meed of
appreciation and affection. The whole aspect of household work will
change when honor-work is given: when home-helpers come up to us, from
the truthful and honor-loving class.
The school-room is the place in which the principles of work are
implanted: thoroughness, grasp, speed, decision, and definite purpose.
The shop is the apprentice-place of work, before one takes up individual
responsibilities. The man who wishes to rise in the railroad service
goes into the shops and roundhouse. The man who wishes to take charge of
an important department in a department store is put to tying packages.
Teachers' work will not be rightly done until certain advantages are
given to teachers that are now largely withheld. Teachers need more
society, more hours of play, freer opportunity of marriage. Instead of
being tied up to exercise-books and roll-books, in their home-hours,
they should have a chance to spend their time on the golf-links, at
afternoon teas, in visiting and in entertaining friends. Take away
society from any man or woman, and you take away the possibility of a
growing, happy, and helpful life. We need friends just as we need air.
Teachers need admiration and affection, just as much as the society
Universities should have, in their faculties, men and women who
represent the best social as well as the best intellectual life of the
world--who are not only, in the highest sense of the word, society men
and women, but who are social leaders, inspiring truth, inculcating
larger social ideals of the best sort.
The problem between capitalist and laborer, however, only affects a
portion of the world; that of domestic service a still smaller
proportion; that of teachers affects only a class. There is another
problem, which affects nearly all married women, and therefore a large
section of the human race. It is the problem of mother-work. Here is
where the economist should next turn his attention. First, What is
Mother-work? Second, What are the best economic conditions under which
this work can be done? When we have solved this question, we shall have
solved a great human problem.
Mother-work includes the bearing and the rearing of children, the
conduct of a home, and the placing of that home in the right social
atmosphere and relations. It includes manual, intellectual, and
spiritual labors. The one who lives and works, as God meant her to live
and work, will never feel over-fatigue. Why do mothers often look so
tired? It is because they too often do not have what every mother ought
to have: education, rest, change, a Sabbath-day, individual income,
intellectual interests, society.
Whether in the simplest home or in the stateliest, there are certain
manual things to be done in regard to the care and bringing-up of
children, and the conduct of a home. To make the conditions of a woman's
life easier, the very first thing is this: 1. _Women should be educated
primarily for home-life._ By this I do not mean that a woman should be
taught cooking, and not political economy; that she should be instructed
in dressmaking and nursery-work, but not in chemistry and logic. I mean
that the very fullest education that schools, colleges, universities,
and foreign travel can give, should be given to the woman who is
fortunate enough to have them at command, and that every woman,
according to the degree of her possibilities of education and
opportunity, should have the best. But always this education should be
thought of as a part of her preparation for a woman's life. When boys
are in a business college, the principal of that college does not forget
that among the boys there may be more than one who will never have a
business life, but who will go out into other interests and pursuits.
Yet he turns the thoughts of _all_ boys in his school specially toward
business problems. In schools and colleges for women, not all the girls
will marry, not all will be mothers, but most of them will be. Is not,
then, the normal education of a woman that which, while it does not
cramp her life in one direction, nor mould her in a set way, yet keeps
always in mind the fact that the normal woman is being educated for a
normal woman's life?
This would not necessarily change the curriculum of our colleges in any
way; it would change the spirit and atmosphere of some of them at once.
Instead of the spirit being: "My mind is just as good as a man's. What a
man can study, I can learn! What a man can do, I can do!"--the spirit
would be this: "I am going out into a woman's life, and it is my
business now to take to myself all the wisdom, counsel, experience, and
inspiration of past ages, that I may be the very grandest woman that
history has yet seen! I will be a land-mark in time: I will be a pivot
in history around which the earth shall turn. Because of my life, women
to the end of time shall be able to live a truer, freer, better life!"
With this thought in mind, all the academic subjects would still pass
into her mind and life, but they would be much more naturally set and
their value would be greatly enhanced. Then we would not have the
too-ambitious woman stepping out of college, or the restless and
discontented one. We would have the large-minded, earnest, noble,
public-spirited one, who would go out into the world as a fine type of
woman, to live a woman's life and do a woman's work. Married or
unmarried, she would still have a woman's interests, a woman's
influence, a woman's charm.
This higher education may or may not include practical studies in
domestic science, nursing, and household emergencies, but she should
learn somewhere the elements of these studies, so that when she goes
into a home of her own her duties and responsibilities will not be met
in a half-hearted and untrained way.
2. Mothers should have rest-hours and rest-days. Is it not something
extraordinary, from a purely economic point of view, that while it is
widely recognized that every one should have one day in seven for rest,
that while business men are expected to close up their offices on the
Sabbath, and all working men and women are given this day in the stores,
the factories, and mines--the cook and maids have their Sundays out, and
their week-day afternoons--that nowhere on earth, so far as I know, has
there ever been a systematic arrangement by which mothers, as a class,
have any specially arranged hours or days for rest! A baby's care does
not stop on the Sabbath, and the average mother is practically on duty,
at least over-seeing, day and night, twenty-four hours out of the
twenty-four, from one end of the year to the other, no matter how many
maids and nurses she may have in her employ!
3. Personal income and its use. What we buy marks our own individuality,
as well as what we do. The woman whose father or husband adjusts her
expenses and expenditures cannot by any possibility be the kind of woman
that the one is who chooses her own things, and spends her money
absolutely to suit herself. When a man buys cigars or fishing-tackle,
his wife may prefer to buy oratorios and golf-clubs.
4. Mothers should have some interest outside of home-tasks, to keep them
in touch with world-interests and world-tasks. Not all mother's duty is
inside the four walls of her home. The race has demands upon her, as
well as her own child. She ought to be guarded from that short-sighted
and selfish devotion which makes her look upon her child as the centre
of the universe, and which leads her to sacrifice every hour, every
thought, every talent, to him alone.
5. Building up the place of a home in a community means much more than a
rivalry with one's neighbors, as to which one shall have the cleanest
house, the prettiest or most expensive curtains and furniture, who shall
entertain the most, and whose children shall present the best appearance
in the world! Making a social place for a family involves a very wide
acquaintance with really great social ideals; with the best instincts
and customs; with world refinement and manners, as well as those of
one's own town or village--with the social possibilities of life in
general, as well as the etiquette of Quinton's Corners! To give the
right stamp upon her home, a mother must have a social life, as well as
domestic one. She must have time to enter somewhat into the activities
of her own neighborhood, and must have society after marriage, as well
It is a different sort of society that she then needs. It is not a
boy-and-girl society, with its crude ways, and its adolescent ideas of
life. It is the society of earnest, cultured, and public-spirited men
and women, each of whom is adding something to the general store of
interest and ideals; each of whom is doing some phase of social work,
according to his own talent and opportunity.
When a mother steps out into life in this large way, makes education and
training tributary to her mother-life, and does not stop growing
intellectually or spiritually,--her charm as a woman increases, instead
of diminishes, every year of her married life. Her looks mark her
everywhere as a supremely happy woman, and she goes out into the world
marked with that strange, deep, grand impress of motherhood and
womanhood, which has always made the true woman not only a
working-mother, but a love-crowned queen!
These and many other thoughts flit over one's mind in looking at any
phase of work, or any piece of work. In the right choice of work lies
the fullest use of one's capacities; in the right conditions of work
lies the freest play of one's energies; in the right spirit of work lies
the way of one's lasting happiness, and the foretaste of eternal joys.
Thus the world is seen to consist of great cycles of workers, rising in
tiers one above another. Those who do not work are quickly cut out from
all participation in race-progress and in race-delights; those who work
earnestly, but blindly, have their small reward. But those who work with
spiritual energy and enthusiasm are weaving their handiwork into the
very fibre of the universal frame. It is for these spiritual workers
that the great eagerness of life is undying; for them there is no shadow
of fatigue; for them there is the joy of mastery and accomplishment; for
them the peace of soul that comes from the triumphant achievement of
one's mission to mankind!
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