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But weaving machines can do this work now with far greater precision ; and while stockings are so good and so cheap; is it worth while for our girls to spend long hours in the slow process of looping stitches into each other? Would not the same tine be better spent in the open air and the sunshine, than in-doors, with cramped fingers and bent back over the knitting-needles ?
Of Sewing, nearly the same might be said, since the invention of machines for the purpose. Sewing is a fine art, and those of us who can boast of being neat scamstresses do confess to a certain degree of pride in the boast. But the satisfaction arises from the well-doing; and not from the fact that it is Sewing well done; for anything well and thoroughly done, even if it be only boot-blacking on a street corner, or throwing paper torpedoes in a theatre orchestra to imitate the crack of a whip in the “Postilion Galop,” gives to its doer the same sense of self-satisfaction. It would be folly now, as it may have been in old times, for our girls to spend their hours and try their eyes over back-stitching for collars, etc., when any one out of a hundred cheap machines can do it not only in less time but far better, and the money which could be saved in many ways, by wisdom in housekeeping and caring for the health of children, would buy a machine for every family. This matter of stitching being done for us, then, we may say that the other varieties of sewing required are very few : "sewing over-and-over,” or “top-stitching” as the Irish call it, hemming, button sewing, button-hole making, and gathering. Indeed, hemming, including felling, might be also omitted, as, with a very few exceptions, hems and fells are also handed over to the rapid machine; and "over-casting ” is but a variety of "top-stitching." There are then only four things which a girl really needs to be taught to do, so far as the mere manual facility goes“to sew over-and-over;" to put on a button; to gather, including “stroking” or “laying,” and to make a button-hole. Does it not seem as if an intelligent girl of fourteen or fitteen could be taught these in twelve lessons of one hour each? Only practice can give rapidity and perfection ; but at the age mentioned, the girl's hand has been pretty thoroughly educated to obey her will, and but very little time is needed to turn the acquired control into this peculiar activity, while, with the untrained muscles of the little child, much more time is required and much fretfulness engendered, born of the wnfined position and the almost insuperable difficulty of the achievement.
Abore the mere manual labor, however, there comes another work which always has to be done for the child, and is therefore of no educational value for her: I mean the“fitting”and“ basting.” They cannot be intrusted to the child, for the simple reason that they involve not merely manual dexterity, but also an exercise of the judgment, which in the child has not yet become sufficiently developed. But when the girl has lived fourteen Fears, we will say, and has been trained in other ways into habits of neatness and order, she has also acquired judgment enough for the purpose, and needs only a few words of direction. The sewing of bands to gathers, the covering of cord, the cording of neck or belt, the arrangement of two edges for felling, the putting on of bindings, belong, so to speak, to the syntax of the art of sewing, and come under this division, which must, perforce, be left till maturer years than those of childhood. There is still a sphere above this, the three cor
responding exactly to apprenticeship, journeymanship and mastership, in learning a trade. The third and last sphere is that of “cutting,” and this demands simply and only, judgment and caution. There are a few general statements which must be given, as, for instance, “the right way of the cloth,” in which the parts of the garment should be cut, etc.; but these being once learned -and a lesson of one hour would be a large allowance for this purpose-the good cutter is the one who has the most exact eye for measurement-trained already in school by drawing, writing, etc.—the best power of calculation-trained by arithmetic, algebra, etc.—and the best observation and judgment-trained by every study she has pursued under a good teacher.
As to sewing, considered as a physical exercise, it may almost be pronounced bad in its very nature; considered as a mental exercise, in its higher spheres, it is excellent, because it calls for the activity of thought ; but after the cutting and fitting are done, it is undoubtedly bad, leaving the mind free to wander wherever it will. The constant, mechanical drawing through of the needle, like the listening to a very dull address, seems to induce a kind of morbid intellectual acuteness, or nervousness. If the inner thought is entirely serene and happy, this may do no harm ; but if it is not, if there is any internal annoyance or grief, the mind turns it over and over, till, like a snow-ball, it grows to a mountainous mass, and too heavy to be borne with patience. I think many women will testify, from a woman's experience, that there are times when an afternoon spent in sewing gives some idea of incipient insanity. This leftgthy discussion of the woman's art of sewing can only be excused on the ground that it touches the question of
physical and mental health. As a means of support, the needle can hardly be spoken of now.
As to Cooking, the same in substance might be said. It is perhaps a little more inechanical in its nature, though of that I am not positive; but if a girl is educated into a full developinent of what is known as common sense, she can turn that common sense in this direction as well as
any other, it the necessity arises. The parts of cooking which call for judgment—such, for instance, as whether cake is stiff enough or not, whether the oven is hot enough, safely to intrust the mixture to its care, whether the bread is sufficiently risen-require the same kind of trained senses as that by which the workman in the manufacture of steel decides as to the precise color and shade at which he must withdraw it for use. Το quote from an English woman : Cookery is not a branch of general education for women or for men, but for technical instruction for those who are to follow the profession of cookery; and those who atteinpt to make it a branch of study for women generally, will be but helping to waste time and money, and adding to that sort of amateur tinkering in domestic work which is one of the principal causes of the inefficiency of our domestic servants.
The intellectual and moral habits necessary to form a good cook and housekeeper are thoughtfulness, method, delicacy and accuracy of perception, good judgment, and the power of readily adapting means to ends, which, with Americans, is termed 'faculty,' and with Englishmen bears the homelier name of handiness.' Morally, they are conscientiousness, command of temper, industry and perseverance; and these are the very qualities a good school education must develop and cultivate. The object of such an education is not to put into the pupils so much History, Geography, French or Science, but, through these studies, to draw out their intelligence, train them to observe facts correctly, and draw accurate inferences from their observation, which constitutes good judgment, and teach them to think, and to apply thought easily to new forins of knowledge. Morally, the discipline of a good school tends directly to form the habits I mentioned above. The pupils are trained to steady industry and perseverance, to scorn dishonest work, and to control temper. The girls who leave school so trained, though they may know nothing of cooking or housekeeping, will become infinitely better cooks and housekeepers, as soon as they have a motive for doing so, than the uneducated woman, who has learned only the technical rules of her craft."
* Yrs. E. M. King, Contemporary Revier, Dec., 1873, in an article on “ Coöperative Housekeeping.”
Every girl onght certainly also to know how to drive a nail, to put in and take out a screw, and to do various other things of the same kind, as well as to sweep and to dust; but of all these "readinesses," if I may be permitted the word, the same thing may be said. I have spoken of them under Physical education, as their most appropriate place.
Passing now to the more definite consideration of + Physical education, it will be convenient to consider this
division of the subject under three heads, as I have to speak of
1. Repair, 2. Exercise. 3. Sexual Education.