Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 23.djvu/406

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they prefer. They are not to be found as nurses, seamstresses, and chambermaids in wealthy families, but rather as the sole workers in small and simple country families, where they have the kitchen to themselves, and the contrast between the social position of themselves and their employers is not so great.

In all such matters feeling is quicker than reason. Every woman instinctively feels that, in exchanging the position of an outside worker for that of domestic service, she descends one step in the social scale, and approaches one degree nearer to personal servitude. Upon what does this servile nature of domestic service depend? It is not due simply to difference of wealth and social standing; that difference exists everywhere between the employer and the employed. It is due to the conditions under which the work is done in the house, each servant dependent upon the mistress in the details of her personal life, doing work more or less undefined in its nature, amount, and time of doing. These conditions imply a direct, perpetual, personal subordination, necessarily servile. It is the absence of these conditions that renders non-domestic work independent, instead of servile. The limitation of the work within certain hours, outside of which all subordination or accountability to the employer ceases, the freedom of personal life thus gained, the more defined nature of the work, its larger scale, the numerous workers engaged in it—all these characteristics render the relation between employer and employed a business, not a personal one.

We can only imagine the servile character absent from domestic service in a state of society so simple and homogeneous that the work of each family was done by its own women; and one in which there were so few women not required at home that they could be absorbed by those families in which there was a paucity of women, and there work upon an equal footing with the wives and daughters. Is there anything in the tendencies of modern life pointing to such a state of society? Are they not sweeping us in an entirely different direction? Would it not be more in accordance with the forces shaping modern life to suppose that the problem of domestic service will be solved rather by changing the mode in which domestic work is done, than the relative position of mistress and servant? Will not such a change be the natural result of a continuance of the process which has already transferred one occupation after another from the sphere of domestic work to that of business organization? Is it not inevitable that all the material arrangements of life shall ultimately thus be taken possession of?

There is no reason why what is now done by domestic service should always continue to be so done. As weaving and tailoring have gone, so the making of women's and children's clothing is now going. There is no reason inherent in the nature of things why washing, cooking, mending, etc., should not go also, and be done by business organiza-