Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 23.djvu/458

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and in-door work is calculated to develop nerve-tissue rather than the muscles, to impair the power of digestion, and reduce the vital forces of the system. That a course of physical degeneracy to some extent has thus been going on with New England men must now, upon thorough examination, be generally admitted.

But a change more marked and serious in its character has been taking place in female organization. Formerly all kinds of housework and domestic duties were performed by New England women. Before foreign help could be obtained, our young women were generally employed as domestics in families. It was customary for the more wealthy and many families of the middling class, where there were no daughters, to employ one or more domestics.

In many families all the house-work was done by the daughters and mother, without any imported help. It was considered becoming and praiseworthy for all females, of whatever age or family connections, to engage on hire in domestic service.

All such employment was then considered respectable. Skill, fidelity, and success in domestic duties, were the best recommendations that any young woman could possess. Practice and public sentiment in these respects have entirely changed. Very few Yankee girls can now be persuaded at any price to engage in domestic labor. Such service is generally considered by them menial, and every kind of employment or business away from the kitchen and domestic hearth is preferred. In families where there are daughters, the hardest portion of the house-work is now performed by the mother or hired help. What are some of the effects of this change in domestic life? No kind of exercise in the world is so well calculated to develop all parts of the body in the female, and promote good health, as house-work. No study or employment whatever can fit the young girl so well for housekeeping as practical training in such duties.

In this way home and the family are pretty sure to secure a strong attachment. By these means all parts of the body are harmoniously developed; a sound constitution, good health, and long life, are secured. Instead of educating the girl in accordance with the laws of her physical system, and training her for the great practical duties of the family, from the age of ten to eighteen she is kept at school nearly all the time, so that the brain and nerves are developed, at the expense of other organs. This partial and one-sided development of the body is increased and intensified in the female, by being thrown out of her natural sphere in domestic labor and family relation. Hence great multitudes of young women from fifteen to twenty-five have nothing to do, are everywhere seeking employment, and are constantly exposed to an excited or morbid state of feeling.

The ill-health of New England women is proverbial. It is less than half a century since it attracted public attention. A careful examination will show that its history and extent run almost parallel