Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 52.djvu/560

This page has been validated.

versation was educative, thrilling, and amusing, with true story and anecdote. The young Beechers had plenty of wholesome household and out-of-doors work during the day, so that to be with the family at night was as restful to them as evening basketball and feats on the trapeze in the gymnasium, away from the family, are to our young people. Their prayer meeting was "family prayers." Their literary club was a family affair. Their theater was a family affair with continual star additions in men and women from far and near, that gave and received large measures of profit and amusement, thus instituting a family reciprocity that has, finally, been copied by the family of nations.

The last turn of our kaleidoscope reveals a strangely contrastive picture that we have read about, if we have not seen. Let us hope that it is exceptional if true. The father in work-harness from January to January boards and lodges at the family residence, and pays all the family bills, when he is able to. If guests ever find him at home he seems to have "dropped in by accident," gives them a perfunctory handshake, says nothing, or something mechanically, and is at a loss how to behave generally. His son Jack, a little "unsteady," is conspicuous by his absence at his bachelor apartments. His wife, "jeweled like a Hindu idol," smiles, converses, and does the proper things—from chaperoning the young ladies to the opera to settling "quarrels below stairs." Sometimes the family—that is, the female portion of it—"passes years in Europe" for the health or deceptive veneering of daughters who may not know the names of half a dozen mineral springs in their own country, and who forget that the United States has a few canons, a few mountains, a few universities, and a few art collections. Somehow, the management of this family has come to devolve on womankind. One writer makes the modern father a hopeless victim, . . . forced into a style of living which exceeds his means and violates his tastes, forced to yield the guidance and discipline of his children to systems with which he has no sympathy, forced to these sacrifices by the relentless will of an elegant wife." Allowing that this last family picture is unusual and extreme, it is still plain to any keen observer that the pendulum has swung from excessive familism to a somewhat normal domestic life, and then outward to a riotous individualism that indicates family decline if not consumption. Among the most potential causes of this condition are:

1. Complexity of home architecture, furnishings, and personal wardrobe.
2. The apparent apathy, willingness, or submission of men, in yielding to women rights and privileges that belong to themselves.
3. The feverish desire for liberty at any cost.