Literature and National Policy
VOL. VI.—September, 1864—No. III.
OUR DOMESTIC AFFAIRS.
Not of those affairs which are domestic in a broad, national sense; not of any of our home institutions, 'peculiar' or otherwise; not of politics in any shape, nor of railroads and canals, nor of interstate relations, reconstructions, amnesty; not even of the omnivorous question, The War, do I propose to treat under the head of 'Our Domestic Affairs;' but of a subject which, though scarcely ever discussed except flippantly, and with unworthy levity, in that broad arena of public journalism in which almost every other conceivable topic is discussed, is yet second to none, if not absolutely first of all in its bearings upon our domestic happiness. I refer to the question of domestic service in our households.
The only plausible explanation of the singular fact that this important subject is not more frequently discussed in public is, undoubtedly, to be found in its very magnitude. Men and women whose 'mission' it is to enlighten and instruct the people, abound in every walk of morals. Religion, science, ethics, and every department of social economy but this, have their 'reformers.' Before the great problem, How shall the evils which attend our domestic service be removed? the stoutest-hearted reformer stands appalled. These evils are so multiform and all-pervading, they strike their roots so strongly, and ramify so extensively, that they defy the attempt to eradicate them; and they are thus left to flourish and increase. We have plenty of groans over these evils, but scarcely ever a thoughtful consideration of their cause, or an attempt worth noting to remove or mitigate them.
This is surely cowardly and wrong. This great question, which is really so engrossing that it is more talked of in the family circle than any other—this profound and intricate problem, upon the solution of which the comfort, happiness, and thrift of every household in the land depend more than upon almost any other—surely demands the most careful study, and the deepest solicitude of the reformer and philanthropist. The subject just now is receiving considerable attention in England, and the journals and periodicals of that country have recently teemed with articles setting forth the miseries with which English households are afflicted, owing to the want of good servants. But, unfortunately, from none of these has the writer been able to extract much assistance in preparing an answer to the only practical question: How are the evils of domestic service to be remedied? I quote, however, an extract from a recent article in The Victoria Magazine, in order to show how far the complaints made in England of the shortcomings of servants run parallel with those of our own housekeepers. It is to be noted that the writer confessedly holds a brief for the servants. If the facts are fairly stated, the relation between a servant in an English family and her employer differs widely from the like relation with us;
'The prizes in domestic service are few, the blanks many. Ladies think only of the prizes. Needlewomen and factory girls, when they turn their attention to domestic service, see the hardworked, underfed scrub lacking the one condition which goes far to alleviate the hardest lot, that of personal liberty. People who have never known what it is to be subject to the caprices of a petty tyrant, scarcely appreciate this alleviation at its true value. They expatiate upon the light labors, the abundance, the freedom from anxiety which characterize the lot of servants in good places, with an unction worthy of Southern slaveholders. What more any woman can want they cannot understand. They think it nothing that a servant has not, from week to week, and month to month, a moment that she can call her own, a single hour of the day or night, of which she can say, 'This is mine, and no one has a right to prescribe what I shall do with it'—that, in most cases, she has no recognized right to invite any one to come and see her, and therefore can have no full and satisfying sense of home—that many mistresses go so far as to claim the regulation of her dress—that even in mature age and by the kindest employers she is treated more as a child to be taken care of than as a responsible, grown-up woman, able to think and judge for herself. These are substantial drawbacks to the lot of the pampered menial.... These complaints of the readiness of servants to leave their places are based on the assumption that they are under obligations to their employers. In many cases, no doubt, they are, though probably least so where gratitude is most expected. But, at any rate, employers are also under obligations to them. When one thinks of all servants do for us, and how little, comparatively, we do for them, it appears that the demand for gratitude might come more appropriately from the other side. It is an old saying that we value in others the virtues which are convenient to ourselves, and this is curiously illustrated in the popular ideal of a good servant. In the master's estimate besides the indispensable physical qualification of vigorous health—diligence, punctuality, cleverness, readiness to oblige, and rigid honesty, of a certain sort, are essentials.'
We would look long through our laundries and kitchens for the 'hardworked, underfed scrub' of the above extract; and the 'servant who has not from week to week, and month to month, a moment that she can call her own, a single hour of the day or night, of which she can say, This is mine,' etc., does not belong to so numerous a class that her sorrows in this respect invoke commiseration in the public journals. But great as is the difference still between English and American servants, as indicated by the above extract, the former are in a steadily 'progressive' state, and every year brings them nearer in their condition to the happy—and, fortunately for the rest of mankind, as yet anomalous—state of American domesticdom. An article in the London Saturday Review thus comments upon this progress:
'It seems to be too generally forgotten that servants are a part of the social system, and that, as the social system changes, the servants change with it. In the days of our great-grandmothers, the traditions of the patriarchal principle and the subtile influences of feudalism had not died out. 'Servitude' had scarcely lost its etymological significance, and there was something at least of the best elements of slavery in the mutual relation of master and servant. There was an identification of interests; wages were small; hiring for a year under penal obligations was the rule of domestic service; and facilities for changing situations were rare and legally abridged. It was as in married life; as the parties to the contract were bound to make the best of each other, they did make the best of each other. Servants served well, because it was their interest to do so; masters ruled well and considerately, for the same practical reason. Add to this that the class of hirers was relatively small, while the class of hired and the opportunities of choice were relatively large. These conditions are now reversed. As education has advanced, the social condition of the class from which servants are taken has been elevated, and it is thought to be something of a degradation to serve at all. 'I am a servant, not a slave,' is the form in which Mary Jane asserts her independence; and she is only in a state of transition to the language of her American cousin, who observes, 'I am a help, not a servant.' It is quite true that there are no good servants nowadays, at least none of the old type; and the day is not perhaps so very distant when there will be no servants at all.'
The servant classes of France, Germany, and the other Continental countries, seem to be, to a great extent, free from the faults that beset those of England and America. A recent number of Bell's Weekly Messenger thus discusses this difference:
'The truth is that among the Celtic and Sclavonian families service is felt to be honorable; those engaged in it take it up as a respectable and desirable condition. They are as willing to acknowledge it as the physician, the lawyer, or the clergyman is to admit and be proud of their own. A French female servant, at least away from Paris, wears a dress which marks at once what she is. She is not ashamed of her condition, and nowhere is there such real attachment between servants and their employers as in France. In England, on the other hand, it is difficult to persuade a young girl to accept domestic service; she requires what she imagines to be something higher, or—to use her own word—more 'genteel.' If she be a dressmaker, or a shop girl, or a barmaid, she assumes the title of 'young lady,' and advertises—to the disgust of all sensible people—as such. This monstrous notion, which strikes at the root of all social comfort, and a great deal of social respectability, is on the increase among us. It is not quite so rampant as it is in America, but it is tending in the same direction. In fact, our household prospects are not promising. Since we feel that home cookery is far from rivalling that of the clubs, restaurants are being established in the city equal to those of Paris, and the cartoon of Punch is daily fulfilled with a terrible accuracy. 'What has your mistress for dinner to-day?' says the master of the house, on the doorstep, his face toward the city. 'Cold mutton, sir.' 'Cold mutton! Ah! very nice; very nice. By the by, Mary, you may just mention to your mistress that I may perhaps be detained rather later than usual to-day, and she is not to wait dinner for me.' With these things before our eyes, we cannot but feel grateful to any one who will bona fide undertake to teach a little plain cookery. The want of this is the cause of more waste than any other deficiency. The laboring man marries; but he marries a woman who can add nothing to the comfort of his home; she supplies him with more mouths to feed, and she spoils that which is to be put into them; she becomes slatternly, feels her own incapacity, and, finding that she can do but little of her duty, soon leaves off trying to do it at all. As her family increases the discomforts of her home increase, and the end is frequently—drunkenness, violence, and appeals to the police magistrate.'
The writer of the present article pretends to no peculiar fitness for the investigation of this important subject, and to no more varied and profound experience than that which has fallen to the lot of tens of thousands of others; but much observation leads to the conviction that the experience of any single family extending through a series of years of housekeeping, may be taken as a type of that of all families who have to employ servants; and if what shall be advanced in these pages shall have the effect of stimulating others more competent to thought upon the subject, with a view to practical suggestions for the amelioration of the universal difficulty, much will have been gained.
The chief evils we have to consider on the part of servants are, briefly, ignorance, wastefulness, untidiness, pertness, or downright impudence, and what is called 'independence,' a term which all housekeepers thoroughly understand. I leave out of the category the vices of intemperance and dishonesty, which, although lamentably prevalent among the class to which we are accustomed to look for our main supply of domestics, yet do not belong, as do the other faults I have named, to the entire class, and I gladly set them down as moral obliquities, as likely to be exceptional in the class under consideration as in any other. With regard to the other specified failings, every housekeeper will allow that it is so much the rule for a servant to be afflicted with the whole catalogue, that the mistress who discovers her hired girl to be possessed of a single good quality, the reverse of any I have named, as for example, economy, neatness, or a conscientious devotion to the interests of her employers, although she may utterly lack any other, fears to dismiss her, for fear that the next may prove an average 'help,' and have not a solitary good point. A girl who combines all the above-named good qualities is a rare treasure indeed, and the possessor of the prize is an object of envy, wide and hopeless.
In commenting upon the causes which produce bad servants, I shall confine myself more especially to those which develop in them the faults of wastefulness, impudence, and 'independence,' both because every housekeeper will allow that they are the most common as well as trying of all, and because it is only for them, I confess freely, I have any hope of suggesting a remedy. Ignorance of their duties is chronic in all Irish and German girls when they first go out to service, and their acquirement of the requisite knowledge depends very much upon the amount of such knowledge possessed by the housekeeper who has the privilege of initiating them. Untidiness is almost equally universal among the same classes, and, being a natural propensity, is extremely difficult of eradication. It may be stated, however, that given an average 'greenhorn,' Irish or German, the notable and tidy housewife will make of her a very fair servant, as well instructed as her native intelligence will allow, and, unless a downright incorrigible, whose natural slatternliness is beyond the reach of improvement, a certainly tolerably neat, and possibly a very tidy servant. And just here I will remark that it is an unquestionable fact that the good housekeeper has a much more encouraging prospect of making a useful servant out of one of these same 'greenhorns' than of a girl who has been longer in the country, and who has nevertheless yet to be 'licked into shape.' Of course this remark covers the whole ground, and it is obvious that to start a girl right in habits of economy, respectfulness, etc., is quite as important as to start her right in any other good habit. It is not necessary to say further that starting right is not of itself enough: there must ever accompany the progress of the servant in improvement, the watchful eye and guiding hand of the skilled mistress and head of the family. I cannot, within the scope of this article, enter into the consideration of the important correlative branch of my subject, which includes the fitness of housekeepers to make good servants out of the rough, to keep good what they so find, or to improve such as they receive, be they good or bad. It is obvious that this fitness presupposes a practical knowledge of the science of housekeeping—(how worthy it is to be called a 'science'!)—and a willingness to accept and carry out the responsibilities which devolve upon the mistress of a family. I admit that very many of those who keep servants are utterly unfit in many important senses for the responsibilities of family economists. Yet I still believe it possible for even the most inexperienced housekeepers to adopt and pursue, in their management of servants, one or two cardinal principles which will save them a vast deal of vexation. Of these, more hereafter.
The very prevalent pertness and 'independence' of servants are due, primarily, unquestionably to the great demand for them, and the ease with which situations are procured. This is not, in my judgment, because the supply is inadequate; I do not believe it is. It is because the frequent changings of servants by our families places it in the power of every one of the former to procure a situation without the slightest trouble. A girl about to leave a place has but to inquire for two or three doors around, to find some family about to change 'help.' This 'independence' is also undoubtedly fostered by a false and exaggerated idea which these girls imbibe from their brothers, 'cousins,' etc.—the voting 'sovereigns' of the land—of the dignity of their new republican relation. Most of the 'greenhorns' begin humbly enough, but, after a few months' tutelage of fellow servants, and especially if they pass through the experiences of the 'intelligence offices' (of which more anon), they are thoroughly spoiled, and become too impudent and 'independent' for endurance. The male adopted citizen, fawned upon by demagogues for his vote, is 'as good as anybody;' and why not Bridget and Katrina?
Now I do not broach the abstract question of equality: I am willing to admit that in the eye of our Maker we are, and before the law ought to be, all equal—that is to say, ought all to have an equal chance; but to abolish the idea of subordination in the employed to the employer, and to abrogate the relation of dependence of the servant upon her or his master or mistress, would simply be to reverse the teachings of inspiration and nature. As well say that the child shall be independent of the parent as that the servant shall not be subject in all reasonable things to the master.
It is worthy of remark that this spirit of insubordination spoken of is far more rife among girls of Irish birth who go out to service than among the Germans, Scotch, or English. Neither is there among these latter so much clannishness, or disposition to establish the feeling under consideration as a class prejudice and principle of conduct, as there is among the former. The absence of such a homogeneity of feeling among German, English, and Scotch domestics makes them much more favorable subjects for the operation of the rules I propose to suggest for their improvement.
The clannishness just alluded to is a very important influence among those which tend to produce insubordination and other serious faults among servants. Every housekeeper must have observed that a marvellous facility of intercommunication exists among the servant classes, and more particularly among the Irish. There seems to be some mysterious method at work, whereby the troubles and bickerings of each mistress with her 'help' are made known through the whole realm of servantdom. It is no uncommon thing for a mistress to have minutely detailed to her by her hired girl the particulars of some difficulty with a previous servant, with whom she has no reason to believe the narrator has had any intercourse. So frequently does this happen that many housekeepers religiously believe that the Irish servants are banded together in some sort of a 'society,' in the secret conclaves of which the experiences of each kitchen are confided to the common ear. This belief is not confined to American housekeepers, but obtains very extensively in England also. The arrest and punishment of a woman in London for giving a good 'character' to a dishonest servant, who subsequently robbed her employer, naturally caused some excitement in housekeeping circles in that city, and numerous communications to The Times evinced the feeling upon the subject. In one of these 'A Housekeeper' boldly asserts that there are combinations among the servants, and that housekeepers who refuse to give a certificate of good character are 'spotted,' and find in consequence the greatest difficulty in obtaining any servants thereafter. Indeed, she asserts that in some instances, so rigorously does the system work, offending families have been compelled to relinquish housekeeping, and go into lodgings or abroad, until their offence was forgotten! The fundamental principle which our housekeepers believe to pervade these societies is that employers are fair game; that the servant has to expect nothing but to be oppressed, persecuted, overworked, ground down, and taken advantage of at every opportunity, and that it is her duty, therefore, to hold the employer at bitter enmity, and to make the best fight she can.
Now such a belief can scarcely be termed absurd, and yet it is unquestionably groundless. The mysterious 'understanding' of servants, and their wide knowledge of each other's experiences, may be explained upon a perfectly simple and rational theory, and I think we may venture to reject the 'society' hypothesis altogether.
Servant life is as much a world in itself as political, religious, or art life. Indeed, its inhabitants are even more isolated and self-existent than those of any other sphere, for while the politician, theologian, and artist are generally, to some extent, under the influence of interests and passions other than those which belong exclusively to their special walk, the dwellers in kitchens have but the one all-embracing sphere, and its incidents, which seem to us so trivial, are to them as important as the great events which we think are worthy of being embalmed in epics or made imperishable in history. To them the reproof of the mistress or the loss of wages for the careless pulverization of a soup tureen is lawful theme for the agitation of all servantdom. Martin Luther had his tussles with pope and devil, Handel and Gluck had their wars with the hostile cabals, Henry Clay had his John Randolph and Andrew Jackson—and Bridget and Catharine have their disturbing and absorbing questions of 'wages,' and 'privileges,' and other matters; and a wrangle that the mistress forgets in a day, the maid carefully cherishes in her memory, and makes it the theme of widest discussion. Without resorting, then, to the improbable notion of the existence of a secret society among the servants, through which the knowledge of our difficulties with them is disseminated, I think the theory above outlined sufficiently explains what seems so mysterious. There can, however, be no question that the feeling among servants generally is unfortunately something like that alluded to above as the imaginary inspiration of a hypothetical society, namely, that employers are oppressive, exacting, and utterly selfish; and there is certainly a tacit understanding that, as between servant and mistress, it is 'diamond cut diamond;' and the habit domestics have of making common cause with a sister in trouble, no doubt practically works as much evil as if such a society as has been mentioned really existed. The girl, confronting her adversary, in military phrase, feels a hundred comrades 'touching her elbow,' and her lip is wonderfully stiffened thereby. Now it is needless for me to say that the idea that these poor girls have, that their employers are their natural enemies, is wrong and absurd, and every housekeeper should endeavor to make this clear to her servants. If this false idea could be eradicated, and the true theory established that the interests of the employer and employe are identical, much will have been accomplished toward making better servants.
Among the influences which are at work to spoil servants, none are more baleful than the system, as at present conducted, of 'intelligence offices.' These agencies might be and ought to be among the most useful of our social institutions: they are, as a class, utterly worthless, and many of them are positively dens of thieves. Almost without exception they are conducted upon the vicious principle I have just above discussed, and in them the servant is confirmed in her belief that the employing class is a class of cruel oppressors. The interest of the employer seems to be held by the managers of most of these institutions as absolutely of no account. The following conversation, which actually took place in one of these offices, between its proprietor and an applicant for a domestic, will illustrate, better than a lengthy disquisition could do, the system upon which too many of these employment agencies are conducted:
LADY. I want a girl for general housework.
PROPRIETOR. Well, I can suit you, if you can be suited. Here's a girl, now, just out of a place, and I can recommend her (beckoning to one of the fifty girls who are seated in full hearing of all that passes).
LADY (after a few questions addressed to the girl, who, of course, can cook, and bake, and wash and iron, and is extravagantly fond of 'childer,' etc., etc.). Well, there is one thing I am very particular about. I want a girl who is honest. The last girl I had from you I had to discharge for making too free with my stores for the benefit of her own family relations.
PROPRIETOR (with an insolent sneer). Honest! humph! that depends upon what you call honest. Some people call a girl a thief if she takes a bit of cake from the pantry without saying, 'By your leave.' (Chorus of giggles and approbatory nods from the sympathizing audience of fifty.)
The crude notions of the respective rights of meum and tuum furnished the 'help' graduated by such an institution, may be imagined.
Some pains are occasionally taken to provide a regular customer, whose patronage it is desirable to retain, with a good servant, but generally all is fish that comes to their net. The business is now in such ill odor that intelligence-office servants are proverbial for worthlessness and all the worst qualities of the class. I have known a thief, a drunkard, and a vixen to be sent from one of these offices in succession, the victimized housekeeper finally begging that no more be sent, preferring to let the retaining fee go, than to be pestered any further. It is well known that the more decent and self-respecting of the class of domestics rarely, now, enter their names upon the books of intelligence offices. Indeed, such seldom have occasion to seek places; if they do, they usually prefer to advertise.
In this employment-agency business a radical reform is needed. A respectable and conscientious man at the head of such an institution, managing it upon the principle that it is just as much his interest to furnish the employer with a good servant as to provide the servant with a good place, would be truly a public benefactor. In this, as in all other kinds of business, honesty would be found the best policy. It is a base imposition to recommend as good a servant who is known to be bad, and it is just as dishonest to recommend as good one whose character is totally unknown. It should be the business of every purveyor of household 'help' to ascertain, by rigid investigation, the characters and qualifications of those who apply for places; and they should steadily refuse to have anything to do with any they cannot honestly recommend. This, we repeat, they would speedily find their best policy. In this way, and this only, can they win back the confidence and patronage of the public; and they would soon find that the worthless characters who now constitute their main stock in trade, would be superseded by a much better class. There would be another important benefit to the servants themselves in such a course. In an office thus conducted, the known necessity of being able to show a clean record in order to procure a place, would reform many a bad servant, who now, knowing that her twenty-five cents will procure her a place (and no questions asked by the agent, so that he need tell no lies), has no incentive to improvement or good conduct. There would soon be a rivalry among servants as to who should stand highest upon the roll of merit.
The fault which has been before alluded to under the name of 'independence,' deserves more special mention than I have yet given it. It is probably the most exasperating, as it is the most general of all the failings of servants. It makes the timid and sensitive housekeeper a slave in her own house. No matter how grave may be the offences of her hired girl, she must bear them in the meekest silence. Even the most friendly advice, conveyed in the blandest possible tone, is often declined with freezing dignity or repelled with tart resentment. The cook who makes a cinder of your joint, or sends you up disgusting slops for coffee, or the laundress between whose clean and soiled linen you are puzzled to choose, has almost invariably the reply, uttered with a majestic sternness that never fails to crush any but a veteran and plucky housekeeper: 'This is the first time any mistress ever found fault with my cooking (or washing), and I have always lived with the best families, too.' The cutting emphasis with which this point of the 'best families' is pushed home, is familiar to nearly every housekeeper. It was scarcely a departure from sober truth in the lady who, on being asked if she kept a hired girl, replied that she had an Irish lady boarding with her, who occasionally condescended, when she had nothing of more consequence to do, to help a little in the work of the family. An amusing trifle is going the rounds of the papers, which well hits off, and without much exaggeraration, the self-assumed prerogatives of the servant girl of our great cities:
"Now, Miss Bradford, I always likes to have a good, old-fashioned talk with the lady I lives with, before I begins. I'm awful tempered, but I'm dreadful forgivin'. Have you Hecker's flour, Beebe's range, hot and cold water, stationary tubs, oilcloth on the floor, dumb waiter?' Then follows her planned programme for the week: 'Monday I washes. I'se to be let alone that day. Tuesday I irons. Nobody's to come near me that day. Wednesday I bakes. I'se to be let alone that day. Thursday I picks up the house. Nobody's to come near me that day. Friday I goes to the city. Nobody's to come near me that day. Saturday I bakes, and Saturday afternoon my beau comes to see me. Nobody's to come near me that day. Sunday I has to myself."
I have now pointed out some of the principal faults of servants, and indicated what I believe to be some of the causes of those faults. Alluding, in passing, to some influences which it seems to me might be made available in correcting some of these faults, I have yet to mention what I conceive to be the most important reason of all for the general worthlessness of the class under consideration. And in noticing this I shall necessarily couple with that notice some suggestions which I firmly believe, if put into practice, will be exceedingly beneficial in producing the reform we all so ardently wish for. And I feel the less hesitation in saying this, because they are based upon no theory of my own devising, but upon principles which are everywhere recognized and acted upon, except, singularly enough, in the conduct of our domestic affairs. To be brief, then, I attribute the greatest of the evils of our system of domestic service to a want of business management in our domestic affairs.
A wife, in the truest sense, is her husband's most important business partner—his partner in a more complete and comprehensive sense than any other he can have. It is not, as many seem to imagine, the business of the wife to spend the money the husband earns. She is as much bound to forward the mutual prosperity as he is. The household is her department of the great business of life, as her husband's is the store, the manufactory, or the office. Her department does not embrace the conduct of great enterprises, bargains, speculations, etc.; she has only to remember and act upon the brief, simple maxim: 'A penny saved is a penny earned.' In this way she can greatly advance the common weal. If she fails to act constantly upon this principle, she is an unfaithful and untrustworthy partner, and is as much, to blame as if her husband were to neglect his stock, his shipping, his contract, or his clients. Why should the husband be expected to manage his part of the business upon sound and correct business principles—system, responsibility, economy—while his helpmeet is letting hers go at loose ends, with a shiftlessness which if he should emulate would ruin him in a year?
Now what is the principle upon which every good business man manages his affairs? Why, simply that of sovereignty. In his domain his will is law, and no employe dare question it. He has to deal with the male counterparts of Bridget and Catharine, as porters, laborers, sometimes as cooks and waiters; but he has no trouble. The 'independent' man soon goes out of the door. If he be a manufacturer, he does not allow his employes to help themselves to his stores and material. He keeps, if he is a sensible man, his stock under lock and key, and exacts a rigid accountability in their use. What is to prevent the introduction of just such a system of accountability in the family economy? 'Why,' say many housekeepers, 'we would not dare to lock up our butter, and eggs, and flour, and sugar; we could not keep a girl a day if we doled out our stores and held our servants responsible for their economical use.' But, dear, doubting mesdames, your business partner does this every day, and we should like to see the clerk or apprentice who would even 'look black' at him for doing it. Perhaps your business partner has to employ girls; if so, he has many Irish among them; don't they stand his manner of doing business, without grumbling? If they don't, they find another shop, that's all. Suppose this case: A manufacturer of jewelry reasons as you do. He says: 'I cannot keep my hands satisfied unless I give them free access to my stock of gold, silver, and diamonds. I must throw open my tool drawers, so that they can help themselves; and I must not ask how much material this or that manufactured article has taken to make.' That man would have to shut up shop in a year, even if he were not robbed of a dollar. Now, I ask, is it fair to expect the husband to be orderly, systematic, and business-like, and to superintend his business himself, while the wife surrenders her legitimate affairs to the hands of ignorant and irresponsible subordinates?
But the female partner of the shrewd man of business, or the plodding, hardworking mechanic, may be inclined to say, 'I hate business,' and to think it hard that she should be called upon to regulate her household affairs upon any such severe and rigid rules. But, my dear madam, apart from the clear fact that it is your duty to manage your household wisely and prudently, which we have seen cannot be done without business system, of which you must be the head, I assure you that such a system is neither intricate nor vexatious. It does not necessarily entail upon you the least participation in the actual labor of the family. It does not absolutely require your personal presence at the scene of those labors, although the woman who considers it beneath her dignity to go into her kitchen, has no more business to undertake to keep house than the master mechanic, who is too proud to enter his workshop, has to try to carry on a shop. The absolutely essential thing is that yours should be the directing and controlling mind, and that to you every one in your employ should be held rigorously responsible. Now don't tell me that such a system cannot be introduced with the present race of servants; that you would be left half the time without anybody to do your work; that until mistresses can combine to lay down rules for the better regulation of domestic service, you must submit to the present evils. You are not justified in assuming any of these things to be so, until you have honestly and thoroughly tried the experiment in your single household. To make such a system work, it is of course necessary that your servants should be made to understand perfectly certain facts, which you should take pains distinctly to announce to every new domestic you engage. They are so plainly just and reasonable that the most captious servant cannot take exception to them as a matter of principle. It must depend upon your persevering spirit and firm hand that they do not fail in practice. First, you should tell your servant that, employing them at a stipulated rate of wages, to do certain, work, their time belongs to you. Tell them that you insist upon their being absolutely under your direction and control, that you expect to grant them all reasonable privileges, but that they must be regarded as privileges, and not as rights. Tell them distinctly that, if you prefer to keep your stores under lock and key, it is not because you suspect their integrity, but because you consider it as your business as a housekeeper to know what is the cost of your living. Tell them that you are in the habit of keeping an accurate account of your expenses, and that, in consequence, it is necessary that you should know of every cent that is expended. If these facts are clearly made known and consistently acted upon, much of the trouble of managing servants is done away with.
Although the plan of keeping a book of family accounts only belongs incidentally to the main subject under discussion, it is so important that I cannot refrain from a more special mention of it than is given above. It is the simplest thing in the world, not taking more than ten minutes on an average every day. For reference, in case of a disputed bill, it is invaluable, while its influence in keeping down expenses is wonderfully wholesome.
If the affairs of a family are to be conducted on business principles, the family account book cannot be neglected. It would be just as safe and sensible for the merchant to neglect his cash book, as for his domestic partner, who undertakes to do her business properly, to fail to keep her cash book.
One of the regulations which is proposed posed above as part of the system of family management is, in my judgment, as important in its bearing upon the honesty of the servant as it is upon the question of economy. I refer to the keeping the family stores under the immediate care of the housekeeper. It is nothing to the discredit of servants that this is said. More people are honest through circumstances than is generally supposed. Many a servant is tempted into habits of pilfering by the free and unquestioned access she has to the family stores. I have before used the case of a man carrying on a business and having employes under him, to illustrate my subject. Suppose a merchant or a bank should allow all their clerks free access to the safe or till, they knowing no cash account was kept. If some of these boys or young men were tempted to steal, would not the blame lie chiefly at the door of those who, having it in their power, yet did not remove the temptation?
Having now given a few rules for the improvement of servants, which are easily tried, and which I know from observation of their practical working are worth a trial by every housekeeper, I wish to add a few words concerning the material of which, our present supply of servants consists, and to offer some observations upon the question of a prospective supply of possibly a better material.
It is probably no exaggeration to say that four fifths of our female servants are Irish. I have already given several reasons why this class are more intractable and difficult to manage than any other. To apply the rules I have given to this class will be more difficult than to the domestics of any other nation. But, as I have said, I have seen them enforced with success even in cases where an Irish domestic was the subject. And here let me repeat that almost everything depends upon the starting right. No Irish girl ever yet went to a new place perfectly sure of her ground, although they generally can measure the quality of their mistress during the negotiations which precede the engagement. In starting with a new servant, it is emphatically the first encounter that must decide who is to be the ruler. Dignity, coolness, and decision, upon the first attempt to 'put on airs,' will generally bring you off permanent conqueror.
By some housekeepers German domestics are preferred. They are naturally less impulsive and more amenable to control than the Irish. Their class prejudices are not so violent; there is less unity of purpose among them, and they are, in consequence, more favorable subjects for the application of the rules given than are generally the Irish. It is, however, difficult to assimilate the German girls to American customs. They are not apt to learn, and great patience is required in teaching them. The virtues of order and cleanliness seem to be not only rare in them, but exceedingly difficult to graft upon them. Their cooking, especially, is generally execrable. But once properly trained, they make the best of servants. They are generally contented, almost always cheerful and good tempered, and have little of that irritating pertness and 'independence' so characteristic of the Irish domestic.
That branch of the present subject which relates to the going out to service of American women has been publicly discussed somewhat more extensively than any of the others, particularly of late, it having entered largely into the question of woman's labor, which has been attracting considerable attention. It is truly a deplorable thing that household service is so generally regarded as a menial employment, not fit for an American woman to engage in. Our countrywomen will do almost anything rather than go out to service. They will work ten or twelve hours a day in close, unwholesome shops, surrounded by all the unsexing and contaminating influences attending the customary free and easy commingling of male and female employes in such places. They will accept avocations from which the native delicacy and neatness of an American girl must revolt. They will put up with wages which will barely keep body and soul together, wear the meanest clothes, submit to the vilest tyranny and extortion, rather than enter a position where they will have but the natural, wholesome labor of woman to perform, that of domestic life; accompanied by all the pure influences and comforts of a home. I would be rejoiced if anything I could say would be useful in removing this absurd and injurious prejudice among American women toward domestic service. There is surely nothing menial in the work they would have to do. It is woman's work all over the world, far more so than a hundred other occupations they now eagerly seek. Their repugnance to the position itself is the sticking point. This repugnance is based upon a chimera. They are, in any position in which they labor for wages, 'servants' in as complete a sense as if they labored for wages in household employments. Far be it from me to say a word to lower that just and honorable pride which is the birthright of the American girl. But in declining domestic service for that of the shops, the American girl declines an honest, reputable, healthful, and every way elevating employment, for, in many cases, a dwarfing, degrading, wretched slavery; she turns from her natural and proper sphere to enter a walk of harsh and degrading experiences, in which it is not possible she can pass her life. A word on this latter point: Almost every young woman expects some day to marry. Now, I ask, what sort of a fitting can a girl receive in a shop for the serious business of homekeeping? The significance of this word 'homekeeping' is not apparent at a glance. It means far more than mere 'housekeeping' although the latter is one of its most essential elements. A girl of sixteen is forced to earn her own living. She chooses to go into a shop. Grant that she escapes contamination from the influences heretofore alluded to; that her health bears up under confinement, bad air, scanty food, and insufficient clothing—all of which are experiences too familiar with women who labor at mechanical employments;—when she reaches a marriageable age, and takes the important step which is to 'settle her for life,' what is her condition? The chances are that she has become the wife of some hardworking mechanic, or man of scanty means, who cannot afford to keep a fine lady in his domestic establishment. But she knows no more of the mysteries of housekeeping than she does of the Latin kalends. She must keep a servant, who will waste the common substance, and keep her husband's nose perpetually at the grindstone, to the great wear of mutual comfort and temper. And once more: There is far more of forecast in young men seeking wives than they commonly get credit for. The neat, smart girl, who works in the shop, may get a good husband—the young woman who is a notable, tidy, thrifty housewife, is sure to be sought after.
I would add a remark upon another point. American girls are frequently heard to say they would not object to going out to service could they be 'treated as one of the family.' No American girl who respects herself need fear that in an American family she will fail to command respect. It should be remembered that the rigid line which is drawn in most families between mistress and servant, is not simply because such relations exist, but because there is generally absolutely nothing in common between them save sex alone; no community of nationality, religious belief, intelligence—nothing which can excite mutual sympathy, or move to homogeneity. The American girl who lives out at service need not fear that she will occupy a position in all respects corresponding to that occupied by the great mass of servants.
It is highly probable that we shall be able hereafter to procure many valuable servants from the South. When freedom shall have taken the place of slavery, and labor becomes honorable in that section, many Southern women will do—as many Northern women always have done—their own work. In this way many servants will be set free. Then, when it becomes necessary to pay wages to servants, there will be a swarming out from the kitchens of the South of Dinah and Phillis et als., and many of these superfluous servants will find their way North. Already out of the bloody wreck of society at the South, through the flaming borders of bayonets and cannon, have drifted into happy Northern homes thousands of valuable servants, and they will be followed by thousands more, 'when this cruel war is over.' We cannot judge of the qualities of colored servants from the wretched specimens we have heretofore had among us. The trained house-servants of the South are the best in the world. They are docile, cleanly, quick-witted, and respectful to humbleness.
There have been many projects devised looking to the education of girls for housekeeping. There was a very excellent institution in existence ten years ago in one of the Eastern States, which combined with the customary course of intellectual instruction a systematic training in the mysteries of housekeeping. The writer has heard nothing of this school for some years, and presumes it has failed for want of support. We train our daughters only to shine in the drawing room, and the real graces of life are neglected. Music, French, and Italian are very excellent things, but they should stand second, not first, in the acquirements which we should desire for those who are to be future wives, mothers, and mistresses of families. But this is a little apart from the present subject. The idea of a school for training girls for housekeeping, however, suggests a thought on the expediency of an institution for the education of servants. Such a project has frequently been urged as a most desirable one to be put into operation, though I am not aware that it has ever been tried. Of course it cannot be expected that girls wishing to become servants could enter such an institution if it cost anything for instruction. But there can be no question that, purely as a matter of speculation, such a school would be a success. If, in one of our large cities, an institution should be opened by some one having the requisite knowledge, embodying the principle of our present intelligence offices, taking young girls and training them gratuitously, some for cooks, waiters, nursery maids, laundresses, and a larger number for what is termed 'general housework,' it being understood that in selecting the material the proprietor had an eye to honesty and intelligence, it would be an immense success. The servants graduating from such an institution would be eagerly sought for, and would command the highest wages. The fee for furnishing a servant could be placed at a much higher rate than is now paid at intelligence offices, and would be paid readily, for the employer would be reasonably confident of securing a good domestic. Such institutions would go very far toward remedying the evils under which we now groan, and I trust it will not be many years before schools for servants will be among the recognized institutions of our country.
 The pity of it is that the majority of our young ladies, on leaving school, know as little of music, French, and Italian as they can possibly do of housekeeping.—ED. CON.
 The House of the Sisters of Mercy in New York is a worthy commencement in the above-mentioned direction, and has, as far as we know, hitherto proved successful.—ED. CON.
A TALE OF SLAVE LIFE IN ROME.
A week passed away. It was toward the end of a bright and cloudless day, and Rome was gradually arousing itself from its wonted siesta. The heat had at no time been oppressive, for during the whole morning a cool breeze had been gambolling across the Campagna from the sea; so that even during the small hours of the day, the streets had not been kept free from moving masses of life. Now that the atmosphere became still further tempered, fresh throngs poured forth from all the smaller passages and alleys, until the greater arteries of the city swarmed with eager, animated crowds.
More now than at any other time during the few weeks that had just elapsed; for upon the morrow was to commence the dedication of the great amphitheatre of Titus, and thousands of strangers had already poured into Rome to witness the games, combats, and pageantry. From the surrounding towns and villages—from the cities of the south—from the confines of the Alps—even from the farthermost provinces, countless throngs had assembled to greet an occasion second only to the grand triumphal entry with the spoils of Jerusalem.
From her window overlooking the streets, AEnone surveyed the panorama of life spread out before her. Upon the battlements and towers of the Caesars' house, in full sight over against the Palatine Hill, floated the imperial banners, gently waving their folds in anticipation of the splendors of the ensuing days; and round about stood crowds of strangers, wondering at the magnificence of the palace architecture, and the vast compass of its walls, and straining their eager gaze in the hope of being able to catch a chance glimpse of the emperor himself. Farther down was the now completed Colosseum, around which other thousands stood watching the pigmies who, in dark clusters upon the top and along the edge, laboriously erected the poles upon which, in case of need, to stretch the protecting velarium. This was the last outward preparation of all; and when that was done, everything would be ready. As one of these poles was being elevated, he who had hold of the lower end of it lost his balance, and fell to the ground. He was lifted up outside, dead—a shapeless, gory mass. The crowd shuddered to see that helpless body falling from such a height; but, at the next moment, all sympathy passed away. The man wore a slave's dress, and was recognized as belonging to the praetorian lieutenant Patrocles. Upon the morrow, if he had lived, he was to have appeared in the arena as a retiarius—he would then most likely have been conquered and slain—it was merely a day sooner—a victim outside the walls instead of within—he had clambered up to overlook the ground upon which he was to have fought, and need not thus recklessly have volunteered to aid the regular laborers—it was his fate—Deus vult—what more could be said?
AEnone had not witnessed the fall, for she had not been looking at palace or amphitheatre, both, of which were too familiar with her to attract her attention. The one had been for years the centrepiece of her view—and the other had grown up arch by arch and tier by tier so steadily before her eyes that it seemed as though she could almost count its stones. Her gaze was now fixed upon the open space beneath her window, where the Sacred and Triumphal Walls joined—a space always at that hour gay with a phantasmagoria of shifting life, and at this time more than ever provocative of curiosity and attention. Its bordering palaces, already being hung with lively tapestries for the morrow—its sparkling fountains—its corners decked with arches—its pavement thronged with carriages and horsemen—the crowds of slaves, beginning in advance to take their holiday, and affording pleasing contrasts as they wound their way in slender currents through the openings in the throng of their betters—the soldiery passing here and there in large or small detachments—where else in the world could such a varied scene of life and animation be presented?
First before her eyes passed a number of the praetorian guard, with martial music, cutting the crowd asunder like a wedge in their steady march toward the imperial palace. Then came the chariot of the African proconsul, with liveried footmen in front, and Nubian slaves, in short tunics and silver anklets, running beside the wheels. After that a covered van, toilsomely dragged along by tired horses and guarded by armed slaves in livery. The imperial cipher was emblazoned upon the dusty canvas screen thrown over the top, and from within, at intervals, came half-smothered growls and roars. It was some wild beast arriving at this late hour from Nubia—a contribution from some provincial governor—a booty which had cost pounds of gold, and perhaps the lives of many slaves, and which was now destined to perform, in the sanded arena, the combats of the jungle. The crowd, which had let the African proconsul pass by with but a careless glance of uninterested scrutiny—for dignitaries were too common to excite much curiosity—pressed tumultuously and with frantic eagerness around the heavy cage, exulting in each half-stifled roar from within as though it were a strain of sweet music—and thus followed the van until it arrived at the amphitheatre and passed out of sight through one of the deep, low arches leading to the tiers of grated stone cages, already well filled with the choicest forest spoils of every tributary country.
Then came a black-bearded horseman. The trappings of his steed were marked with the insignia of distinction; and footmen, with staves, ran before him to clear the way. He sat with proud and haughty mien—as one who felt his power and immunity, and yet with the expression of one aware that all his rank and state could not protect him from secret scorn and hate. Not many looked at him; for, in that thronging display of wealth and power, a single gayly caparisoned horse and two liveried footmen counted for almost nothing. One or two, however, of those few who study men for their deeds alone, turned and gazed scrutinizingly after him, for he had already taken rank as one of the historians of the age. And as he passed farther along, a group of slaves, whose marked features denoted Jewish descent, suffered expressions of aversion to break from them; some turning their backs—some gazing up with faces inflamed with the fiercest intensity of hate—while one, less cautious, clenched his fist and hurled after the rider a handful of dust and volleys of heavy Hebrew curses. And so the apostate Josephus passed on, and was gradually lost to view.
After him, slowly wending his way on foot through the crowds, occasionally moving aside to allow others, more urgent, the privilege of passing him, and constantly careful not to excite the impatient wrath of those nearest to him by a too lively pressure, yet all the time making sure progress along his chosen path, came a single figure—a white-bearded man, in plain, coarse tunic and well-worn sandals. Few regarded him or even seemed to know that he was there, except when in their hurry they found it expedient to jostle him one side. But in his face gleamed an intelligence far beyond what could be expected from one in his humble attire; and as AEnone watched him, a suspicion crossed her that the poor, beggarly dress and the quiet, yielding mien were assumed to baffle observation. Soon another person in similar dress but of fewer years met him. The two joined hands and looked earnestly into each other's eyes, and the older one appeared to mutter a word or two. What was that word, at which the younger bent his head with reverent gesture? Was it a command or a blessing? Whatever it was, in a second it was all said. The hands then unclasped—the bended head raised with a startled glance around, as though with a fear that even such a mere instant of humble bearing might have betrayed something which should be kept secret; and then the two men parted, and were swallowed up in different sides of the concourse.
'I know that person,' said Cleotos, He had been gazing, for the past minute, out at the same window with AEnone; and while attracted by the humble figure of that old man, he had noticed that she had been equally observant.
'You know him, Cleotos?'
'They call him Clemens, noble lady. He is a leader of the Christian sect, and a person of influence among them. It was at Corinth that I first saw him, and it was he who let me copy the good words which are written upon my little leaf of parchment. That was two years ago, but I still recognize him. What does he here? Why should he thus peril his life In public?'
'Give me that little scroll, Cleotos,' said AEnone. 'Let me have it for my own.'
Cleotos gazed at her for a moment in dismay. Was she about to use her authority, and take away from him by force those few lines, which, though he understood them so little, had often served to cheer his heart with their promises of future rest and joy? If so, he must submit; but of what avail, then, was all her previous kindness?
'I ask it not as mistress, but as friend,' she said, reading his thoughts. 'I ask it because, when you are away, I shall need some memory of what have been happy days, and because I may then often wish to apply those same words of comfort to my own soul. You can make another copy of the same, and, in your own land, I doubt not, can find, with proper search, many more words of equal value.'
'In my own land?' Cleotos repeated, ed, as in a dream. But, though her meaning did not as yet flash upon him, he knew that she spoke in kindness, and that she would not ask anything which he would not care to grant; and he drew the little stained parchment from beneath his tunic, and handed it to her.
'Close, now, the window, Cleotos, and shut out from sight that giddy whirl, for I have something to say to you.'
He closed the window with its silken blind; and then, in obedience to her motion, glided away from before it She seated herself upon her lounge, and he upon his accustomed stool in front of her.
'Think not, Cleotos,' she said, after a moment's silence, 'that I first brought you hither to become a mere slave. It was rather done in order that, when the proper time came, I might set you free. Had she—Leta—but shown herself worthy of you, the day might have come when I could have managed to free her also, and send you both home again together. But that cannot be. You must go alone, Cleotos, but not, I hope, despairingly. Once again in your own loved Samos, I know that, sooner or later, there will be found some other one to make you forget what you have suffered here.'
He could no longer doubt her meaning—she was about to give him to liberty again. At the thought the blood rushed to his heart, and he gasped for breath. For the moment, as he gazed into her face and saw with what sisterly sympathy and compassion she looked upon him, the impulse came into his mind to refuse the proffered freedom, and ask only to remain and serve her for life. But then came such floods of memories of his native place, which he had never expected to see again—and its hills and streams and well-remembered haunts seemed to approach with one bound so near to him—and the faces of the loved ones at home began once again to look so tenderly into his own—and the thought of throwing off even the light, silken chains which he had been wearing, and of standing up in the sight of heaven a free man again, was so grateful to his soul—what could he do but remain silent and overpowered with conflicting emotions, and wait to hear more?
'Think not to refuse your liberty,' she said, as she read his doubts and perplexities, 'It must not be. No man has the right to suffer degradation when he can avoid it. And though I might continue kind to you, who can answer for it that I should live to be kind to the end? No, no; from this instant be a free man again. And, for the few moments that remain to us, strive to think of me only as your equal and your friend.'
Still silent. What, indeed, could he say? She knew that he was grateful to her, and that was enough. But why should he, of all slaves in Rome, find such kindly treatment? What had he ever done to deserve it? And—as often before—that puzzled look of wondering inquiry came over his face while he gazed into her own. She noticed it, but now made no attempt to disguise herself by any forced and unnatural assumption of haughty pride. Were he at last to learn the truth, there could surely no harm come of it.
'You must depart to-night,' she said, 'and before it becomes known that I am sending you away; lest, knowing it, others might claim authority to delay or prevent you. Take this little purse. It contains a few gold pieces, which you may need. And here is a written pass which will lead you to Ostia. There you will go to the tavern of the Three Cranes, and inquire for one Pollio, who has a vessel ready to sail for Samos. In that vessel your passage is paid. Show him this ring. It will be a token for him to know you by. And keep the ring ever afterward, as a sign that you have a friend left here, who will often think of you with pleasure and interest.'
'My mistress,' he said, taking the ring and placing it upon his finger, 'what have I done that you should be thus kind to me?'
'Nay; no longer mistress, but friend,' she said, with a melancholy smile. 'As such alone let us converse during the hour that remains, for you must soon leave me. It may be that when you arrive at Ostia, the vessel will not be ready to set sail, nor yet for a day or two, for its owner spoke to my messenger concerning possible delays. If so, there will be time for you to look around you, and think of the days when you wandered along the shore, hand in hand with your chosen one. You will, perhaps, go over those wanderings again—along the sands leading past Druse's olive grove to the altar of Vesta, or to the—'
'How know you about Druse's grove?' he cried with a start; and again that look of keen inquiry came into his face. It was but a single step now—he stood upon the very border of the truth. Should she repress him? It were hardly worth the while. So she let him gaze, and, if anything, softened her features yet more into the old familiar expression.
'Past Druse's Grove, Cleotos—or to the smooth rock which the waves washed at Cato's Point. Do you remember, Cleotos, how often we there sat, you holding me with your arm while I slid down the sloping side, the better to dip my naked feet into the water?'
With a wild sob he seized her hand, and threw himself at her feet. Near to the truth as he had been standing, it seemed at the last to burst upon him with as much force as though even a suspicion of it had been a thing before impossible. And yet, at the same time, it appeared to him as though he must have known it all the while; for how could he comprehend his blindness?
'AEnone,' he cried, 'send me not away! Let me stay here to serve you forever!'
'Oh, speak not thus!' she said, touching his lips lightly with her finger. 'Had you not been about to go from here, you should never have recognized me. Forget, now, all that has ever passed between us; or rather, strive to remember it only as a pleasant dream which left us in its proper time. If the Fates separated us, it was only because they were wiser than ourselves. Those bright anticipations of our youthful love could never have been fully realized; and, if persisted in, might have led only to sorrow and despair. Let me not blush now at having revealed myself to you. Think, for the few minutes that remain to us, of friendship and of duty alone.'
Raising him up, she placed him beside her, and there they talked about the past and its pleasant recollections. How the cross miller, who had never been known to do a kindness to any one else, had sometimes let them ride upon his horse—how they had once rowed together about the bay, and he had taken her aboard his ship—how she had stolen away from home each pleasant evening to meet him, and with what feeble excuses—and the like. As the shades of afternoon deepened and shut out from sight the gilded cornices and costly frescoes, and all else that could remind them of present wealth, and as, each instant, their thoughts buried themselves still further in the memories of the past, it seemed to them, at last, as though they were again wandering hand in hand upon the beach, or sitting upon the wave-washed rock at Cato's Point.
With something wanting, however. No force of illusion could bring back to either of them, in all its former completeness, that sense of mutual interest which had once absorbed them. Whatever dreams of the past might, for the moment, blind their perceptions, there was still the ever-present consciousness of now standing in another and far different relation to each other. Though AEnone musingly gazed upon his face and listened to his voice, until the realities of the present seemed to shrink away, and the fancies of other years stole softly back, and, with involuntary action, her hand gently toyed with his curls and parted them one side, as she had once been accustomed to do, it was with no love for him that she did it now. He was only her friend—her brother. He had been kind to her, and perhaps, if necessary, she might even now consent to die for him; but, with all that, he was no longer the idol of her heart. Another had taken that place, and, however unworthy to hold it, could not now be dispossessed. And though Cleotos, likewise, as he looked at her and felt the gentle pressure of her hand upon his forehead, seemed as though transported into the past, until he saw no longer the matron in the full bloom of womanhood, but only the young girl sparkling with the fresh hue and sunshine of early youth, yet to him still clung the perception that there was a barrier between them. What though the form of the treacherous Leta may then have faded from his memory as completely as though he had never seen her? What though. AEnone's pleasant and sympathetic tones may have again melted into his heart as warmly as when first whispered at Ostia? The smile upon her face—the winning intonation of her voice—all might seem the same; but he knew that he must bide within his own heart all that he had thus felt anew, and be content with the offered friendship alone, for that not merely her duty but her altered inclination had separated her from him forever.
At last the brief hour came to an end, and AEnone arose. The sun had set, and the darkness of night had already begun to shroud the city. Here and there, from some of the more wealthy neighborhoods, faint glimmers of lamp light shone out and marked the scenes of solitary study or of festive gathering, but as yet these indications were few. Already the chariots and horsemen who had thronged the Appian Way had dispersed—a single rider here and there occupying the place where so lately gay bands had cantered, disputing each available empty space of pavement. The walks were yet crowded with loiterers, but of a different class. Patricians and fair ladies had departed, and left the course to the lower orders of citizens and to slaves, who now emerged from the arches and alleys, and, anticipative of the morrow's holiday, swarmed in dusky crowds hither and thither in search of rude pastime.
'You must go now,' said AEnone, dropping the curtain which she had lifted for a moment in order to peer into the street. 'Stay not for anything that belongs to you, for I would not that you should be hindered or delayed. You have been here as mine own property; and yet, how do I know that some pretence of others' right might not be urged for your detention, if it were known that you were departing? Go, therefore, at once, Cleotos, and may the gods be with you!'
She held out her hand to him. He took it in his own, and, for the moment, gazed inquiringly into her face. Was this to be their only parting? Nay, need there be a parting at all? A flush came into his countenance as he felt one wild thought and desire burning into his soul. What if he were to yield to the impulse which beset him, and should throw himself at her feet, and ask her to forget the years which had separated them, and the trials which had beset them, and to give up all else, and depart with him? Alas! only one result could follow such an appeal as that! In the vain attempt to gain her love, he would lose her friendship also. She would part from him as an enemy who had taken advantage of her sisterly affection to inflict an insult upon her. He knew that this would surely be the consequence; but yet, for the moment, he could scarce resist the maddening impulse to thus forfeit all while striving to attain impossibilities.
'Shall we never meet again?' he said, at length, after the hard struggle to command himself.
'It may be, in after years; who can tell?' she answered. 'And yet, let us rather look the truth in the face, and not delude ourselves with false hopes. The world is very wide, and the way from here to your home is far, and the fatalities of life are many. Dear Cleotos, let us rather make up our minds that this parting is for ever; unless it may be that the gods will let us look upon each other's faces again in some future state. But there may be times when you can write to me, or send some message of good tidings; and then—'
'Talk not to me of the gods!' he interrupted, in a storm of passionate exclamation. 'What have they ever done for us, that we should worship or pray to them? Why look to them for blessings in a future state, when they have done us such evil in the present life? Here we were poor and lowly together; and have they not dragged us apart? And will they, then, in another life, be the more disposed to let us see each other's faces—you one of the nobles of the earth, and I one of its meanest plebeians? Is it written in the temples or by the priests and oracles, that when the Caesars are throned in Olympus, their lowly subjects shall be permitted to approach, them any nearer than when here? How, then, could we meet each other better hereafter than now? Away with all talk about the gods! I believe not in them! If we part now for this world, it is for eternity as well!'
'Oh, say not that!' she exclaimed. 'And still pray to the gods as of old, for they may yet bring good out of all that now seems to us so obscure. Remember that to the best of us, this world offers little but what is mingled with unhappiness. Take not, therefore, away from yourself and me a belief in something better to come.'
'Take, then, with you, a belief in the God about whom I learned in Greece, for He it is who tells of comfort hereafter for the poor and oppressed, and He is the only one who does so,' Cleotos doggedly answered.
'It may be—it may be,' she said. 'Who can tell which is right? We have so often talked about it, and have not yet found out. They may both be the true gods—they may neither of them be. Ah, Cleotos, my brother, let us not doubt. It is pleasanter and safer, too, that we should believe, even if we extend our faith to a belief in both. Choose, then, your own, as I will mine. I must not abandon the gods in whose worship I have been brought up; but when I pray to them, I will first pray for you. And you—if you adopt the God of the Christians, who speaks so much better comfort to your soul—will always pray to Him for me. And thereby, if either of us is wrong, the sin may perhaps be pardoned, on account of the other, who was right. And now, once more—and it may be for ever—dear Cleotos, farewell!'
'Farewell, AEnone, my sister!' he said. And he raised her hand and pressed it to his lips, and was about turning sorrowfully away, when the door flew open, and Sergius Vanno burst into the room.
See 'neath the swelling storm, The willow's slender form With grace doth ever yield; While oaks, the monarchs of the field, In pride resist the blast, And prostrate lie, ere it is past: But now the storm is o'er, The willow bows no more; While oaks from overthrow No rising ever know.
So with the meek, in strife Against the storms of life; Though often roughly cast, They stand erect at last: But those who will not bend To what their God doth send, Are whelmed in lasting woe, And rising up will never know.
A GLANCE AT PRUSSIAN POLITICS.
[The author of the ensuing article, the topic of which is just now one of special interest, is MR. CHARLES M. MEAD, a gentleman who has spent the last year in Germany. Having resided in the family of Professor Jacobi, who fills the chair of history in the University of Halle, he has had excellent opportunities for making himself acquainted with his subject. Having a natural taste for political studies, he has investigated it in its many bearings with calm impartiality, and written upon it con amore. The conclusion will be given in our next issue.—EDITOR CONTINENTAL.]
The struggle now going on in Prussia, whatever may be the issue, must be regarded as one of immense political importance. To Americans certainly, no less than to any other people, is the character and progress of this struggle a matter of profound interest. Though it cannot be said that the contest is that of revolutionists or even of republicans against a legitimately ruling monarch, yet the real principles involved in the contest are in substance those of absolutism and of democracy.
Deep and irreconcilable as is now the opposition between the two contending elements, all Prussians are proud of Prussia's history. In order to a correct understanding of the present circumstances of the country, a brief survey of its previous history is necessary.
In respect to the national domain, perhaps no other instance can be found so striking as that here presented, of a steady growth of an insignificant territory, from the first surrounded by powerful nations, to a size which entitles it to rank among the first Powers of the earth. Passing over the first few hundred years of her history, during which period much confusion prevailed as to boundaries as well as everything else, we find that as late as 1417 the country embraced a territory of only about seven thousand eight hundred square miles, or of about the size of Massachusetts; whereas its present extent is about one hundred and twelve thousand square miles, i. e., about as large as New England, New York, and New Jersey.
In respect to population, the increase is proportionally great. In 1417 it was only one hundred and eighty-eight thousand five hundred; now it is over eighteen millions. As to general culture, the progress of the nation and its present relative position in the scale of civilization leave little for national pride to wish.
The history of the nation commences with the conquest of Brandenburg by the Saxon emperor Henry I., in 927. He founded the so-called North Mark, and set over it a margrave. The government was administered by margraves until 1411, when, after a century of anarchy, during which the Mark was struggled for by many aspiring dukes, it was delivered over by the emperor Sigismund, an almost worthless possession, to Frederick of Hohenzollern, burggrave of Nuremberg, with the title of elector.
The house of Hohenzollern is still the reigning dynasty. In 1701, Frederick III., who became elector in 1688, secured from the emperor Leopold I. the title of King Frederick I. Not king of Brandenburg, since Brandenburg belonged to the Austrian empire, but king in Prussia, the name of a Polish duchy acquired by John Sigismund as a feudal possession in 1621, but in 1656 made an independent possession by Frederick William. Not king of Prussia, but in Prussia, because not all the territory to which that name belonged was included in the afore-mentioned duchy. The rest was not annexed till 1772, so that Frederick the Great was the first king of Prussia. And not till 1815 was the name Prussia strictly a designation of the whole land now so called.
We cannot stop even to glance at the political condition of the nation during the period of the electorate, interesting as it might be, and important as revealing the sources of subsequent political developments. Yet in passing, this at least must be borne in mind, that there was all the while a struggle going on between the nobility and the monarchy, the latter gradually gaining in strength.
Frederick I., whose vanity led him to make it his main object to secure the name of king, did less than his immediate predecessor, the 'great elector,' toward deepening the foundations of the monarchy. The most noticeable feature of his reign was the increase of the standing army from twenty-five thousand to fifty thousand. He secured the title of royalty. It remained for his son and successor to secure its power and authority.
Frederick William I. was the first absolute monarch of Prussia. He was a man of rough manners and coarse tastes. Caring little for the pomp of royalty, he jealously sought to maintain his hold on the essence of it. No sooner had he dried the tears shed over his deceased father, than he dismissed the larger part of the court attendants, cut off unnecessary expenses, inaugurated a simple style of living in the court, and began to direct his attention to the improvement of the military and financial condition of the country. More than any predecessor, he identified the office of king with that of commander-in-chief of the army. His domineering disposition carried him so far that he personally scolded and threatened with blows whoever seemed to him lazy and shiftless, however little the matter personally concerned him. So violent was his temper that, because his son, afterward Frederick the Great, displayed more taste for literature, and less for religion and warfare, than he had wished, he became disgusted with him, threateningly raised his cane whenever he saw him; and, when the prince, exasperated by constant abuse, formed a plan of escape to Sinsheim, the king, having discovered it before its execution, was so infuriated that, except for the intervention of bystanders, he would have run him through with his sword. As it was, at one time he beat him furiously with his cane. Frederick's confidant was executed before his eyes, and he himself condemned to a long banishment from the court; and not till he had shown signs of repentance, was he readmitted to it and to his father's favor. Frederick William is famous for the 'tobacco club' which he established, at whose sessions over the pipe and the beer he and his friends indulged in the most unrestrained mirth and freedom; also for his monomania concerning 'tall fellows'—a passion for securing as many regiments as possible of extraordinarily tall soldiers, for which he spared no pains, and often paid little regard to the personal wishes of the tall fellows themselves. To increase their number, he scoured all Europe, other monarchs being not unwilling to secure his good will by providing him with the coveted men, for whom his almost insane passion made him willing to give any price. But the real significance of his reign in relation to Prussia's subsequent history, is the impulse which he gave to her military tastes, and his success in establishing firmly the absolute authority of the monarch. The power of feudal lords had already been shattered; it required only a strong army and a strong will to destroy it altogether. These the king possessed. He reigned at a time when the obstacles to the exercise of unlimited power by the king were not what they now are, viz.: a desire on the part of the people in general for a constitutional government. The most certain way to secure the esteem of the people was to centralize the power in himself, and then exercise that power in the promotion of the people's material welfare. This the king did. He laid the foundations of the still existing system of general school education. He invited colonists from abroad to settle in the more uncultivated parts of his domains. He reformed the judiciary. He diminished the taxes, and yet by his economy increased the real revenue of the state from two and a half to seven and a half millions. Himself disinclined to become entangled in foreign wars, he raised the troops and the money without which his son could not have won the military glory which has given him the title of the Great.
Frederick William I. established the absolute monarchy by internal political changes and institutions. Frederick the Great secured for it a solid foundation in the hearts of the people. The one was thoroughly autocratic in disposition, and not seldom displayed this disposition too offensively; the other knew how to use his hereditary power without seeming to care about it. In fact, under the influence of Voltaire and the French liberalism, he himself learned to cherish very liberal opinions respecting popular rights. But practically he was absolute, and preferred to be so. By his brilliant military successes in the two Silesian wars and in the Seven Years' War he roused the national enthusiasm for the royal house to the highest pitch. He secured for Prussia the rank of a great Power in Europe. He enlarged her boundaries, and, notwithstanding his expensive wars, promoted the general prosperity of the land. Genial and kind-hearted, he won the affections of the people, so that loyalty was easy and pleasant—none the less so, the more completely the object of the loyalty was the king's person.
The reign of Frederick William II. was not characterized by any special development in the political condition of the country. Lacking in energy and decision, given to self-indulgence, controlled by courtiers and favorite women, although by the partition of Poland he increased the national domains, and by educational measures helped to promote German literature instead of the French preferred by his father, he was yet too inferior to the great Frederick to be able to uphold the glory of the royal house. By his disgraceful withdrawal from the First Coalition and the Treaty of Basle, by which he yielded to France all of Prussia lying beyond the Rhine, he prepared the way for her subsequent humiliation by Bonaparte.
The long reign of Frederick William III. is the richest period of Prussia's history. Here begins that development whose progress is now one of the most noteworthy of our time. The king, cautious, conscientious, patriotic, but timid, declined to join the Second Coalition (1799), hoping thereby to secure Prussia against the ravages of war. Prominent Prussians, moreover, were positively friendly to Napoleon; so that, even after the latter had violated his obligations by marching through Prussian territory, the king hesitated a year to declare war. This was done August 9, 1806; but two months later his army was routed at Jena; Napoleon entered Berlin; the Prussians were finally defeated at Friedland by the French, and at Tilsit, July 9, 1807, the Prussian king was forced to give up the half of his domains, and to furnish the conqueror a tribute of one hundred and forty millions of francs. For six years Prussia lay prostrate at the feet of France. In 1812 he was compelled to furnish twenty thousand men to join Napoleon's army in his invasion of Russia. Not till after the disastrous issue of this invasion did king or people dare to lift an arm in defence of the national independence. But these years compose just the period which Prussians love to call that of Prussia's regeneration. The insolence of the conqueror united the national heart. Full of the most flaming patriotism, and not doubting that deliverance would finally come, statesmen and warriors, Stein, Scharnhorst, Bluecher, Schill, and others, labored unweariedly to keep up the spirits of the people, and prepare them for the coming War of Liberation. Now for the first time the cities were invested with the right to regulate their own internal affairs. Now for the first time the peasants were delivered from the serfdom under which they had hitherto suffered. In short, the whole policy of the Government was determined by the resolution to inspire the people with a healthful, unconstrained, enthusiastic devotion to the national weal, and, as a means to this end, with zeal for the king. These efforts were fully successful. When the providential time arrived, and the king issued, February 3, 1813, a call for volunteers, and, March 17, his famous Aufruf an mein Volk, all Prussia sprang to arms. In alliance with Russia, finally also assisted by Austria and Sweden, her troops were engaged in nine bloody battles with the French between April 5 and October 18, the enthusiasm of the people and the dogged intrepidity of Bluecher being at length rewarded by the decisive victory at Leipsic. The immediate result of this victory for Prussia was the recovery of the territory between the Elbe and the Rhine ceded to France by the preceding king. At the congress of Vienna there were assigned to her in addition all that she had possessed before the Treaty of Tilsit, half of Saxony, and an increase of the former possessions on the Rhine. Some further acquisitions and cessions were made at the second Treaty of Paris, November 2, 1815, since which time the boundaries of Prussia have been little changed.
This brief sketch of the so-called War of Liberation could not have been avoided in an attempt to describe the present political condition of Prussia. The enthusiasm with which the semi-centennial anniversary of the battle of Leipsic was celebrated on the 18th of last October by men of all parties and sentiments was a lively evidence of the profound influence of that war on the national character. The chief significance of the war for Prussia was its influence in uniting the people in the pursuit of a common patriotic end. It was a struggle for national existence; and all minor considerations were for the time forgotten. It tended to break down the barriers which before had so effectually separated the higher from the lower classes. The Government had need of the hearty aid of all Prussians; and, in order to secure this, it was necessary to abandon the invidious distinctions which, in spite of all previous reformatory measures, made a large portion of the people practically slaves. The sentiment was encouraged, that whoever was ready to lay down his life for his country deserved full protection from his country. The promise was made that this should henceforth be the spirit and practice of the Government.
We are here to mark a twofold influence on the political sentiments of the Prussian people springing from the war against French invasion. On the one hand, from here dates the first positive preparations for, and expectations of, a national representative assembly—a change from an absolute to a limited monarchy; on the other, the perfect identification of the interests of the king with those of the people, combined with a real love for the royal family, made the people satisfied, after the restoration of peace, to continue under the sway of a king in whom, though his power was unlimited, they had perfect confidence that he would use his power with conscientious regard to their good. To this day the recollection of those years of pious loyalty, when every citizen cherished a feeling of filial love and trust toward Frederick William III., is the chief element of strength in the conservative party. Prussia, they say, is what her kings have made her; the house of Hohenzollern has raised her from an insignificant beginning to the rank of a great Power; under this rule the people have prospered; no tyranny has disgraced it; there is no need of a change; there is no danger that a continuance of the former order of things can ever inure to our hurt; gratitude to our sovereigns requires us not to attack their hereditary prerogatives. There is danger of foreigners, especially republicans, not fully appreciating the force of these considerations. To us, the fact that one king, or even a series of kings, have ruled well, is no proof that they have a divine right to rule; still less, that, when their policy comes into conflict with the decided wishes of the people, they have a right by unconstitutional measures to resist the popular will. But it must be remembered that Prussia, even in the midst of the present conflict, is thoroughly monarchical. No party pretends to wish any change of the present form of government. Patriotism has so long been associated with simple devotion to the royal house, and the royal house has so uniformly proved itself not unworthy of this devotion, that it is no easy matter, especially for those who by nature are conservative, to be satisfied with a change which reduces the monarchical office to a merely empty hereditary honor. In addition to this, it would be unfair not to recognize the fact that the most cultivated and religious part of the Prussian people belongs to the Conservative party. This, as a general statement, is, as all acknowledge, true. That the exceptions, however, are very numerous, is no less true. It is also, doubtless, not unjust to assume that the dependence of churches and universities on the state leads to much hypocritical piety and selfish loyalty. Yet the general fact that the most estimable citizens are royalists, is not so to be accounted for. The War of Liberation was a war not only against French aggression, but against a power whose origin was to be traced to a contempt not only of time-honored political customs, but also of Christianity itself. Revolutions and republicanism became associated with infidelity. It was natural, therefore, that Christians should acquire the notion that every approximation toward democracy would involve danger to the church; especially as the church and state were united, and the king not only professed personal belief in Christianity, but endeavored to promote its interests by his administrative measures. It was to them a touching recollection that their king and the Austrian and Russian emperors kneeled together on the battle field of Leipsic to offer to the Lord of hosts their thanks for the victory that he had vouchsafed to them. And when two years later the same monarchs united themselves in the Holy Alliance, it is not strange, whatever may now be thought of their motives, that Christians should have rejoiced at the sight of princes publicly acknowledging their obligation to rule in the interests of Christianity, and binding themselves to promote the religious good of their subjects. As republicanism in France had appeared in a positively unchristian form, here monarchism appeared in a positively Christian form. Nothing was therefore more natural than that their devotion to the king—already, for other reasons, hearty and enthusiastic—should be increased as they thought they saw in him the surest defender of the church. Instead, therefore, of encouraging or wishing a separation of church and state—a consummation which it was in the power of leading theologians, to procure—they preferred a still closer union. Nor is it to be wondered at that, ever since, men of the most earnest piety have made a defence of the royal prerogatives a part of their religion, and that some have gone even so far as to deny that in Prussia a Christian can be anything but a Conservative. It cannot but serve to soften many prejudices against this party to know that men like the venerable Professor Tholuck, of Halle, are decided supporters of the Government, and regard the triumph of the Liberal party as almost equivalent to the downfall of the church. And it may serve in part to excuse the persistence of the Government in its course to know that it is advised so to persist by men who should be supposed to have the highest good of the country at heart.