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A New Atmosphere by Gail Hamilton

A NEW ATMOSPHERE

BY

GAIL HAMILTON,

AUTHOR OF "COUNTRY LIVING AND COUNTRY THINKING," "GALA DAYS," AND "STUMBLING-BLOCKS."

BOSTON: FIELDS, OSGOOD, & CO. 1870.

Entered according to Act of Congress, in the year 1864, by TICKNOR AND FIELDS, in the Clerk's Office of the District Court of the District of Massachusetts

SEVENTH EDITION.

UNIVERSITY PRESS: WELCH, BIGELOW, AND COMPANY, CAMBRIDGE.

A NEW ATMOSPHERE.

I.

A vitiated atmosphere is fatal to healthy development. One may be ever so wise, learned, rich, and beautiful, but if the air he breathes is saturated with fever, pestilence, or any noxious vapor, nothing will avail him. The subtile malaria creeps into his inmost frame, looks out from his languid eye, settles in his sallow cheek, droops in his tottering step, and laughs to scorn all his learning and gold and grandeur. He must rid himself of the malaria, or the malaria will rid itself of him.

There are many evils in the world, deep-seated and deleterious. I rejoice to see noble men and women working at the overthrow of these old Dagons; but the processes are many and long. Grievances are suffered which can be redressed only by the repeal of old and the enactment of new laws. Health suffers from ignorance which scientific discoveries, patient observation, and correct reasoning must dispel. Religion suffers from a narrowness and shallowness which broader and deeper culture must remove. Heaven send the laws, the science, and the culture, for these ills are indeed sore and of long continuance; but we need not wait upon the slow steps of law and science. Every man and woman can begin at this moment a renovation. Behind all law and all literature, the very air we breathe, the moral atmosphere not of books and benches only, but of kitchen and keeping-room, is impure and unwholesome. The interests of humanity demand a purification.

What I am going to say may have been said before; but if so, the present condition of things shows that it has been said to too little purpose. I have myself glanced at it askance, but I have never looked it square in the face. I have spoken ships bound to my port, but not freighted with my cargo. Success to them all! There is sea-room for every keel, and use for all their treasures. I am so far from claiming to be original, that I rather marvel there is any necessity for my being at all. The truths which I design to illustrate lie so on the surface that I should suppose they would commend themselves to the most casual notice. I can account for the obscurity which seems to enshroud them only by supposing that the days of Eli have reached down to us, and that there is no open vision. Therefore the truth needs to be repeated and repeated, in different forms and tones, if it is to be made effectual to the pulling down of strongholds. I will do my part of the reiteration. If I can state no new truths, I will at least help to ring the old truths into the ears of this generation till every unjust judge shall moan in bitterness of soul, "Though I fear not God nor regard man, yet, because these women trouble me, I will avenge them, lest by their continual coming they weary me."


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