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A New Atmosphere by Gail Hamilton

Peggoty is going to stay and eat it all up


Mind,

I counsel no penuriousness, no mean retrenchment for accumulation, no domestic pillage, no mere selfish gratification. I suggest intelligent and high-minded economy for the purpose of liberal expenditure. I would take in sail where only sensualism and ostentation blow; but I would spread every rag of canvas to catch the smallest breath of an enlarged and Christian happiness. I would cease to pinch the angel, that the beast may wax fat. I would keep the beast under, that the angel may have room.

Do you say that the picture is fanciful? Everything is fanciful till it is put in practice. Fancy is often but the foreshadow of a coming fact.

If some such course as this is not possible, if we must inevitably and perpetually move on in the same rut in which we move now, then, in a thousand and a thousand cases, life seems to me not worth the living.

VII.

It is not simply that women are chained to a body of death. Men are equally victims. The world is kept back from its goal. One member cannot suffer without involving all the members in its suffering.

Marriage, in its truest type, is love spiritualizing life; the union of the mightiest and subtlest forces working the noblest results. Marriage in its commonest manifestations is a clumsy mechanical contrivance. Marriage is too often

mirage,--far off, in books, in dreams, lovely and divine; approached, it resolves itself into washing and ironing and cooking and nursing and house-cleaning and making and mending and long-suffering from New Year to Christmas and from Christmas on to New Year, to the great majority of all the women I know anything about. I do not mean simply the dull, uninteresting women, of whom there are really not many, but the bright and intellectual, capable of adorning any station, of whom there are more than you think, because, buried under household ruins, you scarcely catch a glimpse of what they long to be and what they might be. And they do not like it. Volumes may be written and spoken, extolling the tidy kitchens, the trim wives, the snowy table-cloths, and telling us how beautiful a woman is when doing her house-work; and a few foolish women will be found to accept it all and work the harder. Hundreds of years ago, when a person I know was inconceivably young, and found great delight in hanging about the kitchen during the seed-time and harvest of pies and preserves, to glean up the remnants of mince-meat and various mixtures left in the pans, a tiny relative much more acute than he used to practise upon his approbativeness by soliloquizing to himself while both their spoons were clattering around the sides of the tin pan with frantic rapidity, "Now Peggoty isn't going away, and let me have the rest. Peggoty is going to stay and eat it all up." The result


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