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A New Atmosphere by Gail Hamilton

A man's business is to support his family


must; but it requires no more

time, or attention, or ingenuity, or vitality, or strength, or spirits, or endurance, no more expenditure of any of the forces of life, to go out and earn something to put into the pot, than it does to stay at home and boil it. If the mother, with her harassing cares, the never-ending details of her never-ending work, can find time for studying her maternal relations and responsibilities, and comparing her experience with that of others for purposes of improvement and the highest efficiency, and for joining in social prayer for the blessing of God on her efforts, the father can find time for similar study, effort, and prayer. If she can leave her baby, he can leave his books. If she can leave her kitchen, he can leave his counting-room. His bench, his desk, his fields, his office, are no more exacting than her nursery, her laundry, her work-basket. Women will go to the mothers' meeting who have to sit up till one o'clock in the morning to darn the little frock, and patch the old coat that must be worn that day; and sometimes they do it from stern necessity, without having the consolation of any mothers' meeting to go to. Let men but be as earnest in their purpose, as sincere in their belief, let them feel that the souls of their children are in their hands as keenly as mothers feel their responsibility, and business would straightway relax its claims and withdraw into the background, where it belongs. If a great general is come to town, if a famous regiment is to have a reception,
if a long-looked-for statue has safely crossed the sea and is to be set up, if a foreign fleet lies in the harbor and is to send its officers on shore, if a young Prince is to pass through the city on his way home, men rush together in masses so dense as to endanger limb and life. Business is the last thing that interposes any obstacle to seeing and hearing that which a man determines to see and hear.

Business? What is man's business? Is it to take care of that which is temporary or that which is permanent; that which belongs to matter, or that which belongs to mind; that which he shares in common with the beasts, or that which allies him to the angels,--nay, more, which constitutes in him the image and likeness of God? A man's business is to support his family. Certainly. He that provideth not for his own household hath denied the faith, and is worse than an infidel. I agree to that with all my heart. But what is he to provide? Food, raiment, shelter? These first, for without these is nothing; but these not last, for he who stops here and turns his powers into another channel is guilty of high crime. If his children were calves, lambs, chickens, he would do so much for them; because they are human beings, he must do somewhat more. But how many of the fathers who make business their plea for not watching over their children, who are away from home from seven in the morning till seven at night, who from year's end to year's end, except on Sunday and perhaps two or three festive days, see their children only at hurried meals, and snatch a kiss, perhaps, after they are in bed and asleep, who know no more about the inward and hourly life of their own than of their neighbor's children,--how many of these fathers are spending their time and talents in the sole business of getting food, clothes, and shelter, or even books and educational opportunities for their families? How many of these men earn just that and no more? It is not the support of families, it is not business, it is not necessity alone, on which they lavish themselves. It is their own pride or luxury or inclination. They wish to extend their business, to acquire wealth, or a competence, to be known as enterprising, public-spirited men, to be chosen on committees and sent to the legislature, all right, if rightly come by, but terribly wrong, worthless, perishable with the using, and of no important use, if children are to be given in barter for them.


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