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A New Atmosphere by Gail Hamilton

It is the father's sphere to take fatherly care


or farmer and father, he ought

to elect which he will be, and confine himself to his choice. If he is too much absorbed in scientific pursuits, or if he is not a sufficiently dextrous workman to be able to secure from his bench time enough to attend to other interests, he ought not to create other interests. No man has any right to assume the charge of two positions when he has the ability to perform the duties of but one. If he alone bore the evil consequences of his shortcomings, he would be less blameworthy, but the chief burden falls upon his children and upon the state. Reckless of moral obligation, mindful only of his own selfish impulses, the fruits of his recklessness and selfishness are,--not houses that tumble down upon their builders, machinery that cannot bear its own strain, garments that perish with the first using,--these are bad enough, but these are harmlessness itself compared with the evils which he causes. The harvest of his headlong wickedness is living beings who must bear their life forever. He bids into the world, tender little innocent souls, knowing that he cannot or will not stand guard over them to ward off the fierce, wild devils that lie in wait to rend them. Plastic to his touch, they may be moulded to vessels of honor or vessels of dishonor, for the promise of God is absolute, yea, and amen. Yet he turns aside to fritter away his time over newspapers, to talk politics, to buy and sell and get unnecessary gain, and leaves them to other hands, to chance comers, to all manner of
warping and hardening influences, so that their after-lives must be one long and bitter struggle against early acquired deformity, or a fatal yielding and a fatal torpor whose end is deadly dismay.

But in popular opinion and by common usage all is thrown upon the mother. By all tradition she is the centre, the heart, the mainspring, of the household. From what newspaper, what book, what lecture, would you learn that fathers have anything to do at home but to go into their slippers and dressing-gowns, and be luxuriously fed and softly soothed into repose? The care and management of the children fall upon the mother. Who does all the fine things in the pretty nursery rhymes? "My mother." It is her sphere, divinely circled. All the fitnesses of her life point in that one direction. All men's hands are so many finger-posts saying, "This is the way, walk ye in it."

It is the mother's sphere to take motherly care of her children. It is the father's sphere to take fatherly care. Neither can leave his duties to the other without danger. The family system is a combination of the solar and the binary systems. All the little bodies whirl around a common centre, but that centre is no solitary orb. It is two suns, self-luminous, revolving around each other, and neither able to throw upon its mate the burden of its shining.

Many fathers seem to think that they have nothing to do with their children except to caress them and frolic with them an hour or two in the evening, until they are old enough to be assistants in work. But just as soon as there is the fatherly relation, there is the fatherly duty. A baby in a house is a well-spring of pleasure; but it is also a well-spring of care and anxiety immeasurable, of whose waters there is no reason why the father should not drink as deeply as the mother. The glory, the honor, the immortality, will shed a full light upon him, and he also


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