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A New Atmosphere by Gail Hamilton

For to such end was it created


Well,

the times have changed. They are no longer old, but new. Have we changed with them? In a town I wot of, the doctors have a periodical meeting. They assemble in the evening by themselves in a parlor, discussing no one knows what, among themselves, till ten or eleven o'clock, when they emerge into the dining-room and have a grand set-to upon lobster salads, stewed oysters, ices, and all manner of frothy fanfaronade. A minister is going to be ordained in a country village, and the village families round about heap up their tables and bid in all comers to feasts of fat things. A conference of churches is held in the meeting-house, and the same newspaper paragraph that notes the logical sermon and the gratifying reports of revivals, notes also the good things which the hospitable citizens provided, and the urgency with which strangers were pressed to partake. One would suppose that the reasoning of the fastidious old Jews was suspected to have descended to our own day and race, and that the sons of men must always come eating and drinking, or people will say they have a devil.

Every advance in science or skill seems to be attended by a corresponding advance in the claims of the cooking-range. The palate keeps pace with the brain. The one presents a claim for every victory of the other. The left hand reaches out to clutch what the right hand is stretched out to offer to humanity.

Now you all think this is very strange,--a

most remarkable way of looking at things, a most inhospitable and cold-blooded view to take of society. What! begrudge a little pains to give one's friends a pleasant reception! and that only once a year, or a month! It is such a thing as was never heard of. You have always looked upon the affair as one of pleasure. The houses which, you have entered opened wide to you their doors. You met on all sides smiles, welcome, and good cheer. You never for a moment dreamed or heard of such a thing as that you were considered a trouble, a visitation. Perhaps you were not. Very likely you were held in honor; but these customs are burdensome for all that. You must remember that by far the greater part of American housewives are already overborne by their ordinary domestic cares. This makes the whole thing wear a very different aspect from what it otherwise would. If a cup is half full, you can pour in a great deal more, and only increase the cup's worth, for to such end was it created; but if it is already brimmed, you cannot add even a teaspoonful without mischief, and if you suddenly dash in another cupful, you will make a sad mess of it. Now when these various convocations occur, the note of preparation is sounded long beforehand, and the wail of weariness echoes long afterwards. This is simply a statement of fact. I am not responsible for the fact. I did not create it, and I wish it were otherwise; but so long as it is a fact, it is much better that it should be known. The woman who welcomed you so warmly, entreated you so tenderly, entertained you so agreeably, had no sooner shut the door behind you, when you had


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