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Man ought not to imitate either class. It is his privilege to choose such times for eating and such materials for food as will best develop his mental power. Many writers seem to forget this, and to plan man's food as if he were a mere animal, whereas he is or may be very much more. His food should be such as to keep the animal mechanism in good order for the mind to use. It should not be overfed, so as to be sluggish, nor should it be starved, so as to be incapable of executing the mind's demands.
Food should be eaten for bodily profit and not for pleasure only. The two should be combined in a correct diet.
While the whimsicalities of the sitophobist should be avoided and the stomach allowed to do its work unwatched, yet each one should take pains to acquire right habits in eating, as in walking or speaking. The physician knows that a large part of man's ills comes from his persisting in bad habits of eating and from his dense ignorance of food and its effect on him.
Life is too valuable a possession to be at the mercy of mere whims, and it is an economy of expensive material to make the food tell in an efficient life. Further discussion of these points belongs elsewhere. In this volume one side of the food question only is presented
THE RELATION OF GENERAL INTELLIGENCE TO
THE QUALITY OF THE FOOD SUPPLY
HE prosperity of a nation depends upon the health
and the morals of its citizens; and the health and the morals of a people depend mainly upon the food they eat and the homes they live in.
Strong men and women cannot be "raised” insufficient food. Good-tempered, temperate, highly moral men cannot be expected from a race which eats badly cooked food, irritating to the digestive organs and unsatisfying to the appetite. Wholesome and palatable food is the first step in good morals, and is conducive to ability in business, skill in trade, and healthy tone in literature.
This being granted, what office is of more importance to the State than that of the provider of food for the families composing it? The modern stock farm has given us most of the scientific knowledge we possess on the question of foods. All this because it pays to know the composition of the food and its effect on the value of the stock. Shall the human animal be considered of less consequence ?
The agricultural states of the Union have recognized the two fundamental professions upon which their prosperity rests, and have established in their agricultural
colleges a parallel course of domestic economy to complete the education of the girls.
This is an instance of wisdom, an example which might be more widely followed, for in all our towns and villages the housewives need to know something of the materials of daily consumption.
The conditions of life have changed here in New England so rapidly and completely that our young housewives find themselves very much at a loss. The methods of their mothers and grandmothers will no longer answer. They had no trouble with their soap, for they superintended its making and knew its properties. They knew how colored fabrics should be washed, for they had the coloring done under their own eyes.
We buy everything, and have no idea of the processes by which the articles are produced, and have no means of knowing beforehand what the quality may be. Relatively, we are in a state of barbarous ignorance, as compared with our grandmothers, about the common articles of daily use.
The only remedy is for our girls to learn something practical about these forces and the nature of the materials which are scattered about so freely. The distinction between an educated cook and an uneducated one of the same skill is that the educated one can tell some one else just how and why she takes each step, while the uneducated one can do the thing, but cannot tell any one else how or why she does it. Let our schoolgirls bear this in mind, and so study their chemistry and physics that they can tell why this and that should or should not be done. A little actual knowledge wonderfully simplifies things, and adds interest to the commonest deeds.
Educated women must mark out a new plan for themselves. Our girls must be taught to recognize the profession of housekeeping as one of the highest, although not necessarily the only one; but, whatever art or accomplishment they may acquire besides, let them consider that the management of a household is not to be neglected. The properly educated housekeeper is not a drudge; she has all the forces of nature at her command — the lightning harnessed to give her light; the stored-up energy of past ages at her command by the turning of a stopcock; swift steamships and railways bring to her fruits and vegetables from all climes; the vast prairies furnish meat, game, and flour; mechanical skill gives her all kinds of labor-saving devices; the general prosperity and improving taste of the country admit of tasteful decoration of the rooms. Surely, never did housekeeping present so many charms.
. Alas! the winged Pegasus is too strong for his unskilled rider, for in his train has come a style of living both extravagant and demoralizing. All this delicate machinery and costly luxury are committed by ignorant mistresses to still more ignorant servants tive by inheritance and superstitious by nature, restless with the very air of the new and to them wonderful country, where all men are equal, and naturally bewildered by the novelties of the new life, so different from their simple one. What wonder that the complicated machinery comes to grief, and the tempers of both mistress and maid are spoiled in attempting the impossible! Within the memory of the present generation there has crept into the heads of the great American people a most pernicious and insidious idea — that labor with the hands alone is degrading and beneath the dignity of a free American citizen. Nowhere has this been more noticeable than in the place to which housework has been relegated.
To judge by the opinion of the average schoolgirl, one would think that housekeeping required no more thought than the breaking of stones on the highway. Such may listen with profit to Ruskin when he says: “It is a no less fatal error to despise labor when regulated by intellect than to value it for its own sake. In these days we are always trying to separate the two. We want one man to be always thinking, another to be always working; and we call the one a gentleman and the other an operative, whereas the workman ought often to be thinking and the thinker to be working, and both should be gentlemen in the best sense. Now, it is only by labor that thought can be made healthy, and only by thought that labor can be made happy."
If this is assented to, then is not the conclusion clear that if our girls were capable of thinking about the many problems of housework and of investigating new and better ways they would find the work an interesting and worthy one?
Just now educators are complaining of all classes of students, saying that they are too careless or too indolent to think for themselves, that they wish their knowledge, like their food, “predigested.” Women of sense ought not to shirk a little exercise of their minds.