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Is Woman A Worker
by [?]

“Papa, do you see what the ‘Evening Post’ says of your New Year’s article on Reconstruction?” said Jenny, as we were all sitting in the library after tea.

“I have not seen it.”

“Well, then, the charming writer, whoever he is, takes up for us girls and women, and maintains that no work of any sort ought to be expected of us; that our only mission in life is to be beautiful, and to refresh and elevate the spirits of men by being so. If I get a husband, my mission is to be always becomingly dressed, to display most captivating toilettes, and to be always in good spirits,–as, under the circumstances, I always should be,–and thus ‘renew his spirits’ when he comes in weary with the toils of life. Household cares are to be far from me: they destroy my cheerfulness and injure my beauty.

“He says that the New England standard of excellence as applied to woman has been a mistaken one; and, in consequence, though the girls are beautiful, the matrons are faded, overworked, and uninteresting; and that such a state of society tends to immorality, because, when wives are no longer charming, men are open to the temptation to desert their firesides, and get into mischief generally. He seems particularly to complain of your calling ladies who do nothing the ‘fascinating lazzaroni of the parlor and boudoir.'”

“There was too much truth back of that arrow not to wound,” said Theophilus Thoro, who was ensconced, as usual, in his dark corner, whence he supervises our discussions.

“Come, Mr. Thoro, we won’t have any of your bitter moralities,” said Jenny; “they are only to be taken as the invariable bay-leaf which Professor Blot introduces into all his recipes for soups and stews,–a little elegant bitterness, to be kept tastefully in the background. You see now, papa, I should like the vocation of being beautiful. It would just suit me to wear point-lace and jewelry, and to have life revolve round me, as some beautiful star, and feel that I had nothing to do but shine and refresh the spirits of all gazers, and that in this way I was truly useful, and fulfilling the great end of my being; but alas for this doctrine! all women have not beauty. The most of us can only hope not to be called ill-looking, and, when we get ourselves up with care, to look fresh and trim and agreeable; which fact interferes with the theory.”

“Well, for my part,” said young Rudolph, “I go for the theory of the beautiful. If ever I marry, it is to find an asylum for ideality. I don’t want to make a culinary marriage or a business partnership. I want a being whom I can keep in a sphere of poetry and beauty, out of the dust and grime of every-lay life.”

“Then,” said Mr. Theophilus, “you must either be a rich man in your own right, or your fair ideal must have a handsome fortune of her own.”

“I never will marry a rich wife,” quoth Rudolph. “My wife must be supported by me, not I by her.”

Rudolph is another of the habitues of our chimney-corner, representing the order of young knighthood in America, and his dreams and fancies, if impracticable, are always of a kind to make every one think him a good fellow. He who has no romantic dreams at twenty-one will be a horribly dry peascod at fifty; therefore it is that I gaze reverently at all Rudolph’s chateaus in Spain, which want nothing to complete them except solid earth to stand on.

“And pray,” said Theophilus, “how long will it take a young lawyer or physician, starting with no heritage but his own brain, to create a sphere of poetry and beauty in which to keep his goddess? How much a year will be necessary, as the English say, to do this garden of Eden, whereinto shall enter only the poetry of life?”