Monday, December 29, 2014

An Observation on Child Rearing - March, 1849

Before scanners or digital cameras, heck, before DOS 6.0, this typing exercise came from a newspaper clipping found in a moldy scrapbook at a local estate sale.  The clipping still exists, but the original ASCII format had to be reconverted from its second floppy disk iteration!

     THE AGE OF "PROGRESS" -- Strange as it may sound, the fact must be confessed, that in a population of twenty millions, we have no men or women!  But there is another truth in natural history more astounding still:  there are neither boys nor girls now!  That happy, romping, freehearted race, which once added so much to the poetry of society is, like the mastodon, defunct.  One entire class of our species is stricken out--obliterated--extinct.   There are "masters" and "misses," "little ladies" and "very young gentlemen"; but children there are none.  Birth and babyhood, manhood, womanhood, and death--these, it has been truly said, are the epochs which devide a life that

        "---hovers, like a star
        'Twixt night and morn, upon th'horizon's verge."

     Once there was a bare-footed and bread-and-milk-eating race--a spelling and cyphering class--an order of beings whose peculiar business it was to do errands, lug water, pick up chips, drive the cows to pasture, and do chores for elder people.  There are no such beings now.  The child steps at once, from his frock, into a long-tailed coat and calfskin boots.  Before he is in his teens, he sports gloves, a cane, and a stand-up dickey--"totes" a huge gold watch--and is brave in whiskers and cigar smoke.  His hair is long and manly; his carriage, erect and bold; his air, grave and distingue; and his face, thoughtful with the throes of nascent manhood.
     The girls--they, too, are extinct; and, in their place, we have young ladies who hem-stitch and work lace, but can neither wash clothes nor iron them--neither bake bread, nor darn their brother's stockings.  Instead of milking and churning, spinning flax and making shirts, they read novels, dress, and go to parties, make and receive calls, and flirt with fashionable beaux at watering places.  They are deep in the mysteries of the toilet--know all the latest fashions--and can dance, sing, and play on the piano.  They have a profound smattering of the sciences; they can paint, and "work worsted," and make wax apples and pears, and "do up" pickles; but, in all the qualifications that fit one for a good housewife, they are, alas! miserably deficient.  Well, this is a "progressive" age, and civilization is advancing with such giant strides, that there is no telling where we shall bring up, at last.

March, 1849

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