In the chapter on the Might Use of Time and Property, the important explanation was made of the great law of love to God and to our neighbor, which includes in its aim and spirit all other laws. The distinction is there exhibited between instinctive emotional love, caused by agreeable qualities in persons and things, and the voluntary love which is "goodwill" toward God and man on the best and most extensive scale. This love is identified in the great command itself by the expression "as thyself." For the love of self is not pleasure created by our own agreeable qualities. It rather is the all-controlling desire to make self happy. For this end we are required to obey the laws of God, and thus secure the best and highest happiness both to ourselves and to our neighbors.
In addition to this supreme law, made clear both by the intuitive principle of mind and in the revealed laws of the Old Testament, we have the teachings of Jesus Christ as to the character of God as a loving Father to all his creatures. And, what is especially to be regarded in estimating the obligations of a housekeeper to her servants, we are taught that our heavenly Father feels the most care and interest in those of his children who are the most ignorant, the most neglected, and the most sinful. As the loving parent gives the most thought and tender care to the most feeble and imperfect child, so the Father of All most anxiously cares for the weak, the ignorant, and the wandering of mankind.
Few of Christ's professed followers at the present day realize what obligations they assume when they prepare large houses and establishments, which bring the most neglected members of society under their care as members of the family state.
Did they understand the sacred obligations thus assumed to train the humble members of their family with the care and Christian love taught by both the precept and example of our Divine Lord, it is probable most would reduce their style of living, so that their own children, with one or two of God's most neglected ones, would embrace all for whom they would dare to assume such obligations.
The preceding presents the general principles to guide a housekeeper as to her duty in the care of servants. The following will suggest important details and considerations. Those in quotation-marks are from Mrs. Stowe's "House and Home Papers."
"Although in earlier ages the highest-born, wealthiest, and proudest ladies were skilled in the simple labors of the household, the advance of society toward luxury has changed all this, especially in lands of aristocracy and classes; and at the present time America is the only country where there is a class of women who may be described as ladies who do their own work. By a lady we mean a woman of education, cultivation, and refinement, of liberal tastes and ideas, who, without any very material additions or changes, would be recognized as a lady in any circle of the Old World or the New.
"The existence of such a class is a fact peculiar to American society, a plain result of the new principles involved in the doctrine of universal equality.
"When the colonists first came to this country, of however mixed ingredients their ranks might have been composed, and however imbued with the spirit of feudal and aristocratic ideas, the discipline of the wilderness soon brought them to a democratic level; the gentleman felled the wood for his log-cabin side by side with the plowman, and thews and sinews rose in the market. 'A man was deemed honorable in proportion as he lifted his hand upon the high trees of the forest.' So in the interior domestic circle, mistress and maid, living in a log-cabin together, became companions, and sometimes the maid, as the one well trained in domestic labor, took precedence of the mistress. It also became natural and unavoidable that children should begin to work as early as they were capable of it. . "The result was a generation of intelligent people brought up to labor from necessity, but devoting to the problem of labor the acuteness of a disciplined brain. The mistress, outdone in sinews and muscles by her maid, kept her superiority by skill and contrivance. If she could not lift a pail of water, she could invent methods which made lifting the pail unnecessary; if she could not take a hundred steps without weariness, she could make twenty answer the purpose of a hundred.
"Then were to be seen families of daughters, handsome, strong women, rising each day to their indoor work with cheerful alertness - one to sweep the room, another to make the fire, while a third prepared the breakfast for the father and brothers who were going out to manly labor: and they chatted meanwhile of books, studies, embroidery; discussed the last new poem, or some historical topic started by graver reading, or perhaps a rural ball that was to come off next week. They spun with the book tied to the distaff; they wove; they did all manner of fine needle-work; they made lace, painted flowers, and, in short, in the boundless consciousness of activity, invention, and perfect health, set themselves to any work of which they had ever read or thought. A bride in those days was married with sheets and tablecloths of her own weaving, with counterpanes and toilet-covers wrought in divers embroidery by her own and her sisters' hands. The amount of fancy-work done in our days by girls who have nothing else to do will not equal what was done by those who performed, in addition, the whole work of the family.
"In those former days most women were in good health, debility and disease being the exception. Then, too, was seen the economy of daylight and its pleasures. They were used to early rising, and would not lie in bed if they could. Long years of practice made them familiar with the shortest, neatest, most expeditious method of doing every household office, so that really, for the greater part of the time in the house, there seemed, to a looker-on, to be nothing to do. They rose in the morning and dispatched husband, father, and brothers to the farm or wood-lot; went sociably about, chatting with each other, skimmed the milk, made the butter, and turned the cheeses. The forenoon was long; all the so-called morning work over, they had leisure for an hour's sewing or reading before it was time to start the dinner preparations. By two o'clock the house-work was done, and they had the long afternoon for books, needle-work, or drawing - for perhaps there was one with a gift at her pencil. Perhaps one read aloud while others sewed, and managed in that way to keep up a great deal of reading.