THE NEW YEAR--SIGNS OF PROGRESS.
To us, there is with each succeeding year, a fresh interest in tracing the changes of the past and studying their bearings on the future; for not only is the law of progress written upon all animate creation, but in the moral world; as the stone rolled from the mountain's top, moves with slow motion first, but rapidly accelerates its movement till we can scarcely trace its progress, so the moral changes among men, seemingly becomes each year more frequent, numerous and complicated.
CHANGES AMONG THE NATIONS.
We know that progress is not necessarily improvement, yet we are not of those who think that moral darkness broods more palpably over the world each year than the preceding, for so surely as Infinite love and wisdom guides and animates the whole, we have no reason for despondency; and the convulsions which have heretofore agitated the thrones of Europe, have usually wrought our a larger liberty for the people, and given a higer tone to mind an morals; and the present wars and revolutions in China, Burmah, and the east of Europe, the important changes in Australia, Japan, and other islands of the sea, and in nearly every Christian or heathen nation of which we have knowledge, we have little doubt will ultimately result in the increased civilization, enlightenment, and Christianization of these nations and of the world.
And so rapid and important have been the changes in our own country, that most of us who have seen over a score of summers, can relate incidents within our own remembrance, which seem almost as difficult of credence as a legend of the dark ages; and on most of these changes, improvement is as plainly written as progress.
LITERATURE AND THE MAINE LAW.
Perhaps we cannot find a more fitting example of this, than the change of public sentiment toward the sufferer and the laborer. Charitable institutions are springing up on every side, and private as well as public bounty we believe has largely increased; and the enthusiastic reception by the people of such works as Uncle Tom's Cabin, Hot Corn, or Life among the New York Poor, and even their introduction into the Theatre, show a sympathy for the lowly, which has been a source of surprise and congratulation to the most hopeful of philanthropists.
Notice also the progress of the Maine Law. Obeyed and honored wherever it is made the law of the land, and one after another of the States adopting and enforcing it, what more hopeful sign could we desire? True, our own noble State has not yet taken to itself the honor of banishing intoxication, poverty and misery from its limits, but we are strong in hope that this stain will not much longer rest upon the law-makers of Ohio.
THE PROBLEM OF WOMAN'S WANTS.
Look too at the rapidity with which the great problem of--What shall be done for suffering woman? is being solved. In place of resorting to the needle for a precarious subsistence, great numbers now find employment in occupations heretofore monopolized by men, and so far as we know, the change from male to female labor has been highly satisfactory wherever tried. We cannot but think that in a few years our hotel tables will be generally served by young women, while perhaps the scrubbing and washing will have passed into the hands of the stronger sex, or be done by steam-power.
Another change which we anticipate will be brought about this year or the next, is a general invitation to females to stand behind the counter and wait upon customers, thus relieving man that he may turn his attention to the nobler pursuit of agriculture. This change has already been to some extent accomplished, and with success. Many other employments might be named as suitable for woman, some now being tested and others as yet untried, but our space will not permit us to go fully into this subject.
There are already, is it stated, 300 female postmasters in the United States, and as for printers and publishers, we believe it will take but few years to place almost the whole of the former and much of the latter in the hands of women. In Pittsburgh and Cincinnati, the strikes of the Typographical Union have resulted in the very general employment of females for composers and printers, and the editors uniformly speak in warm approval of the change; and many other offices in cities east and west, have made or are making the same experiment successfully.
The Cincinnati Columbian has compiled an interesting table, showing that from the time of the Revolution, women have been engaged as printers, publishers and editors, to a considerable extent in this country, and that in several instances they have been State printers. It also furnishes a list of about one dozen papers and magazines, now edited successfully by women; and to which we could probably add as many more. Though writing has always so far as we know, been considered within the sphere of woman, it has probably never before furnished employment for so many; for look not only at editors, but at the vast army of female authors and stated contributors to prominent papers, whose support, if not necessarily, is yet mainly derived from these sources.
The complete success of those women who first entered upon the practice of medicine, has stimulated so large a number to enter this profession, or a course of study preparatory to it, that while we have no apprehension that the supply will ever exceed the demand, we do fear that many—not better qualified than a large portion of the practitioners of the other sex, will be tempted to enter it, and thus lower the dignity and the utility of the profession; the scandal of which will be bestowed unsparingly on woman. For the benefit of the cause they should take a high stand or none.
BETTER EDUCATION FOR FEMALES.
And the most important result of these changes in the employment of woman, we do not consider to be the fact that she can thus earn an easy and independent living, but that her desires and aspirations are enlarged, her position elevated, and the result of all will be a more thorough and practical education for the sex, to fit them for higher employments. Indeed these changes would now be effected far more rapidly had woman the requisite educational fitness for the work.
And it is not for these new employments alone, that woman needs a better education; the most important step toward the elevation and increased happiness and usefulness of the whole race will be, the general conviction that woman as wife, housekeeper and member of society, and especially as mother, needs a thorough education. Girls should be brought up to expect and prefer to spend a longer period in schools, and those too of the first class, in place of becoming married before either the physical system or the character has acquired maturity. We rejoice to see indications that the importance of this change is becoming understood, and that the standard of education east and west, is steadily advancing.
HOME DUTIES AND MEANS OF PROGRESS.
And now as we enter a new year, let us each improve the occasion to consider the question, what am I doing for my own personal improvement, and for the benefit of those about me. The means of growth and progress are within the reach of all. The past few years have been eminently prosperous to the farmer, and the means of accomplishing much that was a few years since impracticable, is now within your reach. Let not the love of gain or the love of show, supplant the desire to make substantial growth and improvement.
In early life, many of you were compelled to forego many articles of household comfort and convenience—you can now afford them if you will; they will have a refining, beneficial influence on the family, make home pleasanter, and probably prove a saving of time, strength and temper.
And provide not only all the personal and domestic comforts you can afford, but make arrangements to increase the education of both sons and daughters. Depend upon hiring more labor or purchasing suitable machinery for saving labor, in order that more time may be secured for schooling. Take a liberal supply of newspapers and magazines of a useful character. It does not cost one-forth the labor to procure a paper now, that it did ten years ago; and reading of this kind will be improving and elevating. Books, too, are exceedingly cheap—keep something of a library, that the children may not desire to spend their evenings unprofitably.
And, Mothers, we believe you can glean more time for self-improvement, and this process should go on until age has too much impaired the faculties, or death removes us to a sphere, where if found with the robe of CHRIST'S righteousness upon us, we shall forever grow in knowledge and happiness throughout Eternity.
We have only thrown out general hints, trusting that each will make the improvement which is desirable, and we wish you each a Happy New Year in devising and carrying out schemes of self-improvement, and of imparting good to others.