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or, to speak more correctly, some women are. The demands made by business in the present times of keen competition are such, that if men are to succeed, it is imperative that their unremitting attention and activity be given to it. It is difficult for men to get away from business, even for a few days; but their wives can leave home for weeks. Youths are glad of ten days' holiday in a year ; girls go on a visit, and it is quite uncertain when they will return. In the majority of households there is happily not the same pressure and urgency of toil as exists in business establishments. Especially are the girls of a family, upon whom the chief responsibility of a home has not yet come, exempt from it. It is well it is so. None would wish that the domestic machinery should move with the drive and rush, the whirl and strain of manufacturing and mercantile life. Woman's work, as we are sometimes told, may be never done, but it is not so imperious and exacting as man's. It does not demand such continuous and intense application; it can much more easily be laid down and taken up again ; it admits of postponement and intermission, the penalties for its non-execution within a given time are not so great and severe. Altogether, the demands of woman's work are lighter, its pressure less straining, and its rules less inflexible than man's. Out of this more easy and elastic condition of things arises the greater temptation to indolence. None work in the absence of strong pressure as they do when subject to it. What need not be done to-day is very easily put off till to
When persons are not bound to be at work and at a place of business, a thousand attractions draw them aside which would never move them if their employment were
imperative. Moreover, the nature of much of women's work is such as to render it easy to fritter away their time, to seem to be doing much while accomplishing little, to lead them to live on from month to month, and year
any great task to perform, or noble work to achieve. Since the temptation exists, it is well to be aware of it : “forewarned is forearmed.” The remedy seems to be, to set before the mind some worthy object to accomplish, always to have something on hand, and resolutely to persevere in its completion. The motto of a great painter may most appropriately be theirs. When asked how he managed to do so much, he replied, “No day without a line.” Indolence is the parent and nurse of illhealth, vain fancies, discontent, evil thoughts, mischief, and sin; industry begets and promotes good health, good temper, satisfaction, usefulness, and happiness.
Another temptation is to frivolity.
Many young women by reason of their mental constitution, and by the circumstances of life in which they are placed, are predisposed to what is light and trifling in conversation and employment, rather than to what is of sterling worth and utility. This tendency, if yielded to and fostered, may lead to a vain and empty character, and to an aimless and useless life. In not a few instances this has been the case. All must have known lives of which the moth or butterfly is the most appropriate natural emblem. Unlike the busy bee which gathers honey, unlike the provident ant which lays up in store, the gay butterfly flits away its life roving from flower to flower, never settling long upon any. Its one occupation seems to be to show its beautiful colours, and to add to the brightness of a
sunshiny day So women are to be met with who are the butterflies of human life. They delight to appear in gay and varied clothing ; their conversation is on light and trifling subjects, they appear not only indisposed but unable to speak on any other; they are ever ready for amusement, not as a recreation from toil or study, but as their chief occupation; they are in their element on sportive and festive occasions, but in the more useful, serious, and difficult scenes of life, they are out of place, because unfitted for them. The contribution they give to society and to the world is that of ornament, and that ornament is of the tinsel and filigree kind. With such a character and such a life no high-minded woman will be content. She will feel that “life is real, life is earnest ;” that to possess a vain, empty, and insipid character is a thing to be dreaded; and that to be of no real worth or weight in the world, is to be ignoble and unworthy. If women are to be the companions and not the playthings, the helpmeets and not the mere ornamental appendages of men, they must guard against the temptation to frivolity.
Another temptation is to gossip and tale-bearing.
The apostle Paul says, “ They learn not only to be idle, but tattlers also and busy-bodies, speaking things which they ought not." The tongue is a little member, but it is capable of infinite good or infinite evil.” Its wise and right use is confessedly a high attainment. If, as is generally admitted, women naturally possess greater fluency of utterance, it is the more desirable they should exercise it aright; yet experience goes to show that they are most apt to employ it in ways which, if not actually mischievous, are likely to become so.
The lack of more profitable subjects of conversation leads to gossip. The topics on which they are most given to speak are of a personal rather than of a general character, and have reference to private and family concerns rather than to subjects of public and universal interest. And speaking of these, it often happens that characters are discussed, affairs are canvassed, habits and modes of life are criticised, and circumstances made known which had best never have been spoken about. A recent ethical writer of much sagacity has observed concerning gossip, that “one-half of the evil-speaking in the world arises not from malicious intent, but from mere want of amusement." The habit of talking much about other people's concerns may be formed without wrong intention, but if not guarded against it will grow into most mischievous tale-bearing, which in turn may become something worse. The sin of talebearing is not so great an evil as slander ; but idle tales thoughtlessly uttered, frequently grow into slanders, most injurious and even fatal in their effect.
The sacred Scriptures contain most emphatic and reiterated warnings against this sin. Amongst the laws which were given by God to the Jews, we read, “Thou shalt not go up and down as a tale-bearer amongst thy people.” Again we read, “A talebearer revealeth secrets, but he that is of a faithful spirit concealeth the matter." “A whisperer separateth chief friends." “He that covereth a transgression seeketh love ; but he that repeateth a matter separateth very friends." "Where no wood is, the fire goeth out: so where there is no tale-bearer, the strife ceaseth.” “The words of a tale-bearer are as wounds, they go down into the innermost parts of the belly." Observation
abundantly attests the truth of these declarations of Holy Writ. The mischief which has been wrought, and the suffering which has been caused by gossip and tale-bearing are incalculable. Happy love has been embittered and destroyed, unhappy love has been made cruelly public by this odious practice. Groundless suspicion has been roused in the breast of husband and wife, and hearts which before had never known a misgiving, have been tortured by a mistrust and alienation which has jeopardized, if not completely destroyed, their life-long happi
Closest friendships have been severed, never to be reunited ; love has been turned into hate; and trust, which had reposed in blessed peace, has received a shock from which it has never completely recovered. The spotless character has been tarnished by a libellous insinuation which it was impossible to disprove. Many a man has been ruined through doubts of his solvency, suggested by half-truths and ominous hints. Many a heart has been broken, many a brain turned crazy, through the mischief wrought by wretched tittle-tattle. Many feet which have slipped from the paths of virtue and honesty, found it easier to fall because the voice of calumny had assailed their good name, and predicted their downward
Such mischief and suffering have been caused as well might make angels weep, and justify the description of the apostle James : " The tongue is a fire, a world of iniquity; it defileth the whole body, and setteth on fire the course of nature ; and it is set on fire of hell.” “It is an unruly evil, full of deadly poison.”
And what shall be done to avoid the sin and to lessen the evil ? Admit to the full the guilt and danger of idle tales and