Every-day Thoughts in Prose and Verse
by Ella Wheeler Wilcox
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The Woman's Movement.
Unpleasant and unwholesome as are many
phases of the "woman movement" in the
world, yet it has brought blessings and brightness
into many dark lives, and hope into many saddened
   Woman's revolt against the old order of things
has produced domestic chaos and filled the world
with restless wives and career-seeking daughters.
   But the fate of the spinster has been immeasur-
ably improved.
   There is nothing in the whole universe of sad situ-
ations more pathetic than the life of a young woman
who sees her youth slipping behind her and all her
companions married, and whose sensitive heart is
hurt a score of times daily by the unthinking rail-
lery of her elders, or the impertinent cruelty of
   The thoughtless malice of a Christian girl of sev-
enteen toward a single woman of twenty-seven,
who indicates a desire for any enjoyment in the
pleasures of youth; would put to shame the tortures
devised by heathen tribes.
   And yet, the woman of twenty-seven has tenfold
the capacity for pleasure, tenfold the power of feel-
ing and the appreciation of life which the girl of
seventeen possesses.
   In olden days, under the former regime, there
was nothing for the young spinster to do but settle
down into a family friend and neighborhood nurse
and crush out every personal feeling and individual
longing, to repress all the passionate craving to
love and be loved, which grows stronger instead of
weaker in woman's nature as she passes out of
youth into middle life, and to bestow upon the chil-
dren of relatives and neighbors the care and affec-
tion which by right belonged to her own.  Few
avenues of employment were open to women in
those days, and it would have been considered an
evidence of an unbalanced mind if a respectable old
maid had preferred going out alone in the world
to labor in any profession rather than to accept
the position of "living around" among her relatives.
   Talk of the heroism of a Hobson, or a Wain-
wright, or the soldiers at Santiago!  It does not
require the courage to face a glorious death which
it requires to face a dependent and lonely old age.
   It is an easier thing to bear one sharp sting of a
bullet and to feel life ebbing away, than to crucify
every natural impulse of affection for forty years
through slow-dragging days and desolate nights,
and to look forward to nothing in the way of a per-
sonal possession but a grave at the end.
   That is what the single women had to do in the
days when women were "domestic," as God meant
them to be; but through some oversight He forgot
to provide homes for the display of the domestic
virtues.  If, under the new order of things, we have
among us the discontented wife who wants a
"career" and sells her birthright for a mess of poor
pottage, we have, too, the self-respecting "woman
bachelor," who earns her own living in an agree-
able vocation, and who is able to enjoy a lecture or
a concert without feeling she is accepting a bounty
grudgingly bestowed, and who can look forward to
a comfortable old age and a home of her own where
independence, if not happiness, reigns.
   Whatever may be said of the new woman, the
"new old maid" is entitled to our admiring con-
Every-day thoughts in prose and verse. by Ella Wheeler Wilcox
Chicago: W. B. Conkey Company, 1901.
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