Every-day Thoughts in Prose and Verse
by Ella Wheeler Wilcox
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The Need of the Day.
I once heard a stranger remark that there were
five million more women in the world than
   I do not vouch for the accuracy of the statement
but if one were to judge from the appearance of
our streets and public conveyances on matinee after-
noons, the report does not seem exaggerated.
   Now that woman has taught man that she does
not expect him to support her, the choice of her
profession becomes a serious consideration, even in
those communities where there seem to be men
enough to go around.
   When a woman is possessed of no one impelling
talent which forces her to go in a certain direction,
the question of choosing a profession should be
decided from a practical and common sense stand-
   First of all, she should look over the list of suc-
cessful women of her acquaintance and try and
reason out the causes of their success.
   It is more than likely that she will think of the
popular actress first, and recall the time when she
was a poor girl like herself.  But before she
attempts to duplicate the career of the successful
actress, she would be wise to take into consideration
the endowments, qualities, and events which con-
spired to make the actress successful, and to ask if
it is reasonable to expect a similar success for her-
   To fail in an effort in this line leaves a stigma
forever upon a woman's life.  She is handicapped
thereafter in anything she attempts to do.  People
doubt her good sense and judgment, and suspect her
of being a visionary dreamer and poser.
   Unless the girl has absolute genius as an imper-
sonator or reader, she had better not think of study-
ing elocution with an idea of giving recitals.  There
is an overstocked market of artists in this line,
varying from the best to the worst, and there is very
little demand for their work.
   The majority of women in this profession eke out
a miserable livelihood, submit to all sorts of rebuffs
and discouragements, and irritate and annoy their
acquaintances once or twice a year by that polite
form of beggary--a benefit or recital--to which
nobody cares to go, but all feel obliged to.
   Of course, a genius in this field as in any other
will succeed.  But the genius does not have to seek
a profession; it seeks her.
   The crying need of the day is the need of prac-
tical women; women who know how to make daily
life a thing of beauty and comfort.
   We are overrun with women who want to amuse
us; to sing, dance, recite for us; to paint, write,
decorate for us; but we have to go begging for
women who can make and mend our clothes; who
can cook our food with economy and taste; who can
care for us when we are ill, and help lift the burdens
of everyday life from our shoulders when we are
   I do not understand the mental make-up of the
woman who thinks it is more dignified to beg her
friends to buy tickets to her benefit, than to have her
friends beg her to make their gowns or hats.  I
would rather be a first-class, well-paid cook than a
fourth-rate, starving artist.
   Let any woman seeking a profession to-day
remember that no matter what the condition of a
country is, whether there is money circulating or
not, hard times or good times, people will pay for
physical comfort.
   A lady complained to me recently that she had
been unable to find a governess who could make a
bed or tidy up a playroom.
   Governesses pride themselves on what they can-
not do in practical matters.  The craze to be
thought artistic and impractical seems to be wide-
spread among women to-day.  I think the most
pernicious sentence that ever crept into American
literature is "art for art's sake."  People who make
it their motto in the start usually change it before
many years to "work for God's sake," as they go
hunting for something to do.
   The world is full of untalented people who are
living miserably, and dodging their creditors and
flattering themselves with the idea that they are
"true artists--living for art's sake."  And at the
same time money, and self-respect, and comfort are
waiting for the practical workers of earth.
   The woman who is wondering what she had bet-
ter do should look about her and note what seems
to be the greatest need everywhere.
   Everything connected with hygiene, cleanliness
and order, a woman should study; whatever per-
tains to health and economy, she should understand.
   There is a vast field for women as matrons in our
prisons and hospitals.  The matron of any public in-
stitution, if she has practical wisdom, cheerfulness,
sympathy and order, with a knowledge of the power
of goodness and health over sin and disease, can
do more for the inmates than all the clergymen and
priests in the universe.
   Woman has the whole world in her hands to-day.
She can make of it what she pleases.  Whatever
is going wrong in it can be mainly traced back to
incompetent mothers.  When woman was repressed
and kept down by the tyranny of custom, we could
not blame her for incompetency.  To-day, all ave-
nues are open to her; the men are standing back
and giving her a clear path.
   Meantime the comfort of the world seems dimin-
ished.  Let the women who are trying to decide on
their "careers" remember this.
Every-day thoughts in prose and verse. by Ella Wheeler Wilcox
Chicago: W. B. Conkey Company, 1901.
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