Sunday, September 30, 2012

Preface to The Complete Home, by Julia McNair Wright (1879)

Between the Home set up in Eden, and the Home before us in Eternity, stand the Homes of Earth in a long succession. It is therefore important that our homes should be brought up to a standard in harmony with their origin and destiny. Here are “Empire’s primal Springs;” here are the Church and State in Embryo; here all improvements and reforms must rise. For national and social disasters, for moral and financial evils, the cure begins in the Household. In no case could legislation and commerce lead back to a day of honesty and plenty, unless the Family were their active co-worker. Where souls and bodies are nourished, where fortunes are built, and brains are trained, there must be a focus of all moral and physical interests.
Is it true that marriages and American-born children are lessening? Does the Family fail in fulfilling its Divine intention? Why should young men fear to marry, and by undue caution deprive themselves of the joys and safeguards of domestic life? Why should young women, having but little instruction in the duties, dangers and possibilities of the married state, wed in haste, and make the future a long regret? Why, when the final step is taken, should the young pair not know all that is needful to know to secure their home in its integrity, that it may be happy, orderly, and beautiful, that they may know how to preserve health, train children, make, save and spend money?
The author hopes that this book may help answer these questions. Every day has its full share of troubles, but, by troubles well met, we grow stronger. We rise —
By stepping stones
Of our dead selves, to higher things.”
How then shall the Home fulfill the great duty lying before it — the duty of restoring confidence and energy, of eradicating evils, of bringing much out of little, and affording to every Family in the land an assumed competence? The answer to these questions, the indication of the means of reaching an end so grand, will take hold on Moral Principles and their practical out-working.
This Book — the product of years of careful investigation, of actual experiences, and of a profound veneration for the Divinely instituted Home — undertakes to show how every sound man and woman may safely marry, how every family may have a competence, how every home may go on from good to better, and how each household may be not only gladsome in itself, but a spring of strength and safety to the country at large.
This book treats of the individual as set in Households: it regards the household as a unit in its affections, aims, success. The rights, duties, privileges, preferences of every member of the family are discussed. The Home itself, in its practical working, its food, clothing and shelter, its earnings, savings and spendings, its amusements, industries, and culture, will be found faithfully portrayed.
There is no thought more beautiful and far reaching than this of the solidarity or oneness of the Family; here, man is indissolubly bound to his fellows. The individual is solitary, but God setteth the solitary in families.

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