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decided language you would show, how impossible it is to stand upon the narrow line which divides the children of God from the world—that there can be no neutrality here; we are all on one side of this line or on the other-and that it is vain to imagine we can draw those of the world over, by the expedient of concealing our real character, and going to meet them-or loosening our cords of separation, with the fallacious hope of catching those who object to that high standard unto which it should ever be our aim to press forward.
TO THE EDITOR OF THE CHRISTIAN
MADAM, At a meeting held a few days since, on behalf of the Maritime Penitent Female Refuge, (an object of the deepest interest, to which, though not the occasion of my writing, I should like to call the attention of your readers,) a remark was made which left a strong impression upon my mind : not by presenting to it what I liad not before reflected upon, but rather by renewing the regret with which I have seen the injury done ; or recalled my own former thoughtlessness, about it;--I say thoughtlessness, not to excuse myself, but because I believe it to be the word that best defines the fault: and it is simply in the hope of inducing other ladies to think upon it, that I bring forward a subject on which I anticipate no difference of feeling. On the occasion alluded to, it was stated that one of the prominent causes of that great sin, that heart-touching misery which shames our Christian country, is the insufficient earning of women who maintain themselves by their needle ; who form, too, a very large proportion of our female population. Beside those who are brought up to work for the trades, whose case we cannot hope to reach, though their wages are pitiably smalla thought that might make us less satisfied with the cheapness of our purchases—there is a class, too large to be numbered, who are driven by necessity rather than choice or early destination, to depend on needle-work for an uncertain and miserable subsistence. Young women who are not strong enough for household work, or by other casualties are prevented from taking service; whose decrepid parents perhaps require their care; or infant sisters depend upon their nursing ; mothers who cannot leave their suffering children, to earn the bread to feed them; the old, the sick and the disabled: these are all driven to the needle as their last resource; and if there were one class in particular, on which pity might fix its preference, I know not where such another could be found. There is something, too, in the very occupation-so quiet, so harmless, so domestic, so exclusively womanish-it seems to have a peculiar interest to a woman's feeling. And if this is not enough, there is another claim; they are of all people the most entirely at our mercy. If we reduce our servants' wages they will leave us; if we refuse our trades-people their customary prices, we must go without the articles; but these poor creatures are so destitute, so utterly without a second resource, that they cannot refuse to do the work we offer them, at any price that we may choose to pay. I need not tell a lady how little that is : every one knows that her poor sempstress sits motionless by her cold grate, with scarcely time to eat her victuals, if she has any, from seven in the morning till nearly midnight, if she can get a miserable rushlight to work by ; enfeebles her limbs, destroys her eye-sight, and cannot, at her utmost, earn eighteen pence a day: oftener not a shilling, and oftenest not a sixpence. And when this poor creature goes to the house of plenty, to the house of charity even, for it often is so, to receive
the shilling or the sixpence for which a sick mother or an infant child has been starving all the day, she is told, perhaps, the charge is too high-we can get it done for less.' No doubt-we can get it done for less, because her next neighbour has six children instead of one, and they are hungry too. She knows this as well as we do, and takes whatever we will give her. What follows? We have saved a sixpence -the rest we do not know. But it is known. The sixpence or the shilling must be had ; the miserable earnings must be eked out; rent must be paid, and hunger must be satisfied. I cannot tell the story through; but we may all hear of the last step, though we never hear the first-that last act of crime to which repentance is impossible !
Does it not become every Christian lady to consider the deep responsibility that is upon us, the accumulated misery of which we may be the occasion, by the insufficient payment of those whom we employ? There is, I think, a mis-judgment upon this subject, that a little consideration would remove, While to give is esteemed a divine obligation, a demand of God upon his people, which cannot be refused without transgression of the law of charity,to pay is considered a transaction between man and man, in which, if the parties are consenting, the will of God is not concerned, nor charity implicated. Thus, while no Christian thinks he may give away as little as he can, every one assumes that he may pay the least sum possible for what he purchases—we may all get our work done as cheaply as we can. Indeed we must not. God has laid as heavy a woe on them that oppress the hireling in his wages, as on them that refuse alms to the needy; and the hand
that is clean from the guilt of charity refused, may stain itself deeply with unrighteous savings. This woe will fall, I fear, on many a great proprietor and exacting dealer, in spite of all that political economy can show: but to the case before us, its rules are inapplicable: neither the supply nor the demand, the capital nor the product, determines these poor labourers' rate of wages : all is settled between the will of the one party, and the helpless necessity of the other.
There is yet another feature in their case, which while it concentrates the blame, brings the remedy also within a smaller compass. This kind of service is required almost exclusively by the affluent. Needle-work is very seldom paid for by the poor ; and in the most respectable classes below the rank of gentlewomen, it is considered an extravagance to put out plain work: it is either done by the ladies themselves, or by the servants in the family. It is by those who can spare it, who do not want it, and would scarcely know, when they had paid it, that the remuneration is withheld, which would make the aged comfortable, and save the young from vice. Consider again in what it is that we thus economize. It is not in our superfluities,-in the gratification of our vanity, or the indulgence of our taste : every lady whose station requires a certain acquiescence in the fashions of the day, knows how high a price she is obliged to pay for the taste of ber milliner or the skill of her dressmaker: here she has no choice but to pay the charge or dispense with the service; and if she chooses to economize, and buy at a cheaper rate, it can be only done by the sacrifices of taste and appearance. But the work done by the poor, is for the most part indispensable to us; and is on the