Our lives are subject to a thousand changes. In the home as well as out of it, we shall meet, face to face, fruition and disappointment, rapture and pain, hope and despair. In these tests of the soul’s health what good will domestic science do us? Not by sanitation is sanity brought forth. Women do not gather courage from calories, nor faith from refrigerators. But every added milestone along the road from youth to age shows us the truth of Cicero’s claim, made after he had borne public care and known private grief, for the faithful, homely companionship of intellectual studies: “For other things belong neither to all times and ages nor all places; but these pursuits feed our growing years, bring charm to ripened age, adorn prosperity, offer a refuge and solace to adversity, delight us at home, do not handicap us abroad, abide with us through the watches of the night, go with us on our travels, make holiday with us in the country.”
Upon women, in crucial hours, may depend the peace of the old, the fortune of the middle-aged, the hopefulness of the young. In such an hour we do not wish to be dismissed as were the women of Socrates’s family, who had had no part in the bright life of the Athens of which he was taking leave. Shall we become the bread in the sacrament of life, ourselves unfed? the fire on the hearth, ourselves unkindled?
If from almost any given point in the United States you start out towards the Southwest, you will reach in time the Land of the Sleepless Watchdog. On each of the scattered farms, defending it against all intruders, you will find a band of eager and vociferous dogs—dogs who magnify their calling because they have no other, and who, by the same token lose all sense of proportion in life. It is “theirs not to reason why,” but to put up warnings and threats, and to be ready for the fight that never comes.
If you enter a domain without previous understanding with them, you are powerless for mischief, for you are in the center of a publicity beside which any other publicity is that of a hermit’s cell. The whole farm knows where you are, and all are suspicious of your predatory intentions. You can have none under these conditions. Meanwhile the whole pack voices its opinion of you and your unworthiness.