as the business of young lives, and to be unable to sew well as a disgrace. Harriet Martineau tells us all about it in her “Household Education.” She says, “I believe it is now generally agreed, among those who know best, that the practice of sewing has been carried much too far for health, even in houses where there is no poverty or pressure of any kind. No one can well be more fond of sewing than I am; and few, except professional sempstresses, have done more of it; and my testimony is that it is a most hurtful occupation, except where great moderation is observed. I think it is not so much the sitting and stooping posture as the incessant monotonous action and position of the arms that causes such wear and tear. Whatever it may be, there is something in prolonged sewing which is remarkably exhausting to the strength, and irritating beyond endurance to the nerves. The censorious gossip, during sewing, which was the bane of our youth,” she adds, “wasted more of our precious youthful powers and dispositions than any repentance and amendment in after life could repair.”

Those barbarous samplers.

Poor Araminta.

In the exhibition of “Fair Children,” held at the Grafton Gallery some seasons since, there was a whole case full of cruel samplers, which must have made many a young child miserable. Because, you know, it is not only the work that is visible that went into them! There were the tedious and endless unpickings when mistakes were made, causing bitter tears of woe to rise in childish eyes. “You shall stay in, Araminta, until you get it right.” And outside was the sun shining, the birds were singing, the meadows full of hay, and the other children romping and shouting. Poor Araminta! There was her name embroidered on one of the most barbarous of those dreadful samplers; one with a double border, the outer one in circles, the inner in vandykes. The stitches in each had to be counted, and every one crossed in the same direction. And Araminta was aged seven! There it was, at the end of her sampler, “Araminta Paget. Her sampler. Aged seven.” Composition ambiguous, but meaning clear. Well, perhaps Araminta learned to love her fine marking, and passed many a happy hour singing to herself over her embroidery frame; but it is good to remember that the old tyranny of the needle is past and gone. The invention of the sewing-machine has been to women one of the very greatest blessings of our dear Queen’s most beneficent reign. I am not sure that it was not the real means of introducing many others, legal and educational.

Berlin woolwork.

When Caddy Jellaby remarked, “Africa’s a beast!” she was but unconsciously paraphrasing an expression of opinion familiar enough to her contemporaries. How many thousands of girls in those old days have declared, “Berlin wool’s a bother!” And so, indeed, it was. To be able to do what was then called “fancy work” was almost sufficient accomplishment for the young women of the middle classes of those days. Cushions, chair furniture, slippers, and even pictures were produced in this despotic cross-stitch, varied occasionally by a finer and more difficult variety called tent-stitch; and so far from employing fancy or imagination, every row had to be diligently counted—so many brown stitches, so many green, so many red, &c. I have seen hearthrugs worked in this way with Berlin wool in impossibly huge flowers, and the fender-stool was a great favourite in those old days, often made prickly with white beads, in which recumbent lilies were delineated. Fire screens of the hanging banner pattern were esteemed as great ornaments, and I believe I once heard of a carpet worked in sections by an ambitious party of ladies, and afterwards joined together.

Waste of time.

The policy and sentiment of the matter.

But who wastes time over fancy work now? Only a small minority of women, I fancy. There is a market for beautiful sewing and for fine embroideries, but as for futile and inartistic chairbacks and their tribe, their day is done. The exquisite Church embroideries bring in fair incomes to those skilled in that class of work; but there is no longer any demand for the home-made lace that occupied half the waking hours of many a woman’s life in the sixties and seventies. That nightmare is over. But let us hope that skill

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