The vicious side of tidiness.

Tyrannical cleanliness.

We have all heard of the fortunate lady whose “very failings leaned to virtue’s side.” Is there a converse to her? Do none of our virtues lean to vice’s side? I think I could enumerate a few, but for the moment the vicious side of tidiness is so strongly borne in upon me that I need go no further afield. Tidiness is delightful, meritorious, indispensable, admirable, estimable, praiseworthy, politic, and most precious. Untidiness is execrable, reprehensible, unseemly, and quite detestable. It is first cousin to uncleanliness, and is the mother of much domestic warfare. Tidiness is a virtue, indeed, but when carried to an extreme it becomes actually a disagreeable quality. My first impression to that effect was imbibed at the early age of nine, when I was sent to a boarding school. Separated from home and all familiar faces, I had a miserable heartache, even in the reception-room, but the sight of the awful tidiness of the dormitory chilled me to the very soul. The white walls, white beds, boarded floor, with its strips of carpet in a sad monotone of tint, gave me my first definite sensation of the meaning of the word “bleak.” And ever after, when returned to school from the holidays, I dreaded the moment of entering that long dormitory, where tidiness and cleanliness reigned rampant, like tyrants, instead of inviting, like the friendly, comfortable things they really are.

Selfish neatness.

I know a mother who will not allow her children to have toys, “because they are always lying about.” Well, toys are a very good means of teaching children tidiness; but the true motherheart must be lacking when the young ones are robbed of their childish joys for so selfish a reason. Childhood lasts so short a time, and can be so happy. Why curtail its little blisses? Just a few toys are more productive of pleasure than the plethora which so many nurseries display nowadays. And why should tidiness forbid a few?

For my part I like to see a battered old doll knocking about in the drawingroom of my friends. Generally armless, sometimes legless, occasionally headless, that doll becomes an enchanted spring of poetry when its small proprietress comes in and takes it up, loving it deeply and warmly in spite of its painful ugliness, its damaged condition, and general want of charm. Is not that what love does for us all? Ignoring our faults, it throws its glamour over us, and gives us what enriches the donor as well as the recipient—the most precious thing on earth.

About dolly.

The mother who deprives her small daughter of a doll sacrifices more than she knows to the demon of tidiness, and she robs herself of much delight. The consultations about dolly’s health are often funny enough. The discussions about the wax and bran-stuffed thing’s temper and naughtiness give many a peep into those departments of the child’s own nature, afford many a clue to the best method of treating them, and are, besides, amusing beyond expression. And where is poor Tommy, among boys, without his gun, his sword, and pistol? He is despised of his peers, and almost despises himself in consequence. It is bad for Tommy, very bad. Yes; tidiness can be very selfish. One can scarcely pardon the mothers who allow it to interfere with home joys.

“Those messy flowers.”

I know people who object to flowers in the house because “they are so messy.” They droop and die indeed. ’Tis a true indictment, but they are worth some trouble, are they not? Ultra-tidiness would banish them, and some of us would willingly be banished with them from the realms so ruled. Flowers do not last nearly so long when housed by persons of this sort as with those who love them, tend them daily, cherish them with warmest care, anticipate their needs, as only love can do, and attract from them some subtle, scarcely comprehensible, sympathy that prolongs the existence of these exquisite, innocent things, whose companionship means so much to man.

  By PanEris using Melati.

Previous chapter Back Home Email this Search Discuss Bookmark Next chapter/page
Copyright: All texts on Bibliomania are © Bibliomania.com Ltd, and may not be reproduced in any form without our written permission. See our FAQ for more details.