"Into what pleasant fields do you propose to lead us?" I think I hear the query from the lips of many readers of this magazine. Here, in this dingy city of ours, the vision of fresh green glades and of strolls between fragrant hedges of hawthorn, clematis, honeysuckle, and eglantine make the heart bound. But alas! I cannot treat all of you to a pleasure exactly like this; yet, although my heading is only metaphorical, some of the plans which I shall suggest for earning your daily read may really lead you amongst these very fields and flowers.
With a hope that a few amongst you may some day find your way out of the noisy streets to a far more agreeable dwelling-place, I recommend you to turn your attention to a new society, called the "Ladies' Association for the Promotion of Horticulture, Food Industries and other Country Pursuits".
To keep bees and make a profit out of their honey - to raise poultry - to keep cows and have a dairy, and learn to make either butter or cheese, or else to take a situation in some great place as head manager of the dairy - to raise flowers for sale at the markets of large towns, or to undertake the charge of conservatories, winter gardens, pineries, and hothouses of all tropical plants - these are the industries which this Society will assist in placing at your service. Of course you will be taught in a thoroughly and scientific as well as practical way, and if you wish to know more of the new College about to be instituted for this purpose, you must make your inquiries at the office of the Society, 22, Berners-street, Oxford-street, London.
But many amongst you may have duties and ties at home, and those homes may be respectively fixed for a long time, if not for life, in London. All the same, there are, even there, charming and varied employments for your industrious fingers.
SCULPTURE IN WOOD
Is most delightful work - classes for teaching it are open to all, and an artist well able to direct the students superintends their labours. The Society of Arts opened the "National School of Wood Carving". You may hear all about the classes at 22, Bernes-street. The tools are not expensive, and if, in addition to skill in using them, you have any taste in designing patterns, you may get work in the trade from upholsterers, or private orders to sculpture panels, brackets, backs of pianos, backs of books, and portfolios, cabinets and picture-frames. There is now an excellent institution opened at 9, Conduit-street, called the "Institute of Art" where any such objects in wood-carving may be exhibited for sale by paying some trifle for their exhibition. I have done much in this most fascinating work, and certainly, as articles for bazaars held for charitable purposes, I never found any other work to sell half so quickly, or to fetch so high a price. Get a carpenter to prepare a piece of box-wood or walnut for you, or procure the kind of pieces you require at a fancy wood-carver's, and then draw your pattern upon it, or paste on a paper outline, and try the first cutting out with a small chisel and mallet. Then, if you find that you like the work, you would do well to join the classes I have named.
But I fancy that
ENGRAVING ON WOOD
Is likely to prove a more profitable business than carving, only it will require very good sight and a steady hand. Title-pages, headings for new chapters, decorative tail-pieces; armorial bearings, mottoes, and names for pasting inside the covers of books; portraits from photographs; facsimiles of sketches and copies of paintings - all these subjects provide work of a lucrative character for those who have learnt this beautiful art. Probably some of my readers will inquire - "Where could I obtain the needful instructions?" You can apply to the Secretary of the Lambeth School of Art, at 122, Kensington-road, should you like to join the technical class of wood engraving established there. But I should forewarn you that to be admitted to these classes you must qualify yourself first of all by obtaining a second grade certificate of the Science and Art Department. There is also a class held at 43, Queen-square, W.C.
Another sister art is
For paper, for mouldings in wood or plaster, for carpets, for calico prints, for the Indian or African export trade, or for home use, as well as for china-painting. Designers for muslin and Swiss lace curtains can get good employment.
Is a means for making a living, or of assisting towards it, which deserves some notice on your part. As an example of what may be gained at this work, I may observe that for a well-painted plate you may earn from twenty to fifty shillings, possibility more. Ladies are engaged in decorative work on stone-ware at Lambeth Potteries, also at several large commercial houses in China and faience painting, and in a lower department at Lambeth many young girls paint stone-ware etc., for which they obtain a fair salary.
At the School of Art, South Kensington, there are instructions given in other branches of art work as, for example, glass-painting for slides, etc., engraving on glass, plain and coloured lithography, colouring of maps and botanical works, fan-painting, tile-painting, and drawing outlines on silk and velvet, for the use of ecclesiastical or other embroiderers.
REPORTING AND SHORT-HAND WRITING
Afford a living to a moderate number of persons. The Government pays a guinea a day for the taking of notes, and a shilling a folio is paid by Law and Parliamentary Committees (72 words in a folio); and when the work is executed out of town, two guineas a day, with travelling expenses.
I have already suggested horticulture as a profession, and now I may propose
You are not all required to live in the old home circle. As with the birds, the nest will not hold the young when they have grown old enough to build for themselves, and some amongst you may obtain permission to seek your livelihood in France or Switzerland; if so, you have a new field opened before you in those countries. At the Great Exhibition in the Champ de Mars, Paris, there were splendid specimens of all manner of fruit-trees raised by women agriculturists, from all parts of France, growing in great pots, or painted wooden tubs designed for city or garden decoration; textile plants from Algeria and the cloth made from them; and dried and preserved fruits, all women's work. There are no Government schools for this occupation, but in orphan refuges, and under the care of various communities, the business has been taught with great success. Amongst other parts, in the Gironde women are engaged in utilizing the sandy district between Bayonne and Biarritz. In the neighbourhood of Bordeaux there are societies of Farming Sisters and Gardening Sisters, and besides these I may also mention there are women who conduct laundries worked by orphans, by means of steam and all the latest improvements in machinery, and bake-houses also for those who prefer a dry, to a wet sphere for work.
But perhaps the most remarkable of all the institutions for teaching gardening and agriculture in France, and with astonishing success, is the Atelier Refuge of Darnetal, near Rouen, which began with so small a sum as eightpence, and a school consisting of two little girls from a reformatory, and now has more than 300 girls from six years old to eighteen; more than 400 acres of land cultivated entirely by the girls; a large house, infirmary, schoolroom, church, and a garden-house; and is worth no less a capital than £32,000. The two little girls of whom I spoke entreated to be taken back to prison, for they had no home nor friends, and the official lady-visitor, on consulting the chaplain of the jail at Rouen about them, followed his charitable advice to "look out for a room, buy a loaf and a candle - for to-morrow God will provide". And help did come, and by agriculture all these girls have been supported in a great measure, and have learned a way of support for their future lives. They dig, sow, reap, plant, mow, prune, plough, and cart home the hay and corn. Besides this, they spin, wind yarn, make read, butter, and cheese; they understand the cares of cattle, have 100 cows, more than 1,000 head of poultry, 23 horses, etc. I tell you all this to show what young girls can do, and I must also add that, although their hands are rough, they have no coarseness of manner - nothing really unfeminine about them; they are very neat in their dress, and many of them sing very sweetly.
In Switzerland the Government provides courses of lectures on farming and gardening to ladies, and at the present time there are 104 students, from 16 to 30 years of age, attending them; and they likewise teach all kinds of domestic arrangements - preserving, cooking, bleaching linen, etc. There are also similar schools in Denmark and Sweden.
I think I have said enough about agriculture, and may now give you a list of some of the other occupations for women which can be pursued indoors, as many girls could neither leave home altogether, nor possess the strength to bear exposure, even for directing out-door work as head of a farm or garden, nor the muscular power required for any really manual labour.
Is by no means a difficult business, and much taste may be displayed in the decorative department connected with it. I have tried my own hands on a volume, and think it would prove a fair means of earning some addition to a small income. Some hundreds of women are employed in London at this business, folders and binders earning from nine to twelve shillings weekly, and vellum binders from twelve to fifteen shillings. Ladies might set up an establishment of their own, and procure trade orders.
In the stationery department there is also work for women's hands. Envelope makers are paid from ten to twelve shillings, best black borderers from fifteen to twenty, and in the relief and coloured stampers, from twenty to twenty-five shillings weekly.
PAINTING ON PANELS
Can be very quickly learnt, and at but small expenditure; birds, flowers, and butterflies are the usual subjects selected for it.
Is another branch of female industry quite worth consideration, of which you might obtain some information at the "Ladies' Self-Help Institute" in Baker-street. I believe that the floor of the crypt of St Paul's Cathedral is paved with the mosaics made by the inmates of some Female Reformatory. But work of a very much finer and more delicate description would be more suitable for you; and if you pay a visit to the South Kensington Museum, perhaps your fancy may lead you to select the formation of pictures and portraits in coloured glass, when you have seen those full-length figures of illustrious men that surround the walls of one of the galleries. Finer work may also be accomplished, such as for inkstands, brooches, etc.
Is not necessarily an unwholesome occupation, as care may be taken with regard to the colours employed. Left-handed people work better at this industry than others, unless very expert with both hands. A year's apprenticeship is requisite, and the wages for work done out of the house are from fifteen to twenty-five shillings a week, and in the house from twenty-five to fifty.
FRAME-MAKING AND GILDING
Is a pleasant occupation, and any one wishing for an insight into the work, and to see a woman thus gaining a living, can pay a visit to 24, High Street, Camden-town, where a woman carries on this business and works for the trade.
Yet one more branch of art-work, and I will turn to a different class of employment; I refer to
For which you may find an opening in a "Rococco" shop. I believe that this is not more difficult than caring in ivory, another delightful occupation, accomplished by very fine instruments and the assistance of a lathe. From the editor of the Women's Gazette (42, Somersetshire-street, Portman-square) you can easily ascertain further information about it.
I need scarcely speak of the schools of cookery and needlework, as stepping-stones to the profession of teacher or the trade of a manual worker, so much has already been written about both. But I will make an exception in the case of needle-work, and that is to draw attention to the great opening there is for
Who will go out by the day at a moderate price - say, at from 2s to 2s 6d, and their board - an ample remuneration. These persons should be able to sew well by hand, and machine; turn or remake dresses; make or mend linen, or do upholstery work; good fitters, and be able to trim a bonnet delicately and with good taste. Such useful workers as these are inquired for in all directions, and few, alas, are the recommendations that can be given.
School teachers, like governesses are increasing in alarming numbers. Do not turn your thoughts in that direction, unless seriously disposed - as I hope some of you will be - to select one or two branches in an educational career that I shall now propose. In the first place, if you are fond of children, the
KINDERGARTEN SYSTEM OF TEACHING
Is not overstocked wit aspirants like the others. A college for the training of students is established at 31, Tavistock-place, W.C. Should you make up your mind to adopt such a profession as a teacher under this system, you must be prepared to pay £20 a year in fees. For the second year, however, you will get some return for your work - if you have succeeded in "qualifying".
The other branch of educational work to which I very earnestly direct your attention is that of
TEACHING DEAF MUTES,
Not by the finger alphabet, nor by the language of signs, but by the wonderful art known as "Lip-reading". If any of you would like to know how a deaf mute can read each word you utter by watching the movements of your lips only, and if you would like to hear those poor little afflicted children utter words in reply to sounds they have never heard from you, and in the distinct tones of their own voices, which they never can hope to hear, I recommend you to write to a lady who devotes her life to the work of teaching some gentlemen's children - all mutes when they come to her - and ask her permission to call, and see how she teaches them at her house in South Kensington (89, Holland-road). This lady (Miss Hull) will give you all the information you would require should you wish to enter the new college instituted for training teachers of the deaf. There is a great opening for them in this country, as well as abroad; and teachers who would go out as governesses for them would be far better paid than any others. But patience is one of the chief virtues - perhaps the most essential of all - that a teacher must bring with her into such a situation. It is so long before the mute can e made to understand what is meant by the first signs that are to lead the way to his learning even the names of the objects he sees, not to mention the far greater difficulty of understanding a conversation, and then of speaking himself.
DISPENSING OF MEDICINE
Has of late years been carried on by women, and very suitably so; but whoever undertakes such a profession should possess great steadiness of character, thoughtfulness, cautiousness, punctuality, and presence of mind. She should be very methodical also - in fact, such a position of grave responsibility should not be undertaken without serious consideration as to personal suitability, however competent she may be in point of attainments. To the daughter of a general practitioner, who has a dispensary of his own, training for such a profession would incur little expense, and she might also have facilities for the study of botany in her country walks. Women are by law admitted to the examination entitling them to keep a chemist's shop and practice this calling; and since October last women have been admitted as members of the Pharmaceutical Society.
If you would like to attend the lecture of the "Pharmaceutical Society" you can pay your fees, amounting to £4 4s, and avail yourself of them at their offices, 17, Bloomsbury-square. Both lectures and laboratory course are open to women at the South London School of Pharmacy, 325, Kensington-road, and this is the only place where you may fully qualify for the examination that will enable you to open a dispensary and practice. The expenses for the whole course, which extends over a year, amount to about £15.
I have said nothing of
But should at least observe that second-rate workers out of the house can, in the six busy months, make from £1 to £3 weekly, and in the first-class from £30 to £120 per annum. Much money is also made in dressmaking, although so few women appear capable of fitting well. Any ladies, however, who have a fancy for leaning, with a view to profit, or otherwise, should apply to the "Ladies' Dressmakers Association",42, Somerset-street, Portman-square.
There is a ladies'
Office at 12, Portugal-street, Lincoln's-inn, conducted by two ladies, where all necessary instruction is given, and a good engrosser can earn from 17s to £2 a week. After two or three years of training, clerkships may be obtained from £30 to £40 per annum
Is a good vocation, and one desiring to devote her life to it will have a large choice of institutions wherein to select her home, with a salary rising up to £50 per annum, food, fire, uniform, and some other perquisites, winding up with a pension for old age. But the fatigue and hardships are great, and many women are unsuited to do more than nurse their own families and relatives.
PAINTING IN WATER COLOURS
Here is a very large field for female labour and art, and it has many branches, such as painting from nature, both figure and landscape; but especially in flower painting do ladies appear to excel. Witness the many choice and valuable examples in the exhibitions of the "Society of Lady Artists", the Grosvenor, and other galleries every year. A very large and increasing demand is also arising for cheap spirited handwork for valentines, birthday and Christmas cards. Miniature painting also offers a wide scope, and now that it is so frequently painted on a photographic basis, that knowledge of drawing, formerly indispensible is not so much required. A lady may easily earn from one to three guineas when she has once mastered the touch required for this kind of work. An immense quantity of photographs are retouched in black and white only, which is nice and comparatively easy work.
Many ladies find it easier to work in oil colours than in water colours, and although the latter is the cleaner of the two, the former has its advantages in greater brilliancy and durability. As regards painting photographs, any one who can paint them well in oil is certain of a very handsome income indeed.
I have but taken a rapid survey of some of the various occupations by which you could spend a useful life, earn a livelihood, or add to the pecuniary means you possess. I trust that while giving but an imperfect sketch of these far-differing fields of women's work, I have said enough to inspire some amongst you to make good use of your head and hands, either for your own support, or for the good and comfort of others.