A Celebration of Women Writers

"Home Side of Progress." by Mrs. Clara Holbrook Smith.
Publication: Eagle, Mary Kavanaugh Oldham, ed. The Congress of Women: Held in the Woman's Building, World's Columbian Exposition, Chicago, U. S. A., 1893. Chicago, Ill: Monarch Book Company, 1894. pp. 332-336.

Editor: Mary Mark Ockerbloom

[Page 332] 



It is granted that we have eclipsed all other national efforts in the mammoth placing of our exhibits side by side with those from the Old World; I long to know if it will be the world's verdict that America leads in all that is largest and latest. Some phases of these evidences of progress call out many questions as we compare our national life with the life of advanced cultured nations which have preceded us, but whose glory now has departed. The statement on the cover of Dr. Strong's oft-quoted book, says our country is God's last opportunity for the human race. If this is true, are we to progress far beyond any of the nations that have preceded us, or is it in the Divine plan for all natural life that it is "thus far and no farther?"

Is the new Jerusalem to come from the sky, or is it to be an earth renovated? Professor Drummond seems to banish the sky idea, and says: "It means a new London, a new Chicago, a new Jerusalem, all of the cities lifted by spiritual thought and effort to the plane of a heavenly city. In the light of the history of past nations, are we nearing the age of ripeness that precedes decay, or are we nearing the renovation period?

In this White City have we delineated the highest that has preceded us in art, or is the art of the classic days of Greece the limit of human ability in that direction.

Historical research proves conclusively we have not equaled that period in literature, and it leaves us with the mortifying certainty that there have been but five men produced in the last two thousand years that could equal the twenty-eight men produced in the two centuries between 500 B.C. and 300 B.C.–only five. Neither can we boast of our orators, when Rufus Choate asserted that if Demosthenes were here today the only ones who would be able to follow and comprehend him would be the lawyers and judges of the supreme bench. In your thought can you place one of our statesmen by the side of Pericles? If we then are still on the lower rounds of the mental ladder, is it not time the homes of the land were questioned and challenged? No culture can go beyond the capacity of the one to be cultured. We are generally beating all around the bush. We study very carefully the condition of the house in which the home is to be located. We talk glibly of sanitation, of hygiene of foods chemically considered. The wise home-makers have placed on exhibition all the latest implements–the model nursery, the kindergarten, the kitchen-garden, the gymnasium, [Page 333]  and the methods of the various organizations that are endeavoring to remove evil from the pathway of the child.

All grand, all helpful, all necessary, but it often all looks to me like "locking the barn-door after the horse is stolen." Yes, we are beating around the bush; but the enemy lies coiled in the very center. The child is stung with evil before it reaches the outer circle where these implements for culture of body and soul stand ready for the using. We must probe deep, to the very heart of things, and commence at the very foundation, before we can hope for any special advance physically, mentally or morally, beyond the present showing of our nation. We have made provision for the training in every profession save the profession of home-makers and parentage. This is all left to chance. The fate of the nation is left to blind chance. The seed of this nation was sown by the church. We had a right to expect wonderful things from such a sowing, but the enemy from the first has been sowing tares from the poisoned weeds of Europe's humanity. Our country must now look very carefully to the quality of her sowing, or expect to reap the fate of the cultured nations of the past ages. The home was God's first plant for a nation. Male and female created He–man in His own image–and gave them the high privilege of entering into His last creative act with Him. He gave of all seeds to man, and said, "plant." Man has learned to plant with care, according to the last laws given by science, to insure the largest growth, the most perfect specimen, the choicest varieties, he has also learned in the last days that human development the most precious, the one upon which all happiness and progress depends, is governed by the very same scientific laws. There is no progress for any nation beyond the home-line of possibility. I want to give you my thought from two standpoints:

First. The two laws governing development.

Second. Outside aid to development.

I start from the very foundation of the human race–the fathers and the mothers. Could they expect fine results to come by chance?

In the light of today's revealments a person is criminal who does not look after the purity of the blood that he imparts to another human being. Every institution of learning that fails to provide this instruction for its students, male and female, in different departments, fails to provide a foundation for a higher mental capacity in the coming generations. Higher education is a theme much harped upon at present, but every effort, save in a few exceptional cases, will prove futile for lack of capacities upon which to expend their knowledge. We are far behind the oft-quoted classic Greece in this respect. We have only advanced to Solon's time. That wise old law-giver exclaimed: "We can not legislate against luxury, but we can establish athletic schools that will develop physique and give a martial character to the amusements of our young." We have in this decade of years advanced this far. When will we attain to the wisdom of Lycurgus?

He prohibited parents from giving their daughters in marriage until they had attained a certain degree of proficiency in certain exercises. He went further than this in his wise recognition of the future needs of the nation. He prohibited marriages among any who were not matured, any who were diseased, or who were deformed, and they looked upon the throwing of a sickly or deformed new-born babe into a ravine to perish as an act of mercy. Exercises for development were compulsory. The pure blood thus engendered fed the nervous tissue, fed the white and gray matter of the brain. The brain thus richly nourished, and in its turn its muscles exercised by questioning, developed the twenty-eight men of the two centuries named whom we cannot equal or surpass today. Lycurgus did well for what we are pleased to term an ignorant past, but his laws after all produced but one Socrates.

I claim that an intelligent present, through the use of two laws, could soon produce one who could answer the questions of Socrates. We have grown quite familiar with one of these two laws through the pens and voices of many, the prenatal law. Rightly understood and used it has the power to modify the effect of poisonous blood. [Page 334]  But the other law, so powerful, I alone am presenting. Probably because others have not dug so deep and waded through so many pages of scientific volumes, small of print and large of terms. This law has the power to eliminate all the poisoned matter, vicious tendencies that come down from the ancestral spaces.

Frederick the Great understood human cultivation. The emperor's body-guard was composed of colossal, stalwart men that had been gathered from their own and kidnapped from other nations. He bid them seek wives that could match them in physique, and establish homes for the rearing of future guards. If homes can be established that will insure splendid physique, why not homes to insure splendid mentalities and splendid morals? With this thought in view, I will give you the corner-stone on which every home must be built. That I may not be accused of sentiment, please note the fact that this corner-stone is the result of a life-time of study, of the labor of scientific men investigating natural law. Let me quote from one of them: "Marriage is scientifically unnatural when not based upon a supreme affection." There is no substitute for a supreme affection. There can be no home without it. There may be a place where two persons dwell together, but no home.

We will go to the laboratory of the "why." We must have a scientific analysis or we will again be accused of sentiment. We have advanced as far as the Laws of Lycurgus in our consideration of these truths.

Their following means perfect health, and perfect health insures pure blood. But the microscope reveals to us the fact that our blood changes with our emotions. Thus the blood that becomes vitalized under the great happiness of the emotion of love, becomes an absolute poison under the emotions of dislike, fear or hate. This poison under the extreme emotion of fear or hate is strong enough to throw a child that may imbibe it into convulsions, and has been known in some instances to kill instantly.

A home started on scientific principles, based upon a supreme affection, as shown by chemical analysis of the blood to be absolutely necessary, built on conditions of superb health, as shown by the results of following the Laws of Lycurgus, with obedience to the law of prenatal influence, offers opportunity for the highest earthly possibilities. But here let us stop a moment. This is the horror of it all.

In one fatal moment, a disobedience to the initial law may cancel all the splendid preparation that has been the work of years. This law, the strongest law of all, that has the power to counteract all that comes from the ancestral spaces, that has power to annul the grand conditions, the resultant of preparation of previous years, is completely ignored in almost every home. So strong is the law, that a spiritualized condition would overcome even unfavorable tendencies, and make favorable conditions. It is a new supply of life from the Creator of life.

So much has been spoken and written on the weeding and watering and removal of stones from the pathway of these human sprouts after they have come to light, I will leave these points for the present, also all comment on hygiene and sanitary laws, upon which so much of the happiness and usefulness of the members depend, and will pass on to the outside aids to the home culture. If we were governed by wise statesmen, they would from national policy go as far as the government of ancient Greece.

In the interest of good citizenship they should decide who should make a home. With our understanding of the necessary mental condition to produce the best results, government should present to every young married couple a house in which to commence their home-life. Then their thoughts could enter upon the wise administration of the laws governing a well-regulated home, and not be wasted in a struggle for finances with which to build a house, in addition to the finances necessary for the bread and butter of their daily living. Every child should be looked upon as a ward of the nation. If accident or incapacity prevents parents from furnishing the mental and manual training necessary to develop the child into a good citizen, government should come to their aid.

If from lust, avarice, or appetite parents are incapable of performing their duty [Page 335]  to their children in this respect, these wards of the nation should be transplanted to governmental homes of training. Vienna, Austria, presents us a fine object lesson in its care for its destitute orphans. The mayor of the city appoints the child a father, if it is a boy, among the good citizens of good standing, or a mother if it is a girl. These little ones are then boarded out at the expense of the city. But it is the duty of this appointed father or mother to look after the child's welfare during its growing years, and see to its proper placing in life when it is old enough to become self-supporting. This is an expense to the city, but is it so great an expense as it will be if the child grows into a criminal? If you are unscientific, you will condemn my next statement. The "Destroyer" of a home, whether it is a home that now exists or a home that could have existed, should be put to death. The law of Leviticus, when interpreted by science, is none too severe. It is a law given by a God of love and God of mercy. Through the investigations of the blood it is shown that the Bible statement of they twain are one flesh is not figuratively, but literally, true. The law is written in our members. One Adam and two or more Eves, one Eve and two or more Adams should be put to death.

The law of creation is a jealous law. Break the Divine plan, male and female, by a separation of interests, and the deterioration of both commences. There is an invisible current now unnamed between minds masculine and feminine that makes a complete, rounded world. A study of the mental action of each apart and then together makes this very apparent. Sever the current by a manner of life that does not continuously touch the best in life of the other, and physical force predominates; it is then that deterioration of all faculties commences. The rounded mental world cut in twain by a separation of thoughts and interest shrinks back and uplifts into the ungainly capital letters I-I; stiff, angular, unbending, ungainly, repulsive, decided, imperative, narrow I, I.

How much sweeter the word "we." We have to round our mouth to pronounce it. Two letters, w-e; two in one. How much better when blended–two persons into one.

The patrician's home in Greece furnished the gifted ones whom the nation delighted to honor; but the record of the twenty centuries between, show the commoner as the leader of all the advanced work and thought of the world. The home of wealth offers every advantage that could insure sharpened instruments in the battle of human progress, but the lack of necessities which spur to action, renders the instrument useless. Whatever point the child of wealth may have had from good trainers, soon becomes rusted and dulled in the luxurious atmosphere. The world had but one Marcus Aurelius. This emperor, sleeping on the soldier's hard cot in the open halls of the palace in preference to the enervating influence of the luxurious palace chambers, his plain living and high thinking, offers an object lesson that would be well for the patrician to study. He used his position and wealth as stepping-stones to higher statesmanship and purer philosophy.

Following the expression of Plato, he made his "body and soul draw together like two horses harnessed to a carriage." His body, not tied to luxury, could match the speed of the noblest impulses of the soul. If government could take the boy today, as in the days of old, from the home of wealth, place him in barracks for daily drill and upon the ground with only the canopy of heaven over-head at night; or the girls at the same tender age of seventeen years, and place them with nurses who would follow the same vigorous training, then would our thoughts turn again to the patrician home for leaders along the line of all advance. But it is to the homes of the middle class that the nation turns on an expectant look. Here is where our thoughts must center to estimate progress. It is while viewing these homes that the heart throbs and bounds with its limitless expectations.

Here is where we can boast. What other nations can show such an aggregation of intelligent homes as can America? And for them, what is the promise? The educators have commenced to instill into the minds of the students the relative value of the [Page 336]  body, and are providing to culture it into an abundant reservoir of brain food. There is a wise sifting process among them that is separating students according to the bent of inherent qualities, thus culturing natural tendencies. They are laying great stress upon the development of faculties by which we apprehend the unseen. This invisible force that they can draw to themselves and harness to their work to speed it forward, as the electrician seizes the electricity and harnesses to his invention, is made a plain, practical fact to the youth of today. They are teaching the students that from the effects of electricity, from the effects of the spirit that when we work as industriously as Edison to secure his power, we can obtain this power of the spirit.

Dr. Doremus, of the chemical department of Columbus College, claims it will be but a question of time when we will be gathering our food supply first-hand from the air instead of second-hand through the vegetables, or third-hand through the animals. It was after he had gathered the invisible gases from the air and demonstrated to the large audience their uses. We saw the effects, but we did not see the gases. It was after he had made them visible in vapor, more visible in the liquid, and then so solid they could be pounded with an iron bar. It was after he had gathered from the unseen on a hot summer evening a bushel of snow with which he pelted his audience. These evidences of the invisible things which we can grasp and use for our progress are going to illuminate the doubtful minds and show the reasonableness of our claims for the power of the Spirit invisible of the Holy One of God.

These thoughts are brought to the home-makers with a plea that they study natural laws and follow them. With a plea also that they in numbers petition the directors of our institutions of learning until they secure departments for the teaching of these truths to students. With a plea that the faculties by which we apprehend the unseen forces be constantly cultivated that more and more the Spirit may dominate our emotions which regulate the blood of our veins. This paradise of thought will be a home garden that will grow a race like gods. The Court of Honor, now unsurpassed in beautiful effects, with all its uplifting forces, will be as the daily environment of all these coming statesmen, poets, classicists: that will work the era on the new Chicago, the new London, the new Jerusalem; those heavenly cities that are to be in the coming millennium. Sin eliminated, flesh renovated, spiritualized. Thus saith science; thus saith God.

[Page 332] 

Clara Holbrook Smith is a native of Illinois. Her parents were Col. J. C. Holbrook and Eliza McDill Holbrook, who was a daughter of Rev. Dr. D. McDill, minister, editor end writer of many books. She was educated at Monmouth College, Monmouth, Ill. She has traveled in Canada, Mexico, and over the whole of the United States. She married Henry C. Smith. Her husband being an invalid, and she herself a sufferer, she was led to investigate physical laws. These studies revealed to her that her four children had the birthright of invalidism. After years of research through the works of such scientists as Darwin, Lionel Ribot, Mandesley, Galtin, Balfour, Brooks, and others, she recognized the law that thwarts heredity, and has spent much time in securing departments in all institutions of learning for the teaching of scientific home making and parentage. Mrs. Smith is a Christian and Congregationalist. Her postoffice address is Lordsburg, Cal.


Editor: Mary Mark Ockerbloom

This chapter has been put on-line as part of the BUILD-A-BOOK Initiative at the
Celebration of Women Writers.
Initial text entry and proof-reading of this chapter were the work of volunteer
Mary Mark Ockerbloom.

Editor: Mary Mark Ockerbloom