Opinions of the press.
To the Editor of the Boston Transcript:In view of the high price of gold, the women of America desire to form an association for the practice of economy in dress and living, upon the broad basis of love of country. The premium on gold, we are told, is an evidence of the Government's want of money, or, in other words, of the demand being greater than the supply. To meet this deficiency the Government must increase the national debt, an expedient which, if persisted in, threatens to cause a depreciation of the currency, and tends towards national bankruptcy. The only efficient, permanent remedy for this state of things is, we are told, taxation. The country is reputed able and willing to pay a tax of three or four hundred millions, but Congress hesitates to impose such a tax from the fear of the Government becoming unpopular at home and abroad. In this state of affairs, with a Government daily out of pocket, and a Congress hesitating to tax, cannot the women of the country do a great good in an unpretending way? The first step seems to be, if we wish to diminish the demand for gold, to find out what becomes of it. We are told that it is partly hoarded by the “rich and poor,” “the timid and disloyal;” partly consumed in the manufacture of plate, articles of ornament; partly in the payment of duties; but mainly sent out of the country in payment of the excess of our imports over our exports. Of these foreign imports some forty millions must be set down to woman's account; she consuming the main part of the silks and jewelry and all the laces, embroideries, flowers, etc. Five-sixths of the gross imports are said to be paid for in corn, wheat, cotton, etc., leaving an excess of about fifty millions to be paid for in gold. Cannot so earnest an appeal be made to the conscience and practical wisdom of the women of America, as to induce them cheerfully to forego the purchase of a large portion of these foreign commodities, so as to help bring gold down at par? Here is a plain, homely duty required to be done by some one, from the pure motive of love of country, and to the end of bringing the balance of trade in our favor, sustaining the national credit, and triumphantly ending the war. Are we strong enough to do it? It is very weak and not wholly just to reply: “Men consume as much and more of foreign luxuries, in the way of tobacco, wine, and spirits, as we do.” It is unworthy of a woman to give so poor a reason for the neglect of a duty as to say that the obligation is equally binding upon some one else, who fails to perform it. Let us rather joyfully sacrifice our taste and convenience in a cause so glorious as our country's welfare, and wish that it was as easy to know what were good to do for one's country as it is to do it. Two plans are proposed. One is to make an earnest appeal to the conscience upon the duty of simple and sober living, but to leave the individual to make the practical application of the principle to her own expenditure. The other is to specify certain foreign commodities, the disuse of which will involve the least practical inconvenience, and which the association shall be pledged “to do without” during the war. That plan is the best which will insure the greatest and most permanent reduction in the amount of imports. The same plan proposes that the association shall voluntarily pledge itself to forego buying during the war, web-velvets and plushes, satins, white and black thread laces, foreign embroideries, foreign artificial flowers and feathers, ermine, camel's hair shawls, French hats, bonnets, caps, and head-dresses, silk and velvet cloaks, sacks and mantillas, diamonds and other jewelry, bronzes, ormolu, and fancy ornamental goods, foreign silks of all descriptions ; to give up trimming the skirts of dresses, and to abolish champagne from entertainments. This movement originates in no spirit of asceticism; a spirit which looks upon beautiful and expensive dress at any time as necessarily a mark of frivolity or self-indulgence. Dress has a claim to rank as a fine art, and, if low in the scale, it is still a round in the ladder by which humanity is helped up to higher things. Neither do we charge any one class of the community with excessive expenditure. Extravagance is a relative term, and thousands of families, no doubt, who consume the most expensive of these luxuries, can honestly pay for them, and at the same time give munificently to the support of the war. Still less would we sneer at any set of men or women whose uncounted wealth takes to itself such dazzling wings. We expect a wholesome degree of ridicule, and to be asked once a day, “Are we to dress in bed-sacks?” To such we reply, that bed-sacks are not so bad after all on Newport beach, and that there are eyes in which a delaine or alpaca dress, unostentatiously worn from love of country, has a lustre which the Lyons looms fail to give to their costliest fabrics. We ask thoughtful women to give their opinion as to which of the two plans suggested is the most practical and practicable, to suggest changes in, or additions to, the list of prohibited articles, or any general intelligent criticism.
To the Editor of the Washington Chronicle:I am glad to see you leading off in advocating ladies' leagues. Persevere; do not give up so good a work. I do not wish to say anything disparaging of our women, but indeed I should think vastly more of them if they would show