Aid Societies — Plain Talk about the Wants of the country.
To the Editors of the Dispatch:
Permit a volunteer querist to ask, through your columns: Have our rulers and the public generally come to the conclusion that Soldiers' Aid Societies are, at beat, an exploded humbug, if not a positive nuisance?
Do they with all the mothers and daughters of the land coolly to ignore the mighty struggle in which they, of all others, have most at stake?
And do they really count their moral and material co-operation as worth nothing?
Or do they not know that human sympathy must recoil when it can no longer minister; that energy, allowed no scope for action, must in time die out from sheer inertias?
Would they have us sink in hopeless apathy and imbecility, when all that is ennobling and endearing in life call upon us to awake to the sleepless energy of thought and deed?
Or do they expect us to ‘"make brick without mortar,"’ that they thus suffer our alien Shylocks and indigenous enemies to lay their fell gripe on every species of working material, and paralyze our efforts with impunity?
For five long months individuals and societies have silently borne all this, vainly watching and waiting for the welcome flat, that should say to the imprisoned essentials, come forth;
but we are not blind, nor deaf, nor dumb — our vitality is only dormant, not extinct.
, we know, is months away — cards are not, and if these were ‘"thick as leaves in Vallambrosa's shade,"’ where are the hands to convert raw cotton — if we had it — into ginghams, chambrays, and other fabrics for soldiers' summer shirts in time?--We must have
fine bale cotton for this; but does mortal man stultify himself to the extent of supposing that the majority of us could if we would, or would if we could, buy it at from two to three dollars per bale, because the contractors
will not let honest merchants get a pound?
Not we — see every thread of it contracted round the contractives'
And what is the use of telling us--‘"Never mind,"’ the contractors are working it up themselves for the soldiers' benefit?
Soldiers' swindle more like, but who is fooled now?
Don't we know better?
Don't we know it was a break-neck chase last year to rig out the volunteers in all sorts and odds and ends of calicoes, brown linen, and jeans?
With the no stock on hand now, it will require every loom and spindle in the land, from the mammoth factory to the smallest cabin, to fit out in due time all the thousands now in, or soon to be in, the field.
But supposing they were abundantly supplied every man of them, are they the only things of human genus addicted to wearing clothes?
What are we to do for dresses, the hospitals and home folks for sheets?
Is the country so exceedingly rich in imported prints, domestics, and home-made, that it can afford to dispense with all but contractors' manufactures?
Must we, our children and servants, mope and pine in ‘"nakedness and rage"’ before we are conquered, or are we to be coerced into complicity with those worst of traitors and Judas Iscariot, the smugglers and extortioners, who go into-convulsions at the mere mention of a recruiting office, and come out of them fast enough at sight of a dime to help on bravely to pass over the country, bound hand and foot, to the tender mercies of their accomplices?
Is it a light thing that their foul presence broods, like the nightmare, over every department of labor; that is its fell choke damp, woman's patriotic effort and domestic thrift are already gasping for existence?
The rats' and the moths devouring their filling for want of a little warp, and all because legislation is too lofty, too squeamish or too dignified, to waste a moment's thought on such trivial things as households and aid societies, or think the dead-lock in all feminine industry a matter of the slightest consequence — just now, especially.
‘"Oh, if you will bother and hinder with your pitiful aids,
no Knit."’ Certainly, wool without carding, where it grows, Hon Mr. Aggregate Micawber
; but do you happen to know that the wool-growing resources of this State, if not others, being slightly out off for the time, we shall have to put one thread of cotton to two of yarn to help out and make the socks last all the longer?
And, pray, what has become of that proposed chemical establishment?
Dyes we can make, but copperas and other mordants we must have, and are willing to buy at reasonable war prices, but not to lay down their weight in gold.
And if you had not smoked out, and soaked out, in villainous ‘"red-eye"’ all the common sense you were born with, or had half as much left as an experienced matron, you would come out of your sublime trance long enough to lay your official digits on Contract-Dyes of bale cotton at least, and force them to disgorge, on fair terms, to aid societies and others, who want it to use, not to sell; and instruct your Quartermaster-in-Chief
to order all old socks to be preserved and forwarded to order for repairs — it being just simply impossible to replace them all with new, and make the other necessary clothing, too, out of the crop of wool now prospective.
If some other powers that be — and the press is one of them — would only galvanize you out of sublimity into utility long enough to accomplish this, it would atone for much waiting, for something better than panics, and wholesale drafts to ‘"turn up;"’ and then, perhaps, you might be kind enough to explain why wives — with families of small children hanging to their skirts — are so much better able than widows to carry on a plantation without either husband or overseer?
Some out here in Charlotte
being unable to discover wherein their own very superior ability consists.
One of the Secretaries.