A Beginining Made

    In the development of the family the incipient stages, collectively denominated courtship, culminate in
    marriage, which is followed by the so-called honeymoon, whose poetry ere long is transformed into sober
    prose. Similarly was it in our Community experience. Having entered upon the common-place realities of
    closely associated life and become familiar with the details and drudgery of daily activities, as well as with
    each other’s personal peculiarities, many of our dreams vanished utterly while others lost not a few of their
    illusory charms. It was inevitable not only that our theories and hopes should be tested, but our own fitness
    or capability for realizing them. And here could be no severer test than the intimate and complex
    relationships of social, domestic, industrial, and financial economy into which we had entered. A hundred
    people can enjoy the society of each other occasionally under favorable conditions, without suspicion of
    inharmony or serious defects of character, where ten can live together in familiar intercourse a year
    undisturbed by feelings of mutual repulsion or perhaps disgust. This is true not only of common worldings,
    but of the so-called refined classes, and even of professing Christians. Whoever can summer and winter
    each other without friction or alienation of feeling may be deemed reasonably fit for a practical Christian
    Community, such as we were attempting to inaugurate. And whoever cannot stand this test ought to be
    ashamed to profess either Christianity or true refinement of character. It has been said that ordinary civilized
    society with its partition walls, its class distinctions, its conventional barricades, and compulsory
    insularities, allows mankind quite as much unity and closeness of association as they will safely bear; and
    therefore that it is presumptuous to propose bringing them into more fraternal and harmonious affiliation
    and cooperation. And the incredulous cynic might upbraid me and my coadjutors for not knowing this before
    venturing upon our untoward and as it proved calamitous experiment. We did not know it so far as
    respected the generality of our race who make no pretence to the ideals, the principles, the aspirations, or
    the moral and religious obligations of our distinctive form of Christian faith. But we did not know then, nor do
    I know now or believe, that sincere and high-minded persons, intelligently acknowledging such ideals,
    principles, aspirations, and obligations, ought not to associate and live together on a more elevated,
    Christlike plane than that of the existing order of civil society. If they ought not to do this – to transcend the
    prevailing civilization of the world, then I am confident, beyond all peradventure, that the religion of the New
    Testament is theoretically and practically false and worthy only of being ignored and reprobated.

    I have stated that the number of those resident upon the Community domain April 1, 1842, was twenty-
    eight. These were all congregated and living together as a combined household in the old dwelling already
    mentioned, a portion of which had been standing about one hundred and forty years and the remainder
    more than a century. Several of them were entire strangers to each other and scarcely any of the families
    had been more intimately acquainted than as occasional visitors of one another, occupants of adjacent
    buildings, or worshipers together at the same house of public religious service. A few of us had enjoyed
    personal, domestic, social, and educational advantages open to the respectable middling classes of New
    England. But the larger number had lived and moved on a humbler, but in no wise dishonorable, level.
    There was, naturally, a corresponding diversity of manners, habits, and tastes, in addition to the varied
    personal peculiarities of each individual. These manifold dissimilarities, and sometimes incongruities,
    though all our adult population had confessed the same fundamental truths, objects, and duties, had to be
    harmonized and reconciled, so that all would work together with as little attrition or confusion as possible
    for the common good and the accomplishment of the great end we all nominally had in view. One third of
    our residents were children and youth, from the very beginning onward, and many of the characteristics of
    these needed important modifications or transformations.  Yet we were all domiciled under one roof, lived
    as one family, stocked a common larder, spread and sat at a common table, organized common industrial
    activities, placed our children under common regulations and restraints, and constituted to all intents and
    purposes a Community in fact as well as in name.

    But how limited were our accommodations and conveniences! They were none too ample of the needs of
    two middling-sized families of working people. We had only a single, old-fashioned, two-story house, with a
    time-beaten ell in the rear containing simply a kitchen, which possessed the most inadequate facilities for
    cooking, laundry work, an other ordinary domestic uses! Next to the kitchen, in the main building, was a
    long narrow apartment for our common table, and a pantry adjacent. The large west room in front we made
    a general sitting-room, while the corresponding east one served as a parlor, a council hall, and a place of
    worship, as stated, and a guest chamber for visitors, having in it a folding bed of a rude sort and other
    conveniences. These, with a small entry and a few cupboards, were all that had place on the lower floor.
    The second story was partitioned off into as many lodging rooms as was practicable, and likewise the attic.
    The President, his wife, and little boy, occupied a small bed-chamber at the northeast corner of the house,
    which was crowded with their indispensable personal effects and which served as a study and office
    wherein to prepare editorials, records, documents, and memoranda of various kinds requisite to the
    satisfactory prosecution of his multiform labors. This, too, was his only indoor retreat and place of refuge
    from the general din.

    Such were some of the difficulties and inconveniences under which our Community family started out in the
    house-keeping business. The case would have been sufficiently onerous and trying with our original
    smallness of numbers. But we could not be held to those limits. Every week almost from the outset fresh
    accessions pressed into our over-crowded camp, while plenty of transient callers and sojourners appeared
    among us all unawares, to occupy our room, take up our time, and tax our hospitality. Meanwhile, my wife,
    in her own quiet, unpretentious way, led off in the management of domestic affairs, with good Anna T.
    Draper for her faithful, right-hand coadjutor, bringing order our of chaos, and putting the entire household
    machinery in running condition despite seeming impossibilities. As a matter of fact, our in-door family
    affairs were managed most efficiently and satisfactorily, and without the least friction or complaint. It had
    been confidently predicted by carping critics that however it might be with the men among us, our women
    would soon fall out with each other and come to open strife. Never were ill-omened prophecies proved
    more unfounded and misapplied, for through all the discouragements, privations, and misfortunes incident
    to those early days, no unkind work or grumbling wail was heard among our female associates; to their
    perpetual praise let this testimony be remembered. They bore their burdens, vexations, and trials with most
    exemplary patience and fortitude; though probably not without a frequently keen sense of unpleasantness if
    not of disgust. This must have been the case with the more sensitive and refined of them, who could buy
    realize the striking and in some respects painful contrast between the pleasant, comfortable homes they
    had left behind and the multiform inconveniences and disagreeabilities of this to which they had come. But
    like most of their companions, the calmly endured, as unavoidable, the temporary discomforts of this
    pioneer life for the save of the cause of social reform and in hope of better times prospectively in sight. And
    when disquietudes and bickerings at length arose, it was the men and not the women who first proved
    weak, and wavered from the sacred standard of Christian amity and brotherhood. Nevertheless, during the
    early stages of our Community life, neither male nor female uttered a murmur of discontent or regret. All
    were genial, harmonious, and united; all were heroic and steadfastly persistent in their noble struggle for a
    better type of individual and social life. Ballou, Adin, History of the Hopedale Community, pp. 70 - 75.

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