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line thought; these are the “sitters at whether single or married, than men, ease, whose lives are given to self- who must always view them chiefly in pleasing as an end, and to flattering the relation to themselves, few I think will humors of the men of whom they are contest. It is not asserted that the arthe complement, as a means; who are rangement which would restrict the sufcallous to misery which they deem not frage to single women householders likely to affect themselves, and have no would be a perfect one, but only that it aspiration higher than the false ideal appears to be the best which the nature which is the negative of manly vices. of things permits of, and it may be preIt is in the nature of such factions to be sumed that a certain intuitive sense of loud and prominent, and so to create a fitness, together with a feeling of the false notion of their numbers and sacredness of ideals possessed largely by weight; but happily for our hopes and women, would help them to cut the Gorfor the prospects of humanity, those of dian knot of a logic more tough than the sex who, while neglecting their near- that presented by the limitations which est ties, are utterly without what in the marriage would be suffered to impose cant of science is now known as the upon them.
tribal conscience, are a minority, Marriage is something more than a unworthy to be counted in the sum of partnership-it is ideally a union ; and opinion on a question of this nature and if in the imperfection of all human relaextent.
tions it fails in part, sometimes fails It may be taken, then, as a fact to be wholly, to fulfil its promise, it remains, dealt with, and one which is presenting fiction or truth, the lever which beyond itself with increasing urgency, that a all others has been effective in raising vast number of those who represent the the moral nature of man to the height at noblest and tenderest womanhood which the sacrifice it enforces can alone among us, are dissatisfied with what has maintain it.
Whatever may be the dicome to be the injustice of their position versity of opinion in the domestic inin view of the new social developments terior, however much the “ No," pertiwhich have brought with them new needs. nent or impertinent, may enliven the They are dissatisfied, that while they have sameness of marital discourse, it will be no choice but to obey the natural law of felt, I think, as seemly that while the development, the arbitrary laws under marriage tie remains in force no authenwhich they live remain rigid in their ticated record of disagreement should regard. It is no great thing that is re- go forth from the home to the world. quired to put the lives of women in har. But the sphere of a woman is so enmony with their altered conditions. larged by marriage, her dignity so in
The claim that widows and spinsters, creased by motherhood, that it is little when independent holders of property, likely this renunciation of one of the should exercise the right of voting for rights of citizenship on accepting a partMembers of Parliament, carries so much nership for life, would be accounted so of reason on its face that it is difficult deep a hardship as objectors would have to see on what ground it could be with- us believe. The ear of the husband is stood, other than that of a panic fear of found by most wives to be very convenresults against which it might be sup- iently within reach, and if the quickened posed that Nature had sufficiently pro- interest in political questions which the vided. This demand for the possession change would inevitably spread among of the suffrage by widows and spinsters women, bond and free, should furnish was the whole of the plea advanced at another subject of possible variance, the the meetings referred to-a plea not same may be said of each one of those simply put forward for the nonce, as we interests, intellectual or moral, which are sometimes warned, but one which separate the cultivated women of our there is reason to think honestly repre- own clime and age from the odalisque sents the extent of the claim as made by and the squaw.
That the too-tardily the majority of its female advocates. effected, and still very imperfect regulaThat widows and spinsters, as women, tions in regard to the property of wives, and possible wives, are in a better posi- imply a possible separation of interests tion for judging of the wants of women, incompatible with perfect union, is selfevident, but all our dealings are with an There are rocks ahead, no less than imperfect order of things, of which it is evils behind and abreast of us, and the
, our difficult endeavor to make the best. dangers which threaten society in the This imagined union can, in Protestant shaking of the old faith, the loss of the
, countries, be openly dissevered, and the old sanctions of conduct, and the overbitterest wrong has resulted in cases turning of the old ideals, are dangers where the rupture of personal bonds has which must press with something more been confessed, while the legal tie main- than equal force upon its weaker half. taining the community of property—by If women must labor, and run risks with which is meant its absorption by the men, they demand to have something man-has been held intact. When in- of their security, or at least to have justice, gross as that which can even now free hands for the fight. They do not creep in under existing laws, has been wish to struggle in bonds or to fall helprendered impossible, not by an invidious less into any pit which may open. They special act of the woman purporting to are not likely to exhibit a dangerous imbe married, or of her friends, but by patience, such as could be supposed to the providence of a protecting law--no imperil the vessel of State, even if the more than an honest confession will share of power demanded by them were have been made, that we are seeking to to be more than that fractional one provide against possible flaws in work of which there is now question. Their which has to be built up of doubtful natural position in the scheme of things material. It is no part of the duty of may be taken for a guarantee that the society, in the abstract, to enforce upon impact of their influence upon political its members by external means, the un- questions would be consolidating rather deviating cultus of its purest ideals ; the than destructive. But if they presumapiety which exalts them must be the bly will not hurry on the wheels of proggrowth of the individual conscience. ress, it is something that they may be
Women are still sometimes roundly expected to help in keeping them upon told that they have no grievances, the rails. It is reasonably certain that and asked what it is they can want the interests of marriage, for instance, which it lies within the competence of would be more jealously guarded by the suffrage to give them. Like Shy- women, single or widowed, than they Jock, “I will not answer that." There would be by men; and is it too much to is little to be gained by going over that say that on the maintenance of that instiground of old wrongs which has often tution rest the higher hopes of the race ? led to bitter question. I will not even Life has this in common with Art : that more than point in passing at the burn- the continent of a supreme law, to ing injustice which can wrest from the which voluntary obedience is rendered, woman's grasp the child who, bone of is essential to its most perfect developher bone, and flesh of her flesh, is the fruit ment. Time was when the praise of of her labor and sorrow. It is, or ought marriage would have been superfluous as to be, sufficient that women are awaking the praise of sunlight; now it seems not to a consciousness that their interests wholly irrelevant to point out in what its are unrepresented, and suffer in conse- essence consists, and what its observance quence ; that they feel themselves ag- has done for us. It has its source in the grieved by their position-illogically highest capacities of our nature, love, maintained in the face of altered condi- and faith, of which last it is on the tions-of a separate caste; and that man's side the most signal human exthey demand to join their judgment to pression. The heirs to a man's worldly the opinions of men on questions of so- possessions and to the treasure of his cial policy, and to add their experience affections, the beings for whom he works 10 those same opinions on matters with and strives, and for whose abundance which it is their special function to deal. he is contented often to go bare, he To this end they seek to give weight to takes as his own upon the trust reposed their views in the authorized fashion ; in the woman of his choice. That this they claim to count as an element in the sacred trust is on the whole so rarely constituencies with which members of betrayed that the marriage bond is so the Lower House have to reckon. widely respected as to cause the sense New Series.-Vol. XXXIII., No. 4
of risk to pass practically out of view, is pledge to progress, it is presumable that a circumstance which is adding, slowly we shall have commenced our downward and surely as the generations succeed course, and be on our way back to the each other, to the sum of that faith by ascidian, and through that to which man as man must live. Let the wholly molluscous creature preparatory elected partnership once lose its nobly to the final extinction. It can hardly sacrificial and sacramental character, let be doubted that the sentiment of love is the caprice of man or woman claim to deepened and exalted by the voluntary be its own law, the discordance of habit sacrifice brought to it by lovers in maror opinion felt on the satiety of passion riage. What is here contended is, that its own dispensation, let the man be free a human pair, in placing this seal upon to shake off a yoke that irks, and the love and faith, taken in its moment of woman be emancipated from the guard- efflorescence, are unconsciously drawn ianship of herself as the shrine of his into the current of that stream which dearest hopes, and what becomes of the sets toward progress, and are making, strength of individual will, increased by unknown to themselves, an offering of struggle and conquest, which has been individual liberty in the interests of the lifting us higher and higher above the race. That a philosopher here and unregulated instincts of the brute? If there, his vital energies having chiefly the woman of the future is to be held, run to brain, should find rest by his own and rightly held, accountable primarily fireside with the companion of his exto herself for the preservation of her own periment in life and their offspring, truth, and if the notion that dishonor proves nothing for the probable permacan come to any separate soul through nence of unlegalized relations among other than his own act should be ex- the masses, with whom erratic fancy ploded, it can never be forgotten that might be expected to be rather stimuthe companion of man is the priestess lated than controlled by culture, and of a temple whose desecration is his who would in any case not be living unruin. No State is known to have risen der the check-stronger than law itself to greatness, that has not had “the fam- -of a thesis to uphold. ily ” working to its own increase, and All
women must deeply feel the diffusing itself as a vital organic ele- plague spot on our social system, for ment within it, and the fanily can only which, according to the moralists cited, exist with the definition necessary to its the abolition of marriage is the remedy ; effective action, through the state of mar- it is a grief and shame to the best of riage. The woman alone will not suf- them ; but it is too vile a thing to be fice for its head ; without the husband cured by dispersion. A French writer the circle of family is incomplete, and has said : “ The virtue of woman is the without the family there can be no order finest invention of man." The thing is in human relations, no permanence in indeed so good, and men owe so much human affections, no strength of self-re- of the firmness of their moral fibre (by straint or forbearance--in a word, no inheritance) to the particular power of virtue. The nomad of social institu- self-restraint which goes under the name, tions would spread disorder as a plague. that they would be entitled to high credit As for love, the great regenerator, love if it were of their making. Regarding which is
it, however, not in the light of inven
tion but discovery, we may hope that “Half dead to think that he could die,”
before humanity finally deflects from its it is easy to conceive the sorry figure upward course, it will be found that that he would be likely to make in any there exists a due capacity for its evolusuch time-bargain in place of marriage tion in men ; and every social moveas that which finds advocates among cer- ment crediting the authority of women tain moralists. In such a case there would naturally tend to encourage the would be no lover's vows to move even spread of such a growth. the laughter of Jove ; at which I think It is possible that the men who have the earth no less than the heaven would so long elected to be the visible provibe sadder. When the time shall come dence of the other sex, have done what that we have cast away the marriage they could in its behalf ; but it is diffi
cult to estimate human needs wholly proving themselves good administrators, from the outside, and having always steady workers, and as sober of judgbeen legislated for as creatures apart, ment as their male coadjutors. our common humanity has failed our The evils of a complicated social sys“keepers” as a serviceable guide to tem are great, and the difficulty of dealour requirements.
ing with them sore. It may well be that Women are dissatisfied not only with such contingent of help as women could what has been done, and with what has furnish, if they were more fully free to been left undone for them, they are also do so, would have a very inadequate dissatisfied that they, toilers and suffer- effect in mitigating human ill. But ers, should be left to the self-depend- many of those who are not called upon ence of labor and sorrow without a voice to bear the brunt of ills in their own in the government to which they are persons, fell the burden of them as accountable. Their right to labor on pressing upon others; and it is waste other fields than the barren patch into of motive power, as it is pain and wrong which they were until lately crowded, to the modern woman, whose cultivated has been tardily conceded ; they now sympathy is often alive in every nerve demand to have a word to say in the to the shames and sorrows of society, to making and administering of the laws by deny her right to put her untried strength which the fruits of labor are protected to the wheel.
to the wheel. If there be anything on It is not well that there should be this which all noble-hearted human beings, widening breach, this growing sense of whether men or women, are agreed, it hardship.
is in a vast regret that the alleviation of If there is no class of men possessing social suffering, the purgation of social to the full what they stand in need of, sin, is a work of such slow advance. It or with whom changing circumstances is folly in such a case to repudiate the are not perpetually calling into play new help of willing workers, the folly berequirements which demand to be met by comes cruelty when the power to act new expedients, the conditions and ne- upon circumstances is denied to those cessities of women are even more fluctu- upon whom the suffering presses most ating, and they feel that the time is come hardly, and of whom the payment of sin when light should be shed upon these is demanded with overwhelming interintricate problems from within. They est. But while the women at the front inherit faculties trained by household of this movement, women who have long and educational cares, and know them- been fighting an unequal battle, and selves fitted for the exercise of the func. have had their training in a school of tion they demand to share. It is not a trouble and disappointment, are not rash matter which calls for the employment enough to expect miracles from that parof the compårative scale which men in tial possession of the suffrage by their sex our day seeni so eager to apply to the for which they are contending, they are endowments of their female companions. justified in looking for some appreciable There is no earthly need that an intend- result, which may increase with
the ing voter should give proof of high dra: growing time. If they do not conceive matic or musical genius. It may be that that the wilderness is to blossom as the the creative energy is less strong in rose when, in place of overt influence, women than in men, but that is quite they have come to the open exercise of beside the point at issue, and carries a certain modicum of power, it is with it no implication that the female permitted reasonably to hope that understanding is less proper than the feminine thought, practically directed male for nourishing the gerins of to politics, may occasionally cast some thought, for forming a nidus for the glimpse of light on subjects which, not ideas everywhere present in the air, and commending themselves to masculine atfor presenting them clothed in shapes tention, have heretofore remained obwell fitted to act upon the material
And there is a further issue, forces around us. As a matter of fact which, if more recondite, is of equally worth much theorizing, the women now sure promise and of even deeper signifiemployed in offices of trust, whether on
I allude to the effect on charthe School Board or elsewhere, are acter-on that character which the
mothers and early teachers of mankind cruelly crippled sisters in the East. The transmit to their descendants of both illustration they have furnished to me sexes, which may be looked for as a re- has been used only to give point to the sult of the recognized expression of argument that it is essential to the digwoman's thought and will--in a word, nity of human character generally that all from the exercise of the human right of voluntary forces which affect human acfreedom.
tion shall be duly accredited and openly Speaking once with an Oriental of applied. Nor is it in morals alone that high mark, on the position of the women the frank embodiment of opinion is of of his people, he said to me: “In India sound and invigorating effect; it is good women are all-powerful, even as they also for the sanity of the intellect that are here." I believed and do believe thought and action should suffer no dia him. The women of India are nimble
The mind that is coquetting witted and acute, or they were no match with questions to which it acknowledges for their husbands and brothers; and, no external tie, is less likely to form just smooth and subtle as snakes, they fold views than one which knows itself in the limbless strength of their degraded responsible relation to them. It would souls about every question which ap- seem that at the point of progress we peals with sufficient force to their pas- have now reached there is special need sions or interest. Held by men in a con- of some new inlet of ideas, stimulating dition of abject subjection, deprived by to larger and more healthy interests. In jealous supervision of all moral self-sup- view of our yearly increasing wealth and port, the Nemesis of the virtues which the perpetual additions which are therehave been killed within them appears by made to the idle and luxurious in the characters of craft and subtlety classes, every countercheck to corruptwhich they print upon the race. It is not ing frivolity is to be hailed as an ele100 much to say of the women of a na- ment of salvation.
It is this large tion, that they are the moulds in which amount of female energy run wild, disthe souls of its men are set. Their very franchised of the little active cares moods are reflected in the infant that is which formerly employed it, and having born into the world ; the young child is found no substitute for them but the surrounded by the mother's mind as by daily round in the treadmill of pleasure, an atmosphere ; her judgments are his that is spreading a pernicious example at code, her example his authority. Scarce- home, and lowering the character of our ly out of school, when the passions are countrywomen abroad. The affairs of in a state of fusion and make the whole the world, under the name of politics, in being plastic, the youth falls under the which the withdrawal of the disqualifioperation of this law of life in another cations of sex would give to women a shape. The woman who is loved of boy more intelligent interest, may not be or man, unconsciously prescribes the greatly more ennobling than those of form of her own worship, and the char- the household, when they are viewed acter of the worshipper is modified from the standpoint of party ; but quesmore or less, by the result. Let it never tions of wide, impersonal relation are be dreamed that emotional contact can involved in them, which could not altake place between two human beings ways be shut out from the minds even of without leaving a lasting impress on both the narrowest partisans, and this widenThe frail creature who is believed to be ing of the mental horizon would be the object of little else than scorn, is a among the incalculable consequences of factor in the sum of circumstances which the removal of those arbitrary restricdetermines a man's walk, and that which tions, which constitute an infringement he seems to see in it, to the latest hour of liberty. There can be no call to hymn of his life. It is thus that society suffers the praises of freedom to English men throughout its length and breadth from or women ; the former have always wrongs which to the superficial thinker deemed it worthy of their struggle and may seem to press only upon a part of it. sacrifice ; and, for the latter, whatever
It will hardly be supposed that I am virtues they possess are owing to the confounding the condition of women in share they have enjoyed of it. But what our Western World with that of their was in a way freedom to women under