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Title: A New Atmosphere
Author: Hamilton, Gail, 1833-1896
Language: English
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Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

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                           A NEW ATMOSPHERE


                                  BY


                            GAIL HAMILTON,

           AUTHOR OF "COUNTRY LIVING AND COUNTRY THINKING,"
                 "GALA DAYS," AND "STUMBLING-BLOCKS."



                               BOSTON:
                        FIELDS, OSGOOD, & CO.
                                1870.



      Entered according to Act of Congress, in the year 1864, by
                         TICKNOR AND FIELDS,
          in the Clerk's Office of the District Court of the
                      District of Massachusetts



                           SEVENTH EDITION.



                          UNIVERSITY PRESS:
                     WELCH, BIGELOW, AND COMPANY,
                              CAMBRIDGE.



A NEW ATMOSPHERE.



I.


A vitiated atmosphere is fatal to healthy development. One may be ever
so wise, learned, rich, and beautiful, but if the air he breathes is
saturated with fever, pestilence, or any noxious vapor, nothing will
avail him. The subtile malaria creeps into his inmost frame, looks out
from his languid eye, settles in his sallow cheek, droops in his
tottering step, and laughs to scorn all his learning and gold and
grandeur. He must rid himself of the malaria, or the malaria will rid
itself of him.

There are many evils in the world, deep-seated and deleterious. I
rejoice to see noble men and women working at the overthrow of these
old Dagons; but the processes are many and long. Grievances are
suffered which can be redressed only by the repeal of old and the
enactment of new laws. Health suffers from ignorance which scientific
discoveries, patient observation, and correct reasoning must dispel.
Religion suffers from a narrowness and shallowness which broader and
deeper culture must remove. Heaven send the laws, the science, and the
culture, for these ills are indeed sore and of long continuance; but
we need not wait upon the slow steps of law and science. Every man and
woman can begin at this moment a renovation. Behind all law and all
literature, the very air we breathe, the moral atmosphere not of books
and benches only, but of kitchen and keeping-room, is impure and
unwholesome. The interests of humanity demand a purification.

What I am going to say may have been said before; but if so, the
present condition of things shows that it has been said to too little
purpose. I have myself glanced at it askance, but I have never looked
it square in the face. I have spoken ships bound to my port, but not
freighted with my cargo. Success to them all! There is sea-room for
every keel, and use for all their treasures. I am so far from claiming
to be original, that I rather marvel there is any necessity for my
being at all. The truths which I design to illustrate lie so on the
surface that I should suppose they would commend themselves to the
most casual notice. I can account for the obscurity which seems to
enshroud them only by supposing that the days of Eli have reached down
to us, and that there is no open vision. Therefore the truth needs to
be repeated and repeated, in different forms and tones, if it is to be
made effectual to the pulling down of strongholds. I will do my part
of the reiteration. If I can state no new truths, I will at least help
to ring the old truths into the ears of this generation till every
unjust judge shall moan in bitterness of soul, "Though I fear not God
nor regard man, yet, because these women trouble me, I will avenge
them, lest by their continual coming they weary me."

In pursuance of my plan, it will be necessary for me sometimes to
recur more than once to the same topic; but the repetition involved
will be more apparent than real. It will be such repetition as the
multiplication-table displays, whose first column gives you two times
four, its third four times two, its fourth four times five, and so on
to the end. You have the same figures, but in different combinations.
I shall bring forward the same facts, but they will be presented under
different lights, and will bear upon different conclusions.

I shall also, without hesitation, discuss topics on which I have
spoken at former times, but without perceiving all their relations. No
architect would reject stones which were necessary to the symmetry of
his building because he had previously used them for other purposes.

I shall touch upon many and diverse themes; but nothing will be
irrelevant. An atmosphere embraces the whole globe, and nothing human
is foreign to it.

One person may not succeed in dispelling all the miasms of the earth,
but if he can only cleanse one little corner of it, if he can but send
through the murky air one cool, bracing, healthy gale, he will do much
better than to sit under his vine, scared by the greatness of the evil
and the dignity of those who support it.



II.


The laws and customs regarding the education of girls and the
employment of women may be wrong and difficult of righting; but a more
elemental wrong, and one that lies within reach of every parent, is
the coarse, mercenary, and revolting tone of sentiment in which girls
are brought up and in which women live, entirely apart from their
technical education and employment. I refer now to the refined and
educated, as well as, and indeed more than, to the rude and
illiterate, for it is their altitude which determines the level of all
below. This tone of sentiment is such as to diminish girls'
self-respect, mar their purity, and dwarf their being. They inhale,
they imbibe, they are steeped in the idea, that the great business of
their life is marriage, and if they fail to secure that they will
become utterly bankrupt and pitiable. Naturally this idea becomes
their ruling motive; all their course is bent to its guidance; and
from this idea and this course of action spring crime, and sorrow, and
disaster, "in thick array of depth immeasurable."

In this and in many other instances you will doubtless think that I
overstate the truth. Looking into an empty bucket, you would say the
air is colorless; looking into the depths of the atmosphere, you see
that it is blue. I am not writing about a bucket, but about the
atmosphere.

Viewing the circumstances which form women, together with the women
who are formed by them, one is filled with astonishment at the
indwelling dignity and divinity of the womanly nature; and the thought
can but arise, if a flower so fair can spring from a soil so badly
tilled, what graceful and glorious growths might we not see did art
but combine with nature to produce the conditions of the highest
development! We lament heathendom, but much of our spirit is
essentially heathenish. Little girls see in their geographies pictures
of Circassian fathers selling their daughters to Turkish husbands, and
they think it very inhuman and pagan. But, little girls, your fathers
will traffic in you without scruple. Matters will not be managed in
quite so business-like a fashion, but such a pressure will be brought
to bear upon you that you will have very little more spontaneity than
the Circassian slave who looks so pitiful in the geography book. At
home you will hear yourself talked about, talked at, and talked to, in
such a manner that you will have no choice left but to marry. It is
expected and assumed. I do not mean girls who are to snatch their
unhappy fathers from exposure and disgrace by a rich and hated
marriage. Such things belong to ballads. We are dealing now with life.
I have seen girls,--respectable, well-educated, daughters of Christian
families, of families who think they believe that man's chief end is
to glorify God and enjoy him forever, who profess to make the Bible
their rule of faith and practice, to eschew the pomps and vanities of
this world, and consecrate themselves to the Lord,--who are yet
trained to think and talk of marriage in a manner utterly commercial
and frivolous. Allusions to and conversations on the subject are of
such a nature that they cannot remain unmarried without shame. They
are taught, not in direct terms at so much a lesson, like music or
German, but indirectly, and with a thoroughness which no music-master
can equal, that, if a woman is not married, it is because she is not
attractive, that to be unattractive to men is the most dismal and
dreadful misfortune, and that for an unmarried woman earth has no
honor and no happiness, but only toleration and a mitigated or
unmitigated contempt.

What is the burden of the song that is sung to girls and women? Are
they counselled to be active, self-helpful, self-reliant, alert,
ingenious, energetic, aggressive? Are they strengthened to find out a
path for themselves, and to walk in it unashamed? Are they braced and
toned up to solve for themselves the problems of life, to bear its
ills undaunted and meet its happinesses unbewildered? Go to! Such a
thing was never heard of. It is woman's rights! It is strong-minded!
It is discontented with your sphere! It is masculine! Milton and St.
Paul to the rescue!

    "For contemplation he, and valor formed,
    For softness she, and sweet attractive grace."

So "she" is urged to cultivate sweet attractive grace by acquainting
herself with housework, by learning to sew, and starch, and make
bread, to be economical and housewifely, and so a helpmeet to the
husband who is assumed for her. This is the true way to be attractive,
she is informed. "Men admire you in the ball-room," say the mentors
and mentoresses, "but they choose a wife from the home-circle."
Marriage is simply a reward of merit. Do not be extravagant, or
careless, or bold, or rude, for so you will scare away suitors. Be
prudent, and tidy, and simple, and gentle, and timid, and you will be
surrounded by them, and that is heaven, and secure a husband, which is
the heaven of heavens. A flood of stories and anecdotes deluges us
with proof. Arthur falls in love with beautiful, romantic, poetic,
accomplished Leonie, till she faints one day, and he rushes into her
room for a smelling-bottle, and finds no hartshorn, but much confusion
and dust, while plain Molly's room is neat and tidy, and overflows
with hartshorn; whereupon he falls out of love with Leonie, in with
Molly, and virtue and vice have their reward. Or Charles pays a
morning visit, and is entertained sumptuously in the parlor by Anabel,
and Arabel, and Claribel, and Isabel, in silk, while Cinderella stays
in the kitchen in calico and linen collar. But Charles catches a
glimpse of Cinderella behind the door, and loves and marries the
humble, grateful girl, to the disappointment and deep disgust of her
flounced and jewelled sisters. Or Jane at the tea-table cuts the
cheese-rind too thick, and handsome young Leonard infers that she will
be extravagant; Harriet pares it too thin, and that stands for
niggardliness; but Mary hits the golden mean, and is rewarded with and
by handsome young Leonard. Or a broomstick lies in the way, over which
Clara, Anna, Laura, and the rest step unheeding or indifferent, and
only Lucy picks it up and replaces it, which Harry, standing by, makes
a note of, and Lucy is paid with the honor of being Harry's wife.
Moral: Go you and do likewise, and verily you shall have your reward,
or at least you stand a much better chance of having it than if you do
differently. "Be good, and you will be married," is the essence of the
lesson.

Laying aside now all question of the dignity and delicacy of such
proceedings, assuming for the time that it is the proper course, let
us notice whether it is followed out to its conclusions. Not in the
least. Having done its best to transpose the feminine raw material
into the orthodox texture and pattern of "good wives," society lays it
on the shelf to run its own risk of finding a purchaser. It neither
provides husbands for the "good wives" which it has made, nor suffers
them to go and look up husbands for themselves. If a girl is ready to
enter service, she can enroll her name at the intelligence office. If
she is prepared to teach, she sends to the "Committee." If she desires
to be a saleswoman, she applies at the different shops; but your "good
wife" candidate must wait patiently,--not the grand old theological
"waiting in the use of means," but the Micawber waiting for something
to turn up. She has learned the bread-making and the clear-starching;
she is mistress of domestic economy; she is familiar with all the
little details of puddings and preserves; she is ripe for wifehood and
green for all else, and now she wants an arena for the exercise of her
skill. But she would better pull her tongue out at once than say so.
People may talk to girls at pleasure of the fair domestic realm where
they will be queen, of the glory of such a kingdom, and the
unsatisfying emptiness of any and every other; but no crime is more
fatal to a girl's reputation and prospects than the suspicion of
husband-hunting. That fate, that career, that glory, which has been
constantly mapped out to her as the very Land of Promise, the goal of
her ambition, the culmination of her happiness, is the one fate, the
one career, the one glory, which she must not lift an eyelash to
secure. Let a girl, the very same girl whom you have been pushing
through a course of the received proper training, be supposed to set
but so much as a feather on her hat, a smile on her lips, a tone in
her voice, to attract the admiration which she has been constantly
taught is the guerdon of all the virtues,--and her reputation sinks at
once to zero. "Trying to get a husband," whether couched in the
decorous phrase of polite society, or in the uncompromising language
of more primitive circles, is the death-warrant of a girl's good name.
She must sedulously prepare herself for a position to which she must
be totally indifferent. She must learn all domestic accomplishments,
but she must take no measures, she must exhibit no symptoms of a
desire to secure a domestic situation. You bid her make ready the
wedding-garments and the marriage feast, and then sit quietly waiting
till the bridegroom cometh, her small hands folded, her meek eyelashes
drooping, no throb of impatience or discontent or anxiety in her
heart, no reaching out for any career at home or abroad, except a meek
ministration in her father's house, or a mild village benevolence. But
will Nature set aside her laws at your behest? Is it of any use for
you to lay down your yardstick and say, "Thus far shalt thou go, and
no farther"? Do you not see the inevitable result is a course of
falsehood?

Is this a strong statement, a libel upon the female sex? But you read
novel after novel in which the larger number of women--all, perhaps,
except the heroine--are represented as artful, sly, deceitful,
managing; and generally the main object of their artifice is to secure
a husband for themselves or for their daughters: yet you do not at
once cry out in indignant protest against such misrepresentation. On
the contrary, you follow the plot with lively interest, think the
author has a very clear insight into human nature, and especially
excels in the delineation of female character!

Hear what one of your own writers says: "If all the world were paper,
all the sea ink, all the plants and trees pens, and every man a
writer,--yet were they not able, with all labor and cunning, to set
down all the craft and deceits of women."

If my statement is a libel, it is less a libel than statements and
implications under which people have hitherto rested with a wonderful
degree of equanimity. It would be marvellous if it were a libel. A
girl receives such training that it is wellnigh impossible for her to
be sincere. You cannot give her whole life for six or a dozen years
one direction, and then set her face suddenly towards another quarter,
banishing from her mind every remembrance of past lessons, and every
thought of her portrayed future. But unless such an erasure is made,
or seems to be made, she knows that she forfeits good opinion, and
stands in great danger of losing the one prize which has been placed
before her, and which she may hope, but must not be detected in
hoping, to win. Consequently she learns to dissemble. It is her only
resource. Duplicity passes into her blood, and she learns to conceal
and deny what you have taught her it is improper to feel, but what you
have also made it impossible for her not to feel. I only wonder that
any uprightness is left among women. That there are women upon whose
garments the smell of fire has not passed,--that there are women whose
robes of whiteness have but a faint tinge of flame,--is not because
the fagots have not been piled around them and the torch applied.

This is one result of the famous, the infamous "good wife" doctrines.

Another, less fatal but sufficiently evil and more vexatious, is the
injury that is inflicted upon natural and healthful association. Men
and women are not allowed to look upon each other as rational beings;
every woman is a wife in the grub, every man is a possible husband in
the chrysalis state. If young people enjoy each other's conversation,
and make opportunities to secure it, there are dozens of gossips, male
and female, who proceed to forecast "a match." Intelligent interchange
of opinion and sentiments between a man and a woman for the mere
delight in it, with no design upon each other's name or fortune, is a
thing of which a large majority of civilized Americans have no
conception. Such a commodity never had a place in their inventory. A
man and a woman find each other agreeable, they cultivate each other's
society, and anon, East, West, South, and North goes the report that
they are "engaged." It is easy to see what a check this gives to an
intercourse that would be in the highest degree beneficial to both
sexes; beneficial, by giving to each a more accurate knowledge of the
other, and by improving what in each is good, and diminishing what is
bad.

One of three things should be done: cease to urge a girl on to
marriage by every terror threatened and every allurement displayed; by
making it the reward of all her exertion, the arena of all her
accomplishment, the condition of all her development; or take measures
to provide her with a suitable husband, so that she shall not be left
for an indefinite time in uncertainty and doubt, settling, perhaps, at
length into frivolity, waste, and despair; or cease to condemn her for
taking matters into her own hand, and furnishing herself an
opportunity for the exercise of those powers whose cultivation you
have strenuously urged, and for whose employment you have made no
provision. "Get a husband!" Why should she not get a husband? What
should you think of a boy who had been fitted by long training for the
duties and responsibilities of a clergyman, or a lawyer, or a
statesman, and should then make no attempt to become a clergyman, a
lawyer, or a statesman? What would you think of a father who should
train his son for any especial office, and should then forbid his son,
upon pain of universal derision, to do anything to secure an induction
into office?

I am loath to linger here, but I descend into the valley of shadows to
show that, even on your own ground, you are a wicked and slothful
servant.

Whom do I mean by "you"? I mean ninety-nine out of every hundred of
the men who will read this, and, in a modified degree, all the women
whom they have drilled to acquiescence in their decisions.

This baleful teaching goes still further. It not only drives girls
into deception: it drives them into uncongenial marriages. It forces
them to degradation. It does not permit them to view marriage in its
natural and proper light. By perpetually assuming it as their destiny,
even before they have any knowledge either of marriage or destiny, you
so force their inclinations that they come to prefer marrying an
indifferent person to not marrying at all,--or even to running the
risk of not marrying at all. Instead of letting their minds take a
healthful turn, branching off in such directions as nature chooses,
you dwarf them in every direction but one, and in that you stimulate.
If society were equally divided; if for every girl there were a man
exactly adapted to her, and the two might by your words be induced to
meet and marry, your talk might be harmless, and possibly beneficial;
but as the world is, at least this part of it, there is no such
arrangement, and no remote possibility of such an arrangement. The
material does not exist, even suppose the sagacity to discern and
dispose of it did. The number of women is much larger than the number
of men. In New England, at least, it is a dangerous thing for a woman
to set her heart on marrying for a living. When, therefore, you make
marriage indispensable, you institute an indiscriminate scramble.
Since in theory every girl must marry, and there are few to choose
from, she must take such as she can get, and be thankful. She would
like this, that, or the other quality, but it will not do to dally.
The chance of a better husband is very remote; numbers are worse off
than she, inasmuch as they have none at all; the contingency of going
unsupplied is not to be thought of, and accordingly she takes up with
what comes to hand. The few who are endowed with unusual charms of
mind or person may exercise a limited choice, but the common run of
girls must make a common run of it. If one who is so attractive as to
have many admirers remains long unmarried, she is abundantly
admonished of her danger. She is duly informed that she will one day
grow old, and will certainly not always have such opportunities as she
now enjoys. Her attractiveness is her stock in trade, which she must
invest while the market is brisk. Great will be her loss if she does
not. If without special attractions, a girl's position is still more
embarrassing. Dependent in her father's house, with no career open to
her, no arena for her action, what is to become of her? Anything is
better than a dependence which, her own heart tells her, is not long
grateful to her father. He may not be unkind or miserly toward her; he
may not--and he may, for such things are done--taunt her with her want
of success in making a match; he may even be generous and chivalric
towards her; but she is conscious that he is disappointed. He may not
acknowledge it even to himself, but she knows that she is not
fulfilling his wishes, not meeting his ideal. Her support is somewhat
a burden, her enforced presence somewhat a shame. He rejoiced in her
infancy, childhood, and youth, but he did not expect to have her on
his hands all her life. He would gladly spend twice as much on her
dowry as he gives for her allowance. She has a _sense_ of all this,
and, rather than remain in this state of pupilage, a woman in
character, a child in position, she marries the first man that holds
out the golden spectre,--I meant sceptre, but perhaps the first will
do just as well. I am speaking of the masses. I know that there are
exceptions. In spite of circumstances, there are women so
strong,--strong-minded if you like, but so symmetrical that you see no
peculiar strength or sweetness, only "a perfect woman,"--so strong,
that public opinion and private opinion, all the blare and blarney of
lecture-room and female-school orators, all the thinly disguised
paganism of church-worldlings, beat against them and leave them
unmoved as Gibraltar by the summer ripples of its southern sea. You
see them yourself, perhaps; but so beautiful, so gentle and lovely,
that you do not discern the granite which underlies beauty and grace,
and which alone redeems beauty and grace from the charge of gaud, and
makes their value; and in your low Dutch dialect you "wonder she
doesn't get married."

There are fathers and mothers, though these are rarer, who joy in
their children with a rational and Christian joy; who believe in God
and righteousness, immortality and human destiny; whose daughters are
polished stones, not in the palaces of earthly pride, vanity, and
ambition, but in the temple of the living God. Such parents and such
children are few, but they are enough to reveal possibilities. The
higher the few can reach, the higher the many shall rise. But these
are the strong, and the strong can take care of themselves. I have
nothing to say for them. I speak for those who are not strong,--for
the good and true-hearted, who feel themselves overborne by external
pressure, and swept along into a hateful and hated vortex,--for those
who wish to lead an upright Christian life, but who need a helping
hand. Still more, and saddest of all, I speak for those on whom the
blight has so long rested that they have lost the sense of
uprightness; they feel no wrong, and aspire to nothing higher. More
than this, I speak for those whose opening lives are yet untouched,
for whom warning and caution may not be too late. It is these--the
weak, the plastic, the impressible--whom your earth-born morality is
corrupting, whose possibilities of happiness and self-respect your
enervating woman's-sphere-ism is destroying. Women may be weak, yet
even in weakness is strength, but you have trodden down strength. You
trample under foot all sensibility, all delicacy, all dignity. A woman
can preserve her integrity only so far as she repels and represses
your miserable didactics;--by word and look, if the power be given
her; by a silent indignation of protest, if that is her only resource.

I know well, judging from past experience, that there will not be
wanting those who will think I am depreciating and deprecating
marriage. But it would be extremely foolish to set one's self against
marriage, for it would be holding out a straw to dam a river. I not
only do not hold out the straw, I do not even wish to dam the river.
But I would prevent it from being banked up here and banked up there,
and narrowed, twisted, and tortured, till it bursts all bounds,
natural and acquired, and rushes wildly over the country, destroying
villages, inundating harvests, sweeping away lives, and becoming a
terror and a fate instead of the beneficence it was meant to be.

_I_ depreciate marriage? I magnify it! It is you that depreciate, by
debasing it. You lower it to the level of the market. You degrade it
to a question of political and domestic economy. You look upon it as
an arrangement. I believe it to be a sacrament. You subordinate it to
ways and means. I see in it the type of mortal and immortal union. You
make it but the cradle of mankind. I make it also the crown. All that
is tender, grand, and ennobling finds there its home, its source and
sustenance, its inspiration, and its exceeding great reward.

But by as much as marriage is sacred, by so much is he a blasphemer
who travesties it; and he thrice and four times blasphemous who leads
others to do so. No sin is so dwelt on in the Bible with a stern,
reiterated fixedness of divine abhorrence as the sin of Jeroboam, the
son of Nebat, who made Israel to sin. They who barter their children
for a string of beads, or a talent of gold, are no more pagan than
they who, by accumulated indirections, lead them to barter themselves.
I do not undertake the defence of all "woman's rights," but with
whatever strength God has given me I will do battle for woman's right
to be pure. "Caesar's wife should be above suspicion," said haughty
Caesar, and the world applauds; but every woman is czarina by divine
right. No wretched outcast, wandering through the darkness of the
great city,

          "With hell in her heart
          And death in her hand,
    Daring the doom of the unknown land,"

but has lost a crown. For her who, through weakness or despair, has
forfeited her birthright, the world has no pardon. I do not say that
ye should pray for it to be otherwise. But a deeper sin, a tenfold
more gross and revolting violation of God's law written on the human
heart,--giving force to the law written erewhile on the tables of
stone,--does she commit who, in the holy name of love, under the holy
forms of marriage, burns incense to false gods. Where love may walk
white-robed and stainless, brushing the morning dews from the grass,
only to descend again in fresher and fragrant showers, pride or
prudence or ambition can but bring the deepest profanation: roses
spring in his pathway; behind them is the desert.

Marriage contracted to subserve material ends, however innocent those
ends may be in themselves, is legalized prostitution; as much more
vilifying, as mischief framed by a law is more destructive than
mischief wrought in spite of law. To such vice the world is lenient,
scarcely recognizing it as vice; but the soul bears its marks of
wounds forever and forever.

Marriage is a result, not a cause. In God's great economy it may have
its separate and important work; but from a human point of view, it is
conclusion and not premise. It cannot be made the premise without
bringing fatal and disastrous conclusions. Whatever ends nature may
design her institution to compass, be sure nature will work out.



III.


I do not design to sketch any Utopia for woman; but there are certain
things which can be done in this world, in this country, in this
generation, at this moment,--simple, practical, practicable measures,
which can be accomplished without any change in laws, without any
palpable revolution or disruption of society, but by which women shall
be relieved of the indignity that is constantly put upon them, even by
the society which considers itself, and which perhaps is, the most
civilized and chivalric in the world.

First, every man who has daughters is either able to support them or
he is not. If he is, he ought to do it in a way that shall make them
feel as little trammelled as possible. He should so treat them, from
first to last, that they shall feel that they are dear and pleasant to
him, his delight and ornament. So far from wishing to be rid of them,
he finds his balm and solace and zest of life in their society, their
interests, and their ministrations. While he contemplates the
contingency of their marriage, and makes what preparations such
contingency may require, it should be well understood that he
contemplates it only as a contingency; and that all his wishes and
hopes will be best met by their happiness, whether it is to be
promoted by a life away from him or with him. If they are so deficient
in amiability, capability, or adaptability that his home cannot be
comfortable with them in it,--that, so far from being a reason why he
should be eager to part with them, is the strongest reason why he
should earnestly endeavor to keep them with him. Almost without fail,
their faults lie at his door; and it is just and right that, if any
home is to be made miserable by them, it should be the one which has
made them _miserific_. On the other hand, if they wish to go from his
roof to follow paths of their own, he ought to aid and encourage them
as far as lies in his power. It matters not that he is able and
willing to supply their every want. He is _not_ able, if they have
immortal wants,--wants which the parental heart and purse cannot
satisfy,--want of activity, want of a plan, want of some work which
shall engage their young and eager energies. However liberal, kind,
and fond he may be, in their father's house their position must be
subordinate, and it may well happen that they shall wish to taste the
sweets of an independent, self-helping, self-directing life. They wish
to feel their own hands at the helm; they wish to know what
responsibility and foresight and planning mean. They are drawn by a
strong, inexplicable attraction in certain directions; and as he
values not only their happiness, but their salvation,--their love for
him, their health of body and mind,--he shall give them ample room and
verge enough. He shall not abate one jot or tittle of fatherly
affection. He shall not attempt to persuade them from their
inclination till he finds persuasion of no avail, and then in a fit of
angry petulance bid them go, and leave them to their own destruction.
He shall give them such aid as can be made available. He shall
surround them with his love, if not with his care. He shall, above
all, show them that his arms are always open to them, if through
weakness or weariness they faint by the way. His sympathy and
protection, and fatherly cherishing, shall be new every morning and
fresh every evening. If they quickly tire in their new paths, they
will come back to him with stronger love and faith. Their life abroad
will have only endeared their happy home. The enlargement of their
experience will have intensified their appreciation of their
blessings. If their call was indeed from above, and their first feeble
explorations opened for them a new world, through which they learn to
walk with ever firmer tread, they will return from time to time to lay
at his feet with unutterable gratitude the treasures which he enabled
them to discover. He will know that he has contributed to the world's
wealth, and his happy children will rise up and call him blessed.

But if they do not incline to such a life, he shall not force them,
however strongly he may be persuaded of its propriety, wisdom, and
dignity. Because they are obliged to grow under the whole
superincumbent weight of society, he must not be severe if they attain
but a partial growth. With boys the preponderance of influence is
overwhelmingly on the side of an active, positive life. With girls, it
is against it. If a boy does not do something in the world, he must
show cause for it; a girl must show cause if she does. Therefore, if
the father is not able, by precept and persuasion, to induce his
daughters to embrace an active life, he must lay it to society, and do
the next best thing by protecting them as far as possible from the
resultant evils of their situation; not quite all to society either,
for, as a general thing, if his own precept and example have been
right, his children will be right; the influence of father and mother,
by its nearness, intensity, and continuity, very often more than
balances the superior bulk of society's influence. Parents say things
which they ought to mean, and which they wish to be considered to
mean, and which they suppose they do mean, but which they are really
the farthest in the world from meaning, and then marvel that their
children should disregard their instructions and go wrong; but such
instructions are but as the dust in the balance. The ideal which they
actually, though perhaps unconsciously, hold up to their children, is
the model upon which the children form themselves. What they are, not
what they say, is the paramount influence. So if a father heartily
believes in womanly work, his daughters will hardly fail to be
woman-workers.

If a father is not able to support his daughters in a manner
compatible with comfort and refinement, he should see to it that they
have some way opened in which they can do it, or help do it, for
themselves, in a manner consistent with their dignity and
self-respect. It is very rarely that a human being is born without
possible power in some one direction. The field which is traversable
to women is much more circumscribed than that which is traversed by
men, yet I have somewhere read a statement that the number of
employments in which women of the United States are actually engaged
is, I think, greater than five hundred. If this is so, or anything
nearly so, men surely have no need to "marry off" their daughters as
an economical measure. Out of five hundred occupations, a woman can
certainly choose one which, though not perhaps that which enlists her
enthusiasm, is yet better than the debasement of herself which an
indifferent marriage necessitates. It is better to be not wholly
well-placed than to be wholly ill-placed. Indeed, there are many
chances in favor of the assumption that she may find even a suitable
employment. Literature and art are open to her on equal terms with
men. Teaching is free to her, with the disadvantage of being
miserably, shamefully, wickedly underpaid, both as regards the
relative and intrinsic value of her work; but this is an arrangement
which does not degrade her, only the men who employ her. Many
mechanical employments she is at perfect liberty to acquire, and the
greater delicacy of her organization gives her a solid advantage over
her masculine competitors. In factories, in printing-offices, and in
all manner of haberdashers' shops, she is quite at home; and this
branch of trade she ought to monopolize, for surely a man is as much
out of his sphere in holding up a piece of muslin at arm's length, and
expatiating on its merits to a bevy of women, as a woman is in the
pulpit or before the mast. Especially do private houses invite her
over all the country. The whole land groans under inefficient domestic
assistance; and if healthy, intelligent, well-behaved American girls
would be willing to work in kitchens which they do not own one half as
hard as most women work in kitchens which they do own, thousands of
doors would fly open to them. There is a foolish pride and prejudice
which rises up against "going out to service." But everybody in this
world, who is not a cumberer of the ground, is out at service. If it
is true service and well performed, one thing is as honorable as
another. The highest plaudit mortal can hope to receive is, "Well
done, good and faithful servant." It is the absence of moral dignity
and character, not, as is often supposed, its presence, which causes
this reluctance. A nobleman ennobles his work. A king among
basket-makers is none the less a king. How women can be so enamored of
the needle as to choose to make a pair of cotton drilling drawers,
with buckles, button-holes, straps, and strings, for four and one
sixth cents, or fine white cotton shirts with fine linen "bosoms" for
sixteen cents apiece, rather than go into a handsome house in the next
street to make the beds, and scour the knives, and iron the clothes
for a dollar and a half a week,[1] besides board and rent, I do not
understand. That so many are ready to brave the din of machinery, and
the smells of a factory for ten hours a day, with only a great,
dreary, unhomelike boarding-house to go to at night, while there are
so very few, if any, who are willing to preside over a comfortable and
plentiful kitchen, with at least a possibility of home comforts,
pleasant association, and true appreciation, is equally inexplicable.

        [1] This was written before the advent of high prices. At
        present such service would command perhaps twice that sum.

But enough has been said to show, that, if women have a desire, or are
under the necessity, of getting an honest living, ways and means may
be found; not so stimulating, not so lucrative, not so varied as might
be desired, but honest and honorable. Girls, however, make the mistake
of rushing pell-mell into school-houses, as if that were the only
respectable path to independence. I heard a man the other day speaking
about the High School of his native city. It was a good school,--he
had nothing to say against its conduct,--it gave girls a good
education; and yet he sometimes thought it did more harm than good.
Every year a class was graduated, and they were all ladies and did not
want to work, but must all teach, and there were no schools for so
many; what could be done with them? It was an evil that seemed to be
growing worse every year. The implied grievance was, that educated
women were a drug in the market; and the implied remedy, that girls
should be left more uncultivated that they might be turned to commoner
uses. I pass over that accurate knowledge of things shown in the
unconscious contrast between working and teaching,--over the gross
utilitarianism implied in both grievance and redress,--simply
remarking, that, if the excess of supply over demand would justify the
breaking up of High Schools, the domestic education of this generation
should be largely discontinued for the same reason, and that in fact
there seems to be no real and adequate resource, except to manage with
girl babies as you do with kittens, save the fifth and drown the
rest,--to say that girls do very wrong in regarding teaching as the
sole or the chief honorable employment. That occupation is the one for
them to which a natural taste calls them, no matter what may be its
rank in society. In fact, let it not be forgotten that society looks
with a degree of disfavor on any remunerative employment for women. To
be entirely beyond the reach of cavil, they must be consumers, and not
producers; and since, to turn into producers will forfeit somewhat
their caste, let them make capital out of the rural and remote adage,
that one may as well be hung for a sheep as a lamb, and while they are
about it, follow the thing that good is to them. If girls of wealth
and standing, who also possess character and decision, would act upon
their principles when they have them, and follow the lead of their
tastes when their taste leads them into a milliner's shop, or a watch
factory, or a tailor's room, they would do much more than satisfy
their own consciences. They would do a service to their sex, and
through their sex to the other, and so to the whole world, which would
outweigh whatever small sacrifice it might cost them. For the world is
so constituted that to him that hath shall be given. If he have power,
he shall have still more. Those who are independent of the world's
sufferance are tolerably sure to get it. Let a poor girl go to work,
and it is nothing at all. She is obliged to do it, and society does
not so much as turn a look upon her; but let a girl go out from her
brown-stone five-story house, from the care and attendance of
servants, to work for three or five hours a day, because she honestly
believes that the accident of wealth does not relieve her from moral
responsibility, and because, of all forms of labor practicable to her,
that seems the one to which she is best adapted, and immediately there
is a commotion. The brown-stone friends are shocked and scandalized,
which is probably the best thing that could happen to them. Desperate
cases can only be electrified back into life. But it is the first girl
alone that will cause a shock. The second will make but a faint
sensation. The third will be quite commonplace, and when things come
to that pass, that if a woman wishes to do a thing she can do it, and
that is the end of it, there is little more to be desired in that
line.

I know a young lady, the only daughter of a distinguished family, with
abundant means at her command, with parents whose great happiness it
is to promote hers,--a young lady who has only to fancy what a nice
thing it must be to live in a bird's-nest on a tree-top, and
immediately the carpenters come and build her a bower in the tallest
tree that overlooks the sea. This young lady has a strong inclination
to surgery, a most perverted and unwomanly taste, of course; but so
long as it is a womanly weakness to break one's arms, perhaps it is as
well that some woman should be unwomanly enough to set them. At any
rate, there was the taste; nobody put it there, and something must be
done about it. Being the sensible daughter of sensible parents, who
looked upon tastes as hints of powers, instead of disregarding this
hint and devoting her life to her garden, making calls, and a forced
and feeble piano-worship,--all very nice things, but not quite
exhaustive of immortal capacities,--she set herself down to the study
of surgery and medicine. It was no superficial and sensational whim.
Year after year, month after month, week after week, showed no
abatement of enthusiasm. On the contrary, her interest grew with her
growing knowledge. She left without regret, without any weak regrets,
her luxurious home for the secluded and severe student's life, and by
patient and laborious application made herself master of the science.
I look upon her almost as an apostle, though she is very far from
taking on apostolic airs. She quietly pursues the even tenor of her
way as if it were the beaten track. But in doing this she does ten
thousand times more. She opens the path for a host of feet less strong
than hers.

But one great obstacle in the way of woman's attaining strength is her
lack of perseverance. Of the many pursuits possible to women, few are
embraced to any great extent, because girls are said to be, and
probably are, unwilling to bestow upon a trade or a profession the
study and thought which are necessary to insure skill. But this is a
result as well as a cause, and must be removed by the removal of the
cause. Promotion and political preferment shine before a man as a
reward for whatever eminence of character or intelligence he may
attain. His business is a separate department, and dispenses its
separate reward. The first of these is entirely, and the second
partially, wanting to women. A female assistant in a high school, a
woman of education, refinement, accomplishments, tact, and sense,
receives six hundred dollars, and if she stays six hundred years she
will receive no more. A male assistant, fresh from a college or a
normal school, thoroughly unseasoned, without elegance of manners, or
dignity of presence, or experience, teaching only temporarily, with a
view to the pulpit, or the bar, or a professorship, receives a
thousand dollars. His thousand is because he is a man. Her six hundred
is because she is a woman. Her little finger may be worth more to the
school than his whole body, but that goes for nothing. In a certain
"college" I wot of, the "Professors" have a larger salary than the
"Preceptresses," who perform double the amount of labor, and without
any hope of promotion. Female assistants in a grammar school receive
three or four hundred dollars where the male principal has ten or
twelve hundred, and where the difference of salary bears no proportion
to the difference of care and labor. No matter how assiduously they
may devote themselves to their duties, nor how successful they may be
in results, they have attained the maximum. Worse than this: since the
increase of prices consequent upon the war, teachers' salaries have
been increased; but where two hundred dollars have been added to the
salary of the male principal, only twenty-five have been added to
those of the female assistants: so that the man's salary is sixteen
per cent higher, while the woman's is only six per cent higher. This
is done in Massachusetts. One excuse is, that it does not cost a woman
so much to live as it costs a man. It costs a woman just as much to
live as it does a man. If men would be willing to practise the small
economies that women practise, they could live at no greater expense.
There are some things in which women have the advantage; there are
others in which it lies with the man. A woman's calico gown does not
cost so much as a man's broadcloth coat, but her dress, the wardrobe
through, costs just as much as his. He can be decent on just as small
a sum as she. Another excuse is, that men have a family to support. I
suppose, then, that women never have families to support. No female
teacher ever has a widowed mother or an invalid father to assist, or
brothers and sisters to educate. No widow ever had recourse to the
school-room to provide bread for her fatherless children. Or if such
things ever happen, the authorities make adequate provision for it.
The school committee, of course, before it assigns the salary inquires
into these background facts, and acts accordingly. The rich girl has
indeed but a small income from her teaching, but the poor girl is paid
according to the number of people dependent upon her, and the
unmarried man is confined to narrower fortunes.

You know that such a thing is never done. The men always receive the
high salaries and the women always receive the low salaries; no one
ever asks who does the work or who supports the families. It is only a
feeble excuse to hide men's selfish greed. They are the lions, and
they take the lion's share. They _can_ give themselves plenty and
women a pittance, and they do it, and they mean to do it, and they
will do it. It matters not that the ten or twelve or fourteen hundred
dollars divided among the man's family of himself, his wife, and his
one or two or no children, gives to each, even to the little baby
playing on the floor, as much money for support as the female teacher
receives who devotes her whole time and strength to the school. It
matters not that his children are growing up to be the staff of his
declining years, while the unmarried female assistant has only her own
self for reliance. Man is a thief and holds the bag, and if women do
not like to teach for what they can get, so much the better. They will
be all the more willing to become household drudges.

Again, read the following paragraph from a prominent newspaper printed
in Massachusetts.

"The custom of employing ladies as clerks in the public departments at
Washington is meeting with increased favor. It is said that, generally
speaking, they write more correctly than the men, and as they receive
much smaller salaries, the gain to the government is considerable."

Could six lines better express the wickedness of the relations which
exist between man and woman under the "best government in the world"?
The shabby chivalry of "ladies"; the matter-of-fact manner in which
not only a wrong, but an absurdity, is mentioned, as if it were as
evident as a syllogism, and had no more to do with morality than the
multiplication-table; and then the neat little patriotico-economical
chuckle at the end! Women do the work better than men, and receive
much smaller salaries. A logical sequence, and an excellent example of
the reasoning which is brought to bear on women. Especially dignified
and commanding is the attitude assumed for our government. The Great
Republic, stretching its arms across a continent, vexing every land
for its treasures, and whitening every sea with its sails, yet stoops
over a poor woman's pocket to take toll of the few pennies which her
labor has fairly earned. "The wise _save_ it call."

But there is a lower deep than this. The very same paper that so
naively blazoned forth its own shame, made another brilliant essay at
about the same time. I quote the paragraph from memory, but it is
substantially correct.

"Miss Anna Dickinson demanded three [or six, or whatever it was]
hundred dollars for two lectures delivered for the benefit of the
Sanitary Fair in Chicago. Miss Charlotte Cushman gave eight thousand
dollars, the entire proceeds of her theatrical tour, to the Sanitary
Commission. Comment is unnecessary."

For all that, we will have a little comment. Here is one woman in a
million rising by the sheer force of her God-given genius above the
miserable necessities of women. She needs not to endure or to beg. She
is sovereign in her own right and can dictate her own terms. Men
cannot grind her face, for she is stronger than they. What do they do?
They hold her up to odium because they cannot extort from her the
money which they cannot prevent her from earning. Most women they can
prevent from earning it. Most working-women they can keep down to what
prices they choose to pay. But here is one to whom they cannot dole
out pennies: "with one white arm-sweep" she gathers in a golden
harvest. But they will at least force her Pactolian stream into a
channel of their own choosing. Not at all.

    "If she will, she will, you may depend on 't;
    If she won't, she won't, and there's an end on 't."

Nothing, therefore, is left to these high-minded gentry, but to stand
at a distance and "make faces"!

Somebody assumed to excuse Miss Dickinson, by saying that she gave up
other and far more lucrative engagements for this; but it was entirely
a work of supererogation. Miss Dickinson needed no excuse. One might,
indeed, think within himself that Miss Cushman has nearly closed her
public career, and is already possessed of an independent fortune,
while Miss Dickinson's life lies before her, and her fortune is still
to be made. But all this is irrelevant. The whole paragraph is an
impertinence. Why is any person to be mulcted at another's instance in
any sum for any charity or any purpose whatever? What right has any
newspaper to decide the direction or the amount of a citizen's
benevolence? Had it concerned a man, it would have been impertinence;
concerning a woman, it is something worse,--not because of her
womanhood, but because of the injustice which is wrought upon her sex
wherever there is the ability to be unjust.

These are very small things, but they are signs of great ones.

It may be inferred, therefore, that woman's indifference to excellence
in work does not necessarily impugn either her character or calibre.
Excellence is indeed good in itself, and desirable, without reference
to the money it brings; yet money and promotion are a spur, and
therefore they must be taken into the account when we are dealing with
facts and not merely with theories.

Now, then, let women, disregarding senseless and wicked customs, make
a point of making a point of something, and then let them lay aside
every weight which social injustice or indifference hangs upon them,
and the consequent sin of superficiality which so easily besets them,
and make that point perfect. No matter that they are ill-paid and held
down, let them assert themselves; let them work so well that their
work shall assert itself, and pay and promotion will come--to woman,
if not to themselves--as the inevitable result.

I do not mean that every woman should study medicine, or apprentice
herself to a trade. Indeed, I consider it to be a wrong state of
society in which there is any other necessity for her doing so than
that which arises from her own inward promptings. It is very likely
that she can find in her father's house abundant scope for the
exercise of every faculty. She may have a leaning to home life, and to
no other. Because a girl remains at home, it by no means follows that
she is accomplishing nothing. What I do mean is, that she shall not
dawdle away her time simply because she is a girl; and that if, moved
by her own instincts, which are from God, or impelled by
circumstances, which are generally the fault of men, she enters the
arena where men strive, she shall have no other disabilities than
those which Nature lays upon her. Do not fail to note the distinction
between choice and necessity in her adoption of a career. When a
woman, of her own free will and delight, pursues a study or an
occupation beyond the common female range, it is one thing. When she
is obliged to earn her own living, and for that purpose goes out into
the paths where men walk, it is another thing. In both cases she
should work on equal terms with men; in the first, because the very
strength of her purpose, overcoming the natural disinclinations of her
sex, shows it to be of celestial origin, and therefore worthy of
respect; in the second, because, if man fails to give to woman the
support which is her due, the smallest step towards reparation is to
allow her every advantage in the attempt to support herself. It is
always a sorrowful, I think it is always an injurious thing, for a
woman to be obliged to compete with men, that is, to earn money. She
can do it only at the constant torture, or the constant
sacrifice--perhaps both--of something higher than can be brought into
the strife. But so much the more should she be freed from every
unnecessary pain and hinderance. Moreover, evil as is the imperative
assumption by woman of man's work, it combats a greater evil, and
therefore also should her hands be upheld. The most persistent and
kindly encouragement can never change, in the womanly heart, love of
home into love of conquest and renown; but it can do much to soften
the harshness of an uncongenial lot, and take somewhat from the
bitterness of a cup that never can be sweet.

The mere fact of a daughter's services being needed at home is no
reason why they shall be claimed after she has become of age, either
through years, or maturity of character, when such service is
distasteful to her, and other service is tasteful and possible. If,
for instance, a girl has a strong desire to be a milliner, or a
mantua-maker, or an artist, she should not be prevented because her
mother wants her at home to help take care of the children and do the
work. I suppose to many this will seem unnatural and undutiful. It is
neither the one nor the other. There are remarkable notions afloat
concerning nature and duty. If one may judge from popular ethics, the
duty seems to lie chiefly on one side. Lions, we are told, would
appear to the world in a very different light if lions wrote history;
so filial and parental relations, discussed as they always are by the
parental part of the community, have a different bearing from what
they would if looked at from the children's point of view. In our
eagerness to enforce the claims which parents have on children, we
seem sometimes ready to forget the equally stringent claims which
children have on parents. Much is said about the gratitude which
parental care imposes upon the child; very little about the
responsibility which his involuntary birth imposed upon himself.

Here is a daughter, an immortal being, accountable to God. Surely,
when she has become a woman, she has a right to direct her life in the
manner best adapted to bring out its abilities. No human being has a
right to appropriate another human being's life,--even if they be
mother and daughter. You say that she owes life itself to her parents.
True, but in such a way that it confers an additional obligation on
them to give her every opportunity to make the most of life, and not
in such a way as to justify them in monopolizing it, nor in such a way
as to render her accountable to them alone for its use. The person who
gives life is under much stronger bonds than the person who receives
life. Life is a momentous thing. It may be an eternal curse. It is
almost certain to involve deep sorrow. Sin, disease, pain, are almost
sure to follow in its wake. It is a Pandora's box whose best treasure
is only a compensation. The happiest thing we know of it is, that it
will one day come to an end: Psyche will rend off her disguises, and
soar in her proper form. The uncertainty of the future is our solace
against the certainty of the present. Surely, then, of all people in
the world, those who impose this fearful burden are the very last who
should add even a feather's weight to it, and the very first and
foremost who should at any sacrifice of less important matters lighten
it as far as possible. Filial unfaithfulness is a sin, but parental
unfaithfulness is a chief of sins. The first violates relations which
it finds. The second violates those which it makes. Almost invariably
the second is the direct cause of the first. There may be
extraordinary malformations: a child may be born with some organic
incapacity for love, or gratitude, or virtue, as children are born
blind or deaf. But, as a rule, parental love and wisdom result in
filial love and duty growing stronger and stronger every day, and
removing the possibility of sacrifice by making all service a
pleasure. Because, where I knew the circumstances, I never saw an
instance of filial misbehavior that could not be traced directly to
parental mismanagement or neglect, I believe it is so where I do not
know the circumstances. I am persuaded that Solomon had the spirit of
truth when he declared, "Train up a child in the way he should go, and
when he is old he will not depart from it." A son administers arsenic
to his parents, and the world starts back in horror. I would not
diminish its horror; but before you lavish all your execration on the
son, find out whether the parents have not been administering poison,
or suffered poison to be administered, to his mind and heart from his
earliest infancy. Be shocked at that. I never saw or heard of a son
born of virtuous parents, and wisely trained in the ways of virtue,
who turned about and poisoned his parents after he had grown up. The
eider-duck plucks the down from her own breast to warm the nest for
her young, and I do not suppose an ungrateful or rebellious
eider-duckling was ever heard of; but if the eider-duck plucks the
down from the breasts of her young to line the nest for herself--what
then?

If a daughter, out of love or a "sense of duty," chooses to sacrifice
her inclinations,--by inclinations I do not mean the mere promptings
of self-indulgence, but the voice of her soul calling her to a work in
life,--I say not that she does not well. I only say that her mother
has no right to demand such a sacrifice. It is an unjust exaction. It
is a selfish building up of comfort on the ruins of another's
happiness, possibly of character, since few things are so apt to warp
the tone of mind and temper as a forced performance of unsuitable
work. Before children are old enough to choose for themselves, their
parents must choose for them,--even then with a wary care lest they
mistake a prompting of nature for a whim, but every restraint that is
put upon a child for any other purpose than his own benefit is a sin
against a soul. What duty his love does not prompt, you shall not by
the sheer brute force of your position require. His life is in his own
hands, put there by you, and he must make it into a vessel of honor or
dishonor. You shall not hold back his hand from working its own
beautiful designs, that it may putty up the cracks in your time-worn
vessel. You make great account of the care which you took of his
helpless infancy; but he owes no especial gratitude for that. As may
be inferred from what I have before said, it was a debt you owed him.
Having endowed him with life, the least you could do was to help him
make the best of it. It would have been cruel not to do it. You have
only made things even in doing it,--and hardly that. Besides, such
considerations are logically useless. You may fill a child's book,
paper, and ears with his mother's anxiety and care for him. You may
tell him how she has watched over him and toiled for him during his
helpless infancy, and conjure him on that account to love and obey
her. It will be a waste of breath. You might just as well conjugate a
Latin verb to him. He will no more form an intelligent conception of a
mother's love and care from your most forcible description, than he
would from _amo_, _amas_, _amat_. He is not capable of such a
conception. A child's love is an instinct. It gradually develops into
a sentiment which permeates his whole being. The mother's love is also
an instinct. She nurses her child just as instinctively as a hen
gathers her chickens under her wings. There generally is something
more than instinct, but there is instinct. But at no stage of a
child's life is love a matter of reasoning. If it is within him, it
cannot be argued out; if it is not, it cannot be argued in. Never a
person loved because he was convinced he ought to love. He loves
because he loves, and that is all that can be said about it.

I hope I shall not be considered as attempting to weaken the cords
between parents and children. On the contrary, I wish to strengthen
them. But I wish to strengthen them by making them of that unseen,
spiritual substance which alone is worthy of the relation,--proof
against every external force, and drawing more and more closely with
every opening year,--not of that gross and palpable outward material
which chafes and irritates, and which will snap asunder the moment
that young vigor spreads its wings.



IV.


Another truth, which seems to have been forgotten, and which needs to
be newly revealed to this generation, is, that though manhood and
womanhood are two distinct things, the humanity which underlies them
is one and indivisible. We are told that God made man male and female,
but we are first told that God made man in his own image. There is no
distinction. Woman is made in God's image just as much as man; and it
is just as wicked to deface that image in her as in him. It is defaced
when her powers are crippled, and her organs enfeebled, whether it be
by turning her toes under till they touch the heels, and then
bandaging them so, or whether that process be enacted on her mind. If
a boy should stand god-like erect, in native honor clad, so should a
girl. She may not be as tall, but she may be as straight. The palm
cannot turn into an oak, and has not the smallest desire to turn into
an oak; but there is no reason why it should not be the best kind of a
palm,--and in the deserts of this world a fruitful palm cheereth the
heart of both God and man.

Read, in the light of these facts, a "sonnet" and its accompanying
comments, which I chanced to find while looking over a twelve-year-old
number of a magazine which stands among the first in America.

"The learned 'science-women' of the day, the 'deep, deep-blue
stockings' of the time, are fairly hit off in the ensuing satirical
sonnet:--

    'I idolize the LADIES! They are fairies,
    That spiritualize this world of ours;
    From heavenly hot-beds most delightful flowers,
    Or choice cream-cheeses from celestial dairies,
    But learning, in its barbarous seminaries,
    Gives the dear creatures many wretched hours,
    And on their gossamer intellect sternly showers
    SCIENCE, with all its horrid accessaries.
    Now, seriously, the only things, I think,
    In which young ladies should instructed be,
    Are--stocking-mending, love, and cookery!--
    Accomplishments that very soon will sink,
    Since Fluxions now, and Sanscrit conversation,
    Always form part of female education!'

"Something good in the way of inculcation may be educed from this
rather biting sonnet. If woman so far forgets her 'mission,' as it is
common to term it now-a-days, as to choose those accomplishments whose
only recommendation is that they are 'the vogue,' in preference to
acquisitions which will fit her to be a better wife and mother, she
becomes a fair subject for the shafts of the satirical censor."

Leaving "gossamer intellects" to educe whatever of good in the way of
inculcation may be found in this biting sonnet, and in the equally
mordacious remarks of the mulierivorous commentator, let me refer to
another paragraph in which popular opinion is crystallized. It is
found in a book printed and published in London, and coming to me
through several hands from the library of an English nobleman, but a
book so atrocious in its sentiments, and so feeble in its expression,
that I will not give the small impulse to its circulation which the
mention of its name might impart: "In woman, weakness itself is the
true charter of power; it is an absolute attraction, and by no means a
defect; it is the mysterious tie between the sexes, a tie as
irresistible as it is captivating, and begetting an influence peculiar
to itself." This is the fancy sketch. One of our best writers has
drawn the true portrait of such a woman: a woman "to be the idol of
her school-boy son, to be remembered in his gray old age with a
reverential tenderness as a glorified saint, but a woman also to drive
that same son to desperation in actual life by her absorption in
trifles, by her weak credulity,... by her inability to sympathize with
his ambition, to enter into his difficulties, or to share in the
faintest degree his aspirations."

"In short," proceeds the advocate of the oak-and-vine humanity, "_all
independence is unfeminine_; the more dependent that sex becomes, the
more will it be cherished."

Independence is unfeminine: what a pity that starvation and insanity
are not unfeminine also! Independence is unfeminine, but what
provision is made for dependence? Look about the world. How many men
are there, dependence on whom would be agreeable to a sensitive woman?
and what shall the women do who have nobody to be dependent on,--the
women without husbands or fathers, and the women with drunken,
thriftless, extravagant, miserly, feeble or incapable husbands or
fathers? When every woman in the country is placed above the
possibility of want, it will be time enough to talk about the sweets
of dependence; but so long as women are liable, and are actually
reduced to want, to shame, to ignominy, to starvation, and degradation
and death, through the meanness, the misconduct, or the inability of
their natural protectors, it will be well at least to connive at their
efforts to help themselves. An independent woman may be a nuisance,
but I think rather less so than an immoral woman, or an insane woman,
or a dead woman in the bottom of a canal in Lowell, or a live woman
making shirts for Milk Street merchants in Boston, at five cents
apiece. O men, you who shut your eyes to the stern and awful facts of
life, and rhapsodize over your fine-spun theories, what will you say
when the Lord maketh inquisition for blood? In that great and terrible
day that shall open the books of judgment, that shall wrest from the
earth and the sea the secrets which are in them, when the dead women
come forth from their suicidal graves, when they swarm up from under
the river-bridges, when they pour out from the gateways of hell, will
it seem to you then a wise and righteous thing that you branded
independence as unfeminine?

Apart from the bearings of this doctrine, one word as to its facts.
There are two kinds of dependence,--the one of love, the other of
necessity. Each may comprise the other, and all is well. But each may
exist without the other, and then half is ill. The first is a delight.
The second is a dread. The first is a delight,--but no more to woman
than to man, for though the matters in which they are dependent
differ, the dependence itself is mutual, and mutually dear and
precious. Nobody need enforce it by argument. It commends itself by
its own inherent sweetness. But the second is an evil, and only an
evil under the sun,--a state which no man and no woman of any spirit
will for a moment willingly endure. Dependence is a joy only where it
is a boon; other wise it is a burning torture if there is any soul to
feel.

But masculine deprecation of feminine independence is not entirely
owing to a tender regard for the preservation unimpaired of feminine
loveliness. Men think if women strike out in a career of their own,
the matter of securing and disposing of a wife may not be quite the
easy thing it is at present.

They now have things their own way. The world is all before them where
to choose. They have only to walk leisurely on, and it is O whistle
and I'll come to you, my lad. You think I put it too strongly: that is
because you are looking into the bucket. I am speaking of the
atmosphere. You have only to listen to the usual talk of usual people
in villages and cities, and to the floating literature. You are not to
take the intellectual in the one, nor the immortal in the other, for
their rills spring from deeper sources, and represent the individual.
It is the flitting, the ephemeral, the stories that Maggie Marigold
and Kittie Katnip print in the county papers; it is the talk that Mrs.
Smith and Mrs. Jones have about Nancy Briggs; it is the women in the
novels who are not the heroines,--these give the best photograph of
actual popular opinion, and these give you six women intriguing for
one man. It is not surprising that at first sight men should think it
a fine thing to have a whole bazaar of beauty to choose from, with the
market so glutted that the goods will be sold at prices to suit the
purchasers. It is not necessary to be very good or very great, to win
the prize. There is no prize to be won. It is only pick and choose.
But have men no misgivings? Is necessity the surest warrant of
adaptation? Are men conscious that their assumption is, that they are
so unattractive, and the marriage yoke so heavy, that women will not
endure either unless they are left without any other resource? Is it
pleasant to reflect that they cannot trust themselves to woo, but that
girls must be reduced to the alternative of marriage or nothing? What
pleasure can there be in a victory so easily gained? I know a man who
says the reason why he married his wife was, because she was the only
girl in the town whom he was not sure of beforehand. With nothing to
do, women are as beggars by the wayside, holding up their feeble hands
to the passer, and entreating, "We will eat our own bread and wear our
own apparel: only let us be called by thy name to take away our
reproach." Is this pleasant to think of? Does it flatter a man's
self-love? Would it not be more agreeable for a husband to suppose
that he is his wife's choice and not--Hobson's?

Let boarding-school anniversary orators and Mother's Magazine editors
trust more in nature, and make themselves easy. Providence is never at
a loss. There is not the slightest danger that marriage will fall into
disuse through the absorption of female interests in other directions.
If every girl in the world were independent, full mistress of herself,
she would not be any more disinclined to marriage than she is now. She
would not hang upon its skirts, dragging them into the mud, with such
a helpless, desperate death-clutch as now. She would not be at the
mercy of every schemer, every speculator, every unprincipled,
unscrupulous manikin, who knows no better use for angels than to wash
the dishes. She would not be such an article of traffic, such a beast
of burden, such a tame, spiritless, long-suffering, sly little
sycophant, as she too often is now. There is not one woman in a
million who would not be married, if--I borrow a phrase from the
popular, pestilent patois, but I transfigure it with its highest
meaning--if she could get a chance. How do I know? Just as I know that
the stars are now shining in the sky, though it is high noon. I never
saw a star at midday, but I know it is the nature of stars to shine in
the sky, and of the sky to hold its stars. Genius or fool, rich or
poor, beauty or the beast, if marriage were what it should be, what
God meant it to be, what even with the world's present possibilities
it might be, it would be the Elysium, the sole complete Elysium, of
woman, yes, and of man. Greatness, glory, usefulness, happiness, await
her otherwhere; but here alone all her powers, all her being, can find
full play. No condition, no character even, can quite hide the gleam
of the sacred fire; but on the household hearth it joins the warmth of
earth to the hues of heaven. Brilliant, dazzling, vivid, a beacon and
a blessing, her light may be, but only a happy home blends the
prismatic rays into a soft serene whiteness, that floods the world
with divine illumination. Without wifely and motherly love, a part of
her nature must remain unclosed,--a spring shut up, a fountain sealed;
but a thousand times better that it should remain unclosed than that
it should be rudely rent open, or opened only to be defiled. A
thousand times better that the vestal fire should burn forever on the
inner shrine than that it should be brought out to boil the pot. But
the pot must boil, you say, and so it must; but with oak-wood and
shavings, not with beaten olive-oil.

This it is that I denounce,--not the use, but the abuse, of sacred
things. I want girls to be saved from sacrilege. I do not want them to
lay open their lives to spoliation. I want every woman to fill her
heart with hopes and plans and purposes; and if a man will marry her,
let him be so strong as to break down all barriers, check the whole
flood-tide of her life, and sweep it around himself. If a woman is
worth having, she is worth winning. Jacob served seven years for
Rachel and seven more, and they seemed unto him but a few days for the
love he had to her. Shiver and scatter the wan, weak attachments that
dare to call themselves _love_. Scorn for this frothy, green whey that
stands for the wine of life! Better that girls should be pirated away
as the rough-handed Romans won their Sabine wives, than that a man
should have but to touch the tree with his cane as he walks through
the orchard, and down comes the ready-ripe fruit. In Von Fink's fiery
wooing of Lenore, I hear the right trumpet-ring: "With rifle and
bullet I have bought your stormy heart." I would have a woman marry,
not because it is the only thing that offers, but because a
magnificence sweeps by, in whose glorious sun her pale stars faint and
fade. Her soul shall be filled and fired with the heavenly radiance.
All her dross shall be consumed, and all her gold refined. She shall
go to her marriage-feast as Zenobia went to Rome, crowned with
flowers, but bound with golden chains, a conquered captive, and the
banner over her shall be love. I would have her go obedient, not to
the requirements of a false and fatal materialism, naming itself with
the names of morality and womanhood, but to the unerring instincts of
her own nature. She shall not fly to the only refuge from the vacuum
and despair of her life; but her great heart and her strong hands
shall be wrenched from their bent by the mysterious force of an
irresistible magnetism. When you have a character that can so command,
a love that can so control, you have set up on earth the pillars of
Heaven, and redemption draweth nigh.



V.


But if the pursuit of a separate and independent career should not
disincline girls to marriage, you think it would unfit them for its
duties; that an education, an occupation, and an interest in any other
than a domestic direction would produce an indifferent housewife. Is
this necessary? Is it even probable? Is there any sufficient reason
why a woman who has trained her judgment in a medical school, shall
not go into life, not only with no disadvantage, but with positive
advantage from such training? If her mind have acquired power of
observation, and her fingers skill in execution, will she not be so
much the better prepared for the duties of her situation, whatever
they may be? The ordering of a family is not like a trade,--a thing to
be learned. It is multifarious and distracting. The mistress of a
household is like the sovereign of a free empire. She does not need,
and cannot serve, an apprenticeship. The only way to prepare her for
its duties is to enlarge her capacity to discharge them. She needs a
thorough education. Everything that helps to build up mind and
body,--everything that makes her healthful, hopeful, cheerful,
spirited, self-reliant, energetic, strong, helps her to administer her
affairs successfully. A woman who can do one thing can do another
thing, and she can do it all the better for having done the other one
first; so that the pursuit of a profession, instead of incapacitating
her for a domestic life, makes her better fitted for it. If for a
year, or two or three, she has been studying the human system, or the
stars, or the flowers, or the mysteries of cloak, or bonnet, or
counter, or mint, she can turn aside at the beck of the master just as
well as if she had been all the while frittering herself away, and she
will also be a great deal better worth beckoning to. The entrance upon
a "career" does not, as many seem to think and fear, prescribe
perpetual adherence to it.

A girl may have a certain end in view, and design most clearly to
follow it, and she does follow it--God bless her! But Nature also has
her ends, and when her unerring finger points in another quarter,
"This is the way, walk ye in it," be sure the girl will go. Activity
will never keep her from happiness, but it will keep her from byways
and stumbling-blocks, from the traps which Nature never set, but which
a sentimentalism, born of selfishness, has put in her path. And be
doubly sure of this: if one or two or a dozen years of industry and
resolution unfit a girl to be a wife, she would never have been a
prize. Any intelligent girl can learn household science in six months,
and every girl ought to have, and generally does have, at least six
months' warning. Experience will do the rest for her, and do it well,
if she is a girl of sense; and if not, nothing would have helped the
matter. One of the best cooks I know started in life with only a
cabbage for capital; and with sense and spirit, out of that solitary
cabbage, with whose proper management she chanced to be acquainted,
sprang pies, puddings, preserves, such as it is not well even to think
of in war-times.

So much for that portion of the objection which is put forward and has
a just foundation. But the main part of it is under ground. In my
opinion, the real danger lies in quite the opposite quarter from the
one that is sought to be defended. The trouble is not that women do
not think enough about household affairs. It is that they think too
much. But if one might judge from the tenor of public and private
talk, one would suppose that cooking was the chief end of woman and
the chief solace of man. I distinguish cooking above all the other
items of the domestic establishment, because I find it so
distinguished before me. Four hundred volumes of papyrus, recovered
from Herculaneum, related chiefly to music, rhetoric, and cookery. The
god of whom Paul told the Philippians, even weeping, is worshipped
to-day. Isaac acted after his kind when he loved Esau because he did
eat of his venison! To know how to cook, to keep the husband in good
humor with tempting viands, to prevent his being annoyed with burnt
meat, soured with heavy bread, or vexed by late dinners, is the burden
of a thousand ditties besides that of our sarcastic sonneteer. Printed
"Advice to Marriageable Young Ladies" informs them that "a man is
better pleased when he has a good dinner upon his table, than when his
wife talks good French." I should like to be absolute monarch of
America long enough to enact a decree that every man who opens his
mouth to tell girls to learn to make bread, shall live a week on putty
and water. What! are girls then to neglect to learn to make bread? By
no means. Nor to roast beef, nor to boil potatoes. But suppose General
Hooker should lead out his whole army against a detachment of the
Rebels, and, neglecting Lee and Jackson with their myrmidons, should
expend all his ammunition and skill on a handful of the foe, would you
not adjudge him worthy of court-martial? But the detachment ought to
be captured. Perhaps it ought. Send out a detachment and capture it.
But do not waste your whole strength on an awkward squad, and leave
the main body of the enemy to ravage at will. Defeat the latter, and
the former will disappear of themselves.

Now when you bring out your drums and beat your dismal tattoo about
learning to cook, you are doing just this; you are devoting all your
strength to the destruction of an outwork whose fall will but very
remotely affect the citadel. The remedy for an ignorance of cookery is
not necessarily a knowledge of cookery. What is the reason that a man
has cause to complain that his wife does not know how to cook? Is it
that she devoted too much of her maiden time to teaching, preaching,
doctoring, and dressmaking? Ten thousand to one, no. It is because she
is ignorant or because she is silly. Treat girls sensibly. Educate
their observation, their perception, their judgment. Give them a
knowledge of human nature: and then be yourself so noble as to command
their respect, and so amiable as to secure their affection, and you
will have no trouble with heavy bread. If you insist on making women
ignorant and silly, be sure their ignorance and silliness will crop
out. Thrust them down in one place, and they will immediately rise in
another. Sooner or later, you will prove the truth of Lord Burleigh's
assurance to his son, and "find to your regret that there is nothing
more fulsome than a she-fool."

But the general direction of your counsel is wrong, even supposing the
immediate object at which it is aimed to be right. Its tendency is to
induce women to give more attention to cookery than they now do; and
they already devote to it a great deal more than they ought. They do
not cook too well, but too much. A few mixtures should be better
arranged than now, but a great many should be left alone. Cooking is
the chief concern of a very large number of New England wives and
mothers. They spend the larger part of their ingenuity in devising,
and the larger part of their strength and skill and time in preparing,
food which is unnecessary and often hurtful. It never occurs to them
to alter their course. They do not think of it as an unjust conjugal
exaction, but as a Divine allotment. It is not always the one, and
seldom if ever the other; but it is a custom. We are pre-eminently an
eating people. Our women are cooking themselves to death, and cooking
the nation into a materialism worse than death. Suppose you have been
boarding or visiting for a month or two in a stranger family, and some
one asks you if they live well, what do you understand him to mean? Is
he inquiring if they are honorable, if they conduct their lives on
Christian principles, if they are courteous, and self-respectful and
self-controlled? Are they just in their dealings, disinterested in
their motives, pure in word and work? Nothing is further from his
thoughts. He means--and you at once understand him--Do they have
highly-spiced and numerous meats, much cake and pie, many sauces and
preserves? To what degradation have we descended! To live well is to
eat rich food! Honor, integrity, refinement, culture, are all chopped
up into mince-pie. Heart and soul are left to shift for themselves,
and the guaranty of right and righteous living is

    "A fair round belly with good capon lined."

In the olden times there lived, we are told, a race of men called
Bisclaverets, who were half man and half wolf; or, to speak more
accurately, were half the time man and half the time wolf. Some
indications in our own day lead us to believe that the race of the
Bisclaverets is not wholly extinct. Some stragglers must have found
their way from the shores of Bretagne to our Western wilds, and left a
posterity whose name is Legion. I copy from one of the most prominent
and liberal of our religious newspapers the following "elegant
extract," not original in its columns, but adopted from some other
paper, with such undoubted indorsement and commendation as an
insertion without comment implies:--

"The business man who has been at work hard all day, will enter his
house for dinner as crabbed as a hungry bear,--crabbed because he is
as hungry as a hungry bear. The wife understands the mood, and, while
she says little to him, is careful not to have the dinner delayed. In
the mean time, the children watch him cautiously, and do not tease him
with questions. When the soup is gulped, and he leans back and wipes
his mouth, there is an evident relaxation, and his wife ventures to
ask for the news. When the roast beef is disposed of, she presumes
upon gossip, and possibly upon a jest; and when, at last, the dessert
is spread upon the table, all hands are merry, and the face of the
husband and father, which entered the house so pinched, and savage,
and sharp, becomes soft, and full, and beaming as the face of the
round summer moon."

Are we talking about a man or a wild beast? Is it wife or female? Are
they children or cubs? Does he wipe his mouth or lick his chops?
"_Ventures_ to ask the news"! "_Presumes_ upon a jest"! The whole
picture is disgusting from beginning to end. It is the portraiture of
sensuality and despotism. Hunger is not a sublime sensation, nor is
eating a graceful act; but both are ordained of God, and are given us
with that broad blank margin which almost invariably accompanies His
gifts. Religion and culture can take up the necessity, and work so
deftly that it shall become an adornment; and the ordinance of eating
stand for the sunniest part of life. The grossness of the act, the
mere animal and mechanical function of furnishing supplies, can be so
larded with wit and wisdom, with love and good-will, with pleasant
talk, interchange of civilities and courtesies, and all the light,
sweet, gentle amenities of life, that a bare act becomes almost a
rite. The rough structure is veiled into beauty with roses and lilies
and the soft play of lights and shadows. But this paragraph portrays
gobbling. A woman, instead of pandering to it by service and silence,
ought to lift up her voice and repress it in its earliest stages. Make
a man understand that he shall eat his dinner like a gentleman or he
shall have no dinner to eat. If he will be crabbed and gulp, let him
go down into the coal-bin and have it out alone; but do not let him
bring his Feejeeism into the dining-room to defile the presence of his
wife and corrupt the manners of his children.

If you think the picture is overdrawn, I pray you to remember that I
did not draw it. It is a published, and, I think, a man's sketch of
manhood. I only take it as I find it. I do not myself think that
materialism has attained quite that degree of repulsiveness, but it is
too near it. Eating is not perpetrated, but the appetite is pampered.
If a man is able to hire a cook, very well. Cooking is the cook's
profession; she ought to attain skill, and her employer has a right to
require it, and as great a variety and profusion of dishes as he can
furnish material for. But if he is not able to hire a cook, and must
depend entirely upon his wife, the case is different. Cooking is not
her profession. It is only one of the duties incident to her station.
It is incumbent upon her to spread a plentiful and wholesome table. It
is culpable inefficiency to do less than this. It is palpable
immorality to do more. No matter how fond of cooking, or how skilful
or alert a woman may be, she has only twenty-four hours in her day,
and two hands for her work; and one woman who has the sole care of a
family cannot, if she has any rational and Christian idea of life, of
personal, household, and social duties, have any more time and
strength than is sufficient for their simple discharge. Overdoing in
one direction must be compensated by underdoing in another. She cannot
pamper Peter without pinching Paul. Much that you laud as a virtue I
lament as a vice. You revel in the cakes and the pastries and the
dainties, and boast the skill of the housewife; and indeed her marvels
are featly wrought, sweet to the taste, and to be desired if honestly
come by; but if there has been plunder and extortion, if it is a soul
that flakes in the pastry, if it is a heart that is embrowned in the
gravies; if leisure and freshness and breadth of sympathy and keen
enjoyment have been frittered away on the fritters, and simmered away
in the sweetmeats, and battered away in the puddings, give me, I pray
you, a dinner of herbs. Johnny-cake was royal fare in Walden woods
when a king prepared the banquet and presided at the board. Peacocks'
tongues are but common meat to peacocks.

The _pâté de foie gras_ is a monstrous dish. A goose is kept in some
warm, confined place that precludes any extended motion, and fed with
fattening food, so that his liver enlarges through disease till it is
considered fit to be made into a pie,--a luxury to epicures, but a
horror to any healthful person. Just such a goose is many a woman,
confined by custom and her consenting will in a warm, narrow kitchen,
only instead of her liver it is her life which she herself makes up
into pies; but the pastry which you find so delicious seems to me
disease.

The ancients buried in urns the ashes of their bodies: we deposit in
urns the ashes of our souls, and pass them around at the tea-table.

Women not only injure themselves by what they neglect, but injure
others by what they perform. Such stress is laid upon the commissary
department, that they lose discrimination, and come to think that
dainty morsels are a panacea for all the ills of the flesh, instead of
being the chief cause of most of them. I knew a young wife whose
husband used to come down from his study worn and weary with much
brain-work, his muscles flaccid, his eyes heavy, his circulation
sluggish, and she would come up from the kitchen her face all aglow
with eagerness and love and cooking-stove heat, her hands full of
abominable little messes which she had been plotting against him,
reeking with butter and sugar, and all manner of glorified
greasiness,--I am happy to say I do not know by what name she called
her machinations, but I call them broiled dyspepsia, toasted
indigestions, fricasseed nightmare,--and the poor husband would nibble
here and nibble there, sure of grim consequences, but loath to seem a
churl by indifference, and neither give nor take satisfaction. I could
bear his suffering with great equanimity, for there was a poetic
justice in it, though he himself was not a sinner above others, nor
yet so much as many. If only those men who are continually preaching
the larder could be forced, sick or well, to swallow every combination
which the fertile feminine brain can devise, and the nimble feminine
fingers accomplish, I should listen to their exhortations with the
most lively satisfaction. But even that would not atone for the female
suffering. With what disconsolate countenance would my tender, anxious
young wife ring the bell and send away the scarcely-diminished
dish-lings, and wonder in her fond tortured heart what next she could
do to smooth the wrinkled brow and light up the dull eyes, and so
revolve perpetually in her troubled mind the mysterious question that
loomed up mystically before us all in our Mother Goose days, "Why
didn't Jack eat his supper?"

Why? O sweet and silly little wife? Because he wanted a thorough
shaking-up. Because mind and body were flabby from too long poring
over his books. If you could but have performed the impossible; if you
could but have parted with the feeble cant which you had learned from
infancy; if you would but have driven him out alike from his study and
your sitting-room, going with him, if such inducement became
necessary, into the fresh air; if you would but have walked him, or
worked him, or in some way kneaded him into firm, hard thew and sinew,
and kept him out and active till he should have got such an appetite
that cold brown bread and molasses would have seemed to him a dish fit
to set before a king, you would have done him true wifely service.
Then you might have come home and fed him with butter and sugar to
your heart's content,--and not to the perpetual discontent and
rebellion of his body.

But among all the lectures to young wives or old wives or no wives at
all, I never heard or read one that counselled a woman to take her
husband out walking, or rowing, or riding, or driving, or bowling, or
do any other sensible thing. I have dived into oceans of nonsense, but
never found the pearl.

Our New England people considers itself to have advanced much further
in civilization than the aborigines, whose chief occupation, according
to the histories, is hunting and fishing. But why is it barbarous to
devote your life to procuring food, and civilized to devote your life
to cooking it? Of the two, I think I should prefer the former. The
Savage may not present an inviting bill of fare; but the excitement of
the chase, the close contact with nature, the wide freedom of sea and
sky, the grand play of all the powers, the mighty strengthening of all
the organs, the fine culture of the senses, the health and vigor of
every nerve and tissue, the leap and sparkle of all the springs of
life, this, surely, would be no insignificant compensation: but a
continual pottering over gridirons and frying-pans is good for neither
brain nor brawn. Civilization may quick upfly and kick the beam: I
would much rather be a good Sioux Indian than most New England
housewives.



VI.


The much talk of fitness for marriage leads one to reflect on the
advantages of living in the nineteenth century. With all the
sewing-machines, washing-machines, wringing-machines, carpet-sweepers,
cooking-ranges, and the innumerable devices by which labor is sought
and is supposed to be saved, I do not see that there is any great
gain. The requirements of civilized society rather more than keep
abreast with the inventions of civilized ingenuity. Fifty years ago a
bonnet cost twenty dollars. Now a comely bonnet can be bought for one
dollar. But the twenty-dollar bonnet lasted ten years, and the
one-dollar bonnet three months, so that, notwithstanding the superior
cheapness of the material, the item bonnet costs more money than it
used, and vastly more time and thought. A calico dress was not deemed
unreasonable at seventy cents a yard. Lately it could be had for
twelve and a half: but at seventy-five cents it was an heirloom, while
at twelve and a half it stands over the wash-tub by the second year,
and by the third goes into the rag-bag. The lively sewing-machine runs
up a seam twenty times as swiftly as the most lively fingers: but
there are twenty times as many seams to run up. Just as fast as skill
"turns off" work, just so fast fashion turns it on. Nay, fashion in
heaping up entirely outstrips ingenuity in lowering the pile of work;
so that we do not get the benefit of our skill. The day now is no
longer than the day of fifty years ago. The mother of five children
seems to have no more time for educating her five children, for
enjoying and training their opening lives, for studying their
characters, for associating with them and acquiring their confidence,
for planting unexpected roses in the little flower-plats of their
years, for sitting a whole summer day with them among the beauties and
wonders and delights of the woods, for spending a whole winter evening
with them in games and reading, for informing her own mind and
disciplining her own heart and strengthening and beautifying her own
body, for cultivating the possible beneficences of society, for genial
and growing acquaintance and sympathy with the poets, the
philosophers, the historians, and the sages, than the mother of five
children had fifty years ago. I suppose more women now-a-days know how
to read and write; but do they read and write? Of the people in your
village, your street, your sewing-society: how many do you find who
spend as much as an hour a day in reading Milton, or Chaucer, or
Spenser, or Tennyson, or Mrs. Browning? How many are there who are
familiar with Hume, or Robertson, or Macaulay, or Motley, or Palfrey?
How many have lingered with delight over the pages of Lord Bacon, or
Jeremy Taylor, or John Stuart Mill? How many know the relation between
a cat and a tiger, or what are the ingredients of buttermilk, or why
yeast makes bread rise, or how the heat of the oven works, or whether
a cloverhead has anything to do with a marrowfat pea? How many are
interested to peer into the mysteries of the heavens above or the
earth beneath or the waters under the earth? How many ever heard of
the Areopigitica or the Witena-gemot, or discern any connection
between Runnymede and Fort Sumter, or have the faintest opinion as to
whether Runnymede is a man or a mouse? How many can tell you whether
the Reformation was a revelation confronting a superstition or a
fruitful branch grafted upon a barren olive-tree, or an old religion
throwing off the layers of acquired corruption? How many understand
the origin and bearings of Calvinism or the Nicene Creed or the
Pauline Epistles? I speak, you see, not of things which have passed
away leaving only a slender and hidden thread of connection, but of
those which still touch life at many points. The great boast of the
present day is the dissemination of knowledge: but knowledge is trash
if it is not assimilated into wisdom. Knowledge which is simply
plastered on to the outside of the soul and does not chemically
combine to become part and parcel of the soul's substance, produces an
effect little better than grotesque. Names and dates may store the
memory; but why have the memory stored if you do not use its
treasures? What better off am I for having a heap of isolated facts in
my lumber-room if I have nothing for those facts to do? I may know in
what year the battle of Hastings was fought, but unless I can locate
that battle otherwhere than in geography and chronology, I might as
well have committed to the charge of my memory the youthful facts of

    "Onery Twoery ickery see,
    Halibut crackibut pendalee.
    Pin pon musket John,
    Triddle traddlecome Twenty-one."

Bricks and boards are neither shelter from wind nor shade from sun. It
is only when all are fitly framed together into the strength and
sweetness of spirit that they become the temple of the living God,
whereinto Shekinah shall come. We talk about the universal circulation
of newspapers, but sometimes it seems to me that newspapers are only
an enormous expansion of village gossip. Now if a murder is committed
in New York we hear of it, whereas formerly we did not know it unless
it were committed in the next town. But such knowledge we could very
readily dispense with. Is anything added to the worth of life by
learning that Bridget McArthy has been fined five dollars and costs
for breaking Ellen Maloney's windows. In the old wars, it was three
weeks after a victory was gained before you heard of it; now you hear
of it six months before the battle is fought, and after all it turns
out to be no victory, but a masterpiece of strategy.[2] What I wish to
know is this: does the constant interflow of currents really deepen
and broaden the channel of life? Are women any stronger of will,
firmer of purpose, broader of view, sounder of judgment, than they
used to be? Can they front fortune with serener brow, unawed by her
malice, unflattered by her promise, unmoved by her caprice? Are they
any more independent of the circumstances of life, any more
concentrated in its essence? Do they think more deeply, love more
nobly, live more spiritually? Are they any more divorced from the lust
of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life; any more
wedded to whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest,
whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever
things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report?

        [2] Heaven be praised that the course of events has blunted
        the point of this sentence.

I think we are in a transition-state. The increased facilities of
labor are improvements, and we shall by and by reap the fruits of
them; but we have hardly yet done so. We have lassoed our wild horse,
but we have not harnessed him. He shows us wonderful freaks of
strength, but he drags us quite as often as we drive him. "Sweet Puck"
has been caught, and made to put his girdle round about the earth in
forty minutes; in

          "one night, ere glimpse of morn,
    His shadowy flail hath threshed the corn,
    That ten day-laborers could not end."

But he is not yet tamed down into a trustworthy domestic drudge. If he
does not actually transmute himself into a Robin Goodfellow, that
bootless makes the breathless housewife churn, and the drink to bear
no barm, and mislead night-wanderers, he yet annuls his work, shutting
the eyes of the ten day-laborers so that they do not gain rest for his
interference; his earth-girdle binds no bundle of myrrh for the
well-beloved. Our great diffusion of knowledge has not given us
corresponding mastery. Our knives are sharper, but we only whittle.
Knowledge is poured abroad, but it is not absorbed. Yet the hour
approaches. By and by, out of this wishy-washy chaos, slowly shall
arise the coast-line of a new continent whereon the redeemed shall
walk: meanwhile, do not let us deceive ourselves. The millennium is
not yet come. We are scarcely beyond the multiplication-table of our
mathematics. We are blind and blundering, and for all our skill and
science, we stumble through life but little wiser than our fathers. We
have the swift, clean stove-oven for the cumbrous old bake-kettle, but
meanwhile we have lost the fireside, and have found no substitute; and
a man's life lies not in ovens or bake-kettles, but in firesides.

This truth needs to be engraven on our brains and hearts with a pen of
iron and the point of a diamond. The soul is the king and not the
servant of the body. Every device, every invention, every measure,
that does not subserve the interests of the soul, is worthless. Every
invention that may subserve those interests, but stops short of such
subserviency, stops so far short of its goal. If the cooking-range
only makes that mince-pie be eaten once a day instead of once a year;
if steam-power only causes that fine wheat-bread shall take the place
of coarse corn-bread; if sewing-machines are going to give women more
tucks to their skirts, more flounces to their gowns, more dresses to
their wardrobes, and not more hours to their day, we might just as
well be without the sewing-machines and the cooking-ranges and the
steam-power. Is a woman any better, or any better off, for having six
gowns where her mother had three? Is she not worse off? She can wear
but one at a time, and she is expending brain-power and heart-power,
and lifting the incidents of life into the sphere of its essentials.
There are women who buy dresses, and make them, and hang them up in
their closets, there to remain till the fashion changes, and the dress
has to be re-made without having been once worn. O terrible emptiness
of life which this signalizes! O wanton and wicked waste of priceless
treasures! What shall be said in the day when God maketh inquisition?
I wage no war against the aesthetics of life; but I do protest that
they shall be means and not ends. Let richness drape the form, and
variety crown the board, and luxury fill the house, if so be you do
not wrong the king, the Master. There need be no other limitation.
Wrong to one's self involves and implies all other wrong. Nothing
human is foreign to any man. Nothing personal is foreign to humanity.
You cannot defraud yourself of your birthright without defrauding all
those to whom your birthright might bring blessings. The keenest barb
of your injustice to another pierces your own breast.

But the larger number of New England families earn their bread by the
sweat of their brow, and must sacrifice the one or the other,--the
soul or the body. They cannot command both luxury and life; and they
choose--which? Look around and answer. How many houses do you know
that have no carpets on the floors, no cushions in the chairs, no
paper on the walls, no silks in the wardrobes, no china in the
closets, but plenty of books in the library; a harp, a piano, a
violin, in one corner, an easel, a box of crayons in another; an
aquarium by the window, a camp-stool in the cupboard, a fishing-rod on
the shelf, a portfolio on the table; where pies and fries and cakes
and preserves and pickles and puddings seldom come; where flounces and
velvets and feathers and embroideries are unseen, but where the walls
are adorned with drawings from the mother's own hands, with bouquets,
finely selected, pressed and arranged by the daughters; with cabinets
of minerals gathered, classified, and labelled by the sons; and fresh
flowers from the garden, cultivated and culled by the father; where
the homely fare is seasoned with Attic salt; where wit and wisdom and
sprightliness and fun and heart's-ease make the simple, wholesome, and
plentiful meal a fit banquet for gods; where work is work, and not
simply labor; where rest is change, and not simply torpidity; where
the heart is rich in love, and the head rich in lore, and intellect
and affection go hand in hand; where the inmates are not the creatures
of the house, but the house is the dear handiwork of the inmates;
where they derive no lustre from their dwelling, but shine all through
it with such sweet, soft lights, that elegance waits upon their
footsteps, beauty lingers upon their brows, every spot which they
tread is enchanted ground, every room which they enter is the
audience-chamber of a king. On the other hand, how many houses do you
know where everything is in abundance except that which alone gives
abundance its value? Where moss-soft carpets and heavy curtains and
gilded cornices and silver and china and sumptuous fare make a
glittering pageant, but work and worry and weariness, or frivolous
pleasures and frivolous interests, empty life of all its priceless
possessions. How many do you know where neither wealth nor worth
reigns? Where hard, grinding, pinching toil is all that the evening
and the morning have to give, and everything lovely to the eye and
pleasant to the soul is crushed between the upper and the nether
millstones? How many young couples think they could begin housekeeping
without a carpet for the parlor floor? How many think of providing
that parlor with a score of the rich, ripe, mellow English classics?
But to the end of the days, the authors will be a joy and strength and
consolation, and the carpet will be only a dusty woollen rag. No, no;
we cannot give up our trappings. Such is the poverty of our life, and
we may not uncover its nakedness. We must have jewels and gold to hide
our squalor and our leanness. It is tinsel or nothing. Take away our
fine clothes, our fine furniture, our much eating and drinking, and
what is left? True,--what is left? Vacancy and desolation. Suppose the
work and worry to be suddenly abrogated to the degree that the
thousands of harassed women who toil with broom or needle or
dish-cloth or kneading-trough from morning till night should suddenly
find on their hands four hours every day of leisure,--leisure that
absolutely need be filled up by no family knitting, mending, or
oversight,--would it be a boon? In many cases I greatly fear not.
After the first luxury of utter rest from strenuous work, I greatly
fear that that four hours would be the dullest and dreariest part of
the day, and its close more gladly welcomed than its commencement. But
this only shows the need, not the impossibility, of reformation. If it
has come to this, that we know not what to do with ourselves, shall we
go on providing toys, or shall we turn about and straightway learn
self-direction? Is it so that we must fill our lives with husks,
because we have fed on them so long that we have no relish for
nourishing food? Have we so held in abeyance our spiritual forces that
they have lost their life? Have we so given ourselves to our grosser
uses, that they have usurped the throne, and shall we now make no
effort to depose them and restore the rightful lord? Shall we go on
forming and frocking our wax dolls, and give no heed to the marble
which it is our life-work to fashion into the image and likeness of
God? Better Romulus and Remus, suckled by a wolf, than our puny
nurslings of conventionality! O for men and women with blood in their
veins, and muscles in their bodies, and brains in their skulls,--men
and women who believe in their manhood and their womanhood! who will
be as valiant, as aggressive, as enduring in peace as they are showing
themselves in war, who dare stand erect, who will walk their own
paths, who brave solitudes, who see things and not the traditions of
things, who will blow away, with one honest breath, our shabby gew-gaw
finery! America was founded on the rights of man: why do we set our
affections on silks and satins? Why entangle our young limbs with the
fetters of an old civilization, golden though they be? Never had any
nation such opportunity as ours. Here is the race-course ready, the
battle-ground prepared. It needs only that we be swift and strong.
There are no morasses of old prejudice to beguile our feet, no tangle
of old growths to retard our progress. We have no institutions to
fight against: all our institutions fight with us. No garter, no
ribbon, no courtly presentation, is demanded as our stamp of rank; the
badge of each man's order is set on his brow and breast. Worth needs
not to have flowed down through musty ages if it would receive its
meed; every man bears his seal direct from God. Humanity is more
accounted of than a coat of arms. We have only to be noble, and we
belong at once to the nobility. It is ourselves alone that will fail
if there be failure; not opportunity. It is for us to rise to the
height of the great argument. It is only that we reverence ourselves,
that we esteem man as of greater mark than his meat or his raiment.
Give us full and free development. Tear away these gilded fetters, and
let the children of God have free course to run and be glorified.
Throw off allegiance to trifles, and with the heart believe, and with
the mouth make confession, and with the upright life attest: There is
no God but God.

This can be done only when women and men will work together to the
same end. It is not to be done by stripping away the restraints of
fashion and society and leaving life bare of its proprieties.
Deformity is not lovely by being exposed. What we are to do is to
supplant those restraints by the gentle growths of a larger and finer
culture; to replace meagreness with rounded beauty; to make the life
so rich and full that all else shall seem poor in comparison; to show
it so fair and fertile that every luxury shall seem but its natural
outgrowth, its proper adornment; to make the soul so simply dominant
as to give their laws to fashion and society instead of receiving laws
from them, and so have fashion and society for its nimble servitors
instead of being itself their creature and slave. Is it not so now?
Who dares bend social life to his uses? Who dares run counter to its
caprices? Who dares stand on his own dignity and defy its frown or
sneer? But, you say, this adaptation of one's self to others is what
Christianity requires. This self-seeking, this self-elevation, is
directly opposed to the spirit of the Gospel, which demands that every
one seek not his own, but the things which are another's. Not at all.
You can in no other way benefit your generation than through your own
heart and life. Can a stream rise higher than its fountain? Can a
corrupt tree bring forth good fruits? The Apostle says: Let no man
seek his own, but every man another's wealth. Does that mean that a
farmer must not plough his own field, or plant his own corn, or hoe
his own potatoes, but go over to till his neighbor's farm and leave
his own fallow? But it is written, "He that provideth not for his own
house hath denied the faith, and is worse than an infidel," and common
sense need not be propped up by revelation, for it stands firmly on
the same ground. You say a woman must not be thinking of herself, her
own growth, and good all the time. So do I. But is she to obtain and
exhibit self-forgetfulness by self-culture, or self-neglect? Will you
be most likely to forget your head by thoroughly combing and brushing
your hair every morning, or by brushing it not at all? Does not health
consist in having your organs in such a condition that you do not know
you have organs? A dyspeptic man is the most subjective person in the
world. He thinks more about himself in a week than a well person does
in a year. The true way for women and men to be thoroughly
self-forgetful, is to be so thoroughly self-cultured, so healthy, so
normal, so perfect, that all they have to do is their work. Themselves
are perfectly transparent. No headaches and heartaches interpose
between themselves and their duties. They are not forced back to
concentrate their interest on a torpid liver, or tubercled lungs. They
are not wasting their power by working in constant jar and clash. They
are at full liberty to bring means to bear on ends. And just in
proportion as sound minds have sound bodies, will people be able to
forget themselves and do good to others.

Now--the connection between some of my paragraphs may be a little
underground, but it is always there. If you don't quite see it, you
must jump. If I should stop to say everything, I should never get
through. I am not sure I shall, as it is--now, such has been the
amount of gluttony, and all manner of frivolity and materialism,
indirectly but strenuously inculcated by literature, that we are
arrived at a point where they are almost the strongest grappling-hooks
between the sexes. Understand: I am not saying that dress is
frivolity. Dress is development. A woman's dress is not her first
duty, but it follows closely on first duty's heels. She should dress
so as to be grateful to her husband's eye, I grant, nay, I enjoin: and
he is under equally strong obligations to dress so as to be grateful
to her eye. But this is scarcely a matter of expense. It need not
cost, appreciably, more to be neat and tasteful than it does to be
dowdy and slouching. But, I have heard women say, variety in dress is
necessary in order that a husband may not be wearied. But does a man
ever think of having several winter coats or summer waistcoats, so
that his wife may not weary of him? Does she ever think of being tired
of seeing one hat till it begins to look shabby? And if a man buys his
clothes and wears them according to his needs,--which is quite
right,--why shall not a woman do the same? Is there any law or gospel
for forcing a woman to be pleasing to her husband, while the husband
is left to do that which is right in his own eyes? Or are the visual
organs of a man so much more exquisitely arranged than those of a
woman, that special adaptations must be made to them, while a woman
may see whatever happens to be _à la mode_? Or has a man's dress
intrinsically so much more beauty and character than a woman's, that
less pains need be taken to make it charming?

But granting to variety all the importance that is claimed for it, are
we using the lever to advantage? Suppose the gown is changed every
day, while the face above it never varies, or varies only from one
vapidity to another, and what is gained? If variety is the
desideratum, why not attempt it in the direction in which variety is
spontaneous, resultant, and always delightful? You may flit from brown
merino to blue poplin, and from blue poplin to black alpaca, and be
queen of all that is tiresome still. But enlarge every day the horizon
of your heart: be tuneful on Monday with the birds; be fragrant on
Tuesday among your roses; be thoughtful on Wednesday with the sages;
be chemical on Thursday over your bread-trough; be prophetic on Friday
with history; be aspiring on Saturday in spite of broom and duster; be
liberal and catholic on Sunday: be fresh and genial and natural and
blooming with the dews that are ready to gather on every smallest
grass-blade of life, and a pink-sprigged muslin will be new for a
whole season, yes, and half a dozen of them. Take example from the
toad: swallow your dress; not precisely in the same sense, but as
effectually. Overpower, subordinate your dress, till it shall be only
a second cuticle, not to be distinguished from yourself, but a natural
element of your universal harmony.

What are you going to wear to church this summer? I say church,
because I am speaking now to people whose best dress is their Sunday
dress. I am not writing for the Newport and Niagara frequenters, who
know no currency smaller than gold eagles. You will not have many new
clothes because it is "war-times," but you must have a silk mantle;
that will cost fifteen dollars. You could have bought one last summer
for ten dollars, but silk is now higher. You will have a barege dress,
which, with the increased price of linings and trimmings and making,
will cost before it is ready to be worn fifteen more. Your gloves will
be a dollar and a half, and your bonnet, whitened and newly trimmed
with last summer's ribbon, will be three dollars or so. The whole cost
will be about thirty-five dollars. But suppose, instead of a barege
gown and silk shawl, you had bought a pretty gingham and had it made
in the same way, dress and mantle alike, and had taken that for your
summer outfit; and had substituted for your kid gloves a pair of
Lisle-thread at sixty-two cents. The gingham will last longer than the
barege, and will be good for more uses after it is outworn as a dress.
It will last as long in the mantle as the shape of the mantle will be
fashionable, and then it will make over as economically, and into a
larger number of articles. The Lisle-thread gloves will last as long
as the kid, and will be much better on the whole, because they will
wash. "But I should make a figure, walking up the broad aisle in a
gingham mantilla!" Be sure you would, and a very pretty figure too.
For you look, in it, perfectly fresh and tidy; and because you have
not been fagged and fretted with its great cost you will be quite
happy and pleased, and that pleasure will beam out in your face and
figure, and your young, elastic tread; and there is not a man in
church who will suspect that everything is not precisely as it should
be. Men judge in generals, not in particulars; and the few who are
conversant with minutiae, and look beyond the facts of becomingness or
unbecomingness into the question of texture and fabric, are such
microscopic sort of men that you do not value their opinion one way or
the other. You are triumphant so far as the men are concerned.

The women will not let you off so easily. Mrs. Judkins will think you
are "very odd"; but how much better to be oddly right than evenly
wrong! Mrs. Jenkins will call it _real mean_, when you are as well
able to dress decently as she is! But you are the very plant and
flower of decency. Mrs. Perkins will hate to see people try to be
different from other folks. Ah! Mrs. Perkins, when the vapor from your
heated face goes down to-morrow meeting the vapor that comes steaming
up from your foaming tub, will you find it any consolation for your
heat and fatigue that you went to church yesterday and are broiling
over your wash-tub to-day "like other folks." Meanwhile you, by your
gingham, have saved ten dollars. Ten dollars! I am lost in amazement
when I think of the good that may be accomplished with ten dollars!
For ten dollars you can hire a washerwoman all summer and
save--absolutely add to your life six hours every Monday for three
months; look at the reading, the writing, the conversation, the
enjoyment that can be crowded into an hour, and then multiply it by
seventy-five, and say whether your gingham dress be not a very robe of
royalty. And besides the good you do yourself, and the good that will
shine from you upon all around you, you will be helping to solve the
great problem of the age: you will be helping to give employment to
the thousands of women who are perishing for lack of something to do,
and dragging society down with them. You will be setting supply and
demand face to face. If you could but induce a few of your neighbors
to join you,--which they will be glad to do when they see how happy
and fresh it makes you,--the employment you would furnish would
comfortably support some destitute unmarried woman, or some childless
widow, and go far towards providing bread and butter, perhaps shoes
and stockings, possibly spelling-books, to a family of children. There
are, possibly, as many women who need to do more than they are doing
as there are who need to do less, and you will be helping to restore
or create the desired equilibrium. Or, if you choose instead, ten
dollars will take your rustic little ones into the city to stock and
startle their minds with ideas from the navy-yard, the museum, the
aquarial gardens, the picture-galleries; or it will take your civic
little ones into the country and set them down in the midst of
orchards and blooms and birds, and all the pure sweet influences of
long summer days. It will give you four or five drives with your
husband and children,--drives that involve fascinating white baskets;
napkins spread out on the grass, hungry mouths, chattering tongues,
and oh! such happy hearts. Or you can go to the beach and hear the
little monkeys scream for joy and terror in the rushing, lapping,
embracing waves, and see them roll over and over in the soft sand, and
gather untold wealth of worthless shells and heaps of shining sand for
back-yard gardens. For ten dollars you can buy picture-books,
long-desired toys, flowers and flower-stands for winter, roots for
bedding in summer, and still have enough left to give an extra lemon
to a score of wounded soldiers in a hospital ward. You can buy
yourself leisure to become acquainted with your children and to make
them acquainted with the brightest phases of yourself. You can put
into their lives such sunny memories as no after bitterness can
efface; such sunny memories as shall wreathe you with a glory in the
coming years when your head is laid low in the grave. O my friend, I
can almost see the light of the celestial city shining through that
ten dollars,--and you talk about a silk cape!

Mind, I counsel no penuriousness, no mean retrenchment for
accumulation, no domestic pillage, no mere selfish gratification. I
suggest intelligent and high-minded economy for the purpose of liberal
expenditure. I would take in sail where only sensualism and
ostentation blow; but I would spread every rag of canvas to catch the
smallest breath of an enlarged and Christian happiness. I would cease
to pinch the angel, that the beast may wax fat. I would keep the beast
under, that the angel may have room.

Do you say that the picture is fanciful? Everything is fanciful till
it is put in practice. Fancy is often but the foreshadow of a coming
fact.

If some such course as this is not possible, if we must inevitably and
perpetually move on in the same rut in which we move now, then, in a
thousand and a thousand cases, life seems to me not worth the living.



VII.


It is not simply that women are chained to a body of death. Men are
equally victims. The world is kept back from its goal. One member
cannot suffer without involving all the members in its suffering.

Marriage, in its truest type, is love spiritualizing life; the union
of the mightiest and subtlest forces working the noblest results.
Marriage in its commonest manifestations is a clumsy mechanical
contrivance. Marriage is too often mirage,--far off, in books, in
dreams, lovely and divine; approached, it resolves itself into washing
and ironing and cooking and nursing and house-cleaning and making and
mending and long-suffering from New Year to Christmas and from
Christmas on to New Year, to the great majority of all the women I
know anything about. I do not mean simply the dull, uninteresting
women, of whom there are really not many, but the bright and
intellectual, capable of adorning any station, of whom there are more
than you think, because, buried under household ruins, you scarcely
catch a glimpse of what they long to be and what they might be. And
they do not like it. Volumes may be written and spoken, extolling the
tidy kitchens, the trim wives, the snowy table-cloths, and telling us
how beautiful a woman is when doing her house-work; and a few foolish
women will be found to accept it all and work the harder. Hundreds of
years ago, when a person I know was inconceivably young, and found
great delight in hanging about the kitchen during the seed-time and
harvest of pies and preserves, to glean up the remnants of mince-meat
and various mixtures left in the pans, a tiny relative much more acute
than he used to practise upon his approbativeness by soliloquizing to
himself while both their spoons were clattering around the sides of
the tin pan with frantic rapidity, "Now Peggoty isn't going away, and
let me have the rest. Peggoty is going to stay and eat it all up." The
result was that Peggoty used immediately to walk off and leave his
cormorant kinsman to the undivided booty. Just about as astute as the
kinsman, and just about as silly as Peggoty, are the men who prepare
and the women who suck the thin pap of our milk-and-water novels and
newspapers. But the latter are growing fewer and fewer every day. Some
women have a natural taste for cooking. Some women are specially
skilled in sewing. Some women are born with a broom in their hands,
and some find the sick-room their peculiar paradise: but I never saw
or heard of any woman who had a natural fondness for being worked and
worried from morning till night, hurrying from pillar to post, and
conscious all the time that things were left in an unfinished state,
from sheer want of time to complete them properly. Within a week, a
woman, a model housekeeper, devoted to her family,--a woman who never
wrote a word for print, nor ever addressed so much as a female meeting
of any kind, a woman whose husband looks upon strong-mindedness as a
species of leprosy, to be lamented rather than denounced, but at any
cost kept from spreading,--has told me that, if it were not for the
talk it would make, she would shut up her house, take her whole
family, and go to a hotel to board from June to October, so worn and
wearied is she with her household duties. Yet her family consists of
only three members, and her husband is full of loving-kindness and
consideration. Another woman, equally accomplished in all domestic
arts and graces, and equally happy in her conjugal relations, once
told me that she has seen from her window a carriage of friends coming
up the road to her house, and has been forced to wipe away the tears
before she could go to the door to greet them; so utterly disheartened
was she at the prospect of still further weight upon her already
overburdened shoulders. Yet she was no misanthrope, no nun. She loved
society, and was fitted to shine in it; but the inexorable,
unremitting labor of her household was such, that it was impossible
for her to receive from society the solace which it ought to give and
which it has to give. So heavily pressed the yoke, that a party of
friends was no pleasure to look forward to, but only more cake to be
made, more meat to be roasted, more sheets to be washed.

Women are accounted the weaker sex; but there is no comparison to be
made between the labor of the weaker and the stronger. Of fathers of
families and mothers of families, the real wear and tear of life comes
on the latter. If there is anxiety as to a sufficiency of support, the
mother shares it equally with the father, and feels it none the less
for not being able to contribute directly to the supply of the
deficiency; forced, passive endurance of an evil is quite as difficult
a virtue as unsuccessful struggle against it. If there is no anxiety
in that direction, the occupations of men can scarcely give them any
hint of the peculiar perplexing, depressing, irritating nature of a
woman's ordinary household duties. Pamphleteers exhort women to hush
up the discords, drive away the clouds, and have only smiles and
sunshine for the husband coming home wearied with his day's labor.
They would be employing themselves to much better advantage, if they
would enjoin him to bring home smiles and sunshine for his wife. She
is the one that pre-eminently needs strength and soothing and
consolation. She needs a warm heart to lean on, a strong arm, and a
steady hand to lift her out of the sloughs in which she is ready to
sink, and set her on the high places where birds sing and flowers
bloom and breezes blow. The husband's work may be absorbing and
exhaustive, but a fundamental difference lies in the simple fact, that
a man has constant and certain change of scene, and a woman has not. A
man goes out to his work and comes in to his meals. Two or three times
a day, sometimes all the evening, always at night and on Sunday, he is
away from his business and his place of business. The day may be long
or short, but there is an end to it. A woman is on the spot all the
time, and her cares never cease. She eats and drinks, she goes out and
comes in, she lies down and rises up, tethered to one stone. It does
not seem to amount to much, that a man closes his shop and goes home;
that he unyokes his oxen, ties up his cows, and sits down on the
door-step: but let the merchant, year after year, eat and sleep in his
counting-room, the schoolmaster in his school-room, the shoemaker over
his lapstone, the blacksmith by his anvil, the minister in his study,
the lawyer in his chambers, with only as frequent variations as a
housekeeper's visiting and tea-drinkings give her, and I think he
would presently learn that he needs not to possess powers acute enough
to divide a hair 'twixt north and northwest side, in order to
distinguish the difference. A distance of half a mile, or even a
quarter of a mile, breaks off all the little cords that have been
compressing a man's veins, and lets the blood rush through them with
force and freedom. It is change of scene, change of persons, change of
atmosphere, and a consequent change of a man's own self. He is made
over new.

But his wife moils on in the same place. Dark care sits behind her at
breakfast and dinner and supper. The walls are festooned with her
cares. The floors are covered with them as thick as the dust in the
Interpreter's house. _He_ shakes off the dust from his feet and goes
home: _her_ home is in the dust. What wonder that it strangles and
suffocates her?

Moreover, a man's occupation has uniformity, or rather unity. His path
lies in one line; sometimes he has only to walk mechanically along it.
Rather stupid, but not wearing work; for generally if he had been a
man upon whom it would have worn he would have done something else:
always he has power to bring everything to bear on his business. If it
is mental labor, he has the opportunity of solitude, or only such
association as assists. His helpers, and all with whom he is
concerned, are mature, intelligent, trained, and often ambitious and
self-respectful and courteous. He can set his fulcrum close to the
weight, and all he has to do is to bear down on the lever.

The wife's assistants, if she has any, are unspeakably in the rough,
and little children make all her schemes "gang a-gley." The incautious
slam of a door will shatter the best-laid plans, and the stubbing of a
chubby toe sinks her morning deep into the midday. Children are to a
man amusement, delight, juvenescence, a truthful rendering of the old
myth, that wicked kings were wont to derive a ghoul-like strength by
transfusion of the blood of infants. The father has them for a little
while. He frolics with them. He rejoices over them. They are beautiful
and charming. He is new to them, and they are new to him, and by the
time the novelty is over it is the hour for them to go to bed. He
feels rested and refreshed for his contact with them. They present
strong contrasts to the world he deals with all day. Their
transparency shines sweetly against its opacity. Even their little
wants and vanities and bickerings are to him only interesting
developments of human nature. His power is pleased with their
dependence; his pride flatters itself with their future; his
tenderness softens to their clinging; his earthliness cleaves away
before their innocence, and he thinks his quiver can never be too full
of them.

This is the poetry, and he reads it with great delight; but there is a
prose department, and that comes to the mother. She has had the
cherubs all day, and she knows that the trail of the serpent is over
them all. She sees the angel, in their souls as well as he, often
better; but she sees too the mark of the beast on their
forehead,--which he seldom discovers. His playthings are her
stumbling-blocks. The constancy of her presence forbids novelty, and
throws her upon her inventive powers for resources. All their
weariness and fretfulness and tumbles and aches are poured into her
lap. She has no division of labor, no concentration of forces; no five
or ten hours devoted to housework, and two or three to her children,
taking them into her heart to do good like a medicine. They patter
through every hour to stay her from doing with her might any of the
many things which her hands find to do. Nothing keeps limits;
everything laps over. God has given her a love so inexhaustible, that,
notwithstanding the washings and watchings, the sewing and dressing
which children necessitate, notwithstanding the care, the check, the
pull-back, the weariness, the heartsickness, which they occasion, the
"little hindering things" are--my pen is not wont to be timid, but it
shrinks from attempting to say what little ones are to a mother. But
divine arrangement does not prevent human drawback; and looking not at
inward solace, but outward business, it remains true that the business
of providing for the wants of a family is not of that smooth,
uncreaking nature to the mother that it is to the father. Let a man
take two or three little children--two or three? Let him take one!--of
one, two, three, or four years of age, to his shop, or stall, or
office, and take care of him all the time for a week, and he will see
what I mean.

I do not say that a man's work may not be harder for an hour, or five
or ten hours, more exhaustive of mental and vital power, more
exclusive of all diversions than his wife's for the same time. It may
or may not be; quite as often the latter as the former: but I do say
that severe prearranged, intermittent labor wears less upon the
temper, the nerves, and the spirits, that is, upon body and soul, than
lighter, confused, unintermitting labor. Work that enlists the
energies and the enthusiasm will weary, but the weariness itself is
welcome, and brings with it a satisfaction,--the pleasant sense of
something accomplished. The multiplicity of a woman's labors distracts
as well as wearies, and each one is so petty that she has scarcely
anything to look back on. Not one of them is great enough to brace and
stimulate, and all together they form a multitudinous heap, and not a
mountain. It is a round of endless detail; little, insignificant,
provoking items that she gets no credit for doing, but fatal discredit
for leaving undone. Nobody notices that things are as they should be;
but if things are not as they should be, it were better for her that a
millstone were hanged about her neck, &c.!

In a community, you find the husbands devoted to different pursuits.
Baker, miller, farmer, advocate, clerk,--each one has a peculiar
calling for which he is supposed to have a special taste, fitness, or
motive, perhaps all; but their wives have no room for choice. Whether
they have a gift of it or not, they have the same routine of baking
and brewing and house-cleaning. Suppose the woman does not like it?
The supposition is not an impossible, not even an unnatural one.
Woman's-sphere writers confound distinctions; they seem to think that
woman was not created in the garden in native honor clad like man, but
rather, like the turtle, with her house on her back, and that a modern
American house and its belongings; so that if she dislikes any of the
conclusions which such a house premises, it is as unnatural and
unwomanly as if she should be coarse or cruel. Womanliness, in their
vocabulary, implies fondness of and pleasure in domestic drudgery.
Their ideal woman is enamored of wash-tubs and broom-handles and
frying-pans. But modern housekeeping is no more woman's sphere than
farming is man's sphere, nor so much. If you go back far enough, you
will find that man was directly and divinely ordained to that very
pursuit. The Lord God took the man, and put him into the garden of
Eden, _to dress it and to keep it_. His sphere was expressly marked
out. He was to be a gardener, a farmer, a tiller of the soil. What of
the woman? "The Lord God said, It is not good _that the man should be
alone_: I will make him an help meet for him." What kind of help was
meant is here implied, but is more clearly discovered further on by
Adam's own interpretation: "The woman whom thou gavest _to be with
me_." She was made for society, to be company for him; to talk and
laugh and cheer and keep him from being lonesome. Not a word about
housekeeping. Adam is concerned to put the very best face on the
matter, and he does not say, "the woman whom thou gavest to train up
the vines, to pare the apples, to stone the raisins, to gather the
currants, to press the grapes, to preserve the peaches," or for any
other purposes of an Eden household. It is simply "thou gavest _to be
with me_." Whatever may have come in afterwards to modify the original
arrangement, came for "the hardness of your hearts." But here, before
the fall, is seen, in all its beauty and simplicity, the original
plan. You have the whole "woman question" in a nutshell. Yet people
who are fond of quoting the Bible manage to skip this. They go back to
the curse, "thy desire shall be to thy husband, and he shall rule over
thee," and there they stop. Their nature is nature accursed, and even
that is silent on the point of menial service: they do not go back to
nature innocent, where it is excluded by implication. But if the Bible
is proof on one side, it is proof on the other. If the husband is made
to be the head of the woman, he is also made to be her serving-man.
Nay, even the silence of the curse is more golden than the speech of
man, for the same allotment of penalty which lays upon her the sorrow
of conception lays upon him the sorrow of toil: so that every man
whose wife is obliged to eat bread in the sweat of her brow is out of
his sphere, and has failed of his "mission." He lays upon the
shoulders of a weak woman his own burden as well as hers. And every
man who is not a farmer is out of his sphere, and should put himself
into it before he casts a single stone at any woman; and he is as much
more guilty as his sphere is more accurately defined.

So much for the revelation of the word; now for the revelation of
nature.

Naturally, I suppose women's tastes are not any more likely to be
uniform than men's tastes. The narrow range of their lives has
undoubtedly tended to keep them down towards one standard, but every
new-born child is a new protest of nature,--a new outburst of
individuality against monotony, so that the work is really never done,
and never comes anywhere near being so far done as that all women, or
the majority of women, should choose the life of a housekeeper. As far
as my observation goes, the best women, the brightest women, the
noblest women, are the very ones to whom it is most irksome. I do not
mean housekeeping with well-trained servants, for that is general
enough to admit a "brother near the throne"; but that, alas! is almost
unknown in the world wherein _I_ have lived; and a woman who is
satisfied with the small cares, the small economies, the small
interests, the constant contemplation of small things which many a
household demands, is a very small sort of woman. I make the assertion
both as an inference and an observation. A noble discontent--not a
peevish complaining, but an inward and spiritual protest--is a woman's
safeguard against the deterioration which such a life threatens, and
her proof of capacity and her note of preparation for a higher. Such a
woman does not do her work less well, but she rises ever superior to
her work. I know such women.

You talk about the mother-instinct. The mother-instinct makes a mother
love her children, but it does not make her love to destroy herself
with unremitting toil for them. It makes her do it, but it does not
make her love to do it. And because, in her great love, she will do it
when the necessity is laid upon her,--a wicked perversion of God's
good gift often lays the necessity upon her when God does not. The
mother-instinct in woman corresponds to the father-instinct in man;
and the wifely love to the husbandly love. Each is strong enough to
bear joyfully all that God lays upon it, and patiently much that he
does not lay and never intended to be laid. But he who counts upon
that strength, for the purpose of abusing it, is guilty of a high
crime against humanity. Each sex has the same uniformity in its loves,
and would undoubtedly have the same variety in its tastes if it were
not hindered. Men do not themselves believe so much as they profess in
this menial gravitation. If they did, they would never lecture women
so much about it. The very frenzy and frequency of their exhortations
are suspicious. They join together what God has not joined. They claim
identity where he has established diversity. Women are continually and
publicly admonished of their household obligations, but who ever heard
an assembly of men admonished of theirs? Yet men are as often derelict
in furnishing provision for their families as women are lax in its
administration. And while the husband may do his part in the way which
seems good in his own eyes, the wife must do hers in only one way,
whether it seem good or bad. The wise woman must tread "the old dull
round of things" as well as the foolish woman, and then she is so
footsore that she cannot enter upon that higher path which is open
only to her, and shut to the foolish woman. The low necessities usurp
the throne of the lofty possibilities. Oh! for this what tender
consideration should she not receive! Confined to the uninteresting
routine of domestic drudgery, while her tastes incline and her powers
fit her for other things, no admiration is too deep, no sympathy too
warm. The gentlest and most thoughtful attention is her smallest due.
Let men fancy for a moment that at marriage they must give up the law,
the pulpit, the machine-shop, the farm, in which they excel, and which
is adequate to purse and pleasure, and turn hod-carrier or
road-mender, and they may have a glimpse of the sacrifice which many a
gifted woman has made. If she made it unwittingly, marrying before she
knew her powers, or the life which marriage involves, a generous pity
and love will smooth her path as much as may be, and press back the
unexpected thorns. If she made it wittingly, choosing, in her strong
love, to lay upon the altar her pleasant things, so much the more will
a generous man constrain her to forget, in the fervor and efficacy of
his love, the fruit which once her soul longed for. If he cannot
prevent the sacrifice, he can cause that it shall not have been made
in vain.

Again, a man receives immediate and definite results from his work. He
has salary or wages,--so much a day, a year, a job. He is Lord High
Chancellor of the Exchequer and irresponsible. His wife gets no money
for her work. She has no funds under her own control, no resources of
which she is mistress. She must draw supplies from her husband, and
often with much outlay of ingenuity. Some men dole out money to their
wives as if it were a gift, a charity, something to which the latter
have no right, but which they must receive as a favor, and for which
they must be thankful. They act as if their wives were trying to
plunder them. Now a man has no more right to his earnings than his
wife has. They belong to her just as much as to him. There is a
mischievous popular opinion that the husband is the producer and the
wife the consumer. In point of fact, the wife is just as much a
producer as the husband. Her part in the concern is just as important
as his. She earns it as truly, and has just as strong a claim and just
as much a right to it as he; if possible she has more, for she ought
to receive some compensation for the gap that yawns between work and
wages. It is much more satisfactory to receive the latter as a direct
result of the former, than as a kind of alms. Many a woman does as
much to build up her husband's prosperity as he does himself. Many a
woman saves him from failure and disgrace. And, as a general rule, the
fate and fortunes of the family lie in her hands as much as in his.
What absurdity to _pay_ him his _wages_ and to _give_ her money to go
shopping with!

A woman who went around to make a collection for a small local
charity, told me that she could not help noticing the difference
between the married and the unmarried women. The latter took out their
purses on the spot and gave their mite or mint without hesitation. The
former parleyed and would see about it, gave rather uncertainly, and
must speak to Edward before they could decide. Now it may well be that
a woman who has only her own self to provide for can give more
liberally than one upon whose purse come the innumerable requisitions
of a family. The mother may be forced to make many sacrifices, and yet
be so blessed in the making that there shall be no sacrifice. The
pleasure shall overbalance the pain. But there is no reason why a
married woman should hesitate, or be embarrassed, or consult Edward as
to the expenditure of a dime or a dollar, any more than an unmarried
one. There may be more calls on the purse, but she ought to be
mistress of it. She ought to know her husband's circumstances well
enough to know what she can afford to give away, and she ought to be
as free to use her judgment as he is to use his. In any unusual
emergency, each will wish to consult the other; but he does not think
of asking her as to the disposal of every chance quarter of a dollar,
neither should she think of asking him. If circumstances make it
necessary to sail close to the wind, sail close to the wind; but let
both be in the same boat.

All this miserable and humiliating halting arises from the miserable
and humiliating notion that the husband is the power and the wife the
weight. It comes out, more convenient in substance, but just as
objectionable in shape, in the wife's "allowance." The husband
_allows_ her so much a year for her expenses. If it means simply that
so much is set aside for that purpose, very well; only it would sound
rather strange to say that she allows him so much to carry on his
business. A woman does not wish to be conversant with the details of
her husband's shop any more than he wishes to understand the details
of her kitchen: but he desires to know enough of that to be sure of
prompt, sufficient, and agreeable meals, and a tidy house, at a cost
within his means. So she should know with sufficient accuracy the
extent and sources of their income to be able to arrange her ordinary
disbursements without constant recurrence to him. He does not take his
dinner as a boon from her. He feels under no obligations for it. He
does not consider himself on his good behavior out of gratitude. It is
a regular institution, a blessing entirely common to both, and excites
no emotion. So should her money be,--as regularly and mechanically
supplied as the dinner, exciting no more comment and needing no more
argument. Whether it is kept in her pocket or his may be of small
moment; but as she does not lock up the dinner in the cupboard, and
then stand at the door and dole it out to him by the plateful, but
sets it on the table for him to help himself: so it is better, more
pacific, that he should deposit the money in an equally neutral and
accessible locality.

I portray to myself the flutter which such a proposition would raise
in many marital bosoms; would that they might be soothed. It is well
known among farmers that hens will not eat so much if you set a
measure of corn where they can pick whenever they choose, as they will
if you only fling down a handful now and then, and keep them
continually half starved. At the same time they will be in better
condition. So, looking at the matter from the very lowest stand-point,
a woman who has free access to the money will not be half so likely to
lavish it as the woman who is put off with scanty and infrequent sums.
She who knows how much there is to spend will almost invariably keep
within the limits. If she does not know, her imagination will be very
likely to magnify the fountain, and if but meagre supplies are
forthcoming, she will attribute it to niggardliness, and will consider
everything that can be got from her husband as legal plunder; and with
under-ground pipes and above-ground trenches it shall go hard but she
will drain him tolerably dry. Then he will inveigh against her
extravagance, and so not only lose his money, but his temper, his
calmness, and his complacency, all the while blaming her when the
fault is chiefly his own. If he had but frankly acquainted her with
the main facts; if he had but permitted her to look in and see what
was the capacity of the reservoir, instead of leaving her to sit under
the walls, knowing nothing of its resources but what she could learn
from the occasional spouting of a single small pipe, he would have
avoided all the trouble. It is so rarely that a wife will recklessly
transcend her reasonable income, that I do not think it worth while to
suggest any provision against the evil. It is an abnormal and sporadic
case, to be treated physiologically rather than philosophically. The
man has unfortunately allied himself to a mad woman, or he has found
to his regret that there is nothing more fulsome than a she-fool.

It irks me to say these things. It is almost a profanation to connect
such cold-blooded business matters with a relation which is supposed
to involve, and which should involve, the highest, the purest, the
fairest traits of human life. In true marriage there is indeed no need
of these considerations. A complete and perfect marriage breaks down
all barriers, and fuses each separate interest into one. In such there
is no mine and thine, but unity and identity. For perfect marriages I
do not write; but for the imperfect, and the marriages not yet
contracted. Let us have another standard set up, another
starting-point established, another goal fixed, that we may run
without weariness, and walk without faintness, and be crowned at last
with a laurel worth the wearing. A ten years' wife once said to a
young lady who was spending money rather freely,--money which was,
however, her own, for which she had to depend upon no one,--"You ought
to lay up something for yourself. You should have a little money--if
only five hundred dollars, it will be better than nothing--in the
bank, so that when you are married you will have something of your own
to go to, and not have to depend entirely upon your husband. You will
be a great deal happier to have something that you can do what you
choose with, and not feel that you must account for every cent, and
make it go as far as possible." But it seems to me that this is _felo
de se_. Doubtless, people often find that they have married the wrong
person; but it is supposed to be a mistake, and not a walking into the
ditch with eyes open. If a girl knows, or even suspects, or entertains
the possibility beforehand, that she is going to marry a man from whom
it is necessary to provide for herself a pecuniary refuge, why does
she marry him at all? If she deliberately unites herself to one who
she believes, or even fears, will not receive her as a trust from God,
bone of his bone and flesh of his flesh, she forfeits all sympathy and
pity, whatever may befall her. If the husband whom she is to take
threatens to be greedy, or unsympathizing, or selfish, or stolid, her
best defence against him is, not to put money in a bank, but to keep
herself out of his reach. It is impossible to conceive of happiness in
marriage, where the financial wheels do not run--I will not say
smoothly, but evenly. The road may be rough, roundabout, and steep,
without precluding wholesome and hearty happiness; but if one wheel
drags while the other turns, if one goes back while the other goes
forward, if for any reason the two do not move by parallel lines in
the same direction, the whole carriage is bewitched, the whole journey
is embittered, the whole object is baffled.

It is marvellous to see the insensibility with which men manage these
delicate matters. It is impossible for a man to be too scrupulous, too
chivalrous, too refined, in his bearing towards his wife. Her
dependence should be the strongest appeal to his manhood. The very act
of receiving money from him puts her in a position so equivocal, that
the utmost affection and attention should be brought into play to
reassure her. The velvet touch of love should disguise the iron hand
of business. A sensitive woman is fully enough alive to her relations.
There is need that every gentle and tender courtesy should assure and
convince her that the money which she costs is a pleasure and a
privilege. Her delicacy, her self-respect, her confidence in his
appreciation, are the strongest ties that can bind her to himself. Let
them but be sundered, and he has no longer any hold on happiness, any
safeguard against discord. Let chivalry be forgotten, let
sensitiveness be violated, let money intrude into the domain of love,
and the spell is broken. Your stately silver urn is become an iron
kettle.

Yet men will deliberately, in the presence of their wives, _to_ their
wives, groan over the cost of living. They do not mean extravagant
purchases of silk and lace and velvet, which might be a wife's fault
or thoughtlessness, and furnish an excuse for rebuke; but the
butcher's bill, and the grocer's bill, and the joiner's bill. Man,
when a woman is married, do you think she loses all personal feeling?
Do you think your glum look over the expenses of housekeeping is a
fulfilment of your promise to love and cherish? Is it calculated to
retain and increase her tenderness for you? Does it bring sunshine and
lighten toil, and bless her with knightly grace? Do you not know that
it is only a way of regretting that you married her? It is a way of
saying that you did not count the cost. You may not present it to
yourself in that light, but in that light you present it to her. And
do you think it is a pleasant thing to her? You go out to your shop,
or sit down to your newspaper, and forget all about it. She sits down
to her sewing, or stands over her cooking-stove, and meditates upon it
with an indescribable pain. I do not say that every kind of uneasiness
regarding expense is or ought to be thus construed. There may be an
uneasiness springing directly from love. A strong and great-hearted
affection frets that it cannot minister the beauty and the comfort
which it longs to do, or defend against the emergencies which a future
may bring. But this uneasiness is rarely if ever mistaken. Love can
usually find a way to soothe the sorrows of love, and a wife's hand
can almost always smooth out the wrinkles from the brow which is
corrugated only for her. The complaint which I mean is of quite
another character. Women know it, if men do not;--the women who have
suffered from it, for it is pleasant to think that there are women to
whose experience every such sensation is entirely foreign. These very
men who complain because it costs so much to live will lose by bad
debts more than their wives spend. They will, by sheer negligence, by
a selfish reluctance to present a bill to a disagreeable person, by a
cowardly fear lest insisting on what is due should alienate a
customer, by culpable mismanagement of business, by indorsing a note,
or lending money, through mere want of courage to say "No," or of
shrewdness to detect dishonesty or incapacity, lose money enough to
foot up half a dozen bills. They will waste money in cigars, in
oyster-suppers, in riding when walking would be better for them, in
keeping a horse which "eats his head off," in buying luxuries which
they would be better off without, in sending packages and luggage by
express, rather than have the trouble of taking them themselves, in
numberless small items of which they make no account, but of which the
bills make great account. If one might judge from the newspapers,
extravagance is a peculiarity of women. So far as my observation goes,
the extravagance of women is not for a moment to be compared with the
extravagance of men.[3] A man is perversely, persistently, and with
malice aforethought, extravagant. He is extravagant in spite of
admonition and remonstrance. Where his personal comfort or interest is
concerned, he scorns a sacrifice. He laughs at the suggestion that
such a little thing makes any difference one way or another. He has
not even the idea of economy. He does not know what the word means. He
does not know the thing when he sees it. Women take to it naturally. A
certain innate sense of harmony keeps them from being wasteful. Their
extravagance is the exception, not the rule. They are willing to incur
self-denial. They do not scorn to take thought and trouble, and be put
to inconvenience, for the sake of saving money. The greater animalism
of man also comes out here in full force. If sacrifice must be, a
woman will sacrifice her comforts before her taste. The man will let
his tastes go, and keep his comforts, and call it good sense. A
woman's extravagance is to some purpose. A man's to none. She buys
many dresses, but she gives her old ones away, or cuts them over for
the children, and works dextrously. A man buys and destroys. Look at
the manner in which men manage the national housekeeping, and see
whether it is men or women who are extravagant. Look at the clerkships
in the departments, look at members of Congress browsing among
government supplies, look at army and navy; walk through a camp: see
the barrels of good food thrown away, see the wood wasted, see the
tools wantonly destroyed. I think the wives of the soldiers could
support themselves comfortably on the fragments of the soldiers'
feasts. Nobody complains. A great nation must not look too closely
after the pennies. A great army always makes great waste, say the
newspapers that exhort women against extravagance, as if it were as
much a law of nature as gravitation. Why not say housekeeping is
always wasteful, and fall back on that as a primal law of nature also?
Because housekeeping is not always wasteful, you say. Precisely.
Housekeeping is nearly always economically conducted, and your
animadversions amount just to this: because women are generally
prudent, they are to be chided for all shortcomings. But men are
always wasteful, therefore they must be let alone. Only be universally
bad, and you shall be as unmolested as if you were good. You say that
it is easier to be economical in a family than in an army. Perhaps so;
but if the soldiers, instead of being men, were women, do you for a
moment imagine that there would be any such waste? Let all other
circumstances be unchanged. Let all the cost come upon the government
just as it does. Let all provisions be furnished in the same abundance
as now, and I do not believe there would be much more waste than there
is in average families. I do not believe you could force women at the
point of the bayonet to such reckless prodigality as men indulge in.
It is against their nature. It hurts them. It violates God's law,
written in their hearts. They would also be too conscientious to do
it. They would not consider the fact that "Uncle Sam foots the bills"
a reason why a saw should be tossed aside on the first symptom of
dulness, and a new one bought. They would not throw away a half loaf
because there were plenty of whole ones, but keep it and steam it. And
not only would there be a great deal less waste, but there would be a
great deal better supply. If women had charge of the commissariat, I
do not believe there would have been one half so much friction as
there has been. Hungry regiments would not get to the end of a long
march and find nothing to eat. Sick soldiers would not be expected to
recover health from salt pork and muddy coffee. Experience or no
experience, red tape or no tape, women would have managed to bring
hungry mouths and hot soups together, and to furnish delicate food for
delicate health. They would not only have supplied the soldiers at
less cost to government, but the less cost would have produced a
larger bill of fare. How did the English army fare till Florence
Nightingale came by and knocked their granary doors open? That my
remarks are not mere theory, or rather that my theory is founded on
truth, is abundantly proved by a statement printed in the North
American Review for January, 1864, long after my words were written.
It is from an article on the Sanitary Commission.

        [3] The discussions which, since this was written, have
        arisen concerning expenditure and extravagance, in
        connection with the women's pledge against the purchase of
        foreign goods, only increase the strength of my position.
        But let it be remembered, that I speak not for an emergency,
        but for the conduct of life.

"At this moment, the only region in the loyal States that is
definitely out of the circle is Missouri. The rest of our loyal
territory is all embraced within one ring of method and federality.
This is chiefly due to the wonderful spirit of nationality that beats
in the breasts of American women. They, even more than the men of the
country, from their utter withdrawal from partisan strifes and local
politics, have felt the assault upon the life of the nation in its
true national import. They are infinitely less _State-ish_, and more
national in their pride and in their sympathies. They see the war in
its broad, impersonal outlines; and while their particular and special
affections are keener than men's, their general humanity and tender
sensibility for unseen and distant sufferings is stronger and more
constant.

"The women of the country, who are the actual creators, by the labor
of their fingers, of the chief supplies and comforts needed by the
soldiers, have been the first to understand, appreciate, and
co-operate with the Sanitary Commission. It is due to the sagacity and
zeal with which they have entered into the work, that the system of
supplies, organized by the extraordinary genius of Mr. Olmstead, has
become so broadly and nationally extended, and that, with Milwaukee,
Chicago, Cleveland, Cincinnati, Louisville, Pittsburg, Philadelphia,
New York, Brooklyn, New Haven, Hartford, Providence, Boston, Portland,
and Concord for centres, there should be at least fifteen thousand
Soldiers' Aid Societies, all under the control of women, combined and
united in a common work,--of supplying, through the United States
Sanitary Commission, the wants of the sick and wounded in the great
Federal army.

"The skill, zeal, business qualities, and patient and persistent
devotion exhibited by those women who manage the truly vast operations
of the several chief centres of supply, at Chicago, Boston, Cleveland,
Philadelphia, Pittsburg, and New York, have unfolded a new page in the
history of the aptitudes and capacities of women. To receive,
acknowledge, sort, arrange, mark, repack, store, hold ready for
shipment, procure transportation for, and send forward at sudden call,
the many thousand boxes of hospital stores which, at the order of the
General Secretary at Washington, have been for the past two years and
a half forwarded at various times by the 'Women's Central' at New
York, the Soldiers' Aid Society of Northern Ohio, at Cleveland, the
Branches at Cincinnati and at Philadelphia, or the Northwestern Branch
at Chicago, has required business talents of the highest order. A
correspondence demanding infinite tact, promptness, and method has
been carried on with their local tributaries, by the women from these
centres, with a ceaseless ardor, to which the Commission owes a very
large share of its success, and the nation no small part of the
sustained usefulness and generous alacrity of its own patriotic
impulses.

"To collect funds (for the supply branches have usually raised their
own funds from the immediate communities in which they have been
situated) has often tasked their ingenuity to the utmost. In Chicago,
for instance, the Branch has lately held a fair of colossal
proportions, to which the whole Northwest was invited to send
supplies, and to come in mass! On the 26th of October last, when it
opened, a procession of three miles in length, composed of wagon-loads
of supplies, and of people in various ways interested, paraded through
the streets of Chicago; the stores being closed, and the day given up
to patriotic sympathies. For fourteen days the fair lasted, and every
day brought reinforcements of supplies, and of people and purchasers.
The country people, from hundreds of miles about, sent in upon the
railroads all the various products of their farms, mills, and hands.
Those who had nothing else sent the poultry from their barnyards; the
ox, or bull, or calf, from the stall; the title-deed of a few acres of
land; so many bushels of grain, or potatoes, or onions. Loads of hay,
even, were sent in from ten or a dozen miles out, and sold at once in
the hay-market. On the roads entering the city were seen rickety and
lumbering wagons, made of poles, loaded with mixed freight,--a few
cabbages, a bundle of socks, a coop of tame ducks, a few barrels of
turnips, a pot of butter, and a bag of beans,--with the proud and
humane farmer driving the team, his wife behind in charge of the baby,
while two or three little children contended with the boxes and
barrels and bundles for room to sit or lie. Such were the evidences of
devotion and self-sacrificing zeal the Northwestern farmers gave, as
in their long trains of wagons they trundled into Chicago, from twenty
and thirty miles' distance, and unloaded their contents at the doors
of the Northwestern Fairs, for the benefit of the United States
Sanitary Commission. The mechanics and artisans of the towns and
cities were not behind the farmers. Each manufacturer sent his best
piano, plough, threshing-machine, or sewing-machine. Every form of
agricultural implement, and every product of mechanical skill, was
represented. From the watchmaker's jewelry to horseshoes and harness;
from lace, cloth, cotton and linen, to iron and steel; from wooden and
waxen and earthen ware, to butter and cheese, bacon and beef;--nothing
came amiss, and nothing failed to come, and the ordering of all this
was in the hands of women. They fed in the restaurant, under 'the
Fair,' at fifty cents a meal--fifteen hundred mouths a day, for a
fortnight--from food furnished, cooked, and served by the women of
Chicago; and so orderly and convenient, so practical and wise were the
arrangements, that, day by day, they had just what they had ordered
and what they counted on,--always enough, and never too much. They
divided the houses of the town, and levied on No. 16 A Street, for
five turkeys, on Monday; No. 37 B Street, for twelve apple-pies, on
Tuesday; No. 49 C Street, for forty pounds of roast beef, on
Wednesday; No. 23 D Street was to furnish so much pepper on Thursday;
No. 33 E Street, so much salt on Friday. In short, every preparation
was made in advance, at the least inconvenience possible to the
people, to distribute in the most equal manner the welcome burden of
feeding the visitors, at the fair, at the expense of the good people
of Chicago, but for the pecuniary benefit of the Sanitary Commission.
Hundreds of lovely young girls, in simple uniforms, took their places
as waiters behind the vast array of tables, and everybody was as well
served as at a first-class hotel, at a less expense to himself, and
with a great profit to the fair. Fifty thousand dollars, it is said,
will be the least net return of this gigantic fair to the treasury of
the Branch at Chicago. It is universally conceded that to Mrs.
Livermore and Mrs. Hoge, old and tried friends of the soldier and of
the Sanitary Commission, and its ever active agents, are due the
planning, management, and success of this truly American exploit. What
is the value of the money thus raised, important as it is, when
compared with the worth of the spirit manifested, the loyalty
exhibited, the patriotism stimulated, the example set, the prodigious
tide of national devotion put in motion! How can rebellion hope to
succeed in the face of such demonstrations as the Northwestern Fair?
They are bloodless battles, equal in significance and results to
Vicksburg and Gettysburg, to New Orleans and Newbern."

Men, have you read this paragraph? Please to read it again! Think of
all your inveighing against female extravagance and incapacity, and
read it yet again. Put on sackcloth and ashes, and read it aloud to
your wife, to your mother, to your daughter, to your sister, to your
grandmother, to your aunt, to your niece, to your mother-in-law, and
all your relatives-in-law, and to every woman who suffers your
presence, and then lay your hand on your mouth, and your mouth in the
dust, and cry, "Woe is me! for I am undone." Inexperience? Had Mrs.
Hoge and Mrs. Livermore any more experience in feeding fifteen hundred
mouths a day than the quartermaster of a regiment? Have the women of
Chicago generally devoted their lives to trafficking in tame ducks,
loads of hay, threshing-machines, and beef and bacon? Yet you have the
very essence of business tact in "nothing came amiss, and nothing
failed to come"; and the very essence of economy in "always enough,
and never too much"; and the crowning glory--write it on the posts of
thy house, and on thy gates; teach it diligently unto thy children,
and talk of it when thou sittest in thine house, and when thou walkest
by the way, and when thou liest down, and when thou risest up; bind it
for a sign upon thine hand, and let it be as a frontlet between thine
eyes--"the ordering of all this was in the hands of women."

This ascription of female extravagance, whether made publicly in
newspapers or privately in family conclave, is not only false and
fatal, but it is fatal in the very innermost and vital points of life.
What is destroyed is not an adventitious thing, but the spring of all
satisfaction. The relations between a man and his wife decide the weal
of his life. The whole chain of his circumstances can be no stronger
than the link between him and her. He may be ever so rich or renowned,
but he can bear no heavier weight of happiness than that link can
sustain. The newspaper paragraphs do the harm of confirming individual
men in their notions that it is the wife who incurs the unnecessary
expense, and so divert their attention from their own duties, and urge
them on in their evil courses to their own undoing. But a man is just
as powerful for good as he is for evil. By as much as he can alienate
his wife from himself by his petty financiering, by so much can he
draw her to his heart by a gentle chivalry. Invested by the law with
power, he has only to transmute it into love to secure a loyalty
capable of any sacrifice. Let a wife read in her husband's face and
bearing how grateful is her society, how precious her life, how
sweetest of all pleasures to him is the knowledge of her pleasure; let
her feel that she is to him something different from all earthly
interests,--something above and beyond all other joys; let her see
that, with her coming, money ceased to be mere current coin, that
labor acquired a new dignity, and prudence a new charm, because they
all might minister to her convenience or delight; let her see that she
adjusts, harmonizes, and completes his life; that she is the central
sun, about which all minor interests and plans revolve; and--what have
you gained? A good housekeeper? A well-ordered household? More than
this. An empire. Supreme dominion. You have only to be tender and
true, and nothing can sweep away the golden mist through which,
whatever you may be to others, you shall appear to her eyes a knight
without fear and without reproach.

Wrong opinions concerning the relations between husband and wife are
also occasionally expressed in another and opposite manner. A wife
comes into the possession of property. The husband, determined not to
encroach upon her rights, leaves the disposal of the property to her.
He insists that it shall be invested in her name. He will take no
responsibility as to the mode of investment. This may be done from
honorable motives. The man means to be just and blameless; and if he
is conscious of innate weakness or wickedness, or if the marriage be
an ill-assorted one, he may be pursuing the best course. There may
also be outside, merely business reasons which make it the best
course. But to do it simply from a notion of justice, is as far as
possible from what ought to be. The man shows himself entirely at
fault regarding the range of justice. If life were what it should be,
the law would be right in recognizing for the woman no existence
separate from her husband. Love is but the fulfilling of that law. The
reason why such a law is unjust is, that life is so constant a
violation of the higher spiritual law, that this lower one which
embodies it works mischief. It fits the righteous theory only, not the
wicked facts. But law is for the evil, not for the good. There is no
enactment that a man shall possess his own property. The enactments
are to punish those who attempt to wrest his property from him. There
need be no enactment that a man shall be master of his wife's
possessions; he has but to be to her a true husband, and all that she
has is his. The law should punish him for neglect of duty and
disregard of claims, by a forfeiture of property. If the law this day
completely reversed the position of husband and wife, it would make no
jot or tittle of change in their actual position, where they love each
other as they ought. Women naturally have a distaste to business, and
an indifference to money. Of their own motion, they would leave such
things in the hands of men, if the instinct of self-preservation did
not force them to interference. In addition to this generic negative
willingness, the happy wife has a positive delight in enriching with
every blessing the man she loves. When Aurora gave her love with all
lavishment, and prayed Romney,

    "If now you'd stoop so low to take my love,
    And use it roughly, without stint or spare,
    As men use common things with more behind,
    To any mean and ordinary end,--
    The joy would set me like a star, in heaven,
    So high up, I should shine because of height
    And not of virtue,"--

did she make a mental reservation to herself of the money which her
books had brought her?

What the law should do, is to step in and guard woman against the
possible disastrous consequences which may spring from the spontaneous
self-abnegation of love. What it should not do, is to guarantee to the
miser, the spendthrift, the tyrant, debauchee, or vampire, the things
which _a man_ would possess of his own inalienable right. What a
husband should do, is to show himself great enough and good enough to
know and feel that, in love, giving and receiving wear the selfsame
grace. What he should not do, is to talk of justice when they twain
should be one flesh.



VIII.


Woman's rank in life depends entirely on what life is. Her importance
is decided when it is decided what service is important. If money is
the one thing needful, and its acquisition the chief end of man, the
wife's position is very inferior to her husband's. The greater part of
the money is earned in his, and often spent in her department. He does
the work that is paid for, and he belongs to the sex that is paid. She
does the work that is not paid for, and she belongs to the sex that is
pillaged. Men go out and gain money: wives stay at home and spend it.
The case is against them--if that is the whole case. But if money is
only means to an end; if happiness, intelligence, integrity, are more
worth than gold; if a life ruled by the law of God, if the development
of the divine in the human, if the education of every faculty, and the
enjoyment of every power, be more lovely and more desirable than bank
stock, then the woman walks not one whit behind the man, but side by
side, with no unequal steps. He furnishes and she fashions the
material from which grace and strength are wrought. Her work is in
point of fact incomparably fairer, finer, more difficult, more
important than his. It is not money-getting alone, or chiefly, but
money-spending, that influences and indicates character. A man may
work up to his knees in swamp-meadows, or breathe all day the foul air
of a court-room; but if, when released, he turns naturally to sunshine
and apple-orchards and womanly grace, swamp-mud and vile air have not
polluted him. He is a clean-souled man through it all. But if a man
find rest from his work in mere eating and drinking, if the money
which he has earned goes to gross amusements and coarse companions, he
shows at once the lowness of his character, however high may be his
occupation.

Those hands which have the ordering of house and home, have a large
share in the ordering of character. The man who provides the house
does an important part, but she who refines it into a home is the true
artist. To whom is the palm awarded, to the painter who, from ochre
and lead, lays on the rough canvas the lovely landscape, touched with
a beauty borrowed from his own soul, or the huckster who sells him
ochre, lead, and canvas, or even the successful shoddy-contractor who
pays five thousand of his Judas Iscariot dollars, that he may hang it
in a bad light in his dining-room till such day as he shall have the
grace to go and hang himself? It has been said that in the highest
departments women have never produced a masterpiece. Painting has its
old masters, but no old mistresses. Jenny Lind may entrance the world
from her "heaven-kissing hill," but on the mountain-tops Mendelssohn
and Beethoven stand uncompanioned. Sappho plumed her wings, but
plunged quickly from the Leucadian cliff, and Milton soars steadfastly
to the sun alone. We shall see about this one day, but meanwhile life
itself is higher than any of the arts of life, and in living no man
has risen to loftier heights than a woman, and the mass of men are
infinitely lower than the mass of women, and would be lower still if
it were not for female assistance. With all the help which they
receive from women, they are perpetually lapsing into brutality, and
whenever they go off into a community by themselves, they go headlong
downwards, following their natural gravitation.

It is women that make men fit to live. They often confess it
themselves without meaning anything by it. I take advantage of the
confession; as the malignant Minister in Titan "retained the habit,
when an open-hearted soul showed him its breaches, of marching in upon
it through those breaches, as if he himself had made them." In toasts
and festive speeches none can be more bland than they. With sweet and
smiling, arch and gracious humility, they dwell upon the refining and
elevating influence of "lovely woman," as if it were a pretty thing to
be growling and snappish and stroked into quiescence and acquiescence
by a soft hand,--as if a midsummer-night's dream were a
midwinter-day's truth, and man were content to be Bottom the weaver,
with his ass's head stuck full with musk-roses by fairy Titanias. But
I say it not as a man gallantly towards women, nor as a woman angrily
towards men, but as a simple statement of fact by an unconcerned
spectator, and far more in sorrow than in anger. What is proffered as
compliment I accept and reproduce as truth, and if men will not stand
convicted of false dealing, let them show their faith by their works,
and yield themselves, plastic and unresisting, to the hands that will
mould them to fairest shapes.

Over against this mistaken notion stands its opponent notion, equally
mistaken, more extensive, circulated by men, adopted by women, and
doing its mischievous work silently and surely. Public opinion,
floating about in novels and periodicals, lays upon the shoulders of
women burdens which they are not able to bear, which they were never
intended to bear, and which ought never to be laid upon them. Before
marriage, society agrees to make men grasp the laboring oar. They must
choose and woo and win; while the woman's strength is to sit still.
But after marriage the scene suddenly shifts. The wife must take the
wooing and winning into her hands. She must make home pleasant. She
must rear the children. She must manage society. She must incur the
responsibility of the welfare and happiness of the family. The husband
is on the one side a wild animal who must be managed but not
controlled; on the other, a piece of rare china, which must be
carefully handled and kept from all rough contact.

"It is the wife who makes the home, and the home makes the man," says
the country newspaper, in its domestic column.

"If a wife would make the husband delighted with home, she must first
make home delightful. She must first woo him there by all the arts of
affection,--by cheerfulness, tidiness, orderliness without excess: by
a clean-swept hearth, a bright fire, flowers upon the mantel, a
well-set table and well-cooked food. She must be careful of imposing
restraints upon his tastes, inclinations, movements, and render him
free of every suspicion of domestic imprisonment. If his masculine
tastes, as they will, draw him from home at times, to the club, to the
lodge, or the political meeting, or elsewhere, let her second them
with that ready cheerfulness which will prove one of the strong cords
to draw him back to home as the centre of his earthly joys," says its
virtuous neighbor.

"I have heard women speak of their rights. If they had made the men of
the world what God intended they should make of them, there would have
been no need of this complaining," says the orthodox heroine in the
orthodox novel.

"What makes a man feel at home in the house?... Is it to leave him
absolute master of his rightful position, the large liberty to go and
come, trusting for her part religiously in the virtue and the
sovereign power of her love,--knowing, as if she had read it out of
Holy Writ, for her own heart has told her" (_her_ being the heroine
aforementioned, now become the hero's wife) "that, if she shall ever
cease to hold the love and trust which she has won, the fault, as the
loss, is hers?"

"She" (_she_ being the aforesaid orthodox heroine and orthodox
submissive wife, now become the orthodox devoted mother),--"She had
the consciousness that it was hers to make of this child what she
would!"

I have spoken before of the comparative work of the husband and wife,
considered merely as labor. I refer now to the comparative moral
weight belonging to their respective positions.

All masculine and all orthodox feminine tractates on female education,
all male lectures on female duties, all anniversary orators to female
schools, ring the changes on the importance of educating girls to be
good wives and mothers, with the persistency of the old song which
shuttled back and forth some twenty times or more to tell us that
"John Brown had a little Indian." But were the graduating class of a
college ever exhorted to be good husbands and fathers? Are fathers
ever admonished to teach their sons domestic virtues, to make them
fond and faithful and good providers for the wives they may one day
possess? But I should like to know if girls have any stronger tendency
to become wives and mothers, than the boys have to become husbands and
fathers? Are they any more likely to be bad wives and mothers, than
boys are to be bad husbands and fathers? Is the number of incompetent
wives obviously greater than the number of incompetent husbands? Is
the number of injudicious mothers obviously greater than the number of
injudicious fathers? And where the wife and mother is incompetent and
injudicious, does it generally seem to be owing to too great strength
of mind and culture of intellect, and too little domestic education,
or is it owing to weakness of character? It is not a remote, but it
seems to be an entirely unobserved truth, that for every wife there is
a husband, and for every mother there is a father; and so far as my
observation extends, domestic mismanagement and unhappiness, in an
overwhelming majority of cases, are owing to the shortcomings of the
husband, and not of the wife, or to the wife in an inferior and
resultant measure. "There is blame on both sides," say the observers,
oracularly, and this most superficial of all superficial generalizations
is supposed to be an impartial and exhaustive summary. It is just as
much a summary as the statement that two and two make four. Two and
two do make four, but it is nothing to the purpose here. To say that
there is blame on both sides, is simply saying that neither a man nor
a woman is perfect, which nobody ever maintained. So long as humanity
is humanity, it is not probable that one person will be entirely
sinless and another entirely sinful; but there are, and will continue
to be, many cases in which the blame on one side is much more heavy
and condemning than the blame on the other. The man's blame is most
often one of aggression, of the first provocation, of unprincipled and
heartless behavior, of cruel disappointing and thwarting, of a giant's
strength used giantly. The woman's is a blame of imprudence, of
weakness, of disappointment, unwisely met and impatiently or otherwise
ill-borne; of an inability to manage with sagacity, and so to master
by superior moral power the wild beast that has clutched her,--a blame
that is negative rather than positive, passive rather than active, and
not to be compared with the other in point of heinousness. Why, then,
do you bear down so hard on the woman's duty and leave the man to go
his way unadmonished? If you do not enforce on college-boys the duty
of providing for their future families, why do you enforce on
seminary-girls the duty of directing their future families? If you do
not educate young men to make good husbands, why should you educate
young women to make good wives? If you do not exhort young men so to
live and learn as to make their wives happy and train their children
aright, why should you exhort young women to study to make their
husbands happy and train their children aright? Because, you say, in
the words already quoted, "It is the wife that makes the home, and the
home makes the man." It is nothing of the sort. It is the wife and the
husband together that make the home, and the man was already made. The
most that wife and home in conjunction can do is to modify the man. If
a husband be intemperate, or given over to money-getting, or
money-saving, or money-spending,--if he be ill-tempered, indelicate,
ignorant, obstinate, arrogant,--no wife, be she ever so prudent, wise,
affectionate, can make the home what it ought to be. At best she can
only mend it. Her energies are wasted. The ingenuity, the love, the
care, that should be expended in making it happy are sacrificed in the
attempt to make it as little unhappy as possible. With the best of
husbands and the best of wives there are always evils enough lying in
wait. Danger, disease, sin, are ever ready to spring upon the happy
home, even when both the keepers stand guard at the portals; how,
then, can you expect the wife to ward off even her own part of these,
when you lay upon her the husband's part, and he himself is the
greatest evil of all?

And what right have men to depend upon home and wife to "make" them?
What is a man doing all the twenty or thirty years before he is
married, that he has not made himself? And on what grounds does he
come to her for completion? How came she to be any more finished than
he? or any more capable of putting the finishing touches to another?
Are wives generally mature and experienced, while husbands are young
and inexperienced? Have wives generally more knowledge of the world,
and more opportunities to become self-possessed and firmly and evenly
balanced than husbands? Or is the masculine material naturally and
permanently more plastic than the feminine? Let us know the pretext
upon which a full-grown man charges a delicate woman, who has had
little if anything to do with him until he became a full-grown man,
with the cure of his soul? If there is anything to be done in the way
of education and reformation, one would naturally suppose that it is
the stronger sex which should educate and reform the weaker. It would
seem as if the sex that is looked up to and sets itself up as
sovereign should mould the sex which looks up and recognizes it as
sovereign. Where, in the Bible, does a man find any warrant for laying
himself to the account of his wife? When God calls every man to
judgment, will he be able to pass over his shortcomings to his wife?
The first man tried it, but with very small success. "The woman whom
thou gavest to be with me," whimpered Adam; but it was a sorry refuge
of lies, and did not avail to stay the curse from descending heavily
upon his head. The plea that did not avail the first man is not likely
to avail the last, nor any man between. "If thou art wise, thou art
wise for thyself, but if thou scornest, thou alone shalt bear it." As
a matter of fact, neither the wife makes the husband nor the husband
the wife, but they both influence each other. She softens him and he
strengthens her; or if, as not unfrequently happens, her nature is the
stronger, she communicates to him of its strength. In a true marriage,
delicacy is imparted on the one side and vigor on the other, to
whichever side they originally belonged. Where the union is founded
upon truth, there is always a tendency to equilibrium, woman supplying
the spiritual, man the material element. She raises a mortal to the
skies; he draws an angel down.

And no more than it belongs to the wife to make the home and the
husband, does it belong to the mother to train up the children in the
way they should go. The family is a joint-stock concern, so
established both by nature and revelation. Where, in the Bible, do we
find that the mother can make of her child what she will, or that God
gave the making of the men of the world into her hand? In Holy Writ,
the father's duties loom up as largely as the mother's, and if there
is any difference it is not one that discriminates in his favor or in
favor of his release from duty. Fathers and mothers in the Bible
receive equal honor and equal deference, but the instruction and
guidance of the children are much more definitely and repeatedly
attributed to and inculcated upon and implied as belonging to the
father than the mother. He is recognized as the head. At his door lies
the responsibility. Ahaziah walked in the ways of his mother, but of
his father also when he did evil in the sight of the Lord. It is the
sins of the fathers, not of the mothers, that are visited upon the
children. It was the fathers, not the mothers, who were to make known
to the children the truth of Jehovah. It was the instruction of his
father that Solomon commanded his son to hear, and the law of his
mother which he commanded him not to forsake,--an arrangement which
modern opinions seem inclined to reverse. It is the fathers who are
pronounced to be the glory of children, not the mothers; and glory
implies action. A father may die, and his dying prayer and his
conscientious life, both commending his family to God, may descend
upon them in ever-renewing blessing. Such is the promise of the Lord.
A father may neglect his children, and the mother's care and love be
so blessed of Heaven that they shall be burning and shining lights in
the temple of the Most High. But this is God's uncovenanted mercy, and
the father has no right to expect it. Yet one not seldom hears or sees
anecdotes which imply that such neglect of children is not a crime,--a
crime against children, against mothers, against society, against God.
In times of financial disaster I have more than once heard of men's
consoling themselves for the ruin of their business by playfully
declaring that they should now go home and get acquainted with their
children. But the non-acquaintance with children, of which many
fathers are guilty, is not a theme to be lightly spoken of. Is it a
small thing to give life to a soul that can never die; that, through
unending ages, in happiness or in misery, clothed with glory or with
shame, beautiful, strong, upright, or disfigured and deformed, must
live on and on and on, forever and forever? Is it a small thing to
give life to a sentient being, that must know even the experience of
this world? That may be bowed down with guilt, remorse, wretchedness,
bringing other souls with it to the dust, or may be upborne through a
pure, happy, and beneficent career, bearing other souls with it to the
skies? How dare a man look upon these helpless, hapless souls, and
know that to him they owe their being, with all its dread
possibilities; that upon him may fall the curse of their ruined lives,
and--neglect them? How dare he leave them to another? To no other do
they belong. His duty he cannot delegate. After country, which
includes all things, his first duty is to his family. He is a father,
and at no price can he sell his fatherhood.

I see notices of Female Prayer-Meetings. The mothers of a regiment
assemble to pray for their sons who have gone to the war. There are
Mothers' Guides and Mothers' Assistants and Mothers' Hymn-Books. But
where are the Fathers' Hymn-Books? Where are the Paternal
Prayer-Meetings? When do the Fathers of Regiments assemble to pray for
their soldier-sons? If boys need their mothers' prayers, they need
also their fathers' prayers. Does the fervent, effectual prayer of
righteous women avail so much that righteous men can feel they have
nothing to do but give themselves up to their farms and their
merchandise, to buy and to sell and to get gain? Can men wait upon the
Lord by proxy? Shall we bring political economy into religion, and
arrange a wise division of labor by which the wife shall serve God,
and the husband shall serve Mammon,--the wife do the praying and the
husband see to the marketing,--he make sure of this world and she look
out for the next? It is a nice little arrangement, but--He that
sitteth in the heavens shall laugh; the Lord shall have it in
derision.

But fathers must attend to their business. They must earn money to
support the family. They must provide wherewith to keep the pot
boiling. Certainly they must; but it requires no more time, or
attention, or ingenuity, or vitality, or strength, or spirits, or
endurance, no more expenditure of any of the forces of life, to go out
and earn something to put into the pot, than it does to stay at home
and boil it. If the mother, with her harassing cares, the never-ending
details of her never-ending work, can find time for studying her
maternal relations and responsibilities, and comparing her experience
with that of others for purposes of improvement and the highest
efficiency, and for joining in social prayer for the blessing of God
on her efforts, the father can find time for similar study, effort,
and prayer. If she can leave her baby, he can leave his books. If she
can leave her kitchen, he can leave his counting-room. His bench, his
desk, his fields, his office, are no more exacting than her nursery,
her laundry, her work-basket. Women will go to the mothers' meeting
who have to sit up till one o'clock in the morning to darn the little
frock, and patch the old coat that must be worn that day; and
sometimes they do it from stern necessity, without having the
consolation of any mothers' meeting to go to. Let men but be as
earnest in their purpose, as sincere in their belief, let them feel
that the souls of their children are in their hands as keenly as
mothers feel their responsibility, and business would straightway
relax its claims and withdraw into the background, where it belongs.
If a great general is come to town, if a famous regiment is to have a
reception, if a long-looked-for statue has safely crossed the sea and
is to be set up, if a foreign fleet lies in the harbor and is to send
its officers on shore, if a young Prince is to pass through the city
on his way home, men rush together in masses so dense as to endanger
limb and life. Business is the last thing that interposes any obstacle
to seeing and hearing that which a man determines to see and hear.

Business? What is man's business? Is it to take care of that which is
temporary or that which is permanent; that which belongs to matter, or
that which belongs to mind; that which he shares in common with the
beasts, or that which allies him to the angels,--nay, more, which
constitutes in him the image and likeness of God? A man's business is
to support his family. Certainly. He that provideth not for his own
household hath denied the faith, and is worse than an infidel. I agree
to that with all my heart. But what is he to provide? Food, raiment,
shelter? These first, for without these is nothing; but these not
last, for he who stops here and turns his powers into another channel
is guilty of high crime. If his children were calves, lambs, chickens,
he would do so much for them; because they are human beings, he must
do somewhat more. But how many of the fathers who make business their
plea for not watching over their children, who are away from home from
seven in the morning till seven at night, who from year's end to
year's end, except on Sunday and perhaps two or three festive days,
see their children only at hurried meals, and snatch a kiss, perhaps,
after they are in bed and asleep, who know no more about the inward
and hourly life of their own than of their neighbor's children,--how
many of these fathers are spending their time and talents in the sole
business of getting food, clothes, and shelter, or even books and
educational opportunities for their families? How many of these men
earn just that and no more? It is not the support of families, it is
not business, it is not necessity alone, on which they lavish
themselves. It is their own pride or luxury or inclination. They wish
to extend their business, to acquire wealth, or a competence, to be
known as enterprising, public-spirited men, to be chosen on committees
and sent to the legislature, all right, if rightly come by, but
terribly wrong, worthless, perishable with the using, and of no
important use, if children are to be given in barter for them.

"This is all very well to talk about," you say; "but a man cannot do
anything in this world without money, and he cannot make money unless
he sticks to his business." Ah, my friend! so far as the best things
of this world are concerned, you cannot do anything with money, and
you cannot make good men and women unless you stick to your children.
Will money give you back the little baby-soul whose tender unfolding
had such sweetness and healing for you, but which you lost because you
would not stop long enough to look at it in your mad world-ways? Will
money give you the saving influence over your boy which might have
kept him from vicious companions and vicious habits,--an influence
which your constant interest, intercourse, and example in his boyish
days might have established, but which seemed to you too trivial a
thing to win you from your darling pursuit of gains? Will money make
you the friend and confidant of your daughter, the joy of her heart,
and the standard of her judgment, so that her ripening youth shall
give you intimacy, interchange of thought and sentiment, and you shall
give to her a measure to estimate the men around her, and a steady
light that shall keep her from being beguiled by the lights that only
lead astray? Will it give you back the children who have rushed out
wildly or strayed indifferently from the house which you have never
taken pains to make a home, but have been content to turn into a
hotel, with only less of liberty? Will money make you the heart as
well as the head of your family,--honored, revered, beloved?

If your firm transacts business on a capital of a hundred thousand
instead of half a million dollars, what is it but a little less paper,
fewer clerks, and narrower rooms? Though your farm have but fifty
instead of two hundred acres, there is just as much land on the earth.
Suppose you argue before a jury only two cases to-day instead of
three, there are a dozen young advocates who will be glad of the
crumbs that fall from your table, and Fate will mete out her sure,
rough-handed justice. With half the business you are doing now, could
not you and your family be comfortably and decently fed, clothed, and
sheltered? House, dress, and furniture might not be so fine, but
something of more worth than they would be finer. A family's support
does not necessarily involve sumptuous fare, purple and fine linen,
damask and rosewood. If the choice lies between Turkey carpets, or
even three-ply, under a child's feet, and a father's hand clasping his
to guide his steps, what man who believes--I will not say in
immortality, but in virtue,--what father who is not utterly unworthy
to bear the sacred name, can for one moment waver?

Every man, and especially every father, should aim to have a character
that shall alone have weight both with his fellow-citizens and his
children. His integrity should be so unimpeachable that his motives
shall be unquestioned. So far as his reputation is truthful, it should
be firmly grounded on moral virtues and moral graces, so that his word
shall have a force quite independent of his surroundings. He should be
strong enough to be able to live in a plain house, and wear plain
clothes, and deny himself, not only luxuries, but comforts and
beauties, for the sake of his children's society and improvement,
without forfeiting the respect and esteem of his neighbors or
inflicting any pain of mortification upon his children. You cannot do
anything in this world without money, if money is your sole or your
chief claim to consideration; but, in the face of ten thousand
denials, I would still maintain that it is possible to attain a
character and a standing that shall set money at defiance. He who
refuses to believe this, and acts upon a contrary belief, shows not
only a want of real inward dignity, but of a knowledge of history and
of life. A picture of Raphael, fitly framed and hung, is a treasure to
be prized beyond words; but with no frame at all, and hung in the
dreary parlor of a village inn, it is worth more, and would be more
widely sought and more highly prized than a palaceful of commonplace
paintings. Let all the accessories be as beautiful as you can command;
but at all events make sure of the picture. He is not a wise man who
expends all his energies on the frame, and trusts to luck for the
painting.

Nor is it any excuse to say that you must lay up provision against the
future. No one has any right to sacrifice the present to the future.
You do not know that you will have any future. "The present, the
present, is all thou hast for thy sure possessing." You may forego
present luxuries for future needs or for future luxuries, but you may
not forego present needs for future possibilities. If besides
performing the duty of today you can also lay up money for to-morrow,
it is well; but to slight a certain to-day for an uncertain to-morrow,
is all ill. Provide, if you can, means to send your boy to college, to
educate your daughter, to shelter your old age; yet, remember, before
those means can be used, the boy, the girl, the man, may lie each in
his silent grave; but though there may never be a college student, a
ripening maiden, a gray-haired man, there is now a little boy, a
little girl, who stand in need of their father; and a father is of
more worth to his son than a college, of more worth to his daughter
than many tutors. Train them in the way they should go, going yourself
before them with a steady step, and trust God for that future against
which you are unable to provide.

And this remember: the very best provision against the future is
investments in heart and muscle and brain. Money without them is
worthless. They without money are still inestimable riches. If your
son at twenty-one is alienated from his father, dissipated,
headstrong, weak, a source of anxiety and trouble to his family, he
will pierce your heart through with many sorrows, though you have
hundreds of thousands of dollars laid up for him in the bank. If your
daughter is a frivolous, woman, the silks with which your wealth
enables you to adorn her, the society with which it may perhaps enable
you to surround her, will only set her folly in a stronger light. But
if your children stand on the threshold of their manhood and their
womanhood, strong, self-poised, mailed for defence and armed for
warfare, glad and grateful for the love that has forged each weapon
and taught its skilful handling, no king on his throne is so blessed
as you. They have all that they need to conquer the world. Your money
may be a snare to your child, your wisdom never. If you lose your
money, it is gone forever. The child whom your love is enriching with
youthful health and promise may go before you suddenly out of the
world, but your labor and your love are not lost. Somewhere, under a
warmer sun than this, his earthly promise bursts into the full blossom
and the mellow fruit of performance more beautiful than eye can see or
heart conceive.

The adequate care and guidance of the family which he has founded is a
man's business in life. Farming, preaching, and shopkeeping are
secondary matters, to be regulated according to the needs of the
family. The family is not to be regulated by their requirements. And a
family's needs are not gay clothing and rich food, but a husband and
father. It is the great duty of his life to be acquainted with his
children, to know their character, their tastes, their tendencies, to
know who are their associates, and what are their associations, what
books they read, and what books they like to read, to gratify their
innocent desires, to lop off their excrescences and bring out their
excellences, to know them as a good farmer knows his soil, draining
the bogs into fertile meadows and turning the watercourses into
channels of beauty and life. He may furnish his children opportunities
without number, but the one thing beyond all others which he owes them
is himself. He may provide tutors and schools; but to no tutor and no
school can he pass over his relationship and its responsibilities. If
he is a stranger to his children, if they are strangers to him, he
shall be found wanting when he is weighed in the balance.

Niebuhr, we are told by his biographer, "considered the training of
his children, especially of his son, as the most imperative duty of
his life, to which all other considerations, except that of very
evident and important service to his country, ought to be
subordinated. In ordinary times he placed private duties above public
ones." Before the child was born his fatherly fondness was planning
schemes for the future. "In case it should be a boy, I am already
preparing myself to educate him. I should try to familiarize him very
early with the ancient languages, by making him repeat sentences after
me, and relating stories to him in them, in order that he might not
have too much to learn afterwards, nor yet read too much at too early
an age; but receive his education after the fashion of the ancients. I
think I should know how to educate a boy, but not a girl; I should be
in danger of making her too learned.... I would relate innumerable
stories to the boy, as my father did to me; but by degrees mix up more
and more of Greek and Latin in them, so that he would be forced to
learn those languages in order to understand the stories." By and by,
when the child is eight months old, we find him curtailing his
literary investigations because he is "moreover, just now, too much
occupied with Marcuccio." When "Marcuccio" is five years old his
father writes: "We have daily proofs of Marcus's noble nature; still I
am well aware that this affords us no guaranty, unless it be guided
with the most watchful care.... I succeed with teaching as well as I
could have ventured to hope.... I am reading with him Hygin's
Mythologicum,--a book which, perhaps, it is not easy to use for this
purpose, and which, yet, is more suited to it than any other, from the
absence of formal periods, and the interest of the narrative. For
German, I write fragments of the Greek mythology for him.... I give
everything in a very free and picturesque style, so that it is as
exciting as poetry to him; and, in fact, he reads it with such delight
that we are often interrupted by his cries of joy. The child is quite
devoted to me; but this educating costs me a great deal of time.
However, I have had my share of life, and I shall consider it as a
reward for my labors if this young life be as fully and richly
developed as lies within my power."

If Niebuhr, one of the most learned men of his time, ambassador of
Prussia to Rome, with all the business to transact, not only of
Prussia, but of all the petty German powers that had no minister of
their own, engaged in minute and abstruse historical investigation
bearing upon a work with which he was occupied and which may be said
to have revolutionized Roman history,--if his time was not too
valuable to bestow upon the amusement, the affection, and the
education of a baby, where shall we find, in America, a man whose
valuable time shall be a sufficient reason for the neglect of his
children? It may not be necessary or desirable to copy Niebuhr's
course with exactness. His residence in Rome devolved upon him a
larger part of the mental education of the boy than would have been
necessary at home. I am also inclined to think that he was too careful
and troubled, and did not have faith enough in Nature and God. But the
point which I wish to show is, that, in the midst of his numerous and
important duties, he found time for his child; and if he could do so
much, surely those who have not one tenth part of his duties and
responsibilities, either in number or weight, can find time to do the
far less service which devolves upon them. If they cannot, there is
but one resource. If a man is not able to be both statesman and
father, both merchant and father, or lawyer and father, or farmer and
father, he ought to elect which he will be, and confine himself to his
choice. If he is too much absorbed in scientific pursuits, or if he is
not a sufficiently dextrous workman to be able to secure from his
bench time enough to attend to other interests, he ought not to create
other interests. No man has any right to assume the charge of two
positions when he has the ability to perform the duties of but one. If
he alone bore the evil consequences of his shortcomings, he would be
less blameworthy, but the chief burden falls upon his children and
upon the state. Reckless of moral obligation, mindful only of his own
selfish impulses, the fruits of his recklessness and selfishness
are,--not houses that tumble down upon their builders, machinery that
cannot bear its own strain, garments that perish with the first
using,--these are bad enough, but these are harmlessness itself
compared with the evils which he causes. The harvest of his headlong
wickedness is living beings who must bear their life forever. He bids
into the world, tender little innocent souls, knowing that he cannot
or will not stand guard over them to ward off the fierce, wild devils
that lie in wait to rend them. Plastic to his touch, they may be
moulded to vessels of honor or vessels of dishonor, for the promise of
God is absolute, yea, and amen. Yet he turns aside to fritter away his
time over newspapers, to talk politics, to buy and sell and get
unnecessary gain, and leaves them to other hands, to chance comers, to
all manner of warping and hardening influences, so that their
after-lives must be one long and bitter struggle against early
acquired deformity, or a fatal yielding and a fatal torpor whose end
is deadly dismay.

But in popular opinion and by common usage all is thrown upon the
mother. By all tradition she is the centre, the heart, the mainspring,
of the household. From what newspaper, what book, what lecture, would
you learn that fathers have anything to do at home but to go into
their slippers and dressing-gowns, and be luxuriously fed and softly
soothed into repose? The care and management of the children fall upon
the mother. Who does all the fine things in the pretty nursery rhymes?
"My mother." It is her sphere, divinely circled. All the fitnesses of
her life point in that one direction. All men's hands are so many
finger-posts saying, "This is the way, walk ye in it."

It is the mother's sphere to take motherly care of her children. It is
the father's sphere to take fatherly care. Neither can leave his
duties to the other without danger. The family system is a combination
of the solar and the binary systems. All the little bodies whirl
around a common centre, but that centre is no solitary orb. It is two
suns, self-luminous, revolving around each other, and neither able to
throw upon its mate the burden of its shining.

Many fathers seem to think that they have nothing to do with their
children except to caress them and frolic with them an hour or two in
the evening, until they are old enough to be assistants in work. But
just as soon as there is the fatherly relation, there is the fatherly
duty. A baby in a house is a well-spring of pleasure; but it is also a
well-spring of care and anxiety immeasurable, of whose waters there is
no reason why the father should not drink as deeply as the mother. The
glory, the honor, the immortality, will shed a full light upon him,
and he also

      "With heart of thankfulness should bear
    Of the great common burden his full share."

I have seen a great deal of pleasantry played off against the
doctrines of woman's rights in newspapers, pictorial and otherwise;
the wife is represented as being immersed in public employments, while
the meek, sad husband stays at home and minds the baby. I do not know
that any important ends would be answered by an indiscriminate
female-haranguing in the market-place; but I do know that it would be
a great deal better for all concerned if fathers would pay more
attention to the little ones. Womanly gentleness and tenderness, and
long-suffering to-baby-ward reads sweetly in books, rounds graceful
periods from melodious lips, and is the loveliest of all modes of
levying black mail. But when you come down to matters of fact, a
fractious child is just as likely to be quieted by its father's
lullaby as by its mother's, if you pin the father down to lullabies.
Men who are inclined to take care of their children never find any
hinderance in their manhood. Male nurses for children are no less
efficient than female nurses. It is not his sex, but his selfishness,
that makes man's unfitness. He will not endure the tedium of soothing
and tending his child. He knows the mother will, and he lets her do
it. Her fitness is a good excuse for his self-indulgence. But if he is
disposed to take the trouble, he can do it often as well as she; often
better, for the mother's weaker and wearier nerves and greater
sensitiveness act on the little one and increase its irritability,
while the father's strength and calmness are a sort of soporific.
Somebody says that a mother's arm is the strongest thing in the world.
It upbears the child as she walks back and forth through the long
night-hours soothing its restlessness and pain, and never tires.
Vastly well spoken. Suppose, O smooth-tongued Seignior, you take a
turn with the baby yourself, and see whether your arm tires. If it
does, do not for one moment indulge in the pleasing illusion that hers
does not. It is made of flesh and blood and bones just like yours, and
like causes produce like effects. But what _is_ true is, that her
unselfish mother-love is so strong that she keeps on, notwithstanding
the ache. Go and do thou likewise. I do not say that fathers will not.
Many do, and what man has done man may do. Leave female endurance to
poetry, and remember that in actual life the laws of bone and muscle
are as fixed as any other laws of natural philosophy, and that action
is surely followed by fatigue. Walk you the floor with the baby in
your arms, if he must be carried, at least two hours to her one,
because your arms were stronger to begin with, and because hers have
an added weakness from the advent of this little round-limbed Prince.
Do not, above all things, betake yourself to a remote and silent part
of the house and dream your pleasant dreams, while the mother loses
her sleep and her rest by the ailing and fretful baby. But a man's
rest must not be broken. Why not as well as a woman's? He must have a
clear head and a firm hand to transact the next day's business. But
what is she going to do? The cases are so innumerous as to form a very
insignificant proportion wherein the American mother is not also cook,
laundress, seamstress, housekeeper, and chambermaid, with sometimes
one awkward, ignorant, inefficient Irish servant, rarely two, and not
rarely none at all. As a matter of moral economy the care of a baby is
enough to occupy any woman's time, and is all the care she ought to
have. As I have before said, even under the curse, this is the
arrangement that was made for her. Her motherhood frees her from toil;
but man's care is heavier than God's curse, and she too often bears on
her own head both her punishment and his. If he makes such provision
for her that she has absolutely no other than her maternal duties, she
can afford, perhaps, to lose her rest at night, since she can make it
up in the daytime; and unquestionably nature has fitted babies to
mothers more closely than to fathers; but to lay upon her, besides the
care of her children, all manner of other cares, and then leave her
with aching nerves and weakened frame and failing heart to worry it
out as she may, is a culpable cruelty for which no amount of pretty
sentiment is the smallest atonement.[4]

        [4] I like sometimes to take my views out on an airing,
        before making a final disposition of them, just to see how
        they are received. On one such occasion, an excellent man,
        in comfortable circumstances, expressed his very hearty
        dissent from my opinions about woman's work. He thought
        women had a pretty easy time of it, and appealed to his
        wife, just then entering the room, to say what had been her
        own experience. I wish type could convey the clear, ringing
        decisiveness and incisiveness of the tone with which she
        instantaneously responded "HARASSED TO DEATH!"

There are so many ways where there is a will! There are so many
opportunities for usefulness, if a man would only improve them. How
many times does the merchant, the lawyer, the busy business man, stop
at the street-corners, or in his own haunts, to chat with friends? How
many hours there are in the twenty-four when a man might run down from
his study, come in earlier from his shop, take a recess from his
fields, and rest himself and his wife by giving the little one a ride
in the basket-wagon, or the elegant carriage, or amusing it on the
carpet, while tired mamma lies down for a much-needed nap, or turns
off a greater amount of belated mending or cooking than she could do
in four hours with baby. And what benefit would not the man himself
receive, what gradual diminution of his selfishness in thus waiting
upon the helplessness of this little creature. Under what bonds for
the future and for virtue does it not lay him? Let him look down upon
his baby with earnest eyes, and inwardly resolve to be himself a man
pure and honorable as he wishes this boy to be; let him remember to
bear himself toward all women as he would have all men bear themselves
to the tiny woman in his arms.

There are men who assume and act on the assumption that their days
must be kept free from childish interlopers. They are aggrieved, their
personal rights are infringed upon, they have a most heavy and
undeserved yoke to bear if the children are not hustled out of their
way,--as if children were a kind of luxury and plaything of women in
which they may be indulged, if they will be careful to confine them to
their own department, nor ever let them encroach on the peculiar
domains of the lord of the manor. There are women weak enough to give
in to this assumption, and make it a rule that the children are not to
disturb their father. Before he comes into the house the crying baby
must be hushed at any cost, or removed beyond his hearing. The little
ones are not allowed to enter his study, they must not play in the
hall near it, nor in the garden under his window, because the noise
disturbs him. When the mood takes him, he takes them. He goes into the
nursery and has a merry romp with them, and when he is tired of it or
they begin to take too many liberties, he goes out again and thinks
his children are very charming. Or possibly he never goes into the
nursery at all,--a lack of interest which would be very unwomanly in a
woman, but is not the the least unmanly nor absolutely unknown in a
man. It is a great affliction to the mother, if, in consequence of a
temporary neglect of picket-duty, he puts his head into the kitchen or
sewing-room, to say with heroic self-control, "Carrie, the children
are so in and out that it is impossible for me to do anything." An
impatient upward look from his newspaper causes her a shiver of dread.
Small table-skirmishes are put to an untimely end by mamma's hurrying
the unlucky belligerents out of sight and sound of their outraged
sire, and the one Medo-Persic law of the family is at all risks to
rescue the father from every inconvenience and annoyance from the
children. The kind, devoted woman shuts them carefully up within her
own precincts. They may overrun her without stint. They may climb her
chair, pull her work about, upset her basket, scratch the bureau, cut
the sofa, run to her for healing in every little heart-ache; but no
matter. They are kept from disturbing papa. I am amazed at the folly
of women! Kept from disturbing papa? Rather hound them on, if there
must be any intervention! Put the crying baby in his arms the moment
he enters the house, and be sure to run away at once beyond his reach,
or with true masculine ingenuity he will be sure at the end of five
minutes to find some pretext for delivering the young orator back into
your care. So far from carefully withholding the children from the
paternal vicinage, at the first symptoms of exclusiveness, put a paper
of candy and a set of drums at his door to toll the children thither.
But this only in extreme cases. If he is ordinarily reasonable, the
right course is to do neither, but let things take their own way.
Except in case of illness or some unusual and pressing emergency, the
little ones ought not to be kept from either of their lawful owners.
The serenity of one is no more sacred than the serenity of the other.
The father must simply take the natural consequences of his children.
If they drift into his current, he must bear them on. He ought to
experience their obviousness, their inconvenience, their distraction.
It is no worse for a chubby hand to upset the inkstand on his papers,
than for it to upset the molasses-pitcher upon the table-cloth. It is
no worse for his experiments, his study, his reading, to be
interrupted, than it is for his wife's sewing. He can write his
letters, or stand behind the counter, or make shoes, with a baby in
his arms, just as well as she can make bread and set the table with a
baby in her arms. Let him come into actual close contact with his
children and see what they are and what they do, and he will have far
more just ideas of the whole subject than if he stands far off and,
from old theories on the one side and ten minutes of clean apron and
bright faces on the other, pronounces his euphonious generalizations.
His children will elicit as much love and admiration and interest as
now, together with a great deal more knowledge and a great deal less
silly, mannish sentimentalism.



IX.


But whatever may be the opportunities and capabilities of infantine
gymnastics, there is always one way in which fathers may indirectly,
but very powerfully, influence their children, and that is through the
mother. When her little children are around her, she needs above all
earthly things the strength, support, society, and sympathy of her
husband. It is wellnigh impossible to conceive the demand which a
little child makes upon its mother's vitality. In Nature's plan, I
believe, the supply is always equal to the demand. The new, fresh life
gives back through a thousand channels all the life it draws. But if
the mother is left alone, in such a solitude as is never found outside
of marriage, but often and often within it; if she is left to seek in
her baby her chief solace, unhappy is her fate. The little one
exhausts her physical strength, and the inattentive and
abstracted--alas! that one may not seldom say, the unkind and
overbearing husband fails to supply her with moral strength, and her
weary feet go on with ever-diminishing joy. All this is unnecessary.
All this is contrary to the Divine economy. Every child ought to be a
new spring of life, an El Dorado, fountain of immortal youth. Whether
it shall be or not lies, if you look at it from one point, wholly with
the husband, or if you look at it from another, wholly with the wife.
On the one hand, each is all-powerful. On the other, each is
powerless. But the husband has always the advantage of strength,
out-door activities, and continual commerce with the world, and
consequent variety. The wife, surrounded by her children, is in danger
of giving herself up to them entirely. She will incessantly dispense
her life without being careful to furnish herself for such demands by
opening her soul to new accessions. Here is where her husband should
stand by her continually to encourage and stimulate. If she is not
strong enough to go out into the world, let him bring the world home
to her. He should by all means see to it that her heart and soul do
not contract. Every child, every added experience, should have the
effect of expanding her horizon, deepening and enlarging her
sympathies, and enabling her to gather the whole earth into her
motherly love. Her little world ought to be a type of the great world.
The wisdom which she gathers in the one, she ought to turn to the good
of the other,--a good that will surely come back again in other shapes
to her family world. So, every family should be both a missionary
centre and the medium through which, in never-ending flow, all good
and gracious influences shall pour. Every family should rise and fall
with the pulse of humanity, and not be a mere knob of organic matter,
without dependencies or connections. But the father should see to
this. He should gently lure the mother out of her nursery into such
broad fresh air as she needs for healthy growth. What that shall be is
a question of character and culture. A lyceum lecture, a
sewing-society, an evening party, a concert, a county fair, may be
elevation, amusement, improvement to her. Or he may do her most good
by helping her to be interested in reading, either in the current or
in classic literature. Or, best of all, he may charm her with his own
companionship, beguile her with pleasant drives, or walks and talks,
keeping her heart open on the husband side, and so continually alive,
while maintaining also the oneness which marriage in theory creates.
It is this respect in which husbands are perhaps most generally
deficient. They do not talk with their wives. If a neighbor is
married, they tell of it. If a battle is fought, or a village burnt
down, they communicate the fact; but for any interchange of thought or
sentiment or emotion, for any conversation that is invigorating,
inspiring, that causes a thrill or leaves a glow, how often does such
a thing occur between husband and wife? What intellectual meeting is
there,--what shock of electricities? When a definite domestic question
is to be decided, the wife's judgment may be sought, and that is
better than a solitary stumbling on, regardless of her views or
feelings; but this sort of bread-and-butter discussion of ways and
means is not the gentle, animated play of conversation, not that
pleasant sparkle which enlivens the hours, that trustful confidence
which lightens the heart, that wielding of weapons which strengthens
the arm, that sweet, instinctive half unveiling which increases
respect and deepens love and fills the heart with inexpressible
tenderness. Yet there is nobody in the world with whom it is so
important for a man to be intimately acquainted as his own wife, while
such intimate acquaintance is the exception rather than the rule. Ever
one sees them going on each in his own path, each with his own inner
world of opinions and hopes and memories, one in name, miserably two
in all else.

Men often have too much confidence in their measuring-lines. They
fancy they have fathomed a soul's depths when they have but sounded
its shallows. They think they have circumnavigated the globe when they
have only paddled in a cove. They trim their sails for other seas,
leaving the priceless gems of their own undiscovered. To many a man no
voyage of exploration would bring such rich returns as a persevering
and affectionate search into the resources of the heart which he calls
his own. Many and many a man would be amazed at learning that in the
tame household drudge, in the meek, timid, apologetic recipient of his
caprices, in the worn and fretful invalid, in the commonplace, insipid
domestic weakling he scorns an angel unawares. Many a wife is wearied
and neglected into moral shabbiness, who, rightly entreated, would
have walked sister and wife of the gods. Human nature in certain
directions is as infinite as the Divine nature, and when a man turns
away from his wife, under the impression that he has exhausted her
capabilities, and must seek elsewhere the sympathy and companionship
he craves or go without it altogether, let him reflect that the
chances are at least even that he has but exhausted himself, and that
the soil which seems to him fallow might in other hands or with a
wiser culture yield most plenteous harvests.

There is another point which should be kept in solemn consideration.
The deportment of children to their parents is very largely influenced
by the deportment of parents to each other. It is of small service
that a child be taught to repeat the formula, "Honor thy father and
thy mother," if, by his bearing, the father continually dishonors the
mother. The Monday courtesy has more effect than the Sunday
commandment. Every conjugal impoliteness is a lesson in filial
disrespect. If a son sees that his father is regardless of his
mother's taste, does not respect her opinions, or heed her
sensitiveness or care for her happiness; or if, on the other hand, he
sees that she is held in ever-watchful love, he will be very likely to
follow in the same path. There are of course exceptions. A gross and
brutal abuse may work an opposite effect by the law of contrarieties,
but in ordinary cases this is the ordinary course of events. In common
Christian families a boy will appraise his mother at his father's
valuation. If the husband takes the liberty of speaking to her
sharply, the son when irritated will not think it worth while to
repress his inclination to do the same. If the husband is not careful
to pay her outward respect, let it not be supposed that his son will
set him the example. But if the husband cherishes her with delight, if
his behavior always assumes that the best is to be reserved for her,
the best will be her incense from the whole family, and no son will
any more allow himself to indulge any evil propensity in her presence
than he would pluck out his right eye. And in the delicacy, the
refinement, the gentleness and warmth and consecration of her presence
all this courtesy and consideration will come back to them a
hundred-fold in constant dews of blessing.

As with habits so with principles. The mother's influence is strong,
but the stories told of its strength are often hurtful in their
tendency. It is not the strength of the mother's, but of the father's
influence, that needs to be held up to prominence. By Divine
sufferance, mothers can do much to abrogate the evil consequences of
paternal misdoing,--but paternal misdoing is not for that any the less
evil. If the husband laughs at his wife's temperance notions, and
thinks wine-sipping to be elegant and harmless, his boy will sip wine
elegantly and fancy his mother old-fashioned; and with his father's
appetite, but without his father's strength, and with more than his
father's temptations,--in the great city, homeless, bewildered, and
dazzled,--he will rush on to a bitter end. If the husband thinks
religion a thing beautiful and becoming to woman, but unnecessary to
manly character, his son will not long go to church and to Sunday
school when he feels in his veins the thrill of approaching manhood. I
know a community where not a man can be found to superintend the Sabbath
school, and a woman, noble and whole-souled, takes its charge upon
herself. The fathers do not disbelieve in Sunday schools, or they
would not suffer their wives and children to go. They do not believe in
them, or they would go themselves. They are simply indifferent,--and
indifferent in a matter so important, that indifference is guilt. Will
the young men of that community be likely to fear God and keep his
commandments? Will they be likely to acknowledge the claims of a
religion which their fathers despise? If they grow up hardened,
selfish, headstrong, unfortified against assault, will it be the fault
of the mothers who are struggling against wind and tide, or of the
fathers who are lazily lounging at oar and rudder?

People in general are not half married. Half? If one would
mathematically approximate the truth, he must multiply his denominator
far beyond reach of the digits; and, what is still worse the fraction
that is married is, in a vast majority of cases, not only the least,
but the lowest. It is not the intellect, the spirit, the immortality,
that is married, but that alone which is of the earth, earthy.

Xenophon, in his _Memorabilia Socratis_, presents to us Ischomacus, an
Athenian of great riches and reputation, repairing to Socrates for
help in extricating him from domestic entanglements. In laying the
case before the philosopher, Ischomacus informs him that he told his
wife that his main object in marrying her was to have a person in
whose discretion he could confide, who would take proper care of his
servants, and expend his money with economy,--which was certainly very
frank.

But that was twenty-three hundred years ago, and people have grown
less material and more spiritual since then. No man now would hold out
to a woman such inducement to marriage. Certainly not. Men now wait
till the Rubicon is passed, and then lay down their pleasant little
programmes in the newspapers,--general principles for private
consumption. The popular voice, speaking in your everywhere
circulating newspaper, says: "A man gets a wife to look after his
affairs, and to assist him in his journey through life; to educate and
prepare their children for a proper station in life, and not to
dissipate his property. The husband's interest should be the wife's
care, and her greatest ambition to carry her no farther than his
welfare or happiness, together with that of her children. This should
be her sole aim, and the theatre of her exploits in the bosom of her
family, where she may do as much toward making a fortune as he can in
the counting-room or the workshop."

Is this very much more commanding than the attitude of Ischomacus?
Does Anno Domini loom with immeasurable grandeur above Anno Mundi?
Ischomacus wanted his wife to manage his fortune. Young America wants
his to help make one. Is it a very great stride in advance,
considering we have been twenty-three centuries about it? This extract
I take from a religious newspaper, and it is pagan to the heart's
core; yes, and in these matters the Church is as pagan as the World.
Because a man is folded in the Church, one has no more expectation of
finding in him spiritual views concerning marriage than if he belonged
to the World. Unmitigated selfishness, worldliness, greed, and
evil-seeking are the roots and fruits of such a "religious" paragraph.
Church and World are both gone aside and altogether become filthy. The
holy sacrament is profaned alike by churchman and worldling. It is
tossed on the spear-point of levity, it is clutched under the
muck-rake of materialism, it is degraded and defiled till its pristine
purity is wellnigh lost, and only a marred and defaced image rears its
foul features from the mire. That it does not always cause disgust, is
because the goddess is so chiefly hidden that women do not recognize
the lineaments of the demon which has usurped her place. Miasma has
polluted the atmosphere so long that people do not know the feeling of
untainted air. O, it is good to speak your mind, be it only once in a
lifetime! Now I wish I had walked softly all my days, that, with all
the force of a rare indignation, I might just this once crush down
that hateful, that debasing, that vile and leprous thing which flaunts
the name of marriage, but does not even put on the white garments of
its sanctity to hide its own shame. Leer and laugh, coarse jest,
advice, insinuation, interpretation, and conjecture beslime the
surface of our social life and work abomination. Nature and
unconsciousness become impossible, and one is swallowed up in stagnant
depths, or borne above them only with an inward, raging tempest of
irrepressible loathing. A blessing rest upon this pen-point that
stamps black and heavy into receptive paper the wrath which it is not
lawful otherwise to express. Sentiments the most repulsive, the most
insulting to womanhood and to a woman, may be coolly, carelessly,
unconsciously tossed at you by and in society, and you must smile and
parry with equal nonchalance. Thank Heaven for Gutenberg and Dr.
Faustus, that whatsoever has been spoken in darkness may be heard to
its shame in the light, and that which has been spoken in the ear may
be proclaimed upon the house-tops with the detestation it deserves!



X.


Stay for a moment the pressure with which--though, perhaps, all
unknown to themselves--you force women under the yoke of marriage, and
let us look without passion at a few palpable, commonplace facts.
Women must marry because they need a protector. They are weak, and
cannot safely go down life's pathway without a strong arm to lean on.
What kind of protection do wives actually find? I once looked into an
old-fashioned house and I saw a woman, the mother of seven sons,
heating her oven with the boughs of trees, which she could manage only
by resting the branching ends on the backs of chairs while the trunk
ends were burning in the oven, and as they broke into coals the boughs
were pushed in, till the whole was consumed. When her dinner was
preparing, she would also take her pails and go through the hot summer
morning a quarter of a mile to the spring for water. Was this
"protection, freedom, tender-liking, ease." This was not in a brutal
and quarrelsome, but in a united and Christian family; father and
mother members of an Orthodox church in good and regular standing,
owners of broad lands and plenty of money, the sons rather famous for
their filial love and duty. It was not an unnatural thing, and excited
no comment. The seven sons, all their lives, held their mother in
affectionate remembrance, but it never occurred to them to leave the
hay-fields in order to cut wood or fetch water.

This was sixty or seventy years ago, before any of you, my young
readers, were born.

Once a rich man built a barn, and of course he had "a raising." To the
raising came the men and women from all the country-side, as was their
wont. For the men was a supper provided with lavish abundance. Before
they came in, thirty women sat down to supper. Of course, when came
the men's turn to be served, these women gave assistance at the
tables, but all the previous cooking and arrangement had been done by
the women of the family, without outside help. Besides the hot meat
supper, the men were furnished with unlimited drink; cider, rum, and
brandy were carried out to them by the pailful. An experienced
carpenter from an adjoining village declared that he would take the
timber in the woods, hew it and frame it, and raise it for what the
mere festivities of raising cost. To perform one little piece of work,
the men laid upon the shoulders of women a burden ten times heavier
than their own, and incurred an expense which, if put upon their
large, square, bare dwelling-house, would have given it beauties and
conveniences, whose absence was a continual and severe drawback to the
women's comfort. They turned the woman's work into hard labor, that
they might turn their own into a frolic. Were those women protected?
That was only one instance, but that was the common machinery used in
raising barns. That, too, was long ago.

Once there existed a village containing four schools, which were in
session three months in the summer and three months in the winter. At
the beginning and end of the terms, the "committee," of whom there
were two in each "district," used to visit the schools attended by the
greater part of the adult male population of the district. At the
conclusion of this visit, one of the district committee at the
beginning of the term, and one at the end, was always expected to
invite the other seven committee-men and all the visiting neighbors to
his house to dinner. The hard-working farmer's wife, or the butcher's,
or the shoemaker's wife, with her four, five, seven, little children
around her, and no servant, prepared her three roast turkeys, her
three plum-puddings, and all the attendant dishes; and the ten,
twenty, thirty stalwart farmers, butchers, shoemakers, booted and
burly, filed into her best room, swallowed her roast turkeys and her
plum-puddings, with no assistance from her except the most valued
service of flitting around the table to keep their plates supplied,
and then filed away to visit another school and swarm into another
best room, leaving her to the bones, and the dishes, and the six
little children. And this is man's protection. But this was the old
times, you say. Yes, and you look back upon it with a sigh, and call
it the "_good_ old times."

Well, the times have changed. They are no longer old, but new. Have we
changed with them? In a town I wot of, the doctors have a periodical
meeting. They assemble in the evening by themselves in a parlor,
discussing no one knows what, among themselves, till ten or eleven
o'clock, when they emerge into the dining-room and have a grand set-to
upon lobster salads, stewed oysters, ices, and all manner of frothy
fanfaronade. A minister is going to be ordained in a country village,
and the village families round about heap up their tables and bid in
all comers to feasts of fat things. A conference of churches is held
in the meeting-house, and the same newspaper paragraph that notes the
logical sermon and the gratifying reports of revivals, notes also the
good things which the hospitable citizens provided, and the urgency
with which strangers were pressed to partake. One would suppose that
the reasoning of the fastidious old Jews was suspected to have
descended to our own day and race, and that the sons of men must
always come eating and drinking, or people will say they have a devil.

Every advance in science or skill seems to be attended by a
corresponding advance in the claims of the cooking-range. The palate
keeps pace with the brain. The one presents a claim for every victory
of the other. The left hand reaches out to clutch what the right hand
is stretched out to offer to humanity.

Now you all think this is very strange,--a most remarkable way of
looking at things, a most inhospitable and cold-blooded view to take
of society. What! begrudge a little pains to give one's friends a
pleasant reception! and that only once a year, or a month! It is such
a thing as was never heard of. You have always looked upon the affair
as one of pleasure. The houses which, you have entered opened wide to
you their doors. You met on all sides smiles, welcome, and good cheer.
You never for a moment dreamed or heard of such a thing as that you
were considered a trouble, a visitation. Perhaps you were not. Very
likely you were held in honor; but these customs are burdensome for
all that. You must remember that by far the greater part of American
housewives are already overborne by their ordinary domestic cares.
This makes the whole thing wear a very different aspect from what it
otherwise would. If a cup is half full, you can pour in a great deal
more, and only increase the cup's worth, for to such end was it
created; but if it is already brimmed, you cannot add even a
teaspoonful without mischief, and if you suddenly dash in another
cupful, you will make a sad mess of it. Now when these various
convocations occur, the note of preparation is sounded long
beforehand, and the wail of weariness echoes long afterwards. This is
simply a statement of fact. I am not responsible for the fact. I did
not create it, and I wish it were otherwise; but so long as it is a
fact, it is much better that it should be known. The woman who
welcomed you so warmly, entreated you so tenderly, entertained you so
agreeably, had no sooner shut the door behind you, when you had
started for the church, than the sunshine which radiated from your
presence went suddenly behind a cloud of odorous steam that rose up
from stew-pan and gridiron. While you were listening to the eloquent
address, she was flying about to have the dishes washed and the next
meal ready. When, after your hour's pleasant talk in the evening over
the day's doings, you were sleeping soundly in her airy chambers, she,
as noiselessly as possible, till eleven and twelve o'clock at night,
was sweeping her carpets and dusting her furniture in the only time
which she could rescue from the duties of hospitality for that
purpose. I maintain that, however agreeable are these social
conventions, they are bought too dearly at such a price. A great many
women who suffer from such causes never think of complaining. They are
hospitable from the bottom of their hearts; but however sincere their
welcome, pies do not bake themselves. Never a cow went in at one end
of an oven to come out at the other a nicely-browned sirloin of beef.
Never a barrel of flour and a bowl of yeast rushed spontaneously
together and evoked a batch of bread, nor did the hen-fever at its
hottest height ever produce bantam or Shanghai that could lay eggs
which would leap lightly ceiling-ward to come down an omelet. All these
things require time and pains, and generally the time and pains of
people who, by reason of the stern necessities of their position, have
none of either to spare. It is not just to say that these emergencies
come only once in a great while, and are therefore too insignificant
to be reckoned. The same injudiciousness which crops out in a
conference of churches this week will reappear in a town-meeting next
week, and in a mass-meeting the week after, and a teachers'-meeting
the week after that. The same marital ignorance and inconsiderateness
that brings on one thing will bring on another thing, and, except in
the few cases where money and other ample resources enable one to
secure adequate service, the wrong side, the prose side, the hard side
of these pleasant "occasions" comes on the wife; who, whether she meet
it gladly, or only acquiescently, or reluctantly, is surely worn away
by the attrition. However welcome society may be to her, she cannot
encounter these odds with impunity, and in a majority of cases the
odds are so heavy that she has neither time nor spirits to enjoy the
society. All this wear and tear is unnecessary. The doctors would be
better off to go home without their hot suppers. There is seldom, in
cities, any necessity for feeding masses of people, because
professional feeding-houses are always at hand, and people seldom
congregate in the country except in summer, when each man might, with
the smallest trouble, carry his own sandwich, and eat it on the grass,
surrounded by his kinsfolk and acquaintance, with just as much
hilarity as if he were sitting in a hard-cushioned high chair in a
country-house parlor. Enjoyment would not be curtailed on the one
side, and would be greatly promoted on the other.

The Essex Institute has its Field-meetings,--its pleasant bi-weekly
summer visits into the country, and is everywhere welcome. During the
morning it roams over the fields, laying its inquisitive hands on
every green and blossoming and creeping thing. The insects in the air,
the fishes in the brook, the spiders in their webs, the butterfly on
its stalk, feel instinctively that their hour is come, and converge
spontaneously into their little tin sarcophagi. At noonday hosts of
heavy baskets unlade their toothsome freight, and a merry feast is
seasoned with Attic salt. In the afternoon, the farm-wagons come
driving up, and the farm-horses lash their contented sides under the
friendly trees, while city and country join in the grave or sparkling
or instructive talk which fixes the wisdom caught in the morning
rambles. At night, young men and maidens, old men and children, go
their several ways homeward, just as happy as if they had left behind
them a dozen family-mothers wearied into fretfulness and illness by
much serving. They depend upon no one for entertainment and owe no
tiresome formalities. Go, all manner of convocations, and do likewise.

Note, if you please, that it is not feasting which is objectionable.
Truly or falsely, eating has always been held to be the promoter and
attendant of conviviality, the mouth opening the way at the same time
to the palate and the brain. If men can provide feasts without laying
burdens upon their wives, let them do it and welcome; but if the
material part of the feast cannot be accomplished without so serious
an increase of a wife's labor as to destroy or diminish her capacity
for enjoying the mental part, it ought not to be attempted.

You may say that women are as much to blame in this thing as men; that
the great profusion, variety, and elaborateness of their meals are as
much of their own motion as of men's; that they are indeed proud of
and delight in showing their culinary resources; that they gather
sewing-circles of their own sex without any hint, help, or wish from
the other, and make just as great table-displays on such occasions as
on any others that I have mentioned,--all of which may be very true.
So the Doctor Southsides for many years maintained that slavery must
be a good thing, because the slaves were content in it. So the
Austrian despots point to peasants dancing on the greensward as the
justification of their paternal government, their absolute tyranny; as
if degradation is any less disastrous when its victims are sunk so low
as to be unconscious of their situation,--as if, indeed, that were not
the lowest pit of all. How came women, made as truly as man in the
image and likeness of God, to be reduced to the level of sacrificing
time, ease, intellectual and social good, to the low pride of sensual
display? Is it not the fault of those whose walk and conversation have
made the care of eating and drinking the one thing needful in a
woman's education, the chief end of her life; who have not hesitated
to degrade the high prerogatives of an immortal soul to the
gratification of their own fleshly lusts; who have manoeuvred so
adroitly that the tickling of their own palates has become a more
important and a more influential thing than the building up of the
temple of the Holy Ghost? Profusion and variety and elaborateness are
of the wife's own motion; but the more profuse, varied, and elaborate
her display, the more you praise her. The more ingenuity her feast
displays, the more ingeniously you combine words and exhaust your
rhetoric to express approbation and delight. Your continued and
conjoint praise is a far stronger incentive than the clubs and thongs
with which husbands have been sometimes wont to urge their wives to
action, and which you recognize as force. You do not compel her, but,
directly and indirectly, with an almost irresistible potency, for
years and years you have enjoined it upon her, till your moral
pressure has become as powerful as any display of physical strength
could be. And having, in French fashion, set up a cook on the shrine
of your worship, is it an extenuation of your offence, that women now
vie with each other in striving to merit and attain such an
apotheosis? Having caused your female children to pass through the
kitchen-fire to the Moloch of your adoration, are you so illogical as
to suppose that they will come out without any smell of fire upon
their garments?

You are not to blame for the thistle-field. You did not make the
thistles grow. No; but you planted the seed, you watered the soil, you
supplied all the conditions of growth; and when the Lord of the
vineyard cometh seeking fruit, and findeth only thistles, what shall
he do but miserably destroy those wicked men and give the vineyard
unto others?

These are only the difficult hills over which you urge women to climb
when you urge them on to marriage. Of the levels between, of the
plains over which lies the every-day path of the great majority of
married women, I have spoken with sufficient distinctness in another
connection. Whether they are the wives of inefficient or of
enterprising men makes small difference. The overwhelming probability
is, that your blooming bride will encounter a fate similar to that of
the prince in the fairy-tale, who, enchanted by an ugly old witch, was
compelled to spend his life sitting inside a great iron stove; only,
instead of sitting comfortably inside, she will be kept in perpetual
motion outside. Poverty or wealth, ignorance or education, in the
husband, may affect the quality, but scarcely the quantity, of the
wife's work. Hard, grinding, depressing toil is not the peculiar lot
of the poor housewife. It is the "protection," the "cherishing," which
men "well to do in the world" award their wives,--the thriving
farmers, the butchers, the blacksmiths, who "get a good living," and
perhaps have "money at interest." What advantageth it a woman to be
the wife of a "rising man"? He rises by reading, by reasoning, by
attention to his business, by intercourse with intelligent people, by
journeys, by constant growth, and constant contact with stimulating
circumstances; but she is tied down by the endless details of
housekeeping and the nursery. Growth, intelligence, and rising in the
world are not for her. His increasing business and fair political
prospects only bring more cares to her, and bring them long before any
permanent increase of income justifies, or can command, anything
approximating to adequate assistance in the home department. And his
increase of business, his widening circle of acquaintance, are sure to
take him more away from home, to absorb more of his time and his
thoughts, and so not only create heavier burdens, but call to other
tasks the strength that ought to bear them. The selfsame circumstances
which raise the man depress the woman. If he does not make especial
effort to upbear her with himself, the result will presently be, that,
while he rides on the crest of the wave, she is engulfed in the trough
of the sea. There is small reason to suppose he will make the effort.
It is the men in "comfortable circumstances," shrewd, with an eye to
the main chance, who often sin most deeply in this respect. Their main
chance does not include husbandly love, wifely repose. It is a part of
their "business talent" to turn their wives to account just as they
turn everything else. She is a partner in the concern. She is a part
of the stock in trade. She is one of the stepping-stones to eminence
or competence. All that she can earn or save, all the labor or
supervision that can be wrested from her, is so, much added to the
working capital; and so long as she does not lose her health, so long
as she remains in good working order, they never suspect that anything
is wrong. If she were not doing the house-work or taking care of the
children, she would not be doing anything that would bring in money,
or nearly so much money, as her economy and foresight save. Even if
she does lose her health, her husband scarcely so much as thinks of
laying the sin at his own door. It was not hard work or low spirits,
it was rheumatism or slow fever, that brought her down. If her life
lapses away, and she descends into the grave before she has lived out
half her days, her sorrowing husband lays it to the account of a
mysterious Providence, and--"the world is all before him where to
choose."

Have I drawn a cold, harsh picture? The coldness and harshness are not
alone in the drawing. It spreads before you every day and all around
you: a picture whose figures throb with hidden life,--a very _tableau
vivant_. What else can be expected from our social principles? What
kind of husbands do you look for in men who have set their affections
on fortune or fame? What kind of husbands can a society turn out that
publicly and shamelessly avows the preservation and increase of
property to be the object of marriage? A people's practice is
sometimes, but very rarely, better than its principles. If wealth or
position be the chief goal of a man's ambition, he only acts
consistently in harnessing his wife along with all his other powers
and possessions to his chariot. Looking at it dispassionately, freed
from the glamour which popular opinion throws upon our eyes, it would
seem to be better for a woman to marry the Grand Turk, since a
friendly bowstring might put a period to her trouble, or she might
hope to be tied up in a sack and safely and quietly deposited in the
Bosphorus; while in America there is no such possibility. You must
live on to the end, come it never so tardily.

And how far extends even so much protection as this,--the protection
which consists in appropriating a woman's time and strength, and
deteriorating both her mind and body by incessant, chiefly menial, and
not unfrequently repulsive toil, and giving her in return--food,
clothing, and shelter, which, if female labor were justly paid, she
could earn by one fourth of the effort, and which is often bestowed
with more or less reluctance and unpleasant conditioning, as a favor
rather than a right? Look around upon all the people whose
circumstances you know, and see if the number of families is small
whose support depends partly upon the mother? Do you know any families
which depend chiefly or entirely upon the mother? Do you know any,
where the husbands are invalids, and have laid by nothing for a rainy
day? any, where the husbands are lazy and inefficient, and perhaps
intemperate, and neglect to provide for their families? any, where
they have been unfortunate and lost all, and only the mother's courage
and energy supply deficiency? any, where the husband has died
insolvent, and the survivor struggles single-handed against the tide?
any, where the husband's death was the lifting of an incubus, which
removed, the family seemed at once to be prosperous and happy? Do you
ever see a woman, with a family of children and a husband, taking the
entire care of her household, and, besides this, earning a little
money at knitting or sewing or washing? Judging from my own
observation, setting aside inability from disease, where you find one
woman who is a dead-weight upon her energetic husband, you will find
seven men who are a dead-weight upon their energetic wives.

But all this is "protection." All this is the superior sex cherishing
the inferior; the chivalrous sex defending the helpless; the strong
caring for the delicate; the able providing for the dependent. To all
this you urge women when you goad them on to marriage. And you do well
to apply your goad. You are wise in your generation, when you create
such an overwhelming outside pressure; without it, women would not go
down quick into the pit. Left to their own unprejudiced reason, to
their own clear eyes and rapid and just conclusions, they would not
choose, the greatest of all evils,--a living death. In vain is the net
spread in the sight of any bird. If you cannot help this state of
things, where is your logic? If you can help it, where is your
conscience?



XI.


You will say that I have left the main element out of the calculation;
that I have looked at marriage only in respect of its material
combinations, in which light it appears but as a body without the
soul; whereas, in its real wholeness it is penetrated by love which
transforms all common scenes, persons, and duties "into something rich
and strange." But will truth permit one to view it otherwise? Is
marriage, as we see it practically carried out, penetrated with this
vivifying and spiritualizing element? Love, indeed, calls nothing
common or unclean; but, as a matter of homely fact, is there love
enough in ordinary housekeeping to keep it sweet? The first year or
two runs well, but how much living love survives the first olympiad?
How much outlasts a decade? In marriages openly mercenary, we do not
count on finding affection; where they are entered into honestly, are
they followed by different results? If a woman marries for money, or
station, or respectability, she may compass her ends, but if she
marries for love, are not the odds against her? Motive affects her
character, but scarcely her fate. Her love will be wasted on a
thankless heart; she may consider herself fortunate if it be not
trampled under a brutal, or perhaps only a heedless foot. Love in
marriage! Marriage is the grave of love. Look at best for association,
habit, support, tranquillity, freedom from outside compassion, in
marriage, but do not look for love.

On such a topic as this the truth must be felt rather than proved, yet
authority is not wanting. So eminent and trustworthy a man as Paley,
in his Moral and Political Philosophy, having spoken of the necessity
that a man and wife should make mutual concession, adds: "A man and
woman in love with each other do this insensibly; but love is neither
general nor durable; and where that is wanting, no lessons of duty, no
delicacy of sentiment, will go half so far with the generality of
mankind as this one intelligible reflection, that they must each make
the best of their bargain."

This work was published in 1785. We have all studied it at school,
under the guidance of men and women, married and single. Its positions
have been variously, frequently, and sometimes successfully assailed.
But I have never heard a whisper breathed or seen a line written
impugning his statement, that love is neither general nor durable.
This statement is not made under the influence of passion, or to
compass any purpose, but is simply the basis of an argument,--a
general truth, as if he should say that man is endowed with a
conscience.

In that most fascinating of biographies, the "Memoirs of Frederic
Perthes," written by his son, and published in Edinburgh, we have a
very charming picture of home life. Perthes, a man known throughout
Germany, the intimate friend of her most distinguished scholars and
statesmen, is the husband of Caroline, a woman whose character,
indirectly but minutely and impressively portrayed in her husband's
memoirs, seems to be without flaw. Fresh, simple, truthful, sensible,
sympathetic, affectionate, educated, and accomplished, the qualities
of her head and heart alike command something deeper than respect. As
daughter, wife, mother, and woman she is equally admirable. Her
letters to her husband and her children are as full of wisdom as of
love. Everywhere she shines white and clear and pure as the moon, yet
warm, beneficent, and bountiful as the sun. It is only as the wife of
Perthes that we know her; but, magnificent as Perthes unquestionably
was, he pales before the most beautiful, most gracious, most womanly
woman whom he won to his heart and home. No suspicion of her own
exceeding excellence ever seems to have dawned upon her own mind. Her
Perthes was the object of her deep respect and her lasting love. This
fact of itself shows that he must have been a man of extraordinary
conjugal merit. His relations to her must have been of a very rare
delicacy. He must have bestowed an attention and been capable of an
appreciation far beyond the ordinary measure, or such a woman as his
wife could not have written after several years of marriage, "The old
song is every morning new, that, if possible, I love Perthes still
better than the day before." If one may not find satisfaction in the
contemplation of a marriage passed under circumstances so favoring,
where shall he look for satisfaction? Nevertheless, listen to a story
lightly told by her son, the biographer, the learned law-professor of
the world-renowned Bonn,--told as the old prophets are supposed to
have frequently uttered their prophecies, with but the most vague and
imperfect comprehension of what it was that they were saying.

"With her lively fancy, and a heart ever seeking sympathy, she felt it
to be hard that Perthes, laden with cares, business, and interests of
all kinds, could devote so little time to her and the children. 'My
hope becomes every day less that Perthes will be able to make any such
arrangement of his time as will leave a few quiet hours for me and the
children. There is nothing that I can do but to love him, and to bear
him ever in my heart, till it shall please God to bring us together to
some region where we shall no longer need house or housekeeping, and
where there are neither bills to be paid nor books to be kept. Perthes
feels it a heavy trial, but he keeps up his spirits, and for this I
thank God.' To these and kindred feelings which she had long cherished
in her heart Caroline now gave expression in letters which she wrote
to Perthes during his absence. After eighteen years of trial and
vicissitude, her affection for her husband had retained all its
youthful freshness; life and love had not become merely habitual, they
remained fresh and spontaneous as in the bride. She always gave free
utterance to her feelings, in a manner at once unrestrained and
characteristic, and felt deeply when Perthes, as a husband, addressed
her otherwise than he had done as a bridegroom. During Perthes's
detention for some weeks in Leipsic, this state of feeling found
expression on both sides, half in jest and half in earnest. 'You
indeed renounced all sensibility for this year, because of your many
occupations,' wrote Caroline a few days after her husband's departure;
'but I, for my part, when I write to you, cannot do so without deep
feeling; for the thought of you excites all the sensibility of which
my heart is capable. Not a line have I yet received. Tell me, is it
not rather hard that you did not write me from Brunswick? At least I
thought so, and felt very much that your companion G. should have
written to his newly-married wife, and you not to me. It is the first
time you have ever gone on a journey without writing to me from your
first resting-place. I have been reading over your earlier letter to
find satisfaction to myself, in some measure at least, but it has been
a mixed pleasure. Last year, at Blankenese, you promised me many happy
hours of mutual companionship. I have not yet had them; and yet you
owe many such to me,--yes, you do indeed.' Perthes answered: 'You
write, telling me that I have renounced all sensibility for this year.
This is not true, my dearest heart; it is quite otherwise. I think
that, after so many years of mutual interchange of feeling and of
thought, and when people understand each other thoroughly, there is an
end of all those little tendernesses of expression, which represent a
relationship that is still piquant because new. Be content with me,
dear child, we understand each other. I did not write to you from
Brunswick, because we passed through quickly. Moreover, it is not fair
to compare me with my companion, the bridegroom; youth has its
features, and so also has middle age. It would be absurd, indeed, were
I now to be looking by moonlight under the trees and among the clouds
for young maidens, as I did twenty years ago, or were to imagine young
ladies to be angels. Nor would it become _you_ any better if you were
to be dancing a gallopade, or clambering up trees in fits of love
enthusiasm. We should not find fault with our having grown older; only
be satisfied, give God the praise, and exercise patience and
forbearance with me.'"

Can anything be more natural than Caroline's gentle remonstrance? Can
anything be more hopeless than Perthes's shuffling reply? Lonely wife,
languishing for a draught of the olden tenderness, and with nothing to
medicine her weariness but the information that it had all come to an
end; reaching out for a little of the love that was her life, and met
by the assertion that climbing trees was not becoming to a woman of
her age! It is good to know that she replied with spirit, though still
with no diminution of her immeasurable love. "Your last letter is
indeed a strange one. I must again say, that my affection knows
neither youth nor age, and is eternal. I can detect no change, except
that I now _know_ what formerly I only hoped and believed. I never
took you for an angel, nor do I now take you for the reverse; neither
did I ever beguile you by assuming an angel's form or angelic manners.
I never danced the gallopade, or climbed trees, and am now exactly
what I was then, only rather older; and you must take me as I am, my
Perthes;--in one word, love me, and tell me so sometimes, and that is
all I want."

Men, you to whose keeping a woman's heart is intrusted, can you hear
that simple prayer,--"Love me, and tell me so sometimes, and that is
all I want"?

Perthes, shamed out of his worldliness into at least an attempt at
sympathy, replies: "Your answer was just what it ought to have been;
only don't forget that my inward love for you is as eternal as yours
is for me; but I have so many things to think of."

Undoubtedly, after all his evasion, the truth came out at last,--"I
have so many things to think of." It was the best excuse he could
offer, and it is a great pity he had not brought it forward in the
beginning. He had suffered the cares of this world and the
deceitfulness of business to choke his love; but it would have been
far more honorable to himself and far more comfortable to his wife to
confess it frankly, than to affirm his indifference and neglect to be
the natural course of events. A love overgrown with weeds may be
revived, but for a love lost by natural decay there is no
resurrection. "I did not write to you from Brunswick, because we
passed through quickly." Did he pass through any more quickly than his
companion G., who found time to write to his newly-married wife? "We
understand each other thoroughly, and therefore there is an end of all
those little tendernesses of expression"; but there was no end of them
on Caroline's part. Her understanding was not less thorough than his,
yet her love craved expression. "My inward love for you is as eternal
as yours for me"; yet just before he had been pleading his increasing
years as an excuse for his diminishing tenderness, while Caroline's
stanch heart declared, "My affection knows neither youth nor age, and
is eternal. I can detect no change, except that I now _know_ what
formerly I only hoped and believed." Shortly afterwards, while
spending a summer at Wandsbeck for her health, almost daily letters
were exchanged between herself and her husband. "While those of
Perthes were devoted to warnings and entreaties to take care of her
health, (a cheap substitute for affection which Perthes was not alone
in employing,) the few lines in which Caroline was wont to reply were
full of expressions of love, and of sorrow on account of their
necessary separation. 'I am seated in the garden,' she writes, 'and
all my merry little birds are around me. I let the sun shine upon me,
to make me well if he can. God grant it! if it only be so far as to
enable me to discharge my duties to my family.'--'I hope, my dear
Perthes, that you will again have pleasure in me; the waters seem
really to do me good. Come to-morrow, only not too late. My very soul
longs for you.'--'You shall be thanked for the delightful hours that I
enjoyed with you yesterday,' she writes, after a short visit to
Hamburg, 'and for the sight of your dear, kind face, as I got out of
the carriage.'--'I only live where you are with me. Send Matthias to
me, if it does not interfere with his lessons: if I cannot have the
father, I must put up with the son.'--'The children enjoy their
freedom, and are my joy and delight.... But you, dear old father! you,
too, are my joy and delight. Let me have a little letter; I cannot
help longing for one, and will read it, when I get it, ten times
over.'--'It is eighteen years to-day since I wrote you the last letter
before our marriage, and sent you my first request about the little
black cross. I have asked for many things in the eighteen years that
have passed since then, dear Perthes, and what shall I ask to-day? You
can tell, for you know me well, and know that I have never said an
untrue word to you. Only you cannot quite know my indescribable
affection, for it is infinite. Perthes, my heart is full of joy and
sadness,--would that you were here! This day eighteen years ago I did
not long for you more fervently or more ardently than now. I thank God
continually for everything. I am and remain yours in time, and, though
I know not how, for eternity, too! Be in a very good humor, when you
come to-morrow. Affection is certainly the greatest wonder in heaven
or on earth, and the only thing that I can represent to myself as
insatiable throughout eternity.'"

Do these extracts indicate that many years of mutual interchange of
feeling and thought had put an end to little tendernesses of
expression? Does his love seem as eternal as hers? It is true that he
falls back upon "inward" love; but we only know saints in their
bodies. Inward love that denies outward manifestation may satisfy men,
but it will never pass current with women. Little children, who have
been idle during their study-hour, will often excuse their failures by
declaring that they "know, but cannot think." No teacher, however, is
imposed on. A scholar that does not know his lesson well enough to
recite it, does not know it at all. A love that does not, in one way
or another, express itself sufficiently to satisfy the object of its
love, is not love. To satisfy the _object_ of its love, I say, for
love can never satisfy itself. It was not love that Perthes's letter
contained, but an apology for its absence.

What men love is the comforts of the married state, not the person who
provides them,--wifely duties rather than the wife. A man enjoys his
home. He likes the cheery fireside, the dressing-gown and slippers,
the bright tea-urn and the brighter eyes behind it. He likes to see
boys and girls growing up around him, bearing his name and inheriting
his qualities. He likes to have his clothes laid ready to his hand,
stockings in their integrity, buttons firm in their places, meals
pleasant, prompt, yet frugal. He likes a servant such as money cannot
hire;--attentive, affectionate, spontaneous, devoted, and trustworthy.
He likes very much the greatest comfort for the smallest outlay, and
certainly he likes to be loved. His love runs in the current of his
likings, and is speedily indistinguishable from them; but does he love
the woman who is his wife? Would he say to her, as poor Tom sadly
pleaded in "A Half-Life and Half a Life,"--"But I love you true and if
you can only fancy me, I'll work so hard that you'll be able to keep a
hired girl and have all your time for reading and going about the
woods, as you like to do"? Would he say, as Von Fink said to
Lenore,--"You will have no need to make my shirts, and if you don't
like account-keeping, why let it alone"? Listen, for it is good to
know that a man has lived and written who did not look for his
domestic happiness entirely in a bread-pan and a work-basket. "Just as
you are, Lenore,--resolute, bold, a little passionate devil,--just so
will I have you remain. We have been companions in arms, and so we
shall continue to be.... Were you not my heart's desire, were you a
man, I should like to have you for my life's companion; so, Lenore,
you will be to me not only a beloved wife, but a courageous friend,
the confidante of all my plans, my best and truest comrade."

Lenore shook her head; "I ought to be your housewife," sighed she (the
new love not yet having quite purged out the old leaven).

Fink--(but no matter what Fink did. We are concerned now only with
what he said.) "Be content, sweetheart," said he, tenderly, "and make
up your mind to it. We have been together in a fire strong enough to
bring love to maturity, and we know each other thoroughly. Between
ourselves, we shall have many a storm in our house. I am no easy-going
companion, at least for a woman, and you will very soon find that will
of yours again, the loss of which you are now lamenting. Be at rest,
darling, you shall be as headstrong as of yore; you need not distress
yourself on that account; so you may prepare for a few storms, but for
hearty love and merry life as well." Would your latter-day lover sign
such articles of agreement on his marriage-day?

Of course he would not. The shirts and the account-keeping are what he
marries for, and it would be a manifest absurdity to annul the
conclusion of the whole matter. It is not a question what women _like_
to do; they must bake and brew and make and mend, whether they like it
or not. Men do not marry for the purpose of making women happy, but to
make themselves happy. A girl looks forward in her marriage to what
she will do for her husband's happiness. A man, to what he will enjoy
through his wife's ministrations. "He needs a wife," say the good
women who were born and bred in these opinions and do not suspect
their grossness.

"It is a grand good match; I don't know anybody that needs a wife more
than he," said one of these at a little gathering, speaking of a
recent marriage.

"Why?" innocently questioned another woman, who was supposed to have
somewhat peculiar views concerning these things.

"O, you never want anybody to marry!" burst out a chorus of
voices,--which was surely a very broad inference from one narrow
monosyllable.

"But why does he need a wife?" persisted the questioner.

"For sympathy and companionship," triumphantly replied the first
woman, knowing that to such motives her interlocutor could take no
exception. But a third woman, not knowing that anything lay behind
these questions and answers, and feeling that the original position
was but feebly maintained by such unsubstantial things as sympathy and
companionship, being also a near neighbor of the person in question,
and acquainted with the facts, proceeded to strengthen the case by
adding, "Well, he was all alone, and he wa'n't very well, and he was
taken sick one night and couldn't get anybody to take care of him."

"But why not hire a nurse?"

"Well he did, and she was very good; but she wouldn't do his washing."

Only wait long enough, and you are tolerably sure to get the truth at
last. It was not sympathy and companionship, after all, that the man
wanted: it was his washing!

You see a most unconscious, but irrefragable testimony concerning the
relations which are deemed proper between a man and his wife in the
very common use of the phrase, "kind husband." It is often employed in
praise of the living and in eulogy of the dead. Compared with a cruel
husband, I suppose a kind husband is the more tolerable; but compared
with a true husband, there is no such thing as a kind husband. You are
kind to animals, to beggars, to the beetle that you step out of your
path to avoid treading on. One may be kind to people who have no
claims upon him, but he is not kind to his wife. He does not stand
towards her in any relation that makes kindness possible. He can no
more be kind to his wife than he can be to himself. His wife is not
his inferior, to be condescended to, but his treasure to be cherished,
his friend to be loved, his adviser to be deferred to. It is an insult
to a woman for her husband to assume, or for his biographer to assume
for him, that he _could_ be kind to her. Did you ever hear a woman
praised for being kind to her husband? Did you ever hear an obituary
declare a woman to be a dutiful daughter, a kind wife, a faithful
mother? You may be sure the phrase is never used by any one who has a
just idea of what marriage ought to be.

If love cannot outlast a few years of life, it is idle to lament that
it is so surely quenched by death. Absence cannot be blamed for
dissipating a love that has been already conquered by presence.
Nevertheless, in the alacrity with which one is off with the old love
and on with the new may be read the shallowness, the flimsiness, the
earthliness, of that which passes for the deepest, the most lasting,
and the most divine. Weary feet, aching brow, and disappointed heart
are at rest; or a vigorous young life is smitten before its heyday was
clouded; or the ripened sheaf is garnered at the harvest-time; but no
proprieties, no shock of premature loss, nor the "late remorse of
love," avails to make the impression indelible. The dead past may bury
its dead out of sight; the resurrection may adjust its own
perplexities; but in this world there must be good cheer. The funeral
baked meats shall coldly furnish forth the marriage-table. _La Reine
est morte: Vive la Reine!_ And when the loving wife is gone away from
the heart that entertained its angel unawares, people will tell you
with a sober face how "beautifully he bears it!" "perfectly resigned!"
"Christian calmness!" "kiss the rod!" It were to be wished he did not
bear it quite so beautifully. When a wife is prematurely torn from her
home, the only proper attitude for her husband is to sit in sackcloth
and ashes. It is fit that he should be stricken to the dust. It is not
becoming for him to indulge in pious reflections. Ill-timed
resignation is a breach of morals. He is not to be supposed capable of
a lasting fidelity, but he may be expected to be temporarily stunned
by the blow. It would be more decorous for him to follow the example
of the powerful and wealthy king in the fairy-tale, who, having lost
his wife, was so inconsolable that he shut himself up for eight entire
days in a little room, where he spent his time chiefly in knocking his
head against the wall!

It is pitiful to see a strong man tottering into a wrong path from
sheer lack of strength to walk in the right one, which yet he does not
lack clear vision to see. But the spectacle may be profitable for
doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in
righteousness. Perhaps no more faithful and graphic presentation of
the diplomacy that is employed in compassing a second marriage can be
given than is found in the proceedings of Perthes. When, after
twenty-four years of married life, his wife, the mother of his ten
children, left him, he repaired to Gotha and lived three years in the
family of a married daughter. In an early stage of his bereavement he
writes of his loneliness, and mentions, but almost with repugnance,
certainly with no apparent intention of entering it, or any intimation
of a possibility of receiving joy from it, "a new wedlock."
Nevertheless, the thought is there. His daughter's sister-in-law, a
widow of thirty years, and mother of four children, lives next door.
Presently comes down his mother-in-law to pay a visit. "She was much
concerned about Perthes's situation, and one day, while they were
walking in the orangery, expressed herself openly to him. She told him
that he was no more a master of his own house, that soon his younger
children would be leaving him, and that his strong health gave promise
of a long life yet to come; that for him solitude was not good, that
he could not bear it, and consequently that he ought not to put off
choosing a companion for the remainder of his life." All of which of
course came to him with the freshness of entire novelty. But
immediately we find that at these words "the thought of Charlotte shot
like lightning through his soul." So it seems that he had already
outstripped his mother-in-law. She dealt, only in generals, but he had
advanced to particulars. However, "he made no reply, but he had a hard
battle to fight with himself from that time forth. In September he
communicated to his mother-in-law the _pros_ and _cons_ which agitated
him so much, but without giving her to understand that it was no
longer the subject of marriage in general, but of one marriage in
particular, which now disquieted him. After stating the outward and
inward circumstances, which made a second marriage advisable in his
case, he goes on to say: 'I am quite certain that Caroline foresaw,
from her knowledge of my character and temperament, a second marriage
for me, and I am equally certain that no new union could ever disturb
my spirit's abiding union with her. [It is to be hoped that Charlotte
was duly made acquainted with this fact.] My inner life is filled with
her memory, and will be so till my latest day; but I must own that
this is possible only while I incorporate in thought her happy soul,
and think of her as a human being, still sharing my earthly existence,
still taking interest in all I do; and I cannot disguise from myself,
while viewing her under this aspect, that my dear Caroline would
prefer my living on alone, satisfied with her memory. Again, there can
be no doubt that Holy Scripture, although permitting a second
marriage, does so on account of the hardness of our hearts. The civil
law contains no prohibition either, and yet there has always existed a
social prejudice against such a marriage, and youth, whose ideal is
always fresh and fair, and women who are always young in soul, look
with secret disgust upon it. I know, too, that my remaining alone
would be, not only with reference to others, but in itself, the
worthier course; but, on the other hand, I know it would be so in
reality only if this worthiness were not assumed for the purpose of
appearing in a false light to myself, to other men, and perhaps even
before God, or for the purpose of cloaking selfishness under the guise
of fidelity to the departed.' It was not, however, by answering this
question, nor by reflecting upon the lawfulness of second marriages in
general, that Perthes's irresolution was subdued, but by an increasing
attachment to the lady whose character had attracted him."

Very honorable appears Perthes here, in that he argues the case
against himself with fulness and frankness, revealing to himself
without disguise the weakness under which he finally falls, and
conscious all the while that it is a weakness. He does not attempt to
hide the fact that Caroline would have preferred to live alone in his
memory, and he falls back on his only defensible ground,--the hardness
of his heart. Confession is forgiveness. Let him pass on to the new
bride, and the second family of eleven children that will spring up
around them.

But there are men, and women too,--there are always women enough to
echo men's opinions,--who assume that the spirit of the departed will
be delighted in her heavenly abode to know that the husband decides
not to spend his life in solitude. Some women indeed show the last
infirmity of noble minds by _recommending_ their husbands to take a
second wife, although it seems a pity to waste one's last breath in
bestowing advice which is so entirely superfluous. If a man will
marry, let him marry, but let no patient Griselda "gin the hous to
dight" for the "newe lady." If a man will marry, let him marry, but
let him not offer the world an apology for the act. The apology is
itself an accusation; a dishonor to both wives instead of one. He
knows his own motives and emotions. If they are upright and
sufficient, it is no matter what people say about him; he and the
other person immediately concerned should be so self-satisfied as to
be indifferent to outside comment. If they are not upright and
sufficient, attempting to make them appear so is an additional
offence.

I have said on this subject more than I intended. I meant only to
state a fact clearly enough to use it. The rest "whistled itself."
Practically, I do not know that I have any quarrel with any marriage
that is real, whether it come after the first or fiftieth attempt.
Judging from general observation, I should suppose that most people
might marry half a dozen times, and not be completely married then.

If, as Perthes seems to have thought, all this is the natural course
of events, why do you make all womanly honor and happiness converge in
the one focus of marriage, unless like a Mussulman you believe that on
such condition alone can women aspire to immortality? But even then it
would be a hard bargain. Immortality is dearly bought at the price of
immorality. When all other arguments fail, and you would mount to your
sublimest heights of moral elevation, you assure a woman that, no
matter how lofty her life may be, nor how deep her satisfaction may
seem, if she fails of marriage she fails of the highest development,
the deepest experience, the greatest benefit. You tell her that she
misses somewhat which Heaven itself cannot supply. But, on the other
hand, you have previously shown that marriage is but a temporary
arrangement, an entirely mundane affair. Love belongs as completely to
this world as houses and barns,--is in fact rather supplementary to
them,--especially to the house. It is of the body, and not of the
spirit; for the spirit lives forever, but when the body dies, love
dies also. There are no claims beyond the grave. Nay, it does not
reach to the grave. The delight, the spontaneity, the satisfaction,
the keenness, all die out before the person dies. The pulp shrivels,
and only a wrinkled skin of habit remains. But a woman is immortal.
Can a mortal love satisfy an immortal heart? Is it possible that an
undying soul must find its strongest development in a dying love? Does
a creature of the skies incur an irreparable loss, miss an
irreclaimable jewel, suffer an incurable wound, when it loses, or
misses, or suffers _anything_ which is but of the earth earthy? Can
anything finite be indispensable to an infinite life?

Again, if this accession of toil, and this diminution and decay of
perceptible love, and this falling back on inward love, is the natural
course of events, why not say so in the beginning? If inward love be
satisfactory at one time, why not at another, as well before marriage
as after? Why, when a man has once made and received affidavit of
love, should he not be content, and neither proffer nor demand
manifestations? Let men be satisfied with inward love during
courtship, and the honeymoon, if inward love is so all-sufficient. Not
in the least. Men are not one tenth part so capable of inward love as
women,--I mean of an inward love without outward expression. Their
inward love becomes outward love almost as soon as it becomes love at
all. They are ten times more tumultuous, more demonstrative, more
_phenomenal_, than women. They are as impatient as children, and more
unreasonable. They cannot, or they will not, brook delay, suspense,
refusal. Women accept all these drawbacks as a part of the programme,
and with "the endurance that outwearies wrong," while men fiercely, if
vainly, kick against the pricks and talk about _inward love_!

And if the true object of marriage be to help accumulate or frugally
to manage a fortune, to cook dinners, and act as a sewing-machine,
"warranted not to ravel," say that frankly also in the beginning. Tell
women plainly what you want of them. Do not lure them into your
service under false pretences. Do not wait till they are irrevocably
fastened to you, and then lay on them the burdens of labor and take
away the supports of love, and lecture them into acquiescence through
the newspapers. While there is yet left to them a freedom of choice,
make them fully acquainted with the circumstances of the case, that
they may be able to choose intelligently. When one does not expect
much, one is not disappointed at receiving little. One is not chilled
at heart by snow in winter. It is walking over sunny Southern lands,
and finding frosts when you looked for flowers, that freezes the
fountains of life. If you do not overwhelm a woman with your
protestations, if you do not lure her to your heart by presenting
yourself to her and praying her to be to you friend, comrade, and
lover, when what you really want is cook, laundress, and housekeeper,
she will at least know what is before her. But do not swear to her
eternal fidelity, knowing that, as soon as you thoroughly understand
each other, there will be an end of all little tendernesses of
expression. Do not span her with a rainbow, and spread diamond-dust
beneath her feet, knowing all the while that a very little time will
bring for the one but a cold, penetrating rain, and will change the
other into coarse, sharp pebbles that shall bruise her tender feet.
Change the formula of your marriage vows, and instead of promising to
love, honor, and cherish till death you do part, promise to do it only
till you understand her thoroughly, and then to make the best of the
bargain!

If we were forced to believe that these right-hand fallings-off and
left-hand defections were indeed the legitimate workings of the human
heart, the natural history of mankind, then should we be forced to
believe that this world is a stupendous failure, and the sooner it is
burned up the better. We should be forced to believe in the thorough
degradation and destructibility of both mind and matter. For the
essence of value is durability. A soap-bubble is as beautiful as a
pearl and as brilliant as a diamond; for what is called practical
service, for warmth, or shelter, or sustenance, one is quite as good
as another. What makes their different worth is, that the soap-bubble
yields up its lovely life to the first molecule that sails through the
air to solicit it, while the gems outlast a thousand years. But if
life is a soap-bubble, and not a pearl, shall a woman sell all that
she has and buy it? What advantageth the possession of a happiness
which melts in the grasp,--which is satisfactory only for the short
time that it is novel? Who would care to enter a path of roses,
knowing that a few steps will take him into a vast and barren desert,
whence escape is impossible? If this is real life, let us rather pitch
our tents in fairy-land; for then, when the Prince is at last restored
to his true manly form and his rightful throne, and united to the
beautiful, constant Princess, we invariably find, not only that their
happiness was quite inexpressible, but it lasted to the end of their
lives.

If we are to believe such propositions, we might as well call
ourselves infidels, and have done with it. To deny the existence of
love takes away no more hope from humanity than to deny the
immortality of love. It is no worse to take away life from the soul
than to give it a life which is but a protracted death. To make a
distinction between earthly and heavenly love hardly affects the case.
The direction of love is not love. All love is heavenly,--"bright
effluence of bright essence increate." If a man gives himself to the
pursuit of unworthy objects, or to the indulgence of unhallowed
pleasures, a pure name need not be dragged down into the mire that his
error may have a seemly christening. If that is love which fades out
long before its object; if, when its object disappears behind the veil
love rightly returns to earth, then are we of all creatures most
miserable; for we abnegate a future. We thought it had been he which
should have redeemed Israel; but thou shalt return unto the ground,
for out of it wast thou taken. Dust art thou, O love, and unto dust
shalt thou return.

Nay, let us have falsehood rather than truth, if this be truth. But
this cannot be truth. Love sets up his ladder on the earth, but the
top of it reaches unto heaven, and if the eye be clear and the heart
pure, the angels of God shall be seen ascending and descending on it.
The fashion of this world passeth away,

    "But love strikes one hour,--LOVE."

Hear a woman's voice mingling now with angels' voices,--the voice of a
woman whose pathway to the skies was a line of light shining still
more and more unto the perfect day.

      "I classed, appraising once,
    Earth's lamentable sounds: the welladay,
      The jarring yea and nay,
    The fall of kisses on unanswering clay,
    The sobbed farewell, the welcome mournfuller
      But all did leaven the air
    With a less bitter leaven of sure despair
      Than these words,--'I loved ONCE.'

    "And who saith, 'I loved ONCE'?
    Not angels, whose clear eyes love, love foresee,
      Love through eternity,
    Who by To Love do apprehend To Be.
    Not God, called LOVE, his noble crown-name, casting
      A light too broad for blasting!
    The great God, changing not from everlasting,
      Saith never, 'I loved ONCE.'

    "Nor ever the 'Loved ONCE'
    Dost THOU say, Victim-Christ, mispriséd friend!
      The cross and curse may rend;
    But, having loved, Thou lovest to the end!
    It is man's saying,--man's. Too weak to move
      One spheréd star above,
    Man desecrates the eternal God-word Love
      With his No More and Once.

       *       *       *       *       *

    "Say never, ye loved ONCE!
    God is too near above, the grave below,
      And all our moments go
    Too quickly past our souls, for saying so.
    The mysteries of life and death avenge
      Affections light of range:
    There comes no change to justify that change,
      Whatever comes,--loved ONCE!"



XII.


Men, by reason of their hardness of heart, gravitate towards the
material theory, and women, by reason of their softness of heart,
lower to the same level. Men defy heaven and earth to compass
self-indulgence, and women defy the divine law written in their hearts
rather than thwart men. Instead of setting their faces like a flint
against this tendency, they accept it, excuse it, try to think it
inevitable, a matter of organization, and make the best of it. They
will counsel young girls not to reckon upon receiving as much love as
they give! Fatal advice! Disastrous generalization! Yet neither
unnatural nor unkind, for it is the fruit of a sad and wide
experience. They would gladly spare fresh souls the apples of Sodom,
whose fair seeming bewrayed themselves; but they should teach them to
avoid disappointment, not by counting upon bitterness, but by
rejecting apples of Sodom altogether, and receiving only such fruit as
cheers the heart of God as well as man. Why shall not women receive
as much love as they give? Is man less capable of loving than woman?
Where in nature or in revelation is the warrant for such an
hypothesis? When He commands, "Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with
all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind, and with
all thy strength," is he not speaking to men as well as women? and are
a man's heart, soul, mind, and strength less than a woman's? Are not
husbands commanded to love their wives even as Christ loved the
Church? and did he love the Church less than the Church loved him? Is
not every man commanded in particular to love his wife even as
himself,--to love his wife as his own body? and is a man's love to
himself, his love to his own body, a feeble and untrustworthy
sentiment? You find in the Bible no letting a man off from his duties
of love; no letting him down. Old-fashioned as it is, written for a
state of society far different from ours, often brought forward to
prop up old wrongs and bluff off newly-found rights, the Bible is
still the very storehouse of reforms. It contains the germs not only
of spiritual life, but of spiritual living. Glows on its pages the
morning-red which has scarcely yet gilded the world.

Women must not expect to receive as much love as they give! It is
inviting men to esteem lightly what should be a priceless possession.
It is not waiting for them to drag down the banner to the dust; it is
making haste to trail it for them with malice aforethought. Men now
are not too constant, too devoted to the higher aims of life; but let
constancy and devotion not be expected of them, and in what
seven-league boots will they stride down the broad road! It is doing
them but left-handed service thus to throw the door open to weakness
and wavering concerning higher interests, and a blind devotion to the
god of this world. To assume that their tone may be low, is to lower
their tone. Men are less good than they would be if goodness were
demanded of them. The current is turbid and unwholesome, because it is
not strictly required to be pure and clear. The way for women to be
truly serviceable to men, is to be themselves exacting.

"Exacting"? What word is that? An exacting woman? An exacting wife?
"Hail! Horrors, hail!" The unlovely being has existed, and within the
memory of men still living, but it has always been looked upon as a
monster,

    "Whom none could love, whom none could thank,
    Creation's blot, creation's blank!"

We have fallen on evil times indeed if such a being is to be held up
for approval and imitation.

But the character of exaction depends somewhat on the nature of the
thing exacted. To exact from a man that to which you have a right, and
which it is his own truest interest to bestow, is neither unchristian
nor unamiable. One may and should grant large room for the play of
tastes; for differences of organization, opinion, habit, education;
but a catholicity which admits to its presence anything that defileth
is no fruit of that tree whose leaves are for the healing of the
nations. The gardener who is tolerant of weeds and not untender
towards misshapen, or dwarfed, or otherwise imperfect flowers will
have but a sorry show for the eyes of the master. Such latitude is a
source of deterioration. It is the kindness which kills. Each sex
should be to the other an incitement to lofty aims. Each should stand
on its own mountain-height and call to the other through clear, bright
air; but such sufferance only draws both down into the damp,
unwholesome valley-lands where lurk fever and pestilence. A woman
cannot with impunity open her doors to unworthy guests. There may be
bowing and smiling, and never-ending smooth speech, but in the end,
and long before the end, they shall draw their swords against the
beauty of her wisdom and shall defile her brightness. A man may go all
lengths in pursuit of his own selfish comfort, but he does not the
less respect those who hold themselves above it, and if women, who
should be pure and purifying, mar the spotlessness of a divine
sanctity and lessen the claims of an imperial dignity, thinking
thereby to be meeter for profane approach, they work a work whose evil
strikes its roots into the inmost life of society. From mistaken
kindness woman may weave a narrow garland, but there is lost a glory
from the hand that bears and the brow that wears it. If the queen is
content to spend her life in the kitchen over bread and honey, and if
she is satisfied that the king spend his in the parlor counting out
his money, neither king nor queen will receive that homage or command
that allegiance which is the rightful royal prerogative.

There is a foolish subservience, an ostentatious and superficial
chivalry, an undignified and slavish deference to whims which silly
women demand and sillier men grant. Yet even this is not so much the
fault of the weak women as of the strong men, who surround women with
the atmosphere which naturally creates such weakness. But women have a
right, and it is their duty to expect, to claim, to exact if you
please, a constancy, spirituality, devotion, as great as their own.
Where God makes no distinction of sex in his demands upon mankind, His
creatures should not make distinctions. "Men are different from
women," is the conclusion of the whole matter at female
debating-societies, and the all-sufficient excuse for every
short-coming or over-coming; but the Apostles and Prophets find
therein no warrant for a violation of moral law, no guaranty for
immunity from punishment, no escape from the obligations to unselfish
and righteous living. Nowhere does the Saviour of the world proclaim
to men a liberty in selfishness or sin. His kingdom will never come,
nor his will be done on earth as it is done in heaven, so long as men
are permitted to take out indulgences. If they do it ignorantly, not
knowing the true character and claims of womanhood, nor consequently
of manhood, they should be taught. If they think a wife's chief duty
is to economize her husband's fortunes, or to minister to his physical
comforts, they should be speedily freed from the illusion. If they
suppose knowledge to be ill-adapted to the female constitution, and
harmless only when administered homoeopathically, they should be
quietly undeceived. If they have been so trained that marriage is to
them but unholy ground whereon is found no place for modesty,
chastity, delicacy, reverence, how shall they ever unlearn the bad
lesson but through pure womanly teaching?

But women fear to take this attitude. There are many indeed who have
become so demoralized that they do not know there is any such attitude
to take; but there are others who do see it, and shrink from assuming
it. Women whose courage and fortitude are indescribable, who will
brave pain and fatigue and all definite physical obstacles in their
path, will bow down their heads like a bulrush with fear of that
indefinable thing which may be called social disapprobation. Through
cowardice, they are traitors to their own sex, and impediments to the
other. One cannot find it in his heart to blame them harshly. The
weakness has so many palliations, it is so natural a growth of their
wickedly arranged circumstances, as to disarm rebuke and move scarcely
more than pity; but it is none the less a fact, lamentable and
disastrous. Women who know and lament the erroneous notions and the
guilty actions of men concerning woman, and the culpable relations of
men to women, will endeavor to hold back the opinions of a woman when
they go against the current. They will admit the force of all her
objections, the justice of every remonstrance, but will assure her
that opposition will be of no avail. She will accomplish nothing,
but--and here lies the real bugbear--but she will make men almost
afraid of her!

I would that men were not only almost, but altogether afraid of every
woman! I would that men should hold woman in such knightly fear that
they should never dare to approach her, matron or maid, save with
clean hands and a pure heart; never dare to lift up their souls to
vanity nor swear deceitfully; never dare to insult her presence with
words of flattery, insincerity, coarseness, sensuality, mercenary
self-seeking, or any other form of dishonor. I would that woman were
herself so noble and wise, her approbation so unquestionably the
reward of merit, that a man should not dare to think ignobly lest his
ignoble thought flower into word or act before her eyes; should not
wish to think ignobly, since it removed him to such a distance from
her, and wrought in him so sad an unlikeness to her; should not be
able to think ignobly, being interpenetrated with the celestial
fragrance which is her native air. I would have the heathen
cloud-divinity which inwraps her with a factitious light, only to hide
her real features from mortal gaze, torn utterly away, that men may
see in her the fullest presentation possible to earth of the god-like
in humanity. So powerfully does the Most High stand ready to work in
her to will and to do of his good pleasure, that she may be to man a
living revelation, Emanuel, God with us.

We ought to stand in awe of one another. We do not sufficiently
respect personality. Every soul comes fresh from the creative hand and
bears its own divine stamp. We should not go thoughtlessly into its
presence. We should not wantonly violate its holiness. Even the body
is fearfully and wonderfully made, and well may be, for it is the
temple of the Holy Ghost; but if the temple is sacred, how much more
that holy thing which the temple enshrines,--the unseen,
incomprehensible, infinite soul, the essential spirit, the holy ghost.
Who that cherishes the divine visitant in his own heart but must be
amazed at the reckless irreverence with which we assail each other. It
is not the smile, the chance word, the pleasant or even the hostile
rencounter in the outer courts; it is that we do not respect each
other's silences. We do not scruple to pry into the arcana. The
hermit's sanctuary may lie in the huntsman's track, but he will have
his pleasure though hermit and sanctuary were in the third heaven. We
do not accept what is given with gladness and singleness of heart; we
stretch out wanton hands to pull aside the curtain and reveal to the
garish day what should be suffered to repose in the twilight of inner
chambers.

When the prudent adviser, the practical man or woman, counsels, "Do
not demand so much from your friends,--they won't stand it,"--am I to
infer that friendship is a mercenary matter, a thing of compromise and
barter? Shall I fence in my acts, words, thoughts, that I may secure
something whose sole value, whose sole existence, indeed, lies in its
spontaneity? Shall I haggle for incense? Am I loved for what I do,
what I say, what I think, and not for what I am? Why, this is not
love. I am myself, first of all, not Launcelot nor another. He who
loves me can but wish me to be this in fullest measure. I will live my
life. I will go whithersoever the spirit leads. He who loves me will
rejoice in this and give me all furtherance. I demand all things--in
you. I demand nothing--from you. "Will not stand it"? If you can hate
me, hate me. If you can refrain from loving, love not. I can dispense
with your regard, but there is something indispensable. You shall love
me because you cannot help it, or you shall love me not at all. If I
cannot compel affection in the teeth of all conflicting opinion, I
renounce it altogether. If the aroma of character is not strong enough
to overpower with its sweetness all unfragrant exhalations of opinion,
it is a matter of but small account.

If two people should design simply to club together, to take their
meals at the same table and dwell under the same roof, it would be a
thing to be carefully considered; but when the question is, not of
association alone, but of absolute oneness, not of similarity of
tastes or habits, but of an inmost and all-prevailing sympathy, it
becomes us to be wary. Mere mechanical junction is easy of
accomplishment, but a chemical combination demands fine analysis and
the most careful adjustment. It needs not that a globe of fire should
come raging through the skies to set our world ablaze; a very slight
change in the atmosphere which embraces it, a little less of one
ingredient, a little more of another, and the earth and the works that
are therein shall be burned up. Yet the delicacy of matter is but a
faint type of the delicacy of mind. He who would pass within the veil
to commune with the soul between the cherubim must assume holy
garments. If the trouble seem to him too great, let him be content to
tarry without. Uzzah put forth an incautious hand and touched the ark
of God unbidden, and the anger of the Lord was kindled against him,
and there he died by the ark of God. Now, as then, if any man defile
the temple of God, him shall God destroy; for the temple of God is
holy, which temple ye are.

Yet the general opinion seems to be that human beings are made by
machinery like Waltham watches, and will fit perfectly when brought
together at random, as the different parts taken indiscriminately from
a heap of similar parts will fit and form a watch. Juxtaposition is
the only necessary preliminary to harmony. On the contrary, it is true
not only of prodigies, but of every member of the race that nature
made him and then broke the mould. Every person is a prodigy. So
great, so radical, so out-spreading, are the differences between
individuals, that the wonder is, not that they quarrel so much, but
that they are ever peaceful when brought together. The wonder is that
so many fierce antagonisms can be soothed even into an outward quiet.
Looking at it as mechanism, seeing how diverse, aggressive, and
impatient are the qualities of man, and how peculiarly are his
circumstances adapted to foster his peculiarities, one would say that
the only security was in solitude. Indeed, young people are very apt
to think so. They combine in an ideal all the charms which attract,
and exclude from it all the disagreeable traits which repel them, and
see reality fall so far short of their imaginary standard that they
fully believe they shall never find the true Prince. And they never
would, but for an inward, inexplicable suffusion of the Divine
essence, whose source and action lie beyond knowledge or control,
which works without instigation, but is all-powerful to create or
annihilate. This, however, which is the sole explanation of the
phenomenon, which is the sole conciliator between opposing forces, is
generally left out of view. People scarcely seem to be conscious that
there is any phenomenon. They philosophize sagaciously upon the
singular skill which swings unnumbered worlds in space, and spins them
on in never-ending cycle, yet marks out their paths so wisely that
world sweeps clear of world and never a collision crushes one to ruin.
But full as the universe is of stars, the nearest are hundreds of
thousands of miles apart; while the intellectual, nervous worlds that
are set going on the surface of our earth are close together. Half a
dozen of them are placed as it were shoulder to shoulder. Their zigzag
orbits intersect each other a hundred times a day. Is it any wonder
that there is hard abrasion, that surfaces are seamed and furrowed,
and that sometimes a crash startles us? Is not the wonder rather that
crashes are not the order of the day, that the seams are seams and not
cracks through the whole crust, and that the largest result of
abrasion is smoothness and evenness and polish?

Yet, utterly unmindful of the fitness of things, people will wonder
why a man and a woman who are thrown occasionally together do
not--what? Attack each other in an outburst of impatience at stupidity
and cross-purposes? Not at all, but "strike up a match." That is, put
themselves into relations which shall turn an association whose
redeeming feature is that it is casual and under control into an
association that is constant and irrevocable! Masculine backwardness
is not perhaps considered remarkable, as indeed there is very little
of it to be remarked, but the utmost surprise is expressed on those
rare occasions in which women are supposed to have declined a
"desirable offer." That a woman should not avail herself of an
opportunity to become the wife of a man who is well-educated,
well-mannered, "well-off," seems to be an inexplicable fact. He is her
equal in fortune, position, character. Commentators "cannot see any
reason why she should not marry him." But is there any reason why she
should marry him? The burden of proof lies upon motion, not rest; upon
him who changes, not upon him who retains a position. All these things
which are called inducements are no more than so many sticks and
stones; you might just as well repeat the a b c, and call that
inducement. The matters which bear on such conclusions are of an
entirely different nature. Your "inducements" may come in by and by,
when the main point is settled, to modify outward acts, but till the
Divine Spirit moves, they are without form and void.

Nor are well-wishers always so careful as to take the man himself into
the account. If surroundings are favorable, if to a by-stander there
seems to be a sort of house-and-barn adaptation, it is enough. House
and barn should at once join roof and become one edifice. It is of no
importance that this holds stalls for horned oxen, and that
entertainment for angels; that the one is informed with spiritual life
and the other filled with hay: hay and heaven are all one to many
eyes. "Why does she not marry him?" Why? Simply because there is not
enough of him, or what there is is not of the right stuff. If he were
twenty instead of one, she might dare promise to honor him, might dare
hope to respect him. If he had just twenty times as much of _being_,
or if his amplitude could be converted into fineness, he might meet
her on equal ground; but being only one and such a one, she is in an
overwhelming majority, and it is not republican that majorities should
yield to minorities. He may be, as you say, "just as good as she," but
not good for her.

These views appear in the (perhaps apocryphal) stories occasionally
told of renowned personages. A poor man or an obscure man proposes to
a young woman whose father is rich, and he is refused. The poor and
obscure man becomes presently a great banker, a governor, president of
a college, or recovers lost counties, or dukedoms in Europe. I have
even heard the story repeated of the Emperor of the French and a New
York young woman. Moral: Is not the woman sorry now that she did not
marry the poor man? Probably not. Certainly not if she belongs to the
true type. What have all these changes to do with the matter? Is he
any more comfortable to live with because he is a governor? Is he any
more adapted to her because he is a duke? It is barely possible that
she was mistaken; but if she were, she is probably ignorant of it
herself. His present state does not indicate a mistake. Only a close
companionship would be likely to discover it. The qualities which make
domestic content are not usually revealed by ever so brilliant public
success. If they originally existed, they are little likely to have
been developed. As business affairs are usually conducted, they are
more likely to drown out home happiness than to create it. But all
this is irrelevant. Nothing is really meant to which this is an
answer. It is only the manifestation of a blindness to what
constitutes attraction. The man has discovered outside advantages, and
it is assumed that that is enough. She of course refused him because
she had not sagacity enough to discern the shadow of his coming
greatness. It does not seem to be suspected that she could have
refused him because he did not suit her! What difference does it make
whether a man is a clown or a king, if you do not like him? Is a great
judge necessarily an agreeable person to think of? Is a world-renowned
financier necessarily the person who will have most power to draw out
what is good and gracious in a woman? Girls naturally give their
loyalty to men, not to crowns, or ermine. The lovely Florina was as
fond of King Charming, when he came to her in the shape of a Bluebird,
as when he appeared at court in royal majesty. Wicked outside opinion,
it is true, warps their judgment in a very great degree, and destroys
their freedom; but of their own nature, in their inmost hearts, they
are true; and when they have independence enough to manifest their
truth in these palpable acts, they may be safely set down as true.
They acted from sincerity and dignity, not from mercenary
short-sightedness. They acted from the most simple and natural causes,
and what have they to regret? It is much better to be the wife of an
honest and respectable American citizen than to be Empress of the
French,--even looking at it in a solely worldly point of view. When we
add to this that one loves the American citizen, and does not love the
French Emperor, the case may as well be ruled out of court at once.
There is no ground for any further proceedings.

Men and women act upon these views too much, as well in regulating as
in establishing a home. They recognize and make liberal allowance for
palpable, outspoken wants, yet are unmindful or contemptuous of others
equally important, but less on the surface, and less sharply defined.
A man who would incur self-reproach and the contempt of his neighbors
by allowing his wife to suffer from lack of bread in his house, will
not suspect so much as a slight dereliction of duty in allowing her to
suffer from lack of beauty there. A woman who is never weary of
meeting the demands upon her husband's palate, who will have the joint
cooked exactly to his liking, and the dinner prompt to his
convenience, would scout the thought of leaving her morning's
occupation to give him her company in a two hours' drive. People will
devote their lives uncomplainingly to meeting each other's wants, but
will neutralize all their efforts and sacrifice happiness hand over
hand by neglecting or disregarding each other's tastes. They will
spend all their money in thatching the roof, but will do just nothing
at all to keep the fire alive on the hearth. There are very few indeed
who are not able to do both. Of course if people lavish their whole
strength on gross matters, they have none left for the finer; but it
is not often that gross matters _need_ the whole strength. A careful
observation and just views would be able, as a general thing without
detriment, to wrest many an hour from vain, vulgar, useless, or
harmful pursuits, to bestow it upon adornments and amenities that do
not perish with the using. And if a man or a woman is so deteriorated
as to prefer the indulgence of a coarse or frivolous appetite, or the
inordinate indulgence of a merely natural appetite, to the
gratification and cultivation of refined and elevated tastes,--the
more's the pity!



XIII.


I marvel that men who lay so little stress on the heart, by reason of
the great stress they lay upon the intellect, should use their
intellects to so little purpose in matters so important, and which
come so closely home to their business and bosoms as those we have
been discussing. I marvel that, while they see facts so distinctly,
they have so little skill to trace out causes. Many instances have
been given to show how far more unreasonable, intense, malignant,
vulgar, and venomous is the hatred of their country shown and felt by
Southern women than that evinced by Southern men. It is very commonly
said that they have done more than the men to keep alive the
rebellion. The coarseness and impropriety of their behavior have been
relatively far greater than that of the men. Has any one ever
suggested that the narrowness, the utter insufficiency of their
education, the state of almost absolute pupilage bedizened over with a
gaudy tinsel of tilt and tournament chivalry in which they have been
kept, absolutely incapacitating them for broad views, rational
thinking, or even a refined self-possession in emergencies, had
anything to do with it? In a newspaper published under the auspices of
one of our Sanitary Fairs, a contributor says: "I never saw a nurse
from any hospital, but I asked her the question if the ladies there
worked without jealousy or unkind feeling toward each other? _and I
have not found the first one who could answer 'yes' to that
question_.... I know a gentleman (a noble one, too) who urged his
daughter _not_ to go to the hospitals, 'because,' said he, 'you will
surely get into a muss: it cannot be helped; women cannot be together
without it." Is it indeed an arrangement of Divine Providence, that
women cannot act together without so much bickering, jealousy, petty
domineering, small envies, and venomous quarrels, as to make it
undesirable that they should act together at all? Is magnanimity
impossible to women? Are they incapable of exercising it towards each
other? Or may it not be that their lives have generally so little
breadth, they are so universally absorbed in limited interests, their
"sphere" has been so rigidly circumscribed to their own families, that
when they are set in wider circles, they are like spoiled children? In
the troubles that arise in female conventions and combinations, I do
not see any inherent deficiency of female organization, but every sign
of very serious deficiencies in female education.

Men make merry over the unwillingness of women to acknowledge their
increasing years; over the artifices to which they resort for the
purpose of hiding the encroachments of time; but the reluctance and
the deception are the direct harvest of men's own sowing. It is men,
and nobody else, who are chiefly to blame for the weakness and the
meanness. They have decreed what shall be coin and what counters, and
women do but acknowledge their image and superscription. Exceptions
are not innumerous, but I think every one will confess, upon a
moment's reflection, that in the general apportionment the heroines of
literature are the lovely and delightful young women, and the hatred,
envy, malice, and all uncharitableness are allotted to the old. Hetty
Sorrels are not very common, nor Mrs. Bennetts very uncommon. Why
should not women dread to be thought old, when age is tainted and
taunted? Why should they not fight off its approaches, when it is
indissolubly connected with repulsive traits? Women see themselves
prized and petted, not chiefly for those qualities which age improves,
but for those which it destroys or impairs. And as women are made by
nature to set a high value upon the good opinions of men, and are
warped by a vicious education into setting almost the sole value of
life upon them, they logically cling with the utmost tenacity to that
youth which is their main security for regard. "Youth and beauty" are
the twin deities of song and story. "Youth and beauty" are supposed to
unlock the doors of fate. It is no matter that in real life fact may
not comport with the statements of fiction. No matter that in real
life the strongest power carries the day, whether it be youthful or
aged, fair or frightful. The events of real life have but small radii,
but the ripples of romance circle out over the whole sea of
civilization, and wave succeeds wave till the impression becomes
wellnigh continuous.

(One can hardly suppress a smile, by the way, at the absurdity which
this coupling sometimes presupposes. A man will think to swell your
horror of rebel barbarities by asserting that they spared neither
youth nor beauty, as if you like to be shot any better because you are
old and ugly!)

So with tight-lacing and the new attachment of a _chiropodist_ to
fashionable families. Most men, it is true, harangue against the
former; but if masculine sentiment were really set against
tight-lacing and its results, do you think girls would long make their
dressing-maids sit up waiting their return from balls, lest an
unpractised hand should not unloose the lacings by those short and
easy stages which are necessary to prevent the shock of nature's too
sudden rebound? Or if you plead "not guilty" to this count, do you
believe that girls who have been liberally educated, taught to turn
their eyes to large prospects, large duties, and large hopes, could be
induced so to put themselves to the torture? Was a right-minded and
right-hearted loving and beloved wife, an intelligent and judicious
Christian mother, a wise and kindly woman, ever known voluntarily to
assume a strait-waistcoat? If girls were trained as every living soul
should be trained, would it be necessary to have a "professor" go the
rounds of fine houses in the morning to undo the injuries inflicted by
tight shoes on the previous evening? If a girl were sagaciously
managed, would she not have too much discrimination to suppose that,
when a poet sings of

    "Her feet beneath her petticoat
    Like little mice,"

she is expected to reduce her feet to the dimensions of mice, or that,
when he announces

    "That which her slender waist confined
    Shall now my joyful temples bind,"

she is thinking of a slenderness produced by lashing herself to the
bedpost? Be sure a woman will never cramp her body in that way, until
society has cramped her soul and mind to still more unnatural
distortion. Lay the axe unto the root of the tree, if you wish to
accomplish anything; do not merely stand off and throw pebbles at the
fruit.

Society is unsparing in its censure of the girl who boasts of her
"offers." There are few things which men will not sooner forgive than
the revelation of their own rejected proposals. Bayard Taylor makes
Hannah Thurston recoil in disgust at Seth Wattles's hesitating
suggestion: "You,--you won't say anything about this?" "What do you
take me for?" exclaims immaculate womanhood. Why then is a girl's life
made to consist in the abundance of her suitors? It is stamped a shame
for a woman not to receive an offer, and then it is stamped a shame
for her to take away her reproach by revealing that she has received
one. Surely, she is in evil case!

I do not profess any overweening admiration for those qualities of
character which induce the exultant publication of such personal
items; but I do say that men have no right to complain. The natural
results of their own course would not be any more than accomplished,
if "offers" were published in the newspapers along with the deaths and
marriages.

If you really wish women to be magnanimous, catholic, you must grant
to them the conditions of becoming so. Just so long as their souls are
cabined, cribbed, and confined, whether in a palace or in a hovel,
with only such fresh air as a narrow crevice or casement may afford,
they will have but a stunted and unsymmetrical development. You cannot
systematically and deliberately dwarf or repress nine faculties, and
wickedly stimulate one, and that a subordinate one, and then have as
the result a perfect woman. You may force Nature, but she will have
her revenges. He that offendeth in one point, is guilty of all. The
blow that you aim at the head, not only makes the whole head sick, but
the whole heart faint. When you have brought women to the point of
writing such babble as,

    "We poor women, feeble-natured,
      Large of heart, in wisdom small,
    Who the world's incessant battle
      Cannot understand at all," &c., &c, &c.,

do you think you have laid the foundation for solid character? Lay
aside your alternate weakness and severity, your silly coddling and
your equally silly cautioning, and permit a woman to be a human being.
Let the free winds have free access to her, bringing the fragrance of
June and the frostiness of December. Fling wide open all the portals,
that the sacred soul may go in and out as God decreed. Let every power
which God has bestowed have free course to run and be glorified, and
you shall truly find before long that the pleasure of the Lord shall
prosper in the hands of women.

If the weakness and ignorance and frivolity of which I have spoken be
natural, as it is insisted, if the heaven-born instincts of women do,
as you in effect asseverate, lead women to devote themselves
exclusively to all manner of materialism and pettinesses, and to be
content with what sustenance they can find in the crumbs of love that
fall from their husbands' tables; if it is unnatural and unwomanly, as
you say it is, to have other inclinations and aspirations, and to
experience any personal or social discontent,--why do you say so much
to urge them to such devotion and content? People are not largely
given to doing unnatural things. They do not need incentives,
strenuous persuasion, labored and reiterated arguments, to induce them
to do what their hearts by creation incline them to do; nor do they
need to be held back by main force from that to which they have no
natural leaning. Nobody builds a dam to make water run down hill. No
tunnelling nor blasting of rocks is necessary to lure rivers to the
ocean. No urging and coaxing must be resorted to before the
parent-robins build a nest and gather food for their young. But the
instincts of women are as strong, the nature of women is as marked, as
those of birds, and there is no need of your counselling them to walk
in the paths which God has appointed for their feet. No. You do not
really believe what you are saying. You feel, if you do not know,--you
have a dim, instinctive sense that the life which you appoint to women
is not their natural life. It crushes and deforms their nature
continually, and continually Nature bursts out in violent resistance,
and continually with shriek and din and clamor you strive to frighten
her back into her narrow torture-house, with a success all too great.

There seems to lurk in the masculine breast an unmanly fear lest the
development of the female mind should be fatal to the superiority of
the male mind. But a superiority which must prolong its existence by
the enforcement of ignorance is of a very ignoble sort. If, to
preserve his relative position, man must, by persuasion or by law,
forbid to women opportunities for education and a field for action,
together with moral support in obtaining the one and contesting in the
other, he pays to the female mind a greater compliment, and heaps upon
his own character a greater reproach, than the highest female
attainments could do. He shows that he dares not risk a fair trial. If
she cannot rival him, the sooner she makes the attempt, and incurs the
failure, the sooner will she revert to her old position, and the
sooner will peace be restored. The very discouragement by which man
surrounds her shows that he does not believe in the original and
inherent necessity of her present position. If this counsel be of
women merely, it will come to naught of itself. You need not bring up
so much rhetoric against it. But if it be of God, ye cannot overthrow
it; lest haply ye be found even to fight against God.

There is another fear, equally honest, but more honorable, or rather
less dishonorable. There is a belief, apparently, that the womanly
character somehow needs the restraints of existing customs. It is
feared that a sudden rush of science to the female brain would produce
asphyxia in the female heart. It is feared that the study of
philosophy, the higher mathematics, and the ancient languages would
unsex women,--would destroy the gentleness, the tenderness, the
softness, the yieldingness, the sweet and endearing qualities which
traditionally belong to them. They would lose all the graces of their
sex, and become, say men, as one of us.

From such a fate, good Lord! deliver us. I agree most heartily with
men in the opinion, that no calamity could be more fatal to woman than
a growing likeness to men; but no cloud so big as the smallest baby's
smallest finger-nail portends it. Healthy development never can
produce unhealthy results. Nature is never at war with herself. The
good and wise and all-powerful Creator never created a faculty to be
destroyed, a faculty whose utmost cultivation, if harmonious and not
discordant, should be injurious. He made all things beautiful and
beneficial in their proper places. It is only arbitrary contraction
and expansion that produce mischief. It is the neglect of one thing
and the undue prominence given to another that destroys symmetry and
causes disaster.

There has been so little experiment made in female education, that we
must reason somewhat abstractly; yet we are not left, even in this
early stage, without witnesses.

On the 26th of May, 1863, died Mrs. O. W. Hitchcock, wife of one of
the Presidents of Amherst College. A writer, who professes to have
known her well, gives the following account of her:--

"Born in Amherst, March 8th, 1796, fitted for college and accomplished
alike in the fine arts and the exact sciences in an age when the
standard of female education was comparatively low, associated with
Dr. Hitchcock, then unknown to the public, in the instruction of
Deerfield Academy, and there the instrument of her future husband's
conversion, _filling_ to the full the office of a pastor's wife for
five years, in Conway, Massachusetts, and for the rest of her long
life sharing all her husband's labors, sorrows, joys, and honors,
while at the same time she was the centre of every private, social,
charitable, and public movement of which it was suitable for a lady to
be the centre, she passed away from us by a death as serenely
beautiful as the evening on which she died, May 26, 1863, at the age
of sixty-seven, leaving a vacancy not only in the home and the hearts
of her bereaved husband and afflicted children, but in the community
and the wide circle of her acquaintance, which can be filled by none
but Him who comforted the mourning family at Bethany. If strangers
would form some idea of what Mrs. Hitchcock was, especially as a _help
meet_ for her honored husband, and if friends would refresh their
memory of a truly 'virtuous woman,' let them read, as it were over her
still open grave, the dedication, by Dr. Hitchcock, of his 'Religion
and Geology' to his 'beloved wife.' Never did husband pay to wife a
higher or _juster_ tribute of respect and affection.

"The following is the dedication referred to. It was written in
1851:--

    "'_To my beloved Wife._ Both gratitude and affection prompt me
    to dedicate these Lectures to you. To your kindness and
    self-denying labors I have been mainly indebted for the
    ability and leisure to give any successful attention to
    scientific pursuits. Early should I have sunk under the
    pressure of feeble health, nervous despondency, poverty, and
    blighted hopes, had not your sympathies and cheering counsels
    sustained me. And during the last thirty years of professional
    labors, how little could I have done in the cause of science,
    had you not, in a great measure, relieved me of the cares of a
    numerous family! Furthermore, while I have described
    scientific facts with the pen only, how much more vividly have
    they been portrayed by your pencil! And it is peculiarly
    appropriate that your name should be associated with mine in
    any literary effort where the theme is geology; since your
    artistic skill has done more than my voice to render that
    science attractive to the young men whom I have instructed. I
    love especially to connect your name with an effort to defend
    and illustrate that religion which I am sure is dearer to you
    than everything else. I know that you would forbid this public
    allusion to your labors and sacrifices, did I not send it
    forth to the world before it meets your eye. But I am
    unwilling to lose this opportunity of bearing a testimony
    which both justice and affection urge me to give. In a world
    where much is said of female deception and inconstancy, I
    desire to testify that one man at least has placed implicit
    confidence in woman, and has not been disappointed. Through
    many checkered scenes have we passed together, both on the
    land and the sea, at home and in foreign countries; and now
    the voyage of life is almost ended. The ties of earthly
    affection, which have so long united us in uninterrupted
    harmony and happiness, will soon be sundered. But there are
    ties which death cannot break; and we indulge the hope that by
    them we shall be linked together and to the throne of God
    through eternal ages. In life and in death I abide

                                      "'Your affectionate husband,
                                             "'EDWARD HITCHCOCK.'"

Note here everything, but specially two things

1. Mrs. Hitchcock was fitted for college, accomplished in the fine
arts and the exact sciences, sympathized in her husband's tastes and
understood his pursuits so thoroughly as to be able to render him
essential assistance in his professional duties.

2. Note the use and connections of the word _kindness_. She relieved
him of the cares of a numerous family, and so gave him leisure for his
scientific researches. Does that invalidate what I have before said
regarding paternal duties? On the contrary, it strengthens my words.
Dr. Hitchcock, in the fulness of his beautiful fame, in the ripeness
of his years, confirms the truth of my principles. He knew--the
great-hearted gentleman, the beloved disciple--that these cares
belonged to him by right, and that it was of grace and not of law that
his wife assumed them. So impressed is he with her kindness, so filled
with gratitude is his magnanimous heart, that he even ventures to run
the risk of wounding her delicacy by offering thanks in this public
manner; shielding her, however, from every breath of offence by
skilfully declaring her freedom from all participation in the
publicity. _He_ uses the word kindness properly. It was a kindness,
indeed, for her to step out of her own sphere and assume the burdens
of his; but her husband's love was her impelling motive, and his
gratitude her exceeding great reward. Not strictly her duty, it became
undoubtedly her delight. For love is lavish. Love counts no sacrifice,
knows of none. For a husband who loved and recognized her, a wife
would bear Atlas on her shoulders. Only when it is coldly reckoned
upon as a right, coldly received as a due, does service become
servitude.

Read now the dedication of that royal book "On Liberty," by John
Stuart Mill, "one of the most powerful and original thinkers of the
nineteenth century," a man of culture so thorough that his has been
said to be the most cultivated mind of the age:--

"To the beloved and deplored memory of her who was the inspirer, and
in part the author, of all that is best in my writings,--the friend
and wife whose exalted sense of truth and right was my strongest
incitement, and whose approbation was my chief reward,--I dedicate
this volume. Like all that I have written for many years, it belongs
as much to her as to me; but the work as it stands has had, in a very
insufficient degree, the inestimable advantage of her revision; some
of the most important portions having been reserved for a more careful
re-examination, which they are now never destined to receive. Were I
but capable of interpreting to the world one half the great thoughts
and noble feelings which are buried in her grave, I should be the
medium of a greater benefit to it than is ever likely to arise from
anything that I can write, unprompted and unassisted by her all but
unrivalled wisdom."

Elizabeth Barrett Browning, we are told by encyclopedists, was
educated in a masculine range of studies, and with a masculine
strictness of intellectual discipline. The poets and philosophers of
Greece were the companions of her mind. In imaginative power and
originality of intellectual construction she is said to be entitled to
the very first place among the later English poets. She had considered
carefully, and was capable of treating wisely, the deepest social
problems which have engaged the attention of the most sagacious and
practical minds. Society in the aggregate, and the self-consciousness
of the solitary individual, were held in her grasp with equal ease,
and observed with equal accuracy. She had a statesman's comprehension
of the social and political problems which perplex the well-wishers of
Italy, and discussed them with the spirit of a statesman. This is not
my pronunciamento nor my language, but those of Hon. George S.
Hillard.

With a word fitly spoken this eminently strong-minded woman drew to
her side a poet of poets, and he in turn drew her to his heart.

When ten years of marriage had made him so well acquainted with his
wife as to give weight to his testimony, he wrote, at the close of a
volume of poems called "Men and Women," "One word more,"--surely the
seemliest word that ever poet uttered. He sang of the one sonnet that
Rafael wrote, of the one picture that Dante painted,--

    "Once, and only once, and for one only,
    (Ah, the prize!) to find his love a language
    Fit and fair and simple and sufficient,"--

and somewhat sadly adds:--

    "I shall never, in the years remaining,
    Paint you pictures, no, nor carve you statues,
    Make you music that should all-express me;
    So it seems: I stand on my attainment.
    This of verse alone, one life allows me;
    Other heights in other lives, God willing--
    All the gifts from all the heights, your own, Love.

    "Yet a semblance of resource avails us--
    Shade so finely touched, love's sense must seize it.
    Take these lines, look lovingly and nearly,
    Lines I write the first time and the last time.

       *       *       *       *       *

    He who writes may write for once, as I do.

    "Love, you saw me gather men and women,
    Live or dead or fashioned by my fancy.

       *       *       *       *       *

    I am mine and yours,--the rest be all men's.

    Let me speak this once in my true person,

    Though the fruit of speech be just this sentence,--
    Pray you, look on these my men and women,
    Take and keep my fifty poems finished;
    Where my heart lies, let my brain lie also!
    Poor the speech; be how I speak, for all things.

    "Not but that you know me! Lo, the moon's self!
    Here in London, yonder late in Florence.
    Still we find her face, the thrice-transfigured.

       *       *       *       *       *

    What, there's nothing in the moon noteworthy?
    Nay--for if that moon could love a mortal,
    Use, to charm him (so to fit a fancy)
    All her magic ('t is the old sweet mythos)
    She would turn a new side to her mortal,
    Side unseen of herdsman, huntsman, steersman,--
    Blank to Zoroaster on his terrace,
    Blind to Galileo on his turret,
    Dumb to Homer, dumb to Keats--him, even!

       *       *       *       *       *

    God be thanked, the meanest of his creatures
    Boasts two soul-sides,--one to face the world with,
    One to show a woman when he loves her.

    "This I say of me, but think of you, Love!
    This to you,--yourself my moon of poets!
    Ah, but that's the world's side,--there's the wonder,--
    Thus they see you, praise you, think they know you.
    There, in turn I stand with them and praise you,
    Out of my own self, I dare to phrase it,
    But the best is when I glide from out them,
    Cross a step or two of dubious twilight,
    Come out on the other side, the novel
    Silent silver lights and darks undreamed of,
    When I hush and bless myself with silence.

    "O, their Rafael of the dear Madonnas,
    O, their Dante of the dread Inferno,
    Wrote one song--and in my brain I sing it,
    Drew one angel--borne, see, on my bosom!"

Have you read it a hundred times before? Are you not grateful to me
for giving you an excuse to begin on the second hundred?

O women, since the heavens have been opened to reveal these points of
light, and you can infer somewhat the radiance which may wrap you
about with ineffable glory, will you be satisfied again with the
beggarly elements of a sordid world? Seeing on what heights a woman
may stand, will you lower to the level graded by generations of silly,
selfish, sensual male minds? Is it really worth while? If it is not a
good bargain to lose your own soul that you may gain the whole world,
what must it be to lose your soul and gain only a few stereotyped
phrases? If every other man that ever lived preached a crusade for
"stocking-mending, love, and cookery," and only these three whom I
have mentioned bore a different banner, would it not still be better
to shape your course by theirs? Is it not better to be worthy of the
respect and reverence of thinkers, than to receive the serenade of
sounding brass? Is it not better to heed the one true voice crying in
the wilderness, than to join in the uproar of the idolatrous mob that
shouts, "Great is Diana of the Ephesians!" When I lose faith in human
destiny, and am almost ready to say, "Who shall show us any good?" I
remember these utterances,--so lofty that one may say, not as the
fulsome courtiers of old time cried, but reverently and duly, "It is
the voice of God, and not of men,"--I recall these utterances, the
first so heartsome and overflowing that there is no thought for
niceties of phrase, but only one eager desire to pay an undemanded
tribute, only a warm, imperative urgency of expression; the second
inexpressibly mournful, but with such calm majesty of pain as an
ancient sculptor might have wrought into passionless marble, or a
Roman Senator folded beneath his mantle;--in the first, a man looking
from his happy earthly home, forward and upward to a happier home in
heaven; in the second, one gazing hopelessly from his waste places
down into darkness and the grave;--the first believing, "Because I
live ye shall live also"; the second sadly querying, "Man goeth to the
grave, and where is he?"--the first become as a little child through
faith; the second only as a pagan sage by reason;--the third heaping
up with ever unwearied and ever more delighted hand the brightest gems
of learning and fancy to adorn a beloved brow;--all turning at the
summit of their renown, at the point of their grandest achievement, to
do honor to a woman, the first two vindicating the intellect of
wifeliness, the last the wifeliness of intellect; all breathing a
magnanimity in whose presence no smallness can be so much as
named;--and I say there is more strength and courage to be gained,
more hope for the future and more faith in humanity to be gathered,
from such a glimpse than from the contemplation of five--what?
hundred? thousand? millions?--of ordinary marriages.

But to return to the question at issue,--Are these exceptional cases?
It is man's own work if they are. Just as the elevation of one negro
from slavery to supremacy, from stupidity to intelligence, is an
indisputable proof that the elevation of the whole race is possible,
so the case of one such woman as those I have mentioned settles the
question for the whole sex. All may not attain the same heights, but
this shows that intellectuality is open to them without destroying
spirituality. Education, it seems, can do just as much for woman as
for men. As careful mental training makes a man large-minded, it makes
a woman large-minded. If it does not make a man narrow-souled and
shallow-hearted, it will not make a woman so. If it does not unfit a
man for manly duties, it will not unfit a woman for womanly duties. If
ignorance and petty interests and limited views make a man trivial,
obstinate, prejudiced, why is it not the same things which make a
woman so? It is not necessary to determine whether there is an
essential difference between the masculine and feminine brain or
nature. All the difference, both in quantity and quality, which any
one demands, may be granted without affecting this question of mental
culture. No matter whether it be strong or weak, large or small,
educate what mind there is to its highest capacity. If there is no
difference, it is so much gained. If there is a difference, each mind
will select from the material furnished that which is suitable for its
own sustenance. Violet and apple-tree grow side by side. If the soil
is poor they are both meagre; if the soil is rich, they both flourish.
From the same tract one gathers his golden and mellow fruit, the other
her glowing purple richness. You may put a covering over the violet
and stunt it into a pale, puny, sickly thing, or you may cultivate it
to an imperial beauty. But it will be a violet still. The utmost
cultivation will not turn it into an apple-tree. Every plant may have
a different taste and a different need from every other plant, but
they all want the earth. The tiny draughts of the slender anemone are
not to be compared with the rivers of sap that bear to the royal oak
its centuries; but oak and anemone each demands all the juice it can
quaff, and earth and sea and sky are alike laid under tribute to fill
the fairy drinking-cup of the one, as well as the huge wassail-bowl of
the other.

So with mind. The philosopher, the poet, the theologian, the chemist,
quarry in the same mine, and each brings up thence the treasure that
his soul loves. The same cloud sweeps over the farmer to refresh his
thirsty lands, over the philosopher to confirm his theories, over the
painter to tempt his pencil. The principle of selection that obtains
in the lower ranks of Nature will not fail us in her higher walks.

It is because law, logic, science, philosophy, have been so almost
exclusively in the hands of men, that they have accomplished such
puerile results. With all their beauty and power, they have left our
common life so poor, and vapid, and vicious, because only half their
lesson has been learned. But they bear a message from the Most High,
and when woman shall be permitted to lend her listening ear and bring
to the interpretation her finer sense, we shall have good tidings of
great joy which shall be to all people.

But what is to become of masculine domination and feminine submission?
O faithless and perverse generation! Do you indeed believe that it is
"natural" for woman to trust and for man to be trusted,--for man to
guide and woman to be guided,--for man to rule and woman to be ruled?
In whose hand, then, lies the power to change Nature? Is she so weak
that a little more or less of this or that, administered by one of her
creatures, can alter all her arrangements? The granite of this round
world lies underneath, and the alluvium settles on the surface. Do you
suppose that anything and everything you can do in the way of
cultivation will have power to upheave the granite from its hidden
depths and send down the alluvium to discharge its underground duties?
What bands hold in their place the oxygen and nitrogen? Who says to
the silex and the phosphorus, "Thus far shalt thou go, and no
farther"? And do you think that, if you cannot change the quantities
of these simple elements, whose processes are patent to the eye, you
can change the qualities of the most complex thing in the whole world,
which works behind an impenetrable veil? If you cannot add one cubit
to a woman's stature, nor make one hair of her head white or black, do
you think you can add or subtract one feature from her mind? Cease
with high-sounding praise to extol the womanly nature, while
practically you deny that there is any. Bring your deeds up to your
words. Believe that God did not give to bird and brake and flower a
stability of character which he denied to half the human race. Believe
that a woman may be a woman still, though careful culture make the
wilderness blossom like the rose,--and not only a woman, but as much
more and better a woman as the garden is more and better than the
wilderness. The distinctions of sex are innate and eternal. They
create their own barriers, which cannot be overleaped.

Do you think that, in the examples which I have given,--and perhaps in
others which your own observation may have furnished you,--there was
any unusual lack of harmony or adjustment? Do you judge, from the
testimony of their husbands, that Mrs. Hitchcock, or Mrs. Mill, or
Mrs. Browning were any more overbearing, any more greedy of authority,
any more ambitious of outside power, any more unlovely and
unattractive, than the silliest Mrs. Maplesap, who never knew any
"sterner duty than to give caresses"? He must have used his eyes to
little purpose who has failed to see that, in a symmetrical womanhood,
every member keeps pace with every other. If one member suffers, all
the members suffer. Power is not local, but all-embracing. Weakness
does not coexist with strength. A silly, shallow woman cannot love
deeply, cannot live commandingly. I believe that a woman of
intellectual strength has a corresponding affectional strength. An
evil education may have so warped her that she seems to be a power for
evil rather than for good; but, all other things being equal, the
sounder the judgment the deeper the love. The clear head and the
strong heart go together. A woman who can assist her husband in
geology, or revise his metaphysics, or criticise his poetry, is much
more likely to hold him in wifely love and honor, is much more likely
to enliven his joy and medicine his weariness, than she who can only
clutch at the hem of his robe. Her love is intelligent, comprehensive,
firmly founded, and not to be lightly disturbed. Weakness may possess
itself of the outworks, but is easily dislodged. Strength goes within
and takes possession.

All the unloveliness and unwisdom which may have characterized the
"woman's movement," and of which men seem to stand in perpetual dread,
are but the natural consequence of their own misdoing. It was a
reaction against their wrong. Did women demand ungracefully? It was
because their entreaty had been scorned and their grace slighted.
Never,--I would risk my life on the assertion,--never did any number
of women leave a home to clamor in public for social rights unless
impelled by the sting of social wrongs, either in their own person or
in the persons of those dear to them. Every unwomanliness had its rise
in a previous unmanliness.

In a vile, nameless book to which I have before referred, I find
quoted the story of a rajah who was in the habit of asking, "Who is
she?" whenever a calamity was related to him, however severe or
however trivial. His attendants reported to him one morning that a
laborer had fallen from a ladder when working at his palace, and had
broken his neck. "Who is she?" demanded the rajah. "A man, no woman,
great prince," was the reply. "Who is she?" repeated the rajah, with
increased anger. In vain did the attendants assert the manhood of the
laborer. "Bring me instant intelligence what woman caused this
accident, or woe upon your heads!" exclaimed the prince. In an hour
the active attendants returned, and, prostrating themselves, cried
out, "O wise and powerful prince, as the ill-fated laborer was working
on the scaffold, he was attracted by the beauty of one of your
highness's damsels, and, gazing on her, lost his balance and fell to
the ground." "You hear now," said the prince, "no accident can happen
without a woman being, _in some way_, an instrument."

One might, perhaps, be pardoned for asking whether entire reliance can
be placed on testimony which is dictated beforehand on penalty of
losing one's head; but the anecdote indicates about the usual quantity
of sense and sagacity which is popularly brought to bear on the "woman
question," and we will let it pass. I have quoted the story because,
by changing the feminine for the masculine noun and pronoun, it so
admirably expresses my own views. As I look around upon the world, and
see the sin, the sorrow, the suffering, it seems to me that, so far as
it can be traced to human agency, man is at the bottom of every evil
under the sun. As the husband is, the wife is. The nursery rhyme gives
the whole history of man and woman in a nutshell:--

    "Jack and Gill
      Went up the hill
    To draw a pail of water;
      Jack fell down
      And broke his crown,
    And Gill came tumbling after."

Men have a way of falling back on Eve's transgression, as if that were
a sufficient excuse for all short- or wrong-coming. Milton glosses
over Adam's part in the transgression, and even gives his sin a rather
magnanimous air,--which is very different from that which Adam's
character wears in Genesis,--while all the blame is laid on "the woman
whom thou gavest to be with me." But before pronouncing judgment, I
should like to hear Eve's version of the story. Moses has given his,
and Milton his,--the first doubtless conveying as much truth as he was
able to be the medium of, the second expressing all the paganism of
his sex and his generation, mingled with the gall of his own private
bitterness; but we have never a word from Eve. That is, we have man's
side represented. But Eve will awake one day, and then, and not till
then, we shall know the whole. Meanwhile, it is well for men to go
back to the beginning of creation to find woman the guilty party. If
they stop anywhere short of it, they will be forced to shift the
burden to their own shoulders. A woman may have been originally one
step in advance of man in evil-doing, but he very soon caught up with
her, and has never since suffered himself to labor under a similar
disadvantage. I cannot think of a single folly, weakness, or vice in
women which men have not either planted or fostered; and generally
they have done both. But they do not see the link between cause and
effect, and they fail to direct their denunciation to the proper
quarter.

It only needs to trust nature! Learn that women crave to pay homage as
strongly as men crave to receive it. The higher women rise the more
eagerly will they turn to somewhat higher. It cannot be sweeter for a
man to be looked up to than it is for a woman to look up to him. Never
can you raise women to such an altitude that they will find their
pride and pleasure in looking down. Women want men to be masters quite
as much as men themselves wish it; but they want them first to be
worthy of it. Women never rebel against the authority of goodness, of
superiority, but against the tyranny of obstinacy, ignorance,
heartlessness. The supremacy which a husband holds by virtue of his
character is a wife's boon and blessing, and she suns herself in it
and is filled with an unspeakable content. It is the supremacy of mere
position, the supremacy of inferiority, that galls and irritates; that
breaks out in conventions and resolutions and remonstrances, in
suicide and insanity and crime. "The women now-a-days are playing the
devil all round," I heard a man say not long ago, in speaking of a
woman hitherto respectable, who had left husband and children and
eloped with some unknown adventurer. And I said in my heart, "I am
glad of it. Men have been playing the devil single-handed long enough,
I am glad women are taking it up. _Similia similibus curantur_."
Things must, to be sure, be in a very dreadful condition to require
such "heroic treatment," but things are in a very dreadful condition,
and if men will not amend them out of love of justice and right and
purity, I do not see any other way than that they must be forced to do
it out of a selfish regard to their own household comfort. Let my
people go, that they may serve me, was the word of the Lord to
Pharaoh, but Pharaoh hardened his heart and would not let the people
go. Not until there was no longer in Egypt a house in which there was
not one dead did the required emancipation come. Then with a great cry
of horror and dread were the children of Israel sent out as the Lord
their God commanded. Let my people go, that they may serve me, seems
the Lord to have been saying these many years to the taskmasters of
America; but who is the Lord, the taskmasters have cried, that we
should obey his voice to let Israel go? We know not the Lord, neither
will we let Israel go. Now on summer fields red with blood, through
the terrible voice of the cannonade bearing its summons of death, we
are learning in anguish and tears who is the Lord; and if men choose
not to do justly and love mercy and walk softly with women, it is
according to analogy that women shall become to them the scourge of
God. The very charities, the tendernesses, the blessing and beneficent
qualities against which they have sinned shall become thongs to lash
and scorpions to sting,--and all the people shall say amen!

I am so far from being surprised when women occasionally run away from
their husbands, that I rather marvel that there is not a hegira of
women; that our streets and lanes are not choked up with fugitives. I
do not believe in women's leaving their husbands to live with other
men; it is infamy and it is folly: but I do believe most profoundly in
women's leaving their husbands. It may be their right and their duty.
I think there is not the smallest danger in the state's putting all
possible power of this nature into the hands of women; because a
woman's nature is such that she will never exercise this power till
she has borne to the utmost, cruelty, malignity, or indifference; and,
in point of morality, indifference is just as good ground for
separation as cruelty. Love is the sole morality of marriage, and a
marriage to which love has never come, or from which it has departed,
is immorality, and a woman cannot continue in it without continually
incurring stain. I do not think she has a right to marry again; not
even a legal divorce justifies a second marriage; but she has a right
to withdraw from the man who imbrutes her. If the law does not justify
such action, she is right in taking the matter into her own hands.
There is no power on earth that can make a woman live with a man, if
she chooses not to live with him, and has a will strong enough to bear
out her choice; and when she finds that she ministers only to his
selfishness, when she discovers that her marriage is no marriage at
all, but an alliance offensive to all delicacy and opposed to all
improvement, she is not only justified in discontinuing it, but she is
not justified in continuing it. The position which a woman occupies in
such a connection is fairer in the eyes of the law, but morally it is
no less objectionable than if the marriage ceremony had never taken
place. A prayer and a promise cannot turn pollution into purity.

Is this a movement towards violating the sanctity of marriage? It is
rather causing that marriage shall not with its sanctity protect sin.
When a slaver, freighted with wretchedness, unfurls from its masthead
the Stars and Stripes, that it may avoid capture, does it thereby free
itself from guilt, or does it desecrate our flag? Who honors his
country, he who permits the slave-ship to go on her horrible way
protected by the sacred name she has dared to invoke, or he who scorns
to suffer those folds to sanction crime, tears down the flag from its
disgracing eminence, unlooses the bands of the oppressor and bids the
oppressed go free?

But are there not inconstant, weak women, who would take advantage of
such power, and for any fancied slight or foolish whim desert a good
home and a good husband? Well, what then? If a silly woman will of her
own motion go away and live by herself, I think she pursues a wise
course and deserves well of the Republic. I do not believe her good
husband will complain. On the contrary, he would doubtless adopt a
part at least of the Napoleonic principle, and build a bridge of gold
for his fleeing spouse. Such power will never make silly women, though
it may possibly render them more conspicuous, and that will be a
benefit. The more vividly a wrong is seen and felt, the more likely is
it to be removed. The remedy for the mischief which Lord Burleigh's
she-fool may do is, not to bind her to your hearth, but to keep her
away from it altogether; and better than a remedy, the preventive is,
so to treat women that they shall not be fools. If the ways of male
transgressors against women can be made so hard that they shall, in
very self-defence, set to and mend them--Heaven be praised!

But what of the Bible? Is not the permanency of the marriage
connection inculcated there? No more than I inculcate it. I certainly
do not see it enforced in any such manner as to weaken my position.
Its permanency is assumed rather than enjoined; but a basis of
essential oneness is also assumed, which is the sufficient, the true,
and the only true and sufficient basis. "Therefore," says Adam, "shall
a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto his wife:
and they shall be one flesh." But if, instead of cleaving to his wife,
a man cleaves away from his wife, and instead of being one flesh, the
twain become twain,--I do not see that Adam has anything to say on the
subject. I suppose Eve looked so lovely to him, and he was so delighted
to have her, that it never occurred to him to make any provision
against the contingency of his abusing her. I have not made any
especial research, but I do not remember anything in the precepts or
examples of the Bible that enjoins the continuance of association in
spite of everything. In principle it is presumed to be perpetual, but
in practice the Bible makes certain exceptions to perpetuity,--lays
down rules indeed for separation. "What God hath joined together let
not man put asunder," says our Saviour, which surely does not mean
that what greed or lust or ambition has joined together woman may not
put asunder. When a young man and a maiden, drawn towards each other
by their God-given instincts, have become one by love, no mere outside
incompatibility of wealth or rank, or any such thing, should forbid
them to become one by marriage. For what God hath joined together let
not man put asunder. But the God who would not permit an ox and an ass
to be yoked together to the same plough, never, surely, joined in holy
wedlock a brute and an angel; and if the angel struggles to escape
from the unequal yoke-fellow to whom the powers of evil have coupled
her, who dare thrust her back under the yoke with a "Thus saith the
Lord"? Christ himself does not pronounce against the putting away of
wife or husband, but against the putting away of one and marrying
another. St. Paul's words regarding the Christian and the idolater can
hardly be applied in our society, but so far as they can be applied
they confirm my views. "Let not the wife depart from her husband," he
says, and immediately adds, "_but and if she depart, let her remain
unmarried_, or be reconciled to her husband." Precisely. For no
trivial cause should the wife give her husband over to be the prey of
his own wicked passions; but if he is so bad, if he so degrades her
life that she must depart, let her remain unmarried.

It may be said that the interests of children would be compromised by
this mode of procedure. But the interests of children are already
fatally compromised. The interests of children are never at variance
with those of their parents. If it is for the interest of the mother
to leave her husband, it is not for the interest of her children that
she should stay with him. Whatever mortification or disgrace might
come to a few children would not be the greatest harm that could
happen to them, and in the end all children would be the gainers.

    "I hold that man the worst of public foes
    Who, either for his own or children's sake,
    To save his blood from scandal, lets the wife
    Whom he knows false abide and rule the house."

True. For "man" put "woman," and for "wife" "husband," and it will be
no less true. Of one thing be sure. The interests of children need not
block the wheels of legislation. The mother will take them into as
earnest consideration as any assembly of men. If they are not safe in
her hands, they will not be safe in any hands.

Furthermore notice, the chief stress of Scriptural prohibition is laid
on men. The rules and restraints are for men. Very little injunction
is given to women. The Inspirer of the Bible knew the souls which he
had made, and for the hardness of men's hearts hedged them about with
restrictions, and for the softness of women's hearts left them chiefly
to their own sweet will. The great Creator knew that women would never
be largely addicted to leaving their husbands for trifling causes, nor
indeed are serious causes often sufficient to produce such results.
The rack and wheel and thumb-screw of married life are generally less
powerful than the patience of the wifely heart. But his Maker knew,
too, the inconstant nature of man, and bound him with the strictest
charges. I am entirely willing to abide by the Bible. Let the state
abide by it too, and give to women the legal power to save themselves.
There is no danger that they will abuse it. They will even use it only
to correct the most fatal abuse.

But what, then, becomes of the marriage vows? Shall all their
solemnity vanish as a thread of tow when it toucheth the fire? No; but
I would have the marriage vows themselves vanish. They are heathenish.
They are a relic of barbarism. I have never studied into their origin,
but there is internal evidence that women had neither part nor lot in
framing them. The whole matter is one of those masculinities with
which society has been saddled for generations,--one of the bungling
makeshifts to which men resort when they are left to themselves, and
have but a vague notion of what it is that they want, and no notion at
all of how they are to get it. Look at it a moment. Here is the whole
world lying before man, waiting for him to enter in and take
possession. Woman desires nothing so much as that he should be monarch
of all he surveys. She acknowledges him to be in his own right, she
implores him to be by his own act, king. The greatest blessing that
can fall upon her is his coronation. It is only when the king is come
to his own that woman can enter into her lawful inheritance. So long
as he keeps his crown in abeyance, so long as he tramples his
prerogatives under foot, she too misses the purple and the throne.
What does he do? Instead of wearing his dignities, and discharging his
duties, he goes clad in rags, he dwells with beggars, he deals in
baubles, and depends for allegiance upon a word! With all his power
depending solely upon himself, with love and life awaiting only his
worthiness, with a devotion that knows no measure standing ready and
eager to bless him, all the dew of youth, all the faith of innocence,
all the boundless trust of tenderness, all the grace and charm and
resource of an infinitely daring and enduring affection,--he turns
away from it all and claims the coarseness of a promise! He does not
see the invincible strength of that subtile, impalpable bond which God
has ordained, but trusts his fate to a clumsy yet flimsy cord which
himself has woven, which his eyes can see and his hands handle, and in
which therefore he can believe, no matter though it parts at the first
strain.

Does it? Did a person ever change his course out of respect to his
marriage vows? I do not mean his marriage or the marriage ceremony,
but simply the promises: to love, honor, and cherish on the one side;
to love, honor, and obey on the other. Did a man's promise ever fetter
his tongue from uttering the harsh word? Did a woman's promise ever
induce her to heed her husband's wishes? I trow not. The honor and
love which a husband or wife do not spontaneously render, they will
seldom render for a vow. If the vital spark of heavenly flame remains,
the promise is of no use. If it is gone out, the promise is of no
power. A solemn declaration of facts, a solemn assertion, calling upon
God and man for witness, would, it seems to me, be equally efficient,
and much more moral, than the present form of promise. Power over the
future is not given to any of us, but we can all bear witness of the
present. The history of this war goes to show that oaths of any sort
are of but little use,--mere wisps of straw when the current sets
against them,--and that Christ meant what he said when he said, "Swear
not at all." But, however the case may stand regarding facts, there
can be but one opinion regarding feelings. To swear to preserve an
emotion or an affection is to assume a burden which neither our
fathers nor we are able to bear. And to take an oath which one has no
power to keep, has a tendency to weaken in men's minds the obligation
of oaths. If there must be swearing, we should act on Paley's hint,
and promise to love as long as possible, and then to make the best of
the bargain.

That part of the marriage contract which relates to obedience deserves
a separate attention. What is meant by a wife's obedience? Shall an
adult person of ordinary intelligence forego the use of her own
judgment and adopt the conclusions of another person's? Is that what
is meant?

To the law and to the testimony again. In the beginning nothing is
said of obedience or lordship. There is no subordination of man to
woman or woman to man. They are simply one flesh. God created man in
his own image; male and female created he them. And God blessed
_them_, and said unto _them_, have dominion, &c. Eve was to have
dominion precisely like Adam, so far as we can see. But in the fall
she forfeited it, and the curse came: "Thy desire shall be to thy
husband, and he shall rule over thee." When the king was shorn of his
power, the queen was dethroned. That settles the question, does it
not? Not at all. God so loved the world, that, when the fulness of the
time was come, he sent forth his Son, made of a woman, made under the
law, to redeem them that were under the law. Christ hath redeemed us
from the curse of the law, being made a curse for us. So then,
brethren, we are not children of bondwomen, but of free women!

If you do not believe the Bible, the curse is of no account. If you do
believe the Bible, the curse is taken away. Now then where are you?

But St. Paul is brought in here with great effect by the defenders of
the old _régime_. St. Paul, living under the new dispensation, became
its exponent, reduced it to a system, and must be considered authority
regarding its meaning and design. The curse had been as completely
taken away then as now, yet he says: "Wives, submit yourselves unto
your own husbands, as unto the Lord. For the husband is the head of
the wife, even as Christ is the head of the church.... Therefore as
the church is subject unto Christ, so let the wives be to their own
husbands in everything." Can anything be stronger or more explicit?
Nothing. But if you take St. Paul, take the whole of him. Accepting
for wives the injunction of submission, accept it also for yourselves;
for in the preceding verses he says, "Be filled with the spirit,
_submitting yourselves one to another_ in the fear of God." The same
word is used to indicate the relations proper between husband and wife
and between friend and friend. If, then, according to St. Paul, the
wife must absolutely obey her husband, her husband must just as
absolutely obey his wife, and both must obey their next-door neighbor.

Observe also the manner of the control and the submission,--"as unto
the Lord." The husband is the head of the wife, even as Christ is the
head of the church. The wife is to be subject to the husband, as the
church is subject to Christ. Why, this is just what I want. Not a wife
in Christendom but would rejoice to recognize her husband to be her
head as Christ is the head of the church. Only let husbands follow
their model, and there would be no more question of obedience. Quote
St. Paul against me? St. Paul is my standard-bearer! If you had only
obeyed St. Paul, I should not be fighting at all. The world would go
on so smoothly and lovingly that I should never be required to stir up
its impure mind by way of remembrance, but should be occupied in
writing the loveliest little idyls that ever were thought of. It is
the flagrant disregard and violation of Paul's teachings that brings
me unto you with a rod instead of in love and the spirit of meekness.
I want no higher standard than was set up by Paul.

Men reason very well so long as they confine their reasoning to pure
mathematics, but when they attempt to apply their logic to practical
life, they are at fault. They find it difficult to make allowance for
friction. They do not observe, and they do not know what to do with
their observations when they have made them. Consequently, though
their arguments look very well, they do not stand the test of
experiment. Nothing can be more charming than this implicit trust
which men so love and laud, this unhesitating submission of the fond
wife,--the "God is thy law, thou mine" of Milton (which most men
evidently believe is to be found in all the Four Gospels and most of
the Epistles). Yet its only practical justification would be the
infallibility of men. But in actual life men are not infallible. They
are just as likely to be wrong as women. The only obedience
practicable or desirable is the adoption of the wisest course after
consultation. Practically, there is seldom much trouble about this
matter; but there is none the less for all the theories and all the
vows of obedience. Yet we have it from good authority, that it is
better not to vow than to vow and not pay.

When I see the strenuousness with which man has ever enjoined upon
woman respect for his position and submission to his will, the
persistence with which he has maintained his superiority and her
subordination, the compensatory and unreasonable, inconsequent homage
which he awards to those who acquiesce in his claims, I seem to be
reading a new version of an old story. Man takes woman up into an
exceeding high mountain, and shows her what seems to her dazzled eyes
all the kingdoms of the world, and the glory of them, and says unto
her, "All these things will I give thee, if thou wilt fall down and
worship me." But as it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall
be,--"Thou shalt worship the Lord thy God, and him only shalt thou
serve." For many generations the world has reaped a bitter harvest
from worshipping and serving the creature more than the Creator. Eve's
desire was to the man, and he ruled over her consequently, and she
brought forth a murderer. The virgin-mother rejoiced primarily in God,
and that Holy Thing which was born of her was called the Son of God.
For six thousand years the works of the flesh have been manifest,
which are these: adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness,
idolatry, witchcraft, hatred, variance, emulations, wrath, strife,
seditions, heresies, envyings, murders, drunkenness, revellings, and
such like. But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace,
long-suffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance.

When women begin to talk of right, men begin to talk of courtesy. They
are very willing that women should be angels, but they are not willing
that they should be naturally-developed women. They like to pay
compliments, but they like not to award dues. One great article of
their belief is, that

      "A woman ripens like a peach,
    In the cheeks chiefly,"

and the rod perpetually held over any deeper ripening is the not
always unspoken threat of a forfeiture of masculine deference. From
those who want what they have not shall be taken away that which they
have. Very well, take it away. No thoughtful woman desires any homage
that can be given or withheld at pleasure. The only reverence, the
only respect, which has any value, is that which springs from the
depths of the heart spontaneously. If the politeness which men show to
women, and for which American men are famous, does not spring from
their own sense of fitness, if it is a kind of barter, a reward of
merit, let us dispense with it altogether. Sometimes I almost fear
that it is so. Sometimes I am half inclined to believe that men are
kind and courteous chiefly to those who are independent of them. In a
railroad-car, not long since, I saw a woman, hard-featured,
coarse-complexioned, ignorant, rude, and boisterous, engaged in an
altercation with the conductor regarding her fare. The dozen men in
the vicinity leaned forward or looked around with intent eyes,
and--must I say, smiling? no--grinning faces, and saluted each fresh
outburst of violence with laughter. Could a true courtesy have found
amusement, or anything but pain, in such an exhibition? The woman was
most unwomanly, but she was a woman. That should be enough, on your
principles. She was a human being. That is enough, on mine.

In "Our Old Home," Hawthorne--O the late sorrow of that beloved
name!--has most tenderly told the story of Delia Bacon. When her book
was published, we are informed, "it fell with a dead thump at the feet
of the public, and has never been picked up. A few persons turned over
one or two of the leaves, as it lay there, and essayed to kick the
volume deeper into the mud.... From the scholars and critics in her
own country, indeed, Miss Bacon might have looked for a worthier
appreciation." But, "If any American ever wrote a word in her behalf,
Miss Bacon never knew it, nor did I. Our journalists at once
republished some of the most brutal vituperations of the English
press, thus pelting their poor countrywoman with stolen mud, without
even waiting to know whether the ignominy was deserved. And they never
have known it to this day, nor ever will."

Is this courtesy? Is this the lofty manhood which women are to bow
down and worship? To such as these is it that women are to say, "What
thou bid'st, unargued I obey"? Men may promise all the kingdoms of the
earth and the glory of them, and women may make never so persistent
efforts to bow down and enter into possession; but the worship will
never be heartsome, nor the title ever secure. Never will the human
mind, whether of man or woman, rest in that which is not excellent. So
long as men are unworthy of fealty, they may forever grasp, but they
cannot retain it. Their empire will be turbulent and their claim
disputed. They will have a secure hold on woman's respect only so far
as character commands it. Feudalism was better than barbarism, and the
nineteenth is an advance on the fifteenth century. But the inmost germ
of chivalry has not yet flowered into perfect blossom. By the
restiveness of woman under the tutelage of man may he measure his own
short-comings. It is not necessary that men should be renowned, but
they should be great. Fame is a matter of gifts, but character is
always at command. Not every man can be a philosopher, poet, or
president, but every man can be gentle, reverent, unselfish, upright,
magnanimous, pure. In field and wood and prairie, standing behind the
counter, bending over lapstone or anvil, day-book, ledger, or graver,
a man may fashion himself on the true heroic model, and so

    "Move onward, leading up the golden year;
    For unto him who works, and feels he works,
    The same grand year is ever at the doors."

In that grand year courtesy shall be recognized as the growth of the
soul and not of circumstance. A man shall bear himself towards a
woman, not according to what she is, but to what himself is. He shall
dispense the kindnesses of travel, assembly, and all manner of
association, not only to the good and the gentle, but also to the
froward; and he will do it, not because he thinks it best or right,
but because he cannot do otherwise, without working inward violence
upon himself. If a woman show herself rude or unthinking, or if in any
way she transgresses the laws of taste, propriety, or morality, he
shall not, therefore, consider himself at liberty to utter coarse
jests or coarse rebuke, to cast free looks, or disport himself with
laughter. It shall not be possible for him to do so; but he shall
rather feel in his own heart the thrill and in his own blood the
tingle of degradation, and gravely and sadly will he

    "Pay the reverence of old days
      To her dead fame;
    Walk backward with averted gaze,
      And hide the shame."

Nor shall his deference be confined to woman, but man to man shall do
that which is seemly. For all poverty, loneliness, helplessness,
repulsiveness, and every form of weakness and misfortune, especially
for those worst misfortunes that come from one's own imprudence or
misdoing, he shall have sympathy and help. Then, indeed, "shall all
men's good be each man's rule." Then between man and woman shall be no
mine and thine, but Maud Muller's dream shall be fulfilled, and joy is
duty and love is law.

Much of our classification of qualities into masculine and feminine,
all assignment of superiority or inferiority to one or other of the
sexes, seems to me to be founded on a false conception.[5] No virtue,
scarcely a quality, is the prerogative of man or woman, but manly and
womanly together make the perfect being. A man who has not in his soul
the essence of womanhood, is an unmanly man. A woman who has not the
essence of manhood, is an unwomanly woman. It is woman in
man,--gentleness, guilelessness, truth, permeating strength and valor,
that gives to man his charm: it is man in woman,--courage, firmness,
fibre, underlying grace and beauty, that give to woman her
fascination. A brutal man, a weak woman, is as fatally defective as a
coward or an Amazon. God made man in his own image; God made man male
and female. God, then, is in himself type of both male and female, and
only in proportion as all men are womanly and all women manly, does
each become susceptible of the love and worthy of the respect of the
other. Neither is the man superior to the woman, nor the woman to the
man, but they twain are one flesh.

        [5] This paragraph was written with a partial reference to
        Mrs. Farnham's "Woman and her Era," of which book I had at
        the time but a very general notion, derived from one or two
        newspaper notices. Since then the appearance of an unclean
        criticism in the "Publishers' Circular" induced me to
        suspect that the book must embody some unusual excellence,
        or it could not have forced a fallen soul thus to foam out
        its own shame. From such a brief glance as I have been able
        to give to "Woman and her Era," while these pages are going
        through the press, I infer that, a little hidden from common
        eyes under a somewhat appalling mass of metaphysical and
        other learning, are collected a greater number of valuable,
        timely truths than I have met in any other book on this
        topic. Not agreeing to all her opinions, one can but rejoice
        in the sagacity which most of them display, and in the good
        temper and just spirit which characterize all.



XIV.


Doubtless there are many men who will say: To what purpose is all
this? What new development has arisen to necessitate a new outcry?
The world is getting on very well. People marry and are given in
marriage; buy, sell, and get gain. There is a good deal of wickedness
and suffering, but less of both than formerly, and both are evidently
diminishing. Earth is not heaven, and in the world we shall always
have tribulation, men and women both, but neither men nor women make
any particular complaint, and on the whole it may reasonably be
inferred that they are getting on comfortably. Pray let well enough
alone.

But your well enough cannot be let alone, because it is not well
enough. Nothing is well enough so long as it can be bettered. The
world is not getting on comfortably, however comfortable you may be.
Mounted in your car of Juggernaut, you may find the prospect pleasing,
the motion exhilarating, and the journey agreeable, but your _Io
triumphe_ has but a discordant twang to those whom you are so
pleasantly crushing under your chariot-wheels. Your vision is not
trustworthy. Through I know not what process a judicial blindness
seems to come upon people, so that those ways seem good whose end is
death. True, the world is advancing, but with a motion which, compared
with that which it might attain, is retrogression. Whose fiat has
decreed, "Thus fast shalt thou go, and no faster"? Why is it that we
only creep, when we might run and not be weary, might mount up with
wings as eagles? Why do we dwell, with toil and tears, in the Valley
of the Shadow of Death, when the voice from heaven centuries ago bade
us come up higher? We have for our inheritance the elements of all
things good and great and to be desired; but we lack the clear vision
and the cunning hand to construct from them the Paradise that every
family might be, in spite of the sin that despoiled the first; so we
continue to dwell without Paradise, and very far off. Men and women
are at variance with themselves and with one another. Power and
passion run to waste. Positions are inverted, relations confused, and
light obscured. The sanctuary of the Lord is built up with untempered
mortar, and jewels of gold are degraded to a swine's snout.

Underneath all wars and convulsions, underneath all forms of
government and all social institutions, it seems to me that the
relations between man and woman are the granite formation upon which
the whole world rests. Society will be elevated only just so fast and
so far as these relations become what God intended them to be.
Monarchies, republics, democracies, may have their benefits and their
partisans, but the family is the foundation of country. I said "it
seems to me" so. I have been charged with being sometimes too positive
in my opinions. It may have been a youthful fault, but I long since
corrected it. I should now suggest rather than affirm the equality
between the angles of a triangle and two right angles. I am open to
conviction on the subject of the multiplication-table; but on this
point my feet are fixed, and, as my Puritan ancestors were wont to
sing, somewhat nasally perhaps, but with hand on sword,--

    "Let mountains from their seats be hurled
      Down to the deep, and buried there,
    Convulsions shake the solid world,
      My faith shall never yield to fear."

All other influences are fitful and fragmentary: the home influence
alone is steady and sufficient, and the home influence depends upon
the relations between father and mother. Unless there is on both sides
respect first, and then love, such love as brings an all-embracing
sympathy, and so an outer and inner harmony,--harmony between life and
its laws and harmony between heart and heart,--the child's head will
be pillowed upon discord, his cradle will be rocked by restlessness,
and his character can hardly fail to be unsymmetrical. We have all
seen the wickedness of man, that it is great in the earth; but why
should it not be, when he is conceived in sin and shapen in iniquity;
when his plastic soul is moulded amid jarring elements, and the voices
that fall upon his infant ear--voices that should be modulated only to
tenderness and love, and all the sweet and endearing qualities--are
sharpened by coldness, embittered by disappointment, shrill through
unremitting toil and rough with sordid ambitions? I only wonder that
children bred up in such uncongenial homes come to be so much men and
women as they are. No outbreak of treachery or turpitude astonishes
me, when I remember the discordant circumstances into the midst of
which the baby-soul was born. The only astonishment is, that every
soul tends so strongly towards its original type as to have even an
outer seeming of virtue. I wonder that, when the twig is so ruthlessly
and persistently bent, the tree should reach up ever so crookedly
towards heaven. Kind Nature takes her poor warped little ones, and
with gentle, imperceptible hand touches them to a grace and softness
which we have no right to expect, but to never that divine grace, that
ineffable sweetness, of which the human soul is capable, and to which
in its highest moods it ever yearns. O, if this one truth could be
imprinted upon this age,--the one truth that the regeneration of the
world is to come through love,--what hope could one not see for the
future! God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten Son, and
henceforth there is no more offering for sin. It only remains for us
to enter into the holiest by this new and living way which he hath
consecrated for us. The offering of Divine love is complete. Let human
love come in to do its part, and the human soul shall be sanctified
from its birth. When clamor and wrath and evil-speaking and
evil-feeling are banished from the household hearth, murder and
plunder and lust will fly from the public ways. When the child is the
child of mutual love and trust and reverence and wisdom, he will never
belie his parentage.

We give to the dead their honors,--meet homage for the dust that
shrined a soul. All passion is hushed, all pettiness vanishes in the
presence of the dread mystery. But there is a mystery more dread, a
mystery to which death is but as the sunshine for clearness,--the only
sunshine which lights up its hidden labyrinths. It is the inexplicable
secret of life. Fear not before the power which kills the body, but is
not able to kill the soul. Stand in awe before that Power which can
evoke both soul and body from nothingness into everlasting life. Death
does but mark the accomplishment of one stage in a journey, with whose
inception we had nothing to do. It is but a necessary change of
carriage at some relay-house,--an involuntary and inevitable event in
which we are but interested spectators or passive participants. But
whether the Spirit shall set out on its journey at all, and what shall
be the manner of its going, what its sustenance by the way, and what
the light upon its path,--these are matters for concern; for these
involve the weightiest responsibilities which man can bear. To fashion
an infinite soul and send it forth upon an infinite career,--infinite
susceptibilities laid open to the touch of infinite sorrow,--oh! to
him who has ever faced the facts of being,--not death, not death, but
this irrevocable gift of life, is the one solemnity, the awful
sacrament!

You will say that you believe all this now, but you do not believe it.
You agree to it in a certain sentimental Pickwickian sense, but you do
not hold it as a living truth. You will assent to all that is said of
the importance of the family, and then go straightway and give your
chief time, thought, ingenuity, to your farms and your merchandise.
What men really believe in is making money, not making true men and
women. They believe that the greatness of a nation consists in its much
land and gold and machinery and ability to browbeat another nation,
not in the incorruptibility of its citizens. Wealth and fame, purple
and fine linen and sumptuous fare, brute force of intellect, position,
and power, one or another or all forms of self-indulgence,--these, not
purity, love, content, aspiration, and hearty good-will, they take to
constitute blessedness. What a man gives his life to, what he will
attend to with his own eyes and mind, and will not trust to any other
person, that he believes in. Any amount of fulsome adulation may be
poured out upon the womanly in nature, but one particle of true
reverence, one single award of rightful freedom, is worth it all.
Surely, if you could but see how the land is as the garden of Eden
before you, and around you a desolate wilderness, you would suffer
yourselves to be charmed into its ways of pleasantness and its paths
of peace. You do not know the beautiful capacities which this earth,
this very sin-stained, death-struck earth, bears in its redeemed
bosom. Where sin abounds to sorrow, grace may much more abound to
peace. Through the wonder of the Divine redemption there is possible
for us a new heaven and a new earth, wherein righteousness shall
dwell, and always and everywhere righteousness and peace kiss each
other. You sing the praises of woman, but you do not begin to dream of
the loveliness, the blessedness, the beneficence of which she is
capable. You extol her in song and story, but with your life you will
not suffer women to be womanly. You are so evil, and you decree so
much evil, that, alas! a woman wakes to conscious life, and is not
free to follow the bent of her nature; she must expend all her
energies in clearing a breathing-space. O, you do a fearful wrong in
this, and you endure a fearful wrong. For do you think the work is for
woman alone? Do you think there is any such thing as a "woman
question" that is not also a man question? Do you not know, that

    "Laws of changeless justice bind
      Oppressor with oppressed,
    And, close as sin and suffering joined,
      We march to fate abreast"?

The first shock of penalty for transgression falls upon woman, but
sure and swift as the lightning it passes on to man. Every measure
that keeps woman down keeps man down. Every jot taken from woman's joy
is so much taken from man. All his wrong-thinking and wrong-doing that
bears so heavily upon her bears down upon himself with equal weight.
Action and reaction are not only inevitable, but constant. Every small
or great improvement in woman's condition elevates society, and
society is only men and women. If men persist in alternate or in
combined scorn and flattery, and will not do justly, the sorrow as
well as the shame is theirs, and both are instantaneous.

We are told of the Persian bird Juftak, which has only one wing. On
the wingless side the male has a hook and the female a ring, and when
fastened together, and only when fastened together, can they fly. The
human race is that Persian, bird, the Juftak. When man and woman
unite, they may soar skyward, scorners of the ground, but so long as
man refuses God's help proffered in woman, he and she must alike grub
on the earth. If he will have her minister only to the wants of his
lower nature, his higher nature as well as hers shall be forever
pinioned.

You may possibly suspect that I have sometimes insinuated a greater
moral obliquity on the part of man than on that of woman; and, indeed,
I believe you are right. But the greater obliquity which I attribute
to him is the result of his training, not an attribute of his nature.
I once held the contrary opinion, but it is not tenable. Man is made
in the image of God, and one part of God cannot be better than
another. If men were not capable of being nobler than their ordinary
life exhibits them, I should think this war an especial providence of
God in other respects than are usually mentioned. But look at the
developments which this very war has made. Is fortitude in pain, as
many have asserted, a womanly attribute? But what fortitude under pain
has been shown by our soldiers on the battle-field and in hospital!
Torn with ghastly wounds, tortured with thirst, weak from loss of
blood and lack of food, untended and unconsoled; or wasting away in
the crowded hospital week after week and month after month, longing
for home while dying for country; or scarred, maimed, and disabled for
life; yet uttering no word of complaint, breathing no murmur of
impatience, making a sport of pain, grateful for every word and touch
and look and thought of tenderness, when a nation's tenderness is
their just due, and glad all through that they have been able to fight
for the beloved land,--is fortitude indeed only a womanly virtue? Or
is it that gentleness and self-sacrifice are pure womanly, as is so
often maintained? Look through the same battle-fields and hospitals;
see men waiting upon men with the indescribable gentleness of
compassion and pure sympathy; see them risking life to save a wounded
comrade; see them passing day and night from cot to cot, to bathe the
fevered brow, to moisten the parched lip, to soothe the restless mind,
to receive the last message of love, and speed the parting soul. See
the wounded man bidding the surgeon pass him by to heal the sorer
hurts of his neighbor, or putting the canteen from his own lips to the
paler lips beside him, till you shall take every soldier to be a
Sidney. Rough men they may be or polished, rudely or delicately
nurtured, trained to every accomplishment or only born into the world,
but everywhere you shall look on such high heroic gentleness and
thoughtfulness and patience and self-abnegation as make the courage of
onset seem in comparison but a low, brute virtue. O blood-red blossoms
of war, with your heart of fire, deeper than glow and crimson you
unfold the white lilies of Christ!

Who shall show us any good that cannot be predicated of the nature
which, stunted and twisted from the beginning, can yet bring forth
such heavenly fruit? If God can work in man so to will and to do, is
it for woman to stand aside and say, "I am holier than thou"?

But though the exigencies of war make more obvious the fine
possibilities of men, it does not need a continent in deadly strife to
indicate their existence. There are sacred hours in every life when
that which is of the earth is held in abeyance and celestial
influences reign. No man, perhaps, has ever lived who has not had his
better moments,--moments when the spirit of God moved upon the turbid
waters of his soul and brought light out of darkness and beauty from
chaos: silent moments it may be, and solitary, or hallowed with a
companionship dearer even than solitude; moments when helplessness,
loveliness, innocence, or suffering thrilled him to the depths with
pity and tenderness, with indignation or with adoration. Have you
never seen the sweetest ties existing between father and daughter, or
brother and younger sister, when the wife has been removed by death,
or, through some fatal fault, is no mother to her child? What love,
what devotion, what watchful care, what sympathy, what strength of
attachment! The little unmothered daughter calls out all the
motherhood in the great, brawny man, and they walk hand in hand, blest
with a great content. "'Tis the old sweet mythos,"--the infant
nourished at the father's breast.

Every-day occurrences reveal in men traits of disinterestedness,
consideration, all Christian virtues and graces. My heart misgives me
when I think of it all,--their loving-kindness, their forbearance,
their unstinted service, their integrity; and of the not sufficiently
unfrequent instances in which women, by fretfulness, folly, or
selfishness, irritate and alienate the noble heart which they ought to
prize above rubies. I have not hitherto made a single irrelevant
remark, and I will therefore indulge in the luxury of one now. It is
this: Considering how few good husbands there are in the world, and
how many good women there are who would have been to them a crown of
glory and a royal diadem, had the coronation but been effected, but
who, instead, are losing all their pure gems down the dark, unfathomed
caves of some bad man's heart,--considering this, I account that woman
to whom has been allotted a good husband, and who can do no better
than spoil him and his happiness by her own misbehavior, guilty, if
not of the unpardonable sin, at least of the unpardonable stupidity.
If it were relevant, I could easily make out a long list of charges
against women, and of excellences to be set down to the credit of men.
But women have been stoned to death, or at least to coma, with charges
already; and when you would extricate a wagon from a slough, you put
your shoulder first and heaviest to the wheel that is deepest in the
mud,--especially if the other wheel would hardly be in at all, unless
this one had pulled it in! I can understand and have great
consideration towards those men who, gentle, faithful, and true
themselves, possibly disheartened by long companionship with a
capricious, tyrannical woman, should fail to acquiesce with any
heartiness in the truth of the views which I have advanced. Their
experience is of long-suffering men and long-afflicting women, and
they can hardly be expected to entertain with enthusiasm a statement
which has perhaps no bearing upon their position. Still, when facts
meet facts, the argument is always on the side of the heaviest
battalions. It is the rule that generalizes, exceptions only modify.

There is another circumstance which makes strongly against any
assertion of man's necessary moral inferiority to woman. The manly
ideal is often one to which no woman takes exception. In poetry and
romance, men, as well as women, paint heroes; and I hold that no one
can project from his imagination a better character than he is himself
capable of attaining. He can be all that he can portray. The stream
through his pen can rise no higher than the fountain in his heart, and
out of the heart are the issues of life which he may keep as pure and
clear as poesy. It was no woman's hand which limned the grand, sad
face of that "good king," who

      "Was first of all the kings who drew
    The knighthood-errant of this realm and all
    The realms together under me, their Head,
    In that fair order of my Table Round,
    A glorious company, the flower of men,
    To serve as model for the mighty world,
    And be the fair beginning of a time.
    I made them lay their hands in mine and swear
    To reverence the King, as if he were
    Their conscience, and their conscience as their King,
    To break the heathen and uphold the Christ,
    To ride abroad redressing human wrongs,
    To speak no slander, no, nor listen to it,
    To lead sweet lives in purest chastity,
    To love one maiden only, cleave to her,
    And worship her by years of noble deeds,
    Until they won her; for indeed I knew
    Of no more subtle master under heaven
    Than is the maiden passion for a maid,
    Not only to keep down the base in man,
    But teach high thought, and amiable words
    And courtliness, and the desire of fame,
    And love of truth, and all that makes a man."

Another fact must also be allowed. Individual men are often better
than their principles. Men who will, in cold blood, avow sentiments
really atrocious, will, in the presence of a commanding female
influence, straighten up to its requirements and carry themselves
tolerably well; but with their lips they will all the while deny the
power which their lives obey. Many a man who rails at strong-minded
women, female education, and petticoat government, who professes to
believe only in stocking-mending, love, and cookery, will be utterly,
though unconsciously, plastic to the hand of a truly strong-minded,
educated, and controlling woman. He does not know it; power in its
highest action works ever imperceptibly. Nevertheless, it is there,
and he follows it. His wrong opinions help to strengthen the citadel
of evil, but himself is less bad than he seems. This ought to be
remembered when inquisition is made.

It would be easy to multiply evidence, but it is not necessary. Enough
has been produced to show that men have evinced the highest not only
of those qualities which belong to their own sex, but those which are
usually considered the prerogative of the other. And what men have
done man may do. Life can be as lovely as its best moods. _In vino
veritas_, said Roman philosophy, and builded better than it knew. In
the wine of love is the truth of life. As pure, as thoughtful, as
disinterested, as helpful, as manly as is the lover can the husband
be. What the poet sings, that the man should live. A race that has
attained a temporary exaltation can attain a permanent exaltation. If
one man has bent to the stern decree of duty, knowing

      "All
    Life needs for life is possible to will,"

all men can compass self-control. I am filled with indignation when I
see the low standard accepted for man's due measurement. Well may he
exclaim, in sad, despairing reproach,--

      "Men have burnt my house,
    Maligned my motives,--but not one, I swear,
    Has wronged my soul as this Aurora has,"

or this Romney or Sir Blaise, who forbids me access to the holy place,
denies me power to lead a saintly life. Why, it is because men can be
good that we reproach them. It is because we do see in them hints of
dormant excellences that we consider it worth while to keep them in a
state of agitation. If they must be as bad as their badnesses, there
is only one verdict: He is joined to idols; let him alone. But,
beloved, I am persuaded better things of you, and things that
accompany salvation, though I thus speak. What has been is of no fatal
import. What has been only shows the track of error; now we may follow
the footsteps of truth. The old world is a world masculinized; a world
of rugged, brawny, male muscularity, but slightly and partially
softened by feminine touch. Man was satisfied that woman in the
beginning should be taken out of him, and he has ever since been
trying to grope his way alone,--with what success ages of blunder and
blood bear terrible witness. Now, seeing that his _defeminization_ has
failed, let him compass the spiritual restoration of her who was
physically separated from him, that the twain may become one perfect
being, and reassume supreme dominion. The power lies ready to his
hand. Eve was never wholly torn away. Deep within every heart lies the
slumbering Princess still. A hundred years and many another hundred
have gone by, and round her palace-wall, round her star-broidered
coverlet, her gold-fringed pillow, and her jet-black hair, the hedge
has woven its ivies and woodbine, thorns and mistletoes. Burr and
brake and brier, close-matted, seem to refuse approach, and even to
deny existence, but ever and anon above their surly barricade gleams
in some evening sun the topmost palace spires, and we know that the
fated Fairy Prince shall come, and, guided by the magic music in his
heart, shall find that quiet chamber; reverently, on bended knee,
shall touch the tranced lips, and--lo! thought and time are born
again, and it is a new world which was the old.

Men, notwithstanding their high privilege, remain in their low
estate,--partly because they are not enlightened out of it. They do
evil, not knowing what they do. Like all despots, they have dealt more
in adulation than in truth. They have heard from women the voice of
flattery, the cry of entreaty, the wail of helpless pain, the impotent
watchword of insurrection; but they have had small opportunity to
benefit by the careful analysis of character, the accurate delineation
and just rebuke of faults, and the calm, judicious, affectionate
counsel which comes from a wise and faithful friend--like me! Women
may stand before them, sweet, trusting creatures, "just as high as
their hearts," to be schooled into devotion and amiable submission.
They may float demi-goddesses in some incomprehensible ether above the
clouds, and receive incense and adoration. But for the ministering
angel to turn into an accusing angel, for the lectured to rise and lay
down the law to lecturers, is a thing which was never dreamt of in
Horatio's philosophy.

                    "A man
    May call a white-browed girl Dian,
    But likes not to be turned upon
    And nicknamed young Endymion."

Nor, indeed, is it any more grateful to Dian than to Endymion. To
confront man on his throne with the stern, dispassionate charge, "Thou
art inexcusable, O man, whosoever thou art, that judgest; for wherein
thou judgest another, thou condemnest thyself; and thinkest thou this,
O man, that thou shalt escape the judgment of God?" seems to woman so
formidable a thing, that very few have had the courage to attempt it.
Many are so overborne with toil, disappointment, and faintness, that
they have no heart for it. It is easier to suffer than to attempt
remedy. They feel, in the lowest depths of their consciousness,

    "What all their weeping will not let them say,
    And yet what women cannot say at all
    But weeping bitterly."

But they remain silent, and the case goes by default. There is,
besides, a dread of personal consequences. Popular judgment is very
much given to attributing general statements to private experience. If
a woman is married, her adverse opinions are likely to be charged with
implying conjugal discontent. If she is not married, they spring from
failure and envy, and, shrinking from such opprobrium, the few women
who see talk the matter over among themselves, and that is the end of
it. There is also a natural reluctance to suggest that which men
should do or be spontaneously, and there is a deeper reluctance,
instinctive, indefinite, inexplicable.

The result is, that men go on in sin, seemingly unconscious that it is
sin. They have been pursuing one course all their life, meeting
obstacles, enduring fatigue, losing patience, but incapable of
perceiving that they are in the wrong path until the fact is pointed
out to them. They do not even understand the nomenclature of the
science of right living. Speak of cherishing a departed friend, and
they will descant on the absurdity of going about moaning and weeping
all your days. They attach no meaning to life-long tenderness but
life-long namby-pambyism, something excusable in youth and "courting,"
but savoring strongly of weakness of character after the honeymoon has
waned. Put before them the general allegation of selfishness,
indifference, cruelty, and they will deny it with vehemence. Of
course. Without such denial they could have no excuse. Moral ignorance
alone saves them from utter condemnation. If they sinned
wittingly,--if they said, "Yes, I am cold and hard and hateful to my
wife, neglectful of my children, I give grudgingly money barely
sufficient for the necessities of life, or I provide for my wife every
luxury, but have no sympathy or companionship for her,"--if men said
or could say this, even to themselves, they would be--not men, but
demons. They are not demons, but men, capable of generosity, devotion,
and self-sacrifice. If they knew that they were cruel, outrageous,
intolerable in their most intimate relations, they would at once cease
to be so, and begin to become everything that could be desired. More
than this, I have so great faith in the noble possibilities of men, I
believe they have so strong an inward bias towards holiness, that they
will welcome the friendly hand which sets their iniquities before
them. They will hear the sad story with amazement, and say one to
another: "Who can understand his errors? A brutish man knoweth not;
neither doth a fool understand this. We have sinned with our fathers,
we have committed iniquity, we have done wickedly. So foolish was I
and ignorant; I was as a beast. But now I will behave myself wisely in
a perfect way. I will walk within my house with a perfect heart." And,
when men shall have grown good, there will be no further complaint of
women. To Lavater's list of impossible good women, Blake, the "mad
painter," appends, "Let the men do their duty, and the women will be
such wonders: the female life lives from the life of the male." There
are exceptions, but in the mass women are not independent of received
opinions, nor strong enough to front prejudice and mould society, or
where they cannot mould it, to guide their own lives in its very
spite. Therefore opinion needs to be right, prejudice removed, and
society renovated; and men must do it. Women are generally said to
make society. It is not so. Men make women, and men and women together
make society. Men are the rocky stratum, women the soil which covers
it. Men determine the outline, the level, the general character; women
give the curves, the bloom, the grace. Rear your hills and lay your
valleys, and the land shall speedily flow with milk and honey; but if
you will upheave mountains and spread deserts, you may expect scant
herbage on the one and but scattered oases on the other.

I cannot, of course, pronounce that it is absolutely impossible for
woman to attain a truer life without man's co-operation. The Most High
ruleth in the kingdom of men and giveth it to whomsoever he will. What
revolution may await us in the future no one knows. Fired by what
impulse woman may throw off the stupor which has enthralled her so
long, array herself in her beautiful garments and mount upward to the
heavenly heights, whose air alone her spirit pants to breathe, whose
paths alone her feet are framed to tread, I do not know. Yet blessed
as is that day, come when and how it will, I would it were ushered in
by a peaceful dawn. Better that woman should take her place alone,
moved by an ineffable disdain, than that she should remain forever in
her low estate. Better still that man and woman should go together, he
bringing his sturdy strength to shorten, she lending her manifold
grace to lighten, the path that leads up thither; and both, following
the still, small voice of love, shall find no roughness, shall feel no
grief, shall fear no evil, but shall walk softly till the end come,
and shall rest in the peace of the beloved.



L'ENVOI.


O sweet my friend, hastening with happy steps to your marriage-morn, O
my poet, singing under your hawthorn-tree the song that never can grow
old, am I then a bird of evil omen? Does it thunder towards the left
as I pass by? Be not so credulous. I take no lustre from the
golden-bright day that lies half-hidden under the mild haze of
September: but I would that fair day's light should shine as the
brightness of the firmament for ever and ever. I breathe no blight
upon the hawthorn, no discord to the song; but I would the bloom of
the one and the melody of the other might never die away. Dream, O
maiden! your pleasant dreams; sing, O poet! your happy songs; but
while the flush of the sunrise is yet ruddy on your brows, think it
not strange that I leave your sweet light and go down to them who are
sitting in the region and shadow of death.

Have _I_ written this book? It is but the voice of a thousand aching
hearts. Ten thousand dreary lives are wrought into its pages. It is
the sorrow of just such hearts as yours, the disappointment of just
such hopes, that have found a record here. The gloom that gathers on
these leaves is gloom that hangs over paths just as fair as yours in
their glad beginning. I feast my eyes on the beautiful temple of your
promise, and I pray that you may go no more out of it forever; but I
cannot forget that all my life I have seen highway and byway strewn
with the fragments of temples which in their majesty of completeness
must have been just as marvellous as yours. And being fully persuaded
in my own mind that there is a way whereby the wondrous edifice may be
made as enduring as it is brilliant, shall I not proclaim it
throughout all the land, unto all the inhabitants thereof, that the
trumpet of the jubilee may sound? You shall not make the darkness your
pavilion, because the world is hung with gloom; but neither shall you
reckon it offence, if I cannot wholly rejoice in your light for
thinking of the great multitudes who are sitting in a darkness which
may be felt. To-day is lost, but it is not too late for the morrow.
Wasted life can never be restored;--

    "Though every summer green the plain,
    This harvest cannot bloom again."

Only beyond the grave can a new life spring into beauty, and the death
of this be swallowed up in victory. But for the lives that have not
yet been lavished, for the "poor little maidens" of great-hearted Dr.
Luther, for gentle Magdalenchen, fiery young Lenore, merry Beatrice,
skipping along their separate paths, each to her unknown womanhood, or
walking already through its shadowy ways,--how earnestly for them do
we covet the best gift! But if they fail of this, shall not one show
them how to live worthily without it? Shall not one bid them see how
poor and false and mean is everything which offers itself instead; how
sad were the exchange of an ideal good for a base reality; how fatal
the disaster when the sacred torch pales before a grosser flame? So
through these summer days, my little maid, when all sweet summer
sounds but echo to you the music of one low voice, add to the happy
thought within your heart this happiest thought of all: There shall
come a day when the same sky that bends in blessing above your head
shall bend,--no cloud to darken, but only to adorn, no fogs to hide,
but only mist-wreaths to deck its blue,--soft, serene, and beautiful,
above an earth purified by the same love which makes to you all things
pure. Through that new atmosphere, my poet, the tuneful voices of your
song shall go, wakening all the woods to melody, summoning shy
response from the ever-charmed hills, ringing out over the listening
waters, giving and gathering sweetness wherever a human heart throbs;
till earth, all a-quiver with the harmony, shall lift from the dust
her long-neglected lyre, sweep once more to her place among the stars,
and raise again her happy voice in the unforgotten music of the
spheres.



Cambridge: Stereotyped and Printed by Welch, Bigelow, & Co.





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