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presages the crown. Let me but kiss the hem of thy garment, Bertha, Let me but know that I am not contemptible in thine eyes. I follow thee afar off.'-16. pp. 179–181.
No style ever betrayed more clearly the female hand than does every page of this story; yet it joins in the general aim of the movement-or we should say of the movement's female advocates—in asserting an absolute sameness of duties, and of moral and intellectual qualities in the two sexes. Bertha is a nondescript-neither man nor woman can properly claim her ; but she is designed to represent all manly excellences, and a great deal beside, and also to be without all strictly feminine qualities. She has no fellowship with those whom she designates as the household women, fair, limited, and submissive. And from the mystic and ideal to the most matter-of-fact of the party, the same assumption and repudiation is evident. Whatever qualities have been fondly dwelt upon as the peculiar charm of woman's nature, these Amazons rudely disown for themselves, and discard for their sex.
Take, for example, the theological Grace of Faith. An inborn sentiment of devotion, an implicit uncavilling reception of divine truths, an aptness to believe, a readiness of trust, an awe and reverence of the unseen, an unquestioning surrender of the heart and affections, a spirit of self-sacrifice consequent on this realizing of things not seen as yet : these have hitherto been esteemed qualities of woman's religion, so far as she is religious. Her part has been not to argue, but to believe, and to show forth the fruits of a lively, undoubting faith, holy both in body and spirit.' And men, whom the necessities of controversy may force, not without risk to themselves, into an opposite course, leading them to exercise reason upon the deep things of God, and to pry into mysteries before which angels veil their faces, have thought themselves gainers by the presence among them of a simpler, intuitive, child-like faith, maintaining the calm sanctities of religion amidst those who might otherwise lose their awe of creeds and doctrines, and forget them as actuating principles in the business of investigation and defence.
But this is a position which has always been peculiarly offensive to the pretensions of this school of aspirants; and they parade the right of an independent exercise of the reason on all subjects, the most inscrutable and awful, with an audacity which is rarely found equalled in the rival sex, whom the inherited experience of many failures may teach a little reticence of expression. The foundress of this sect, in controverting the statement that woman was made for man, which she would not believe though an angel from heaven were to assure her of it, expresses herself thus:
-Having no fear of the devil before
'my eyes, I venture to call this [her disbelief ] a suggestion of reason. And in her chapter on Duty to Parents,' she equally
' disregards any obligation which reason does not enforce. The • absurd duty too often inculcated of obeying a parent only on account of his being a parent, shackles the mind, and prepares
it for a slavish submission to any power but reason.' Margaret Fuller, a more attractive specimen of the school, discusses all questions of faith with the same air of absolute trust in her own ụnderstanding, and of superiority to every revelation, though possessing belief in certain faots in such guarded formulas as
I believe in my own way,' in such and such truths. I will not * loathe sects, persuasions, systems,” she says, 'though I cannot abide in them one moment, for I see that by most men they are still needed.' But we need not go on to prove a point which will be obvious enough to all who have followed us so far,
Again, modesty, as it betrays any colouring from their sex, they carefully eschew. A purity that fears contamination from the contact, or mention, or bare knowledge of evil, is with them a very weak and cowardly virtue. If it may not be put to the proof of a little rough usage, they can see no use nor purpose in it. As the authoress of the Remarks' expresses it, If • women be as pure in nature as they are invariably repre• sented, they will act on pollution like chloride of lime. And again, • Excessive timidity is not purity.'. Children,' says Mary Wollstonecraft, 'I grant, should be innocent, but when 'the epithet is applied to men or women, it is but a civil "term for weakness.' Margaret Fuller we find commended for having no 'false shame;' and certainly she never confined the subjects of her conversation or speculation within feminine limits. Bashfulness and shamefacedness, those graces whose livery is a blush the whole family of timid, shrinking instincts are affirmed or implied on all hands to be the fruits of ignorance; they are weaknesses which keep women from exercising proper control or influence in the world. They can have no good in them, because they fade and lose their bloom if exposed continually to the rude touch of evil. Now, the modesty, which alone they will acknowledge as part of the unshackled woman's nature, is a bolder, more actively aggressive quality, haling all evil and impurity before the light of day, and the scrutiny of impartial reason; that being analyzed, and its root fully investigated, it may then, if found guilty, be judicially condemned; a process which men, however enlightened, cannot yet desire to be carried on at their own hearthstones.
Again, constancy has hitherto been unanimously regarded as a virtue. The only question has been which sex may lay the greatest claim to it, and women have eagerly asserted their superiority.
But these modern ladies deny that there is any superiority in the matter, and are on the whole anxious to disclaim constancy as a womanly grace or instinct. They will have men understand that they must not hope to be beloved in the new era, beyond the moment when they are regarded as the highest ideal of excellence that has yet been encountered. At present,' says one, “a mistaken education, a narrow, uncultivated mind, and
many sexual prejudices, tend to make women more constant than men.' Margaret Fuller, in her cool account of Made. George Sands, who is notoriously not constant, says— She
needs no defence but only to be understood, for she has bravely " acted out her nature, and always with good intentions. She * might have loved one man permanently, if she could have found one contemporary with her, who could interest and
command her throughout her range; but there was hardly a * '
possibility of that for such a person. And we find it stated in Bertha,' we must love the highest representative of the • ideal that comes across our path, let the former loves be what they may.' When Julia begins to detect that her lover's deepest heart is Bertha's, and sounds her on the subject, that sybil replies :"" Ah, Julia, life is very mysterious. I wait patiently for God's truth
I would say to my lover, if there is one in the world to awaken a higher life in thee, any angel to breathe to thee a better revelation, go; God forbid that I should be a hindrance. I would send him on from angel to archangel if I could. It is true, I may bold back the throbs of my poor anguished heart lest it break. I may breathe softly lest the heari, strings rupture—but what then? I would give him a God-speed to the very gates of heaven, though I myself sink down into some dim valley, and shed unavailing tears--tears that would scorn to call him back. He has passed out of my sphere, just as I might have passed out of his.” '-Ib. pp. 240, 241. To say the least of it, a very unsettling theory, and, should this school gain ground, opening an alarming vista of uncertainty in the marriage relation, to all who have not the magnanimity to believe themselves the highest ideal. Nor, alas! can we speak of these views as mere theory. Already in our own country, amongst the few, we trust, that hold them, they are bearing their natural fruits, as all theories on so vital a point must very soon do. One case of open defiance to the laws of God and man, notorious enough to have reached many of our readers, was begun and justified on the lady's part, and is persisted in by all concerned, on this identical train of reasoning. And as these several virtues are disowned, and many more in their train, such as obedience, meekness, humility, so certain womanly glories and privileges are rejected, as incompatible with the main end of emancipation. In claiming the larger sphere of
the world as their own, these women willingly resign the lesser dominion of household and home, and disparage and invade with out scruple the wife's and mother's rights and office. One main end of the · Vindication of the Rights of Women,' is to persuade them that the sentiment of warm, devoted, conjugal affection, all 'exclusive affections,' prevent women fulfilling the duties of their station with dignity, by preoccupying and narrowing the mind. Bertha takes up her abode in the house of an old dependant of her family, though fully aware how disagreeable her presence is to his wife, whose existing and valued . rights' are thus summarily treated, while she is occupied in gaining others for her for which she had no taste or desire :
I spoke in this wise : “My dear Mrs. True, you mistake me altogether. I only wish to belp you in thought, as well as many ways. I am quite alone in the world, and could wish to pass the rest of my life with the only person whom I have found true in bis very soul, as is your hushand, and he knows more of me than any person living, has been very faithful to me, and I am grateful to him beyond expression.”
* As I said this the tears came to my eyes, an unwonted thing for years. Defiance took up my unlucky words— Yes, and so you come here to make unhappiness between John and me."
6" Woman!" said I, but she went on,
• “ Yes, John thinks you're a saint on earth, though I've never seen you pray; and he thinks there's nobody like you under the sun; and so I, his lawful wife, am made to feel sneaking where you are. Oh! if it wasn't for my religion, I should die.”
· The miserable petty thorn! I cried to myself. Will the world ever behold a race of women-true women, deserving the name? No wonder men are base and miscbievous, nursed at such a fountain. If I could have my way, I would insist that women, now, at this moment, weak and ineffective as they are, should be admitted to all the burdens of legislative responsibility, that they might be brought to feel their lack of noble culture, and thus set themselves in earnest to amend. While these thoughts swept through my mind, and kept me silent, Defiance went on, in a sharp whining voice, uttering all sorts of absurdities.'--1b. pp. 31, 32.
The sacred rights of maternity are in the same way invaded, and women are to exchange their control over their own children for a vote in the legislature.
• Bertha was right. The mother is not the best teacher to her children, in the present aspect of society. She is exhausted with the pangs of maternity. She is oppressed and servile with much bearing, as was Leah
- her children fret and annoy her-whereas the teacher should be calm, cheerful, self-sustained. The child ceases to love the mother because of the perpetual interdict-the “ do not " of the household law. A few gene. rations of children, reared under the “ do thou” of the new covenant, would transform the whole social aspect.'--Ib. p. 46.
The rights, too, of the matron are infringed in the same way. She is denied authority over her sex. Young women are promoted over her head. Mere girls are assured that everything depends upon them ; that they must look into the present laws concerning women, with a view to a truer union between husband and wife, because all points connected with this subject are the legitimate interests of young women; it
depends on them to mould public opinion on this point.' (Remarks, p. 15.) We need not run through the other advan( tages renounced in the same cause: the tenderness which is the due of those who acknowledge dependence, the immunity from many of this world's most anxious troubles, the small pleasures, the light relaxations, and gentle amenities which make home cheerful, and for which there would be no time and no patience in the new order of things: all these are sacrificed without a thought, for the sake of fighting the noisy battle of life side by side with men-doing their work, joining in their occupations, sharing their rights.
We have said that our sympathies go rather with the American portion of the present movement than with our own, a sympathy, it need hardly be explained, which belongs not to their demands, but to their existing position. It may surprise those accustomed to regard America as the land of freedom, emancipated by its newness from old-world prescriptions and vested rights, to be told that in no country of the civilised world do women occupy so subordinate a place in the institutions of their country as in America; in no country are social habits so much opposed to their legitimate influence. For ourselves, we hold that the women of America are to be pitied. In that land of absolute political equality, with the word • liberty for ever sounding in their ears, and where there are none of those subordinate degrees of power as in the old world, which teach all people, male and female, to be patient at exclusions of which every one has his share, they find themselves with no political existence, absolutely excluded from public affairs, their existence as part of the body politic ignored. In the perpetual pother of public interests and political agitation they keep silence; they have no voice, public or private ; while every hearth’ in England, we are told, is a little parliament,' and each household here is keenly and warmly interested in public events. Mr. Emerson informs us that in America the female politician is unknown,' and Mr. Higginson makes the same admission :
• It is said that women are not now familiar with political affairs. Certainly they are not, for they have no stimulus to be. Give them the same motive for informing themselves, and the natural American appetite for newspapers will be developed as readily in women as in men.'-Woman and her Wishes, p. 19.
The history of America proper, it is true, does not include many generations, but it does great events. Surely it is the only history wherein women play no leading part, where they