페이지 이미지
PDF
ePub

a wider circle; but these must always be exceptions, and a woman's home concerns so entirely spread over her time that there must always be some danger of occupations wholly distinct, isolating and detaching her from them. For these home concerns' take a wide range, extending with the rank and position, not to speak of what are most commonly understood by maternal and household duties; the wife is the regulator of social intercourse; the sinall cares of society devolve upon her; she has to cultivate acquaintances and to cement friendships, for her husband's present enjoyment, and her children's future benefit. She is also her husband's almoner; the poor of her own parish or near neighbourhood should be personally known to her; for she cannot help them wisely without a knowledge of their character and circumstances; and when all these daily duties are attended to, we ask Mr. Parker where is the time for writing her Sunday sermons or visiting her patients, and are these to be her first consideration or her second? One or other, we venture to say, must go to the wall. Of the two it had certainly better be the sermon; but in reality we suspect that, in most cases, the public ministrations would gain the day. Seriously, in the perfect theory of a family the wife ought to have nothing to do with earning money. We know that in an imperfect state of things no perfect theory can be carried out, and we are quite willing to allow that in innumerable cases this ideal perfection must be abandoned; but we feel certain that in every model family that at this moment occurs to our readers, of whatever class, the wife is not what is called the bread-winner,--she has nothing whatever to do with this department. She is the economist, the wise dispenser, the manager, the money-spender of the family; and whenever she gives up these important offices to be merely one of the providers, she gives up her headship, and sinks into an inferior and less responsible office.

We have already touched upon the danger of the new system in the intellectual classes. But the poor may be supposed under a different law, and certainly where the rate of wages is too low, women do seem sometimes compelled to degenerate from managers into labourers. But, even here, the advantage we believe to be in most instances doubtful, and half her wages lost in the confusion and waste that reigns at home. In manufacturing districts, where the wages are higher, this is visibly the

How many of the instances of deformity and disease amongst children may be traced to their mothers' having left them to the care of others while they went to work! and even where she has her work at home we have seen similar ill consequences, especially in sedentary employments, in which the children can take no part, and are only in the way. The monotony of manual labour, allowing the mind to range off in dreams or mere vacuity, is preferred to the mental effort continually required to observe punctuality, and to keep things in order. The meals are neglected the children sent out of doors to find companions in the street—the daughters left to follow their own devices—unswept, unwashed, unmended house, and household in perpetual confusion and discomfort: it is at this sacrifice that a few additional shillings are added weekly by the wife to the family income.

case.

Our argument, then, leads to the conclusion that married women, at least, have their duties prescribed to them too numerous and arduous to admit of their interference in another sphere, as a rule of ordinary practice. Nor can it be denied that this admssion throws another difficulty in the way of that wider field of occupation we would desire to see opened to women leading a single life. As marriage is a providential arrangement, it is not desirable that young women should settle the question for themselves, whether they shall marry or not, as the indignant daughters of Young America are disposed to do, when called upon not to be heroines but mothers of heroes; nor would previous settlement have any weight against inclination, when the moment for decision came. No calling then needing a special education, and involving such expenses as the settlement of sons require, would ever obtain the consent of a father, who would infallibly prefer, as mankind is constituted, seeing his daughter established in advantageous marriage, than in the solitary practice of some business or other calling, however adapted to be a woman's pursuit.

The other demand universally made by these advocates of progress is for political power—especially, and as a preliminary, the right of voting at elections. Many plausible things may ba and are said on this point, such as that the noblest woman has no voice in the state, while drunken freemen decide many an election, and so forth, triumphantly repeating the argument, that thousands of women who are denied all legislative rights are better informed on the questions at issue than those who really decide them. But, in fact, the question is not to be considered under this intellectual test, but under those primary laws of a division of labour and duties between the sexes to which we have appealed. We believe that our women have great political influence as it is, and that they would not, in fact, increase it by the right of voting being imposed upon them; for that it would be an imposition upon the majority we are convinced. It is a fallacy to say, as these people do, no woman would be obliged to vote, for a right always involves a duty; and if, as the movement evidently supposes, the conservative class of women refused the responsibility, and the agitators availed themselves of it, all power would be thrown at once into their hands, which must by no means be allowed, and there would infallibly ensue social and public disturbance, excitement, and female contentions, open to the ridicule of brother electors, and grievous to the taste and principles of the more feminine politicians, who are used to express their opinions and to receive deference for them in private, but who would find no fair arena for the exercise of their judgment in the tumult of men and men-like women, who would carry all before them, and alone be heard in large public assemblies. We do but touch, however, on this part of the subject, as our institutions are on no side considered ripe for this innovation, and at present the arguments against it reign in most minds of either sex undisturbed by doubt or question.

One topic, which might seem to bear on the present inquiry, we have not referred to, though of more general and practical interest than any balancing of theoretical rights or claims can be—we mean the existing laws of Divorce. But as these now stand, it is especially a man's question, and the aspect of the question has no exclusively feminine side, and we therefore do not enlarge further upon it here.

Our remarks have followed a devious course, and we fear have not assumed a very practical bearing. But it has not been our design to treat the matter ex cathedra, or to utter any stern assertion of our old-fashioned principles, which we have in fact supposed to be too universally shared by our readers to be necessary. This feminine movement is but one of the many questions on which the believers in progress and perfectibility will always be at issue with those who, following the Preacher, see nothing new under the sun, but the thing that hath been, it is that which shall be ; a conviction which, once firmly established in the mind, is so sustained and borne out by individual experience, that all opposite speculations will ever appear baseless visions. Yet, in some sense, the two contradictory views are to be reconciled. That which is done is indeed that which shall be done; and yet there is such a thing as progress. Man in himself remains the same in his nature, in his weakness, in his desires, in his joys and sorrows, in his trials and alleviations, in his brief life of small and, for the most part, insignificant cares and doings, whereby he is to prepare himself for a great future immortal existence. Yet society, of which he forms a part, all the while advances, the arts of life develop, opinion takes a higher stand. We should feel to have gone back and suffered loss in the moral atmosphere of fifty, or a hundred, or a thousand years ago; and yet this advanced public opinion does not really

elevate the inmost heart and conscience above the evil thoughts and low aims, which have tempted and will tempt man to sin and his soul's loss, generation after generation, frorn the deluge to the final day. So, again, the marvellous show of social and intellectual progress is alike compatible with a stationary measure of real intelligence in the aggregate of civilized men. The masses will still be dependent on the world's great thinkers and inventors, obeying their impulses, the mere instruments to further their ends and carry out their designs; toiling at another's bidding, thinking the thoughts that have been suggested to them, acquiescing passively in discovery after discovery, and being themselves but partially and remotely affected by them. Though science brings the ends of the earth together, and multiplies production a thousand-fold—under the sun there will still be labour of arm, mechanical toil, wrought in the sweat of man's brow to sustain life; and under this universal law and necessity the nature of the toil, and the instruments employed, sink into insignificance, as matter must always do in comparison with man that wields it to his purposes. And if

progress leaves men so much as it found them, does not the analogy apply to woman also ? If man's nature has its bounds that it cannot pass, if his lot is fixed and certain, though knowledge increase and strive to emancipate him, can woman subvert her six thousand years' destiny, and take upon herself a new course, new duties, and another sphere? Two pictures are set before us of the last days by Him who took upon Him our nature, and both distinctly express the continuance of man and woman in their appointed place, the same at the end of the world as at the beginning. Then, as in the days of Noe, men shall marry,' and women be given “in marriage,' submitting to be ruled; and then as now man's scene of labour shall be the field, the outer world, and woman's the dwelling, making ready and dispensing what his toil provides. Happy both, equally blessed, if they so accomplish their appointed tasks as to be 'taken' to an eternity of nobler employment, where no lofty aspiration of either shall remain unsatisfied!

48

Art. II.-1. Burn's Ecclesiastical Law. London: Sweet. [9th

Edit.] 2.-A Sermon preached before the House of Lords, March 21st,

1855. By WALTER KERR HAMILTON, D.D., Bishop of Salis

bury. London: Spottiswoode. We think that very few, except the most resolute and ignorant of the Dissenters, will deny that, taken as a whole, the Clergy of England are a useful and deserving class, whose secular interests are entitled to their fair share of common justice. Even those persons who inay not have been accustomed, by early associations, to venerate them in their sacerdotal character, or to regard the Church of England and Ireland as entrusted with a power of the keys, may yet look on the Church and the Clergy with very considerable respect, as forming one of the most ancient and widely extended religious institutions of the country,

The milder class of dissenters, especially in rural districts; and even inore inveterate schismatics; in the times of sickness and poverty, would sincerely regret to see the parochial Clergy as a body disappear from before them. They may indulge at present their nonconforming tendencies without let or hindrance, and revel in the occasional amusement of setting at nought the clergyman' of the parish; but if the Church and the clergyman no longer existed, the whole zest and pleasure of the thing would be gone, inasmuch as there would be nothing to separate themselves from, nothing with which they might refuse to conform. What resources would they have in their moments of distress, either temporal or spiritual, when the imperfect systems of their own religious constitution failed them, in the many religious offices which even they respect and adhere to ? The Clergy of this country are everywhere the leaders, and, in rural districts almost exclusively, the promoters of education, as well as the great payers for it also. Without being generally eminent in science or literature, they yet furnish individuals most distinguished in both, and are as a body the chief representatives, in their respective localities, of all that civilizes and refines; especially in days when the influential laity 110 longer live on their estates, or make themselves public characters by mixing freely and without reserve among their dependents and neighbours, even during the brief visits with which they may honour the hereditary mansion. As for the learned professions of law and physic, they accomplish something, no doubt, in diffusing men of education throughout the country; but, of the former class, it is very seldom that a respectable attorney is to be found in a country village, while

« 이전계속 »