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Art. II.-1. Reports issued by the Schools' Enquiry Commission
on the Education of Girls. 2. Journal of the Women's Educational Union. Edited by Miss
Shirreff and George C. T. Bartley 3. The Education of American Girls. Edited by Anna C.
Brackett. 1874. 4. Five Hundred Employments adapted to Women, with the average
Rate of Pay in each. By Miss Virginia Penny. Phila
delphia. 5. Literary and Social Judgments. By W. R. Greg. 1868. 6. The Woman's Gazette, or News about Work. Conducted by
L. M. H. TN her Letters to her Daughter,' Lady Mary Wortley
1 Montague introduces this remark : I have never in all my various travels seen but two sorts of people, and those very like one another-I mean men and women who always have been and will be the same. Whatever the ambiguity of this sentence, there is no mistake as to what so clear-headed a woman, who despatched commonplaces and sophistries with a touch, really meant; not that men and women are very like one another all over the world, but that the two sorts' in one country resemble the two sorts' in another—a fact which few women have had more opportunity of verifying. She might even have added that whatever the progress and changes in social habitswhatever the occasional interchange of parts in the drama of life, from circumstances past control the two sorts' would remain distinct to the end of the chapter, and would not be men and women at all if they did not. Under these circumstances there is something tragi-comic in the pains many a worthy writer has taken to prove that men are masculine and women feminine, and that it is for their mutual interest to continue so; while the fact, that these works have been aimed chiefly at the claims of the weaker vessels, would lead to the inference that they are the party most eager to break the appointed bounds. Accordingly the central and special point round which the arguments of these writers revolve is, that woman should fulfil her mission :' in other words, that Nature having intended every Joan to have her John, she should seek and find her true happiness in a delightful round of domestic duties, exactly fitted to her capacity and strength, and neyer above either, all directed to John's especial comfort, and to that of the usual conjugal contingencies. The curious part of the argument is that, while it is always taken for granted that there is not only a husband in the case, but a pattern
one, whom it will be her privilege to love, honour, and obey, it is as invariably forgotten that there is nothing in this world she is more eager to do. Far from needing pressure or persuasion, the poor lady is as ready to welcome that mirror of manly perfections who is to complete her being, as a duck is to take to the water. It is astonishing how these writers would simplify matters. Their conception of the relative positions of the two sorts' would seem to be that of a great corporate body, divided into two equal portions—the men on the one side, the women on the other—whence a succession of couples emerge and pair off in regular turns. This is a pretty picture for an Arcadian cotillon. The mind's eye can see them meeting, giving hands, and gaily careering down the middle; but it is not a picture for the canvas of real life. Such methodical arrangements, stript of all their gilding, would require men and women to return to that primitive form of society where to be marriageable is to marry. But there is no such thing as a state of nature for civilized man : the utmost development he is capable of is his only proper nature. “A highly artificial condition of society' is a phrase apt to inspire an unpleasant impression, as of something which has deviated from sound, simple, and normal habits; but it is only the questionable adjective which is misleading: the thing itself is what every country capable of progress must covet; for it means nothing less than that in proportion as the conditions of life become more difficult and complex, they should be met by more ingenuity, more culture, more forethought, prudence, duty, and self-sacrifice. It is this complex state which interferes with what we fancy the natural relations of life, but which really raises them into a far more pure and ennobling sphere—which compels parents to part with their sons for their good to distant lands, never perhaps to see them again -which drives men to live where women of their own station cannot join them—which forces husbands to make their homes in climates where their wives sicken and their children cannot exist, and to continue at their posts so that these loved ones may exist elsewhere. There is no demoralisation or disorganization in this. It is rather a transposition of elements; a rooting up in one place to take root in another; a disintegration which stirs and fertilizes, to enrich and to bind again-all fulfilling the original mandate to replenish the earth and subdue it. But in this jostle and dispersion of social parts there is no doubt that the individual suffers though the race advances, and that the weakest is left to lament.'
According to the Population Returns' of 1851, as quoted by Mr. Greg, there were in England and Wales at that time no less
than 1,248,000 women single, between the ages of 20 and 40. Reckoning for the numbers who in England marry after 20, this total would be considerably diminished ; but, even so, it is believed that the permanent number of unmarried women may be accepted as about three-quarters of a million. Nor is the fact, that the estimate was made twenty-seven years ago, likely to have reduced the amount, but rather the reverse. This discloses what must be called a strange social phenomenon, suggestive of desolate positions and bitter needs, which has to be viewed under two aspects. Woman is the helpmeet for man, but man is the support hitherto deemed necessary for woman. Both aspects, in the tremendous extent of their present non-fulfilment, are matters of the gravest and of equal importance; but we have now only to do with the last. Assuming that the majority of these three-quarters of a million women are independent in circumstances, or so placed-especially in the lower ranks—as to support themselves, there still remains a body of single helplessness, living on shifts, alms, votes, and institutions, fit for no work, and eager to take any, of which society at every turn is made aware. There are other ties, it is true, and of a sacred nature, between men and women; but the fact is too evident, that what there is no husband to supply is but imperfectly supplemented by father or brother. It is a forlorn sight to see maidens 'withering on the stalk;' but it is a piteous one to see them starving on it. Poor ladies--for of such this class is principally made up-may truly say “all things are against us,' for the parents who are bound to protect and provide are too often both the primary and ultimate cause of the misery of their daughters. Misfortunes are, it is true, sometimes of a kind which cannot be foreseen, or prevented ; but the breakdown of all power and resources for meeting them can be prevented. False indulgence and false authority are the rocks on which thousands of these poor souls are wrecked. In some homes and there are too many of them-young women, in the sense of thinking or acting for themselves, may be said never to come of age. They are lapped in a luxury which the stoppage of one heart or one bank suddenly brings to an end ; and they are kept in leading-strings or go-carts which prevent their realizing the intention of their own limbs. The incapacity of some parents to perceive when their daughters have come to years of discretion-the jealousy to retain their authority over women more fitted by age to lead them--is a feature peculiar to English life. French mothers have, as M. Mohl used to express it, a férocité which dictates the choice in marriage both to son and daughter, and keeps their authority over both, even when married: but they do not turn their daughters out, single and dowerless, into
the the world, as English parents do. We may rail against French matrimonial arrangements; but, when contrasted with the sufferings of thousands of our countrywomen, the mariage de convenance rises in the scale. The case is simple to state. If we accustom a lap-dog to live on chicken, cakes, and cream-to warm washings, aromatic soaps, blue ribbons, and soft rugswe do perhaps a silly thing ; but if after all this petting we turn him out in the cold without a bone, we do a cruel thing. Nor is the matter amended if we have drilled him into perfect obedience, taught him to bark at certain signs, to sit up and beg, and to keep a biscuit on his nose till he is told to eat it ; for all these arts and accomplishments will neither get him a crumb nor spare him a kick in the crowded streets. But this is virtually the practice of many parents towards their grown-up daughters, who are kept in a kind of stalled ease and plenty, are required to look to them for the commonest decision, and who, having been disciplined exactly in those qualities which will least help them in the battle of life, wake up one sad morning with the bitter blast of poverty blowing upon luxurious habits, and with the consciousness of not excelling in one single thing that they can exchange for bread.
Two points are now before us. First, the fact of an enormous surplus of single women in this country; and secondly, not only of single, but of destitute and helpless women. And the question is, how these facts can be dealt with. Mr. Greg, like a philosopher as he is, goes to the root of the matter. Consult Nature,' is his specific Nature intended men and women for each other. Circumstances, more especially in this country, have contributed to divide them. Remedy this by taking means to bring those together whom God intended to unite, and who, separate, can only suffer. The surplus men are on the other side of the world--the surplus women here. In a census of nearly twenty years ago, the men in our North American colonies were proved to exceed the women by 68,167; in Australia and New Zealand, by 214,141 ; and in the United States by so large a figure, that it was computed it would take 250,000 white women to redress the balance. Send, therefore, the surplus women from this side the globe to the surplus men on the other. On the principles of commercial interchange, nothing would be wiser and more legitimate. The wants of one country are intended to be supplied from the redundance of another. The laws of demand and supply regulate all healthy national action, and it is only ignorance or despotism that can controvert them. This is perfectly true, or would be perfectly true in this case, if all the propositions were equal—in other words, if men and women
were commercial commodities. . But our bales of goods in this instance have prejudices, habits, inclinations, and, above all, free wills; and, in short, cannot be bought and sold. Emigration does already much, but within a certain limit and a particular class. Young and useful women of the lower orders of society, who of all the single women left on our hands could easiest gain their bread here, are carried over in numbers; but this does not help the destitute lady, or the one who has been taught to think herself a lady. She would not go into the wilds of a new and infant colony if she could ; and she is quite right. The little she can at best do is not in request; and as to marriage, it is one of those things, as we have hinted, which in a civilized community cannot be carried by assault, but must be approached by due minings and zigzags. The remedy, therefore, of 'za mush iti,' or going to husband,' as the Russians express marriage, is not feasible here.
Let us now look for the reasons, not why so many English ladies are single, which these statistics have made obvious, but why they are destitute and helpless also. We have glanced at it partially in the home life to which too many of them are subjected, but it must be sought for equally in the forms of education which have prevailed.*
In the first place, the practice of teaching in this free country, whether in schools or in private families, as carried on by governesses and mistresses, has been entirely of an amateur kind. Not one Englishwoman in fifty has ever devoted herself to learn the art professionally, and certainly not five in fifty have had by nature so strong a vocation for it as to excel without training. While all foreign women-Russian, Swedish, Danish, German, French, and Italian—destined for the career of a governess or schoolmistress, have been required by law to go through a course of study, submit to examinations, and obtain certificates and matriculations as their indispensable credentials, English women have embarked in the calling most important to the rising generation with scarcely any other qualifications beyond want and good-will. Many a lady thus placed has, it is true, developed abilities of the highest order, and exercised moral influence of the
* By .forms of education are sometimes meant modes of instruction; sometimes a union of both. Education is a subtle and insensible training, educing the better qualities of the character; instruction, a direct and regular process, cultivating the powers of the mind. The English nation, for instance, is the worst instructed, but the best educated in Europe- the Germans, vice versa. The indiscriminate use of these terms is too hopelessly rooted in our pbraseology to be mended here. We cannot quote a sentence on the subject without finding them misused. But the intelligent reader is too much accustomed to this confusion to be misled by it.