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helplessness made protection necessary; the absence of any honourable employment for gentlewomen by which they can increase their scanty means, or release themselves from the sometimes oppressive thraldom of a home, where nothing of home is perhaps felt but parental authority; and the very inadequate provision made for daughters, even in many of the wealthiest families in England, which seems devised on purpose to force them into marriage any how, and with any one, so that they may at least ensure some portion of the comfort or luxuries which they have enjoyed from the cradle, but must forfeit as soon as they are left to their own resources.

It is true that this provision is the same nominally with that settled on younger sons; but, however hard or unjust the fate of the latter may often be, still they are placed in professions; interest and money are employed for their advancement; and a career of hopeful activity, perhaps of lucrative and honourable employment is before them, if they choose to exert themselves: while, to their sisters, left equally unprovided with private means, exertion is forbidden; their only alternative from poverty and dependence is marriage. The latter becomes then a necessary speculation, or, as we have heard it called by a gentleman, a profession. The word seems coarse and hard, but so does the simple expression of many a thing tolerated under smoother names, and its very harshness may serve to point deserved rebrobation to the fact itself, to which we are but too well accustomed.

While woman's social condition is thus hemmed in by difficulties and privations, it is most natural for every mother to wish to see her daughters married; so long as neither happiness, nor those higher considerations to which even the hope of happiness is light, are sacrificed in attaining the object. But nothing can justify that morbid impatience on the subject, by which too many parents make their daughters' home wretched, reflecting on them the disgrace of their mortified hopes or ambition. Still less can it be justifiable to taint the purity of a young mind with worldly motives, which are in some measure forced upon the anxious parent by the hard experience of life.

It may fairly be doubted, supposing a vicious social system to render marriage so imperative a necessity, that neither feelings, nor moral sentiment, nor womanly delicacy, must be allowed to oppose any obstacle to it, whether the foreign arrangement of the marriage de convenance is not preferable to our own too frequent mode of proceeding. In that, at least, all is open; there is no hypocrisy of feeling; it is a mercantile transation, and carried on as such things should be, in a calm, business-like manner, and


is generally also effected by the parents, who may be supposed to consult, as far as they can, the welfare of their children; and whose age and experience must save them from some of the illusions of vanity and ignorance; whereas, in our system, it is the young themselves who learn to make a trade of the warmest feelings of their nature, to try to excite affection which they neither respond to, nor value; and who, in the excitement of this game of artifice, are much more likely to lose sight of all that makes married life dignified or happy.



Another consequence of this over-estimate of the necessity of marriage, is, that single life is proportionally underrated, and carefully kept out of sight in the contemplation of the future, till disappointed hope, neglect, and mortification, have too often soured the feelings, and poisoned the sources of healthy vigour. Yet it is evident that since women can never (without the sacrifice of feminine reserve and delicacy) have more than a negative choice in marriage, the bent of all rational education should be to fit them for the trials of that less happy existence which they cannot avoid by any exertion of their own. It should be directed to nourish self-dependence and moral strength, and to teach the value of self-respect, not only above the breath of the world, but above the seductions of feeling, or the fear of loneliness and neglect.

Much has been said by sentimental writers of both sexes, on the charm of feminine dependence, of that soft weakness which makes support necessary; and poetical similies drawn from the clinging plants that live by twining their graceful tendrils round some noble tree, have been put forth as representing the true relations between man and woman. Unfortunately, such writers are apt to confound weakness with tenderness, and gentleness with want of character; but weakness has no place in the true type of beauty, whether moral or physical: in the latter, strength must be in proportion to the form and size, or there is an unpleasant feeling of incompleteness, of unfitness, which mars the beauty. So likewise in the moral nature, greater softness of feeling belongs to the feminine type, even as there is more delicacy and pliancy of limb; but, like the latter, the moral nature must be active, firm, and healthy, to be really beautiful. It is not in puling weakness, ever depending on the assistance and sympathy of others, that we find the most tenderness, or that unselfish devotion which is the most beautiful attribute of affection; but in the strong soul, whose deep and full sympathies are not distracted by the weak wants and alternations of feeling that occupy the feebler nature; in the earnest spirit which can struggle, if need be, alone with its own sufferings and trials, and there


fore is free to soothe the trials and sufferings of what it loves. It is not the weakness, not the dependence of affection, that makes it beautiful, but its power, its self-sacrifice, its concentrated energy,—giving the heroism of a martyr to women of feeblest frame and softest habits;-these are what give to love so exalted a beauty, that when we witness its effects, whether in the fierce hour of trial, or in the simple daily course of self-forgetfulness, we feel the presence of something divine still kindling our poor, corrupt, and suffering human nature. Childhood presents the only lovely form of clinging helplessness,--but who would seek a friend, who would pour out the full, rich treasure of affection and confidence on a child? Then why suppose that affection and confidence are to be won by assimilating ourselves to children?


The health of a moral being is in self-dependence, in the strong will and power of endurance which enables him to adapt himself to his position whatever it may be. This would sound like a truism in speaking of men, so universally is it acknowledged; how then can it cease to be true, when applied to woman, unless it be denied that she also is a moral being? By what right is truth made to bow to the weakness, the prejudices, or the assumptions of human creatures? Self-dependence interferes in no way with the feeling which prompts us to seek and rejoice in the sympathy of others, or cling to their affection. The most vigorous-minded man may feel no less strongly than a woman the need of the sympathy and tenderness of the being he loves; but if either man or woman is unable to stand alone, the character is so far weak and incomplete.

Nothing can be further removed than such a view of selfreliance from the plea set forth by some writers, for the social independence and equality of women. This plea is, in our opinion, founded on so false a view of life, of duty, and of the nature of social and political institutions, that notwithstanding the great talent of one* at least of its supporters, in our own day, it would hardly seem worth refuting, were it not that its advocates are among the worst enemies to any real improvement in the condition of women, just as the wild declaimers on liberty and equality are the most dangerous foes to the cause of enlightened freedom. So marked, so indelible is the law of nature, which places woman in a subordinate position, that it might itself afford an unanswerable reply to those politicians who proclaim equality the institution of the Creator, daringly infringed upon by human legislation. But while such obvious truths are forgotten, and

*Miss Martineau.



such wild pretensions put forward as rights, on the one side, it is the less surprising that, on the other, the real claims of women, as moral and rational beings, should still be slighted and set aside.

The self-dependence we advocate we desire to rest on higher grounds,―on a basis no human laws or caprice can interfere with : namely, on the spiritual equality of all human beings endowed (though in various degrees) with the same faculties, born under one moral law, under one condition of trial here, to one hope of a higher existence hereafter.

Whatever belongs to mere earthly relations must be earthly and transitory like them, and be regulated by the conditions of our mortal life; but what belongs to the spirit-its powers, its affections, its unutterable life of thought-is eternal, and tends to another and purer stage of existence. It is in the more earnest contemplation of this two-fold aspect of our being that women, even amidst the necessary dependence and subordination of their present lot, will find the secret of maintaining a more dignified position than they have yet aimed at. When it is lost sight of, they either seek to assume a station from which nature and the well-being of society alike preclude them, or they sink from mere inferiority of station to inferiority of mind, and from subordinates degrade themselves to becoming slaves. Milton has expressed a prevailing sentiment in the line

"He for God only, she for God in him!”

but however poetical the expression, it is not true in its application to actual life. In the sight of God, His creatures are equal. No separate law of religion or morality was published for woman; her duties and responsibilities rest on the same foundation as man's; like him she looks beyond this transitory existence; and all, therefore, which belongs to the training of the immortal part of our being, it is equally her indisputable privilege to claim. "Her rights to all the perfection and happiness her nature admits of, rest precisely on the same grounds as those of men, the Creator's design interpreted by the powers he has given." And these rights and privileges are distinct from, and in nowise interfere with, her due observance of the duties arising from the subordinate station she occupies on earth, in relation to man.


When a woman with gentle but dignified acquiescence in the inevitable conditions of her lot, yet evinces by the tone of her character and pursuits, that she bears in mind those higher grounds of equality, it is then she is truly the helpmate of him

* "Woman's Rights and Duties."


whom she obeys without losing her self-respect. She will then neither seek to be his tyrant, nor consent to be the puppet in his hands; she will neither hug an ignoble chain, nor struggle by craft to shake off a natural bond; but, strong in her real independence of mind, she will stand, such as God created her, the meet companion for man, fitted to share with him the duties and the joys, the hopes and responsibilities of existence.

Whatever be the reason-whether indolence or ignorance, or servile flattery to men-which makes women so generally neglect to take this exalted view of their position, and to allow the real and eternal relations of their being to be obscured by the merely partial and transitory, they cannot do so with impunity. They may rest assured, that the more humble their own estimate, the lower will be that which men will form of their claims, and the less will they be rewarded for their sacrifices. They may, in obedience to the prejudices, or in deference to the pride, of the less noble portion of the other sex, cherish a weak spirit of dependence; but they will find no indulgence for the faults which such weakness may betray them into; they may be satisfied to be mere submissive tools, but their want of energy or intelligence will meet with little forbearance; they may be humbly content with ignorance, but they will not find their errors of judgment, their frivolous tastes, their narrow views, leniently considered by those who have fostered them most. In a word, when they have neglected to exercise the highest powers with which they are endowed, and thereby sacrificed much of the happiness they had a right to seek, they will assuredly find, too late, that by offering up God's gifts on the altar of man's pride, they receive merely scorn, or at best a humiliating pity, in return for their incense.


Nor is it their own dignity and happiness only that they in great measure forfeit; were it so, it might be difficult to make an estimate of that secret and individual sacrifice, or to say how far it was culpable; but it should never be forgotten, that no human being stands alone or can possibly be isolated in his sphere of action; so that whatever affects the individual, affects also every relation in which he stands to others. So it is in the present case. The narrow view taken of woman's position has spread its lowering effects over every relation of social and domestic life in which she stands, and over her own estimate of the duties arising from those relations, and hence the defective education, and the circumscribed influence we complain of. The natural consequence of undervaluing any position is, that we lightly undertake its obligations and responsibilities: the result in the present case is, that even duties which women generally

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