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are far from desiring to slight-namely, those of wives and mothers are superficially considered, and seem to require no preparation, while others which belong to a wider view of social relations are never considered at all. The former springing from the position for which they are specially designed by nature, it is inferred that nature has sufficiently provided for their due performance; while the others, not arising from those peculiar relations of their natural position, seem unworthy of all consideration. Hence, social duties, and all that belongs to single life, are too often left out of sight altogether.
We have said how essential we consider it, that women should early contemplate and prepare themselves for the trials of a lonely life. Few positions are so entirely "made or marred" by individual character, as none perhaps are so secluded from the influence of others; few then require more preparation, more careful training of moral power and self-dependence, and the effect produced on our estimate of it by the different views of life we have been considering, is proportionally great. While the idea is strongly rooted, that a woman has no duties, no rights, no sphere of usefulness, or claim upon her fellow-creatures, except such as belong to her as a wife or mother, she, who from circumstances, or a peculiar state of feeling refuses, or is shut out from that position, feels that there is little left for her either to do or hope for on earth; but if, on the other hand, she has learnt to consider woman's position, not in that one relative view only, but in its moral dignity and independence; if she has trained herself as responsible to God for His gifts, not merely as accountable to man for the share she might have contributed to his happiness, then the great objects of existence are still distinct before her; self-improvement and social duties still open a wide sphere of occupation.
Many single women devote themselves earnestly to the care of the poor, and doubtless it is a beautiful vocation for those whose own hearth is lonely, to make themselves a home in the hearts of their fellow-creatures; but how different would be the effect of that intercourse if they carried into it greater knowledge and mental vigour; if, besides the kindliness of sympathising feeling, and the gentle soothing of religious consolations, they bore with them the influence of really cultivated minds, of decided character, of moral strength, and clear views of the various relations of society. Social and moral reformation in the lowest classes as in the highest, must begin with domestic life; the tone of female character and understanding must also be raised among them, before the public machinery of schools will produce any material effect on the people's happiness, and it is in this important task
EVILS OF IGNORANCE IN
that women of the upper ranks may become powerful auxiliaries. They must, however, be prepared themselves to undertake it. They must know something of the causes which operate upon social and national welfare, and have traced the laws, which influence the latter, to their application in the minute detail of life. They require habits of observation and reflection, some knowledge of the human mind, of the feelings and passions by which it is moved, and of the principles by which it should be governed; for it is not by unarmed champions that the Hydra-headed monster, Ignorance, can be successfully combated. The consequence of neglecting such preparation has been, that the most extensive and well-meant charity has too often fostered positive evil, while at the best it has generally been productive of little good, except in the cultivation of some kindly feelings among individuals of different classes. Nor would we depreciate such a result, partial as it is, since it doubtless tends to counteract the dissocial influence of certain abuses in our national system; but neither can we blind ourselves to the extent of what is left undone, or to the real mischief fostered by women's ignorance of the simplest facts of political science, and of the first principles of the human mind.
No stronger exemplification of this evil could be found, than that of the harm done, since the introduction of the New Poor Law, by mere ignorance of the law itself, and of the causes and principles on which its enactments are founded. The poor, who were suddenly placed in a new order of things, found in the majority of cases no rational help from those they were most accustomed to rely upon; their complaints met with ignorant sympathy, or party violence, from those who should have been most anxious to remove their prejudices, and to help them to make the necessary struggle against the degrading consequences of long bad habits. In what a different spirit, and with what different results, might women who were holding habitual intercourse with the poor, have exerted their influence at such a time; if on the passing of a measure so important to all, they had considered it their duty carefully to study its nature and principles, in order to explain to those who were suffering under its first application, the grounds on which it was framed, and the abuses it was intended to rectify, thus preventing the bitter feeling and sense of ill-usage which offer so easy a handle for factious purposes. It is in this manner that women of the educated classes might stand as interpreters of the legislature to the poor, who too often suffer the penalties of legal statutes, without deriving the benefits they are intended to confer, because those above them are too careless or too ignorant to enlighten them.
OUR INTERCOURSE WITH THE POOR.
Ignorance of political economy, and of the progress of science as regards the useful arts, the results of which are daily multiplied around us, too often makes women no less incapable of giving sound advice to the poor in the practical business of life, or of teaching them to better their condition, than of helping to enlighten their political notions. Thus, while, on the one hand with free institutions, and the means of knowledge within reach, our poor remain ignorant and unfit to exercise the privileges they possess; so on the other, while commerce brings the productions of every climate in cheap abundance to our markets, and science is applied more and more to the increase of health and comfort, these poor creatures blunder on in the old routine, eat the food their fathers eat, or resign themselves to want, and seem forsaken, in the tangled wilderness of their ignorance, by the rapid civilization of the age. Such would not be the case if their frequent intercourse with educated persons were taken advantage of as it might be; and women who being free from the ties of business, have most leisure to attend to them, are most to blame for the neglect.
If now we turn from considering social obligations, to the duties belonging to domestic relations, we shall find that the low estimate of woman's position, and the imperfect education resulting from it, cause evils no less great. In married life, for instance, a higher view of the duties and responsibilities of a wife, would lead, even without reference to other than earthly objects, to a higher standard of attainment and character, and would make it evident that mere natural feelings and instincts are not sufficient guides in a position which, though pointed out. by nature, is fraught with difficulties, and may be happy or miserable according as we make it so for ourselves.
It is woman's nature to love and trust, and to be easily led by the being to whom she has given her affection; accordingly, we not unfrequently see a careless, worldly, flirting girl, transformed, at the magic touch of feeling, to the gentle, submissive, homeloving wife; but it does not follow that she becomes a fit companion for a man of sense through life's changeful scenes-: friend no less ready with judicious soothing in an hour of irritation, with counsel or high-minded determination in the midst of difficulties or discouragements, than with loving sympathy at all times. She who is capable of giving the latter only, denies half her noble office. Even in the calm tenor of daily existence, how little is a narrow-minded or frivolous woman able to throw that charm over domestic life which makes a man return daily from his business, or harassing public cares, as to a purer and more congenial atmosphere! Whatever we may think of the moral tone of the men who desert their homes more and more for other
DUTIES OF MARRIED LIFE.
society, when the monotonous and vulgar cares of life are continually intruded upon them, we know that too many do so, and we cannot think the wife blameless who allows such obstacles to stand between her and her husband, to mar the happiness of both, and destroy in his mind the influence and associations most powerfully allied to virtue. "What happiness," says the eloquent writer we have referred to before, can a man of enlarged views and warm imagination find with a narrow-minded creature, not capable of comprehending even the value of the things that occupy him! The capacity of following out abstruse investigations, he may not require; it is one which operates most in solitude, and is comparatively not often drawn forth in conversation. But when the simple and beautiful results, unfolded by the labours of science, cannot be even appreciated by her with whom he is to spend his days; when the surprising powers of nature, that stir his soul like visits to another planet, are received by her with stupid ennui, or the contempt of ignorance; when he finds her cold and insensible to the progress of truths that touch the interests of all mankind, and brisk as a ferret about some gossip that he listens to with sore and contemptuous irritation; there may perhaps remain a feeling of compassionate protection, which the bond of children may ripen into something of tenderness and consideration; but strong affection, the Creator's pledge of immortality, will never be called forth at all." ""* A woman of uncultivated mind may be first a toy, then a domestic drudge, or, at best, but a meek sharer of life's smaller joys and cares, but she will never be what a wife should be to her husband-the most valued of companions, the most loved and trusted of friends.
With regard to the due performance of maternal duties, mere natural feelings are still more inadequate; and it is probable that no one would in plain terms assert the contrary, though it is, in point of fact, assumed every day. The love for children, of which few women are destitute, and which, towards their own offspring, becomes so intense a feeling, will, in most cases, where frivolity or other moral defects do not interfere, ensure in the mother care and watchfulness over the physical welfare of her children. It may even lead her unconsciously to lay some foundation of moral education by the daily and hourly example of love and gentleness and unwearied forgetfulness of self; but this is all; and how small a portion is this of a mother's office!
It is impossible to over-estimate the importance of that office, or of the influence which women exercise by means of it over
* "Woman's Rights and Duties," vol. I., p. 227
society. That influence affects not the present alone, but perpetuates itself into the unknown future through each new generation, which is as wax in their hands; they may be too indolent or too frivolous to seek to stamp its character, but that very frivolity or indolence will too surely stamp itself. Aimé-Martin, in his eloquent work on the education of mothers, has expressed what all who look deeply into the moral causes of social evil must feel that the regeneration of society must begin at the fountain-head; that a purer atmosphere must surround the cradle, higher intelligence watch the dawn of reason and feeling, and train the early manifestations of mental and moral character, before we can hope for a more complete and healthy development of the powers and energies of society. While prejudices and false associations,-the mists of ignorance and moral weakness,—surround a child at the time when the most indelible impressions are made, the more indelible because bound with up love and reverence, and all that gives unutterable strength to the tie between mother and child; how can we expect the spirit of the youth to be free and earnest? How, except through long struggles and painful experience, can he acquire the clear convictions, the strong principles, the single-minded determination he will surely need, to contend with the corruptions, the follies, the weakness, and ignorance that clog the progress of society? Is it not the natural consequence, that the greater number will themselves sink in the struggle, and follow with tottering steps whatever beaten path may lie before them?
The more closely we look into the miseries of society, the more we see that they are produced by moral causes. The labours of the legislature, the science of the economist, are shipwrecked on this fatal rock; the one may point out the course that should be pursued, the other may clear the way of outward obstacles, and prepare the fairest framework for society, but here their power ends. They may convince men of certain truths, they cannot make them wish to act upon those truths; they cannot make them willing to strive, and instil the right motives for action. This is the work of moral influence, and such influence is individual; it addresses itself to the feelings and peculiarities of each mind, for the work of reformation can never be carried on en No association, no admirably constructed social machine has ever yet produced virtue; that must be the slow growth of moral strength in each human soul labouring for itself, and the source of that individual moral strength is in home education.
In schools and colleges the young are necessarily classed in numbers, without reference to anything but age or certain acquirements; individuality of character is called forth at home, under