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I don't think this will come to pass. The women generally do know when they are well off, and are not particularly anxious to accept the philanthropy .proffered to them ;--as Mrs. Dall says, they do not wish to bind themselves as apprentices to independent money-making. This cry has been louder in America than with us, but even in America it has not been efficacious for much. There is in the States, no doubt, a sort of hankering after increased influence, a desire for that prominence of position which men attain by loud voices and brazen foreheads, a desire in the female heart to be up and doing something, if the female heart only knew what; but even in the States it has hardly advanced beyond a few feminine lectures. In many branches of work women are less employed than in England. They are not so frequent behind the counters in the shops, and are rarely seen as servants in hotels. The fires in such houses are lighted and the rooms swept by men. But the American girls may say they do not desire to light fires and sweep rooms. They are ambitious of the higher classes of work. But those higher branches of work require study, apprenticeship, a devotion of youth ; and that they will not give. It is very well for a young man to bind himself for four years, and to think of marrying four years after that apprenticeship is over. But such a prospectus will not do for a girl. While the sun shines the hay must be made, and her sun shines earlier in the day than that of him who is to be her husband. Let him go through the apprenticeship and the work, and she will have sufficient on her hands if she looks well after his household. Under nature's teaching she is aware of this, and will not bind herself to any other apprenticeship, let Mrs. Dall preach as she may.
I remember seeing, either at New York or Boston, a wooden figure of a neat young woman, as large as life, standing at a desk with a ledger before her, and looking as though the beau ideal of human bliss were realized in her employment. Under the figure there was some notice respecting female accountants. Nothing could be nicer than the lady's figure, more flowing than the broad lines of her drapery, or more attractive than her auburn ringlets. There she stood at work, earning her bread without any impediment to the natural operation of her female charms, and adjusting the accounts of some great firm with as much facility as grace. I wonder whether he who designed that figure had ever sat or stood at a desk for six hours, whether he knew the dull hum of the brain which comes from long attention to another man's figures ; whether he had ever soiled his own fingers with the everlasting work of office hours, or worn his sleeves threadbare as he leaned
weary in body and mind upon his desk! Work is a grand thing, --the grandest thing we have; but work is not picturesque, graceful, and in itself alluring. It sucks the sap out of men's bones, and bends their backs, and sometimes breaks their hearts; but though it be so, I for one would not wish to throw any heavier share of it on to a woman's shoulders. It was pretty to see those young women with spectacles at the Boston library, but when I heard that they were there from eight in the morning till nine at night, I pitied them their loss of all the softness of home, and felt that they would not willingly be there if necessity were less stern.
Say that by advocating the rights of women, philanthropists succeed in apportioning more work to their share, will they eat more, wear better clothes, lie softer, and have altogether more of the fruits of work than they do now? That some would do so there can be no doubt, but as little that some would have less. If on the whole they would not have more, for what good result is the movement made ? The first question is, whether at the present time they have less than their proper share. There are, unquestionably, terrible cases of female want, and so there are also of want among men.
Alas! do we not all feel that it must be so, let the philanthropists be ever so energetic? And if a woman be left destitute, without the assistance of father, brother, or husband, it would be hard if no means of earning subsistence were open to her. But the object now sought is not that of relieving such distress. It has a much wider tendency, or at any rate a wider desire. The idea is that women will ennoble themselves by making themselves independent, by working for their own bread instead of eating bread earned by men. It is in that that these new philosophers seem to me to err so greatly. Humanity and chivalry have succeeded after a long struggle in teaching the man to work for the woman; and now the woman rebels against such teaching, --not because she likes the work, but because she desires the influence which attends it. But in this I
woman, -even the American woman. It is not she who desires it, but her philanthropical philosophical friends who desire it for her.
If work were more equally divided between the sexes some women would, of course, receive more of the good things of the world. But women generally would not do so. The tendency then would be to force young women out upon their own exertions. Fathers would soon learn to think that their daughters should be no more dependent on them than their sons; men would expect their wives to work at their own trades ; brothers would be taught to think it hard that their sisters should lean on them; and thus women, driven upon their own resources, would hardly fare better than they do at present.
After all it is a question of money, and a contest for that power and influence which money gives. At present men have the position of the Lower House of Parliament. They have to do the harder work, but they hold the purse. Even in England there has grown up a feeling that the old law of the land gives a married man too much power over the joint pecuniary resources of him and his wife, and in America this feeling is much stronger, and the old law has been modified. Why should a married woman be able to possess nothing? And if such be the law of the land, is it worth a woman's while to marry and put herself in such a position? Those are the questions asked by the friends of the rights of women. But the
young women do
and the men pour their earnings into their wives' laps.
If little bas as yet been done in extending the rights of women by giving them a greater share of the work of the world, still less has been done towards giving them their portion of political influence. In the States there are many men of mark, and women of mark also, who think that women should have votes for public elections. Mr. Wendell Phillips, the Boston lecturer who advocates abolition, is an apostle in this cause also; and while I was at Boston I read the provisions of a will lately left by a millionaire, in which he bequeathed some very large sums of money to be expended in agitation on this subject. A woman is subject to the law; why then should she not help to make the law? A child is subject to the law, and does not help to make it; but the child lacks that discretion which the woman enjoys equally with the
That I take it is the amount of the argument in favour of the political rights of women. The logic of this is so conclusive, that I am prepared to acknowledge that it admits of no answer. I will only say that the mutual good relations between men and women, which are so indispensable to our happiness, require that men and women should not take to voting at the same time and on the same result. If it be decided that women shall have political power, let them have it all to themselves for a season. If that be so resolved, I think we may safely leave it to them to name the time at which they will begin.
I confess that in the States I have sometimes been driven to think that chivalry has been carried too far ;--that there is an attempt to make women think more of the rights of their womanhood than is needful. There are ladieg? doors at hotels, and ladies' drawing-rooms, ladies' sides on the ferry-boats, ladies' win
dows at the post office for the delivery of letters ;-which, by-theby, is an atrocious institution, as anybody may learn who will look at the advertisements called personal in some of the New York papers. Why should not young ladies have their letters sent to their houses, instead of getting them at a private window ? The post-office clerks can tell stories about those ladies' windows. But at every turn it is necessary to make separate provision for ladies. From all this it comes to pass that the baker's daughter looks down from a great height on her papa, and by no means thinks her brother good enough for her associate. Nature, the great restorer, comes in and teaches her to fall in love with the butcher's son. Thus the evil is mitigated; but I cannot but wish that the young woman should not see herself denominated a lady so often, and should receive fewer lessons as to the extent of her privileges. I would save her if I could from working at the oven ; I would give to her bread and meat earned by her father's care and her brother's sweat; but when she has received these good things, I would have her proud of the one and by no means ashamed of the other.
Let women say what they will of their rights, or men who think themselves generous say what they will for them, the question has all been settled both for them and for us men by a higher power. They are the nursing mothers of mankind, and in that law their fate is written with all its joys and all its privileges. It is for men to make those joys as lasting and those privileges as perfect as may be. That women should have their rights no man will deny. To
my thinking neither increase of work nor increase of political influence are among them. The best right a woman has is the right to a husband, and that is the right to which I would recommend every young woman here and in the States to turn her best attention. On the whole, I think that my doctrine will be more acceptable than that of Mrs. Dall or Mr. Wendell Phillips.
EDUCATION AND RELIGION. The one matter in which, as far as my judgment goes, the people of the United States have excelled us Englishmen, so as to justify them in taking to themselves praise which we cannot take to ourselves or refuse to them, is the matter of Education. In saying this I do not think that I am proclaiming anything disgraceful to England, though I am proclaiming much that is creditable to America. To the Americans of the States was given the good fortune of beginning at the beginning. The French at the time of their revolution endeavoured to reorganize everything, and to begin the world again with new habits and grand theories ; but the French as a people were too old for such a change, and the theories fell to the ground. But in the States, after their revolution, an Anglo-Saxon people had an opportunity of making a new State, with all the experience of the world before them; and to this matter of education they were from the first aware that they must look for their success. They did so; and unrivalled population, wealth, and intelligence have been the results; and with these, looking at the whole masses of the people, -I think I am justified in saying,—unrivalled comfort and happiness. It is not that you, my reader, to whom in this matter of education fortune and your parents have probably been bountiful, would have been more happy in New York than in London. It is not that I, who, at any rate, can read and write, have cause to wish that I had been an American. But it is this ;—if you and I can count up in a day all those on whom our eyes may rest, and learn the circumstances of their lives, we shall be driven to conclude that ninetenths of that number would have had a better life as Americans than they can have in their spheres as Englishmen. The States are at a discount with us now, in the beginning of this year of grace 1862; and Englishmen were not very willing to admit the above statement, even when the States were not at a discount. But I do not think that a man can travel through the States with his eyes open and not admit the fact. Many things will conspire to induce him to shut his eyes and admit no conclusion favourable to the Americans. Men and women will sometimes be impudent to him ;-the better his coat, the greater the impudence. He will be pelted with the braggadocio of equality. The corns of his OldWorld conservatism will be trampled on hourly by the purposely vicious herd of uncouth democracy.
The fact that he is paymaster will go for nothing, and will fail to insure civility. I shall never forget my agony as I saw and heard my desk fall from a porter's hand on a railway station, as he tossed it from him seven yards off on to the hard pavement. I heard its poor
weak intestines rattle in their death-struggle, and knowing that it was smashed I forgot my position on American soil and remonstrated. “It's my desk, and you've utterly destroyed it," I said. "Ha! ha! ha!"
” " ! laughed the porter. “You've destroyed my property,” I rejoined, “and it's no laughing matter.” And then all the crowd laughed. “Guess you'd better get it glued,” said one. So I gathered up the broken article and retired mournfully and crestfallen into a