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1882. prudish ideas which have prohibited them from developing their physical powers, and taking out-door exercise in proper quantity and quality. They have allowed themselves to be so bound in by custom and public opinion—that is the opinion of the unenightened or egotistic public,—that they can no longer judge with discrimination of what are their duties. They simply accept the dictates of those to whose selfish or ignorant minds nothing but the traditional rule of "might is right' is known. How many women there are belonging to good respectable families, who have been brought up from their earliest childhood to consider themselves inferior to their brothers, to believe that their mission in life is —to wait, to weep,—as the poet beautifully puts it, They are so thoroughly well instructed in the fact (?) of their own inferiority, that it is the part of their creed to which they hold most firmly. For a girl to give a back-answer to her brother is sacrilege, and to refuse to attend to his lordly wants, or to amuse him when he is so inclined, is the essence of an unkindness and unsisterliness. These false ideas of the relation between brother and sister, man and women, are so widely diffused, and have taken such a firm root in the beliefs of both men and women, boys and girls, that to overthrow them, and establish instead the true principle of equality, must be a matter of time and patience. The notion of the irresponsibility of women has been fostered by so many ages that it is all the harder to eradicate. But let no one hesitate to begin a work of reform because the evil is one of long standing. There is but the stronger reason that the work should be taken in hand at once. One has only to read the accounts given by late explorers of uncivilised countries, to see how general, in fact how universal is the rule among savage tribes that physical force shall predominate. This is the rule in the brute
creation, and also to a great extent among mankind. But the system is less and less prevalent in proportion, to the spread of civilization, and to the prevalence of justice, law and order. Where justice, law, and order prevail, the position of women is bettered. This is such a well-known truth that no one disputes it. To know that women hold a position of advancement and respect in a country, is to know that the society in general and the civilization in that country are also superior. This may be proved by taking a progressive view of the different grades of Society; in ascending from the lowest classes to the highest, we find that the status of women-with regard to men-gradually and steadily improves. So, in contemplating, - first, countries utterly barbarous, then others slightly civilized, then others more civilized, then the most civilized, we find that the position of women, from being in the first case but little different to that of the female brute, becomes gradually more and more like that of a respectable human being with a will and a soul.
The responsibilities of women may be separated into two classes: the first including all those that more immediately relate to the individual herself; the second including all those responsibilities which have a more direct bearing on others.
The first division includes the following, and many more far too numerous to be dealt with here : responsibilities of education, experience, observation, physical training, independence. First then, that of education, than which I cannot think there is any more important. The lack of a thorough literary, scientific and mathematical education is an immense drawback to one's personal happiness, because one's eyes and ears need to be educated and taught to see and understand the beauties of law and order and symmetry, which prevail everywhere in nature. There are but very few gifted with the faculty of discerning these perfections without being previously schooled to do so. The order and system which prevail in the animal and plant worlds, cannot fail to lead intelligent, instructed observers to deduct truths and ideas therefrom, which will be beneficial as well as pleasurable. On the advantages of the different branches of school education I need not dilate further than to say, that no one has tried by experience the effect of the study of history and literature without feeling infinitely the better for it. The range of thought is enlarged, sympathy is evoked, the judgment is ripened, the best substitute for good
Review company,-good books—is obtained. Then the study of mathematics is the best way of training one's self to steady, concentrated thought, and without steady, concentrated thought, what beautiful creation can there be in the many-coloured world of invention? It has been said, that although women have taken high places in the world in almost every branch of Literature and Art, they have never established any new epoch in a school of thought, or given proof by great inventions, that they are possessors of the creative mind. How is it possible that they should when their petty style of daily life precludes them from studies such as tħat of mathematics ?
Then the responsibility of experience is one that is much shoved aside. Women are so contented to say, and try to think that they have nothing to do with this public event, or that public institution; and they excuse themselves, really only because they are lazy, from partaking in the great world's life, which is so near to them, and yet from which they carefully cut themselves off. They forget that from even a selfish point of view, no better cure could be found for morbid thoughts and wearing melancholy than outside interest, and participation in the work or amusements, of those beyond their own immediate circle. Who can calculate the amount of misery, mental and physical, brought on by the neglect of proper care of the body? Here women are indeed deeply to blame. It is true, in many cases and places, public opinion and custom are strongly against their having any enjoyable and proper ercise, but when women shew that they possess common sense, determination and will, and do have their games and amusements with just as much unrestrained vigour and loudness, as they like to put into them, the result is immensely beneficial, not only to the physique, but also to the healthiness of the tone of mind. But above all other qualities the one that women have most need to cultivate is independence. It is a tower of strength, and a tower that need not be lacking in any case, no matter how feeble the person, or how small the amount of resources at command; because the divine gifts of reason and will are
"] January 14th, 1882.
bestowed without distinction of sexes. And reason can show, and will determine how one should be energetic or patient, active or passive so as not to be placed in a position of helpless dependence on the goodness of others.
Having now considered some of the chief responsibilities of women which bear more directly on themselves, I shall ask you to consider for a few minutes some of their principal responsibilities with regard to others. These, I think, may be classed under the headings of Political, Philanthropic, and Social.
The list of responsibilities is a lengthy one, yet who could not suggest others which have been omitted ? Political may seem a novel kind of responsibility to some, but there are many women now, in all classes of society, who have been long, engaged in political work. One of the most needed reforms is that of the franchise; a reform which will enable women ratepayers, duly qualified, to have the vote, and so have some chance of turning the balance at the election contests of Members of Parliament, in favour of candidates who would pledge themselves to see reforms brought about in the “ Married Women's Property Laws,” and in others which press with equal injustice on women.
Then as members of cities or towns, women where they possess the necessary qualifications certainly should take advantage—in England and Scotland where the law allows-of becoming Poor Law Guardians, or join in aiding other women to secure this office.
There are few spheres of labour for which they are better fitted by their ordinary household occupations, and the daily papers occasionally contain paragraphs which reveal to the general public in a small degree what an amount of mismanagement and waste is going on in many of the unions at present.
Happily, women can now give some practical proof of the interest they have so long felt in the education of the children of the poorer classes. . Ladies are to be found among the Members of the School Boards both in London and in the provinces.
Philanthropy is a word that includes so much that it must here be spoken of only in a very limited way.
14th, 1882. The range of philanthropic duties must be very different in different cases, depending on whether the individual has much time and means at her command to devote to benevolent work outside her home. If she has she will not have any difficulty in joining organized societies for helping the poor, of course she is at liberty to help them personally and directly. But it is generally thought to be safer and more judicious to join, or organize a society for communicating aid to those in distress, than to do benevolent work of this kind singly.
Social responsibilities I have put last, but they are by no means least. The tone of a house is that of its mistress. If hers be lofty, elevating, widely, sympathetic, the opposite of narrow, cramping, gossiping, then her family and those of her friends, who are not mere acquaintances, must be of the same stamp. But she must not shrink from having it clearly understood that her life is something earnest and real, and her pleasures ennobling and pleasure-giving to others as well as to hergelf. That she should have literary evenings, musical soirées, art circles, is desirable if she have to deal with numbers of young people. But she must carefully weigh the characters of her proposed guests before inviting them to become such, and allowing them to be habitués at her house.
Women who have not positions such as I have above supposed, should none the less see and share in general society; few recreations are more truly such. Without intercourse with other minds one unconsciously becomes one-sided, monotonous, or a specialist. Any, or all of which disastrous developments hinder one's power of influence and clog progress. Ladies' clubs, good concerts, and good plays are all highly educative, and often act as healthy stimulants to the mind. In neglecting to profit by them, and by other advantages of the kind one wilfully keeps behind the march of progress of the age. That is what I fear numbers of women are doing at the present critical point in their history. I have written these pages in the hope that they may come into the hands of some such women-women who have been lingering in the background of uneducated conventionality and selfish inertia, disguised under the