NEW YORK. October 1834. Appearance of Forest Cabins; the Labors of Families who live in the Wilderness.
Among the most interesting personages in the United States, are the Solitaries; solitary families, not individuals. Europeans, who think it much to lodge in a country cottage for six weeks in the summer, can form little idea of the life of a solitary family in the wilds. I did not see the most sequestered, as I never happened to lose my way in the forests or on the prairies: but I witnessed some modes of life which realized all I had conceived of the romantic, or of the dismal.
One rainy October day, I saw a settler at work in the forest, on which he appeared to have just entered. His clearing looked, in comparison with the forest behind him, of about the size of a pincushion. He was standing, up to the knees in water, among the stubborn stumps, and charred stems of dead trees. He was notching logs with his axe, beside his small log-hut and stye. There was swamp behind, and swamp on each side; a pool of mud around each dead tree, which had been wont to drink the moisture. There was a semblance of a tumble-down fence: no orchard yet; no grave-yard; no poultry; none of the graces of fixed habitation had grown up. On looking back to catch a last view of the scene, I saw two little boys, about three and four years old, leading a horse home from the forest; one driving the animal behind with an armful of bush, and the other reaching up on tiptoe to keep his hold of the halter; and both looking as if they would be drowned in the swamp. If the mother was watching from the hut, she must have thought this strange dismal play for her little ones. The hardworking father must be toiling for his children; for the success of his after life can hardly atone to him for such a destitution of comfort as I saw him in the midst of. Many such scenes are passed on every road in the western parts of the States. They become cheering when the plough is seen, or a few sheep are straggling on the hill side, seeming lost in space.
One day, at Niagara, I had spent hours at the Falls, till, longing for the stillness of the forest, I wandered deep into its wild paths, meeting nothing but the belled heifer, grazing, and the slim, clean swine which live on the mast and roots they can find for themselves. I saw some motion in a thicket, a little way from the path, and went to see what it was. I found a little boy and girl, working away, by turns, with an axe, at the branches of a huge hickory, which had been lately felled. " Father " had felled the hickory the day before, and had sent the children to make faggots from the branches. They were heated and out of breath. I had heard of the toughness of hickory, and longed to know what the labour of wood-cutting really was. Here was an irresistible opportunity for an experiment. I made the children sit down on the fallen tree, and find out the use of my ear- trumpet, while I helped to make their faggot. When I had hewn through one stout branch, I was quite sufficiently warmed, and glad to sit down to hear the children's story. Their father had been a weaver and a preacher in England. He had brought out his wife and six children. During the week, he worked at his land, finding some employment or another for all of his children who could walk alone; and going some distance on Sundays to preach. This last particular told volumes.
The weaver has not lost heart over his hard field-labour. His spirit must be strong and lively, to enable him to spend his seventh day thus, after plying the axe for six. The children did not seem to know whether they liked Manchester or the forest best; but they looked stout and rosy.
They, however, were within reach of church and habitation; buried, as they appeared, in the depths of the woods. I saw, in New Hampshire, a family who had always lived absolutely alone, except when an occasional traveller came to their door, during the summer months. The old man had run away with his wife, forty-six years before, and brought her to the Red Mountain, near the top of which she had lived ever since. It was well that she married for love, for she saw no one but her husband and children, for many a long year after she jumped out of her window, in her father's house, to run away.
POLITICAL NON-EXISTENCE of WOMEN. General Treatise on the Denial of Full Citizenship Rights to Women.
One of the fundamental principles announced in the Declaration of Independence is, that governments derive their just powers from the consent of the governed. How can the political condition of women be reconciled with this ? Governments in the United States have power to tax women who hold property ( to divorce them from their husbands; to fine, imprison, and execute them for certain offences. Whence do these governments derive their powers? They are not " just," as they are not derived from the consent of the women thus governed. Governments in the United States have power to enslave certain women ( and also to punish other women for inhuman treatment of such slaves. Neither of these powers are " just;" not being derived from the consent of the governed. Governments decree to women in some States half their husbands' property; in others one-third. In some, a woman, on her marriage, is made to yield all her property to her husband; in others, to retain a portion, or the whole, in her own hands. Whence do governments derive the unjust power of thus disposing of property without the consent of the governed ? The democratic principle condemns all this as wrong; and requires the equal political representation of all rational beings. Children, idiots, and criminals, during the season of sequestration, are the only fair exceptions. The case is so plain that I might close it here ( but it is interesting to inquire how so obvious a decision has been so evaded as to leave to women no political rights whatever. The question has been asked, from time to time, in more countries than one, how obedience to the laws can be required of women, when no woman has, either actually or virtually, given any assent to any law. No plausible answer has, as far as I can discover, been offered for the good reason, that no plausible answer can be devised. The most principled democratic writers on government have on this subject sunk into fallacies, as disgraceful as any advocate of despotism has adduced. In fact, they have thus sunk from being, for the moment, advocates of despotism. Jefferson in America, and James Mill at home, subside, for the occasion, to the level of the author of the Emperor of Russia's Catechism for the young Poles. Jefferson says " Were our State a pure democracy, in which all the inhabitants should meet together to transact all their business, there would yet be excluded from their deliberations,
" 1. Infants, until arrived at years of discretion.
" 2. Women, who, to prevent depravation of morals, and ambiguity of issue, could not mix promiscoously in the public meetings of men.
" 3. Slaves, from whom the unfortunate state of things with us takes away the rights of will and of property."
If the slave disqualification, here assigned, were shifted up under the head of Women, their case would be nearer the truth than as it now stands. Woman's lack of will and of property, is more like the true cause of her exclusion from the representation, than that which is actually set down against her. As if there could be no means of conducting public affairs but by promiscuous meetings ! As if there would be more danger in promiscuous meetings for political business than in such meetings for worship, for oratory, for music, for dramatic entertainments, for any of the thousand transactions of civilized life! The plea is not worth another word.
Mill says, with regard to representation, in his Essay on Government, “One thing is pretty clear, that all those individuals, whose interests are involved in those of other individuals, may be struck off without inconvenience.... In this light, women may be regarded, the interest of almost all of whom is involved, either in that of their fathers or in that of their husbands."
The true democratic principle is, that no person's interests can be, or can be ascertained to be, identical with those of any other person. This allows the exclusion of none but incapables.
The word "almost," in Mr. Mill's second sentence, rescues women from the exclusion he proposes. As long as there are women who have neither husbands nor fathers, his proposition remains an absurdity.
The interests of women who have fathers and husbands can never be identical with theirs, while there is a necessity for laws to protect women against their husbands and fathers. This statement is not worth another word.
Some who desire that there should be an equality of property between men and women, oppose representation, on the ground that political duties would be incompatible with the other duties which women have to discharge. The reply to this is, that women are the best judges here. God has given time and power for the discharge of all duties, and, if he had not, it would be for women to decide which they would take, and which they would leave. But their guardians follow the ancient fashion of deciding what is best for their wards. The Emperor of Russia discovers when a cost of arms and title do not agree with a subject prince. The King of France early perceives that the air of Paris does not agree with a free-thinking foreigner. The English Tories feel the hardship that it would be to impose the franchise on every artizan, busy as he is in getting his bread. The Georgian planter perceives the hardship that freedom would be to his slaves. And the best friends of half the human race peremptorily decide for them as to their rights, their duties, their feelings, their powers. In all these cases, the persons thus cared for feel that the abstract decision rests with themselves; that, though they may be compelled to submit, they need not acquiesce.
It is pleaded that half of the human race does acquiesce in the decision of the other half, as to their rights and duties. And some instances, not only of submission, but of acquiescence, there are. Forty years ago, the women of New Jersey went to the pol1, and voted, at state elections. The general term, " inhabitants," stood unqualified as it will again, when the true democratic principle comes to be fully understood. A motion was made to correct the inadvertence; and it was done, as a matter of course without any appeal, as far as I could learn, from the persons about to be injured. Such acquiescence proves nothing but the degradation of the injured party. It inspires the same emotions of pity as the supplication of the freed slave who kneels to his master to restore him to slavery, that he may have his animal wants supplied, without being troubled with human rights and duties. Acquiescence like this is an argument which cuts the wrong way for those who use it.
But this acquiescence is only partial; and, to give any semblance of strength to the plea, the acquiescence must be complete. I, for one, do not acquiesce. I declare that whatever obedience I yield to the laws of the society in which I live is a matter between, not the community and myself, but my judgment and my will. Any punishment inflicted on me for the breach of the laws, I should regard as so much gratuitous injury, for to those laws I have never, actually or virtually, assented. I know that there are women in England who agree with me in this. I know that there are women in America who agree with me in this. The plea of acquiescence is invalidated by us.
It is pleaded that, by enjoying the protection of some laws, women give their assent to all. This needs but a brief answer. Any protection thus conferred is, under woman's circumstances, a boon best owed at the pleasure of those in whose power she is. A boon of any sort is no compensation for the privation of something else; nor can the enjoyment of it bind to the performance of anything to which it bears no relation.
Because I, by favour, may procure the imprisonment of the thief who robs my house, am I, unrepresented, therefore bound not to smuggle French ribbons? The obligation not to smuggle has a widely different derivation. I cannot enter upon the commonest order of pleas of all; or those which relate to the virtual influence of woman; her swaying the judgment and will of man through the heart and so forth. One might as well try to dissect the morning mist. I knew a gentleman in America who told me how much rather he had be a woman than the man he is; a professional man, a father, a citizen. He would give up all this for a woman's influence. I thought he was mated too soon. He should have married a lady, also of my acquaintance, who would not at all object to being a slave, if ever the blacks should have the upper hand; it is so right that the one race should be subservient to the other ! Or rather, I thought it a pity that the one could not be a woman, and the other a slave so that an injured individual of each class might be exalted into their places, to fulfil and enjoy the duties and privileges which they despise, and, in despising, disgrace.
The truth is, that while there is much said about " the sphere of woman," two widely different notions are entertained of what is meant by the phrase. The narrow, and, to the ruling party, the more convenient notion is that sphere appointed by men, and bounded by their ideas of propriety ; a notion from which any and every woman may fairly dissent. The broad and true conception is of the sphere appointed by God, and bounded by the powers which he has bestowed. This commands the assent of man and woman, and only the question of powers remains to be proved.
That woman has power to represent her own interests, no one can deny till she has been tried. The modes need not be discussed here: they must vary with circumstances. The fearful and absurd images which are perpetually called up to perplex the question, images of women on wool-sacks in England, and under canopies in America, have nothing to do with the matter. The principle being once established, the method will follow, easily, naturally, and under a remarkable transmutation of the ludicrous into the sublime. The kings of Europe would have laughed mightily, two centuries ago, at the idea of a commoner, without robes, crown, or sceptre, stepping into the throne of a strong nation. Yet who dared to laugh when Washington's super-royal voice greeted the New World from the presidential chair, and the old world stood still to catch the echo?
The principle of the equal rights of both halves of the human race is all we have to do with here. It is the true democratic principle which can never be seriously controverted, and only for a short time evaded. Governments can derive their just powers only from the consent of the governed.
MONTGOMERY, ALABAMA. April 1835. Inadequacy of Education in the Western part of the country.
A gentlemanÕs family, where there are children to be educated, cannot live for less than from seven hundred pounds to one thousand pounds per annum. The sons take land and buy slaves very early; and the daughters marry almost in childhood; so that education is less thought of, and sooner ended, than in almost any part of the world. The pioneers of civilisation, as the settlers in these new districts may be regarded, care for other things more than for education; or they would not come I heard in Montgomery of a wealthy old planter in the neighbourhood, who has amassed millions of dollars, while his children can scarcely write their names. Becoming aware of their deficiencies, as the place began to be peopled from the eastward, he sent a son of sixteen to school, and a younger one to college; but they proved " such gawks," that they were unable to learn, or even to remain in the society of others who were learning ; and their old father has bought land in Missouri, whither he was about to take his children, to remove them from the contempt of their neighbors. They are doomed to the lowest office of social beings; to be the mechanical, unintelligent pioneers of man in the wilderness.
There is pedantry in those who read ; prejudice in those who do not ; coxcombry among the young gentlemen ; bad manners among the young ladies; and an absence of all reference to the higher, the real objects of life. When to all this is added that tremendous curse, the possession of irresponsible power, over slaves, it is easy to see how character must become, in such regions, what it was described to me on the spot, " composed of the chivalric elements, badly formed.
MONTGOMERY, ALABAMA. April 1835.
General Abilities of Slaves; Slave Quarters; Education of Slaves. On this, and many other estates that we saw, the ladies make it their business to cut out all the clothes for the negroes. Many a fair pair of hands have I seen dyed with blue, and bearing the marks of the large scissors. The slave women cannot be taught, it is said, to cut out even their scanty and unshapely garments economically. Nothing can be more hideous than their working costume. There would be nothing to lose on the score of beauty, and probably much gained, if they could be permitted to clothe themselves. But it is universally said that they cannot learn. A few ladies keep a woman for this purpose, very naturally disliking the coarse employment.
We visited the negro quarter; a part of the estate which filled me with disgust, wherever I went. It is something between a haunt of monkeys and a dwelling-place of human beings. The natural good taste, so remarkable in free negroes, is here extinguished. Their small, dingy, untidy houses, their cribs, the children crouching round the fire, the animal deportment of the grown-up, the brutish chagrins and enjoyments of the old, were all loathsome. There was some relief in seeing the children playing in the sun, and sometimes fowls clucking and strutting round the houses; but otherwise, a walk through a lunatic asylum is far less painful than a visit to the slave quarter of an estate. The children are left, during working hours, in the charge of a woman; and they are bright, and brisk, and merry enough, for the season, however slow and stupid they may be destined to become.
My next visit was to a school, the Franklin Institute, in Montgomery, established by a gentleman who has bestowed unwearied pains on its organization, and to whose care it does great credit. On our approach, we saw five horses walking about the enclosure, and five saddles hung over the fence: a true sign that some of the pupils canoe from a distance. The school was hung with prints; there was a collection of shells; many books and maps; and some philosophical apparatus. The boys, and a few girls, were steadily employed over their books and mapping; and nothing could exceed the order and neatness of the place. If the event corresponds with the appearance, the proprietor must be one of the most useful citizens the place has yet been honoured with.
I spent some days at a plantation a few miles from Montgomery, and heard there of an old lady who treats her slaves in a way very unusual, but quite safe, as far as appears. She gives them knowledge, which is against the law; but the law leaves her in peace and quiet. She also commits to them the entire management of the estate, requiring only that they should make her comfortable, and letting them take the rest. There is an obligation by law to keep an overseer; to obviate insurrection. How she manages about this, I omitted to inquire: but all goes on well; the cultivation of the estate is creditable, and all parties are contented. This is only a temporary ease and contentment. The old lady must die; and her slaves will either be sold to a new owner, whose temper will be an accident; or, if freed, must leave the State: but the story is satisfactory in as far as it gives evidence of the trust-worthiness of the negroes.
STOCKBRIDGE, MASSACHUSETTS. May 1835. Hospitality and Domestic Duties of Daughters. It was as a favour that the widow Jones took us in. She does not let lodgings. She opened her house to us, and made us a part of her family. Two of her daughters were at home, and a married son lived at hand. We had a parlour, with three windows, commanding different views of the valley: two good-sized chambers, conveniently furnished, and a large closet between; our board with the family, and every convenience that could be provided, and all for two dollars per week each, and half price for the child. She was advised to ask more, but she refused, as she did not wish to be " grasping."..
We all dined together at two. One of the daughters absented herself at breakfast, that she might arrange our rooms; but both were present at dinner, dressed, and ready for their afternoon's occupation of working and reading. One was fond of flowers, and had learned a great deal about them. She was skilful in drying them, and could direct us to the places in the woods and meadows where they grew. Some members of the family, more literary than the rest, were gone westward, but there was a taste for books among them all. I often saw a volume on the table of the widow's parlour, with her spectacles in it. She told me, one day, of her satisfaction in her children, that they were given to good pursuits, and all received church members.
All young people in these villages are more or less instructed. Schooling is considered a necessary of life. I happened to be looking over an old almanack one day, when I found, among the directions relating to the preparations for winter on a farm, the following: " Secure your cellars from frost. Fasten loose clapboards and shingles. Secure a good school-master." It seemed doubtful, at the first glance, whether some new farming utensil had not been thus whimsically named; as the brass plate which hooks upon the fender, or upper bar of the grate, is called " the footman ;" but the context clearly showed that a man with learning in his head was the article required to be provided before the winter.
The only respect, as far as I know, in which we made our kind hostess uneasy, was in our neglect of Charley's book-studies. Charley's little head was full of knowledge of other kinds; but the widow's children had all known more of the produce of the press at his age than he; and she had a few anxious thoughts about him.
PLYMOUTH, MASSACHUSETTS. Winter 1835. Favorable Appraisal of Manners at the Pilgrim Ball. The dinner being over, the gentlemen returned to their several abodes, to escort the ladies to the ball in Pilgrim Hall. I went, with a party of seven others, in a stage coach, every carriage, native and exotic, being in requisition to fill the ballroom, from which no one was excluded. It was the only in-door festival, except the President's levee, where I witnessed an absolutely general admission and its aspect and conduct were, in the highest degree, creditable to the intelligence and manners of the community. There were families from the islands in the bay, and other country residences, whence the inhabitants seldom emerge, except for this festival. The dress of some of the young ladies was peculiar, and their glee was very visible; but I saw absolutely no vulgarity. There was much beauty, and much elegance among the young ladies, and the manners of their parents were unexceptionable. There was evidence in the dancing, of the "intensity" of which we had heard so much in the morning. The lads and lasses looked as if they meant never to tire; but this enjoyment of the exercise pleased me much more than the affectation of dancing, which is now fashionable in the large cities. I never expect to see a more joyous and unexceptionable piece of festivity than the Pilgrim ball of 1835.
MICHIGAN. July 1836. Problem of Theft During Emigration.
In the piazza, sat a party of emigrants, who interested us much. The wife had her eight children with her; the youngest, puny twins. She said she had brought them in a wagon four hundred miles; and if they could only live through the one hundred that remained before they reached her husband's lot of land, she hoped they might thrive, but she had been robbed, the day before, of her bundle of baby things. Some one had stolen it from the wagon. After a good meal, we saw the stage-passengers stowed into a lumber wagon, and we presently followed in our more comfortable vehicle.
PHILADELPHIA, PENNSYLVANIA. October 1834. Aristocractic Tendencies of the Young.
The children are such faithful reflectors of this spirit as to leave no doubt of its existence, even amidst the nicest operations of cant. Gentlemen may disguise their aristocratic aspirations under sighs for the depressed state of literature and science; supposing that wealth and leisure are the constituents of literature; and station the proximate cause of science; and committing the slight mistake of assuming that the natural aristocracy of England, her philosophers and poets, have been identical with, or originated by, her conventional aristocracy. The ladies may conceal their selfish pride of caste, even from themselves, under pretensions to superior delicacy and refinement. But the children use no such disguises. Out they come with what they learn at home. A school-girl told me what a delightful " set" she belonged to at her school: how comfortable they all were once, without any sets, till several grocers' daughters began to come in, as their fathers grew rich; and it became necessary for the higher girls to consider what they should do, and to form themselves into sets. She told me how the daughter of a lottery officekeeper came to the school; and no set would receive her; how unkindly she was treated, and how difficult it was for any individual to help her, because she had not spirit or temper enough to help herself. My informant went on to mention how anxious she and her set, of about sixty young people, were to visit exclusively among themselves, how "delightful" it would be to have no grocers daughters among them; but that it was found to be impossible... In Philadelphia, I was much in society. Some of my hospitable acquaintances lived in Chesnut Street, some in Arch Street, and many in other places. When I had been a few weeks in the city, found to my surprise that some of the ladies who were my admiration had not only never seen or heard of other beautiful young ladies whom I admired quite as much, but never would see or hear of them. I inquired again and again for a solution of this mystery. One person told me that a stranger could not see into the usages of their society. This was just what I was feeling to be true; but it gave me no satisfaction. Another said that the mutual ignorance was from the fathers of the Arch Street ladies having made their fortunes, while the Chesnut Street ladies owed theirs to their grandfathers. Another, who was amused with a new fashion of curtseying, just introduced, declared it was from the Arch Street ladies rising twice on their toes before curtseying, while the Chesnut Street ladies rose thrice. I was sure of only one thing in the matter, that it was a pity that the parties should lose the pleasure of admiring each other, for no better reasons than these: and none better were apparent.
NEW YORK CITY. Toil of Husbands and Idleness of Wives.
In New York, some friends, wishing to impress me with a conviction of the enviable lives of American ladies, told me how the rich merchants take handsome houses in the upper part of the city, and furnish them splendidly for their wives: how these gentlemen rise early, snatch their breakfasts, hurry off two or three miles to their counting-houses, bustle about in the heat and dust, noise and traffic of Pearl Street all the long summer's day, and come home in the evening, almost too wearied to eat or speak; while their wives, for whose sake they have thus been toiling after riches, have had the whole day to water their flowers, read the last English novel, visit their acquaintance, and amuse themselves at the milliner's; paying, perhaps, 100 dollars for the newest Paris bonnet. The representation had a different effect from what was expected. It appeared to me that if the ladies prefer their husbands' society to that of morning visitors and milliners, they are quite as much to be pitied as their hushands, that such a way of consuming life is considered necessary or honourab]e. If they would prefer to wear bonnets costing a dollar a-piece, and having some enjoyment of domestic life, their fate is mournful; if they prefer hundred dollar bonnets to the enjoyment of domestic life, their lot is the most mournful of all. In either case, they and their husbands cannot but berestless and dissatisfied.
I was at a ball in New York, the splendour of which equalled that of any entertainment I ever witnessed. A few days after, the lady who gave the ball asked me whether I did not disapprove of the show and luxury of their society. I replied, that of whatever was done for mere show, I did disapprove; but that I liked luxury, and approved of it, as long as the pleasures of some did not encroach on the rights of others.
" But," said she, "our husbands have to pay for it all. They work very hard."
" I suppose it is their own choice to do so. I should make a different choice, perhaps; but if they prefer hard work and plenty of money to indulge their families with, to moderate work and less money, I do not see how you can expect me to blame them."
"Oh, but we all live beyond our incomes."
" In that case, your pleasures encroach on the rights of others, and I have no more to say."
If this be true, how should this class be otherwise than restless and dissatisfied ?
BOSTON, MASSACHUSETTS. Winter 1835. Voices of Women in America; Peculiarities of Language in America.
A great unknown pleasure remains to be experienced by the Americans in the well-modulated, gentle, healthy, cheerful voices of women. It is incredible that there should not, in all time to come, be any other alternative than that which now exists, between a whine and a twang. When the health of the American women improves, their voices will improve. In the meantime, they are unconscious how the effect of their remarkable and almost universal beauty is injured by their mode of speech...
I rarely, if ever, met with instances of this pedantry among the yeomanry or mechanic classes; or among the young. The most numerous and the worst pedants were middle-aged ladies. One instance struck me as being unlike anything that could happen in England. A literary and very meritorious village mantua-maker declared that it was very hard if her gowns did not fit the ladies of the neighbourhood. She had got the exact proportions of the Venus de Medici, to make them by: and what more could she do ? Again, a sempstress was anxious that her employer should request me to write something about Mount Auburn: (the beautiful cemetery near Boston.) Upon her being questioned as to what kind of composition she had in her fancy, she said she would have Mount Auburn considered under three points of view: as it was on the day of creation, as it is now, as it will be on the day of resurrection. I liked the idea so well that I got her to write it for me, instead of my doing it for her.
As for the peculiarities of language of which so much has been made, I am a bad judge: but the fact is, I should have passed through the country almost without observing any, if my attention had not been previously directed to them. Next to the well-known use of the word " sick," instead of "ill," (in which they are undoubtedly right,) none struck me so much as the few following. They use the word " handsome" much more extensively than we do: saying that Webster made a handsome speech in the Senate: that a lady talks handsomely, (eloquently:) that a book sells handsomely. A gentleman asked me on the Catskill Mountain, whether I thought the sun handsomer there than at New York. When they speak of a fine woman, they refer to mental or moral, not at all to physical superiority. The effect was strange, after being told, here and there, that I was about to see a very fine woman, to meet in such cases almost the only plain women I saw in the country. Another curious circumstance is, that this is almost the only connexion in which the word woman is used. This noble word, spirit-stirring as it passes over English ears, is in America banished, and "ladies" and " females" substituted: the one to English taste mawkish and vulgar; the other indistinctive and gross. So much for difference of taste. The effect is odd. After leaving the men's wards of the prison at Nashville, Tennessee, I asked the warden whether he would not let me see the women. " We have no ladies here, at present, madam. We have never had but two ladies, who were convicted for stealing a steak; but, as it appeared that they were deserted by their husbands, and in want, they were pardoned." A lecturer, discoursing on the characteristics of women, is said to have expressed himself thus. "Who were last at the cross? Ladies. Who were first at the sepulchre? Ladies."
ELBRIDGE, NEW YORK. Fall 1834. Hospitality in Villages; Unhealthy Habit of Pampering Women; Ostentatious Display of Cities contrasted with Simple Manners of Country; Slaves Imitating the Manners of their Owners.
I had an early lesson in the art of distinguishing coldness from inhospitality. Our party of six was traversing the State of New York. We left Syracuse at dawn one morning, intending to breakfast at Skaneatles. By the time we reached Elbridge, however, having been delayed on the road, we were too hungry to think of going further without food. An impetuous young Carolinian, who was of the party, got out first, and returned to say we had better proceed; for the house and the people looked so cold, we should never be able to achieve a comfortable meal. Caring less, however, for comfort than for any sort of meal, we persisted in stopping. The first room we were shown into was wet, and had no fire; and we were already shivering with cold. I could discern that the family were clearing out of the next room. It was offered to us, and logs were piled upon the fire. Two of the young women, in cotton gowns and braided and bowed hair, followed their mother into the cooking apartment, sailing about with quiet movements and solemn faces. Two more staid in the room; and, after putting up their hair before the glass in our presence, began to arrange the table, knitting between times. One or another was almost all the while sitting with us, knitting, and replying with grave simplicity to our conversation. Presently, one of the best breakfasts we had in America was ready: a pie-dish full of buttered toast; hot biscuits and coffee; beef-steak, applesauce, hot potatoes, cheese, butter, and two large dishes of eggs. We were attentively waited upon by the four knitting young ladies and their kuitting mother, and kindly dismissed with a charge of only two dollars and a quarter for the whole party. " Did you ever see such girls ?" cried the young Carolinian, just landed from Europe: "stepping about like four captive princesses !" We all called out that we would not hear a word against the young ladies. They had treated us with all kindness; and no one could tell whether their reserve was any greater than their situation and circumstances require.
So much more has naturally been observed by travellers of American manners in stages and steam-boats than in private-houses, that all has been said, over and over again, that the subject deserves. I need only testify that I do not think the Americans eat faster than other people, on the whole. The celerity at hotel-tables is remarkable but so it is in stage-coach travellers in England, who are allowed ten minutes or a quarter of an hour for dining. In private houses, I was never aware of being hurried. The cheerful, unintermitting civility of all gentlemen travellers, throughout the country, is very striking to a stranger. The degree of consideration shown to women is, in my opinion, greater than is rational, or good for either party; but the manners of an American stagecoach might afford a valuable lesson and example to many classes of Europeans who have a high opinion of their own civilisation. I do not think it rational or fair that every gentleman, whether old or young, sick or well, weary or untired, should, as a matter of course, yield up the best places in the stage to any lady passenger. I do not think it rational or fair that five gentlemen should ride on the top of the coach, (where there is no accommodation for holding on, and no resting-place for the feet,) for some hours of a July day in Virginia, that a young lady, who was slightly delicate, might have room to lay up her feet, and change her posture as she pleased. It is obvious that, if she was not strong enough to travel on common terms in the stage, her family should have travelled in an extra; or staid behind; or done anything rather than allow five persons to risk their health, and sacrifice their comfort, for the sake of one. Whatever may be the good moral effects of such self-renunciation on the tempers of the gentlemen, the custom is very injurious to ladies. Their travelling manners are anything but amiable. While on a Journey, women who appear well enough in their homes, present all the characteristics of spoiled children. Screaming and trembling at the apprehension of danger are not lmcommon: but there is something far worse in the cool selfishness with which they accept the best of everything, at any sacrifice to others, and usually, in the south and west, without a word or look of acknowledgment. They are as like spoiled children when the gentlemen are not present to be sacrificed to them in the inn parlour, while waiting for meals or the stage, and in the cabin of a steam-boat. I never saw any manner so repulsive as that of many American ladies on board steam-boats. They look as if they supposed you mean to injure them, till you show to the contrary. The suspicious side-glance, or the full stare; the cold, immovable observation; the bristling self-defence the moment you come near; the cool pushing to get the best places, everything said and done without the least trace of trust or cheerfulness, these are the disagreeable consequences of the ladies being petted and humoured as they are. The New England ladies, who are compelled by their superior numbers to depend less upon the care of others, are far happier and pleasanter companions in a journey than those of the rest of the country. This shows the evil to be altogether superinduced: and I always found that if I could keep down my spirit, and show that I meant no harm, the apathy began to melt, the pretty ladies forgot their self-defence, and appeared somewhat like what I conclude they are at home, when managing their affairs, in the midst of familiar circumstances. If these ladies would but inquire of themselves what it is that they are afraid of, and whether there is any reason why people should be less cheerful, less obliging, and less agreeable, when casually brought into the society of fifty people, whose comfort depends mainly on their mutual good offices, than among half-a-dozen neighbours at home, they might remove an unpleasant feature of the national manners, and add another to the many charms of their country.
Much might be said of village manners in America: but Miss Sedgwick s pictures of them in her two best works, " Home," and " The Rich Poor Man, and the Poor Rich Man," are so true and so beautiful, and so sure of being well-known where they have not already reached, that no more is necessary than to mention them as some of the best and sweetest pictures of manners in existence. To the English reader they are full as interesting as to Americans, from the purity and fidelity of the democratic spirit which they breathe throughout. The woman who so appreciates the blessing of living in such a society as she describes, deserves the honour of being the first to commend it to the affections of humanity.
The manners of the wealthy classes depend, of course, upon the character of their objects and interests: but they are not, on the whole, so agreeable as those of their less opulent neighbours. The restless ostentation of such as live for grandeur and show is vulgar; as I have said, the only vulgarity to be seen in the country. Nothing can exceed the display of it at watering-places. At Rockaway, on Long Island, I saw in one large room, while the company was waiting, for dinner, a number of groups which would have made a good year's income for a clever caricaturist. If any lady, with an eye and a pencil adequate to the occasion, would sketch the phenomena of affectation that might be seen in one day in the piazza and drawing-room at Rockaway, she might be a useful censor of manners. But the task would be too full of sorrow and shame for any one with the true republican spirit. for my own part, I felt bewildered in such company. It was as if I had been set down on a kind of debatable land between the wholly imaginary society of the so called fashionable novels of late years, and the broad sketches of citizen-life given by Madame D'Arblay. It was like nothing real. When I saw the young ladies tricked out in the most expensive finery, flirting over the backgammon-board, tripping affectedly across the room, languishing with a seventy-dollar cambric handkerchief, starting up in ecstasy at the entrance of a baby; the mothers as busy with affectations of another kind; and the brothers sidling hither and thither, now with assiduity, and now with nonchalance; and no one imparting the refreshment of a natural countenance, movement, or tone, I almost doubted whether I was awake. The village scenes that I had witnessed rose up in strong contrast; the mirthful wedding, the wagon-drives, the offerings of wildflowers to the stranger; the unintermitting, simple courtesy of each to all; and it was scarcely credible that these contrasting scenes could both be existing in the same republic... The Americans possess an advantage in regard to the teaching of manners which they do not appreciate. They have before their eyes, in the manners of the coloured race, a perpatual caricature of their own follies; a mirror of conventionalism from which they can never escape. The negros are the most imitative set of people living. While they are in a degraded condition, with little principle, little knowledge, little independence, they copy the most successfully those things in their superiors which involve the least principle, knowledge, and independence; viz. their conventionalisms. They carry their mimicry far beyond any which is seen among the menials of the rich in Europe. The black footmen of the United States have tiptoe graces, stiff cravats, and eye-catching flourishes, like the footmen in London: but the imitation extends into more important matters. As the slaves of the south assume their masters' names and military titles, they assume their methods of conducting tte courtesies and gaieties of life. I have in my possession a note of invitation to a ball, written on pink paper with gilt edges. When the lady invited came to her mistress for the ticket which was necessary to authorise her being out after nine at night, she was dressed in satin with muslin over it, satin shoes, and white kid gloves: but, the satin was faded, the muslin torn: the shoes were tied upon the extremities of her splay feet and the white gloves dropping in tatters from her dark fingers. She was a caricature, instead of a fine lady. A friend of mine walked a mile or two in the dusk behind two black men and a woman whom they were courting. He told me that nothing could be more admirable than the coyness of the lady, and the compliments of the gallant and his friend. It could not be very amusing to those who reflect that holy and constant love, free preference, and all that makes marriage a blessing instead of a curse, were here out of the question: but the resemblance in the mode of courtship to that adopted by whites, when meditating marriage of a not dissimilar virtue, a marriage of barter, could not be overlooked.
Even in their ultimate, funereal courtesies, the coloured race imitate the whites. An epitaph on a negro baby at Savannah begins, " Sweet blighted lily !" They have few customs which are absolutely peculiar. One of these is refusing to eat before whites. When we went long expeditions, carrying luncheon, or procuring it by the road-side, the slaves always retired with their share behind trees or large stones, or other hiding-places.
WOMAN. General Treatise on the Education, Morals, Religion, and Overprotection of Women.
IF a test of civilisation be sought, none can be so sure as the condition of that half of society over which the other half has power,--from the exercise of the right of the strongest. Tried by this test, the American civilisation appears to be of a lower order than might have been expected from some other symptoms of its social state. The Americans have, in the treatment of women, fallen below, not only their own democratic principles, but the practice of some parts of the Old World.
The unconsciousness of both parties as to the injuries suffered by women at the hands of those who hold the power is a sufficient proof of the low degree of civilisation in this important particular at which they rest. While woman's intellect is confined, her morals crusted, her health ruined, her weaknesses encouraged, and her strength punished, she is told that her lot is cast in the paradise of women: and there is no country in the world where there is so much boasting of the " chivalrous" treatment she enjoys. That is to say, she has the best place in stage-coaches: when there are not chairs enough for everybody, the gentlemen stand: she hears oratorical flourishes on public occasions about wives and home, and apostrophes to woman: her husband's hair stands on end at the idea of her working, and he toils to Indulge her with money: she has liberty to get her brain turned by religious excitements, that her attention may be diverted from morals, politics, and philosophy; and, especially, her morals are guarded by the strictest observance of propriety in her presence. In short, indulgence is given her as a substitute for justice. Her case differs from that of the slave, as to the principle, just so far as this; that the indulgence is large and universal, instead of petty and capricious. In both cases, justice is denied on no better plea than the right of the strongest. In both cases, the acquiescence of the many, and the burning discontent of the few, of the oppressed testify, the one to the actual degradation of the class, and the other to its fitness for the enjoyment of human rights.
The intellect of woman is confined. I met with immediate proof of this. Within ten days of my landing, I encountered three outrageous pedants, among the ladies; and in my progress through the country I met with a greater variety and extent of female pedantry than the experience of a lifetime in Europe would afford. I could fill the remainder of my volume with sketches: but I forbear, through respect even for this very pedantry. Where intellect has a fair chance, there is no pedantry, among men or women. It is the result of an intellect which cannot be wholly passive, but must demonstrate some force, and does so through the medium of narrow morals. Pedantry indicates the first struggle of intellect with its restraints; and it is therefore a hopeful symptom.
The intellect of woman is confined by an unjustifiable restriction of both methods of education, by express teaching, and by the discipline of circumstance. The former, though prior in the chronology of each individual, is a direct consequence of the latter, as regards the whole of the sex. As women have none of the objects in life for which an enlarged education is considered requisite, the education is not given. Female education in America is much what it is in England. There is a profession of some things being taught which are supposed necessary because everybody learns them. They serve to fill up time, to occupy attention harmlessly, to improve conversation, and to make women something like companions to their husbands, and able to teach their children somewhat. But what is given is, for the most part, passively received; and what is obtained is, chiefly, by means of the memory. There is rarely or never a careful ordering of influences for the promotion of clear intellectual activity. Such activity, when it exceeds that which is necessary to make the work of the teacher easy, is feared and repressed. This is natural enough, as long as women are excluded from the objects for which men are trained. While there are natural rights which women may not use, just claims which are not to be listened to, large objects which may not be approached, even in imagination, intellectual activity is dangerous: or, as the phrase is, unfit Accordingly, marriage is the only object left open to woman. Philosophy she may pursue only fancifully, and under pain of ridicule: science only as a pastime, and under a similar penalty. Art is declared to be left open: but the necessary learning, and, yet more, the indispensable experience of reality, are denied to her. Literature is also said to be permitted: but under what penalties and restrictions ? I need only refer to the last three pages of the review of Miss Sedgwick's last novel in the North American Review, to support all that can be said of the insolence to which the intellect of women is exposed in America. I am aware that many blush for that article, and disclaim all sympathy with it: but the bare fact that any man in the country could write it' that any editor could sanction it, that such an intolerable scoff should be allowed to find its way to the light, is a sufficient proof of the degradation of the sex. Nothing is thus left for women but marriage. Yes; Religion, is the reply. Religion is a temper, not a pursuit. It is the moral atmosphere in which human beings are to live and move. Men do not live to breathe: they breathe to live. A German lady of extraordinary powers and endowments, remarked to me with amazement on all the knowledge of the American women being based on theology. She observed that in her own country theology had its turn with other sciences, as a pursuit: but nowhere, but with the American women, had she known it make the foundation of all other knowledge. Even while thus complaining, this lady stated the case too favourably. American women have not the requisites for the study of theology. The difference between theology and religion, the science and the temper, is yet scarcely known among them. It is religion which they pursue as an occupation; and hence its small results upon the conduct, as well as upon the intellect. We are driven back upon marriage as the only appointed object in life: and upon the conviction that the sum and substance of female education in America, as in England, is training women to consider marriage as the sole object in life, and to pretend that they do not think so.
The morals of women are crushed. If there be any human power and business and privilege which is absolutely universal, it is the discovery and adoption of the principle and laws of duty. As every individual, whether man or woman, has a reason and a conscience, this is a work which each is thereby authorised to do for him or herself. But it is not only virtually prohibited to beings who, like the American women, have scarcely any objects in life proposed to them; but the whole apparatus of opinion is brought to bear offensively upon individuals among women who exercise freedom of mind in deciding upon what duty is, and the methods by which it is to be pursued. There is nothing extraordinary to the disinterested observer in women being so grieved at the case of slaves, slave wives and mothers, as well as spirit broken men, as to wish to do what they could for their relief: there is nothing but what is natural in their being ashamed of the cowardice of such white slaves of the north as are deterred by intimidation from using their rights of speech and of the press, in behalf of the suffering race, and in their resolving not to do likewise: there is nothing but what is justifiable in their using their moral freedom, each for herself, in neglect of the threats of punishment: yet there were no bounds to the efforts made to crush the actions of women who thus used their human powers in the abolition question, and the convictions of those who looked on, and who might possibly be warmed into free action by the beauty of what they saw. It will be remembered that they were women who asserted the right of meeting and of discussion, on the day when Garrison was mobbed in Boston. Bills were posted about the city on this occasion, denouncing these women as casting off the refinement and delicacy of their sex: the newspapers, which laud the exertions of ladies in all other charities for the prosecution of which they are wont to meet and speak, teemed with the most disgusting reproaches and insinuations: and the pamphlets which related to the question all presumed to censure the act of duty which the women had performed in deciding upon their duty for themselves. One lady, of high talents and character, whose books were very popular before she did a deed greater than that of writing any book, in acting upon an unusual conviction of duty, and becoming an abolitionist, has been almost excommunicated since. A family of ladies, whose talents and conscientiousness had placed them high in the estimation of society as teachers, have lost all their pupils since they declared their anti-slavery opinions. The reproach in all the many similar cases that I know is, not that the ladies hold anti-slavery opinions, but that they act upon them. The incessant outcry about the retiring modesty of the sex proves the opinion of the censors to be, that fidelity to conscience is inconsistent with retiring modesty. If it be so, let the modesty succumb. It can be only a false modesty which can be thus endangered. No doubt, there were people in Rome who were scandalised at the unseemly boldness of Christian women who stood in the amphitheatre to be torn in pieces for their religion. No doubt there were many gentlemen in the British army who thought it unsuitable to the retiring delicacy of the sex that the wives and daughters of the revolutionary heroes should be revolutionary heroines. nut the event has a marvellous efficacy in modifying the ultimate sentence. The bold Christian women, the brave American wives and daughters of half a century ago are honoured, while the intrepid moralists of the present day, worthy of their grand mothers, are made the confessors and martyrs of their age.
I could cite many conversations and incidents to show how the morals of women are crushed: but I can make room for only one. Let it be the following. A lady, who is considered unusually clearheaded and sound-hearted where trying questions are not concerned, one day praised very highly Dr. Channing's work on Slavery. " But," said she, " do not you think it a pity that so much is said on slavery just now ?"
" No. I think it necessary and natural."
" But people who hold Dr. Channing's belief about a future life, cannot well make out the case of the slaves to be so very bad an one. If the present life is but a moment in comparison with the eternity to come, can it matter so very much how it is spent ?"
" How does it strike you about your own children ? Would it reconcile you to their being made slaves, that they could be so only for three-score years and ten ?"
" O no. But yet it seems as if life would so soon be over."
" And what do you think of their condition at the end of it ? How much will the purposes of human life have been fulfilled ?"
" The slaves will not be punished, you know, for the state they may be in; for it will be no fault of their own. Their masters will have the responsibility; not they."
" Place the responsibility where you will. Speaking according to your own belief, do you think it of no consequence whether a human being enters upon a future life utterly ignorant and sensualised, or in the likeness of Dr. Channing, as you described him just now ?"
" Of great consequence, certainly. But then it is no business of ours; of us women, at all events."
" I thought you considered yourself a Christian."
" So I do. You will say that Christians should help sufferers, whoever and wherever they may be. But not women, in all cases, surely."
" Where, in your Christianity, do you find the distinction made ?"
She could only reply that she thought women should confine themselves to doing what could be done at home. I asked her what her Christian charity would bid her do, if she saw a great boy beating a little one in the street.
" O, I parted two such the other day in the street. It would have been very wrong to have passed them by."
"Well: if there are a thousand strung men in the south beating ten thousand weak slaves, and you can possibly help to stop the beating by a declaration of your opinion upon it, does not your Christian duty oblige you to make such a declaration, whether you are man or woman? What in the world has your womanhood to do with it?"
How fearfully the morals of woman are crushed, appears from the prevalent persuasion that there are virtues which are peculiarly masculine, and others which are peculiarly feminine. It is amazing that a society which makes a most emphatic profession of its Christianity, should almost universally entertain such a fallacy: and not see that, in the case they suppose, instead of the character of Christ being the meeting point of all virtues, there would have been a separate gospel for women, and a second company of agents for its diffusion. Is it not only that masculine and feminine employments are supposed to be properly different. No one in the world, I believe, questions this. But it is actually supposed that what are called the hardy virtues are more appropriate to men, and the gentler to women. As all virtues nourish each other, and can no otherwise be nourished, the consequence of the admitted fallacy is that men are, after all, not nearly so brave as they ought to be; nor women so gentle. But what is the manly character till it be gentle? The very word magnanimity cannot be thought of in relation to it till it becomes mild, Christ-like. Again, what can a woman be, or do, without bravery? Has she not to struggle with the toils and difficulties which follow upon the mere possession of a mind ? Must she not face physical and moral pain, physical and moral danger ? Is there a day of her life in which there are not conflicts wherein no one can help her— perilous work to be done, in which she can have neither sympathy nor aid? Let her lean upon man as much as he will, how much is it that he can do for her ? from how much can he protect her ? From a few physical perils, and from a very few social evils. This is all. Over the moral world he has no control, except on his own account; and it is the moral life of human beings which is all in all. He can neither secure any woman from pain and grief, nor rescue her from the strife of emotions, nor prevent the film of life from cracking under her feet with every step she treads, nor hide from her the abyss which is beneath, nor save her from sinking into it at last alone. While it is so, while woman is human, men should beware how they deprive her of any of the strength which is all needed for the strife and burden of humanity. Let them beware how they put her off her watch and defence, by promises which they cannot fulfil; promises of a guardianship which can arise on]y from within; of support which can be derived only from the freest moral action, from the self-reliance which can be generated by no other means.
But, it may be asked, how does society get on, what does it do ? for it acts on the supposition of there being masculine and feminine virtues, upon the fallacy just exposed.
It does so; and the consequences are what might be looked for. Men are ungentle, tyrannical. They abuse the right of the strongest, however they may veil the abuse with indulgence. They want the magnanimity to discern woman's human rights; and they crush her morals rather than allow them. Women are, as might be anticipated, weak, ignorant and subservient, in as far as they exchange self-reliance for reliance on anything out of themselves. Those who will not submit to such a suspension of their moral functions, (for the work of self-perfection remains to be done, sooner or later,) have to suffer for their allegiance to duty. They have all the need of bravery that the few heroic men who assert the highest rights of women have of gentleness, to guard them from the encroachment to which power, custom, and education, incessantly conduce.
Such brave women and such just men there are in the United States, scattered among the multitude, whose false apprehension of rights leads to an erroneous failure of duties. There are enough of such to commend the true understanding and practice to the simplest minds and most faithful hearts of the community, under whose testimony the right principle will spread and flourish. If it were not for the external prosperity of the country, the injured half of its society would probably obtain justice sooner than in any country of Europe. But the prosperity of America is a circumstance unfavourable to its women. It will be long before they are put to the proof as to what they are capable of thinking and doing: a proof to which hundreds, perhaps thousands of Englishwomen have been put by adversity, and the result of which is a remarkable improvement in their social condition, even within the space of ten years. Persecution for opinion, punishment for all manifestations of intellectual and moral strength, are still as common as women who have opinions and who manifest strength: but some things are easy, and many are possible of achievement, to women of ordinary powers, which it would have required genius to accomplish but a few years ago.
MARRIAGE. General Treatise on Money and Property Rights of Wives; Divorce Laws; Comparison of European and American Marriages; Morals Less Pure than Supposed.
If there is any country on earth where the course of true love may be expected to run smooth, it is America It is a country where all can marry early, where there need be no anxiety about a worldly provision, and where the troubles arising from conventional considerations of rank and connexion ought to be entirely absent. It is difficult for a stranger to imagine beforehand why all should not love and marry naturally and freely, to the prevention of vice out of the marriage state, and of the common causes of unhappiness within it. The anticipations of the stranger are not, however, fulfilled: and they never can be while the one sex overbears the other. Marriage is in America more nearly universal, more safe, more tranquil, more fortunate than in England: but it is still subject to the troubles which arise from the inequality of the parties in mind and in occupation. It is more nearly universal, from the entire prosperity of the country: it is safer, from the greater freedom of divorce, and consequent discouragement of swindling, and other vicious marriages: it is more tranquil and fortunate from the marriage vows being made absolutely reciprocal; from the arrangements about property being generally far more favorable to the wife than in England; and from her not being made, as in England, to all intents and purposes the property of her husband. The outward requisites to happiness are nearly complete, and the institution is purified from the grossest of the scandals which degrade it in the Old World: but it is still the imperfect institution which it must remain while women continue to be ill-educated, passive, and subservient: or well educated, vigorous, and free only upon sufferance.
The institution presents a different aspect in the various parts of the country. I have spoken of the early marriages of silly children in the south and west, where, owing to the disproportion of numbers, every woman is married before she well knows how serious a matter human life is. She has an advantage which very few women elsewhere are allowed: she has her own property to manage. It would be a rare sight elsewhere to see a woman of twenty-one in her second widowhood, managing her own farm or plantation; and managing it well, because it had been in her own hands during her marriage. In Louisiana, and also in Missouri, (and probably in other States,) a woman not only has half her husband's property by right at his death, but may always be considered as possessed of half his gains during his life; having at all times power to bequeath that amount. The husband interferes much less with his wife's property in the south, even through her voluntary relinquishment of it, than is at all usual where the cases of women having property during their marriage are rare. In the southern newspapers, advertisements may at any time be seen, running thus: " Mrs. A, wife of Mr. A, will dispose of &c. &c." When Madame Lalaurie was mobbed in New Orleans, no one meddled with her husband or his possessions; as he was no more responsible for her management of her human property than anybody else. On the whole, the practice seems to be that the weakest and most ignorant women give up their property to their husbands; the husbands of such women being precisely the men most disposed to accept it: and that the strongest-minded and most conscientious women keep their property, and use their rights; the husbands of such women being precisely those who would refuse to deprive their wives of their social duties and privileges.
If this condition of the marriage law should strike any English persons as a peculiarity, it is well that they should know that it is the English law which is peculiar, and not that of Louisiana. The English alone vary from the old Saxon law, that a wife shall possess half, or a large part, of her husband's earnings or makings. It is so in Spanish, French, and Italian law; and probably in German, as the others are derived thence. Massachusetts has copied the faults of the English law, in this particular; and I never met with any lawyer, or other citizen with whom I conversed on the subject, who was not ashamed of the barbarism of the law under which a woman's property goes into her husband's hands with herself. A liberalminded lawyer of Boston told me that his advice to testators always is to leave the largest possible amount to the widow, subject to the condition of her leaving it to the children: but that it is with shame that he reflects that any woman should owe that to his professional advice which the law should have secured to her as a right. I heard a frequent expression of indignation that the wife, the friend and helper of many years, should be portioned off with a legacy, like a salaried domestic, instead of having her husband's affairs come legally, as they would naturally, into her hands. In Rhode Island, a widow is entitled to one-third of her husband's property: and, on the sale of any estate of his during his life, she is examined, in the absence of the husband, as to her will with regard to her own proportion of it. There is some of the apparatus of female independence in the country. It will be most interesting to observe to what uses it is put, whenever the restraints of education and opinion to which women are subject, shall be so far relaxed as to leave them morally free.
I have mentioned that divorce is more easily obtained in the United States than in England. In no country, I believe, are the marriage laws so iniquitous as in England, and the conjugal relation, in consequence, so impaired. Whatever maybe thought of the principles which are to enter into laws of divorce, whether it be held that pleas for divorce should be one, (as narrow interpreters of the New Testament would have it;) or two, (as the law of England habit;) or several, (as the Continental and United States' laws in many instances allow,) nobody, I believe, defends the arrangement by which, in England, divorce is obtainable only by the very rich. The barbarism of granting that as a privilege to the extremely wealthy, to which money bears no relation whatever, and in which all married persons whatever have an equal interest, needs no exposure beyond the mere statement of the fact. It will be seen at a glance how such an arrangement tends to vitiate marriage: how it offers impunity to adventurers, and encouragement to every kind of mercenary marriages: how absolute is its oppression of the injured party: and how, by vitiating marriage, it originates and aggravates licentiousness to an incalculable extent. To England alone belongs the disgrace of such a method of legislation. I believe that, while there is little to be said for the legislation of any part of the world on this head, it is nowhere so vicious as in England.
Of the American States, I believe New York approaches nearest to England in its laws of divorce. It is less rigid, in as far as that more is comprehended under the term " cruelty." The husband is supposed to be liable to cruelty from the wife, as well as the wife from the husband. There is no practical distinction made between rich and poor by the process being rendered expensive: and the cause is more easily resumable after a reconciliation of the parties. In Massachusetts, the term " cruelty" is made so comprehensive, and the mode of sustaining the plea is so considerately devised, that divorces are obtainable with peculiar ease. The natural consequence follows: such a thing is never heard o£ A long-established and very eminent lawyer of Boston told me that he had known of only one in all his experience. Thus it is wherever the law is relaxed, and, caeteris paribus, in proportion to its relaxation: for the obvious reason, that the protection offered by law to the injured party causes marriages to be entered into with fewer risks, and the conjugal relation carried on with more equality. Retribution is known to impend over violations of conjugal duty. When I was in North Carolina, the wife of a gamester there obtained a divorce without the slightest difficulty. When she had brought evidence of the danger to herself and her children,—danger pecuniary and moral, from her husband's gambling habits, the bill passed both Houses without a dissenting voice.
It is clear that the sole business which legislation has with marriage is with the arrangement of property; to guard the reciprocal rights of the children of the marriage and the community. There is no further pretence for the interference of the law, in any way. An advance towards the recognition of the true principle of legislative interference in marriage has been made in England, in the new law, in which the agreement of marriage is made a civil contract, leaving the religious obligation to the conscience and taste of the parties. It will be probably next perceived that if the civil obligation is fulfilled, if the children of the marriage are legally and satisfactorily provided for by the parties, without the assistance of the legislature, the legislature has, in principle, nothing more to do with the matter. This principle has been acted upon in the marriage arrangements of Zurich, with the best effects upon the morals of the conjugal relation. The parties there are married by a form; and have liberty to divorce themselves without any appeal to law, on showing that they have legally provided for the children of the marriage. There was some previous alarm about the effect upon morals of the removal of such important legal restrictions: but the event justified the confidence of those who proceeded on the conviction that the laws of human affection, when not tampered with, are more sacred and binding than those of any legislature that ever sat in council. There was some levity at first, chiefly on the part of those who were suffering under the old system: but the morals of the society soon became, and have since remained, peculiarly pure.
It is assumed in America, particularly in New England, that the morals of society there are peculiarly pure. I am grieved to doubt the fact: but I do doubt it. Nothing like a comparison between one country and another in different circumstances can be instituted: nor would any one desire to enter upon such a comparison. The bottomless vice, the all-pervading corruption of European society cannot, by possibility, be yet paralleled in America: but neither is it true that any outward prosperity, any arrangement of circumstances, can keep a society pure while there is corruption in its social methods, and among its principles of individual action. Even in America, where every young man may, if he chooses, marry at twenty-one, and appropriate all the best comforts of domestic life,-- even here there is vice. Men do not choose to marry early, because they have learned to think other things of more importance than the best comforts of domestic life. A gentleman of Massachusetts, who knows life and the value of most things in it, spoke to me with deep concern of the alteration in manners which is going on: of the increase of bachelors, and of mercenary marriages; and of the fearful consequences. It is too soon for America to be following the old world in its ways. In the old world, the necessity of thinking of a maintenance before thinking of a wife has led to requiring a certain style of living before taking a wife; and then, alas ! to taking a wife for the sake of securing a certain style of living. That this species of corruption is already spreading in the new world is beyond a doubt; in the cities, where the people who live for wealth and for opinion congregate.
I was struck with the great number of New England women whom I saw married to men old enough to be their fathers. One instance which perplexed me exceedingly, on my entrance into the country, was explained very little to my satisfaction. The girl had been engaged to a young man whom she was attached to: her mother broke off the engagement, and married her to a rich old man. This story was a real shock to me; so persuaded had I been that in America, at least, one might escape from the disgusting spectacle of mercenary marriages. But I saw only too many instances afterwards. The practice was ascribed to the often-mentioned fact of the young men migrating westwards in large numbers, leaving those who should be their wives to marry widowers of double their age. The Auld Robin Gray story is a frequently enacted tragedy here: and one of the worst symptoms that struck me was, that there was usually a demand upon my sympathy in such cases. I have no sympathy for those who, under any pressure of circumstances, sacrifice their heart's-love for legal prostitution; and no environment of beauty or sentiment can deprive the fact of its coarseness: and least of all could I sympathise with women who set the example of marrying for an establishment in a new country, where, if anywhere, the conjugal relation should be found in its purity.
The unavoidable consequence of such a mode of marrying is, that the sanctity of marriage is impaired, and that vice succeeds. Any one must see at a glance that if men and women marry those whom they do not love, they must love those whom they do not marry. There are sad tales in country villages, here and there, which attest this; and yet more in towns, in a rank of society where such things are seldom or never heard of in England. I rather think that married life is immeasurably purer in America than in England: but that there is not otherwise much superiority to boast of. I can only say, that I unavoidably knew of more cases of lapse in highly respectable families in one State than ever came to my knowledge at home; and that they were got over with a disgrace far more temporary and superficial than they could have been visited with in England. I am aware that in Europe the victims are chosen, with deliberate selfishness, from classes which cannot make known their perils and their injuries; while in America, happily, no such class exists. I am aware that this destroys all possibility of a comparison: but the fact remains, that the morals of American society are less pure than they assume to be. If the common boast be meant to apply to the rural population, at least let it not be made, either in pious gratitude, or patriotic conceit, by the aristocratic city classes, who, by introducing the practice of mercenary marriages, have rendered themselves responsible for whatever dreadful consequences may ensue.
The ultimate and very strong impression on the mind of a stranger, pondering the morals of society in America, is that human nature is much the same everywhere, whatever may be its environment of riches or poverty; and that it is justice to the human nature, and not improvement in fortunes, which must be looked to as the promise of a better time. Laws and customs may be creative of vice; and should be therefore perpetually under process of observation and correction: but laws and customs cannot be creative of virtue: they may encouraged and help to preserve it; but they cannot originate it. In the present case, the course to be pursued is to exalt the aims, and strengthen the self-discipline of the whole of society, by each one being as good as he can make himself, and relying on his own efforts after self-perfection rather than on any fortunate arrangements of outward social circumstances. Women, especially, should be allowed the use and benefit of whatever native strength their Maker has seen fit to give them. It is essential to the virtue of society that they should be allowed the freest moral action, unfettered by ignorance, and unintimidated by authority: for it is unquestioned and unquestionable that if women were not weak, men could not be wicked: that if women were bravely pure, there must be an end to the dastardly tyranny of licentiousness.
OCCUPATION. General Treatise on Duties of Wives; Unhealthy Habit of Young Married Couples Residing in Boarding Houses; Domestic Servants; Charity and Religious Work; Manufacturing Professions; Governesses.
The greater number of American women have home and its affairs, wherewith to occupy themselves. Wifely and motherly occupation may be called the sole business of woman there. If she has not that, she has nothing. The only alternative, as I have said, is making an occupation of either religion or dissipation; neither of which is fit to be so used: the one being a state of mind, the other altogether a negation when not taken in alternation with business.
It must happen that where all women have only one serious object, many of them will be unfit for that object. In the United States, as elsewhere, there are women no more fit to be wives and mothers than to be statesmen and generals; no more fit for any responsibility whatever, than for the maximum of responsibility. There is no need to describe such: they may be seen everywhere. I allude to them only for the purpose of mentioning that many of this class shirk some of their labours and cares, by taking refuge in boarding-houses. It is a circumstance very unfavourable to the character of some American women, that boardinghouse life has been rendered compulsory by the scarcity of labour, the difficulty of obtaining domestic service. The more I saw of boarding-house life, the worse I thought of it; though I saw none but the best. Indeed, the degrees of merit in such establishments weigh little in the consideration of the evil of their existence at all. In the best it is something to be secure of respectable company, of a good table, a well-mannered and courteous hostess, and comfort in the private apartments: but the mischiefs of the system throw all these objects into the back-ground.
To begin with young children. There can be no sufficient command of proper food for them; nor any security that they will eat it naturally at the table where fifty persons may be sitting, a dozen obsequious blacks waiting, and an array of tempting dishes within sight. The child is in imminent danger of being too shy and frightened to eat at all, or of becoming greedy to eat too much. Next, it is melancholy to see girls of twelve years old either slinking down beside their parents, and blushing painfully as often as any one of fifty strangers looks towards them ;or boldly staring at all that is going on, and serving themselves, like little women of the world. After tea, it is a common practice to hand the young ladies to the piano, to play and sing to a party, composed chiefly of gentlemen, and brought together on no principle of selection except mere respectability. Next comes the mischief to the young married ladies, the most numerous class of women found in boarding-houses. The uncertainty about domestic service is so great, and the economy of boarding- house life so tempting to people who have not provided themselves with house and furniture, that it is not to be wondered at that many young married people use the accommodation provided. But no sensible husband, who could beforehand become acquainted with the liabilities incurred, would willingly expose his domestic peace to the fearful risk. I saw enough when I saw the elegantly dressed ladies repair to the windows of the common drawing-room, on their husbands' departure to the counting-house, after breakfast. There the ladies sit for hours, doing nothing but gossiping with one another, with any gentlemen of the house who may happen to have no business, and with visitors. It is true that the sober-minded among the ladies can and do withdraw to their own apartments for the morning: but they complain that they cannot settle to regular employments as they could in a house of their own. Either they are not going to stay long; or they have not room for their books, or they are broken in upon by their acquaintances in the house. The common testimony is, that little can be done in boarding-houses: and if the more sober-minded find it so, the fate of the thoughtless, who have no real business to do, may be easily anticipated. They find a dear friend or two among the boarders, to whom they confide their husbands' secrets. A woman who would do this once would do it twice, or as often as she changes her boarding-house, and finds a new dear friend in each. I have been assured that there is no end to the difficulties in which gentlemen have been involved, both as to their commercial and domestic affairs, by the indiscretion of their thoughtless young wives, amidst the idleness and levities of boardinghouse life. As for the gentlemen, they are much to be pitied. Public meals, a noisy house, confinement to one or two private rooms, with the absence of all gratifications of their own peculiar convenience and taste, are but a poor solace to the man of business, after the toils and cares of the day. When to these are added the snares to which their wives are exposed, it may be imagined that men of sense and refinement would rather bear with any domestic inconvenience from the uncertainty and bad quality of help, than give up housekeeping. They would content themselves, if need were, with a bread and cheese dinner, light their own fire, and let their wives dust the furniture a few times in the year, rather than give up privacy, with its securities. I rather think that the gentlemen generally think and feel thus; and that when they break up housekeeping and go to boarding-houses, it is out of indulgence to the wishes of their wives; who, if they were as wise as they should be, would wish it seldomer and less than they do.
The study of the economy of domestic service was a continual amusement to me. What I saw would fill a volume. Many families are, and have for years been, as well off for domestics as any family in England; and I must say that among the loudest complainers there were many who, from fault of either judgment or temper, deserved whatever difficulty they met with. This is remarkably the case with English ladies settled in America. They carry with them habits of command, and expectations of obedience; and when these are found utterly to fail, they grow afraid of their servants. Even when they have learned the theory that domestic service is a matter of contract, an exchange of service for recompense, the authority of the employer extending no further than to require the performance of the service promised, when the ladies have learned to assent in words to this, they are still apt to be annoyed at things which in no way concern them. If one domestic chooses to wait at table with no cap over her scanty chevelure, and in spectacles, if another goes to church on Sunday morning, dressed exactly like her mistress, the lady is in no way answerable for the bad taste of her domestics. But English residents often cannot learn to acquiesce in these things; nor in the servants doing their work in their own way; nor in their dividing their time as they please between their mistress's work and their own. The consequence is, that they soon find it impossible to get American help at all, and they are consigned to the tender mercies of the low Irish; and every one knows what kind of servants they commonly are. Some few of them are the best domestics in America: those who know how to value a respectable home, a steady sufficient income, the honour of being trusted, and the security of valuable friends for life: but too many of them are unsettled, reckless, slovenly; some dishonest, and some intemperate.
The most fortunate housekeepers I found to be those who acted the most strenuously on principles of justice and kindness. Such housekeepers are careful, in the first place, that no part of the mutual duty shall pass unexplained; no opening be left for future dispute that can be avoided. The candidate is not only informed precisely what the work is, and shown the accommodations of the house, but consulted with about cases where the convenience of the two parties may clash. For instance, the employer stipulates to be informed some hours before, when her domestic intends to go out; and that such going out shall never take place when there is company. In return, she yields all she can to the wishes of her domestic about re creation, receiving the visits of her family, &c. Where a complete mutual understanding is arrived at, there is the best chance of the terms of the contract being faithfully adhered to, and liberally construed, on both sides: and I have seen instances of the parties having lived together in friendship and contentment for five, seven, eleven, and fourteen years. Others, again, I have seen who, without fault of their own, have changed their servants three times in a fortnight. Some, too, I have observed who will certainly never be comfortably settled, unless they can be taught the first principles of democracy.
Many ladies, in the country especially, take little girls to train; having them bound to a certain term of service. In such a case, the girl is taken at about eleven years old, and bound to remain till she is eighteen. Her mistress engages to clothe her; to give her Sunday-schooling, and a certain amount of weekday schooling in the year; and to present her at the end of the term (except in case of bad behaviour) with fifty dollars, or a cow, or some equivalent. Under a good mistress, this is an excellent bargain for the girl; but mistresses complain that as soon as the girls become really serviceable, by the time they are fourteen or fifteen, they begin to grow restless, having usually abundance of kind friends to tell them what good wages they might get if they were free. In several abodes in which I resided for a longer or shorter time, the routine of the house was as easy and agreeable as any Englishman's; elsewhere, the accounts of domestic difficulties were both edifying and amusing. At first, I heard but little of such things; there being a prevalent idea in America that English ladies concern themselves very little about household affairs. This injurious misapprehension the ladies of England owe, with many others, to the fashionable novels which deluge the country from New York to beyond the Mississippi. Though the Americans repeat and believe that these books are false pictures of manners, they cannot be wholly upon their guard against impressions derived from them. Too many of them involuntarily image to themselves the ladies of England as like the duchesses and countesses of those low books: and can scarcely believe that the wives of merchants, manufacturers, and shopkeepers, and of the greater number of professional men, buy their own provision, keep household accounts, look to the making and mending, the baking, making of preserves, &c., and sometimes cook, with their own hands, any dish of which their husbands may be fond. When it was found, from my revelations, that English and American ladies have, after all, much the same sort of things to do, the real state of household economy was laid open to me.
All American ladies should know how to clear- starch and iron: how to keep plate and glass: how to cook dainties: and, if they understand the making, of bread and soup likewise, so much the better. The gentlemen usually charge themselves with the business of marketing; which is very fair. A lady, highly accomplished and very literary, told me that she had lately been left entirely without help, in a country village where there was little hope of being speedily able to procure any. She and her daughter made the bread, for six weeks, and entirely kept the house, which might vie with any nobleman's for true luxury; perfect sufficiency and neatness. She mentioned one good result from the necessity: that she should never again put up with bad bread. She could now testify that bread might always be good, notwithstanding changes of weather, and all the excuses commonly given. I heard an anecdote from this lady which struck me. She was in the habit of employing, when she wanted extra help, a poor woman of colour, to do kitchen-work. The domestics had always appeared on perfectly good terms with this woman till, one day, when there was to be an evening party, the upper domestic declined waiting on the company; giving as a reason that she was offended at being required to sit down to table with the coloured woman. Her mistress gently rebuked her pride, saying " If you are above waiting on my company, my family are not. You will see my daughter carry the tea tray, and my niece the cake." The girl repented, and besought to be allowed to wait; but her assistance was declined; at which she cried heartily. The next day, she was very humble, and her mistress reasoned with her, quite successfully. The lady made one concession in silence. She had the coloured woman come after dinner, instead of before.
A country lady travelled thirty miles to a town where she thought she might intercept some Irish, coming down from Canada into the States, and supply herself with domestics from among them. She engaged to send them thirty miles to confession, twice a year, if they would live with her.CAnother country lady told me that her family suffered from want of water, because the man objected to bring it. The maids fetched it; and even the children, in their little cans. The man was sturdy on the point, and she could not dismiss him for such a reason, he was such a laughable servant; though he could not drive, from having only one eye, and always got drunk when his work was done. The same lady had her house pretty well kept, by dint of superintending everything herself: but, when she wanted her rooms papered, she thought she might leave that kind of work to the artist who undertook it. When it was done, she was summoned to look at it, and called upon to admire the way in which the man had " made every crease show." He had spent his ingenuity in contriving that the pattern should not join in any two strips.
The mother of a young bride of my acquaintance flattered herself that she had graced her daughter's new house, during the wedding journey, with two exemplary domestics. The day previous to the bride’s return, before the women had seen either master or mistress, they gave notice that they were going away directly, in consequence of the receipt of some family news which had changed their plans. They were prevailed upon to stay for a week, when they persisted in going, though no successors had been obtained, and their young mistress was to receive her company the next day. That made the matter desperate was that the bride knew nothing of housekeeping. She made them cook as much provision, to be eaten cold, as would possibly keep; and when they had closed the door behind them, sat down and cried for a whole hour. How she got out of her troubles, I forget: but she was in excellent spirits when she told me the story.
Many anecdotes are current about the manners of the young people who come down from the retired parts of the country to domestic service in Boston. A simple country girl obeyed her instructions exactly about putting the dimmer upon the table, and then summoning the family. But they delayed a few minutes, from some cause; and when they entered the dining-room, found the domestic seated and eating. She had helped herself from a fowl, thinking that " the folk were so long a-coming, the things would get cold." A young man from Vermont was hired by a family who were in extreme want of a footman. He was a most friendly personage, as willing as he was free and easy; but he knew nothing of life out of a small farm-house. An evening or two after his arrival, there was a large party at the house. His mistress strove to impress upon him that all he had to do at tea-time was to follow, with the sugar and cream, the waiter who carried the tea; to see that every one had cream and sugar; and to hold his tongue. He did his part with an earnest face, stepping industriously from guest to guest. When he had made the circuit, and reached the door, a doubt struck him whether a group in the furthest part of the room had had the benefit of his attentions. He raised himself on his toes with, " I'll ask;" and shouted over the heads of the company, " I say, how are ye off for sweetenin' in that ere corner ?"
These extreme cases sound ridiculously and uncomfortably enough: but it must be remembered that they are extreme cases. For my own part, I had rather suffer any inconvenience from having to work occasionally in chambers and kitchen, and from having little hospitable designs frustrated, than witness the subservience in which the menial class is held in Europe. In England, servants have been so long accustomed to this subservience; it is so completely the established custom for the mistress to regulate their manners, their clothes, their intercourse with their friends, and many other things which they ought to manage for themselves, that it has become difficult to treat them any better. Mistresses who abstain from such regulation find that they are spoiling their servants; and heads of families who would make friends of their domestics find them little fitted to reciprocate the duty. In America it is otherwise: and may it ever be so! All but those who care for their selfish gratification more than for the welfare of those about them will be glad to have intelligent and disinterested friends in the domestics whom they may be able to attach, though there may be difficulty at first in retaining them; and some eccentricities of manner and dress may remain to be borne with.
One of the pleasures of travelling through a democratic country is the seeing no liveries. No such badge of menial service is to be met with throughout the States, except in the houses of the foreign ambassadors at Washington. Of how much higher a character American domestic service is than any which would endure to be distinguished by a badge, the following instance will show. I spent an evening at the house of the president of Harvard University. The party was waited on at tea by a domestic of the president's, who is also Major of the Horse. On cavalry days, when guests are invited to dine with the regiment, the major, in his regimentals, takes the head of the table, and has the president on his right hand. He plays the host as freely as if no other relation existed between them. The toasts being all transacted, he goes home, doffs his regimentals, and waits on the president's guests at tea.
As for the occupations with which American ladies fill up their leisure; what has been already said will show that there is no great weight or diversity of occupation. Many are largely engaged in charities, doing, good or harm according to the enlightenment of mind which is carried to the work. In New England, a vast deal of time is spent in attending preachings, and ether religious meetings: and in paying visits, for religious purposes, to the poor and sorrowful. The same results follow from this practice that may be witnessed wherever it is much pursued. In as far as sympathy is kept up, and acquaintanceship between different classes in society is occasioned, the practice is good. In as far as it unsettles the minds of the visitors, encourages a false craving for religious excitement, tempts to spiritual interference on the one hand, and cant on the other, and humours or oppresses those who need such offices least, while it alienates those who want them most, the practice is bad. I am disposed to think that much good is done, and much harm: and that, whenever women have a greater charge of indispensable business on their hands, so as to do good and reciprocate religious sympathy by laying hold of opportunities, instead of by making occupation, more than the present good will be done, without any of the harm.
All American ladies are more or less literary: and some are so to excellent purpose: to the saving of their minds from vacuity. Readers are plentiful: thinkers are rare. Minds are of a very passive character: and it follows that languages are much cultivated. If ever a woman was pointed out to me as distinguished for information, I might be sure beforehand that she was a linguist. I met with a great number of ladies who read Latin; some Greek; some Hebrew; some German. With the exception of the last, the learning did not seem to be of much use to them, except as a harmless exercise. I met with more intellectual activity, more general power, among many ladies who gave little time to books, than among those who are distinguished as being literary. I did not meet with a good artist among all the ladies in the States. I never had the pleasure of seeing a good drawing, except in one instance; or, except in two, of hearing good music. The entire failure of all attempts to draw is still a mystery to me. The attempts are incessant; but the results are below criticism. Natural philosophy is not pursued to any extent by women. There is some pretension to mental and moral philosophy; but the less that is said on that head the better.
This is a sad account of things. It may tempt some to ask 'what then are the American women?' They are better educated by Providence than by men. The lot of humanity is theirs: they have labour, probation, joy, and sorrow. They are good wives; and, under the teaching of nature, good mothers. They have, within the range of their activity, good sense, good temper, and good manners. Their beauty is very remarkable; and, I think, their wit no less. Their charity is overflowing, if it were but more enlightened: and it may be supposed that they could not exist without religion. It appears to superabound; but it is not usually of a healthy character. It may seem harsh to say this: but is it not the fact that religion emanates from the nature, from the moral state of the individual? Is it not therefore true that unless the nature be completely exercised, the moral state harmonised, the religion cannot be healthy ?
One consequence, mournful and injurious, of the ' chivalrous' taste and temper of a country with regard to its women is that it is difficult, where it is not impossible, for women to earn their bread. Where it is a boast that women do not labour, the encouragement and rewards of labour are not provided. It is so in America. In some parts, there are now so many women dependent on their own exertions for a maintenance, that the evil will give way before the force of circumstances. In the meantime, the lot of poor women is sad. Before the opening of the factories, there were but three resources; teaching, needle-work, and keeping hoarding-houses or hotels. Now, there are the mills; and women are employed in printing-offices; as compositors, as well as folders and stitchers.
I dare not trust myself to do more than touch on this topic. There would be little use in dwelling upon it; for the mischief lies in the system by which women are depressed, so as to have the greater number of objects of pursuit placed beyond their reach, more than in any minor arrangements which might be rectified by an exposure of particular evils. I would only ask of philanthropists of all countries to inquire of physicians what is the state of health of sempstresses; and to judge thence whether it is not inconsistent with common humanity that women should depend for bread upon such employment. Let them inquire what is the recompense of this kind of labour, and then wonder if they can that the pleasures of the licentious are chiefly supplied from that class. Let them reverence the strength of such as keep their virtue, when the toil which they know is slowly and surely destroying them will barely afford them bread, while the wages of sin are luxury and idleness. During the present interval between the feudal age and the coming time, when life and its occupations will be freely thrown open to women as to men, the condition of the female working classes is such that if its sufferings were but made known, emotions of horror and shame would tremble through the whole of society.
For women who shrink from the lot of the needle women, almost equally dreadful, from the fashionable milliner down to the humble stocking-darner, for those who shrink through pride, or fear of sickness, poverty, or temptation, there is little resource but pretension to teach. What office is there which involves more responsibility, which requires more qualifications, and which ought, therefore, to be more honourable, than that of teaching ? What work is there for which a decided bent, not to say a genius, is more requisite? Yet are governesses furnished, in America as elsewhere, from among those who teach because they want bread; and who certainly would not teach for any other reason. Teaching and training children is, to a few, a very few, a delightful employment, notwithstanding all its toils and cares. except to these few it is irksome; and, when accompanied with poverty and mortification, intolerable. Let philanthropists inquire into the proportion of governesses among the inmates of lunatic asylums. The answer to this question will be found to involve a world of rebuke and instruction. What can be the condition of the sex when such an occupation is overcrowded with candidates, qualified and unqualified ? What is to be hoped from the generation of children confided to the cares of a class, conscientious perhaps by and most, but reluctant, harassed, and depressed? The most accomplished governesses in the United States may obtain 600 dollars a-year in the families of southern planters; provided they will promise to teach everything. In the north they are paid less; and in neither case, is there a possibility of making provision for sickness and old age. Ladies who fully deserve the confidence of society may realise an independence in a few years by school-keeping in the north: but, on the whole, the scanty reward of female labour in America remains the reproach to the country which its philanthropists have for some years proclaimed it to be. I hope they will persevere in their proclamation, though special methods of charity will not avail to cure the evil. It lies deep; it lies in the subordination of the sex: and upon this the exposures and remonstrances of philanthropists may ultimately succeed in fixing the attention of society; particularly of women. The progression or emancipation of any class usually, if not always, takes place through the efforts of individuals of that class: and so it must be here. All women should inform themselves of the condition of their sex, and of their own position. It must necessarily follow that the noblest of them will, sooner or later, put forth a moral power which shall prostrate cant, and burst asunder the bonds, (silken to some, but cold iron to others,) of feudal prejudices and usages. In the meantime, is it to be understood that the principles of the Declaration of Independence bear no relation to half of the human race ? If so, what is the ground of the limitation ? If not so, how is the restricted and dependent state of women to be reconciled with the proclamation that " all are endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable rights; that among these are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness ? "
HEALTH. General Treatise on Hygeine, Climate, Exercise, Posture, Complexion, Diet, Anxiety, and Intemperance.
Some popular American writers have lately laid hold of this subject, to the great advantage of the society in which they live. Dr. Combe's "Principles of Physiology " has gone through several editions; and I know that the demand of society for fresh air and soap and water has considerably in. creased in consequence. But much remains to be done. In private houses, baths are a rarity. In steam-boats, the accommodations for washing are limited in the extreme; and in all but first-rate hotels, the philosophy of personal cleanliness is certainly not understood. The Creoles of Louisiana are the most satisfactory hosts and hostesses in this respect, except a few particularly thoughtful people elsewhere In the house of a Creole, a guest finds a large pan or tub of fresh cold water, with soap and towels, placed in a corner of his room, morning and night. In such a climate as that of New Orleans, there is no safety nor comfort in anything short of a complete ablution, twice a day. On board steam-boats which have not separate state-rooms, there are no means of preserving sufficient cleanliness and health. How the ladies of the cabin call expect to enjoy any degree of vigour and cheerfulness during a voyage of four or five days, during which they wash merely their faces and hands, I cannot imagine. It is to be hoped that the majority will soon demand that there should be a range of washing-closets in all steam-boats whose voyages are longer than twenty-four hours.
The common excuse for the deficient activity and lack of fresh air is the climate. But this excuse will not avail while there are ladies who do preserve their health by walking and riding, and thoroughly ventilating their houses. Any one who knows Stockbridge, and the feats which are there performed by a troop of rosy, graceful girls, and active women, will reject all pleas about the difficulty of getting air and exercise. It is one of the misfortunes of a new country that its cities have environs which are little tempting for walking. It must be acknowledged that it requires some resolution to go out to walk in places no more tempting than Pennsylvania Avenue, at Washington; Broadway, New York; or the trim streets of Philadelphia; or even the pretty Common at Boston. But the way to have good country walks provided is to wish for them. When the whole female society of America shall be as fond of exercise, as highly-principled with regard to it, as the Stockbridge ladies, the facilities will be furnished. In the meantime, there are pretty walks within reach of the whole population except that of three or four large cities. Boston is particularly unfortunate in occupying a promontory, from which it is usually necessary to pass very long bridges to the mainland: a passage too bleak to be attempted in windy weather, and too exposed to be endurable in a hot sun, without necessity. But those who have carriages can easily get transported beyond this inconvenience; and for those who have not, there is the Common and the Neck..
Those who wish for health, and know how to seek it, contrive to walk in summer very early in the morning; like residents in India. The mornings of the sultry months are perfectly delicious; and there is no excuse for neglect of exercise while they last. The autumn weather of the northern States is the best of the year, when the hues and airs of paradise seem shed abroad. The greater number of days in the winter admit of exercise. The winds are too cutting to be encountered; but the days of calm clear frost might be much better employed in walking than in sleighing. No eulogiums on the sleigh will ever reconcile me to it. I dislike the motion, and, after a short time, the jingle of the bells. But the danger is the prime consideration. Young ladies who dry up their whole frames in the heat of fires of anthracite coal, never breathing the outward air but in going to church, and in stepping in and out of the carriage in going to parties, will once in a time go on a sleighing expedition; sitting motionless in the open air, with hot bricks to their feet, and their faces in danger of being frost-bitten. If there be pleasure in such frolics, it is too dearly bought by the peril. If the troops of girls who would mourn over the abolition of sleighing would but try how they like the luxury of daily active exercise in fresh air, they would find the exchange well worth making, on the score of pleasure alone.
The ladies plead that they have much exercise within doors, about their household occupations. Except making beds, rubbing tables, and romping with children, I know of no household occupations which involve much exercise. The weariness which some of them occasion, is of a kind which would be relieved by walking. And all this does not imply fresh air, of which no one can get enough without going out into it, except in some country residences. It made me sorrowful to see children shut up during the winter in houses, heated by anthracite coal up to the temperature of 85 degrees; and to see how pallid and dried the poor little things looked, long before there was a prospect of their speedy release from their imprisonment. Some, who were let out on fine days, were pretty sure to catch cold. Those only seemed heartily to thrive who were kept in rooms moderately heated, and vigorously exercised in the open air, on all but windy and other unmanageable days. The burning of anthracite coal affected me unpleasantly, except where an evaporation of water was going on in the room. I suspect that some of the maladies of the country may be more or less owing to its use.
One proof of the badness of the system of non-exercising, is found in the fact that the distortion of the spine is even more common among women in America than in Europe. Physicians who have turned their attention to this symptom, declare that the difficulty is to find in boarding-schools a spine that is perfectly straight: and when the period of growth is completed, a large majority of cases remains where the weakness is not entirely got over. The posture-making of the United States is renowned. Of course there is a cause for a propensity so general. The languor induced by the climate is that assigned. The ladies not being able to use the same freedom as the gentlemen, get rid of their languor as they may; but not as they best may. Instead of sitting still all through the hot weather, and all through the cold weather, they had better exercise their limbs during some portion of the day, and lie down during the most sultry hours; and in the winter, avail themselves of every opportunity for active employment. If they would do this, it is not to be conceived that the next generation would be distinguished as the present is for its spare forms and pallid complexions.
The apathy on the subject of health was to me no otherwise to be accounted for than by supposing that the feeling of vigorous health is almost unknown. Invalids are remarkably uncomplaining and unalarmed; and their friends talk of their having "a weak breast," and " delicate lungs," with little more seriousness than the English use in speaking of a common cold. The numbers of clergymen who had to leave their flocks, professors their chairs, young men and women their country, in pursuit of health, made me melancholy sometimes when the friends and neighbours took it calmly as the commonest of events. As I am pretty confident that a remedy might be found in more judicious management, this acquiescence strikes me as being by far too Mahomedan in its character. The extremest case that I met with was in a lady, who declared, with complacency, that she could not walk a mile. She owned her belief that the inactivity of the American women shortened their lives by some years; but thought this did not matter, as they were not aware of it at the time.
I should like to see a well-principled reform in diet tried, with a view to the improvement of the general health. I should like to see hot bread and cakes banished; a diminution in the quantity of pickles and preserves, and also in the quantity of meat eaten. I should like to see the effect of making the diet of children more simple. A1most any change would be worth trying for so great an object. What is to become of the next, and again of the succeeding generation, if the average of health cannot be raised, it is fearful to think of. The only prevalence of vigorous health that I witnessed in the country, was in the elevated parts of the Alleghany range; in the State of Michigan; and perhaps I might add, among the ladies of Charleston, who pass three quarters of the year in the open air of their piazzas.
All these means of improving health, though probably necessary, will not avail without some others. There must be less anxiety of mind among men, and less vacuity among women. With a brain fully but equably exercised, and composed nerves, the above-mentioned methods would probably enable the Americans to defy the changes of their climate: but not without this justice to the brain and nerves. It is rather remarkable that this anxiety prevails most in the parts of the country which make the most conspicuous profession of religion. Religious faith and hope should naturally promote health and equanimity by teaching the spirit to repose on immovable principles, and unintermitting laws: by disburdening the mind of worldly cares, and giving rest to the weary and heavy laden. If it does not thus calm and lighten the mind, it fails of its effect. If it disturbs the mental and bodily frame, its operation is perverted. It would be well if this were looked to. The more moderate religionists point to the graves of the young who have fallen victims to Revivals. Let them look at home to see if no spiritual competition, no asceticism interferes with the equable workings of the frame, by which its powers are kept in vigorous and joyous action, without excess.
There is no doubt of this wear and tear from anxiety being the chief cause of the excessive use of tobacco in the United States. Its charm to men, who have not the elasticity of health and good animal spirits to oppose to toil and trouble, may be imagined. It is to be hoped that the enjoyment of the natural and perfect stimulant will soon supersede the use of the artificial and pernicious one.
The vacuity of mind of many women is, I conclude, the cause of a vice which it is painful to allude to; but which cannot honestly be passed over, in the consideration of the morals and the health of American women. It is no secret on the spot, that the habit of intemperance is not infrequent among women of station and education in the most enlightened parts of the country. I witnessed some instances, and heard of more. It does not seem to me to be regarded with all the dismay which such a symptom ought to excite. To the stranger, a novelty so horrible, a spectacle so fearful, suggests wide and deep subjects of investigation. If women, in a region professing religion. more strenuously than any other, living in the deepest external peace, surrounded by prosperity, and outwardly honoured more conspicuously than in any other country, can ever so far cast off self restraint, shame, domestic affection, and the deep prejudices of education, as to plunge into the living hell of intemperance, there must be something fearfully wrong in their position. An intemperate man has strong temptation to plead: he began with conviviality, and only arrives at solitary intemperance as the ultimate degradation. A woman indulges in the vice in solitude and secrecy, as long as secrecy is possible. She knows that there is no excuse, no solace, no hope. There is nothing before her but despair. It is impossible to suppose otherwise than that there has been despair throughout: the despair which waits upon vacuity. I believe that the practice has, in some few cases, arisen from physicians prescribing cordials to growing girls at school, and from the difficulty found in desisting from the use of agreeable stimulants. In other cases, the vice is hereditary. In others, no explanation remains, but that which appears to me quite sufficient, vacuity of mind. Lest my mention of this very remarkable fact should lead to the supposition of the practice being more common than it is, I think it right to state, that I happened to know of seven or eight cases in the higher classes of society of one city. The number of cases is a fact of comparatively small importance. That one exists, is a grief which the whole of society should take to heart, and ponder with the entire strength of its understanding.
CHILDREN. General Treatise on Education and Discipline of the Young.
NOTHING less than an entire work would be required for the discussion of the subject of education in any country. I can only indicate here two or three peculiarities which strike the stranger in the discipline of American children; of those whose lot is cast in the northern States; for it needs no further showing, that those who are reared among slaves have not the ordinary chances of wisdom and peace.
The Americans, particularly those of New England, look with a just complacency on the apparatus of education furnished to their entire population. There are schools provided for the training of every individual, from the earliest age; colleges to receive the elite of the schools; and lyceums, and other such institutions, for the subsequent instruction of working men. The provision of schools is so adequate, that any citizen who sees a child at play during school-hours, may ask " why are you not at school?" and, unless a good reason be given, may take him to the school-house of the district. Some, who do not penetrate to the principle of this, exclaim upon the tyranny practised upon the parents. The principle is, that, in a democracy, where life and society are equally open to all, and where all have agreed to require of each other a certain amount of intellectual and moral competency, the means being provides, it becomes the duty of all to see that the means are used. Their use is an indispensable condition of the privileges of citizenship. No control is exercised as to how and where the child shall be educated. It rests with the parent to send him to a public or private school, or have him taught at home: but in case of his being found in a neglected state as to education, it is in the power of any citizen to bring him to the advantage provided for him by society.
The instruction furnished is not good enough for the youth of such a country, with such a responsibility and such a destiny awaiting them as the working out the first democratic organisation that the world has witnessed in practice. The information provided is both meagre and superficial. There is not even any systematic instruction given on political morals: an enormous deficiency in a republic. But it must be remembered how young the society is; how far it has already gone beyond most other countries; and how great is the certainty that the majority, always ultimately in the right, will gradually exalt the character of the instruction which it has been already wise enough to provide. It must be remembered too, how much farther the same kind and degree of instruction goes in a democracy than elsewhere. The alphabet itself is of little or no value to a slave, while it is an inestimable treasure to a conscious young republican. One needs but go from a charityschool in an English county to a free-school in Massachusetts, to see how different the bare acquisition of reading and writing is to children who, if they look forward at all, do it languidly, and into a life of mechanical labour merely, and to young citizens who are aware that they have their share of the work of self-government to achieve. Elderly gentlemen in the country may smile, and foreigners of all ages may scoff at the self confidence and complacency of young men who have just exercised the suffrage for the first time: but the being secure of the dignity, the certainty of being fully and efficaciously represented, the probability of sooner or later filling some responsible political office, are a stimulus which goes far to supply the deficiencies of the instruction imparted. It is much to be wished that this stimulus were as strong and as virtuous in one or two colleges whose inmates are on the very verge of the exercise of their political rights, as in some of even the primary schools. The aristocratic atmosphere of Harvard University, for instance, would be much purified by a few breezes of such democratic inspiration as issue from the school-houses of some of the country districts.
Some persons plead that there is less occasion for school instruction in the principles of politics, than for an improved teaching of some other things; because children are instructed in politics every day of their lives by what they hear at home, and wherever they go. But they hear all too little of principles. What they hear is argumentation about particular men, and immediate measures. The more sure they are of learning details elsewhere, the more necessary it is that they should here he exercised in those principles by which the details are to be judged and made available as knowledge. They come to school with their heads crammed with prejudices, and their memories with words, which it should be part of the work of school to reduce to truth and clearness, by substituting principles for the one, and annexing ideas to the other.
A Sunday-school teacher asked a child, " Who killed Abel?" "General Jackson." Another inquired of a scholar, " In what state were mankind left after the fall?" " In the State of Vermont."
The early republican consciousness of which I have spoken, and the fact of the more important place which the children occupy in a society whose numbers are small in proportion to its resources, are the two circumstances which occasion that freedom of manners in children of which so much complaint has been made by observers, and on which so much remonstrance has been wasted; I say " wasted," because remonstrance is of no avail against a necessary fact. Till the United States cease to be republican, and their vast area is fully peopled, the children there will continue as free and easy and as important as they are. For my own part, I delight in the American children; in those who are not overlaid with religious instruction. There are instances, as there are everywhere, of spoiled, pert, and selfish children. Parents' hearts are pierced there, as elsewhere. But the independence and fearlessness of children were a perpetual charm in my eyes. To go no deeper, it is a constant amusement to see how the speculations of young minds issue, when they take their own way of thinking, and naturally say all they think. Some admirable specimens of active little minds were laid open to me at a juvenile ball at Baltimore. I could not have got at so much in a year in England. If I had at home gone in among eighty or a hundred little people, between the ages of eight and sixteen, I should have extracted little more than " Yes, ma'am," and " No, ma'am." At Baltimore, a dozen boys and girls at a time crowded round me, questioning, discussing, speculating, revealing in a way which enchanted me. In private houses, the comments slipped in at table by the children were often the most memorable, and generally the most amusing part of the conversation. Their aspirations all come out. Some of these are very striking as indicating the relative value of things in the children's minds. One affectionate little sister, of less than four years old, stimulated her brother William, (five,) by telling him that if he would be very very good, he might in time be called William Webster; and then he might get on to be as good as Jesus Christ. Three children were talking over the birth-day of the second, (ten) and how they should like to keep it. They settled that they should like of all things to have Miss Sedgwick, and Mr. Bryant, and myself, to spend the day with them. They did not venture to invite us, and had no intention of our knowing their wish.
In conversing with a truly wise parent, one day, I remarked on the change of relation which takes place when the superior children of ordinary parents become guides and protectors to those who have kept their childhood restrained under a rigid rule. We talked over the difficulties of the transition here, (by far the hardest part of filial duty,) and speculated on what the case would be after death, supposing the parties to recognise each other in a new life of progression. My friend observed that the only thing to be done is to avoid to the utmost the exercise of authority, and to make children friends from the very beginning. He and many others have done this with gladdening success. They do not lay aside their democratic principles in this relation, more than in others, because they happen to have almost unlimited power in their own hands. They watch and guard: they remove stumbling-blocks: they manifest approbation and disapprobation: they express wishes, but, at the same time, study the wishes of their little people: they leave as much as possible to natural retribution: they impose no opinions, and quarrel with none: in short, they exercise the tenderest friendship without presuming upon it. What is the consequence ? I had the pleasure of hearing this friend say, " There is nothing in the world so easy as managing children. You may make them anything you please." In my own mind I added, "with such hearts and minds to bring to the work as the parents of your children have." One reason of the pleasure with which I regarded the freedom of American children was that I took it as a sign that the most tremendous suffering perhaps of human life is probably lessened, if not obviated, there: the misery of concealed doubts and fears, and heavy solitary troubles, the misery which makes the early years of a shy child a fearful purgatory. Yet purgatory is not the word: for this misery purges no sins, while it originates many. I have a strong suspicion that the faults of temper so prevalent where parental authority is strong, and where children are made as insignificant as they can be made, and the excellence of temper in America, are attributable to the different management of childhood in the one article of freedom. There is no doubt that many children are irrecoverably depressed and unnerved for want of being convinced that anybody cares for them. They nourish doubts, they harbour fears and suspicions, and carry within them prejudices and errors, for want of its occurring to them to ask questions; and though they may outgrow these defects and errors, they never recover from them. Unexplained and inexplicable obstacles are thrown in the way of their filial duty, obstacles which not even the strongest conscientiousness can overcome with grace: the vigour of the spirit is prostrated, or perverted into wilfuluess: the calmness of self - respect is forfeited, and so is the repose of a loving faith in others. In short, the temper is ruined, and the life is spoiled; and all from the parents not having made friends of their children from the beginning. No one will suppose that I mean to represent this mistake as general anywhere. But I am confident it is very common at home: and that it cannot, in the nature of things, ever become common in America. I saw one or two melancholy instances of it: and a few rare cases where parents attempted unjustifiably to rule the proceedings of their grown up sons and daughters; not by express command, but by pleas which, from a parent, are more irresistible than even commands. But these were remarkable, and remarked upon, as exceptions. I saw two extreme contrasting cases, in near neighbourhood, of girls brought up, the one in the spirit of love, the other in that of fear. Those two girls are the best teachers of moral philosophy that ever fell in my way. In point of birth, organisation, means of education, they were about equal. Both were made to be beautiful and intelligent. The one is pallid, indolent (with the reputation of learning,) tasteless, timid, and triste, manifesting nothing but occasionally an intense selfishness, and a prudery beyond belief. The education of this girl has been the study of her anxious parents from the day of her birth: but they have omitted to let her know and feel that anybody loved her. The other, the darling of a large family, meeting love from all eyes, and hearing tenderness in every voice, is beautiful as a Hebe, and so free and joyous that her presence is like sunshine in a rainy day. She knows that she is beautiful and accomplished; but she is, as far as eye can see, absolutely devoid of vanity. She has been apprised, over and over again, that people think her a genius: she silently contradicts this, and settles with herself that she can acquire anything, but originate nothing. She studies with her whole being, as if she were coming out next year in a learned profession. She dances at balls as if nothing lay beyond the ball-room. She flits hither and thither, in rain or sunshine, walking, riding, or driving, on little errands of kindness; and bears the smallest interests of her friends in mind in the heights of her mirth and the depths of her studies. At dull evening parties, she can sit under the lamp, (little knowing how beautiful she looks) quietly amusing herself with prints, and not wanting notice: and she can speak out what she thinks and feels to a circle of admirers, as simply and earnestly as she would to her own mother. I have seen people shake their heads, and fear lest she should be spoiled; but my own conviction is that this young creature is unspoilable. She has had all the praise and admiration she can have: no watchfulness of parents can keep them from her. She does not want praise and admiration. She has other interests and other desires: and my belief is, that if she were left alone to-morrow, the last of her family, she would be as safe, busy, and, in due time, happy, as she is now under their tender guardianship. She is the most complete example I ever witnessed of a being growing up in the light and warmth and perfect freedom of love; and she has left me very little toleration for authority, in education more than in anything else.
RELIGION. General Treatise on the Unhealthly Preoccupation of Women with Religion; Abuses of the Clergy.
The way in which religion is made an occupation by women, testifies not only to the vacuity which must exist when such a mistake is fallen into, but to the vigour with which the religious sentiment would probably be carried into the great objects and occupations of life, if such were permitted. I was perpetually struck with this when I saw women braving hurricane, frost, and snow, to flit from preaching to preaching; and laying out the whole day among visits for prayer and religious excitement, among the poor and the sick. I was struck with this when I saw them labouring at their New Testament, reading superstitiously a daily portion of that which was already too familiar to the ear to leave any genuine and lasting impression, thus read. Extraordinary instances met my knowledge of both clergymen and ladies making the grossest mistakes about conspicuous facts of the gospel history, while reading it in daily portions for ever. It is not surprising that such a method of perusal should obviate all real knowledge of the book: but it is astonishing that those who feel it to be so should not change their methods, and begin at length to learn that which they have all their lives been vainly trusting that they knew.
The wife of a member of Congress, a conscientious and religious woman, judges of persons by one rule, Cwhether they are "pious." I could never learn how she applied this; nor what she comprehended under her phrase. She told me that she wished her husband to leave Congress. He was no longer a young man, and it was time he was thinking of saving his soul. She could not, after long conversation on this subject, realise the idea that religion is not an affair of occupation and circumstance, but of principle and temper; and that, as there is no more important duty than that of a member of Congress, there is no situation in which a man can attain a higher religious elevation, if the spirit be in him.
[A] great mischief from the isolation of the clergy is that, while it deprives them of the highest kind of influence which is the prerogative of manhood, it gives them a lower kind:Can influence as strong as it is pernicious to others, and dangerous to themselves; Can influence confined to the weak members of society; women and superstitious men. By such they are called "faithful guardians." Guardians of what? A healthy person may guard a sick one: a sane man may guard a lunatic: a grown person may guard a child: and, for social purposes, an appointed watch may guard a criminal. But how can any man guard his equal in spiritual matters, the most absolutely individual of all? How can any man come between another's soul and the infinite to which it tends? If it is said that they are guardians of truth, and not of conscience, they may be asked for their warrant. God has given his truth for all. Each is to lay hold of what he can receive of it; and he sins if he devolves upon another the guardianship of what is given him for himself. As to the fitness of the clergy to be guardians, it is enough to mention what I know: that there is infidelity within the walls of their churches of which they do not dream; and profligacy among their flocks of which they will be the last to hear. Even in matters which are esteemed their peculiar business, the state of faith and morals, they are more in the dark than any other persons in society. Some of the most religious and moral persons in the community are among those who never enter their churches; while among the company who sit at the feet of the pastor while he refines upon abstractions, and builds a moral structure upon imperfect principles, or upon metaphysical impossibilities, there are some in whom the very capacity of steadfast belief has been cruelly destroyed; some who hide loose morals under a strict profession of religion; and some if possible more lost still, who have arrived at making their religion co-exist with their profligacy. Is there not here something like the blind leading the blind ?
Over those who consider the clergy " faithful guardians," their influence, as far as it is professional, is bad; as far as it is that of friendship or acquaintanceship, it is according to the characters of the men. I am disposed to think ill of the effects of the practice of parochial visiting, except in cases of poor and afflicted persons, who have little other resource of human sympathy. I cannot enlarge upon the disagreeable subject of the devotion of the ladies to the clergy. I believe there is no liberal minded minister who does not see, and too sensibly feel, the evil of women being driven back upon religion as a resource against vacuity; and of there being a professional class to administer it. Some of the most sensible and religious elderly women I know in America speak, with a strength which evinces strong conviction, of the mischief to their sex of ministers entering the profession young and poor, and with a great enthusiasm for parochial visiting. There is no very wide difference between the auricular confession of the catholic church, and the spiritual confidence reposed in ministers the most devoted to visiting their flocks. Enough may be seen in the religious periodicals of America about the help women give to young ministers by the needle, by raising subscriptions, and by more toilsome labours than they should be allowed to undergo in such a cause. If young men cannot earn with their own hands the means of finishing their education, and providing themselves with food and clothing, without the help of women, they may safely conclude that their vocation is to get their bread first; whether or not it may be to preach afterwards. But this kind of dependence is wholly unnecessary. There is more provision made for the clergy than there are clergy to use it.
A young clergyman came home, one day, and complained to me that some of his parochial visiting afflicted him much. He had been visiting and exhorting a mother who had lost her infant; a sorrow which he always found he could not reach. The mourner had sat still, and heard all he had to say: but his impression was that he had not met any of her feelings; that he had done nothing but harm. How should it be otherwise? What should he know of the grief of a mother for her infant? He was sent for, as a kind of charmer, to charm away the heart's pain. Such pain is not sent to be charmed away. It could be made more endurable only by sympathy, of all outward aids: and sympathy, of necessity, he had none; but only a timid pain with which to aggravate her's. It was natural that he should do nothing but harm.
My final impression is, that religion is best administered in America by the personal character of the most virtuous members of society, out of the theological profession: and next, by the acts and preachings of the members of that profession who are the most secular in their habits of mind and life. The exclusively clerical are the worst enemies of Christianity, except the vicious.
APPENDIX: RECOLLECTIONS OF A SOUTHERN MATRON. Education, Slaves, Duties of a Wife on the Plantation.
After the departure of our Connecticut teacher, Mr. Bates, papa resolved to carry on our education himself. We were to rise by daylight, that he might pursue his accustomed ride over the fields after breakfast. New writing-books were taken out and ruled, fresh quills laid by their side, our task carefully committed to memory, and we sat with a mixture of docility and curiosity, to know how he would manage as a teacher. The first three days our lessons being on trodden ground, and ourselves under the impulse of novelty, we were very amiable, he very paternal; on the fourth, John was turned out of the room, Richard was pronounced a mule, and I went sobbing to mamma as if my heart would break, while papa said he might be compelled to ditch rice fields, but he never would undertake to teach children again.
A slight constraint was thrown over the family for a day or two, but it soon wore off, and he returned to his good-nature. For three weeks we were as wild as fawns, until mamma's attention was attracted by my sun-burnt complexion, and my brothers' torn clothes.
“This will never answer," said she to papa. "Look at Cornelia's face! It is as brown as a chinquapin. Richard has ruined his new suit, and John has cut his leg with the carpenter's tools. I have half a mind to keep school for them myself."
Papa gave a slight whistle, which seemed rather to stimulate than check her resolution.
"Cornelia," said she, " go directly to your brothers, and prepare your books for to-morrow. I will teach you."
The picture about to be presented is not overwrought. I am confident of the sympathy of many a mother, whose finger has been kept on a word in the dictionary so long a time, that her pupils, forgetting her vocation, have lounged through the first interruptions and finished with a frolic.
One would suppose that the retirement of a plantation was the most appropriate spot for a mother and her children to give and receive instruction. Not so, for instead of a limited household, her dependents are increased to a number which would constitute a village. She is obliged to listen to cases of grievance, is a nurse to the sick, distributes the half-yearly clothing; indeed, the mere giving out of thread and needles is something of a charge on so large a scale. A planter's lady may seem indolent, because there are so many under her who perform trivial services, but the very circumstance of keeping so many menials in order is an arduous one, and the keys of her establishment are a care of which a northern housekeeper knows nothing, and include a very extensive class of duties. Many fair and even aristocratic girls, if we may use this phrase in our republican country, who grace a ball-room, or loll in a liveried carriage, may be seen with these steel talismans, presiding over store-houses, and measuring with the accuracy and conscientiousness of a shopman, the daily allowance of the family; or cutting homespun suits, for days together, for the young and old slaves under their charge; while matrons, who would ring a bell for their pocket-handkerchief to be brought to them, will act the part of a surgeon or physician, with a promptitude and skill, which would excite astonishment in a stranger. Very frequently, slaves, like children, will only take medicine from their superiors, and in this case the planter's wife or daughter is admirably fitted to aid them.
There are few establishments where all care and responsibility devolves on the master, and even then the superintendence of a large domestic circle, and the rites of hospitality, demand so large a portion of the mistress's time, as leaves her but little opportunity for systematic teaching in her family. In this case she is wise to seek an efficient tutor, still appropriating those opportunities which perpetually arise under the same roof, to improve their moral and religious culture, and cultivate those sympathies which exalt these precious beings from children to friends.
The young, conscientious, ardent mother must be taught this by experience. She has a jealousy at first of any instruction that shall come between their dawning minds and her own, and is only taught by the constantly thwarted recitation, that in this country, at least, good housekeeping and good teaching cannot be combined.
But to return to my narrative. The morning after mamma's order, we assembled at ten o'clock. There was a little trepidation in her manner, but we loved her too well to annoy her by noticing it. Her education had been confined to mere rudiments, and her good sense led her only to conduct our reading, writing, and spelling.
We stood in a line.
" Spell irrigate," said she. Just then the coachman entered, and bowing, said, " Maussa send me for de key for get four quart o'corn for him bay horse."
The key was given.
" Spell imitate," said mamma.
"We did not spell irrigate," we all exclaimed.
" Oh, no," said she, " irrigate."
By the time the two words were well through, Chloe, the most refined of our coloured circle, appeared.
" Will mistress please to medjure out some calomel for Syphax, who is feverish and restless?"
During mamma's visit to the doctors shop, as the medicine-closet was called, we turned the inkstand over on her mahogany table, and wiped it up with our pocket-handkerchiefs. It required some time to cleanse and arrange ourselves; and just as we were seated and had advanced a little way on our orthographical journey, maum Phillis entered with her usual drawl, " Little maussa want for nurse, mam.."
While this operation was going on, we gathered round mamma to play be-peep with the baby, until even she forgot our lessons At length the little pet was dismissed with the white drops still resting on his red lips, and our line was formed again.
Mamma's next interruption, after successfully issuing a few words, was to settle a quarrel between La Fayette and Venus, two little blackies, who were going through their daily drill, in learning to rub the furniture, which with brushing flies at meals constitutes the first instruction for house servants. These important and classical personages rubbed about a stroke to the minute on each side of the cellaret, rolling up their eyes and making grimaces at each other. At this crisis they had laid claim to the same rubbing-cloth; mamma stopped the dispute by ordering my seamstress Flora, who was sewing for me, to apply the weight of her thimble, that long-known weapon of offence, as well as implement of industry, to their organ of firmness.
" Spell accentuate," said mamma, whose finger had slipped from the column.
" No, no, that is not the place," we exclaimed, rectifying the mistake.
" Spell irritate," said she, with admirable coolness, and John fairly succeeded just as the overseer's son, a sallow little boy with yellow hair, and blue homespun dress, came in with his hat on, and kicking up one foot for manners, said, " Fayther says as how he wants master Richard's horse to help tote some tetters to t'other field.''
This pretty piece of alliteration was complied with, after some remonstrance from brother Dick, and we finished our column. At this crisis, before we were fairly seated at writing, mamma was summoned to the hall to one of the field hands, who had received an injury in the uncle from a hoe. Papa and the overseer being at a distance, she was obliged to superintend the wound. We all followed her, La Fayette and Venus bringing up the rear. She inspected the sufferer's great foot, covered with blood and perspiration, superintended a bath, prepared a healing application, and bound it on with her own delicate hands, first quietly tying a black apron over her white dress. Here was no shrinking, no hiding of the eyes, and while extracting some extraneous substance from the wound, her manner was as resolute as it was gentle and consoling. This episode gave Richard an opportunity to unload his pockets of groundnuts, and treat us therewith. We were again seated at our writing-books, and were going on swimmingly with Avoid evil company," when a little crow-minder, hoarse from his late occupation, came in with a basket of eggs, and said,
" Mammy Phillis send Missis some egg for bay, matam; she ain't so bery well, and ax for some 'baccer."
It took a little time to pay for the eggs and send to the store-room for the Virginia-weed, of which opportunity we availed ourselves to draw figures on our slates: mamma reproved us, and we were resuming our duties, when the cook's son approached and said,
" Missis, Daddy Ajax say he been broke de axe, and ax me for ax you for Len him de new axe."
This made us shout out with laughter, and the business was scarcely settled, when the dinner - horn sounded. That evening a carriage full of friends arrived from the city to pass a week with us, and thus ended mamma’s experiment in teaching.
Our summers were usually passed at Springland, a pine-settlement, where about twenty families resorted at that season of the year. We were fortunate to find a French lady already engaged in teaching, from whom I took lessons on the piano-forte and guitar. The summer passed swiftly away. Papa was delighted with my facility in French, in which my brothers were also engaged, and we were happy to retain Madame d'Anville in our own family, on our return to Roseland.
In the middle of November a stranger was announced to papa, and a young man of very prepossessing appearance entered with a letter. It proved to be from our teacher, Mr. Bates. The contents were as follows:
" Respected Sir. I now sit down to write to you, to inform you that I am well, as also are Sir and Madam, my sister Nancy, and all the rest of our folks except aunt Patty, who is but poorly, having attacks of the rheumatiz, and shortness of breath. I should add, that Mrs. Prudence Bates, (who after the regular publishment on the church-doors for three Sundays, was united to me in the holy bands of wedlock, by our minister Mr. Ezekiel Duncan,) is in a good state of health, at this present, though her uncle, by her father's side, has been sick of jaundice, a complaint that has been off and on with him for a considerable spell.
" The bearer of this epistle is Parson Duncan's son, by name Mr. Charles Duncan, a very likely young man, but poorly in health, and Dr. Hincks says, going down to Charleston may set him up. I have the candour to say, that I think him, on some accounts, a more proper teacher than your humble servant, having served his time at a regular college education.
"I have writ a much longer letter than I thought on, but somehow it makes me chirpy to think of Roseland, though the young folks were obstreperous.
" Give my love nevertheless to them, and Miss Wilton, and all the little ones, as also I would not forget Daddy Jacque, whom I consider, notwithstanding his colour, as a very respectable person. I cannot say as much for Jim, who was an eternal thorn in my side, by reason of his quickness at mischief, and his slowness at waiting upon me; and I take this opportunity of testifying, that I believe if he had been in New England, he would have had his deserts before this; but you Southern folks do put up with an unaccountable sight from niggers, and I hope Jim will not be allowed his full tether, if so be Mr. Charles should take my situation in your family. I often tell our folks how I used to catch up a thing and do it rather than wait for half-a-dozen on 'em to take their own time. If I lived to the age of Methusalem, I never could git that composed, quiet kind of way you Southern folks have of waiting on the niggers. I only wish they could see aunt Patty move when the rbeumatiz is off, if she isn't spry, I don't know.
" Excuse all errors,
" Yours to serve,
`` JOSEPH BATES.
I detected a gentle, half-comical smile on Mr. Duncan's mouth as he raised his splendid eyes to papa, while delivering Mr. Bates' letter; but he soon walked to the window, and asked me some questions about the Cherokee-rose hedge, and other objects in view, which were novelties to him. I felt instantly that he was a gentleman, by the atmosphere of refinement which was thrown over him, and I saw that papa sympathised with me, as with graceful courtesy he welcomed him to Roseland -- Southern Rose-Bud.
APPENDIX D: EDUCATION.
The following is such information as I have been able to obtain respecting the public Educational provision in the United States, [in the year 1830].
The Free States in 1830.
MAINE. By a law of the State, every town, however large or small, is required to raise annually, for the support of schools, a sum equal at least to forty cents for each person in the town, and to distribute this sum among the several schools or districts, in proportion to the number of scholars in each. The expenditure of the sum is left principally to the direction of the town, and its committee or agents, appointed for that purpose. In the year 1825, the legislature required a report from each town in the State, respecting the situation of the schools. --United States Almanack
At that time, the number of school districts in ten counties was, 2,499.
The number of Children between 4 and 21 was..............137,931
The number who usually attend schools............................101,325
Amount required by law to be expended annually..........119,334
Amount raised from taxes........................................................132,263
Amount from the income of permanent funds.......................5,614
Total annual expenditure..........................................................137,878
The number of incorporated academies in the State was 31; 4 of which were for girls: the amount of funds varying from 2,000 to 22,000 dollars a-year.
NEW HAMPSHIRE. " From the year 1808 to 1818, there were raised in New Hampshire 70,000 dollars annually by law, for the support of common schools. This amount was raised by a separate tax, levied throughout the State, in the ratio of taxation for the State Tax. Since 1818, the yearly amount of the sum raised has been 90,000 dollars. This is the amount required by law, but a few towns raise more than they are required. The legislature assumes no control over the immediate appropriation, but leaves this to each town."
The State had also, in 1830, an annual income of 9,000 dollars, and a literary fund of 64,000 dollars, raised by a tax of a half per cent. on the capital of the banks; both to be, from that time, annually divided among the towns, in the ratio of taxation.
Some of the towns had separate school funds.
The white population of New Hampshire at this time was 268,721
The coloured population 607
VERMONT. An act was passed in 1827 to provide for the support of common schools. About 100,000 dollars was raised in 1830. A fund was also accumulating, which was to be applied whenever its income would support a common free-school in every district of the State, for two months in the year.
There were about 20 incorporated academies in the State, where young men were fitted for college. The number of students was supposed to average 40 at each.
MASSACHUSETTS. "By the returns from 131 towns, presented to the legislature, it appears that the amount annually paid in these towns for public schools, is 177,206 dollars.
The number of scholars receiving instruction 70,599
The number of pupils attending private schools in those towns 12,393
At an expense of , 170,349 dollars
"The number of persons in those towns, between the ages of 14 and 21, unable to read and write, is 58.
"In the town of Hancock, in Berkshire county, there are only 3 persons between 14 and 21 who cannot read and write; and they are mutes."American Annual Register.
RHODE ISLAND "In January, 1828, the legislature appropriated 10,000 dollars annually for the Support of public schools, to be divided among the several towns, in proportion to the population, with authority for each town to raise, by annual tax, double the amount received from the Treasury, as its proportion of the 10,000 dollars.
"There has been as yet no report of the number of school establishments under the act, but it is thought that they may safely be put down at 60, as all the towns have availed themselves of its provisions. The whole number of schools in the State now probably exceeds 650."American Almanack.
The white population in 1830: 93,621
The coloured : 3,578
CONNECTICUT. The revenue derived from the school fund amounted to 80,243 dollars. The State is divided into 208 school societies, which contained in the aggregate 84,899 children, between the ages of 4 and 16.
NEW YOR K.
The number of school districts was..................8,609
Number of children between 5 and 15...............................449,113
Number of children taught in the schools ......................468,205
This estimate does not include the scholars instructed in the two great cities, New York and Albany.
Amount paid to the districts.................................232,343
Of this, there came out of the Treasury...........100,000
Raised by tax upon the towns................................119,209
From a local fund...........................................................13,133
Voluntary tax by the towns.......................................19,209
PENNSYLVANIA. This State was in the rear. Not above 9,000 children were educated at the public charge, of about 16,000 dollars.
The white population in 1830: 1,309,900
The coloured: 38,333
NEW JERSEY. A fund of 222,000 dollars being realised, a system of Common School education was about to be put in action; an appropriation of 20,000 dollars per annum being ordered to be distributed among the towns for that purpose.
OHIO. In Cincinnati, the first anniversary of freeschools was kept in 1830. Three thousand pupils belonged to the free-schools of Cincinnati. The amount of the school-tax was about 10,000 dollars.
INDIANA. A committee of the legislature was appointed to consider and report upon the expediency of adopting the Common School system.
The white population in 1830: 339,399
The coloured : 3,632
ILLINOIS contained less than 160,000 persons in 1830, and had no public schools.
The Slave States in 1830.
MARYLAND. Provision was made for the establishment of Primary Schools throughout the State. One was opened in Baltimore in 1829. There were 8 or 10 academies, which received annually from 400 to 600 dollars from the Treasury of the State.
Grants to the University of Maryland: 5,000 dollars.
Grants to Colleges, Academies, and Schools: 13,000
DELAWARE. A law ordaining the establishment of a Common School system was passed in 1829, and the counties were being divided into districts in 1830.
NORTH CAROLINA had a literary fund of 70,000 dollars; but nothing had yet been done towards applying it.
VIRGINIA. No free-schools.
SOUTH CAROLINA. " It appeared by a Report of a Committee on Schools, that the number of public schools established in the State was 513, wherein 5,361 scholars were educated at the annual expense of 35,310 dollars."
" The benefit derived from this appropriation," says the governor, " is partial, founded on no principle, and arbitrarily dispensed by the Commissioners. If the fund could be so managed as to educate thoroughly a given number of young men, and to require them afterwards to teach for a limited time, as an equivalent, the effects would scan be seen and felt." American Annual Register.
The white population in 1830: 957,863
The coloured: 323,322
GEORGIA. The appropriations for county academies amounted to 14,302 dollars: and the poor school fund, 742 dollars.
Tbe white population in 1830: 296,806
The coloured : 220,017
ALABAMA. No schools.
MISSISSIPPI. No schools.
MISSOURI. No schools.
LOUISIANA. Instead of schools, a law making imprisonment the punishment of teaching a slave to read.
TENNESSEE. A fund is set to accumulate for the purpose of hereafter encouraging schools, colleges, and academies.
KENTUCKY. The Common School system was established by law, and provisions made for the division of the counties into districts, and the levying of the poll and property taxes for the purpose.
"The Louisville Advertiser announces the establishment by that city of a school at the public expense, stated to be the first south of the Ohio. It is opened to the children of all the citizens. The number of pupils entered is 300." American Annual Register.
APPENDIX F: Further Notes on the Relation of Women and the Clergy.
Independently of the disinterestedness, simplicity, and humility of woman's character, in all matters relating to religion, they naturally reverence and cling to those who show them respect and deference. The clergy, from understanding this point in their nature, possess great and deserved influence over them; and they have only to interest their feelings, to insure success to any clerical or charitable purpose. Look at a woman's zeal in foreign or domestic missions, not only devoting her time at home, but leaving her friends and her comforts, to assist in establishing them in a distant land. And is it ever pretended that a woman bus not more than equalled a man in these duties? And will she not toil for days, scarcely raising her eyes from the work, to assist in purchasing an organ, a new altarcloth, or in cleaning and painting a church ?
So great is the tax, now, on a woman's time, for these and for other religious purposes, such as the " educating young men for the ministry, that the amount is frightful and scandalous. If the funds of a religious congregation be low, which can only happen where the men are poor in spirit, and wanting in religious fervour, a woman is allowed to exert herself beyond her means; for well we know that she cannot endure a want of neatness and order, in a house where God is to be worshipped. To be sure, it may be said, that no one compels her to this unequal share of labour; but we know how the thing operates.
She ought, and she does, and nobly does her share, in educating poor children, both during the week and on Sunday. She searches out the widow and the fatherless, the orphan, the sick and the poor, the aged and the unhappy. All this, although it amount to a great deal, and certainly much more than men can ever do, it is her duty to do, and she performs the duty cheerfully. As she considers it incumbent on her thus to exert herself, and as it gives her pleasure, there can be no objection on our part, to let her do al] the good in this way that she can; but do not let us exact too much of a willing mind and tender conscience. Confiding in her spiritual directors, she may be brought to do more than is proper for her to do. This " educating of young men, this preparing them for a theological seminary," is not part of a woman's duty, and it is not only contemptible, but base, to allow such a discipline of their minds, as to make them imagine it to be their duty.
Look at the young men who are to be educated- - What right have they, with so many sources open to them, what right have they to allow women to tax themselves for their maintenance ? Poor credulous woman! she can be made to think anything a duty. How have we seen her neglecting her health, her comfort, her family, the poor, and, above all, neglecting the improvement of her own mind, that she might earn a few dollars towards educating a young man, who is far more able to do it himself, and who, nine times in ten, laughs in his sleeve at her. What right, we again ask, have these young men to the labours of a woman? Are they not as capable of working as she is? What should hinder them from pursuing some handicraft, some employment, during their term of study ?
If a woman were to be educated gratis, in this way, would any set of young men associate and work for her maintenance ? No, that they would not; she would not only have to labour for herself, but her labour would be unaided even by sympathy. Now, very few women are aware, that they are, in a manner, maneuvred into thus spending their precious time; we mean for the education of young men that have a desire to enter the theological seminary. Many of them are not conscious of being swayed by other motives indeed, some have no other motive, than that of pure Christian love, when they thus assist in raising funds for educating young men. They feel a disposition to follow on, in any scheme proposed to them; and when the thing is rightly managed, the project has the appearance of originating with themselves. Men understand the mode of doing this.
The spirit of piety and charity is very strong in the bosom of a woman; she feels the deepest reverence and devotion towards her spiritual pastor, and is naturally, therefore, disposed to do good, in the way he thinks best. If it were not for this reverence and submission, if they were left unbiased by hint, persuasion, or by some unaccountable spell which they cannot break through, their charities would find another and a more suitable channel. Their good sense would show them the impropriety of giving up so much of their time, for a, purpose that belongs exclusively to the care of men: they would soon see the truth, as it appears to others, that the scheme must be a bad one, which enables young men to live in idleness, during the time that they are getting through with their classical studies: such a " getting through," too, as it generally is.
We do not set forth the following plan, as the very best that can be offered, but it is practicable, and would be creditable. It is that every theological seminary should have sufficient ground attached to it, that each student might have employment in raising vegetables and fruit. There should likewise be a workshop connected with it, wherein he might pursue some trade so that if he did not find it his vocation to preach, when his religious education was finished, he might not be utterly destitute, as too many are. In fact, it ought to be so much the part of a clergyman's education, to be acquainted with certain branches of horticulture, that he should not receive a call to a country or village church, if he were ignorant of it.
So far from degrading, it would be doing these young men a kindness. In the first place, they would hold fast that spirit of independence which is so necessary to a man's prosperity, and to his usefullness as a clergyman. He would be of the greatest consequence to his parishioners, for horticulture is an art but little known to them; and even if they go to a great distance as missionaries, of what great service would his horticultural knowledge be to the poor people, whose souls he hopes to save ! We all know how immediately civilisation follows the cultivation of the soil; and we may rest assured, that the sacred object which the young missionary has in view, will meet with fewer obstacles, if his lessons are connected with attention to the bodily wants of his charge.
It is really disgusting to those who live in the neighbourhood of religious institutions, to see the frivolous manner in which young men pass their time, when not in actual study. We do not say that they are dissipated, or vicious, in the common sense of the word, but that they lounge about, trifle, and gossip, retailing idle chit-chat and fooleries.
At the very time when they are thus happily amusing themselves, the women who assist in giving them a classical education allow themselves scarcely any respite from their labours. We have known some of them to sew, it is all they can do, from sunrise till nine o'clock at night; and all for this very purpose.
It is quite time to put a stop to this, and let indigent young men educate themselves. Why do they not form societies to create funds for the purpose, not as is usually done whenever they have attempted a thing of this kind, by carrying about a paper to collect money, but by extra labour of their own, as women do ? Let those who live in cities write for lawyers or clerks in chancery, or make out accounts for poor shopkeeping women, who will never cheat them out of a cent, nor refuse them a just compensation. If it be said that they cannot write well enough for any of these purposes, then they must go to the free-school again. There are a hundred modes by which they could earn at least twenty-five cents a day, which is the average of what a woman makes when she is employed in sewing for this purpose. Those who live in the country, where, in fact, all students, rich or poor, ought to be, on account of health, should raise fruit, vegetables, we mean assist in this, work at some trade, write for newspapers, teach the children of the families at extra hours: in short, a lad of independent spirit could devise ways and means enough to pay for his board and clothing while he is learning Latin and Greek. This plan of proceeding would raise a young man twice as much in the opinion of the public, and a thousand times as much in his own.
But this is not the time to dwell on such a subject; it was too important, however, to remain untouched. We intend to discuss it amply at some future period. Our object, at present, is to assist women. They who are always so willing to assist others, to their own detriment, should now, in turn, for their wants loudly call for it, be assisted and encouraged to strike out a new path, by which they could assist themselves.
The first step for us to take in order to effect our intentions, is to prove to them that they should attend to their own wants exclusively; work for their own sons, if those sons can bear to see it; but to let young men, unconnected with them, and who are destined for the ministry, educate themselves, as the poor young men of other professions do.
When do we ever hear that a lawyer or a doctor owed their education to the industry or the alms of women ?
We have said all this before, and we shall say it again and again. There must be a change for the better in the affairs of poor women; they are degraded by their poverty; and their degradation is the cause of nearly all the crime that is committed." Aladdin's Lamp. New York, 1833