from Woman, Her Education and Influence
by Mrs. Hugo Reid
... Now, I would fain learn the reason why both sexes are not allowed to advance side by side? Is woman really unworthy of social equality with man? Let the question be thoroughly investigated. Do not allow that you are so, oh! my countrywomen, merely because you have long been considered so.
There has lately been a good deal of discussion on this subject; and we incline to think there is room for much more. That there is the greatest propriety in thoroughly sifting the matter, no one will doubt who has taken note of the influence which the condition - putting her own individual benefit at present out of the question - exerts, in its turn, on that of man. Any person of common observation will at once allow, that in the whole range of the middle and lower classes, the mother is the parent who has the most opportunity of influencing the moral education of a family. It is allowed, also, that the impressions made on the heart and understanding in childhood and youth are so much more lasting and vivid than those of maturer years, that they are rarely, if ever, entirely effaced in after-life. Indeed, the power which the mother of a family exerts - and in the nature of things must exert - either for good or for evil, is beyond calculation. Let her send into the world one child who, through her judicious care, has been filled with the active and enthusiastic love of goodness; with the spirit, to say all at once, of pure and enlightened Christianity; and who can estimate, in its far-reaching and wide-spreading results, the extent of the influence which, through this one child, she may exercise over the generations of men. Let her send a child into the world whose temper she has neglected, or perhaps even inflamed by her own evil example, whose principles are altogether unfixed, who has nothing to guide him in the path of duty, much less any thing to keep him steadily going forward on it, in spite of strong temptation and great obstacles. The evil influence exercised in this case is as great as the good in the former one. To neither of them is it possible to set any bounds, or to say decidedly, here it must stop short.
What, then, are we to think of the wisdom of the parties who would keep behind in the march of improvement, those in whom is placed so great, so noble a trust, -- who do not, on the contrary, afford them every facility for cultivating and strengthening the mind. ...
[Woman, Her Education and Influence, 37-8.]