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and on the day of the next election, march in a body to the polls and face the objection, if any there be, to her voting; at least put the matter to a test, and let it no more be said that women don't take their rights. I think, that hardly an objection could be raised in Cleveland.
Not one of you but is convinced of the reasonableness of our position. It is a principle of your own manufacture, that irresponsible power is unsafe. Woman has always lived under the sway of this irresponsible power. She asks now that she be left to be responsible for herself. Her nature is the same as your own. You can find no difference. She, as naturally thirsts for independence as yourselves. This craving should be as fully gratified in her case, as in yours. The laws should protect alike the freedom of each. Neither should be permitted to tyrannize over the other. I believe those who made these laws, were honest at the time, so far as they were informed. But we have lived under a cloud all our days. The cloud however is now breaking, and the light, and air, and sunshine come in; shall we welcome them; or shall we shut ourselves once more in gloom, and forbid the entrance of the blessings? I believe the hearts of this community are with us, and we have but to go firmly forward.
C. C. BURLEIGH.-Among the resolutions which have been acted upon and adopted by this meeting, is one which affirms that for man to attempt to fix the sphere of woman, is cool assumption. I purpose to take that sentiment for the text of a few words of remark, this evening, for it is just there that I think the whole controversy hinges. It is not so much, what is woman's appropriate sphere; it is not so much what she may do and what she may not do, that we have to contend about; as, whether one human being, or one class of human beings, is to fix for another human being, or another class of human beings, the proper field of action, and the proper mode of employing the faculties which God has given them. If I understand aright the principles of liberty, just here is the point of controversy, between the despot and the champion of human rights, in any department. Just when one human being assumes to decide for another, what is that other's sphere of action, just then despotism begins. Everything else is but the legitimate consequence of this.
I have said it is not so much a matter of controversy what woman may do, or may not do. Why, it would be a hard matter to say what has been recognized by men themselves, as the legitimate sphere of woman. We have a great deal of contradiction and opposition nowadays when woman attempts to do this, that, or the other thing, although that very thing has sometime or other, and somewhere or other, been performed or attempted to be performed by woman, with man's approval. If you talk about politics, why, woman's participation in politics is no new thing, is no mere assumption on her part, but has been recognized as right and proper by men.
You have already been told of distinguished women who have borne a very prominent part in politics, both in ancient and modern times, and yet the multitude of men have believed and acknowledged that it was all right; and are now acknowledging it with all the enthusiasm of devoted loyalty. They are now acknowledging it in the case of an Empire on which it has been said that the sun never sets; an Empire, "the morning drumbeat of whose military stations, circles the earth with one continued peal of the martial airs of England." It is recognized too, not by the ignorant and thoughtless only, or the radical and heretical alone, but also by multitudes of educated and pious men. That bench of Bishops, sitting in the House of Lords, receiving its very warrant to act politically, from the hands of a woman, listening to a speech from a woman on the throne, endorses every day the doctrine, that a woman may engage in politics.
Does woman ask to engage in those manly occupations which some men, in some places, have claimed as peculiarly appropriate to the masculine muscle? You will find that here also, the practice in regard to this particular, is altogether variant in different countries. Go to Germany, or France, or to much of that Island Empire which rules over so large a portion of the world, and you will find that woman shares the toil of the field with her husband, brother and father. You will find, that not only the lighter occupations which seem better adapted to her smaller frame, but the most severe drudgery of the field, falls to her lot; and that multitudes of men consent and approve. There, woman is not deemed "out of her
appropriate sphere," in engaging in manly occupations in the open air, the performance of the toils of the artizan, or whatever else man here may choose to arrogate to be his exclusive employment.
The business of merchandizing has been conceded to woman, not so much in this country, as in other countries; but in this country it is coming to be acknowledged to be within her appropriate sphere, by people not reckoned among the advocates of human rights. And thus I might go on and instance one sphere of action after another, and say in regard to each one of them, that somewhere, man has consented or is consenting that she should fill it, not excepting even the bloody toils of the battle field; for have not orators, in their rounded periods, and poets in their strains of sweetest melody, joined to commemorate and eulogize in highest terms of praise, the deeds of the Maid of Saragossa, and others who have placed themselves in the "imminent deadly breach" in the service of their country? What brighter name, whose higher renown has come down to us in the praises of oratory and poetry, than that of Joan of Arc, who in the day of her country's greatest peril, stepped forward to snatch the rod of the invader from his hand, and roll back the invading host, placing the crown on the head of its "God-anointed" and hereditary heir.
Everywhere, in every occupation then, men have recognized the right of woman to engage in all these occupations. All that men have asked at every step, has been, that woman should await their permission. Joan may set the crown upon the head of Charles, but she must go before the chief dignitaries of the Church and State, and ask leave to perform the duty to which God has called her.
Now, I confess, for the life of me, I do not see where the consistency or the logic is, in charging her now-a-days with departing from her sphere. If woman may do these deeds at man's bidding, I ask why she may not do the same deeds under the guidance of God, who wrote his warrant for her action on her very nature, when he created her soul such as it is, breathed the breath of life into her body which before was cold and senseless clay, and endowed her with these faculties, these instincts, these desires, which have drawn her out into active life, wherein she claims the right to display and exercise her powers. For did God ever put a faculty into a human being, which
he did not mean should be exercised? Did he create powers and attractions, for which he did not provide functions? Did he ever plant a desire or an affinity, which he did not mean should find its answering scope of activity? I ask you, if Infinite Goodness makes such mistakes, or inflicts such pain upon mortal man; leaving him not merely now unsatisfied, but forever condemned to be unsatisfied? Did He ever appoint, that this tantalus-thirst should crave the taste of waters, which yet were ever fleeing from lips forbidden to taste their coolness. No, my friends, God has given the desire, and has given the capacity for exercising all these faculties. Why, the power, the will, and the right to do, are found in the same being; or else a mistake has been made in the creation.
It is upon this ground, that I deny the power of man to set bounds to woman's sphere. I do not know what woman will do when the largest liberty is granted her. I do not know how many women will come upon the public platform, will enter the legal profession, the Legislative Hall, the chair of Executive power, the bench of the Judge, or the box of the jury. I do not know anything about this, and I do not want to know, in order that I may be able to decide whether I have a right to put a guard against the sex which they cannot pass. But of this I am sure, that just so soon as you concede to woman the largest liberty of choice, in regard to the occupation of her faculties, just so soon you will settle the question in the wisest possible manner, what woman will do, and what woman should do. Her nature will be true to itself, or rather her God will be true to himself, guiding her to that action which will be sure to be right in proportion as it flows from freedom. It is the constraint upon her faculties, which is cramping and distorting her; and it is that which is justly to be held responsible for any discord, or departure from propriety, here or there, which you may witness.
If you sieze the young tree, when it just begins to put forth to the air, and sunshine, and dews, and bend it in all directions, for fear it will not grow in proper shape, do not hold the tree accountable for its distortion. There is no danger that from acorns planted last year, pine trees will grow, if you do not take some special care to prevent it. There is no danger, that from an apple, will grow an oak, or
from a peach-stone, an elm; leave nature to work out her own results, or in other words, leave God to work out his own purpose, and be not so anxious to intrude yourselves upon him, and to help him govern the Universe he has made. Some of us have too high an estimation of his goodness and wisdom, to be desirous of thrusting ourselves into his government. We are willing to leave the nature of woman, to manifest itself in its own aptitudes. Try it. Did one ever trust in God and meet with disappointment? Never! Tyrants always say it is not safe to trust their subjects with freedom. Austria says it is not safe to trust the Hungarian with freedom. woman is not safe in freedom, she will get beyond her sphere.
After having oppressed her for centuries, what wonder if she should rebound, and at the first spring, even manifest that law of reaction somewhat to your inconvenience, and somewhat even beyond the dictates of the wisest judgment. What then? Is the fault to be charged to the removal of the restraint; or is it to be charged to the first imposition of the restraint? The objection of our opponents remind one of the Irishman walking among the bushes just behind his companion, who caught hold of a branch, and passing on, let it fly back into the face of his friend: "Indade I am thankful to ye !” said the injured man, “for taking hold of that same; it a'most knocked the brains out of my body as it was, and sure, if ye hadn't caught hold of it, it would have kilt me entirely !"
The winds come lashing over your lake, the waters piling upon each other, wave rolling upon wave, and you may say, what a pity we could not bridge the lake over with ice, so as to keep down these billows, which may rise so high as to submerge us. But stand still! God has fixed the law upon the waters, "thus far shalt thou come ;” and as you watch the ever piling floods, it secures their timely downfall. When they come as far as their appointed limits, the combing crest of the wave tells that the hour of safety has arrived, proving that God was wiser than you in writing down laws for his creation. need not bridge over woman's nature with the ice of conventionalism, for fear she will swell up, aye, and overflow the continent of manhood. There is no danger. Trust to the nature God has given to humanity, and do not except the nature he has given to this portion of humanity.