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But I need not dwell upon such an argument, before an audience who have witnessed the bearing of women in this Convention. It is a cool, aye, insolent assumption, for man to prescribe the sphere of What is the sphere of woman? Clearly, you say, her powers, her natural instincts, and desires determine her sphere. Who, then, best knows these instincts and desires? Is it he who has all his knowledge at second hand, rather than she who has it in all her consciousness? Woman knows woman; man only hears of her. If woman's nature be broadly and essentially different from man's, then I say the masculine element has no right and no power to fix the development of woman's action. As well require the pound weight to settle the length of the yard stick. Woman must assert and measure woman's rights. But if she is not thus essentially different, then why should her rights and sphere be essentially unlike. If man and woman are essentially identical, then their rights should be identical; if they are diverse, then she alone is competent to judge of her own rights, and her own sphere of action.
I might confirm this argument by an appeal to facts, and show you the results of an attempt of man to fix the sphere of woman. I might ask you what sort of human beings have grown up under this kind of interference. But I forbear to dwell upon that subject. I can safely leave it to your own reflections. I have no fear that you will not think of a great many things, which some of you have not thought much of, previous to your attendance here. One thing we know, that just in proportion as the sphere of woman has been recognized as wider, just in that proportion has the nature of man revealed itself as nobler. Where do you find the narrowest sphere of woman? Go among the savages. Go to those who send woman to dig the corn patch, or load her with the burden of game which her hunter husband has killed. Do you find woman nobler there, than when advanced to a higher grade in the scale of progression-than where woman finds a larger range of occupations, and a higher posi tion with respect to her associates. Do you not find, that as you advance from the savage state to semi-barbarism, and thence to the best civilization yet attained, that where woman is admitted to competition in intellectual pursuits, in authorship, and in what were once
admitted to be exclusively the avocations of the masculine mind; and where woman has come forward in public as a lecturer, and as a singer of sweet songs, which delight the ear and reach the heart-do you not perceive a nobler type of woman? Thus you will ever find that the more you enlarge the scope of woman's activities, the more you enlarge her powers, and the more widely she unfolds herself, because the more each faculty is free to assert its own natural position.
If then, you find in the progress of the race hitherto, that woman has revealed herself pure, true and beautiful, and lofty in spirit, just in proportion as she has enjoyed the right to reveal herself; if this is the testimony of all past experience, I ask you where you will find the beginning of an argument against the claim of woman to the right to enlarge her sphere yet more widely, than she has hitherto done. Wait until you see some of these apprehended evils, aye, a little later even, than that, until you see the natural subsidence of the reaction from the first out-bound of their oppression, before you tell us it is not safe or wise to permit woman the enlargement of her own sphere.
The argument which I have thus based upon the very nature of man, and of humanity and God, is confirmed in every particular-is most impregnably fortified on every point, by the facts of all past experience, and all present observation; and out of all this evidence of woman's right and fitness to determine her own sphere, I ḍraw a high prophecy of the future. I look upon this longing of hers for a yet higher and broader field, as an evidence that God designed her to enter upon it.
"Want, is the garner of our bounteous Sire,
Hunger, the promise of its own supply."
I might even add the rest of the passage as an address to woman herself, who still hesitates to assert the rights which she feels to be
hers and longs to enjoy; I might repeat to her in the words of the same poet :
e weep, because the good we seek is not,
It can be done. This demand of woman can be nobly and successfully asserted. It can be, because it is but the out-speaking of the divine sentiment of woman. Let us not then tremble, or falter, or despair-I know we shall not. I know that those who have taken hold of this great work, and carried it forward hitherto, against obloquy, and persecution, and contempt, will not falter now. No! Every step is bearing us to a higher eminence, and thus revealing a broader promise of hope, a brighter prospect of success. Though they who are foremost in this cause must bear obloquy and reproach, and though it may seem to the careless looker on; that they advance but little or not at all; they know that the instinct which impels them being divine, it cannot be that they shall fail. They know that every quality of their nature, every attribute of their Creator, is pledged to their success.
"They never fail who gravely plead for right,
God's faithful martyrs cannot suffer loss.
Heaven's gate swings open on their bloody cross."
PRES. MAHAN.-If I would not be interrupting at all, there are a few thoughts having weight upon my mind which I should be very happy to express. I have nothing to say to excite controversy at all, there are things which are said, the ultimate bearing of which I believe is not always understood. I have heard during these discussions, things said which bear this aspect that the relation of ruler and subject, is that of master and slave. The idea of the equality of woman with man, seems to be argued upon this idea. I am not now to speak whether it is lawful for man to rule the woman at all; but I wish to make a remark upon the principles of governor and governed. The
idea seems to be suggested, that if the wife is subject to the husband, the wife is a slave to the husband. Now, I contend that it is not true in any sense, or any form; there is a fundamental difference in all respects, between a ruler and subject, and a master and slave. The relation between the master and slave is in no form that of a ruler and subject. It is unlike it; it is not a government. Permit me to illustrate these thoughts-and I will lay down this as a proposition, that, in all cases of appropriate authority, the relation of ruler and subject, when appropriately exercised, dignifies and exalts both, and that is a universal law which knows no exception. I will take the case of a parent and child in illustration; and I ask, and appeal to the good sense of the audience, where is the child that is prepared for freedom, to stand up before the world a freeman ? It is the child who has learned obedience to parental authority, and he only who is prepared to be free. It is only this child who can appreciate freedom; and it is subjection to authority which is the perfection of freedom. Whenever lawful authority exists, and, for the very end for which it ought to be exercised, it exalts and tends to the highest conceivable freedom. Our fathers fought for freedom. Freedom from what? Freedom from all rule and authority? No. They fought for righteous rule and authority, for legitimate rule and authority ; and wherever that exists, wherever it is exercised for the end for which it should be exercised, there freedom is exercised in the highest form.
I will take what is said in the Bible, and suppose we understand it in the sense in which the ministry explain it. Take the commandment-"Wives be in subjection to your husbands." Suppose there is a form of authority there, which the husband should exercise; I say the wife being subjected to that form of authority, instead of being degraded, is elevated; and that is a universal principle. Now, in order to show that the woman is not to be subject to the husband, you must show, not that subjection is slavery, but that the relation of ruler and subject in any form, is slavery. Why has the parent the right to control the child? Because the child is dependent on the parent; and wherever dependence exists, there, to the extent of that dependence, control ought to exist. As far as the woman is depend
ent upon man, she ought to acknowledge that; and so far as man is dependent on woman, he ought to acknowledge it; and that is a universal principle that knows no exception. Well then, the question of human rights should never be argued upon this principle. You never can show upon this principle, that one intelligent being has not the right to rule another. The parent has that right, and woe to the parent who does not use it.
There is a thought here-I have said enough to vindicate the ground, and that is all I wished. I wish to have it understood, then, that just so far as subjection in any form is enjoined, if it is enjoined by the Author of man and woman, it is enjoined because it ought to exist, and in its existence both parties are elevated and neither degraded.
There is one thought to which I will allude; that woman has wrongs in the laws, wrongs in the usages of society to complain of. Who can doubt it? I don't believe you can find an audience in the length and breadth of the land, where, if woman will come and state her grievances as they are, she will not have a respectable hearing. It was said by a great Statesman in reference to the American Revolution, that it never could have succeeded had the conviction obtained that the progress of that Revolution would be unfavorable to Christianity; that the progess of that Revolution would injure the influence of that dearest of Books which excels all others
"The Old Family Bible that lies on the stand."
And now let me say here, should the conviction once obtain, that the principles which this society advocates, are in any form unfavorable to the prevalence of that dearest of Books, or that you are attempting to put them in that position, you will meet a rock. Any cause that strikes upon that rock will be broken, and any cause upon which that rock descends, will be ground to powder under it. No, no; in that dearest of Books there is not a right that woman can ask of God or man which is not secured to her, not one; and if in that Book, in the careful and prayerful study of it, it should be found that He who made the mind and gave it its powers; made the body, and constituted man and woman-if He has said, in the sense in which