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THE RIGHTS OF WOMEN.

Whoso urges the mental inferiority of women in bar of their claim to equal rights with men, may be met in various ways.

1. If rights are to be meted out to the two sexes in the ratio of their respective amounts of intelligence, then must the same system be acted upon in the apportionment of rights between man and man. Whence must proceed all those multiplied perplexities already pointed out. (See p. 58.)

2. In like manner it will follow that, as there are here and there women of unquestionably greater ability than the average of men, some women ought to have greater rights than some men.

3. Wherefore, instead of a certain fixed allotment of rights to all males and another to all females, the hypothesis itself involves an infinite gradation of rights, irrespective of sex entirely, and sends us once more in search of those unattainable desiderata—a standard by which to measure capacity, and another by which to measure rights.

Not only, however, does the theory thus fall to pieces under the mere process of inspection; it is absurd on the face of it, when freed from the disguise of hackneyed phraseology. For what is it that we mean by rights ? Nothing else than freedom to exercise the faculties. And what is the meaning of the assertion that woman is mentally inferior to man? Simply that her faculties are less powerful. What then does the dogma, that because woman is mentally inferior to man she has less extensive rights, amount to? Just this,—that because woman has weaker faculties than man, she ought not to have like liberty with him to exercise the faculties she has !

Men’s wishes eventually get expressed in their faithstheir real faiths, that is; not their merely nominal ones. A fiery passion consumes all evidences opposed to its gratification, and fusing together those that serve its purpose, casts them into weapons by which to achieve its end. There is no deed so vicious but what the actor excuses to himself; and if the deed is often repeated the excuse becomes a creed. The vilest transactions—Bartholomew massacres and the likehave had defenders; nay, have been inculcated as fulfilments of the divine will. There is wisdom in the fable which represents the wolf as raising accusations against the lamb before devouring it. No invader ever raised standard, but persuaded himself that he had a just cause. Sacrifices and prayers have preceded every military expedition, from one of Cæsar's campaigns down to a border foray. God is on our side, is the universal cry. Each of two conflicting nations consecrates its flags; and whichever conquers sings a Te Deum. Attila conceived himself to have a "divine claim to the dominion of the Earth ;” the Spaniards subdued the Indians under plea of converting them to Christianity, hanging thirteen refractory ones in honour of Jesus Christ and his apostles; and we English justify our colonial aggressions by saying that the Creator intends the Anglo-Saxon race to people the world! An insatiate lust of conquest transmutes manslaying into a virtue; and, in more races than one, implacable revenge has made assassination a duty. A clever theft was praiseworthy among the Spartans; and it is equally so among Christians, provided it be on a sufficiently large scale. Piracy was heroism with Jason and his followers; was so also with the Norsemen; is so still with the Malays; and there is never wanting some golden fleece for a pretext. Among money-hunting people a man is commended in proportion to

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the number of hours he spends in business. In our day the rage for accumulation has apotheosized work. And even the miser is not without a code of morals by which to defend his parsimony. The monks held printing to be an invention of the devil; and some of our modern sectaries regard their refractory brethren as under demoniacal possession.

This sway of feeling over belief everywhere determines men's ideas about their relations to women, which are harsh in proportion as the social state is barbarous. Look where we will, we find that just as far as the law of the strongest regulates the relationships between man and man, does it regulate the relationships between man and woman. Despotism in the state is associated with despotism in the family. Turkey, Egypt, India, China, Russia, the feudal states of Europe—it needs but to name these to suggest hosts of illustrative facts.

The arbitrary rule of one human being over another, is fast becoming recognized as essentially rude and brutal. In our day, the man of refined feeling does not like to play the despot over his fellow. He is disgusted if one in humble circumstances cringes to him. So far from wishing to elevate himself by depressing his poor and ignorant neighbours, he strives to put them at their ease in his presence--encourages them to behave in a less submissive and more self-respecting manner. He feels that a fellow-man may be enslaved by imperious words and manners as well as by tyrannical deeds; and hence he avoids a dictatorial style of speech to those below him. Even paid domestics, to whose services he has obtained a right by contract, he does not like to address in a tone of authority. He seeks rather to disguise his character of master; to this end wraps up his commands in the shape of requests; and continually employs the phrases, “ If you please,” and “ Thank you."

In the conduct of the modern gentleman to his friend, we have additional signs of this growing respect for another's

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dignity. Every one must have observed the carefulness with which those who are on terms of affectionate intimacy, shun anything in the form of supremacy on either side, or endeavour to banish from remembrance, by their behaviour to each other, whatever of supremacy there may exist. Who is there that has not witnessed the dilemma in which the wealthier of two such is sometimes placed, between the wish to confer a benefit on the other, and the fear that in so doing he may offend by assuming the attitude of a patron? And who is there that does not feel how destructive it would be of the sentiment subsisting between himself and his friend, were he to play the master over his friend, or his friend to play the master over him?

A further increase of this same refinement will show men that there is a fatal incongruity between the matrimonial servitude which our law recognizes, and the relation that ought to exist between husband and wife. Surely if he who possesses any generosity of nature dislikes speaking to a hired domestic in a tone of authority—if he cannot bear assuming towards his friend the behaviour of a superiorhow utterly repugnant to him should it be, to make himself ruler over one on whose behalf all his kindly sentiments are specially enlisted, and for whose rights and dignity he ought to have the most active sympathy!

Command is a blight to the affections. Whatsoever of beauty-whatsoever of poetry, there is in the passion that unites the sexes, withers up and dies in the cold atmosphere of authority. Native as they are to such widely-separated regions of our nature, Love and Coercion cannot possibly flourish together. Love is sympathetic: Coercion is callous. Love is gentle : Coercion is barsh. Love is self-sacrificing : Coercion is selfish. How then can they co-exist? It is the property of the first to attract, while it is that of the last to repel; and, conflicting as they thus do, it is the constant ten. dency of each to destroy the other. Let whoever thinks the two compatible imagine himself acting the master over his

betrothed. Does he believe that he could do this without any injury to the subsisting relationship? Does he not know rather that a bad effect would be produced upon the feelings of both by the assumption of such an attitude? And confessing this, as he must, is he superstitious enough to suppose that the going through a form of words will render harmless that use of command which was previously hurtful ?

There are many who think that authority, and its ally compulsion, are the sole agencies by which human beings can be controlled. Anarchy or government are, with them, the only conceivable alternatives. Believing in nothing but what they see, they cannot realize the possibility of a condition of things in which peace and order shall be maintained without force, or the fear of force. By such as these, the doctrine that the reign of man over woman is wrong, will no doubt be combated on the ground that the domestic relationship can only exist by the help of such supremacy. The impracticability of an equality of rights between the sexes will be urged by them in disproof of its rectitude. It will be argued that were they put upon a level, husband and wife would be for ever in antagonism—that as, when their wishes clashed, each would possess a like claim to have his or her way, the matrimonial bond would daily be endangered by the jar of opposing wills, and that, involving as it would a perpetual conflict, such an arrangement of married life must necessarily be an erroneous one.

A very superficial conclusion this. It has been already pointed out (p. 26), that there must be an inconsistency between the perfect law and an imperfect state. The worse tihe condition of society the more visionary must a true code of morality appear. The fact that any proposed principle of conduct is at once fully practicable—requires no reformation of human nature for its complete realization—is not a proof of its trnth : is proof rather of its error. And, conversely, a certain degree of incongruity between such a principle and

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