Woman has been called "The helpmeet of man," "The guardian angel of the young," "The mistress of the two eternities in Heaven and Earth."
Her work, her special mission on earth, is: To redeem Man from error, to rescue him from social and moral degradation and suffering, and to train her children in the ways of Truth, Peace, and Purity; to elevate the mind of Man, and to aid him in the work of social regeneration and progress, by the power of her devoted, loving nature in the peculiar relationships of her sex.
Thus, by the faithful fulfilment of her mission, she is destined to become the saviour of her children's happiness; the equal and co-worker with Man in the field of Progress and Reform; and the chief Architect, under God, of the beautiful Kingdom of Peace and Love, which He has promised to establish among men.
These are the ideas I have feebly striven to follow out in this paper, showing, under the guise of a personal vision, or dream the principles of
Woman's Work and Destiny.
"In ages back
When the nobility wore formed of those
By fortune favored and in valor famed,
There also then, lived the same benefit
For those born lowlier, who in their, lives
Had greatness shown in word and gon'rous deed;
But from this height the world hath fallen now
And moots her largess with unequal hand,
She gives to those who have, not those who want
Or are deserving, and the great in wealth
Grow from their gold to be the great in name."
And as I thought of this, my heart grew sad, for I had children growing up around me, and it seemed to me that the future held forth little hope for their welfare or advancement.
The question of the age,—the mighty problem that engrosses the attention of the laboring- classes at the present time,—had seized upon my mind, and I longed to enlist in the struggle of page 4 the producer, as lie strives to obtain the just return of his labor, I felt my pulse beat high with hope that perchance even yet the right would prove victorious, and Land and Labor shake themselves free from the bondage of Wealth and Power.
Put the very thought produced a pang, for after all, What was I?—only a woman! What could I accomplish? "'Tis for men to work, and women to weep," says the poet.
To what purpose was my life, with its ceaseless round of care and toil? I was powerless to perform any of the noble deeds of which I fondly dreamed; so presently I ceased to question or perplex my mind with tiresome problems, but submitting to the soothing influence of that quiet hour, I fell asleep. . . . And then there came to me a dream that surely had much of reality in its vivid representations, as it taught my troubled spirit to review the past, with its follies and failures, and look onward to the future, with its responsibilities and sacred obligations to God and Man.
I thought I stood upon the summit of a lofty mountain: the world beneath me looked exceeding fair,—so beautiful, indeed was the prospect, that my heart bounded with uncontrollable delight as I exclaimed, "Oh! beautiful, beautiful, world; fitting home for the children of Him who once looked upon the work of His hands and saw that it was good!"
I seemed to be gifted with a great expanse of vision, being able to look at once upon the fertile valleys, verdant slopes, and shady woodlands, and upon the busy, thickly-peopled towns, when Man's skilful labor converted the products of Nature into the material comforts, or costly luxuries, which his daily need demanded. And as I gazed, I grew perplexed, for here a strange problem presented itself to my mind.
"The leaf tongues of the forest, the flowrets of the sod,
The little birds that hymn their rapture in the car of God,
The summer wind that bringeth music over land and sea,
Have each a voice that singeth this sweet song of songs to me
This world is full of beauty as unseen worlds above,
And if we do our duty, it may be full of love."
The golden grain was waving in the sunlight as the [unclear: reape] prepared to gather in its rich harvest; the laden trees [unclear: we] bending to earth 'neath the burden of their luscious fruits; [unclear: the] hill-sides were dotted with flocks of fleecy sheep, suggestive [unclear: of] and raiment for the use of man; and the lowing of the [unclear: kin] sounded pleasantly in my ears from the pastures in the [unclear: valley]. page 5 around were displayed the evidences of the All-Father's careful provision for His children's need, and yet, What is that sound from yonder busy city?—a sound that contrasts strangely with the pleasant scenes of Nature's amply-stocked provision ground; an exceeding great and bitter cry, that neither the ceaseless clash and clatter of commercial industry, nor the merry laughter and joyous song of the wealthy and prosperous, can drown or palliate. 'Tis the moan of the great mass of humanity; the protest of the producers of all Earth's natural products against the bitter portion of misery and want allotted to them as the requital of their life-long toil.
"Why, oh! why is this?" I cried. "Why do those lack and suffer hunger, while Nature's storehouses are running over with goodly fruit?"
Even as I spoke, a voice that seemed to wake the echoes, replied, "Tis because Man has forgotten his sonship to God, and his kinship to Man; because Woman has failed to accomplish her work in the world, to fulfil her destiny as Man's helpmeet and co-worker in society: how is Man fallen from his high estate! selling his birthright for a mess of pottage! Wealth, instead of Love, rules the world, and Woman hides her aching heart beneath a silken robe, content to suffer thus at the hands of him she fondly calls "her hero.' The heritage of her children is bought and sold ruthlessly before her eyes, and she raises no protest. Wealth shall atone for every lack of sacred duty, and Wisdom is not justified of her children!"
I turned to look upon my accuser, and beheld a lovely being, whose face, though at first stern and reproachful, anon beamed with compassionate love, as she gazed upon a world of sin and sorrow. Greatly wondering at this strange visitant, I cried out, "Who art thou? whence comest thou?"
"My name is Thought," she replied, "I am a messenger from the King's palace of Eternal Wisdom, sent hither to show thee thy mission, to comfort thee concerning thy brother, and teach thee how to accomplish his deliverance."
"But," I exclaimed, in troubled tones, "you speak hard things; how can Woman be responsible for this evil that is abroad in the world? and how can Woman's feeble intellect grasp or solve the weighty matters that, have so long perplexed the mind of the superior creature, Man?"
"In the world from which I come, there is no inequality of the sexes," answered my strange instructor; "neither should it be so here, as one of your own authors John Stuart Mill, has truly bid, 'The principle which regulates the existing social relations between the two sexes—the legal subordination of one sex to another—is wrong in itself, and now one of the chief hindrances to human improvement, and this ought to be replaced by a prin- page 6 ciple of perfect equality, admitting no power or privilege on the one side, nor disability on the other.' Neither do we allow that Man's intellect is so immeasurably superior to that of Woman; she was created by the Divine Power to be the helpmeet of Man, his friend, companion, and co-worker. Such was the design of the All-Father, but Woman has mistaken her mission. Hitherto she has taught her sons to regard themselves as superior beings, gifted with higher intellectual power and moral strength than Woman: she has established a form of hero-worship in society, whereby Man has been placed in a false position, and learned to regard Woman, either as a frivolous toy, whose beauty charms his eye, and whose accomplishments grace his home, and gratify his love of pleasure; or, as a kind of household necessity, a living machine of whom the whole economy of the home depends, and little thought of, or appreciated, except as she ministers to man's comfort—sharing his trials and joys may be, but not expected to take an interest in his higher, nobler pursuits; not recognised as his equal and co-worker in the busy social world, where man's strong hand and fertile brain the fruits of land and labor claim. Her daughters have been taught to regard themselves as vastly; Man's inferior in intellectual ability, therefore they have seldom striven to excel in those higher branches of wisdom which have been regarded as Man's special province. Receiving (as a general rule) a higher superficial education, Woman has remained [unclear: unfitted] for a higher sphere of labor, and contenting herself with homely duties or pleasures, or indulging in the foolish frivolities of fashionable society, she has neglected, or fallen short of, the higher, nobler destiny she was appointed to fulfil. 'Tis true there have been noble, gifted exceptions to the rule, women who have overcome every difficulty, and attained a high position among the learned thinkers, or philanthropic workers of our day. Women who have set their mark upon the time in which they lived, and accomplished much to aid their brethren in the struggle of social reform. But these have been comparatively few, bright examples of what woman's loving nature and gifted mind could accomplish when every talent was devoted to the cause of Truth and Charity."
I bowed my head in sorrowful acquiescence, for I felt the truth of the declaration, but my strange friend gave me a look of such re-assuring tenderness, as she continued, "Be not discouraged come with me, and I will show thee the work that has been [unclear: given] thee to do, that thou rnayest fulfil thy glorious destiny, and prove thyself the saviour of thy childrens' happiness;" that I rose and followed her, with hope rekindled in my stricken soul, as she led me to a still higher range of vision.
I looked down upon a vast plain, bounded on either side by long ranges of dreary hills, while far away towards the east, lay a great and beautiful city, beyond which could be discerned nothing but a page 7 wide expanse of ocean. Beautiful appeared the reflection of the setting sun upon the white towers and turrets of the distant city, peacefully the shadows fell over hill and plain, while all around seemed hushed in Nature's softest lullaby of tranquil serenity. "Watch!" cried my guide, and to my surprise the scene slowly changed.
'Twas morning: faint and dim at first the light appeared on the distant horizon, but as it strengthened, I saw that far away on the calm surface of yonder ocean a great fleet of vessels were preparing for action, and presently the silence of the morning hour was broken by the heavy boom of distant guns. Nearer they came, nearer, nearer, until the whole valley and mountain sides reverberated to the terrific thunder of the bombardment, that would speedily reduce the beautiful city to a heap of smoking ruins.
I looked again, and lo! the plain was covered with lines of troops, whose bayonets flashed in the morning sunshine with a deadly lustre, as they answered to the bugle-call to battle and to death. Then ensued a dreadful scene; on, on, they came, with all the awful machinery of War, sweeping that lovely plain, where Nature had so lately smiled in benificent beauty; until the green earth was strewn with the wounded and the dying, slain by the command of their brother, Man. Then to my woe-struck ears was borne the sound of bitter weeping, the cry of the widow and the orphan, the lament of an over-taxed people, protesting against the demands made upon them for the support of this warfare,—the pleading of the famine-famished for the restoration of the stalwart sons of the soil who had fallen in battle—the exceeding bitter cry of the prisoners of war, and their desolate kindred, upon whose innocent hearts and happy homes had fallen this withering blast of sorrow.
"Why, oh, why is this?" I cried in an agony of questioning grief.
The voice replied, in saddened tones, "Thou knowest, oh, woman! Doth not thy voice praise the victor, returning triumphant from the field with hands red in the blood of his brother? Doth not thy heart rejoice at the acquisition of wealth, fame, or position, gained thus by thy sons or brothers? This is but the price paid for thy hero-worship, that thou teachest the prattling boy at thy knee, telling him of the glories of the blood-stained victor, the prowess and chivalry of the valiant knights of old. For this a queenly woman will descend from her throne to adorn the breast of the conqueror with medal or star, and bestow upon him titles, wealth, and royal favor, while thousands shout his praises, and rejoice over the added spoil. Say, is it tot so?"
I hid my face from her searching gaze, as I replied, "This is too awful! But can'st thou show me the remedy?"
"Thou boldest it in thine hand," she replied pityingly, "to page 8 Woman is committed the sacred trust of saving Man from himself. This is thy glorious destiny, to be the saviour of the body, even as One who was born of woman is the Saviour of the soul. Teach man this great, seemingly forgotten truth, 'That God is our Father, and all men are brethren.' Behold he is in thine hand; to thee is committed a work that angels might envy—the training and culture of the tender bud fresh from the hand of the Creator, the development of the mind and character of the future Man. 'Suffer little children to come unto me,' said Jesus; and I repeat, let them come; bring them away from the sphere of ignorance, animalism, selfishness, antagonism, and universal war, in which they are now growing up, and lead them through the delightful paths of ethical education to the perfect manhood of love, duty, and happiness. Yes! if there is ever to be a moral revolution in Society—if wrong is to be righted, truth asserted and maintained, and the reign of Peace and Love inaugurated among the children of men, the work must commence here, at the fountain-head of all social and moral good; even as the mighty river has its source in the gurgling brooklet on the mountain side."
"Ah me!" I cried, "'tis a great and mighty task, who is sufficient for these thing? and how are they to be accomplished?"
"I come, the dawn of higher life,
An angel-goddess. yet a wife,
Come to lead on the eternal years,
In which are banished death and fears,
When joy and love shall reign at last,
And Wealth's cruel tyranny be past."
The gentle, earnest voice ceased, and when I raised my head my instructor had vanished, and I was alone. Yet her words still rang in my ears, and I looked fearfully towards the plain, where I had page 10 witnessed such scenes of carnage, and, lo! it was a dream; and I saw only the peaceful garden, the quiet landscape, upon which the silvery moonbeams were shedding their soft, hazy, light, and the evening air breathing sweet restfulness from the labors of the day. Then I thanked God and took courage, because I could no longer slight the privileges of my position, as woman, wife, and mother; and because I thus understood the sacred relations of woman, morally and socially, to her companion in life's arena of labor, thought, and progress—Man. No longer saddened by the shadow of supposed inequality and disability, my spirit rose to the comprehension of the Divine plan that had ordained man and woman to be complimentary beings; the one incomplete without the other, the twain merging together into perfect strength and beauty, love and power. Truly, Woman has failed hitherto to take her tree place as Man's co-worker in the great task of regenerating society; but this has been partly owing to the Man's depreciation of her intellectual ability, and her own timidity and false estimation of her God-vested power, as the framer, builder, and skillful moulder of the human character. But the time has come for her to awake to a sense of her responsibility as Man's help-meet and co-worker, and concentrate all her energies in the furtherance of the work he has begun in the wide and noble field of Social Reform.
It, may be asked here, "How is Woman to do this?" "In what way can she assist Man in this mighty work?" The reply is: By so training sons, and educating her daughters, as to promote the future welfare and happiness of both sexes. By granting to both equal privileges and opportunities of culture, and thus disregarding the idea of inequality or disability, build up the beautiful fabric of "Woman's Kingdom," without intruding upon the special sphere of Man's physical or intellectual world. What says an able writer, Dr Buchanan, on this subject? "The world's welfare demands that Woman should be educated. First, she should have the industrial education to make her independent and strong in herself; secondly, she should have the broadest and deepest psycho-physiological education to qualify her for her grand position as the mistress of two eternities in earth and heaven. But before this can be done we need an immense purification of the moral atmosphere. We need that enlightened purification of soul which is obtained by the experience of maternity, in the study of the healing art in the temple of anatomy, in the studies of the highest arts—that purity which is found in the experienced mother, the faithful physician, the inspired artist, and which is found in the highest perfection in the angels of the highest heavens, who know nothing of impurity should be diffused in the public mind by religious, artistic, and anatomical education, until the highest functions of life, which link mortal clay with divine wisdom, may be studied by all as the chart of our voyage from social [unclear: degrads-] page 11 tion to the heavenly life on earth. It is for this true fulfilment of her proper destiny that Woman should be educated. Justice demands it, common sense demands it, science, philosophy, and liberty demand it, the true spirit of religion demands it—the voice of Him who died on Calvary still demands that love shall rule the world, and children shall be reared for Heaven."
Thus educated, Woman will be able to take her stand as Man's equal and co-worker, Man being sustained by her faithful, loving counsel, and children wisely trained for future labour in the world's great field of progress by her earnest zeal and powerful influence. Education is opening the eyes of the people to a knowledge of their social needs, wrongs, and just claims, but the work of progress seems slow; the wheels of social reform move tardily towards the desired goal.
It remains for Woman to exert all her influence, to arise in all her power of patient, loving zeal for those who are near and dear to her. Love must be the keystone of effort, pure and tender feeling the parent of deep, earnest, thought, and thus will she be enabled to solve the problems that are now engaging the attention of all philanthropic thinkers. Not for herself alone; no, there is a mightier incentive than mere self-interest needed to arouse all the latent fire in Woman's sensitive organism, and enlist her sympathies in this cause. The children are growing up around us on every hand; the darlings of our hearts and homes are slipping away from our tender care out upon the arena of life's toil and conflict. And what for them will be the issue of the struggle? What position will they occupy, and how will they maintain it?
"The young, young children, O my brothers,
They are weeping bitterly;
They are weeping in the playtime of the others,
In the country of the free.
'For, oh!' say the children, 'We are weary.
And we cannot run or leap;
If we cared for any meadows, it wore merely
To drop down in them and sleep;
For all day we drag our burden tiring,
Through the coal-dark under-ground;
Or all day we drive the wheels of iron,
In the factories, round and round!'"
This was the sad heart-rending cry of hundreds of little children in the manufacturing towns, colleries, and also the agricultural districts of England, as testified by Sir George Grey's letter on page 12 "The Agricultural Laborer," lately published in an Auckland paper, in which he shows the heinous oppression of the children by the labor gangers in the country districts of the old country. Children's labor is now forbidden till they have attained their twelfth year, but that there is still enough of wretchedness among the young workers in the busy hive of labor is proved by the following extract, from the first annual report of Lawrence T. Felly, Inspector of Child Labor in New Jersey, that has just been printed:—"He found everywhere that the child-labor system had left indelible traces of mental and physical degeneration, as it is bound to do, in the care-worn children with dwarfed bodies. He saw countless young women who were physical wrecks from being employed at an early age for long hours amid machinery. The illiteracy of children whom he met in factories was shocking. Many of them had never been to school at all. Child-labor has increased in much greater ratio than adult labor has, and the increase has been at the expense of the latter, as it has decreased the wages of parents and adults. In many cases the wages have been so reduced that parents were forced to call upon their children to help to maintain their homes." Here is one of the sad consequences of concentrated Wealth, that holds Labour captive at her will, and while she gathers the rich products of industry into golden, gleaming heaps, reduces the value of labour to such a low minimum that the very children must needs contribute their mite to the earnings of their parents.
Not yet have we to suffer thus, but if we would avert such a direful consequence, and rescue the generations yet unborn from the crushing power of Wealth; we must impart in the minds of our children the priceless principles that shall secure their prosperity and happiness.
"Therefore, though few may praise, or help, or heed us,
Let us work on with head, or heart, or hand,
For that we know the future ages need us,
And we must help our time to take its stand."
Wealth oppresses and depresses on every hand. The Land, with its untold resources, is slipping from the grasp of the people into the hands of capitalists, whose aim will eventually be to reduce the value of Labor, in proportion to the increased value of landed property; thereby causing the repetition of the old, sad story, Poverty in the midst of Plenty; sorrow, suffering, and crime as the fruits of Wealth and Oppression. And is there none to deliver? none to lift the glorious banner of Liberty, and lead the mighty army of toiling producers on, toward the light that is slowly dawning on the horizon—the day-star of Emancipation from the bondage of Wealth, and universal freedom of Land and Labor?page 13
Man has striven long and earnestly; brave, noble souls have taken up the work of Social Reform, but they have not been able to cope with the difficulties in the way, their most strenuous efforts have failed to produce the desired result. They need Woman's assistance and devotion to the cause; they need Woman's powerful influence and patient zeal, to help and carry forward the good work they have begun. Now then, while the fields are "white unto harvest," let us prove to Man that we are his equal, that in this work we will prove ourselves his co-workers and faithful allies! To do this we must lay aside every weight, shake off every frivolity, and allow deep and earnest "Thought," that mighty power that moves the destiny of nations, to control our hearts and minds, until we can solve for ourselves the problem of "Poverty in the midst of Plenty," and become thus enabled to promote the noble measures of Reform that shall stir the souls of the people to their very-depths.
"With reachings of Thought we roach down to the deeps
Of the souls of our brothers.
We teach them full words with our slow-moving lips,
'God,' 'Liberty,' 'Truth:' which they harken, and think,
And work into harmony, link upon link."
Freedom of Land and Labor must become every-day, household topics. The children will thus often become the auditors of deep and stirring argument, their enquiring minds will take hold of the question, and come to "Mother" to answer it; and thus slowly and surely, the work will progress, unostentatiously, but clearly and fully the matter will be brought to light, and presently there will spring up a different class of thinkers, and Society will necessarily be cast in a new mould of opinion on these vital subjects. Out into the world will pass our sons, carrying with them the principles instilled into their minds while under our daily influence. Into the workshop, into the fields, abroad in the noble forest, and in the busy centres of civilization and labor, will these truths be scattered, until the seed sown shall take deep root, and bring forth a plentiful harvest of blessing.
To give a child Henry George's book, and bid him read it, would be little use, unless we were able to explain its problems, and answer all the questions that might arise in his mind. The youth would pronounce it "dry," and "unattractive," but if "by careful study of the Social Question, we could grasp the truth of the author's assertions, and catch the spirit of his endeavour to enravel the tangled skein of our social condition, we might page 14 hope so to influence his mind as to induce him to consider step by step the mighty truths of "Progress and Poverty."
"Mother," said a little schoolboy one day, "Who does all the world belong to?"
His mother was silent a moment, then answered, "To God, my son; He made it and placed man in it, with everything he needed to make him happy."
The child looked up, and replied, "Then why does my father have to pay rent?"
"Were half the power that fills the world with terror,
Were half the wealth bestowed on camps and courts,
Given to redeem the human mind from error,
There wore no need for arsenals and forts."
Let us strive to instil into their young hearts the sublime truth that God is our Father, and all men are brethren: pointing out to page 15 them the great and crying evil of warfare, the heinous crime of "man hiring man to slay his brother." Let us show them the evils that are rampant in society, and teach them to shun them, and lend all their energies to their subjection: Crime of all shades—drink, with its hideous train of horrible consequences; gambling, with all its attendant results of robbery and fraud, and the thousand other wrongs which are but the various branches of that deadly up as tree, the tendrils of which are twining themselves round the hearts and homes of the people, and making their lives one weary round of misery and sin; poverty, the source of so much sorrow, the parent of so much crime, the hindrance to moral and intellectual advancement, the bitter fruit of concentrated wealth, the production of the iniquitous system of private property in land, and the subjugation of labor to the bondage of capital. Let us teach them the true dignity of Labor, the honor and glory of a life devoted to the furtherance of the happiness of the universal family of our Father, the high and noble privilege of fulfiling the Divine command, "Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself;" and thus let us strive to lead them on in the pursuit of higher, nobler aims than vain, worldly distinctions or selfish aggrandisement.
So, by judicious home-training, let us strive to produce our ideal, perfect manhood—not weak hirelings of wealth, nor self-opiniated despots; but strong, true-hearted men, who shall rise up to fill their places in society, and carry forward the noble work of Social Reform: True, noble-hearted statesmen; faithful, honest representatives—independent, earnest-minded citizens, who will not stoop to sell their votes to the highest bidder, but will prove themselves true men in the interest of their country and the people's weal. Then will arise strong, heroic minds, who shall be able to overcome all obstacles—pressing forward, upward, onward, climbing step by step the golden-runged ladder of Progress, bearing aloft their streaming banner, "Exclsior," until its highest step be gained, and society becomes free from the thraldom of Wealth, and the producer no longer grovels in the dust of poverty. Then will the sons of freedom appreciate, honor, and bless the faithful devotedness of their intellectual, truth-seeking mothers, and Woman will assuredly rise to her true position, her rightful recognition as Man's equal and co-worker.
Thus shall we have accomplished our allotted task in God's great plan, and fulfilled our mission to our brother Man. Oh, the joy of it! oh, the blessing of it! to see our sons forsake the errors of their ancestors, and follow the glorious teachings of Him who said, "Seek ye the truth, and the truth shall make you free." To know that henceforth all true, honest labor shall receive its equitable reward—all faithful disinterested service for the public weal, its loyal recognition and recompense; that no longer shall our country groan under a burden of taxation grievous to be page 16 borne and iniquitous in its exaction—but that the days of moral slavery are ended, and the peace and prosperity of future generations secured and attested. Thus shall Man rise to a higher level of intellectual and moral power; Art, Science, and Literature shall receive full recognition and universal appreciation, and the spirit of true religion, purity of thought, and equity of life promote the peace and happiness of the entire human family. Is it not worth a struggle? Let us forget the trivial enjoyment of Fashion and Pleasure, and grasping the silver flagon of Knowledge drink again and again from the crystal fount of true Wisdom, until we are able to work out our own salvation by leading our loved ones into the ways of Peace and Plenty.
"So others shall
Take patience, labor, to their heart and hand,
From our hands, our hearts, and our bravo cheer,
And God's grace fructify through us to all."
Glad shall be the Divine recognition—glorious the recompense of the reward—when having patiently labored for, and diligently attained unto, the very height of our soul's ambition, we shall hear the commendation of the Great Master:
"She hath done what she could."
Wm. McCullough, General Printer Star Office, Thames.