to Protestant Clergy of the United States
As I am “a daughter of Levi,” having had a father and five brothers ministering with you at the altar, perhaps you will permit a form of address which best corresponds with my filial and fraternal sentiments and relations. In a recent tour through our chief cities, during which the preceding Address was presented to my countrywomen, the courtesy and kindness which were extended to me by the clergy of our larger denominations, and the readiness with which they lent their aid, awakened the liveliest gratitude.
There are two topics which were slightly alluded to in that Address, which I now ask leave to present more at large for your consideration. The first is, the melancholy indifference and neglect of educational interests, as a religious enterprise, among Protestants, in contrast with the vigor and wisdom which the Catholic church exhibits on this subject.
History teaches a lesson here, which should be deeply pondered. In Ranke’s History of the Popes, is an account of a most remarkable retrocession of the Reformation, at its full zenith of success, and chiefly from the influence of a systematized plan of education conducted by the Jesuits. This historian shows, that in forty years the Reformation made its way over every part of Europe, so that, even in Austria, “all the colleges were filled with Protestants, and it was claimed that only one-thirtieth of the inhabitants adhered to Catholicism. In short,” he remarks, “the Protestant principle had extended its vivifying power to the remotest and most obscure corner of Europe. What an immense empire had it conquered in the short space of forty years!”
The historian then traces the plans and efforts of the Emperor of Germany, to turn back the Reformation by the means of education, He summoned Ignatius Loyola and his followers to his aid, declaring to them, that “the only way to prop the decaying cause of Catholicism, was to give the rising generation pious Catholic teachers.” This plan was steadily pursued, till Jesuits and their dependents were introduced, not only into most of the chief universities, but into Latin schools, and into the schools for the poorer classes. It was one of their chief maxims, that “the character and condition of the man are mainly determined by the impressions received in childhood;” and so they systematically and industriously undertook to control the whole education of Europe. And so quietly was it prosecuted, that it was achieved without reaction and without combined resistance.
After detailing the astonishing results thus noiselessly obtained, Ranke remarks, “This is a case without parallel in the history of the world! All other intellectual movements which have exercised an extensive influence among mankind, have been caused, either by great qualities in individuals, or by the irresistible force of new ideas. But in this case, the effect was produced without any striking manifestation of genius or originality. The Jesuits might be learned, and in their waypious, but no one will affirm that their acquirements were the result of any free or vigorous effort of mind, They were just learned enough to get a reputation, to secure confidence, to train and attach scholars; but they attempted nothing higher. They had, however, a quality which distinguishes them in a remarkable degree; rigid method, in conformity with which everything was calculated, everything had its definite scope and object. Such a union of appropriate and sufficient learning, with unwearied zeal of study, of persuasiveness, of pomp and penance, of wide-spread influence, and of unity of directing principle and aim, never existed in the world before, or since. They were industrious and visionary; worldly-wise, and full of enthusiasm; well-bred men, and agreeable companions; regardless of personal interests, and eager for each other’s advancement. No wonder that they were successful!”
The historian then shows how, as soon as sufficient influence was gained to make it politic, the power of civil governmentwas called in, and a course of universal coercion and persecution adopted; crushing all that persuasions would not bend. He then remarks, “Such were the steps by which Catholicism, after its conquest might have been deemed accomplished, arose in renovated strength. The greatest changes took place without attracting notice, without even finding mention in the works of historians, as if such were the inevitable course of events.”
Let us now look at some of the events of the present century. Father Rothaan, the present general of the Jesuit order, is a man of great energy, skill, and resources; and is reputed to possess greater abilities than any previous occupant of the chair of Loyola. At his accession in 1830 he summoned the most able and experienced of his order to Rome, where, for a long time, consultations were held and plans arranged, which since have been developed in the wide waking-up and invigorated action of Catholic Europe.
Some of the results have recently been thus portrayed, in an address delivered by Bishop Hughes in New-York; and I copy from a report made of it by one of the city papers. Speaking of Ireland, France, and England, he says, “But what is of more immediate interest to the church is the fact, that in all three of these nations is a revival and activity of the religious spirit never seen before.” Among the details illustrating this, he mentions, that “the young men of France, many of them of the highest class, and belonging to the learned professions, are united in societies for edification.” He adds also, that “he had witnessed with admiration, the devoted zeal which animates great numbers of the faithful everywhere in Europe, which has impelled thousands of delicate and high-born women to dedicate themselves to the service of God, wherever he should call them, whether in ministering in hospitals and haunts of wretchedness at home, or setting forth joyfully to spend their lives in missions. And the fruit of these unusual and extensive efforts is already visible, not only in the general increase of faith, zeal, and piety, but in numerous and remarkable conversions of infidels, or the indifferent.” The bishop stated also, “a great change has taken place in the laboring classes of Paris, who were formerly almost to a man infected with infidelity. So great has been the change among them, that eighteen thousand have become members of a single church, and many more were preparing to follow their example.”
I would next ask attention to some of the operations of the Catholic church in our own country, and here I will specify some particulars which have been in my own field of vision. Last winter I visited the state of Kentucky, and on inquiry I found that there were only two Protestant high schools for young ladies, which received patronage from the more wealthy classes, and these were very limited in numbers. On the contrary, I learned from the residents of the state, that the education of the young ladies of the first families in that state was very extensively in the hands of the Catholics; and this is proved by the following statistics, which I take from the Catholic Almanac of 1844, published in Baltimore. In the diocese of Louisville, Kentucky, are enumerated the following Catholic female institutions. The Female Academy of Nazareth, at Bardstown, conducted by Sisters of Charity, and a very large establishment; the Female School of St. Vincent of Paul, conducted by seven Sisters of Charity; the St. Catharine’s Female Academy at Lexington, and another at Louisville, conducted by Sisters of Charity; the Female Academy of St. Magdalen’s, near Springfield; the Calvary Female Academy, Marion Co.; the Preparatory School of Gethsemane; and the Loretto Female Academy, Marion Co. Beside these schools, there is the St. Magdalen’s Convent, with thirteen sisters and a number of novices, and the Mother House of the Lorettines, where are forty-five sisters, and one hundred and fifty-six in the community This mother house is a point from which their teachers are sent out to establish other schools. These are the Catholic female institutions in only one of our western states, while there are only two Protestant institutions that can at all compare with them in patronage.
From the state of Indiana I learn, by applications sent to me for teachers, that there is not a single Protestant female seminary of a high order in that state, and that the leading families are extensively sending to Catholic female seminaries. My brother, a clergyman in their capital city, says, that he cannot prevent the members of his own congregation from doing it, the plea being that there are no good Protestant seminaries for young ladies. Thus, in these two great and growing states, the future wives and mothers are being educated exactly after the plan devised by the general of the Jesuits at Rome. And similar results will be found in most of the other western states.
During my residence in Cincinnati, the following institutions for education have been established there: A female institution, for which $15,000 were paid at first; and since, additions and improvements, and rise of property have increased its value to $30,000. Next, the nunnery and female school, for which were paid $32,000. Next, a large establishment in the city, under the care of Sisters of Charity, the outlays for which could not have been less than $12,000; while a large establishment for boys, under the care of the Jesuits, has recently been purchased, on Walnut Hills, which cannot be worth less than $10,000. These have all been established within ten years, while the College of St. Xavier, at the head of which is the chief Jesuit at the West, has been longer in operation, is still more liberally endowed, and is extensively patronized by wealthy and influential Protestants.
At Emmitsburg, in Maryland, is the Mother House of the Sisters of Charity, which now numbers three hundred and forty-four members, two hundred and twenty of whom are sent abroad, to establish other institutions of education and charity. They have thirty-six other establishments under their charge beside this, and the far larger portion are established at the West. It is from this institution that the Sisters of Charity in Cincinnati are sent, as I learned in conversation with some of them. I was also informed by one of the pupils of the nunnery at Cincinnati, that this was a branch institution of another establishment in Belgium, which is munificently endowed, and is establishing branches in various parts of the world. A titled lady is at the head of the one in Belgium, and Madame Louiza de Gonzaga, the lady superior of the branch in Cincinnati, is also a lady of high family, as I was informed.
At Cincinnati is stationed, as President of St. Xavier’s College, the head Jesuit of the western states. My family friends are on terms of social and friendly intercourse with him; and through them I learn that he is a man of learning, intelligence, winning address, and apparently conscientious and sincere in his devotion to his cause; and he and the bishop of the diocese are zealously engaged in well-devised schemes to extend their church by the influence of education.
In reference to these exertions, we must bear in mind, that in the view of most conscientious Catholics, safety from eternal perdition is only to be found in the inclosure of their church: they are thus stimulated, and by as strong motives as can urge the Protestant Christian, to use every means to gather all men into it. The grand difference is, that the Catholic holds that outward forms and acts, which bring men into an external corporation, are indispensable to eternal safety; while the Protestant holds that it is character alone which is demanded, and that, in every nation and church, faith in Jesus Christ alone will secure this character. From these fundamental points radiate the grand peculiarities conspicuous in each. A pious and consistent Catholic, believing that external acts, irrespective of character, are indispensable to save from the horrible doom of endless perdition, is led by the most benevolent impulses to force every human being into the performance of them. If we saw young children rushing into a pit of burning lava, should we stop to ask their consent.? — should we not force them away? How much more are the earnest Catholics impelled to coerce entrance into their church, and to restrain, by the severest penalties, all who would tempt others out of this ark of safety! There rarely has been a sovereign of any nation more benevolent, conscientious, and earnest to obey the will of God, than Isabella of Spain. So, at the dictation of her priest, who to her was the voice of God, she drove out her industrious Moorish subjects, banished the thriving Jews, and was the first founder of the dungeons and tortures of the Inquisition: three measures, which drained the life-blood of her nation, and reduced it from the highest to the weakest of kingdoms.
So in regard to education. In Italy and Spain, where all are safely lodged, by the required external forms, in the bounds of the Catholic church, what need of missions or schools? Learning and general education would lead to mental activity, and that to the dangers of independent inquiry; and so the common people in these nations are left in quiet ignorance, while money, missions, and schools are sent abroad, either to proselyte, or to protect from Protestantism. This shows how it is that a consistent Catholic must necessarily be strongly led to become a persecutor, and an opponent to popular education.
To a Catholic, the Church consists of the great body of ecclesiastics who govern; and infallibility in all the important truths of religion is its attribute. The Bible, indeed, is the standard of right and wrong; but it is the Church who is to interpret what the Bible says, and of course the Church decides infallibly what actions are right and what are wrong. Now every priest and every Jesuit takes the most solemn vows of implicit obedience to all superiors. The head managers of the Church only are to decide what actions shall be done, and to decide whether, according to Scripture and the Church, these actions, in the given cases, are right; and all subordinates must implicitly obey, or escape to the Protestant ground, where private judgment is allowed. Said a friend of mine to one of the chief Jesuits, with whom he was on friendly terms: “Suppose your general should order you to perform an act which seemed contrary to your moral sentiments, what should you do?” “I should blindly obey,” was the reply. No other answer could be given, without an open avowal of the fundamental principle of Protestantism.
In the Catholic college at Cincinnati is used the Catholic translation of Ranke’s History of the Popes, against which this historian indignantly protests, on account of the alterations made favorable to Catholicism, giving his sanction to Mrs. Austin’s as the correct translation. Two of my acquaintances inquired of the Jesuit teachers respecting this work, and were both told that the translation they used was the correct one, and that Mrs. Austin’s is false. If their superior ordered them to say this, they have the only alternatives — either to lie, or to break the most solemn vows that mortal lips can utter. And in all cases where deceit and lies can avail to bring men into the Catholic church, how easy to quiet conscience by the plea, that it is a less evil than the eternal loss of immortal souls. I am ready to give names to substantiate these facts, but they probably will not be disputed. It is well known that it is the common practice of Catholic teachers to alter and garble school-books, that history and science, and everything else may build up a wall of lies to guard against departure from the Catholic church. The recent writings of Michelet set forth this practice as indisputable.
Thus we see the painful position into which every conscientious Catholic priest may be thrown, either to violate the sacred principles of truth and honor in dealing with others, or to break the most solemn vows, or to reconcile them by subterfuges that sap the upright and truthful bearing of his mind. Let any person read the history of that honest but deluded fanatic Ignatius Loyola, and then examine the tremendous array of exercises and influences he has devised to crush the minds of all his followers into implicit, unquestioning obedience; let him remember that a large portion of the Jesuits were poor orphan boys, taken in early childhood — trained under this crushing system, and encompassed with such walls of impenetrable falsehood, — and surely unutterable pity will take the place of personal dislike. None but the Omniscient eye can point out in this powerful and extending fraternity, which are the crushed and helpless victims, and which the infidel and artful knaves.
Thus we see that the logical and inevitable tendency of the grand principles of the Romish church is to persecution, to popular ignorance, and to bad morals. It is always the case that some individuals are to be found, under the most perverted forms of Christianity, who, owing to a naturally noble mental constitution, the trials and discipline of Providence, and the many aids to virtue and piety, intermingled with such masses of error, resist the bad and profit by the good and thus, by the aid of the Divine Spirit, attain true virtue and piety. For this reason, it is not to individuals, but to great communities, and through a long course of years, that we are to look for the true development of a false system of religious faith. And we have only to look at Spain and Italy, where Catholicism has longest reigned supreme, to see the true verification of what à priori reasoning would deduce, in regard to the true tendencies of the Catholic faith.
On the contrary, from the foundation principle of Protestantism radiate precisely opposite results. The indispensable condition of eternal life is character, and this character is secured only by faith in Jesus Christ; a faith that “works by love,” and not by fear. “Now faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.” Hence the Bible is the gift of the Protestant church to all the people, and with it, the education and intelligence needful to read and understand. From this comes independence of mind, and with it civil and religious freedom, and the ten thousand blessings in their train. From this comes the fact, that the Protestant clergy hold their authority and influence, only so long as they can maintain a reputation with their people for unblemished morals, intelligence, and piety. The Catholic priest depends on the sanctity of his office, and on the blind submission of his flock to the authority he administers. The Protestant minister depends on the sanctity of truth, and on the influence he can gain, solely by wisdom, virtue, and piety. Thus the one is led to cultivate reverence and submission to the church, and to neglect his own personal qualifications; the other is stimulated in his search for the truth, and in his efforts after personal virtue and piety. And the results are clearly manifested, when we compare the intelligent, moral, and pious Protestant clergy of our own land, with the indolent, ignorant, and vicious priests that abound in Italy, Spain, and all other Catholic countries, where the purifying influence of Protestantism has not imparted moral vigor to society. It is our country alone, in which we can clearly trace the pure results of Protestant principles, unimpeded by civil government and the restraint of old institutions. And it is in Italy and Spain, where we are to look for the true results of Catholic principles, unimpeded by Protestant influences.
But there is a danger always connected with every blessing; and, at the present time, there is fast developing the dangerous extreme resulting from Protestant principles, as yet unsteadied by a right system of mental training. In my extensive circle of travel and of acquaintances, I have repeatedly met this development of mental experience in some of the most interesting minds. First, independent thought, and a tendency to examine the rationality of every established principle or practice; next, harassing doubts, in minds untrained in accurate reasoning, and utterly ignorant of the first principles on which reasoning is based; then, the breaking up of all confidence in old systems of belief; next, a doubt and distrust of everything; and at last, a full launch into reckless and entire skepticism. This is soon followed by a period of such mental anguish and restlessness, that almost anything that gives a foundation for rest is welcomed with joy. In this state, this argument is presented, and meets a ready reception. A God of benevolence must have provided some infallible guide to truth and heaven. Reason and the powers of the human mind are proved to be insufficient, by the endless diversities of creeds, and by my own experience, There must be a Heaven-commissioned interpreter of the Bible, somewhere. The Catholic church claims to be such, and no other offers any such claims. And then rest is sought.in infallible priestly dictation.
Another style of experience is no less frequent among a class of minds, in which taste and imagination take the lead. Such have no fondness for reasoning, and no power to appreciate the results of ratiocination; while they turn fondly to the poetic, hoary, and time-honored forms of the past. To such, the reckless uprooting of all that has been venerated by the great and good of past ages, and the bald, or fantastic extremes induced by free mental action, seem both dangerous and disgusting, and they, too, seek relief and repose under the ivyed arches of the mother church. What has been seen on a small scale, it is my deep apprehension, is yet to be developed, to a degree which will astound and alarm all Christendom. The action in the Episcopal church in England and this country, is but one development of those things which are to be, “when Jehovah shall arise to shake terribly the earth.” We already see that, even in the very bosom of Puritan New England, among the lineal descendants of those pilgrims who fled to escape the prisons of priestly and civil despotism; among those, too, who have received the mental training and social influences deemed most safe, repeated and conscientious departures from Protestantism to Rome. It is my full belief, that the chief and only safeguard in this danger, will be found in a universal system of early training, which shall develop the first principles of reason, and teach their discriminating and accurate application to systems of mental science, to theology, and to Biblical exegesis. And it will be by fearful trials, that mankind will be led to discover and adopt this only sure defence. Of course, I here speak in reference to human instrumentalities, and with a due sense of dependence on divine influences. But these influences are always afforded in connection with appropriate means.
Another fact is worthy of consideration. Intelligent persons in the Catholic church have access to the Bible, and in their libraries are found excellent works of devotion coming down from a purer age. Some of their clergy, too, are pious and devoted men. In Germany, where Protestantism has turned so extensively to Rationalism, it has been said to me by pious persons who have resided there, that they found more piety in the Catholic church than among Protestants. Other clerical friends, who have for years resided in Paris, express the belief that the Queen of France and some of her daughters (early trained in the school of affliction) are truly pious. Who shall say that the “extensive revival and activity of the religious spirit,” described by Bishop Hughes, is not, in many cases, the result of the Divine Spirit, making the truths of his Word and Providence effectual, and that this is one of the causes of the second Reformation now progressing in Germany? If this be so, it must be remembered that wherever true piety does not fly to Protestantism, it becomes the tool of those men, who by the intrigues of politicians are placed on the throne of the Vatican, or in the chair of Loyola. Such men are well informed of our national character and habits, and are too wise and wary to send among us such clergy as will answer for Italy, Spain, and South America. In our land, where piety and pure morality are required in the clergy, it is probable that the wisest and best they can find are stationed.
Now we know that Christianity requires us to protect the character and motives, even of an enemy, as carefully as we do our own; and the world knows, too, that such are the rules of our religion. At the same time, there is among us a widespread love of equal rights and a hatred of all that looks like obloquy or persecution for religion. In this state of things, should really benevolent and pious men and women of the Catholic church come among us, professing to practice self-denial and self-sacrifice in doing good, and giving the same external evidence of it that any others can give; — if Protestants, instead of meeting them with the charity and benevolence enjoined, begin to impeach their motives, or throw suspicion on their character, nothing can be done so certain to enlist the public mind in their favor.
The importance and practicability of making a distinction between persons and principles — between systems of error and the individuals educated under such systems, have not been realized. It is possible for Protestants to hold the false principles and practices of the Romish church in utter abhorrence, and yet to feel the greatest kindness toward those who are the unconscious victims of such errors. And the cause of true religion suffers greatly from the want of such discrimination. None but God can see the heart, or try the motives of men, and when a class of persons (call them Catholics or Unitarians, or by any other name) profess to be actuated in self-denying efforts to do good, by love to God and love to man, opposition, sustained by sneer or denunciation, or depreciation of character and motive, infallibly operates in securing the sympathy and defense of just and honorable minds. This is one great reason why many Protestants, who have no sympathy for Catholicism, always appear on the side of the Catholics, whenever they are attacked.
This view of the subject presents one of the most alarming features of our situation. If we had to contend with a system of error sustained only by ignorant, worldly, or vicious defenders, we should have less to fear. But when Rome can command power and wealth, intellect and learning, the influence of conservatism, the charms of poetry, taste, and sentiment, the fear of dangerous radicalism and skepticism, and the wisest and most comprehensive system, administered by a corps of well-trained politicians and ecclesiastics, and then in addition to all can call to her aid the self-denying labors of pure-minded and pious men and women to wield the influence which education gives, how much is the danger enhanced! To this Protestants, by misjudged modes of action, have contributed the popularity and sympathy always gained by any class of religionists who are opposed in an improper spirit and manner.
In these circumstances, is it not the most politic, as well as the most Christian course, for Protestants to meet all the Catholic population now thronging to our shores with Christian courtesy and real kindness? Let us say to them, “Welcome to our happy country, welcome to our rich soil, our free institutions, our liberty of conscience, our sabbaths, Bibles, and schools! Take everything freely, except our children. These, we choose to educate ourselves, in those pure and blessed principles that have saved us from the miseries from which you flee, and secured the blessings we gladly offer to you.” Then let us fill our land with schools, better than any that they can furnish, and we shall have nothing to fear, This we easily can do. We have an abundance of well-educated women who would rejoice to be thus employed. We have an abundance of wealth to be thus expended. We have an array of wisdom, learning, and talent, abundantly sufficient to cope with all that the schools of Loyola can furnish. All we need is a systematized organization, for carrying out universal education, which shall match theirs in steady efficiency and persevering skill. I have taken pains to acquaint myself with the character of Catholic schools, their books, modes of instruction, and prices, and in no respect can they claim to surpass ours; while in many particulars they are far behind the improvements of the age. Their schools, generally, are as expensive as similar Protestant schools, while their old-fashioned books and their unintellectual modes of instruction remind one of the dark ages from which they have come down.
The next topic which I wish to present is an inquiry into the causes, in the religious world, of the disproportionate interest in plans of curative benevolence, compared with what is felt for efforts of preventive benevolence. All Christians believe in the inspired declaration, “Train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not depart from it,” All would acknowledge that if the generation now on the stage had been diligently trained six hours a-day by well-qualified teachers, not merely in book knowledge, but in virtue and piety, that there would be little need for the temperance papers and lecturers, the colporteurs, and the long train of agencies now employed to convert and reform the irreligious and the vicious. All know, too, that if such a training shall be secured for the generation now coming on the stage, that they will grow up with fixed habits or industry, morality, and piety, and thus will secure for themselves Bibles, churches, ministers, and all other good agencies, and also aid in providing them for the destitute nations; and yet, with the exception of the Sunday-school, which aims only at securing about two hours of recitation and instruction a-week, and that chiefly by the agency of teachers not trained for their business, not a single step has been taken by the religious world to secure the intellectual, moral, and religious training of more than two millions of utterly illiterate and destitute American children. What parent would expect anything but ruin for his own children if they were left to roam at large six days in the week, while two hours’ instruction on Sunday alone interposed to stay the current of ignorance and sin? Why, then, have Christians left two millions of children of their own country to this inevitable ruin, without attempting a single effort to meet the alarming and tremendous evil? Instead of taking measures to train these children to virtue and piety, why have they been practically saying, “Let them grow up in ignorance, vice, and crime, and then we will send Bibles, colporteurs, and tracts to reform them?”
One of the chief causes of a neglect so disastrous has been too great a reliance on legislative action to secure popular education. Because New England, with her universally-educated and homogeneous population, secured general education by this method, it has been inferred that the same thing could be done in the entirely opposite circumstances of our newer states. And when lands from government, and school systems, and funds have been provided, it has been taken for granted that all the rest would follow, as it did in New England; and few are aware of the utter failure of such expectations.
The last few years I have made it my chief object to acquaint myself with the state of education in our western states, both by traveling extensively and by conversation and correspondence with the best-informed citizens of the several states. Last winter I was at Columbus, when the legislature and courts drew some of the best friends of education from every part of the state, and at that time I learned the condition of education in Ohio from indisputable sources. Some years ago, the friends of education of that state succeeded in securing the appointment of at least one state officer, whose business it should be to attend to the school funds and school system of the state, and take care that the children of the state were properly educated; but, just as this officer had begun to carry out his plans, he was turned out and the office was abolished, while that portion of his duties which requires reports and statistics was turned over to swell the labors of the secretary of state. The documents furnished yearly, ever since, by this officer, report constant deterioration in the advantages offered by the state school system. In his reports he laments that, while all other state interests have salaried officers to take the charge of them, the education of the children of the state “has been exiled from honorable companionship in the family of state interests, and thrown out, as a poor despised foundling, to beg for protection.” From this gentleman I learned that there were at least one hundred and thirty thousand of the children of Ohio utterly illiterate and entirely without schools. The friends of education last winter tried in vain, as they had the three previous years, to secure legislative aid, and finally concluded that nothing at present could be hoped from that quarter; and that, if anything is done, it must be begun by voluntary association, employed to enlighten and arouse the people, until the voice of public sentiment shall enforce legislative action. The people must be made to be intelligent enough to wish for schools, and to be willing to pay for them, before any legislature can be led to act for this end.
I also visited Kentucky this last winter, and there heard their most intelligent citizens lamenting the uselessness and inefficiency of their school system, while the documents published by the legislature show that five thousand teachers are required in that state alone, to supply them with schools as Massachusetts is supplied. At this rate more than a hundred thousand children of that state must be without schools.
In Indiana I was informed, by the chairman of the Senate’s Committee on Education, that “many of their state legislators seem more disposed to favor the borrowing of school money than to promote education.” And he adds, “I have had great difficulty in sustaining the integrity of our school-fund. From what I know of our legislature, I believe there is great need of a stir being made in reference to this matter.” Another gentleman of that state informed me that their “school-fund of more than two millions is in such neglect as threatens entire loss;” that “a large body of sectarians are disposed to break down the common school system,” while “those sects that foster education are in the minority.”
From some of the best informed friends of education in Illinois I learn that “the whole management of the school-fund of nearly two millions is left to the unregulated action of the legislature, without a single mind devoted to acquiring and disseminating knowledge as to the proper mode of using it. If some plan is not devised of leading the legislature to wise views, the object of this fund will be lost.” The statistics of education in Indiana and Illinois show that they are still more destitute of schools than Ohio and Kentucky. In short, education in the great West, where the seat of empire is to be, and where population is increasing fastest, is constantly retrograding, while there really is no systematized, efficient organization for this object except that of the Jesuits!
The next cause of this neglect of preventive benevolence is imperfect ideas of what can be effected in childhood by moral training. Many very intelligent friends of education are beginning to feel that our public schools are no blessing, for they only confer intelligence to be more successfully employed in wickedness. “The more boys are educated,” say they, “the worse they become: they were not half so bad when less was done for their education.” The reason of this is, that as yet moral training is not a part of our systems of education.
To illustrate my meaning, I will mention two anecdotes. Professor Stowe states that, when he was in Hamburg, he was informed that the following was the mode of collecting taxes there: — The magistrates first published a statement of the sum needed for city expenses, and of the per cent. at which all property was taxed. On the appointed day, a basket with a white cloth cover was put in the city hall, and every man went and put in his own tax, assessed by himself alone, and no one knew what was the sum he deposited. And thus the taxes were always raised, and there never failed to be a full supply. He also states, that in some parts of Germany it is common to plant fruit trees on the highway; and whenever the owner has a choice tree, bearing unusually fine fruit, he puts a wisp of straw around it, to give notice to wayfarers that he wishes to preserve it for himself; and such trees were always left untouched. What chance should we have if taxes were collected and fruit protected thus in our country, even where education is most prosperous? When Professor Stowe expressed his surprise to the stage-driver, on this occasion, and his opinion of his own country in such matters, the significant question was immediately put, “Have you no schools there?”
Travelers and residents in Chinn, also, testify that in that land of heathenism the virtue of reverence to the aged, and especially toward parents, is universal, and is the result of early training. Can we claim that this is a prevailing national trait of this Christian land?
To what is this difference owing? Why are Chinese children more reverent to age, more respectful and obedient to parents than ours? Why are German children more honest than our own? It is simply because they are diligently trained to be so. The docile and plastic mind of childhood can be moulded into almost any tastes or habits which the careful parent and teacher shall choose, and when we take as much pains as the Chinese and the Germans to cultivate reverence and honesty, we shall reap the same reward. The truth is, with a great portion of the world religious training and moral training are dissevered, as two distinct and different things. While many expect their children will be saved, both in this and a future life, by being trained to be moral, the chief efforts of others are directed to what is distinctively called “religious” training, with the expectation that when religion exists, good morals will come as a matter of course.
The root of this mistaken method is to be found in the defective views of large portions of the religious world in regard to the nature of true religion. The answer to the grand question, “What must we do to be saved?” has, to a wide extent, been interpreted in too limited a sense. The Bible is a book written, not for metaphysicians, but for the common people; and its language always means what the common people understand it to mean, when they use it. Now, when the Bible says, “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved;” and “He that believeth not shall be damned,” and, in many other parallel passages, declares faith and belief in Christ to be the indispensable means of eternal safety, how should we interpret this language? Just as we do the same language in everyday life. When men are said to believe in physicians, every person understands that, when they are sick, they obtain prescriptions from physicians, and obey them. And when we see men in distressing sickness avoiding physicians, or neglecting their advice, it always is said that they have no faith in them. In all cases of practical action, we find that faith and belief include both the internal state of mind and the natural results, or outward manifestations. This then is the Bible use of the term.
Now, there are two extremes to which mankind have ever been led astray, and which both result from a wrong interpretation of Scripture teaching. One is, assuming that the religion that saves the soul consists mainly in the internal state, and the other that it consists chiefly in the outward manifestation. The sacred writers are careful to guard from both these limited and false assumptions. For while one Apostle urges that “faith without works is dead,” the other teaches as earnestly that we are to be saved, “not by works of righteousness, but by faith.” That is, the mental state without the external acts will not avail, neither will the outward acts suffice without the internal state. In spite of these and similar cautions, we find large classes of persons maintaining, that where the outward manifestations are right, all is well, without inquiry into the internal state. On the other hand, great multitudes turn all their thoughts and efforts to the cultivation of the internal state, expecting that, when this is secured, the external manifestations will be right, or even if there is a deficiency, it will not be a bar to eternal safety. One class cultivate the fruits and flowers, and leave the root to neglect or decay; the other class cultivate the root, and leave the flowers and fruit to be nipped, or chilled, or choked with parasites.
Now, inasmuch as worldly men and the Church of Rome have both been arrayed against making the internal principle an indispensable requisite to salvation, there has been, in the Evangelical sects, a reacting tendency to the opposite extreme. Multitudes are anxiously seeking certain emotions and states of mind as religion, without proper reference to the external manifestations, which are just as much a part of true religion as the inward principle. Metaphysicians, too, in defining true piety, fall into the same mistake. Some claim that true religion consists in certain emotions of mind toward God and Jesus Christ. Others define it as a generic purpose, or act of will; and others teach, that it consists in good works.
But the true faith of the Bible includes — first, intellectual belief in the character, relations, and commands of Jesus Christ; next, the choice, or determination to conform the feelings and the conduct to them; and lastly, the carrying out of this determination in the feelings and actions required. And any metaphysical or practical dissevering of these, making one portion constitute piety, when the others are wanting, is as false in interpretation, as it is fatal in results. Now it is true that love to our Creator is so indispensable to the full development of benevolent feeling and action toward our fellow beings, that it is placed as the “first and great commandment.” And for this reason, it is properly represented as the root from which virtuous action must originate. But it must be remembered, that in one respect the illustration fails. For a tree without a root cannot bear fruit at all, while it is possible to train children to practice many of the virtues included in religion, before love to God becomes the controlling principle. Thus it is possible to form in children habits of self-denial, justice, temperance, truth, and honesty, while as yet the love of the world holds that place which belongs to God alone. And the attempt to cultivate these virtues, which is often pursued by parents, who have no respect to the internal principle, is far more profitable than the attempt to raise fruit on a rootless tree.
The evil effects of this metaphysical dissevering, in regard to saving faith in Jesus Christ, is nowhere more fatal than in the education of children. Parents, teachers, Sunday-school lessons, and all the strong motives of religion are often turned to the development of the internal state; as if, when this is secured, everything else would come by the natural course of things, and without cultivation. Thus it is, that obedience to only one portion of the commands of Christ. is called religion, while another, a large and as important a portion, is set aside and called morals; just as if it were not an indispensable and component part of religion. It is owing to this fatal mistake, that we sometimes find the children of parents who are unbelievers excelling in virtue and amiableness those children who are constantly urged to a religion of the heart. At the same time, when children, who grow up without moral training, attempt the cultivation of spiritual religion, they find themselves beset with such long-formed habits of selfishness, worldliness, ambition, and indulgence in various sins, that the sudden and entire rectification seems impossible, and thus often the struggle is relinquished, and a false hope of safety sustained by the cultivation of internal states and emotions alone.
So little has the business of moral training been regarded as a branch of education, that very few teachers know how to attempt it, or are aware of what might be done. What are the best methods of training a selfish child to be generous, an indolent child to be industrious, a deceitful child to be frank, a passionate child to be meek and mild, a dishonest child to be honest? How is a defective conscience to be cultivated? How are habits of system, order, and punctuality to be most successfully formed? How is self-denying benevolence to be induced? All these, and many other departments of moral training, will come before multitudes of teachers, as questions where they have had neither experience nor instruction, and which they are utterly unprepared to answer.
The enterprise in which many of the most benevolent and intelligent ladies, in all parts of our country, are now engaged, is briefly set forth in the preceding Address, and in its aims embraces these particulars: — First, to select a limited number of female teachers, of a truly missionary spirit, who already are prepared intellectually, and give them such a course of training as will qualify them for their duties, in the two most important and yet most neglected departments of education — Moral Training and Domestic Economy.
The introduction of these branches into schools involves difficulties which can never be surmounted, except by teachers who are properly trained for these departments, and also properly instructed as to the modes of meeting the obstacles that must be encountered. For more than twenty years I have been diligently studying the best methods of moral training, and at intervals, when incapacitated from acting as an educator, I have been as diligently inquiring into all branches of Domestic Economy, for the purpose of learning how far they could be introduced into both high schools and common schools. The result has been a conviction, that a very great work is yet to be accomplished, in preparing teachers for their duties in these two departments; and also a very great desire awakened, to be permitted to make one experiment in such favorable circumstances, that, if successful, it shall be conspicuous, and widely imitated. I believe that the science of domestic economy can be introduced into all female high schools, and with unspeakably good results; while there are some of its practical duties which can be introduced into both high schools and common schools, and with much more facility and success than most would suppose. Where nothing else can be attempted, teachers can.be trained to give short and familiar lectures in their schools, which would prove of inestimable value to all who are hereafter to act as housekeepers, and especially to those, who for a certain period of their lives will serve as domestics. I have made myself practically acquainted with the difficulties which would meet teachers in attempting both these departments of education, and believe that methods can be pointed out which will secure success. This it is proposed to do, by assembling the teachers first selected for this enterprise, and giving them the appropriate course of instruction and training for this purpose.
The next particular aimed at has been to secure an organization for promoting national education, which shall commence its labors by superintending this first experiment, and so arranged that, if it is successful, the operation may be enlarged to an indefinite extent. To this end a committee has been formed, consisting of the following gentlemen, who at the time they were organized were all resident at, or near Cincinnati. Rev. Dr. Elliot, of the Methodist church; Rev. Dr. Lynde, of the Baptist church; Prof. Wm. H. McGuffey, of the O. S. Presbyterian church; Rt. Rev. Bishop Smith, of the Episcopal church; Rev. Dr. Stowe, of the N. S. Presbyterian church; and Rev. Jas. H. Perkins, who though Evangelical in sentiment, is at present connected with no particular denomination. By the removal of Prof. McGuffey to Virginia, and Dr. Lynde to St. Louis, it is now the case, that three are located in the free, and three in the slave-holding states. This arrangement was not made with the design of securing the united action of various sects in one organization for a plan of general benevolence, as this probably can never be advantageously effected. But the aim was, so to commence that the effort shall not appear either sectional or sectarian. The gentlemen selected are those well known and highly respected by the large denominations with which they are connected, and possess those enlarged and liberal views and that Christian philanthropy which will enable them to act harmoniously together on a small scale; and in case success should demand an increase of their numbers, or a modification of organization, they are qualified to make the proper arrangement. This committee takes the name of the Central Committee for Promoting National Education, and have appointed a gentleman of high character and standing to act as their official agent.
The next particular aimed at has been to secure to Protestant women that support of public sentiment which women find in the Catholic church, when led by a benevolent desire to engage in religious and educational enterprises.
If there is anything which is made prominent as the distinctive peculiarity of the religion of Jesus Christ, it is self-denying benevolence. Why is it that in the Old Testament dispensation (foreshadowing the New) sacrifice holds such a conspicuous place? Why were evils averted from the erring and guilty by the sacrifice and sufferings of innocent beings? Why was the coming of the Great Author of our religion spoken of as a sacrifice on the part of the Eternal Father, like that of giving up an only son to a painful and ignominious death? Why was the life of our Savior one continued scene of humiliation, self-denial, and suffering? Why did his death include in it all that terrific array of mental agony and physical torture? It is because the vast scheme of universal being can be brought to its eternal and sublime results only by the self-denying suffering of the good to reclaim and ransom the guilty. It is because in a universe of finite free agents, all good must be secured immediately or remotely by self-denial and self-sacrifice.
Our Almighty Savior came into this world to exhibit to the universe his own submission to this universal law. And his own inspiring example is set forth as the grand invigorating influence which is to arouse and sustain all those who bear his name. He ever taught and acted on the assumption, that the loss of the soul is so tremendous and irreparable an evil, that no sacrifices are too great to save it. He gave up all that heaven contains to do it; and he commands and expects that his followers will give up all that earth contains in the same struggle. He assumes that while immortal spirits are exposed to such dreadful evils, a benevolent mind can never rest if anything is left undone that can save.
The Catholic church has mournfully perverted this main doctrine of the Gospel. Self-denial and the Cross are indeed the distinctive sign of their church. But it has not been the benevolent self-denial of Christ, but a selfish and ascetic self-denial, aiming mainly to save self by inflictions and losses. However true it may be, that individuals have ever been found in that church who have been the true followers of Christ, few will maintain that the great body of that corporation, which consists of pope, cardinals, bishops, and priests, have been engaged in any other work than that of extending the bounds of their own church, and thus of their own dominion over the human mind. And though they may in many cases persuade themselves, that this will also secure the eternal salvation of their fellow-men, still they have not been, like Christ and his Apostles, spending life in self-denying labors to promote that character among mankind, which alone secures eternal life.
In shunning the tendency to asceticism, the Protestant world have swung to the other extreme, and vast numbers, who vainly imagine themselves disciples of Christ, are utterly destitute of the self-denying benevolence, without which he declares that they are none of his. And so great is their number and influence, that the whole moral atmosphere, especially in the wealthy classes, bears heavily against methods of self-denying benevolence, as of universal obligation. To do good, in ways that do not essentially interfere with comfort or convenience, to give time and money when it involves no serious diminution in the gratification of ease and taste, are very common modes of benevolence.
Now Christ and his Apostles, in the first age of Christianity, certainly did require that Christians should give up ease and honor, and comfort and friends, and even life itself. And why? It was that his religion might be extended to the ignorant and lost. And is there any reason why Christians at this day are not obligated to do the same, if such sacrifices will equally avail? Has any follower of Christ a warrant for using time, or money, in any way which he does not suppose to be the most conducive of any in his power, to promote the salvation of men? Is any amount of sacrifice or self-denial to be shunned in this struggle for eternal life, except from the plea that it will not avail? Does not every Christian profess to consecrate everything he has to this cause? The only difference between the obligations of Christians in the time of the Apostles and now is, that then they were required to lose all, and now we are required to use all for the same great cause. True, in the present constitution of society, the using of wealth in procuring comforts and superfluities for ourselves, to a certain extent, does tend to promote the best moral interests of man; for were all relinquished, vast multitudes would be reduced to ignorance and beggary. But this involves only the trial of our self-denying benevolence. For as no definite rule can be given, the only safeguard is a true sense of our obligations, and a heart so engaged in the great cause, that it is the most cherished object of thought and feeling; the thing for which time and money are most gladly spent. With this spirit, there is little danger of the extreme of self-indulgence. And this spirit is urged as the indispensable term of discipleship in the strong metaphorical declaration, “If any man come unto me, and hate not his father and mother, and wife and children, and brothers and sisters, yea, and his own life, he cannot be my disciple. And whosoever doth not bear his cross daily and come after me, cannot be my disciple.” And this illustrates the enigmatical declaration of the Savior, that his service is a “yoke” and a “burden,” and yet is “easy” and “light.” All his followers are daily to deny themselves by ceasing to live for their own gratification, and living to promote the welfare of their fellow-men; while a heart filled with love to Him, and benevolence to man, will make all such sacrifices easy and light.
Now there are multitudes, who, in spirit, are ready to follow Christ, even to the loss of all things, who are held back by many difficulties induced by the false state of public sentiment of the majority of those who profess to be Christians. Especially is this the case among many truly pious women, who feel that they have energies and talents unemployed, which they would gladly consecrate to the salvation of their fellow-men. But when a woman of education, wealth, or high standing, devises some plan of benevolent action, that would take her out of her present sphere, and involve the sacrifice of comfort and ease, a great array of influence and argument is turned against her, especially by family friends, and often too by those who profess to be Christians. “Why not do as other Christians do? Why take a course so singular and needless? Why not be content to do good in the sphere where Providence has placed you?” And then so many plausible arguments are urged to prove that, at the present day, those who have ten talents may live to enjoy life, and are not bound to make any serious sacrifice to save their fellow-men, that these, and the strong weight of opposition or indifference, finally produce such doubt and distrust, that firmness of purpose fails, and the effort is relinquished. And when women in humbler spheres look abroad on the vast fields that are white for the harvest, and supplicate to be sent forth, there has been no response of public sentiment, no organization or aid to encourage them to the attempt.
Now this is not so in the Catholic church. The wise managers of their conclaves know that nothing is so serviceable in extending the dominion of priestly despotism over the human mind, as true, self-denying piety, provided it is enchained by the vows of implicit obedience to the infallible church, of which they are the controlling power. Consequently, the whole influence of the clergy, and the whole power of public sentiment, which they can control, are lent to encourage and sustain every woman who is disposed to sacrifice either time, position, or wealth, for the extension of the Catholic church. If she is of high rank, or possesses wealth, she is immediately lauded as a saint, and the post of lady abbess or lady superior is found for her, where she retains her high position, and gains still higher estimation and power. If she is of humble rank, then the establishments of Sisters of Charity, or other religious houses, open their doors and give all her benevolent energies full employ in educating the young, or nursing the sick. Meantime she is cheered by the hope, that by this course she saves her own soul, rescues the souls of all she can persuade to enter the corporation of her church, and by her additional penances and self-sacrifices is perhaps laying up a stock of good works to supply the deficiencies of others.
Permit me to illustrate this view of the case, by a few particulars that have come under my own observation. At the time when great efforts were first made to awaken an interest in the moral welfare of the West, my attention was called to the great number of pious and self-denying women who were anxious to be employed on that field of labor. Hoping that I could do something to secure the aid and cooperation they needed, I took measures for the purpose, and with very little inquiry, found more than a hundred women within a small radius anxious to be thus aided. But I found none to assist me in the effort, and the expense, labor, and responsibility demanded, far exceeded my strength and means; and after a short effort I gave it up. Soon after, I was requested to write an article to be read at the annual meeting of the National Lyceum in New-York city. I took the opportunity to present this subject; considerable interest was excited, a meeting of ladies was called, the address was published by subscription and circulated, and there the effort ended. Not far from this time, a similar effort was made in Western New-York, some account of which I extract out of a letter from a lady of Rochester, addressed to me last winter, with reference to the present undertaking.
“The ‘Western Education Society” had its origin in this city, and females were exclusively both its patrons and the instructors. Auxiliary associations were formed all over the country, while contributions flowed in from sewing and juvenile societies, till quite a fund accumulated. Here our teachers were fitted out and received their credentials, many coming from New England and going out as missionary teachers. Schools were established in many important places, and we always found that as soon as a school was started in a place, the interest of the inhabitants was roused to support it. But we found many difficulties. Among these, were our great distance from the field of exertion; the difficulty of knowing enough about the character of the teachers and the places, to enable us to locate them wisely; the difficulty of finding suitable protection and homes, the hardships to be encountered, &c. The enterprise was a more delicate one, from the fact that it was managed exclusively by women, while the teachers had to wend their way among our heterogeneous population, and seek confidence and support without the help of Jesuits, priests, and lady abbesses. I have often received letters from our teachers, relating their trials¾poorly lodged, poorly fed, obliged to walk three or four miles to school, and then, perhaps, reproved for not assisting in the care of children out of school hours. Your position on the field, and your committee of gentlemen there, give you far greater advantages than we could command. Our enterprise did much good, but was finally abandoned.” Two other similar attempts were made on a considerably larger scale, one in Philadelphia, and one in Connecticut, and both failed from similar causes. In all these, the business of selecting, preparing, and locating teachers was attempted by persons who had never resided on the field of destitution, who had had little observation or experience as practical teachers. and who attempted to operate chiefly by correspondence. They supposed that when the public were duly apprised of an agency for finding teachers for places and places for teachers, that applications would flow from both parties to a common center, and that this would fully meet the desideratum. But repeated failures prove the fallacy of any such expectations. The work to be done is too difficult and too vast to be accomplished by any such imperfect agencies.
Even before these repeated experiments had failed, I became satisfied that the educational wants of our country, and the concurring interests of my own sex, could be met only by a method embracing these great features. First the establishment of permanent institutions, which should embrace all the good features of the mother houses established by the Catholics. Such should include a high school and a primary school, in which every branch of education, from the first to the last, should be taught in the best possible manner, so as to serve as model schools. With these, should be united an institution for the instruction and location of teachers, where any who wished to be qualified for the office, could learn both the theory and the practice, and also where those already qualified could resort to as a home, when seeking for a location, or when thrown out of employ from sickness or other causes. With such institutions, should be connected an organization to superintend the interests of education in all the surrounding country, with permanent agents, whose business it should be to awaken public interest in the cause of education, by lectures, by written articles in the political and religious periodicals, and by other methods, which would create a demand for schools, and thus furnish locations for teachers. Thus the teachers would be trained on the soil to understand the character of the people, and the habits of the society where they were to labor, while every facility would exist for the adaptation of teachers and places to each other.
It was with such a plan in perspective that, though in feeble health, soon after my removal to the West, I consented to take the responsibility of establishing a school at Cincinnati. My sister, Mrs. Stowe, was associated with me, and two other ladies of superior education and experience, as teachers. The plan was, first, to begin with what should eventually prove the model school, which should be supported by tuition fees. It was hoped that when those who conducted it had gained the public confidence at the West, as they had done at the East, funds would be raised, both at the East and the West, which would enable them to add the teachers’ department, and then to say to multitudes of their benevolent and enterprising countrywomen, “Here is a resort where you may come, both to qualify yourselves to be teachers, and also to aided in finding schools in the many thriving but destitute portions of our country.” When thus much was accomplished, it was anticipated that all other needful agencies for locating teachers would easily be secured.
The school was well patronized, and successfully conducted. The ladies then applied for a fund of over $30,000, given for purposes of education in that city. The trustees of that fund voted its appropriation to that object, provided that the citizens would raise $15,000 for a building. A subscription was begun, some very handsome sums were subscribed by several individuals, and there the matter ended. Meantime the building occupied by this school was purchased by the Catholic bishop, for a Catholic female institution; no other suitable building could be found to hire, the hard times came on, and funds could not be raised to build or purchase one; some of the teachers were called to more favorable locations, and finally, after five years of labor, the whole effort failed, the school ended, and a Catholic female institution took its place, for which more than $20,000 have been paid. And not long after, the Catholic nunnery and school were established, at an outlay of more than $30,000. And this in a city where no Protestant female institution had ever been endowed, and which, for years after, remained without any further attempt to raise one. And yet the Catholic population is far less in number than the Protestant, and, consisting mostly of foreign immigrants, contains very little wealth, while there is no more reason why Catholics abroad should send benefactions for this purpose than Protestants.
Why this singular contrast between the results of efforts for female education and female institutions in Catholic and Protestant communities? It was not because there were not liberality and public spirit enough among the Protestants, for there is no other city in our land (not even Boston) which, in a given time, and in proportion to its wealth, has probably done more for public and benevolent objects than that city. While this enterprise, designed to aid benevolent women in their efforts to save the children of our country from ignorance and sin, was left to languish and pass away, the agents for multitudinous other public and benevolent objects appeared and took up liberal contributions, for the heathen, for sailors, for drunkards, for convicts, for slaves, for colleges in the city and out of it, for medical schools, for theological schools, for the education of young men, for Bibles, for tracts, for home missions, and for many other objects of public and private benevolence. Nor was it because this undertaking was not appreciated, by at least a portion of the community, for many felt a deep interest in it. Nor was it because sectarian jealousy interfered, for of the various gentlemen who subscribed either $500 or $1000 each, one was a Unitarian, one a Methodist, and two were Episcopalians. Nor was it because the Protestant women engaged in it could not claim as entire a devotedness to the cause of Christian education, and as self-denying a spirit as their competitors the Catholic nuns, or Sisters of Charity. And as it is often asserted, that the Catholics exhibit more self-denying zeal than Protestants, while these sisterhoods are specially pointed at as evidence, a few words on this point may be allowed, not offensively but defensively. Self-denial and self-sacrifice are proved, not by given acts, but by the spirit and the circumstances in which these acts are performed. Vows of matrimony often involve far more self-denying benevolence than vows of celibacy; while in Catholic countries, where respectable marriage is shut out from a far greater proportion than in our land, the cloister is often looked to as the only and most comfortable haven of hope, So, too, in this country, circumstances which would be deemed most desirable for one woman, would involve great sacrifices to another. Suppose, for example, a woman has talents that would enable her to write in a style to amuse the reading public. The triumphal progress of Dickens through the country shows how much more honors, wealth, and good-will are gained by those who labor to amuse than those who labor to save their fellow-men, and turning from such a field as this to the unhonored toils of the school-room may involve as great a sacrifice as could possibly be made. Yet in other cases, a flourishing school may be the highest object of hope and desire. In the particular enterprise under notice, it is certain, that it was undertaken by women, some of whom for more than twenty years have devoted time and income and labors to the cause of Christian education, with entire singleness of purpose, and at a sacrifice of health, involving such nervous prostration and utter helplessness, as was indeed “the loss of all things.” Had these ladies turned Catholic, and offered their services to extend that church, they would instantly have found bishops, priests, Jesuits, and all their subordinates at hand, to counsel and sustain; a strong public sentiment would have been created in their favor; while abundant funds would have been laid at their feet. There can be no doubt of this, when on the very spot where this Protestant enterprise failed, has arisen a Catholic female institution, at an expense of $20,000, and still another, in the same city, at an expense of $30,000.
The grand cause of this difference is, that the clergy and leaders of the Catholic church understand the importance and efficiency of employing female talent and benevolence in promoting their aims, while the Protestant churches have yet to learn this path of wisdom. The Catholic clergy exert their entire influence in creating a public sentiment that sustains, and even stimulates women to consecrate their time and talents to benevolent enterprises. The Protestant clergy have as yet but very imperfectly exerted their influence to create any such public sentiment.
At the time I saw the enterprise I had labored so long and so painfully to achieve supplanted by an institution endowed by foreign funds, conducted by foreign women, and sustained by Jesuit skill and power, and for the well-known purpose for which the Jesuit order is established, my strength and spirits flagged. Little was said, for complaints were useless. Few could appreciate the object, the painful efforts, or the heavy disappointment. But deep in my heart was fixed the purpose, that, if ever strength sufficient should return, an Appeal should be made, first to American Women, and next to the Protestant Clergy of my country, to right this wrong.
The appeal to my countrywomen has been met with a generous enthusiasm, which gives full assurance that nothing will be wanting to the success of this enterprise, which it is in their power to command. Nor is there less confidence felt in the good and faithful ministers of Jesus Christ, who are found in all our Protestant sects. It has of late been the fashion among many reformers of the day, when they find their aims or their measures distrusted by the clergy, to raise an outcry against them, as timid, time-serving, and worldly. But increased and extensive knowledge has to me constantly multiplied evidence, that it is only those who stand afar off, so as to be unable to judge of character and motive, or those who are blinded by prejudice, who will not join in the feeling of exulting thankfulness, which a just estimate of the Protestant clergy of our country must awaken. There is no benevolent or patriotic effort, that is attempted by proper measures and in a proper spirit, which is not sure of their hearty support as soon as it is understood.
It is confidence in the object now presented, and in the character and aims of those to whom this appeal is made, that gives assurance of their ready and efficient cooperation. It is the pulpit that will secure to the Christian education of the children of our country its appropriate place in the interests, the prayers, the labors, and the contributions of the vast multitudes within the reach of its influence. It is the pulpit that will teach woman, that it is the grand business and profession of her sex to train the rising generation, and that the formation of domestic tastes and habits is the indispensable means to this end. It is the pulpit that will teach the young daughters of our land that they are being educated, not for the gay scenes of pleasure, but under the solemn obligation of using all acquired talents for the good of a perishing world. It is the pulpit that will urge upon every woman her duty to labor in the cause of Christian education, with her influence, her talents, her time, and her wealth; on the field where darkness reigns, if there is the place where self-denying labors will achieve the greatest good; in her own neighborhood, or by her own fireside, if there she is needed most. It is the pulpit that will create a public sentiment in the Protestant world, that will not only sustain, but will excite in woman a spirit of self-denying benevolence in this cause, and will secure for her all those cooperating institutions and organizations that will apply it wisely and efficiently. It is the pulpit that will teach the safest, surest way of ending our most dangerous social and political evils, by the Home Mission of Woman, changing the threatening cloud of slavery on the South, and the dangerous floods of immigrants on the North, to blessings that shall safely distill as dews upon the earth. Then shall heavenly benevolence “say to the north, give up, and to the south, keep not back; bring my sons from far, and my daughters from the ends of the earth,” Then shall our noble and beautiful land, indeed become the refuge for the oppressed, a home for the outcasts of the earth. “And the sons of strangers shall build up her walls, and their kings shall minister to her; her gates shall be open continually, they shall not be shut day nor night; that the forces of the Gentiles may come in; and she shall become an eternal excellency, a joy of many generations!”
Source: The Evils Suffered by American Women and American Children: The Causes and the Remedy. Presented in an Address by Miss C.E. Beecher, to Meetings of Ladies in Cincinnati, Washington, Baltimore, Philadelphia, New York, and Other Cities. Also, An Address to the Protestant Clergy of the United States, (New York: Harper & Brothers, Publishers) 1846, pp. 17-34.