In a Sacred Cause
February 22-25, 1891 — First Triennial meeting, Woman’s National Council of the United States, Albaugh’s Opera House, Washington DC
Beloved Friends and Comrades in a Sacred Cause:
“A difference of opinion on one question must not prevent us from working unitedly in those on which we can agree.”
These words from the opening address before the International Council convened in this auditorium three years ago were the key-note of a most tuneful chorus. The name of her who uttered words so harmonious is Elizabeth Cady Stanton, and it shall live forever in the annals of woman’s heroic struggle up from sexhood into humanhood.
Our friends have said that, as President of the National American Woman Suffrage Association, Mrs. Stanton leads the largest army of women outside, and I the largest one inside, the realm of a conservative theology. However this may be, I rejoice to see the day when, with distinctly avowed loyalty to my Methodist faith, and as distinctly avowed respect for the sincerity with which she holds to views quite different, I can clasp hands in loyal comradeship with one whose dauntless voice rang out over the Nation for “woman’s rights” when I was but a romping girl upon a prairie farm.
It has taken women of brains and purpose over forty years to find out that they could be true to the faith born with them (nourished at the bosom where their infant heads were pillowed, and taught them at their mother’s knee, until its fibers are part and parcel of their own), and yet in the thickening battle for “the liberty wherewith Christ maketh free,” could keep step with any soldier and heed the voice of any captain who was fighting
“For the cause that lacks assistance
‘Gainst the wrong that needs resistance,
For the future in the distance,
And a woman’s right to do.”
And because woman in some of our American Commonwealths is still so related to the law that the father can will away an unborn child, and that a girl of seven or ten years old is held to be the equal partner in a crime where another and a stronger is the principal; because she is in so many ways hampered and harmed by laws and customs pertaining to the past, we reach out hands of help especially to her that she may overtake the swift-marching procession of progress, for its sake that it may not slacken its speed on her account as much as for hers that she be not left behind. We thus represent the human rather than the woman question, and our voices unite to do that which the president of our New York Sorosis so beautifully said in a late letter to the Sorosis of Bombay:
………. ” Tell them the world was made for woman, too!”
Every atom says to every other one, “Combine,” and, doing so, they change chaos into order. When every woman shall say to every other, and every workman shall say to every other, “Combine,” the war-dragon shall be slain, the poverty-viper shall be exterminated, the gold-bug transfixed by a silver pin, the saloon drowned out, and the last white slave liberated from the woods of Wisconsin and the bagnios of Chicago and Washington.
For combination is “a game that two can play at”; the millionaires have taught us how, and the labor-tortoise is fast overtaking the capitalistic hare. What was it Mrs. Stanton said? “A difference of opinion on one question must not prevent us from working unitedly in those on which we can agree.”
Illustrations of this great principle (so long universally recognized by men, whether Jew or Gentile, orthodox or heterodox, in all their humanitarian and patriotic work) are more conspicuously manifest in the programme of this Council than ever before in the forty-year long annals of the woman movement, for here we have nearly forty different societies represented by delegates either regular or fraternal.
Could anything be broader than the basis laid for this great organization? Its Preamble declares:
………. We, women of the United States, sincerely believing that the best good of our homes and nation will be advanced by our own greater unity of thought, sympathy and purpose, and that an organized movement of women will best conserve the highest good of the family and the State, do hereby band ourselves together in a confederation of workers committed to the overthrow of all forms of ignorance and injustice, and to the application of the Golden Rule to society, custom, and law.
Let me then frankly say that I believe we should organize a miniature council in every town and city, confederating these in every State, and instructing the State Council to send delegates to the National Council. [The President of the council] should have power to choose her own cabinet from the seven ablest women of the country, representing the industries, education, professions, philanthropies, reforms, and the religious and political work of women. We should thus have within the National Government, as carried on by men, a republic of women, duly organized and officered, not in any wise antagonistic to men, but conducted in their interest as much as in our own, and tending toward such mutual fellowship among women, such breadth of knowledge and sympathy as should establish solidarity of sentiment and purpose throughout the Nation of women-workers, put a premium upon organized as against isolated efforts for human betterment, minify the sense of selfhood and magnify that of otherhood, training and tutoring women for the next great step in the evolution of humanity, when men and women shall sit side by side in Government and the nations shall earn war no more.
“Something solid, and superior to any existing society, is what we want.” This is the commentary of women with whom I have talked, and the foregoing outline is offered as a possible help toward meeting this very natural and reasonable requirement. Such a National society would, indeed, incalculably increase the world’s sum total of womanly courage, efficiency, and esprit de corps;widening our horizon, correcting the tendency to an exaggerated impression of one’s own work as compared with that of others, and putting the wisdom and expertness of each at the service of all. Nor would it require a vast amount of effort to bring such a great movement into being, for the work of organizing is already done, and the correlating of societies now formed could be divided among our leaders, each one taking a state or a number of chief towns and cities.
Being organized in the interest of no specific propaganda, this great Association would unite in cordial sympathy all existing societies of women, that with a mighty aggregate of power we might move in directions upon which we could agree.
Moreover, the tendency would be vastly to increase the interest of individual women in associated work and the desire of local societies to be federated nationally, individual women and isolated societies of women being ineligible to membership in the councils, whether local, State, or National.
But the greatest single advantage will perhaps be this, that while each society devoted to a specific end will continue to pursue these by its own methods, every organization will have the moral support of all others and will be in a position to add its influence to that of all others, for such outside movements of beneficence as it may approve. For instance, without a dissenting voice, the International Council of 1888 put itself on record to the following effect:
………. It is the unanimous voice of the Council that all institutions of learning and of professional instruction, including schools of theology, law, and medicine, should, in the interests of humanity, be as freely opened to women as to men; that opportunities for industrial training should be as generally and as liberally provided for one sex as for the other, and the representatives of organized womanhood in this Council will steadily demand that in all avocations in which both men and women engage equal wages shall be paid for equal work; and, finally, that an enlightened society should demand, as the only adequate expression of the high civilization which it is its office to establish and maintain, an identical standard of personal purity and morality for men and women.
Probably there is not an intelligent woman in America who would not subscribe to this declaration. The only point of possible difference would be the opening of theological schools to women; and since Oberlin and Hartford, Boston and Evanston theological seminaries have done this and it does not necessarily involve the ordination of women, that difference would not be likely to arise.
Were there such a council of women in town and city, State and Nation, we should have our representatives constantly at the State and National capitals, and should ask unitedly for advantages that have heretofore been asked for only by separate societies. Laws for the better protection of women, married and single; laws protecting the property rights of married women and giving them equal power with their husbands over their children; laws making the kindergarten a part of the public school system; requiring lessons in physical culture and gymnastics to be given in all grades of the public school with special reference to health and purity of personal habitudes; National and State appropriations for common school and industrial education, and appropriations for institutions helpful to women-surely we might together strive for all of these.
Locally a woman’s council should, in the interest of that “mothering” which is the central idea of our new movement, seek to secure for women admission to all school committees, library associations, hospital and other institutional boards intrusted with the care of the defective, dependent, and delinquent classes, also to boards of trustees in school and college and all professional and business associations; also to all college and professional schools that have not yet set before us an open door; and each local council should have the power to call in the united influence of its own State council, or, in special instances, of the National Council, if its own influence did not suffice.
I am confident that the development of this movement will impart to women such a sense of strength and courage, and their corporate self-respect will so increase, that such theatrical bills as we not see displayed will be not permitted for an hour, without our potent protest; and the exhibitions of women’s forms and faces in the saloons and cigar stores, which women’s self-respect will never let them enter, and the disgraceful literature now for sale on so many public newsstands, will not be tolerated by the womanhood of any town or city. An “Anatomical Museum” that I often pass on a Chicago street bears the words: “Gentlemen only admitted.” Why do women passively accept these flaunting assumptions that men are expected to derive pleasures from objects that they would not for a moment permit their wives to see? Someday women will not accept them passively, and then these base exhibitions will cease, for women will purify every place they enter, and they will enter every place. Catholic and Protestant women would come to a better understanding of each other through working thus for mutual interests; Jew and Gentile would rejoice in the manifold aims of a practical Christianity; women who work because they must; women, true-souled enough to work because they ought, or, best of all, great-souled enough to work because they love humanity, will all meet on one broad platform large enough and strong enough to furnish standing room for all. Later on, who knows but that by means of this same Council we women might free ourselves from that stupendous bondage which is the basis of all others-the unhealthfulness of fashionable dress! “Courage is as contagious as cowardice,” and the courage of a council of women may yet lead us into the liberty of a costume tasteful as it is reasonable, and healthful as it is chaste.
Another practical outcome that might be looked for from such a confederation of women’s efforts in religious and philanthropic, educational and industrial work, might be the establishment in every town and city of headquarters for women’s work of every kind. …
Still another great advantage would be the wide attention given to conclusions reached by such a representative body of women. The best ideas of leaders are now entombed in their annual addresses, leaflets, and books intended for a single society. But literature issued by the National Council would command the well-nigh universal attention of intelligent women, and would furnish such a fund of facts, statistics, and results of the individual and associated study of reformers now isolated in their work, as would be of incalculable value to students of the many and widely-varied enterprises to which women are devoting themselves with so much zeal. In this connection, let me say that to develop the great quality of corporate as well as individual, self-respect, I believe no single study would do more than that of Frances Power Cobbe’s noble book on “The Duties of Women.” It ought to be in the hands of every woman who has taken for her motto loyalty to “heart within, and God o’erhead,” and surely it ought to be in the hands of everyone who has not this high aim, while I am certain that every man who lives would be a nobler husband, son, and citizen of the great world if he would give this book his thoughtful study. …
A pan of milk sours in a thunder-storm, and must stand still ere cream will come. So is it with our minds. Their sober second thought is best attained in solitude. We have long met to read essays, make speeches and prepare petitions; let us hereafter meet, in this great Council, to legislate for Womanhood, for Childhood and the Home. Men have told us solemnly, have told us often and in good faith, no doubt, that “they would grant whatever the women of the National asked.” Our time to askunitedly has waited long, but it is here at last. …what end have we in view? Is it fame, fortune, leadership? Not as I read women’s hearts, who have known them long and well. It is for love’s sake-for the bringing in of peace on earth, good-will to men. The two supreme attractions in nature are those of gravitation and cohesion. That of cohesion attracts atom to atom, that of gravitation attracts all atoms to a common center. We find in this the most conclusive figure of the supremacy of love to God over any human love, the true relation of human to the love divine, and the conclusive proof that in organizing for the greatest number’s greatest good, we do but “think God’s thoughts after Him.”
WOMEN PLUS TIME.
Concerning time, there is this exhaustive classification: we either kill, spend, or invest it. Starting in life, we have ourselves plus time; this is our “unearned increment.”
Since we sat here in the Council, a three-year cycle has swept by in which women have wrought more widely and more worthily than in any ten years before, and what have they been doing with their time? …
Let Rev. Juniata Breckenridge reply, a graduate of Oberlin Theological Seminary, now by act of a Congregational council licensed as a preacher in that conservative communion; or Rev. Mrs. Drake, recently ordained to preach the Gospel “by the largest council of Congregational ministers ever assembled by the State” of Iowa. Let Miss Greenwood, of Brooklyn, answer with her record as superintendent of evangelistic work in the National W. C. T. U., and her list of over seven hundred women preachers and evangelists. Let the Catholic Katherine Drexel speak, who, on February 12th, consecrated herself by solemn vows to the exclusive service of the Indian and the negro, devoting her fortune of seven million dollars to their religious, intellectual, and social elevation. As true a priestess as walks the earth is such a woman in this mammon-loving age.
What have women been doing with their time? Let Dr. Emily Blackwell, of New York City, speak for women in medicine. She does so in this letter, recently received:
………. “The first diploma given to a woman was that of Elizabeth Blackwell, Geneva (N.Y.) Medical College, 1849. The census of 1880 gives 2,400, that of 1890 will probably double the number. There are 150 in China and there must be as many more in Hindoostan.”
Let Miss Greene, of Boston, tell us, a member of the bar in that city, who says that the first woman lawyer was admitted in Iowa in 1869; that there are now enrolled one hundred and ten women lawyers, including several who have been admitted to the Supreme Court of the United States.
Consider the fact that more than eighty-two per cent of all our public school teachers are women; that over two hundred colleges have now over four thousand women students; that industrial schools for girls are being founded in almost every State; that hardly a score of colleges in all the nation still exclude us, and that these begin to look sheepish and speak in tones apologetic, while the University of Pennsylvania was lately opened, Barnard College in New York is the annex to magnificent Columbia, and the Methodist University of Washington, D. C., the Leland Stanford and Chicago Universities, with countless millions back of them, are, in all their departments, including divinity, to be open to women. Reflect that we are admitted to the theological seminaries of the Methodist, Congregational and Universalist churches, to say nothing of half a dozen smaller ecclesiastical communions; that the Free Baptist and several other churches now welcome women delegates to their highest councils, while we vote in the local assembly of almost every church in Christendom, except the Catholic; and that, while some of us were rejected as delegates by the General Conference of the M.E. Church in 1888, that body submitted the question to a vote of 2,000,000 Methodists, and sixty-two per cent of those “present and voting” declared in favor of complete equality within the “household of faith.”
Besides all this, remember that the order of deaconesses is now recognized in the Episcopal and Methodist churches, and is practically certain to be within this year by Presbyterians; that a simple, reasonable costume is ensured to those who enter upon this vocation, and they are to be cared for in sickness and age, thus being at one stroke relieved of a lifetime’s care in return for their service to humanity. Pass in review the philanthropies of women-involving not fewer than sixty societies of National scope or value, with their hundreds of State and tens of thousands of local auxiliaries both North and South, and the countless local boards organized to help the defective, dependent, and delinquent classes in town and city (all of whom would be stronger if each class were correlated nationally); study the “college settlements” or colonies of college women who establish themselves in the poorer parts of great cities and work on the plan of Toynbee Hall, London; think of the women’s protective agencies, women’s sanitary associations and exchanges, industrial schools and societies for physical culture-all of which are but clusters on the heavy-laden boughs of the Christian civilization, which raises woman up and, with her, lifts toward heaven the world.
Contemplate the Women’s Foreign and Home Missionary societies, relative to which an expert tells us that the first was “organized about a quarter of a century ago, and now most of the denominations have both associations, with a contributing membership of about one and one-half millions. They circulate about one hundred and twenty-five thousand copies of missionary papers, besides millions of pages of leaflets. They hold at least a half-million missionary meetings every year, presided over by women, the addresses made and papers read by the sisterhood that, forty years ago, would not sooner have thought of doing such a work than they would of taking a journey to the moon. They raise and distribute about two millions of money every year, and these several boards scan each little investment with as much care as if a fortune were to be made in discovering an error in the accounts.”
Marshal in blessed array the King’s Daughters, two hundred thousand strong, with their hallowed motto, “In His Name”; the Society of Christian Endeavor, with its immense contingent of women; reflect that a woman spoke before the Catholic Total Abstinence Society, at its late meeting, in the presence of distinguished prelates of that church, which, while beyond most others utilizing the money, devotion, and work of women, is most conservative of all when their public efforts are concerned. …
Every woman who vacates a place in the teachers ranks and enters an unusual line of work, does two excellent things: she makes room for someone waiting for a place and helps to open a new vocation for herself and other women. In view of this, consider what it means to all of us, that women have now taken their places successfully in almost every rank from author and artist, lecturer and journalist, to dentist and barber, farmer and ranchman, stock-broker and steam-boat captain.
Concerning this tremendous evolution, I tried in vain to get the footings of the late United States census.
Statistics give 5,500,000 women as the number who earn their own living by industrial pursuits in Germany; 4,000,000 in England, 3,750,000 in France, about the same number in Austro-Hungary, and in American, over 2,700,000.
This much I can give of my own knowledge in the way of detailed statement concerning women’s work: the Women’s Temperance Publishing Association, Chicago, with its annual issue of from one hundred and twenty to one hundred and twenty-five million pages, an institution in which women own all the stock, constitute the board of directors, do all the editing, and a woman, Mrs. F. H. Rastall, is the business manager, handled last year over two hundred thousand dollars.
Women, led by Mrs. Matilda B. Carse, are erecting in Chicago a temple to cost $1,100,000, not for show and not for glory, but to afford by its rentals the wherewithal to carry on their work of philanthropy and reform throughout the Nation. Societies of women are now very generally planning for buildings of their own in leading towns and cities.
The business women of the country have a first-class journal under the care of Miss Mary F. Seymour, 38 Park Row, New York, and the Woman’s Journal , Boston, and Woman’s Tribune , Washington, are, with The Union Signal , of Chicago, the Church Union , of New York, and The Home Maker edited by Mrs. J. C. Croly, (Jennie June.), the guiding journalistic lights of our advance.
Recently, in Gotham, women have formed a society for political study and have organized the Ladies Health Protective Association in that untidy town. In several States they have engineered laws through the legislatures whereby lady physicians have positions and salaries in several State institutions, and no gentleman intermeddleth therewith! Women have also, and notably within the last three years, secured laws for the better protection of their own sex; have immeasurably increased the property rights of married women and their rights to their children under the law; have obtained appropriations for reformatories for women and homes for those morally degraded.
Woman are not on the county and city school boards of Chicago; they are sanitary inspectors in that municipality; they are police matrons in nearly all our large cities, and even London is moving in the same direction; they have been delegates to the Prohibition party’s National convention and to the recent great convention of the Farmers Alliance in Ocala, Fla.; while in the Presidential campaign since we met here before, Republican clubs of women were organized by a National committee, the Democratic party being the only one that has not yet nationally given token of marching with the age in which it lives.
Since we last met, and for the first time in history, the World’s Fair has a separate commission of women provided and provided for by the United States government, and, to crown all, two dauntless women have spun around this little planet in about ten weeks, while the prospect is that, by air-ship, we shall all spin around in five days, or thereabouts, within the next decade.
The air of these last days is electric with delightful tidings. In New York City, such leaders as Mary Putnam Jacobi and Mrs. Agnew have rallied around Dr. Emma Kempin, the learned lawyer from Lausanne, and are helping to make it easier than ever before for women to enter the learned profession that has been most thickly hedged away from them. In Baltimore, Miss Mary Garrett, the most progressive woman of wealth that our country has produced, leads the movement that will yet open Johns Hopkins University to us, and has already mortgaged its medical college to the admission of women. In the recent National Convention of Public School Teachers, women were made vice-presidents for the first time, and given an equal voice in all proceedings, while the International Sunday-School Convention, that meets but once in three years, made a similar advance; and the Christian Endeavor Society, that has enrolled in the last ten years over seven hundred and fifty thousand men and women, places the sexes side by side in all its purposes and plans. On the platform of the Massachusetts Women Suffragists, two weeks ago, sat, and in its programme participated, ladies representing the alumnae of Mount Holyoke College, no longer a “female seminary,” be it thankfully observed; also Vassar and Wellesley: a tableau that in view of inherent college conservatism could not have been furnished for our rejoicing eyes and not the disenthrallment of women become a most respectable and already a well-night triumphant reform.
Compare the significance of that spectacle with the first announcement by Mrs. Emma Willard in 1819, when she submitted to the New York legislature her plan for the higher education of girls-the very first on record in this country-but emphatically declared that she wished to produce no “college-bred females ,” and that there would be no “exhibitions” in her school, since “public speaking forms no part of female education.”
Seeing those three wise college women seated in Tremont Temple beside Lucy Stone, two weeks ago, one could hardly believe that, as Mrs. May Wright Sewall tells us, Harvard College was founded one hundred and fifty-three years before the slightest provision for the education of girls was made by Massachusetts; or that, for one hundred and thirty-five years after public schools were established in Boston for boys, girls were not even admitted to learn reading or writing “for a part of the year.” It has taken sixty years so to dignify and individualize woman as to make of words accepted once, epithets that refined natures now discard. For instance, that ex-President of the United States who, in a recent after-dinner speech in New York City, referred to Anna Dickinson, the most brilliant orator of our civil war, as a “female,” did not improve his standing by that ill-chosen designation. While I would by no means defend that gifted woman for referring to the personage in question as “the Hangman of Buffalo,” I beg respectfully to remind him that the vocabulary in which women who speak in public are characterized as “females” and “female orators” has long since passed into “innocuous desuetude.”
Now let us widen the outlook to its utmost and see what forty years have wrought along the picket line of our advance-actual participation in the government. Nineteen thousand women voted in Boston alone on a decisive school question in 1888, and in a driving snow-storm. Women have the ballot now on school questions in twenty-two States, have municipal and school suffrage in Kansas and Oklahoma; while by constitutional enactment, ratified by a vote of eight to one among the people, they are fully disenthralled in the free mountain State of Wyoming. Well sang a woman of that happy commonwealth on the day of its admission to the family of States:
The first Republic of the world
Now greets the day, its flag unfurled
To the pure mountain air,
On plains, in canyon, shop, and mine,
The star of equal rights shall shine.
From its blue folds, with light divine-
A symbol bright and fair.
John Bright said that agitation is but “the marshalling of a nation’s conscience to right its laws,” and in this large view every patriotic woman must perceive her duty to be made willing to vote if she is not so already. The new United States Senator from Kansas put the point pithily in a recent speech. He said:
“At the dawn of the twentieth century, the United States will be governed by the people that live in them. When that good time comes, women will vote and men quite drinking.”
The first ballots ever cast by women for the election of a National ruler will be those of Wyoming women in 1892. A happy man indeed ought that next President to be should the candidate for which a majority of enfranchised women vote come to the throne of power, and from his administration women would have much to hope-at least in post-office promotions! Our expectation of justice is not in the lily-handed men of college, court, and cloister, but in the farmers whose “higher education” has been the Grange, and in the mechanics trained by trades-unions and the Knights of Labor. These are the men who have been known to go on strike because sewing women toiled at starving rates; who stand stoutly by their motto, “equal pay for equal work;” who declare in their platforms that we shall have the ballot, and who are the force that shall yet bring about an evenness between the eight-hour day of the husband and the sixteen-hour day of the wife!
The chief significance of Parnell’s present discrowned estate has been but little emphasized as yet in the public mind; but, to my thinking, the woman question has had no triumph so signal in our generation. It is not many years since any man of great gifts and splendid public achievements in the interest of humanity was entirely separated in the minds of the people into two characters. As a hero, he stood forth for what the world knew of him in his relations to the world; but as a man, in his relations to women, he was altogether a different personality, with whom the public had nothing whatever to do, and, no matter how basely he might conduct himself, it was no concern of theirs, because the estimate of woman was so much beneath that which is now held. She was but an adjunct of man, and called, by man of the greatest among men, “an necessary evil.” But in these later years she has become a daughter of God, an individual, a personality of intellect, of power, of judgment, and every women who presents to the world that aspect has, by the laws of mind, helped to dignify womankind in the thought of every person who thinks at all concerning women. The popular concept of womanhood is but a composite photograph of woman made up from the deductions of a million minds concerning millions of women, and the highest office of the modern woman is that when the mental photograph she makes becomes a part of this mighty composite picture so determinative of destiny, that picture shall take on a loftier aspect. So it has been; women, good, gifts, undaunted, have added themselves by thousands and tens of thousands in the home, the school, the church, the state, of the popular concept of womanhood, so that when Parnell, great hero that he is, ruins one woman and despoils one home, his features as a hero are so blurred and distorted to the eye of nations that he must step down and out. … But God be thanked that we live in an age when men as a class have risen to such an appreciation of women as a class, that the mighty tide of their public sentiment will drown out any man’s reputation who is false to woman and the home. And this which is true now in large degree throughout the world will be a thousand times more true in a century from now.
In the epoch on which we have entered labor will doubtless come to be the only potentate, and, “for value received,” will have the skilled toil of the human species as its sole basis of any “specie payment”; “a note of hand” having no offset save the human hand at work. For man added to nature, is all the capital there is on earth; and “the best that any mortal hath is that which every mortal shares.” But nature belongs equally to all men; hence the only genuine capital and changeless medium of exchange, always up to par value is labor itself, and there will eventually be no more antagonism between capital and labor than between the right hand and the left. Labor is the intelligent and beneficent reaction of man upon nature. This reaction sets force enough in motion to float him in all waters and carry him across all continents. His daily labor, then, is the natural equivalent he furnishes for food and clothing, fuel and shelter, and it is the supreme interest of the State of prepare the individual in head, hand, and heart to put forth his highest power. Carried to its legitimate conclusion, this is the socialism of Christ; the Golden Rule in action; the basis of that golden age which shall succeed this age of gold. There is no devil’s delusion so complete as that “blue blood” is best. That it is really the cheapest and thinnest blood of all is proved by the fact that the blue veins, from which we get the phrase, are but the symptoms of poor health, and he who has poor health is poor indeed. That a white hand is to be desired is another first-class delusion, and in time to come the white hand will be a badge of inferiority and progressive paralysis, while the brown hand of self-help will be the hand of holiness. Women are beginning to study the labor question, that whale to which politicians are now throwing tubs, and which spouts so foamily in the deep sea of living issues. Women, as a class, have been the world chief toilers; it is a world-old proverb that “their work is never done.” But the value put upon that work is pointedly illustrated in the reply recently given by an ancient Seminole to one of our white ribboners who visited the reservation of that tribe in Florida, where she saw oxen grazing and a horse roaming the pasture, while two women were grinding at the mill, pushing its wheels laboriously by hand. Turning to the old Indian chief who sat by, the temperance woman said, with pent-up indignation: “Why don’t you yoke the oxen or harness the horses and let them the turn the mill?” The “calm view” set forth in his answer contains a whole body of evidence touching the woman question. Hear him:
………. “Horse cost money; ox cost money; squaw cost nothing. “
After all, there were tons of philosophy in the phrase; for, by the laws of mind, each person in a community is estimated according to his relation to the chief popular standard of value. To-day, in this commercial civilization of ours, money is that standard. Hence the emancipation of women must come, first of all, along industrial lines. She must, in her skilled head and hands, represent financial values. To-day the standard is gold; to-morrow it will be gifts; the next day character. But, in the slow, systematic process of evolution it is only through financial freedom, that she will rise to that truer freedom which is the measure of all her faculties in trained, harmonious, and helpful exercise. …
Just thirty years ago, in 1861, General Spinner, of grateful memory, proposed the admission of women to employment in the United States Treasury. As Salmon P. Chase was Secretary of that Department, his permission was sought and freely obtained, but so much difficulty was made by men who wanted the work that Attorney-General Edward Bates had to render an opinion favorable to the women, and we may well believe that Abraham Lincoln, always our friend, was in sympathy with the movement. Not a little annoyance was endured by the three officers who publicly took up the women’s cause. A variegated and complete assortment of nightcaps, labeled with the word “Grandmother,” and other epithets intended to be equally opprobrious, was sent them through the post-office, also letters containing vituperative threats that failed of their intention.
It is not too much to claim that a new era dawned for woman, industrially and officially, when the imperial people’s Government thus for the first time recognized her right to a share in the good things it has to give.
For my part, I would have woman everywhere treated as an individual and not as belonging to a tribe. I would have her portion under the sun assigned to her in severalty, and would teach her as rapidly as possible to become a citizen of the world on equal terms with every other citizen.
No words more cogent have been spoken on the industrial disenthrallment of women than by Edward Bellamy, who told me once that when he felt the touch of his little girl’s hand upon his cheek the exclamation of Luther, “This is a hard world for girls,” came to his lips, and he set about advocating social conditions that should make it less difficult and dangerous.
The February issue of that breezy magazine, The Ladies Home Journal, is of especial interest. Compare it with a twenty-year-old Godey , and, in spite of its puny-waisted fashion-plates, see how much more roomy now is woman’s world. And its most significant article this month is Edward Bellamy’s “Woman in the Year 2000.” Here he shows the supreme importance to society of industrial independence among women. He claims that within two or three generations there will be but one great business corporation-the state-in which all men and women shall have an equal share-say one, three, or five thousand a year, which, as matters now stand, is certainly most generous of him, especially as it is to come through no masculine intermediary, but straight into our own, in that day, ample and numerous pockets. For woman is to “share and share alike” in this national income with the noblest Roman of them all, and, being thus rendered perfectly “secure and comfortable” for life, she will not marry except for love; and, if she does not marry at all, will be under no pecuniary or social disadvantage. He says:
………. “Would you gain a realization of the position of the old maid in the year 2000” If so, look at the lordly bachelor of today, the hero of romance, the cynosure of the drawing-room and of the promenade. Even as that bright being, like him self-poised, serenely insouciant, free as air will the old maid of the year 2000 be. It is altogether probable, by the way, that the term old maid will by that time have fallen into disuse. But while the unmarried woman of the year 2000, whether young or old, will enjoy the dignity and independence of the bachelor of to-day, the insolent prosperity at present enjoyed by the latter will have passed into salutary, if sad, eclipse. No longer profiting by the effect of the pressure of economic necessity upon woman, to make him indispensable, but dependent exclusively upon his intrinsic attractions, instead of being able to assume the fastidious airs of a sultan surrounded by languishing beauties, he will be fortunate if he can secure by his merits the smiles of one. ………. “In the year 2000 no man, whether lover or husband, may hope to win the favor of maid or wife save by desert.”
Surely desert is a vast improvement upon desertion as the divorce courts illustrate the latter in these unpoetic days!
But there is another aspect of Mr. Bellamy’s plan that has still greater interest. Hear him once more:
………. “There is another and profoundly tragic aspect of the relation of the sexes, which by no means may be passed over in considering what Nationalism will do for womanhood. The same economical pressure which brings the mass of women into a relation of dependence upon men, rendered more or less tolerable according to the degree of mutual affection, reduces a great multitude of women, who are not fortunate enough to find adequate masculine support, to a form of slavery more morally degrading than any other, and more complete in its indignity. This most ancient form of bondage, which has grown up with the face, and flourishes to-day in the face of civilization and Christendom as widely and as vigorously as ever, which no wisdom of the economist, no zeal of the philanthropist has ever availed to diminish, Nationalism, by the necessary operation of its fundamental principle, will at once and forever extirpate. Want, on the one hand, will no longer drive the virtuous woman to dishonor, nor, on the other, will wealth in the hands of unscrupulous men tempt her frivolous sister.”
While I am perfectly aware that the Woman’s Council as such does not accept the theories herein set forth, their presentation by America chief apostle of industrial reform (of whose book, “Looking Backward,” half a million copies have been published) seems to me to assign to the industrial emancipation of women no higher rank than it deserves. Helen Campbell tells us that two hundred thousand women are at work in a hundred different trades in New York city, and of these we learn that twenty-seven thousand support their own husbands.
Look at the situation as pictured by another student of the labor movement:
………. “Rich idlers amusing themselves at Newport and Tuxedo; poor workers burying themselves in coal mines. Young men and women riding across country after a bag that smells like a fox; old men and women picking decayed food out of garbage cans. Lap dogs driving through Central Park to take the air; children stripping tobacco stems in garrets.” …
“The average of 13,152 persons, without home or family, sleeping nightly in police station-houses and pestilent dormitories within the city of New York, offers more momentous subjects for discussion than revision of creeds or enrichment of liturgies.”
The Boston Globe, analyzing the recent statistics of the Massachusetts Labor Bureau, says:
………. “The figures simply show that in the employments in which the very lowest wages are paid, women constitute over 70 per cent. of the workers, while in the employments where as high as $20 a week are paid they constitute hardly over 3 per cent. In addition to all this is the humiliating fact that in the same occupations, standing side by side with men, the females are paid less wages for the same work; or, what amounts to the same thing, a woman of twenty years or upwards is made to work side by side with a boy of ten at the same wages. Women are compelled, then, to fill most of the cheap places, and paid less wages for the same work at that. We have no hesitation in saying that this is an indefensible injustice, and one so gross as to shame civilization. Why do legislators sit passively under such discriminations of sex in the matter of work and wages: Simply because they know that the women carry no votes, and that mere sentiment, however just, can neither seat nor unseat a politician. But it will not always be thus.”
Now there can be no more constant source of moral deterioration among women than these figures furnish ….
Jacob Riis, in his new book, entitled “How the Other Half Lives,” portrays the life of “the submerged tenth” in New York city after a fashion that makes us wonder if our Siberian exile petitions ought not to be duplicated to the governor of the proud Empire State of our own land. Now, in face of all this abomination of desolation, I believe that when, for every child born into the world, the problems of food and clothing, fuel and shelter are already and forevermore settled questions (the great, kind foresighted human family as a corporate firm of We, Us & Company, having arranged all that as an offset to the labor of that child when old enough to work), then will have come the very first fair chance ever yet given for the survival of the fittest in true character and the highest conquest.
Talk about community of interest as fatal to the noblest ambitions! The fact is that thus alone will Godlike ambitions be enkindled-“the hate of hate, the scorn of scorn, the love of love.”
Almost everyone has inspiration and purpose, but the difference in the light shed from these two flames brought down from heaven, is in different persons like that between a firefly and a star. One sparkles for a moment in the darkness, but guides nowhere, because its chief characteristic is its intermittence; the other lends the illumination of its mild, unchanging light to every eye that is lifted to behold it. So will it be in the age of brotherhood that shall kill out this age of gold; unhampered by the everlasting grind of necessities that we have in common with the brute creation, the steady, shining star of a purpose great as the soul and sacred as immortality shall light up every life of man.
In his book entitled “Society as I Have Found it,” Ward McAllister, that astounding product of democratic institutions, describes a banquet at Delmonico’s at which seventy-two of the famous “Four Hundred” sat down, and which cost $10,000. He says, “The table, covered with flowers, seemed like the abode of fairies.” * * * “The wines were perfect. Blue Seal Johannisberg flowed like water; incomparable 1848 claret, superb Burgundies, and amber-colored Madeira added to the intoxicating effect of the scene.” * * * “Lovely women’s eyes sparkled with delight at the beauty of their surroundings, and I felt that the fair being who sat next me would have graced Alexander’s feast.”
The recent promenade concert given by the junior class of Yale college is estimated by good judges to have cost, including costumes specially prepared for it, thirty thousand dollars at the lowest estimate. Not a few of those young students paid eight hundred to one thousand dollars as his share for the evening, and yet Yale is a Christian college, not given up to pomps and vanities like poor McAllister and his set-ere long to be upset, thank heaven, and made to feel the contempt of all true patriots and devotees of Christianity in action. …
The whole rationale of women’s place in finance and politics is set forth in the remark of a Knight of Labor, who, referring to an undesirable locality, said, “It;s not a fit place for a woman,” and the quick reply of a comrade, “Then it’s time for women to go down there and make it fit. ” …
A philosopher has said (he was the father of Louisa M. Alcott) that individualism grows behind the ears, personality over the eyes. To me the distinction seems a good one and I could wish that in all our woman’s work we might insist on the motherly, the social, the unifying power of personality with its gracious instinct of otherhood rather than on individualism with selfhood as its everlasting and colossal shadow.
The man-sided woman question has invaded all realms, even to those where crowns are worn. Never before in history were so many of the word’s chief rulers women. Victoria of England has been for fifty-three years queen of the greatest nation on earth except our own. Spain has its queen regent; Holland its queen regent and princess royal; Hawaii a queen; Madagascar another queen, and it seems but yesterday since the Republic of Brazil was ruled by the princess regent, who abolished slavery.
In all the line of English history only two epochs have received a gracious name, and they are the two when great queens reigned-the “Elizabethan” and the “Victorian” ages. Besides them, we have affectionate mention of “the good Queen Anne, whom God defended.” So far as I have learned, there is nothing analogous to this in the reign of any English king. Surely these facts have high significance in helping to work out a solution of the mightiest problem of our time: woman in government.
But it be remembered that until woman comes to her kingdom physically she will never really come at all. Created to be well and strong and beautiful, she long ago “sacrificed her constitution, and has ever since been living on her by-laws.” She has made of herself an hour-glass, whose sands of life pass quickly by. She has walked when she should have run, sat when she should have walked, reclined when she should have sat. She has allowed herself to become a mere lay-figure upon which any hump or hoop or farthingale could be fastened that fashion-mongers chose; and ofttimes her head is a mere rotary ball upon which milliners may let perch whatever they please-be it bird of paradise or beast or creeping thing. She has bedraggled her senseless long skirts in whatever combination of filth the street presented, submitting to a motion the most awkward and degrading known to the entire animal kingdom, for nature has endowed all others that carry trains and trails with the power of lifting them without turning in their tracks, but a fashionable woman pays lowliest obeisance to what follows in her own wake; and, as she does so, cuts the most grotesque figure outside a jumping-jack. She is a creature born to the beauty and freedom of Diana, but she is swathed by her skirts, splintered by her stays, bandaged by her tight waist, and pinioned by her sleeves until-alas, that I should live to say it!-a trussed turkey or a spitted goose are her most appropriate emblems.
A lady reporter tells us that she had the curiosity to ask the weight of a bead-trimmed suit, and found it greater than the maximum weight carried by soldiers in our late war, “including accoutrements, ammunition, and all.” She reports the present situation as follows: “No pockets, no free use of the lower limbs for her who is in style, and they say that skirts are to be lengthened-already they must touch the floor; that trains are coming back, and-perhaps-hoops!” In conclusion, this sensible woman suggests that “a committee of our most capable and honored sisters be chosen and instructed to give us a costume for walking and for working.”
To my mind, this is an altogether reasonable plan, and I wish we might appoint that committee at this Council, giving it a few instructions, to which I would gratuitously contribute the following: “Arrange for and build the dress around one dozen pockets .”
The catalogue of our crimes as the dry-goods class of creation is, however, less tragically true to-day than it was yesterday. …
Following up this splendid advantage, we decided, at our recent convention in Atlanta, to attempt securing laws that shall require the regular teaching of gymnastics in all grades of the public school, with reference to health of body and grace of attitude and movement. …
In view of the impending mania for long skirts, and the settled distemper of bodices abbreviated at the wrong terminus, it strikes me as desirable that the Council should utter a deliverance in favor of a sensible, modest, tasteful, business costume for busy women.
But the better is always likely to be the greatest enemy of the best, and in her happy deliverance from the worst in dress the average woman is too much inclined to let well enough alone. For this reason it is more than ever the duty of leaders to point their sisters onward along the brightly opening way, not by precept alone, but by method and plan.
It has been wisely remarked by one of our college-bred women, that in no particular has the average woman failed more signally than in keeping her own little ones alive. Four hundred thousand babies annually breathe their first and last in the United States-being either so poorly endowed with vital powers or so inadequately nourished and cared for that they can not longer survive. One-third of all the children born depart this life before they reach five years of age. In Oriental countries they swarm thick as flies, and the existence of woman (a being so impure that her husband begs pardon for referring to his wife at all) is tolerated only because she is a necessary prerequisite to the transformation of a man into a father of sons. It thus appears that exclusive devotion to maternity has not resulted in the best good of woman or the highest development of humanity. In those same Oriental countries, the Anglo-Saxon race has conquered the native and holds it in subjection, though outnumbered at the rate of twenty-five hundred to one. Possibly if fewer children were born, and of a better quality, it might be a blessing to all concerned. The fabled lioness which, on being twitted of her small family, replied proudly, eyeing her beautiful whelp, “It is true I have one only, but that one will grow up to be a lion,” may, for aught we know, prefigure the woman of the future. It seems to be a law of nature that quantity decreases as quality improves. But, be this as it may, we are going to have, ere long, a scientific motherhood. Children will be born of set purpose and will cut their teeth according to a plan. The empirical maxims and old wive’s fables of the nursery will give way to the hard-earned results of scientific investigation. The best work of the mother will be intelligently done, on the bases of heredity, pre-natal influence, and devout obedience to the laws of health. Doctors diet and dress, ventilation, sleep and exercise will constitute her “council of physicians.” Says Mrs. Frances Fisher Wood, a Vassar graduate and a successful mother:
Old-fashioned New England mothers are often extolled as an ideal type of motherhood, while college-bred women are the staple of popular newspaper jokes in their alleged futile attempts to care for their offspring. Yet statistics show that the mortality among native New
England stock exceeds that of any other part in the United States, and the proportion of deaths to births is constantly increasing; while among the ridiculed college women nine-tenths of their children survive infancy, a record which I believe has never been equaled in any country or age since statistics furnished the data for such deductions. ……….
“I assert that a woman scientifically educated can in three hours be taught more about the care of infants than another, intellectually untrained, can learn from personal experience in a lifetime. In other occupations less exacting than a mother’s, we allow experience alone to count for little.” ……….
This college-bred mother supports her theory by offering for inspection “a health, happy specimen of scientific babyhood, who rapturously greets this scientific woman as ma-ma’. Happy child of a happy mother! In his twenty-two months of babyhood he has never known the torture of colic, goes to sleep at night and never wakens until morning, cuts his teeth with as little ceremony and suffering as a small kitten, contracts no infantile diseases, succumbs to no infantile disorders, and does not periodically upset the equilibrium of the entire family at intervals of two or three days by being mysteriously cross after the manner of unscientific baby tyrants. The diet of this enviable baby consists now of water that has been boiled, milk that has been sterilized, oatmeal, baked apples, and stock soup.”
The aforementioned college-bred woman is a trustee of Barnard, a contributor of the press, a public speaker on various educational and scientific subjects, a woman of place in society, and, as has been declared already, a model homemaker. What would you more? The woman question has no higher, nobler outcome; and once again is wisdom “justified of her children.”
The word “obey” has been weeded out of the popular marriage service, and mutuality of right and privilege is the key-note of modern marriage. The barbarous dictum “husband and wife are one and that one is the husband” has been consigned to the limbo whence it came. Because language is one of life’s greatest educators, let us now attack the phrase “man and wife” (still standing in the odor of sanctity upon the pages of Catholic and Episcopal ritual) because it incarnates all the serfdom of woman’s past, exaggerates sex out of its due subordination to personality, and is false to the facts in the case. For when the minister pronounced a pair of beings “man and wife,” he declared that one to be man who was one always; but when he declared the woman wife, he disclosed between them a relationship of which husband is the only reputable expression on the man’s part. He might as properly pronounce them man and woman-there would be at least the sign of equality in that equation, and he might with precisely as much propriety, both actual and grammatical, declare them to be “woman and husband.” Language is the greatest of educators, and woman the readiest user of language. Let us, then, help the Nation to set its grammatical house in order, for, stabbed by our steel pens, such phrases as the foregoing shall die and not live.
Every home should be a school of statesmanship. No home is orderly and harmonious that is not controlled by statesmen. It has been truly said that the real difference between great and little men is that the little man sees littleness in everything and the great man sees greatness in everything. And it is supremely true of the true mother that the ineffable greatness of her character and calling lends a dignity to the smallest of her deeds and so magnifies the sacredness of home and country in her children’s eyes that they can not fail to be supremely loyal to God and home and native land.
Women are patriots; they are born so. Take a recent illustration. That delightful paper. The Youth’s Companion , offered a prize for the best essay on the patriotic influence of the American flag when raised over public schools. The competitors were not to receive money or any personal advantage, but the prize was to be a fine flag for the schoolhouse. The result is thirty girls won the prize in as many States and Territories, and eighteen boys in as many more. If the prize had been skates or bicycles, doubtless the count would have been different. But the mother of the future, who better knows what the state is and helps to make its laws, will impart to her children a devotion to their country stronger even than that which now binds them to their own homes.
Some women have a supreme genius for motherhood, and history points them out by their results. One of these was Mary, the mother of Washington, to whose sacred memory a long-neglected monument is being raised near Frederick, Va. Surely I can not do less than refer to this enterprise and call upon all members of this Council, by their love and loyalty to their own mothers, to have a share in this reverent and patriotic undertaking. * And I do this with added pleasure, because the necessary funds are being raised by my honored friend and Virginia’s illustrious daughter, Mrs. Mary Virginia Terhune (Marion Harland). * Send contributions to Mrs. Mary Virginia Terhune (Marion Harland), Hotel Bosyek, Brooklyn, N.Y.
THE COLUMBIAN EXPOSITION.
The Columbian Exposition should witness the convening of a World’s Council of Women, the invitation to which would naturally be given by this Council, and the preparations for which should begin without delay. Preeminently now, as probably in the future, the world of philanthropy and reform is woman’s world; in the last analysis this includes church and state, hence her world is a double star of the first magnitude. Perhaps, ultimately, the realm of force material will be man’s special field, and the realm of forces spiritual will be woman’s; he will be the more aesthetic, she the more ethical. Such a congress should emphasize this tendency, while by no means ignoring the handcraft which will best balance statecraft, and which promises within a century to be as much the badge of good breeding as its absence has been in the artificial century now passing.
Doubtless the Columbian Exposition will illustrate the motherly work of women for humanity by mans of day nurseries and kindergartens, where the little ones can be left while their natural protectors visit the great show; emergency hospitals, with women physicians and nurses in attendance; homes for the friendless and the stranger; resting-places for the aged and the weak; temperance cafes, coffee-houses and reading-rooms; exhibits of hygienic food and drink; booths where White Cross literature and pledges will be furnished; halls where physical culture is taught and illustrated, hygienic garments and dress-reform patterns given away as a missionary measure to the benighted wasp-waistlings of the throng; parlors spacious and beautiful in which capable women who have given their lives to the subject shall set forth the methods of the King’s Daughters, the College Settlements, the Working Girls Clubs, the Department of Mercy, the Women’s Christian Temperance Unions. We shall have halls, I hope, which mothers meetings can be held, and conferences upon every subject, whereby the health, the holiness and happiness of the home people can be increased by putting the expert knowledge of one at the service of the many. …
WORLD’S WOMAN’S CHRISTIAN TEMPERANCE UNION.
The World’s Woman’s Christian Temperance Union purposes holding its first convention in Tremont Temple, Boston, November 13-18, 1891, at which time we expect to welcome home our W. C. T. U. missionary, Mrs. Mary Clement Leavitt, who for eight years has been unwinding the white ribbon around the world, and who in this great mission will by that time have worked in every civilized country of the globe. We also anticipate for that meeting the presence of Lady Henry Somerset, of England, president of the British Women’s Temperance Association, accompanied by that most peaceable yet invincible of radicals, Mrs. Hannah Whitall Smith. At our National Convention in Atlanta, Ga., last November, we had six hundred delegates and visitors from a distance. We expect a number even greater at the next, which will be held in connection with the World’s W. C. T. U. Convention just referred to. As an outcome of these meetings, we hope to start upon their journey around the world a commission of women in charge of our great petition, which asks the governments of all nations to separate themselves from all legal complicity with the trade in opium and alcohol. I brought to the last Council our petition to Congress for the protection of women, which was responded to by raising the age of consent from ………. to sixteen years. So to this Council, without asking any action on your part, I have come with the world’s petition against alcohol and opium; another, in which the signers agree not to wear as trimmings the bodies or plumage of birds,and a third, asking the Russian Government to show mercy to the exiles of Siberia.
The petitions are printed, and I wish that any friend of humanity would circulate and return them to the ladies whose names are attached to them respectively.
WOMEN IN RELIGION.
The world seems to me like one great heart, the warmth of whose growing love and the rhythm of whose steady pulse is a dynamic power, through which God works to make all things new and pure and brotherly; that you and I and all of us are like ruddy drops floating through this same heart, and that we shall contribute our full fraction to this divine outworking is our united purpose and prayer.
Some people take their religion on the square, and others on the bias. It is largely a question of nature and environment. For those who don’t like the square, the bias is perhaps good. Doubtless both have the root of the matter in them if both go at it with a true purpose toward God and man, but the seamless robe is the only true ideal. Folks with a new notion in their heads remind me of a bird flying about with a straw in its bill. One would think that but one swallow made a summer, and one straw would build a nest. But the truth is, the nest of the human soul has not only many a straw in it, but twigs, bits of leaves, scarlet threads and downy shreds of wool, and much besides. It has taken all the ages of light, of evolution, of nature, and of the great human heart itself to build the nest called Christianity, in which so many souls have found a home. And is it finished? Not by any means.
There shall come other builders, and in other swift-revolving ages man shall still be the student of God and of humanity. Yea, and in other worlds, up toward which we gaze as they gleam in the great sky, the building will go on. But we are all like children. When we find anything new, some pretty leaf, some bright scrap of a thread, we are delighted with it, and want everyone to see it; we think this the latest, the last, the best. The white sunlight of God’s truth falls through the stained glass window of the human brain and takes the color of our individuality. …
For myself, I am a firm believer that the Way, the Truth, and the Life are shown to us in Christianity, and that God was manifest in the flesh. But the differences come in when we would apply this transcendent declaration, not to the facts of every-day life, but to the theories that men call creeds.
One of the crucial tests of our Christianity is this: What does the “hired girl” think about our kind of religion? …
Some one has recently said, “After all, religion is the only interesting thing.” How interesting, let the late census reveal. We are there informed that the people of these United States disagree so widely in their concepts of God and immortality, duty and destiny, reward and punishment that they are separated by their creeds into one hundred and forty distinct groups. Now add to this the various creeds into which non-church members are separated, from the Positivists of London, whose “Temple” was once wittily described as including “three persons and no God,” to the Spiritualists, whose name is legion. Then enumerate the orthodox, the heterodox, and the “New Departure men” in each group of scientists, and, returning to the church groups, take account of the fact that almost every one of the one hundred and forty has as many well-defined shades of opinion as the fearful and wonderful “Establishment” of England classed as “High,” “Broad,” and “Low” church (or “Attitudinarians, Latitudinarians, and Platitudinarians”), and what a fearful totality of beliefs and unbeliefs is this into which the destructive criticism of the incomplete masculine mind has brought us! Surely the wizard’s broth is as bad as the witch’s ever can be, in politics as a substitute for government and ecclesiasticism as a substitute for religion.
I rejoice that women reformers do not claim the ability to renovate the existing condition of things in church and state, but their contention is that if the analytic method of man’s thought and the synthetic method of woman’s were combined, humanity would then have brought all of its tithes into the storehouse of the common good, and God would pour us out the blessing that has always been potential but could only become actual when the conditions were supplied that lie in the changeless nature of things….
In all this discord about religious theory there has been very little controversy about religious living. Cardinal Newman and General Booth, Terence V. Powderly, the master workman, and William Morris, the poet; Frances Power Cobbe and Margaret Bottome, Lady Henry Somerset and Susan B. Anthony are all bent upon beautiful result-they would bring in the brotherhood and sisterhood of humanity; they would hasten the coming upon earth of the kingdom of heaven.
But it is no more true that the kingdom of heaven is within us if we are ever to know anything about that kingdom, than it is true that the kingdom of art must be within us if we are ever to know anything about art. The kingdom of poetry must be within us or we shall known nothing of poets, though they should sing in chorus round about us night and day. The kingdom of language is on every hand to an American who has landed in the heart of Germany, but he can only comprehend that language when he stamps it on the convolutions of his brain and works it into the speaking muscles of his lips. He will know just so much German as he contains himself, and not one word beyond. A person of impure life and unlovely disposition set down in the middle of an earthly or a heavenly paradise would be a stranger and a foreigner; his strongest desire being to get away.
How helpful is this scientific method in teaching us about character, and how little we have understood its majestic simplicity! As a working hypothesis, no age and no race of men can ever go beyond Christ’s simple dictum, “The kingdom of heaven is within you.” It cometh not by observation-that is, it cometh not suddenly, but little by little, imperceptibly, as one particle after another is added to one’s stature, so by every thought, word, an deed the kingdom of heaven has woven its warp and woof, wrought out its wonderful beauty in our own breasts. All pure habits, all health and sanity of brain, make for the kingdom of heaven. The steady pulse, the calm and quiet thought, the splendid equipoise of will, the patient industry that forges right straight on and can not be abashed or turned aside, these make for the kingdom of heaven. The helpful hand outstretched to whatsoever beside us may crawl or creep, or cling or climb, is a hand whose very motion is part of the dynamic forces of the kingdom of heaven. The spirit of God, by its divine alchemy, works in us to transform, to re-create, to vivify our entire being, in spirit, soul, and body, until we ourselves incarnate a little section of the kingdom of heaven.
The deepest billows are away out at sea; they never come in sight of shore. These waves are like the years of God. Upon the shore line of our earthly life come the waves of the swift years; they bound and break and are no more. But far out upon eternity’s bosom are the great, wide, endless waves that make the years of God; they never strike upon the shores of time. In all the flurry and the foam about us, let us bend our heads to listen to the great anthem of that far-off sea, for our life-barques shall soon be cradled there: we are but building here, the launch is not far off, and then the boundless ocean of the years of God.
It is supremely pleasant to believe that we women workers are at one concerning immortality. Of late the mode of that mystical estate comes to me thus:
Who knows but that as the visible, changeful, perishing myself is built of atoms, in their analysis too minute to be cognized by the senses, and yet really present always, the imperishable myself may be built of material infinitely finer than that which makes up atoms, and may fill the interstices between them? To illustrate: Suppose you fill a bowl with marbles and then pour in as many shots as can be received among these marbles, for there is space still remaining; then suppose you pour in sand which fills the still remaining space between the shot. By choosing materials carefully graded as to dimensions you can fill the bowl a dozen times over after it had seemed to be already full, and you would do this by occupying the interstitial spaces. The real and enduring personality may be this moment as present as it ever will be in any world. It is present, however, only to consciousness. That mysterious power correlates and holds the atoms together. Indeed it furnishes their only cohesive force. We call it life and can not trace it by means of the coarse senses that are adapted to the atomic, the perceptible self. Now some day this interstitial self drops the atomic self and goes its way. The power of cohesion, the vital force being gone, the spiritual body (for it is nothing more nor less), having separated itself from the material, the latter must return to its original ingredients, and this is all there is of death, perhaps.
An English princess looked so sad one night, at a royal banquet, that a courtier asked her why. She answered that at the bottom of every goblet that she drained she saw the word “Eternity.” That word is at the bottom of all our goblets. We eat, we drink, we die, and after death, the judgment; and the judgment, we believe, will be in strict accord with the deeds done in the body, whether they be good or whether they be evil.
There is no unbelief:
Whoever plants a seed beneath the sod
And waits to see it push away the clod,
Trusts he in God.
Whoever sees neath winter’s fields of snow
The smiling harvest of the future grow.
God’s power must know.
“The heart that looks on when loved eyelids close,
And dares to live though life is full of woes,
God’s comfort knows.
There’s no unbelief, and day by day
And night, unconsciously,
The heart lives by the faith the lips deny.
God knoweth why.”
…The same question is still in full force; we, too, are swiftly carried onward with definite achievements in view, and when we have won all that we sought, back comes the deep, rolling surge of eternity’s question, “And then?” Its answer waits; but that answer is as sure as God.
Still I turn with gladness to the life that now is ….
Note: US Library of Congress, Women’s Suffrage collection.