Modern History Sourcebook:
Frances E. Willard:
Address to Women's National Council
FRANCES E WILLARD,
THE WOMAN'S NATIONAL COUNCIL
OF THE UNITED STATES,
(FOUNDED IN 1888,)
ADDRESS AT ITS FIRST TRIENNIAL MEETING,
ALBAUGH'S OPERA HOUSE, WASHINGTON, D.C., FEBRUARY 22-25, 1891
Rufus H. Darby, Printer, Washington, D.C.
WOMEN AND ORGANIZATION.
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
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
.......... " 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
.......... 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
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
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 ask unitedly 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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
.......... "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
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
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
.......... 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
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
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
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
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
This is shortened version of a document came from the Library
of Congress server, in the Women's Suffrage collection.
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(c)Paul Halsall Aug 1997