FIRST. Woman in natural physical strength is so greatly inferior to man that she is entirely in his power, quite incapable of self- defense, trusting to his generosity for protection. In savage life this great superiority of physical strength makes man the absolute master, woman the abject slave. And, although every successive step in civilisation lessens the distance between the sexes, and renders the situation of woman safer and easier, still, in no state of society, however highly cultivated, has perfect equality yet existed. This difference in physical strength must, in itself, always prevent such perfect equality, since woman is compelled every day of her life to appeal to man for protection, and for support.
SECONDLY. Woman is also, though in a very much less degree, inferior to man in intellect. The difference in this particular may very probably be only a consequence of greater physical strength, giving greater power of endurance and increase of force to the intellectual faculty connected with it. In many cases, as between the best individual minds of both sexes, the difference is no doubt very slight. There have been women of a very high order of genius; there have been very many women of great talent; and, as regards what is commonly called cleverness, a general quickness and clearness of mind within limited bounds, the number of clever women may possibly have been even larger than that of clever men. But, taking the one infallible rule for our guide, judging of the tree by its fruits, we are met by the fact that the greatest achievements of the race in every field of intellectual culture have been the work of man. It is true that the advantages of intellectual education have been, until recently, very generally on the side of man; had those advantages been always equal, women would no doubt have had much more of success to record. But this same fact of inferiority of education becomes in itself one proof of the existence of a certain degree of mental inequality. What has been the cause of this inferiority of education? Why has not woman educated herself in past ages, as man has done? Is it the opposition of man, and the power which physical strength gives him, which have been the impediments? Had these been the only obstacles, and had that general and entire equality of intellect existed between the sexes, which we find proclaimed to-day by some writers, and by many talkers, the genius of women would have opened a road through these and all other difficulties much more frequently than it has yet done. At this very hour, instead of defending the intellect of women, just half our writing and talking would be required to defend the intellect of men. But, so long as woman, as a sex, has not provided for herself the same advanced intellectual education to the same extent as men, and so long as inferiority of intellect in man has never yet in thousands of years been gravely discussed, while the inferiority of intellect in woman has been during the same period generally admitted, we are compelled to believe there is some foundation for this last opinion. The extent of this difference, the interval that exists between the sexes, the precise degree of inferiority on the part of women, will probably never be satisfactorily proved.
Believing then in the greater physical powers of man, and in his superiority, to a limited extent, in intellect also, as two sufficient reasons for the natural subordination of woman as a sex, we have yet a third reason for this subordination. Christianity can be proved to be the safest and highest ally of man's nature, physical, moral, and intellectual, that the world has yet known. It protects his physical nature at every point by plain, stringent rules of general temperance and moderation. To his moral nature it gives the pervading strength of healthful purity. To his intellectual nature, while on one hand it enjoins full development and vigorous action, holding out to the spirit the highest conceivable aspirations, on the other it teaches the invaluable lessons of a wise humility. This grand and holy religion, whose whole action is healthful, whose restraints are all blessings--this gracious religion, whose chief precepts are the love of God and the love of man--this same Christianity confirms the subordinate position of woman, by allotting to man the headship in plain language and by positive precept. No system of philosophy has ever yet worked out in behalf of woman the practical results for good which Christianity has conferred on her. Christianity has raised woman from slavery and made her the thoughtful companion of man; finds her the mere toy, or the victim of his passions, and it places her by his side, his truest friend, his most faithful counselor, his helpmeet in every worthy and honorable task. It protects her far more effectually than any other system. It cultivates, strengthens, elevates, purifies all her highest endowments, and holds out to her aspirations the most sublime for that future state of existence, where precious rewards are promised to every faithful discharge of duty, even the most humble. But, while conferring on her these priceless blessings, it also enjoins the submission of the wife to the husband, and allots a subordinate position to the whole sex while here on earth. No woman calling herself a Christian, acknowledging her duties as such, can, therefore, consistently deny the obligation of a limited subordination laid upon her by her Lord and His Church.
>From these three chief considerations--the great inferiority of physical strength, a very much less and undefined degree of inferiority in intellect, and the salutary teachings of the Christian faith--it follows that, to a limited degree, varying with circumstances, and always to be marked out by sound reason and good feeling, the subordination of woman, as a sex, is inevitable.
This subordination once established, a difference of position, and a consequent difference of duties, follow as a matter of course. There must, of necessity, in such a state of things, be certain duties inalienably connected with the position of man, others inalienably connected with the position of woman. For the one to assume the duties of the other becomes, first, an act of desertion, next, an act of usurpation. For the man to discharge worthily the duties of his own position becomes his highest merit. For the woman to discharge worthily the duties of her own position becomes her highest merit. To be noble the man must be manly. To be noble the woman must be womanly. Independently of the virtues required equally of both sexes, such as truth, uprightness, candor, fidelity, honor, we look in man for somewhat more of wisdom, of vigor, of courage, from natural endowment, combined with enlarged action and experience. In woman we look more especially for greater purity, modesty, patience, grace, sweetness, tenderness, refinement, as the consequences of a finer organization, in a protected and sheltered position. That state of society will always be the most rational, the soundest, the happiest, where each sex conscientiously discharges its own duties, without intruding on those of the other.
It is true that the world has often seen individual women called by the manifest will of Providence to positions of the highest authority, to the thrones of rulers and sovereigns. And many of these women have discharged those duties with great intellectual ability and great success. It is rather the fashion now among literary men to depreciate Queen Elizabeth and her government. But it is clear that,
440 whatever may have been her errors--and no doubt they were grave-- she still appears in the roll of history as one of the best sovereigns not only of her own house, but of all the dynasties of England. Certainly she was in every way a better and a more successful ruler than her own father or her own brother-in-law, and better also than the Stuarts who filled her throne at a later day. Catherine of Russia, though most unworthy as a woman, had a force of intellectual ability quite beyond dispute, and which made itself felt in every department of her government. Isabella I. of Spain gave proof of legislative and executive ability of the very highest order; she was not only one of the purest and noblest, but also, considering the age to which she belonged, and the obstacles in her way, one of the most skillful sovereigns the world has ever seen. Her nature was full of clear intelligence, with the highest moral and physical courage. She was in every way a better ruler than her own husband, to whom she proved nevertheless an admirable wife, acting independently only where clear principle was at stake. The two greet errors of her reign, the introduction of the Inquisition and the banishment of the Jews, must be charged to the confessor rather than to the Queen, and these were errors in which her husband was as closely involved as herself. On the other hand, some of the best reforms of her reign originated in her own mind, and were practically carried out under her own close personal supervision. Many other skillful female rulers might be named. And it is not only in civilized life and in Christendom that woman has shown herself wise in governing; even among the wildest savage tribes they have appeared, occasionally, as leaders and rulers. This is a singular fact. It may be proved from the history of this continent, and not only from the early records of Mexico and Cuba and Hayti, but also from the reports of the earliest navigators on our own coast, who here and there make mention incidentally of this or that female chief or sachem. But a fact far more impressive and truly elevating to the sex also appears on authority entirely indisputable. While women are enjoined by the Word of God to refrain from public teaching in the Church, there have been individual women included among the Prophets, speaking under the direct influence of the Most Holy Spirit of God, the highest dignity to which human nature can attain. But all these individual cases, whether political or religious, have been exceptional. The lesson to be learned from them is plain. We gather naturally from these facts, what may be learned also from other sources, that, while the positions of the two sexes are as such distinct, the one a degree superior, the other a degree inferior, the difference between them is limited--it is not impassable in individual cases. The two make up but one species, one body politic and religious. There are many senses besides marriage in which the two are one. It is the right hand and the left, both belonging to one body, moved by common feeling, guided by common reason. The left hand may at times be required to do the work of the right, the right to act as the left. Even in this world there are occasions when the last are first, the first last, without disturbing the general order of things. These exceptional cases temper the general rule, but they can not abrogate that rule as regards the entire sex. Man learns from them not to exaggerate his superiority--a lesson very often needed. And woman learns from them to connect self-respect and dignity with true humility, and never, under any circumstances, to sink into the mere tool and toy of man--a lesson equally important.
Such until the present day has been the general teaching and practice of Christendom, where, under a mild form, and to a limited point, the subordination of woman has been a fact clearly established. But this teaching we are now called upon to forget, this practice we are required to abandon. We have arrived at the days foretold by the Prophet, when "knowledge shall be increased, and many shall run to and fro." The intellectual progress of the race during the last half century has indeed been great. But admiration is not the only feeling of the thoughtful mind when observing this striking advance in intellectual acquirement. We see that man has not yet fully mastered the knowledge he has acquired. He runs to and fro. He rushes from one extreme to the other. How many chapters of modern history, both political and religious, are full of the records of this mental vacillation of our race, of this illogical and absurd tendency to pass from one extreme to the point farthest from it!