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character of a new lawgiver, and as such sought to cast Moses, Solon, Confucius, and Paul into the shade, as mere smatterers and blunderers.
That a woman should be the champion of women is perhaps right enough; that is, when they need a champion; when they are really wronged, and when the men have become so degenerate, that instead of protecting, they aid in oppressing her. But is this true of the men of America ? Is it true of the men of any.civilized country? That some women are wronged is very true, but are not men wronged also; nay, does not man wrong his fellow-man much oftener and more readily than he wrongs woman. But we are speaking of veritable wrongs, whereas the wrongs so valiantly attacked by Gail Hamilton belong exclusively to the imaginary species.
Women are wronged, our author tells us, because they are not allowed to vote ; because it is denied that they are equal to men; because they are not permitted to occupy certain positions now generally monopolized by men ; because in short, they are prevented from discarding their petticoats and wearing pantaloons in their stead.
No doubt there are ladies who regard these as great evils, but do they belong in general to the respectable class? Is it the modest and virtuous class of women that want to go to the polls and compete for those offices whose influence even on the ruder sex is so degrading 3 By no means; and it is equally certain that it is not that class who want to employ such champions as Gail Hamilton, or that get any value on such books as Woman's Wrongs.” At the same time we entirely acquit our author of any intention to do wrong; nay, we readily believe that her wish is to do good, but the tendency of her book is to do mischief, by rendering weak-minded women discontented with their present position, and anxious to obtrude themselves into a sphere which is foreign to their nature, and in which few, if any, of the sex escape contamination.
It requires little reflection to see that women who are intelligent, modest, and gentle, need no laws to entitle them to vote ; their voice is always beard without any such law; nay, they are much more powerful in their parlours and dining-rooms than the most favourable franchise law could possibly render them at the polls. Nor is it alone in republics that their influence is all pervading; in the most gloomy despotisms, where no voting is recognized, the softening voice of woman is heard, and her influence is felt, although it may not be perceived. The worst tyrants have yielded to her modest and touching appeals as a wife, mother, or lover, what he would have contemptuously denied had she claimed it on the ground of her being equal to man, as a politician, a soldier, a lawyer, an astronomer, &c., &c.
But let us turn our attention to “Woman's Wrongs" for a few moments, and allow Gail to speak for herself, and show whether we do her injustice or not. Our author takes up, as a sort of text, some letters written by the Rev. Dr. Todd on “Woman's Rights." We know as
little about Dr. Todd personally as we do about Gail Hamilton; and certainly we would rather agree with the lady than with the gentleman, if it were possible for us to do so conscientiously, but whoever Dr. Todd is, we hold that he is a much better logician, moralist, and philosopher than Gail Hamilton. This opinion we have formed from the extracts which the lady has given in her book; for we have never seen the performances of which “Woman's Wrongs" .purports to be a review, nor have we ever heard of them from any other source. In general, his arguments, as quoted by Gail, are pretty sound ; but those by which she pretends to refute them are, in general, no arguments. The lady is very flippant. She is at no loss for words, but, unhappily, she fails to imbue them with much sense. She gives a quotation from the Doctor, finds fault with his grammar, and is somewhat abusive of himself, and then Aies off at a tangent, to pick up a few things that have no conceivable bearing on the argument which she fancies she is all the time “refuting." She tells us very gently about the Doctor's “impotent and soinetimes ridiculous logic,” his “irreverent assumption of the Divine prerogatives," his “sentimental silliness,” &c., &c. (p. 4). In the same page we are informed that “marriage became in his hands a base commercial transaction," because he would advise women to stay at home and mind their business, rather than gad about,-because he would have them attend domestic affairs in preference to the affairs of the nation.
In short, because the Doctor thought that making a pie or a pudding might be as useful as making a speech, he has “reduced women to the level of the beasts that perish ” (Ib.). What a monster ! At page 7, our author proceeds to inform us how it was that this dangerous matter was brought to her attention. “In late issues," she says, “ of an able, if not the leading, religious newspaper in New England, appeared a series of articles from the pen of Dr. Todd, entitled • Woman's Rights.'" Then the recommendation which they received from the editor is quoted; next we are informed that “an able, if not the leading secular newspaper of New England," was so ungallant and stupid as to praise the saine matter as soon as it appeared in book form, saying that it is “full of good, strong common-sense, which will commend it to the great majority of American women” (p. 8).
Whether this be true or not, it is certainly more than could be said of the book which purports to be a refutation of it. Dr. Todd wishes, it seems, to address himself to the sensible and modest portion of the sex; he desires to reason with them on the subject without making any claim to superiority,—a proposition which Gail Hamilton disposes of by quoting a line of elegant poetry (p. 14), which shows that her taste is nearly as good as her logic :
you, will you, will you walk in, Mr. Fly." Dr. Todd is of opinion that the delicate organization of woman unfits
her for long-continued labour, even in those spheres for which it is claimed by the advocates of woman's rights they are best calculated. “Did you ever know a woman," he asks, " who could endure being a teacher till seventy-five, as men often do,” &c. The reply of Gail Hamilton to this is that men “ might, in some cases, till seventy-five thousand," for all the fatigue their teaching need cause them” (p. 20).
Dr. Todd tells the ladies that if they take off their robes, put on pants and run about unbidden to do the work of men, they cannot be good wives and mothers, &c. All this Gail Hamilton “refutes" after the fol. lowing fashion : “During the late war was there not an army of women at home as large as the army of men in the field, and did they not work as long and as efficiently ?” (p. 33). Those who went to the war, however, were the best types of womanhood ; accordingly we have long and glowing accounts of some of them in “ Woman's Wrongs." What a splendid specimen of the sex was Mrs. Bickerdyke, for example? quite a goodly number of pages are devoted to her achievements. Gail tells us that this lady was called the mother of a regiment, if not of a whole brigade (p. 191 et seq.). No doubt she deserved the title ; but it is to be feared that some patriotic Amazons are as much the wife as the mother of the regiment. Gail admits that, exemplary as Mother Bickerdyke was, there were surgeons who “cursed her and clamoured for her removal ” (p. 192). True, they were not the right kind of surgeons who did this, but the faithless and ignorant. Those of the opposite character could not have done without her. Among the womanly exploits of Mrs. Bickerdyke which Gail Hamilton calls upon us to admire, is the following (it is only necessary for the reader to bear in mind that a “sanitary shirt” had been appropriated by one not entitled to it, and that the good mother detected the culprit):
"* Where did you get that shirt ?' she said, fiercely. “It's none of your business,' he answered. • I'll see if it isn't,' she replied; and seizing it, as he had no coat on, she drew it over the head of the unfortunate wight, stunned into silence. Now let me see your feet,' said she, stooping and taking one in her hand. Off came the socks and slippers in a twinkling, to the infinite delight of the patients. The denuded thief slunk off suddenly, a sadder and a wiser man, and Mrs. B. had no further trouble in this hospital concerning sanitary stores." — pp. 193-4.
This was a model woman. She did not permit herself to be hampered by any conventionalities; she did what she liked, and what she disliked she did not do, no inatter who asked her; or if she obliged anybody it was somebody who had no claim upon her. “I should like to see Dr. Todd tiptoeing up to Mother Bickerdyke,” says our author "and telling her that her happiness consisted in her dependence as wife, mother, and daughter” (p. 197). Probably she would give him a fist or a kick, or draw his shirt over his head !
Now one of the worst wrongs of women, be it remembered, is that they are not permitted by their tyrannical husbands or fathers to perform such exploits as those of Mrs. Bickerdyke. It is bad enough, Gail thinks, that women are not generally allowed to compete with men in obtaining situations, but even, when they succeed sometimes in getting into a handsome position, they get little more than half the salary the men get. There is no doubt that there are men who take an advantage of them in this way, but it is equally true that there are others who pay them not only as much as they pay men, but more. Nay, not unfrequently work furnished by women is accepted and paid for without a murmur, which, if furnished by men, would have been rejected without hesitation. Indeed, we strongly suspect that if the volume before us had been presented to Ticknor & Fields as the performance of one wearing pantaloons, together with beard, mustaches, &c., it would have been declined, though very politely, before the sixth page was read—not a line of it would have been printed; although, of course, this would have been a serious loss to womankind.
Dr. Todd remarks, in substance, that since there are seventy-five thousand more women than men in New England, it is not be expected that all the former could find employment in positions usually occupied by the latter, seeing that not a few of the inen themselves are out of employment; still less is it to be expected, he says, that these seventy-five thousand woman could get as good salaries as the men, of whom there is a comparative scarcity. Political economists tell us that whatever gluts the market must be more or less cheap ; nor are strong-ininded women exempt from the operation of this law. But Gail Hamilton disposes of it in her usual elegant and convincing style. “The seventy thousand women,” she says, “may sit on the curbstone and suck their thumbs for any thing he has to suggest,” &c. (p. 59). If this handsome brigade were only allowed to vote, all might be right; from this it follows, as a matter of course, that to prevent them is a most iniquitous thing. Gail proves the fact in her usual happy way. "Are American women, as a class," she asks, “more unfit to vote than Irishmen? Are they less capable of, understanding issues involved, and of passing judgment upon ineasures proposed, than negroes who have been slaves for generations ?” (p. 87). This settles the point. Everybody knows that Irishmen are unfit to vote; some think that negroes are somewhat unfit also; but both races are occasionally permitted to vote; ergo the fitness of women is demonstrated !
Dr. Todd thinks that the young women of the present day are forced to study too much, since, in addition to ordinary branches, they have to study chemistry, botany, astronomy, rhetoric, natural and moral philosophy, metaphysics, French, often German, Latin, perhaps Greek, &c., &c. (p. 53). But Gail Hamilton sees no difficulty in all this. “I affirm,” she says, “that if, between the ages of six and eighteen, a girl cannot get all those things she is a poor thing,” (p. 58). Kepler, Newton, and Bacon, as well as Aristotle and Plato, have confessed themselves ignorant of many things. We believe the most learned men of the present day admit also that there are some things which they do not understand. But a modern school-girl who does not know every thing is * a poor thing,” according to our author. In La Fontaine's time to learn Hebrew, the sciences, and history, was regarded as an effort somewhat similar to drinking up the sea.
“Si j'apprenois l'Hebreu, les sciences, l'histoire,
Tout cela, c'est la mer à boire." But this would be only children's play in this enlightened age and country. As for Gail Hamilton, her learning must be unbounded. Nothing is hidden from her that is within the reach of human ken. It is true that this might not be inferred from her style at a casual glance; but a closer examination would readily reveal its classic polish. What can be finer, for example, than the taste she displays, and so unostentatiously, in those quotations, which she has always at hand to give the coup de grace to an impertinent argument? We need only point out one or two instances to satisfy the most stupid or most skeptical, how full of refinement she is in this respect. We doubt whether any logician, but lierself, would have hit on the following beautiful lines as a refutation of all the arguments brought against female suffrage (p. 74):
"I do not like you, Dr. Fell,
The reason why I canuot tell," &c. It is superfluous for us to transcribe the whole quotation, since every reader of taste must be acquainted with that fine morceau. Still more classical, and apposite, perhaps, is the couplet :
"Owen Moore has run away,
Owing more than he can pay." We trust we shall never again have the disagreeable task of criticising a book of this kind from the pen of Gail Hamilton. We can assure the lady that we should much rather speak of her efforts in the language of approbation than in that of censure. As already intimated, we do not doubt that she can write very interesting magazine stories; but her philosophy is a spurious article; and were her “Woman's Rights” ethics adopted, we might regard modesty and delicacy—those charms of the sex which fascinate us most—as virtually discarded. But, fortunately, there is no danger. It would take far sounder logic than Gail is capable of to induce any sensible woman to accept her theories—indeed, no one would do so who was not rather prone to vagaries before a line of the present volume was written.
Highland Rambles. A Poem. By William B. WRIGHT. 12mo, pp. 183.
Boston: Adams & Co. 1868. We know neither the author nor the publishers of this little volume. It has reached our table without any heralding; not a word are we told
VOL. XVII.-NO. XXXIII. 11