« السابقةمتابعة »
pletely under the sway of the East India Company, to be ground down by the land-rent' exactions at its will. (Hear, hear.) There should be a glorious combination of anti-slavery societies all over the world, and no motives should be allowed to mar the disinterested sincerity of their efforts. He was rejoiced to see their chairman among them. He was happy to find himself in a Convention, to the members of which no selfish motives could by any possibility be attributed. Let them persevere in their efforts, and they would raise the entire of the human race from a state of slavery and degradation to that liberty which was the best preparative for receiving the truths of Christianity and the blessings of civilization."
At the close of O'Connell's speech the chairman was obliged to retire. The whole Convention rose, and as he left the Hall, leaning upon the arm of the Irish Orator, the feelings of the assembly were expressed by the most enthusiastic applause.
Then came up the "Woman Question;" for you must know that about a dozen ladies have come more than three thousand miles to "have a finger in the pie." Some of them, without doubt, are exceedingly sensible and clever, and all confessedly pretty, except, perhaps, some few who have passed into "the sear and yellow leaf" of no particular age. It had been the desire, I believe, of most in the Convention to have nothing said about "woman's rights." It was feared that, once introduced, it
would not be so readily disposed of. Several English and American gentlemen, apprehending the result, had waited upon the ladies with a request that they would not press their claims, and the Committee of Management had very politely given them tickets of admission, and showed them at their anti-slavery soirées the utmost attention. "We thank you, gentlemen," said they, "for all your civilities, but we cannot surrender our rights to British or American prejudices; it is an age of emancipation; and it is time for woman to break the fetters which have so long bound her. Shall we see our sisters enslaved, and not lift our voice for their redemption? Woman is in bondage! woman is bought and sold; and shall not woman's voice be heard in the ascending cry of the friends of humanity? Yes, it shall be heard. We have not come three thousand miles to sign the warrant of woman's degradation; to yield to that cruel spirit of proscription which shuts the mouth of woman when she thinks it her duty to plead for her enslaved sister. We can be gagged at home, gentlemen, without taking the trouble to cross the Atlantic. No! we will present our credentials, and throw upon the Convention the responsibility of denying us our right to a seat.”
To the Convention they came; where the question came up on the docket, and received a full and boisterous discussion. Each side had some argument, considerable eloquence, and abundance of noise. The tumult and confusion exceeded all description.
CONTEST WITH THE LADIES.
Much of the time there were from ten to twenty persons trying to get the floor, screaming at the top of their voices. There were laughter, and smiles, and tears; there were groans, and shouts, and huzzas; there were beautiful faces pale with sorrow, and others flushed with passion; and yet I do not quite like to say so, but the honesty of truth requires many a disagreeable task of the historian.
Said the advocates of the fair philanthropists, "These ladies have come to this Convention with the same commissions as the men, signed by the same hands, and they have the same right to their seats."
Well," replied the Conservatives, or Anti-Women-Men, or anything else you please to call them, "well, the committee who issued the call for the Convention did not intend to embrace the ladies."
"Well! pray who would you embrace, then?” (a very grave question, to be sure): "we have been admitted to Conventions in America."
"But here the case is different. Something is due to the customs of the country where you are. Englishwomen do not complain because they are not allowed to deliberate in our assemblies."
"They submit to it because they are slaves, then. Your customs are wrong, and we intend to correct them we will have our rights."
"But it is not a question of rights, but of propriety. Is not something due to the usages of English society ?"
"It is the custom of India to enslave women; of Turkey, to hive them up in harems! Would you submit to the usages of such society?"
"Well! well! we don't call ourselves Hindus nor Turks: won't you pay some regard to our customs?"
"Well, well! we don't call ourselves slaves, and won't you pay some regard to human rights; not man's rights, but woman's rights too?"
"And thus between one side and t'other,
The words flew thick as Thracian arrows."
Said George Thompson, "I see before me that Spartan band of women who stood between me and death while I was in America. I cannot deny them their seats. Let them participate with us in this great and glorious work. Let their advice direct us. Let their sympathy and smiles encourage us. Let their devotion make us faithful."
"But" (from all sides except from the ladies) "they are out of their sphere; we would not exclude them from co-operating with us." ("Well, why deny us our seats, then ?") "We don't deny you your seats! Have you not got your seats? Are you not sitting in your seats?" (Certainly not: for they had all risen, to have a good point of observation to know what was going on.) "No! we won't exclude them from this hallowed work" ("You do, you do!"); "but we would have them co-operate with us as do the women of England—silently, but powerfully."
DR. BOWERING'S SPEECH.
"Silently, indeed! You would have us tonguetied, would you?"
"No! not if we could!" If you had been there, dear, you would have had no apprehensions that any member of the Convention was likely to be tongue-tied; though it would have helped the business of the meeting wonderfully if about five hundred tongues could have been tied.
Said Dr. Bowering, the accomplished Oriental scholar and elegant debater, "I blush to think that English philanthropists, who have had the sunshine of popular favour thrown around their path, and been loudly applauded for all their zeal, should so violate the high considerations of a lofty humanity, as to exclude from this Convention that noble band of women who have laboured so long and so faithfully in America for the down-trodden slave-opposed as they have been by a thousand obstacles we have never been obliged to contend with-assailed by violence and covered with abuse; yet boldly and bravely defending the sublime principles of justice, mercy, and truth. What! tell women who have displayed a magnanimity and a high daring that Sparta's sons even might have been proud of in Sparta's best days; women, who have been foremost in danger, leading the van in the battles of humanity, that they cannot be permitted to sit down and mingle in our sympathies and councils, and exult with us over our triumphs! God ford, that while all this is true, Englishmen, who have sung hozannas to their VOL. I.-L