« ПредыдущаяПродолжить »
cipline. A strong argument in favor of establishments like the one which we behold to-day, is their anti-metropolitan influence. If they have attendant evils, they are not such as are incident to a city. They proceed on the assumption, that the female mind is too noble in its origin, too sublime in its destiny, too exquisite in its structure, to be a mere automaton, moved by the impulses of a fond admiration, or the decrees of a blind fashion. They assume, what has always been allowed in respect to men, that a plan in edu cation, well considered and coherent, is indispensable.
If we wish our country women to be any thing but the slaves of the latest Parisian importations, or the mere idols of an hour, they must be taught patiently and perseveringly. Mind is the same in either sex, and everywhere. A symmetrical education and a useful life are not the creations of accident, either in man or woman.
IV. We argue, again, in favor of the systematic and protracted education of females, from one or two circumstances in the condition and prospects of the country.
We are no Cassandras. We do not like to be Micaiahs,
- prophets of evil. We have strong hopes that the American experiment will succeed. We believe that the republican theory is the better, not only relatively, but absolutely. It has fitnesses, which nothing else has, to the nature and wants of man as such. Every year in our history proves this. The people of this country are not atheists. There is more fear of God pervading the public mind than we sometimes imagine. It may not appear on the surface. Deism may run to and fro along the great thoroughfares of our land. But when an exigency comes, when a terrible calamity intervenes, like that which we have just passed through, there are a thousand unexpected developments.
which show that we are not altogether reprobate. We trust that our great country has not seen its best days. The working together of the true principles of freedom and of religion will at length exhibit a degree of prosperity, and a kind of national character, which the race have never yet
But this consummation to be desired above all things earthly is to be brought about, if at all, by the thorough, comprehensive, Christian education of the people. Among the most imminent dangers are those which result from the jealousy and enmity of the different portions of the United States, menacing disunion; and such as are the legitimate product of ignorance among the mass of the people. The remedies are to be found in an adequate intellectual and Christian training. That education is not worth much, which does not make its possessor charitable in his judgments, urbane, large-hearted, a lover of his country, of every part of it. An exclusive cultivation of the mental powers may not have this effect; but the harmonious development of all the faculties of the soul must have such a tendency. A course of study like that pursued in the Mount Holyoke Seminary, if it could be extended into every State of the Union, would be one of the firmest props of that Union. No disorganizing influences ever emanate from it. No beetle-eyed prejudice, no narrow-minded bigotry, can find a home where the sciences are truly taught. The air which is breathed is too invigorating; the impulses which it prompts are too noble.
It will be equally potent in putting an end to ignorance. The religious delusions, which infest some large portions of our country, and which it is an insult to the human understanding even to name, are the rank growth of ignorance.
There is no end to these popular hallucinations, and there never will be, till a sound common-school education is the inheritance of the mass of the youth of our country; and until a large number of both sexes are enabled to pursue an ampler and more finished course. The best antidote for the new dispensation of military saints at Nauvoo, in Illinois, is the flourishing seminary, the Holyoke of the West, which has risen up in the same State. The education which is acquired in such schools, forms a well-balanced character, furnishes healthful employment for the mind, renders it skilful in detecting the lying wonders of the prophets of Baal, and gradually stations through the country those who will readily cooperate in extending the benefits of true science and of real religion. Such institutions are the antagonists of religious error, because they correct that intense craving for novelty, that passion for excitement on which the adroit impostor founds his system. It is not enough that men are thoroughly taught. The female portion of the community partake largely in the evils of these popular frenzies. Obvious causes make them peculiarly susceptible to influences of this nature. An ignorant and superstitious family supplies the materials on which the Latter-Day Saint operates to the greatest advantage. The sound, scientific, Scriptural education of the mothers and daughters and female schoolteachers of our land, would furnish a most effectual safeguard against the repetition of scenes, which alike blast our honor and menace the existence of our valuable institutions.
We cannot close these already protracted remarks, without adverting to one or two objections, which are sometimes alleged against an extensive course of female education, like the one which we have now commended.
The most common and plausible objection, perhaps, is this. It will alienate the student from home-bred pleasures. She may have large stores of knowledge, but they will be earned at too great a cost. The discipline is not fitted to the peculiar sphere of duties in which she will be called to
This assumption we take the liberty to deny. It is not borne out by the experience of the past. Learning and domestic virtues have gone hand in hand. In every age, the best-educated females have been the best examples of all which is praiseworthy in social life. The lady of the great metaphysician of New England, in the last century, is one instance among a hundred which might be named. The Essay on the Freedom of the Human Will was the product of the leisure which she supplied.* The lady of Old England, who has carried her astronomical studies further than
* The lady of the great mathematician of New England merits a similar eulogy. In Dr. Bowditch's affecting dedication of his Translation of the Mécanique Céleste to his wife, it is stated, that without her approbation the work would never have been undertaken; and that it owes its completion to the fact, that she entirely relieved her husband from domestic care and anxiety by her admirable manage
Morus, in his Life of the celebrated Reiske, says: "The wife of Reiske, Ernestina Christiana Müller, was a singular instance of a woman united in a literary partnership with her husband, in addition to the love, faithfulness, amenity, truth, etc., which made her society very delightful. In describing and collating MSS., in digesting various readings, and in all the exhausting labors incident to an editor of ancient writers, she so assisted him that he had nothing more to desire." In the Preface to his edition of Demosthenes, Reiske gives her a warm and merited culogy. The last three volumes were ably edited by her after his death. She was alike familiar with the ancient and modern
languages. Vita Reiskii, p. 38.
many educated men are able to follow her, revolves, in private life, in no starry sphere, but in a tranquil domestic orbit. The sweet singer of the Landing of the Pilgrims was never accused of any deficiency in filial or maternal duties. Indeed, in this last particular, she had a twofold task. It was practical and not poetic toil, which caused her sun to set ere it was yet noon. It was the every-day hardship of writing for bread, which extinguished those visions with which her imagination was instinct.
What we thus prove from indisputable facts, we might argue from the nature of the case. "It is not because individuals possess genius," says a great living writer," that they make unhappy homes; but because they do not possess genius enough; a higher order of mind would enable them to see and feel all the beauty of domestic life." Learning or genius, in man or in woman, fits them for their duties, wherever they may be. There is no discrepancy between a thorough education and the hardest manual labor. Education, when we look at its very etymology, draws out the powers of the soul. Its result is a symmetrical character. True science is always modest and helpful. The tendency of good learning is to level all distinctions which are not founded in truth. It imparts dignity to every lawful pursuit. It surrounds home with new attractions. No one can enter into the meaning of that word so well as a scholar. It helps him to appreciate with a warmer interest the humble, and perhaps uneducated toilers there. She who makes learning any excuse for the omission of practical duties, may be sure that her learning is as scanty as her benevolence. The anti-domestic influence, which has been attributed to female schools, if it exists, is certainly the result of something besides learning. There has not been time for