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“Every one must bare observed the new influence, wbich is not being asserted or sought, but is falling to the lot of women, in swaying the destinies of the world. It is not a share in directing the patronage of ministers or guiding the councils of kings, as in former times, but a portion in the formation and the moulding of public opinion. For a great part of our periodical literature,- for much of that world of fiction in which many live and nearly all cake delight,- we are indebted to the ethereal fancy, the delicate perception, and the grace of expression possessed by women. It seems to me- and I am confirmed in this opinion by the bright examples of heroic benevolence - that if the young generation are to be an improvement on their fathers, if sin is to have less dominion and religion more power, if rice is to be abashed and virtue to be honoured, it is to Woman we must look for such a generation." Opening Address, by LORD JOHN RUSSELL, at the Second Annual Meeting
of the Association for the Promotion of Social Science, 1858.
It was the remark of some very clever man, whose name : at this moment I forget (Addison, I think), that “whenever any satirical exposition is made of the weakness, inconsistency, or vices of men in a general way, every individual man does not therefore feel himself aggrieved, nor called upon to take up the cudgels in defence of his sex; whereas when women are libelled or disparaged, every woman is up in arms, and considers the attack on her sex as a personal affront." This is true; and the reason at least one
is, that when women are derided and satirised, the satire invariably comes from men whose praise or blame women feel intensely, led thereto by a natural instinct and by the whole tendency of their training and education. And if women were to write satires against men (which Heaven forbid I), would not every individual man feel insulted and aggrieved, and called upon to express his disgust and his dissent? The result in both cases arises from the intuitive value which men and women set on each other's good opinion; one of those great natural laws which I believe to have been ordained by Almighty wisdom for the moral elevation of both sexes through mutual attraction and mutual influence well and wisely understood. It will
be a last and fatal step in moral and social degradation when Man cares nothing for the contempt of Woman, or
when Woman holds in light regard the disapprobation - of Man! Hence also is the converse true; and when a
distinguished man publicly addresses kind and reasonable
• I remember that the first time I heard women publicly addressed as members of the community, and co-operating in social objects, was in a speech from Lord Robert Cocil.
phrases; to speak of the “ claims of mankind at large"-the progress of humanity —"the destinies of the world" — the “great human brotherhood"- -as is the manner of philosophers and philanthropists; but it means something more real, more vital, more heart-felt and home-felt, when we speak of “men” and of “women". - not to disunite them— not implying thereby any separation of those divine and earthly interests held in common, and through which they form in the aggregate the great social community, but to bring them before us with their equal but still distinct humanity; their equal but still distinct need of divine and * earthly justice and mercy; their equal but still distinct capacities and responsibilities in the great social commonwealth.
This argument of the distinct claims of the two sexes, without mutual discord, of their necessary communion in all social work without disturbance of the natural domestic relations, I have endeavoured to illustrate in the two Lectures (or Essays) which follow. They were first published in 1855 and 1856. The degree of attention they excited at the time, was owing, I believe, partly to the novelty of some of the views suggested, and yet more to the coincidence of some public events, which gave to these views a more direct application - a more immediate interest. When two editions were soon exhausted, I did not think of republishing them, because, as it appeared to me, they had accomplished their object as far as anything so imperfect could do so. Lately, however, many of the subjects touched upon -- happily no longer
have assumed a new degree of importance. The progress of opinion has indeed been so rapid, even within the last three or four years, that many suggestions, which in these pages were put forth hesitatingly because in opposition to established prejudices, are no longer in danger of being overborne by such prejudices; the
tide of public feeling is flowing with them, not against them; and many facts, then strange and startling, have become familiar to the public mind,—their result a part of the public creed. It has been represented to me, that a new edition might at this time do good, and give encouragement to many doubting and struggling spirits, by showing that certain questions and certain objections have, to a certain extent, been anticipated and answered; and it is because of the candid and generous feeling evinced by yourself, my Lord, by Lord Brougham (who alluded especially to these Essays), by Lord Shaftesbury, Lord Carlisle, and others, that I venture to place this new edition under the auspices of the Society for the Promotion of Social Science; while to your Lordship, as PRESIDENT, I presume to address some prefatory observations on the present condition and requirements of the women of England.
It is true, that since these Lectures were first published, the progress of opinion in all things that concern us is more than satisfactory. The legislature of this country has granted two measures of justice to women, the protection of her property, and a revision of the conjugal and divorce laws. Every woman,- at least every refined and thoughtful woman,- knows that on the sanctity and permanence of the marriage bond depends the dignity and happiness of woman; but we also know how terrible it is to be left without any possibility of honourable redress for dishonourable wrong. There is yet room for amendment in regard to the machinery by which these recent enactments are carried out, which indeed is so imperfect and unpractical that it is as if our Government and our courts of justice had conspired together to render them nugatory; but the principle has been admitted, and is working well. If I have, notwithstanding, left my observations on the former state of the law, and on the