Imagens das páginas
PDF
ePub

sisterly love and maternal solicitude ? I think, Sir, that it is unwise and unfair to judge between the two. The spheres of the sexes are different, and require different powers; but though different in degree, they may be, and I believe they are, fully equal in amount.

SIXTH SPEAKER.—Sir, A gentleman who spoke a few moments since, asked us whether we were not bound to say that as woman's braiu is smaller than man’s, she is necessarily man's intellectual inferior. I see no such necessity. The dog's brain is smaller than the calf's; but the dog is, notwithstanding, much the more intelligent of the two. Mere size of brain proves nothing, for diseased brains are often the largest: our friend, therefore, need not fear to vote for the ladies upon this account.

The opener of the debate said rather plausibly, that as the male sex can boast a Shakspere, a Milton, and a Byron, whilst the other sex cannot, therefore the male sex must be superior. It is but a poor argument, Sir, when plainly looked at. We should recollect that there is but one Shakspere, but one Milton, but one Byron! Who can say that the female sex may not some day surpass these writers, famous though they be ?

Another gentleman spoke of Philosophers. Let me remind him (for he seems to have forgotten, or not to know that the female sex can claim a De Staël, a Somerville, and a Mary Wolstoncroft.

Not that I would claim for the ladies, for one moment, any merit on this ground. I think that scientific and literary excellence is by no means a laurel worth their gathering. Learning - I mean scholastic learning — does not sit gracefully on the female mind: a blue-stocking is proverbially disagreeable. Woman's office is to teach the heart, not the mind; and when she strives for intellectual superiority, she quits a higher throne than ever she can win.

SEVENTH SPEAKER.—Sir, The gentleman who called this a question of difference, not of amount, of intellect, put the question, to my thinking, in its proper light. I quite agree with the opener of the debate, that in mere mental power, in mere clearness, force, and intensity of intellect, the male sex is unquestionably superior to the female. When we see the great names arrayed on the one hand, and the names, though great, yet mentally much smaller, on the other, we cannot, I think, have a doubt upon the matter. See, too, what man has done ; I mean mechanically and palpably. Ile has discovered new shores, founded empires and dynasties, discerned and applied mechanical forces, conquered stupendous difficulties, accomplished great things wherever he has been. What has woman done in comparison -I mean visibly done? I need not press the question, for the answer must be on all our lips — comparatively nothing ! But, at the same time, I can by no means admit that this proves woman to be inferior to the other sex. Much of what man has done results from his superior physical strength; and, moreover, if man has done great things visibly and mentally, woman has accomplished great things morally and silently. In every stage of society she has kept alive the conscience, refined the manners, and improved the taste; in barbarism and in civilization alike, she has gladdened the homes, and purified the hearts of those she has gathered round her.

Whilst, therefore, I admit, that in mental strength woman is not, and can never be, equal to the other sex, I maintain that her superior morality makes the balance at least even.

EIGHTH SPEAKER. — I am quite ready to concede, Sir, with the last speaker, that in the private and domestic virtues the female sex is superior to the male: but I cannot go so far with him as to say that man is morally woman's inferior. For which are the highest moral virtues ? Courage, fortitude, endurance, perseverance; and these I think man possesses far more prominently than woman. Let the field of battle test his courage : with what heroic boldness he faces certain death: His fortitude again : what shocks he bears, wbat bereavements he patiently sustains! Mark his endurance, too. Privation, hunger, cold, galling servitude, heavy labour, these he suffers oftentimes, without a murmur. See also how he perseveres ! He sets some plan before him. Days, months, years, find it still distant, still unwon : he continues his exertions, and at last he gains the prize. These, Sir, I contend are amongst the highest moral virtues, and I think I have shown that the male sex possesses them more abundantly than the other.

Ninth SPEAKER. —- Sir, I quite agree with the gentleman who spoke last, that courage, endurance, and fortitude are amongst the highest moral virtues; but I do not agree with him when he says that the female sex possesses them in an inferior degree to the male. True, man shows his courage in the battle-field. He faces death, and meets it unshrinkingly. But has not woman courage quite as great ? She fights battles - not a few : oftentimes with want, starvation, and ruin: and bravely indeed does she maintain her ground. Far more bravely than the man, in fact. The first shock overcomes him at once ; when attacked by distress he is in a moment laid prostrate. Then it is, Sir, that woman's moral

courage, endurance, and fortitude shine out the most. She sustains, she cheers, she encourages, she soothes the other: nerves him by her example, invigorates him by her tenderness, and directs him by gentle counsel and affectionate encouragement to put his shoulder to the wheel of his broken fortune, and restore himself to the position he has lost.

And how shall I speak sufficiently of the patience and endurance with which she will brave calamity, tend the couch of sickness, and soothe the bed of death ? I know that not one of us can be a stranger to her inestimable value in seasons such as those just named; and therefore I make sure of general concurrence in my remarks. I think, Sir, it has been fully proved that woman is morally superior to man, and with this observation I shall conclude.

TENTH SPEAKER. – Mr. Chairman, I cannot help thinking that some of the last speakers have wandered a little from the true subject before us. The question was “ Are the mental Capacities of the Sexes equal ?” and the speakers are now hotly discussing whether the sexes are morally equal, with which point I submit we have nothing to do. To bring back the discussion therefore to its proper track, I beg to repeat that which has been yet unanswered, namely, That

« AnteriorContinuar »