Imagens das páginas
PDF
ePub

alteration during the debate, and that I have now made up my mind to defend and vote for the ladies.

In the first place, Sir, I think we are necessarily unfair judges: we are interested in the verdict, and therefore ought not to sit upon the judgment-seat. It gratifies our pride to think that we are superior to the other sex; and reflection upon this point has convinced me, that upon the ground of good taste and modesty alone, we ought at once to give up the point, and admit woman's claims to be at least equal to our own.

Reason also moves me to adopt the same conclusion. I concede at once that there are great differences between the capacities of the sexes ; but not greater than between various races of our own sex. The African savage is inferior to the European philosopher. Why? Because he has not been educated. So with woman. When you can show me that woman has received the same advantages as man, and has not then equalled him, why then I will vote against her; but not till then.

Besides, — the differences, though innate, are not differences of amount, but of detail. A man who has a five-shilling piece, and a man who has ten sixpences, are equally rich : just in the same manner woman may be as intellectually great as man, only possessing her mental wealth in differ

ent coin from his. He has one set of qualities; she has another. He has judgment, she has tact. He has boldness, she has prudence. He has courage, she has caution. He has reason, she has hope! Add up the two sides, and though the figures are different, the amount will be the

same.

It has been said that as woman is commanded in Scripture to obey, she must necessarily be inferior. This by no means follows. There must be a head : they cannot both rule: though equal, therefore, one must submit. The philosophers and statesmen of this country obey the sovereign who is placed over them; but that does not prove them to be inferior to that sovereign in intellect. This argument has in fact nothing to do with the matter.

In conclusion, I would say, that as the Creator formed woman to be a help meet for man, I cannot believe that she was made inferior. given to him as a companion and a friend, not as a slave and servant, and I think that we are displaying great arrogance and presumption, as well as a contemptuous depreciation of our Great Creator's best gifts, if we declare and decide that she who adorns and beautifies and delights our existence, is inferior to ourselves in that intelligence which became a part of man's soul when God breathed into bim the breath of life.

She was

OPENER (in reply). — Mr. Chairman, You have called on me to reply. Now I beg at once and frankly to say, that I, like the last speaker, have undergone conviction during this debate, and that I mean to vote against the proposition which a short time ago I recommended.

I was misled by appearances. I looked into history; but I did not examine it correctly. I looked at the surface only. I saw great deeds, and I saw that men had performed them ; but I did not estimate what had been done silently. I forgot to ask myself how much of the good these men wrought was owing to the wisdom and goodness taught to them in their infancy by their mothers. So with philosophy, so with science. The glitter caught me, and I fear I lost the substance.

I am not sorry, however, that I introduced the question. It has changed those who were wrong, it has confirmed those who were right, and it has caused all to think. Let me hope that all who spoke on my side of the question are, like their leader, converted; and let me in conclusion say, that I trust we shall take to our hearts the truth we adopt; and whilst we vote here, that the mental capacity of the female sex is fully equal to our own, show by our conduct towards that sex, that we feel their high value and

dignity, and treat them in every respect as our full equals and as our best friends.

See Lord JEFFREY's Essays, vol. iii. p. 380, et seq.

MADAME DE STAËL's WORKS, generally.
EDINBURGH REVIEW, vol. xv. p. 299, &c.
SYDNEY SMITH's WORKS, vol. i. p. 200, &c.
WOMAN's Mission. By Mrs. Ellis.
THE FEMALE POETS OF GREAT BRITAIN.

By Frederic Rowton.
WOMAN IN HER SOCIAL AND DOMESTIC CHA-

RACTER. By Mrs. John Sandford.

QUESTION III.

Is Capital Punishment justifiable ?

OPENER. — Mr. Chairman, I rise to submit to the discussion of this meeting the following important question : “Is Capital Punishment justifiable ?” I feel that I have undertaken a very difficult task ; but urged by a strong, indeed overpowering, sense of duty, I am determined not to flinch from my work, but to perform it to the very best of my ability.

I entertain a deep and solemn conviction, Sir, that the punishment of death is, under any circumstances, a foul and frightful crime. I wish, however, to be distinctly understood to admit that it was not always so. That it was at one period of man's history commanded and approved by the Most High, I at once concede. But the proposition I wish to maintain to-night is – That the practice is now no longer justifiable in any supposable case.

In the first place, Capital Punishment is condemned by policy. It is an undeniable fact -a fact so well known as to call for no proof from

« AnteriorContinuar »