Page images
PDF
EPUB

Medical men, and their allies of the volunteer committee, are always ready. Not only drugs, medicines, wines, and cordials are supplied, but all the nameless necessary appurtenances of the bospital or sick-chamber. All common calls are sure of prompt and effectual attention; while in case of epidemics, like Asiatic cholera, the latent organizing force is sufficient to cover the field at once with nurses, watchers, or assistants, with special supplies in ample variety and abundance. The Baroness of Rothschild provides, at her own expense, a sick-kitchen, to furnish food to fifty poor patients every day. A graduated pupil of the girls' free Hebrew schools is chief cook. Under her are sixteen other young Jewesses, training in turn for future skill and usefulness. In the morning, the physician sends in his orders for beef-tea, broth, arrow-root, jelly, or whatever the sick, the convalescent, the feeble, or any under his treatment, require; which is issued in due time, whatever it may be. The cost is considerable, and so is the effect. “Better give up some of our dispensaries,” says Dr. Stallard, “and open sick-kitchens in stead.” And every one who has had occasion to lament the want of wholesome and suitable food, more than even of medi. cine, for the sick poor, must agree with him as to the importance of our borrowing this admirable feature, which the Baroness conducts with a generous heart and an open purse.

To sum up, in closing, a few leading features of the system: First, it is one of personal devotion to the well-being of man and the highest interests of society. The Jewish Guardians of the Poor are drawn from their most influential and intelligent members. Men and women of the best culture, ability, and rank gladly volunteer their services as principals or assistants.

Next, the whole spirit is that of confidence and respect, as well as of affection, towards the claimant of their bounty. However lowly, however poor, he is, still they cheerfully confess the equal, the neighbor and brother, of the lofty and the rich. He must be so received and so treated as not to lose sight of this himself. The crowning aim is to preserve and

strengthen the sentiment of self-respect. Despondency or despair, even any approach to undue self-distrust and selfdepreciation, destroys the best hope of human peace and improvement.

Again, the whole plan is grounded upon a religious faith in “ the God of their fathers.” Rich and poor alike depend on that Will which at once divides and unites them. So they can live and work together in humility and in hope, neither unduly exalted nor unduly depressed. One God, one Law, one Love, admit that, and every thing else follows of itself.

The Ministry at Large in Boston has, for more than forty years, been pursuing a series of measures closely resembling those here described. This mission, inspired by the eloquence of Channing and sustained by the labors of Tuckerman, was pre-eminently due to the practical piety and philanthropy of Henry Ware. As pastor of the church in Hanover Street, and a resident of that section of the city, he yearned to render his ministry serviceable to the poor not enrolled in his or in any of our parishes. They passed him daily in the streets; they toiled and rested, suffered and sinned, perchance, beneath the shadow of his church-walls,--alas! only a shade upon their path. His own flock sufficed not for his sacred charge. Here were neighbors to be loved and served and saved, as himself and as his own. With a noble band of young men and women to second his endeavors, he established the Ministry at Large. Two years later, Dr. Tuckerman entered the field with a zeal and devotion which have secured for him the credit that was really due to Mr. Ware. From its commencement to the present hour, the aim has been to introduce into the charities of Boston, and of every place provided with this ministry, all the best features of the Hebrew system in the great metropolis. The visits from house to house; the bounties of the poor's purse; the chapel movements, with all their schools and services; the two leading branches of the “Society for the Prevention of Pauperism” and the “Provident Association,” with the network of complementary and subsidiary instrumentalities introduced by the Ministry at Large, or yet to

spring from it, - these give an outline of what we trust may be combined hereafter in a well-arranged and amply endowed and amended Poor-law Administration, not for this city alone, but ultimately for our whole country.

ART. VI. WOMAN IN PUBLIC LIFE.

The College, the Market, and the Court. By CAROLINE H. DALL.

Boston: Lee & Shepard.

This volume, as a recent, interesting, and cogent statement of the practical questions affecting the author's own rights and position, as one of the class she represents, has, in the discussion, a value which we can claim for no remarks of ours. Wholly agreeing with most of her arguments and deductions, regarded from her point of view, there is, however, a province of the discussion to which she has not given all the attention to which we think it entitled ; and it is as to this that we shall offer most of the following remarks. Naturally enough, her book assumes the old ground of antagonism or disparity between the sexes, rather than the absolute ground of unprejudiced reason and impartial right. There is, we must confess, too much reason for this. Woman is still too generally regarded, on account of the transmitted opinions and usages of the past, as a mere appendage to man. Now, the truth of the greatest importance to be considered is, that the element of humanity, not the element of sex, is the supreme fact by which the question should be determined. And the emphasis here given to one side in this discussion is the legitimate reply to an unjust and cruel prejudice on the other side. Seen from the point of view of absolute morality, man is no more a child of God and an heir of the eternal universe, than woman. She has a personal destiny of her own to fulfil, irrespective of him; just as much as he has one, irrespective of her. If, as a woman, she looks up to him, he, as a man, looks up to her; but as human

beings, with nature, society, and fate before them, they both look up to God, whether together or separately. “The most important duty of woman,” it has been said, “is to perfect man." Why so? No one would say that the most important duty of man is to perfect woman. And yet, why is it not just as much his duty to be her servant, as it is her duty to be his servant? It is a remnant of barbaric prejudice, preserved from the ages of brute force, which makes the difference in the estimate. The first duty of every human being is self.perfection. The ideal of marriage is the mutual perfection of both parties. In its truest idea, marriage is an institution for the perfecting of the race, by the perfecting of individual men and women through their co-operating intelligence and affection. To limit its end to the perfecting of the man alone, is the highest stretch of masculine arrogance. Is it not a just inference, that, if woman is as completely a human unit as man, she has an equal right with him to the use of every means of self-development in the fulfilment of her destiny? The foremost claim to be made in behalf of women, therefore, is liberty, -as untrammelled a choice of occupation and mode of life, as free a range of individuality and spiritual fruition, as is granted to men.

But would this really be an advance, or a retrogression ? Many maintain that it would be subversive of the genuine progress of civilization, to abandon the prejudices and throw down the bars which have hitherto restrained women from a full share in the chosen avocations and ambitions of men. All improvement is marked, they say, by an increase of differences, greater separation and complexity of offices. Therefore, to efface or lessen the social distinctions between the sexes would be to reverse the order of development. Auguste Comte, who felt a strong interest in this subject, and had a deep insight into some of its data, says, “ All history assures us, that, with the growth of society, the peculiar features of each sex have become not less but more distinct. Woman may persuade, advise, judge; but she should not command. By rivalry in the selfish pursuits of life, mutual affection between the sexes would be corrupted at its source.

There is a visible tendency towards the removal of women, wherever it is possible, from all industrial occupations. Christianity has taken from them the priestly functions they held under Polytheism. With the decline of the principle of caste, they are more rigidly excluded from royalty and every kind of political authority. Thus their life, instead of becoming independent of the Family, is becoming more concentrated in it. That Man should provide for Woman is a law of the human race,-a law connected with the essentially domestic character of female life."

There is a larger admixture of error in the foregoing representation, than is usual with this deep and original thinker on social ethics. On this point, the conventional masculine prejudices retained a sway very strange in his case. Let us see what the truth is. It is true that differences increase with the progress of society; it is also true that similarity increases. There is both a minuter subdivision of functions, and a wider freedom of choice in the selection of their functions, by individuals. In the rudest state, the relative condition and mode of life of whole classes are rigidly fixed by their birth or by arbitrary violence. As science and art are developed, and wealth accumulated, the varieties of industry and of social rank are largely multiplied; and liberty of choice is extended, and facility of change is increased. Once there was a royal caste, a priestly caste, a warrior caste, a servile caste, determined by blood, and unalterable. These invidious castes are now, for the most part, broken down, and their several functions comparatively open to all wbo, observing the conditions, choose to fulfil them. The most prevalent and obstinate of caste distinctions is that of sex; the monopoly by man of public action, power, and honor; the exclusion of one-half of our race from what men regard as the highest social prerogatives, - an exclusion which was no deliberate act, but a natural result of historic causes. This usurpation, or rather development, so organized by immemorial usage as to have become a second nature in both parties, is at last beginning to reveal its injustice, and to give way. In savage life, a woman is little

« PreviousContinue »