Page images

seems to be founded in the idea that there was some incongruity between the affections and the intellectual powers, as though there was some antagonism between them; that one must decrease as the other increases. With equal propriety might we caution the student of music to beware, lest by cultivating the ear he should destroy the powers of vision. The greatest force, that can possibly be given to such a position, is, that while the pure intellectual pursuits are followed, the affections may lie dormant, but this even need not be the case, and perhaps never is. The most powerful impulses to the growth of the noblest affections of our nature, may be associated with the purely intellectual acquisitions, and ever ought to be, and by every instructor of youth is, if he rightly understand and perform the very first duties to his pupils.

Can the benevolent affections be more powerfully influenced for good, than by tracing the laws, that govern the world of intellect and matter, all established as they are, by the boundless benevolence of the Creator? Even the tracing of the relations of number and quantity, in pure mathematics, brings the soul into a state of quiet and calmness altogether favorable for the reception of all that is good and noble in human character. Who ought to feel more the pressing weight of all social duties; whose eye is moistened with sympathy sooner than his, who learns to hold concourse with the works of God, where nothing is isolated, but all are united and fitted each to sustain its part in the great operations of the Creator? But we are told, in the next sentence, that the very term feminine implies just what is involved in this proposition." The Professor does not tell us, how he makes this out. It must be by some "hocus pocus" in etymology with which common people are unacquainted. There is nothing obvious about the origin of the word, that has the slightest bearing that way; but, on the contrary, does allude to one of the undisputed differences of the sexes.

We are told that "when the mere dry intellect predominates over the affections, she ceases to be woman, but becomes in all her mental structure a man." To the last proposition,

in this assertion, we have no objection, for if she has any mental structure at all, it must be like that of man. As we have intimated before, we have never seen any proof, that distinction of sexes extended to the mind, any more than to vision, taste or smell. When we have proof of female sight distinct from male sight, and governed by different laws and requiring different means for its cultivation, then and not till then we may, by analogy, admit that mind is subject to this distinction of sexes. This idea has been harped upon by some of the lords of creation, who would seem to indicate, by the absurdity of the positions, that they were anxious to conceal their own want by asserting that of others.

The first proposition in the above extract we must emphatically deny as bearing with any practical effect on the subject. Such a case Prof. S. never saw. And such an one we venture to assert never existed. Having had quite an extensive acquaintance with females for more than twenty years we have never seen any approach to it, and hence our confidence in the above assertion. We have seen hundreds suffering sadly for the want of a cultivated intellect, but never saw one suffering from its excessive cultivation. And were we giving evidence in a court of justice, we should have no hesitation in giving it as the truth, to the best of our knowledge and belief, that in those in whom the intellectual powers were the most highly developed and the most highly cultivated, all the benevolent affections were in a corresponding state. It has been our experience, without an exception, that the most intellectual females we have ever known, have been most emphatically feminine in all their feelings and actions. The legitimate tendeney of high intellectual power ever is to give true direction to all our native impulses. Its tendency is to calm the turbu lent passions, and when it does not do it, they break over all its teachings. The idea of "the intellect predominating over the affections" is an assumption. They have nothing in common in the sense in which Prof. S. uses them. In no sense can they have any other relation, than that the mind may, by right cultivation, aid in carrying out the impulses of the af

fections; or if improperly trained, may be exerted to draw off the affections from appropriate objects.

Prof. S. tells us, that the highest powers of mind are not required by woman in her station. Woman needs affections, "man dry intellect. Undue sensibility would be misplaced in him. The woman with her sensibilities is the balance wheel, to the excessive impulses of his mere intellectual functions. The one by his superior insight pointing out the way, the other by her regulated motive power guiding the steps of both aright."

Without taking advantage, as an opponent, of the manifest false logic in the above argument, we keep to the points for which they are quoted. First, a woman does need the highest powers of mind in her station. We presume he meant to be understood to say, that in bringing up a family, a woman needs but very little pure intellect; that the duties of mother, wife, and the proper position of a woman need no great intellectual faculties for their perfect performance. Now if Prof. S. really believes any such thing, he is not far in advance, in his notions, of the position of woman of some Eastern nations, who confine their wives within more circumscribed limits than suit the people of our land. If we start with the position, that woman has no independence, no personal, individual responsibilities, then such doctrine may do; but if it is admitted that she has individual, personal duties to perform for which she alone is held responsible to her Creator; if she is responsible for the management of a family and for the early development of the human faculties, then the case assumes a very different aspect. Admitting this, and all the powers ever possessed by a human intellect can find an ample field on which to exert themselves. Indeed they may be many times multiplied beyond anything usually manifested, and there will be felt to be a deficiency still. The world is not cursed by intellectual cultivation either in males or females. It is cursed with the want of it, especially in females. To train the young mind in the right manner; to apply the right stimulus at the

right time, and in the right quantity and direction; to impose the proper restraint; to know when to relax and when to tighten the reins; to seek the best mode, time, and place to impress the infant and youthful intellect with the great truths of revelation; to choose out the times and seasons for making appeals for the interest of the soul, and making the story of the cross produce its legitimate effect, and thousands of other things, need all the sagacity and intellectual power that ever was bestowed upon man. And he who thinks differently commits a sad mistake. The benevolent affections, with a moderate share of intellect, do much in the absence of higher intellectual powers. All, or nearly all the good in that direction which has been accomplished, has been done by them with very little aid. In very early childhood, they may do much; but in later years, they accomplish but little, and the little they accomplish is often uprooted from an after course. How many young men or young women reverence the judgment of their mother? Or in times when passions are struggling for mastery, do they yield to the power of a mother's will? And why? Because the mother has no power. She is powerless in such a conflict. She has not that indescribable influence, which flashes from the eye and the whole countenance, which can only be eliminated by a powerful, well trained intellect working within. With this, she curbs the restless elements, and hushes them to silence, which had otherwise carried their victims to ruin and torn a mother's heart with anguish. We do not say that all the wisdom possible on earth, even when joined to ardent piety, would, under all circumstances, be sufficient to guide every child to God. We do most unhesitatingly say, however, that the resistance to maternal authority, the lamentable indifference on the part of sons and daughters to maternal counsel, the utter ruin that overtakes thousands, are due more, than to all other causes, to want of mental discipline on the part of mothers. They have not had the wisdom nor power which their pre-eminently important station demanded. They have entered on responsi

bilities with comparatively little preparation for the proper discharge of the duties for which almost an angel's powers were needed.

Prof. S. lays down the position, that because the affections are naturally most prominent, therefore they ought to receive the most attention in education. This is a non sequitur. We should make the opposite inference. Those endowments which are perfect by nature, need no cultivation, and those that are latent should be brought out by careful training. The proportions in which nature has bestowed her gifts, we are told, ought to be maintained in education; that is, those most perfectly instinctive should receive the most attention. Acting on this principle, the intellectual powers ought to receive no cultivation at all, either in girls or boys; for they are latent and only developed by exercise. Prof. S.'s position works no good to himself certainly; for if it has any force at all, it is as much against males as females. There are always more or less manifestations of mind in children from the very condition of their existence, but no more in boys than in girls, and that fact is fatal to the Professor's position.

He adduces two examples to prove the general principle with which he set out. These are Miss Margaret Fuller and Miss Martineau. He could not have chosen two more unfortunate examples to sustain the evil effects of high mental culture. If there were ever two individuals that stood as striking examples of improper mental training, they are the individuals. They were treated as reservoirs into which every sort of element was poured without stint or measure, and the result was just what might be expected. In the effervescence. of so heterogeneous a mass, there was a perfect tumult, sending to the surface froth and foam, suitable for no condition of human beings. And they are just what Prof. S.'s system would produce, for they were treated, as he directs, as receivers not as producers.

When Prof. S. speaks of the intellectual powers being subservient to the affections, (as on page 258) we do not know what he means.

The utmost we can gather from it is, that there

« PreviousContinue »