Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 30.djvu/186

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172
THE POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY.

and superior teachers, but female orators, female politicians, and female censors all round—women who claim for themselves the leadership of life on the ground of a superior morality and clearer insight than have men. In dealing with the woman question, we can never forget the prominent characteristics of the sex—their moral vanity, coupled with their love of domination. The great mass of women think they know better than they can be taught; and on all moral questions claim the highest direction and the noblest spiritual enlightenment. Judging from sentiment and feeling, they refuse the testimony of facts; the logic of history has no lesson for them, nor has any unwelcome science its rights or its truths. They are Anglo-Israelites, but not the products of evolution; and ghosts are real where germs are imaginary. This sentiment, this feeling, is like some other things, a good servant but a bad master. When backed by religious faith it stops at no superstition; when backed by moral conviction, it is a tyranny under which the free energies of life are rendered impossible; when backed by a little knowledge, it assumes infallibility. Scarcely a week passes without some letter in the papers, wherein an imperfectly educated woman attacks a master in his profession, on the ground of her sentiment as superior to his facts—her spiritual enlightenment the Aaron's rod which swallows up his inferior little serpents of scientific truths. This restless desire to shoot with all bows—Ulysses', Nestor's, whose one will—may be, and probably is, the first effervescence of a ferment which will work itself clear by time and use. It is to be hoped so; for the pretensions to supremacy, by reason of their superiority, of women in these later times is not one of the most satisfactory results of the emancipation movement. And they can not be too often reminded that the higher education, with all that this includes, is not meant to supersede their beautiful qualities, but only to strengthen their weak intellectual places and supply their mental deficiencies.

It would not be for the good of the world were the sentiment and tenderness of women to be lost in their philosophic calmness. But as little is it for the advantage of society when that sentiment rules rather than influences, shapes rather than modifies. That old adage about two riding on horseback together, when one must ride behind, is getting a new illustration. Hitherto the man was in front. It was thought that he was the better fitted to both discern the dangers ahead and receive the first brunt of such blows as might be about, while the woman crouched behind the shield of his broad body; and in return for that protection left the reins in his hands and did not meddle with the whip—or if she did, then was she censured while he was ridiculed. Now, things are changing; and on all sides women are seeking to dispossess the men of their places to take them for themselves. In the home and out of the home woman's main desire is for recognized leadership, so that man shall live by their rule. The bed