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NORTH BRITISH REVIEW,
FOR FEBRUARY, 1857.
Art. 1.-1. The Communion of Labour ; a) and using, as they journey onwards, many
Lecture on the Social Employments of variform vehicles of thought. Much as we Women. By Mrs. JAMESON. London, may deplore some of these varieties, which 1856.
are undoubtedly grotesque and unservicea2. Woman in the Nineteenth Century, and ble, it is perhaps hardly right that we should
kindred Papers relating to the Sphere, condemn them. If we say anything, thereCondition, and Duties of Woman. By fore, of a not very complimentary character,
MARGARET FULLER Ossoli. Boston, 1855. with reference to the writings of any one of 3. Hertha. By FREDERIKA BREMER. Trans- the ladies whose works we have set before
lated by Mary Howit. London, 1856. us, it must be accepted rather as the lan4. The Public Function of Woman ; a guage of expostulation as regards herself, of
Sermon preached at the Music Hall, March warning as regards others, than of censure 27, 1853. By THEODORE PARKER. Lon- or of ridicule. There may be pure feelings don, 1855.
and honest convictions where there are in5. Woman and her Wishes: an Essay. By coherent words and preposterous grimaces.
THOMAS WENTWORTH NEGGINSON. Lon- We opened Margaret Fuller's book with don, 1854.
great expectations, and we were proportion6. Remarks on the Education of Girls, with ately disappointed. Expostulation cannot
References to the Social, Legal, and In- reach her; therefore, all we have to say redustrial Position of Women in the pre- specting the book before us can only prosent day. By BESSIE RAYNER PARKES, ceed as a caution to others. If there be a
Second Edition. London, 1856. subject on which it especially behoves all 7. Little Millie and her Four Places. By who address themselves to its consideration
MARGARET MARIA BREWSTER. Edin. to speak in plain intelligible language, it is burgh, 1855.
on this subject of the vocation of women. 8. Lectures to Ladies on Practical Subjects. But Margaret Fuller has written on Woman Cambridge, 1855.
in the nineteenth century in language which
may be plain and intelligible in the United It is very meet and right that women States, but which certainly is not in the should write on this “woman's question." United Kingdom. We require an interIt is a necessity that they should write
of it preter to convey to us the meaning of such with much diversity of expression. From passages as the following: England, Scotland, Sweden, America, and other parts of the civilized world, come ut- “The especial genius of women I believe to be terances, more or less articulate and intelli- electrical in movement, intuitive in function, spigible, of cognate origin and with kindred ritual in tendency. She excels not so easily in object--all starting with a general recog. seizure of causes, and a simple breathing out of
classification, or recreation, as in an instinctive nition of the fact that there is “ something what she receives, that has the singleness of life wanting," and tending to the common as- rather than the selecting and energizing of art.” surance that “ something must be done” to supply the want—but arriving at the goal We confess ourselves to be wholly imby many different roads, devious or direct, pervious to the sense of this, if there be any VOL. XXVI.
sense in it; and the light which is let into of a life. But by amateur work we mean such us by the context is of the feeblest, if there work as people take upon themselves, from he any to illumine us at all. Mrs. Jameson impulse, from táste, or from a sense of duty says, that men complain of the preponder a free gift, a voluntary contribution, as it ance of the abstract and intangible in wo- were, to the world's store. The other work men's writings on this great subject. The of which we speak is the growth of hard complaint would not be unreasonable or un- necessity-the necessity in some wise to just if all women wrote like this. Imagine labor with one's body, if one is to live the bewilderment of a young girl in palace honestly, or at all. It is of this latter work or in cottage, at the piano or at the wash that we propose principally to speak. tub, on being told that her genius is “elec- And yet we do not underrate the importtrical in movement, intuitive in function, ance of the former branch of the subject. and spiritual in tendency." An essay on It is to this mainly that Mrs. Jameson has woman in the nineteenth century ought not addressed herself—and very lovingly and to be a string of rhapsodies. What we want intelligently-in her lecture on the “Comis something plain-spoken and practical, munion of Labour.” That women tenderly such as Margaret Brewster writes and Mar- nurtured, carefully educated, and sufficiently garet Fuller does not — something not endowed with the good gifts of the world, about woman's genius, but woman's work. have much unoccupied time, much undirected We have already had too much in connex- energy, and much unavailable talent, is a ion with this subject of the ethereal and the fact which may be deplored, but cannot be spiritual—of mind and music of the soul, denied. There are thousands of women which according to Margaret Fuller, as mo- who, financially, can afford to be idle. dified in women, “flows, breathes, sings, They may lie softly, and live delicately, and rather than deposits soil, or finishes work." fare sumptuously every day, without stretchWomen have been told already, during too ing forth a hand to attain for themselves the many centuries, what it becomes them to means of enjoyment. They toil not, neither be. Now, in this nineteenth century, it is do they spin. Others toil and spin for time that something should be done to them. Their only necessity is to be comely teach them what to do, and to help them to and amiable. They are not born to work; do it. The posse ought now to take the and it seems a mere irrelevance to use so place of the esse in our speculations. It has coarse & word in connexion with their been too long an inherent vice in our sys- sphere of duties._But it is not less their tem of female education, that it has tended duty to work. Every woman, from the wholly to the inculcation of the former. It Queen on the throne to the little “Pippa" has been the presumption that the passive is who "passes,” every day to the Filature, for women, the active only for men. has her work' to do, and is responsible for
We write in the past tense, believing the due performance of it. "All service that, in the “ nineteenth century," 'we are ranks the same with God.” All are servants becoming increasingly alive to the fact, that equally in His sight. the great want of the age is the want of suf- And this truth is beginning to be better ficient employment for women-or rather, and better understood. We believe that at to speak more correctly, with reference to no period of the social history of Great this great matter of the employment of wo- Briiain have the “higher classes of society," men, a proper adaptation of means to the as we are wont to call them, had a stronger end." There is abundant employment for and more abiding sense of their duty to their women, if we will only let them have it. neighbours,—at no period have more streCivilisation throws up her work at the feet nuous efforts been made by those with whom alike of men and women; and the world is now work is not a necessity, to take their proper becoming convinced that the women have not place among the true workmen of the age. yet been suffered to pick up their fair share. The " communion of labour" is in these days
Even a superficial glance at the contents something more than a communion of sexes; of the volumes before us will show that this it is also a communion of classes. There is matter of women's work divides itself into much yet to be done-much yet to be learnt two distinct branches. When we write the by them before our upper classes can free words “ Employment of Women," we do themselves from the reproach of shortcomnot doubt that they convey to different ing and neglect. But it is no small thing to readers very dissimilar ideas. In truth be able to record that they are more alive, there is amateur work, and there is business than they ever yet have been, to a just sense work. Often it happens that amateur work of their duties to the poor, more intent upon is very solemnly undertaken and very stre- learning how to do good, and more earnest in nuously pursued, and is in reality the business their endeavours to do it.
We need not add that in this good mové- from the contamination of the useful as ment the ladies of England would fain be, though the useful and 'the beautiful were if not in advance of their lords, assuredly no always in vigorous antagonism the one with step behind them. Every man may do the other. · But we are beginning now to something for his neighbours, let his profes. perceive that the useful may be also the sional labours be as great and absorbing as beautiful. Mrs. Jameson in her last lecture they may. Every man can find some time quotes the following prophetic passage from for social pleasures; he may find it, there- Tennyson's " Princess ”fore, for social duties. We cannot in any case admit the plea of "too busy.” But " A kindlier influence reigned, and everywhere women, who have not to go forth every Low voices with the ministering hand morning to their appointed work, and who Hung round the sick. The maidens came, they have domestic servants to aid them in their
talked, household duties, have larger opportunities to gather light, and she that was, became
They sung, they read, till she, not fair, began of contributing to the welfare of their poor- Her former beauty treble ; to and fro, er brethren ; whilst at the same time they Like creatures native unto gracious art, have an acuter perception not only of the And in their own clear element, they moved." real wants and sufferings of the poor, but of the best and readiest means of alleviating This is of course quoted with an inevitable them. In other words, they are more sym- reference to Miss Nightingale and her assopathizing; and sympathy is everything in ciates, who have done so much to prove such matters.
that the useful and the beautiful are not an
tagonistic. Nothing, in these times, is ever “I have the deepest conviction," says Mrs. written on the subject of the employment of Jameson, "founded not merely on my own experience and observation, but on the testimony of women, without a reference to this honoured some of the wisest and best men amongst us, that lady. And in good truth she deserves the to enlarge the working sphere of woman to the honour. But it says little for the past hismeasure of her faculties, to give her a more prac- tory of the ladies of England, that now in tical and authorized share in all social arrange the nineteenth century such womanly efforts ments, which have for their object the ameliora- should have excited no less astonishment tion of evil and suffering, is to elevate her in the than admiration. Such organization of vosocial scale ; and that whatever renders woman. luntary charity was something new and of the people, tends to humanize and refine the strange to the people of England, until a people.
great occasion called forth the great endea
vours of this Christian lady, who found And of this truth we are as deeply con- worthy 'associates willing to share the toil vinced as Mrs. Jameson herself. But what and the peril of her devotion. Not that with our false conventional notions, and the she had not before consecrated herself to jealousy and exclusiveness of men, --women, good works; but that all she had before with desires and faculties for better things, done had been in that quiet unobtrusive way and for larger work, are kept back when which God appreciates more than man. they ought to be encouraged to go forward, And in good truth, we believe that such serand they are compelled continually to hold vice as Florence Nightingale rendered to in restraint the good instincts of their nature her fellows in the Crimea was much more in obedience to a cry, now we hope growing easily performed than that which she had feebler and feebler every day, that to be use. been performing, in unknown places, and ful is to be "unfeminine.”
with little or no eclat, before the great event “ There's nothing," says the great drama of the Russian war, by turning the energies tist, uttering a truth centuries before put forth of her humanity into a new channel, made by Epictetus-" There's nothing either good her a popular heroine. There are thousands or bad but thinking makes it so." "Not of English ladies who, when they heard things themselves, but our ideas or dogmas what their sister had done, would willingly respecting these things, disturb us.* We have done likewise-nay, were eager to do it. have been frightened for many years by the There was so much sustaining excitement word “unfeminine." It had come to be a -so much of romance so much of the dogma of great repute amongst us that all“ pride, pomp, and circumstance of glorious independent action is unfeminine. It seem- war"_it was so certain that the eyes of all ed to be one of the first social duties of men England, of all Europe, were turned toto keep their wives and sisters and daughters wards the countries to which our armies had
proceeded—that it needed very little forti* Tapácoeuv Tovç évbpú tous o tà mgúyuara, tude, very little self-sacrifice, to participate αλλά τα περί των πραγμάτων δογμάτα. .
in such an enterprise. We wish that we could believe that all, who were so well developed charity, to which the war gave inclined to minister to the wants of our only a temporary direction. The war may bearded Crimean heroes at Scutari are, now have made this lady famous, but it did not that the war is over, no less willing to tend, make her a heroine. After all, it is no more in hospital or in workhouse, repulsive old than an episode in her life, and not that, women, and feeble, neglected children, and perhaps, to which at life's close she will look to expend their charitable energies generally back with the most satisfaction. on the sufferers of Stoke Pogis or Little Ped- And she will still have her followers; she dlington. Wounded soldiers they have not will get live to see in her time an extended always with them. But the poor they have and extending belief that the useful and the always with them—the maimed, the halt, beautiful are not antagonistic—that loveand the blind; the aged, and the bedridden. liness is never more lovely, gentleness never The truest heroism is that which labours more gentle, than when woman, no matter and suffers far away from the reach of on what scenes, devotes herself to the great popular applause.
work of alleviating suffering and sorrow. But although we can see clearly the differ- There is enough of both, Heaven knows, at ence between attendance upon the sick and our own doors. We need not to cross seas the wounded in military hospitals, during a in search of them. Now that we have regreat national crisis, and such ministrations turned to our common-place, every day life, as alleviate the sufferings and sorrow of less with comparatively unexciting duties to interesting specimens of humanity in un- evoke our energies, we must be prepared for eventful times, we are still hopeful that the some falling off ; but we repeat the expresexample of Florence Nightingale will have sion of our belief that the change in which an abiding effect upon the women of Eng. we see so much good hope and encourageland, irrespectively of the accidents of war ment had been inaugurated before the war or of peace.
commenced, and that there is now little
likelihood of this progress being arrested. « 'Tis on the advance of individual minds
There are many abodes of misery_in all Mankind must found its reasonable expectations our towns and parishes in which our English Eventually to follow ; as the sea Waits ages in its bed, till some one wave
ladies may do incalculable good. Thay Of all the multitudinous mass extends
cannot begin better than in our Workhouses. The empire of its fellows—then the rest,
We have all heard these places called E'en to the meanest, hurry in at last,
Poor-Law Bastilles. We are all familiar And so much is clear gained.”
with the aspect of the huge buildings, more
or less shapely and architectural, which ever Making every allowance for the distinc and anon meet our eyes as we ride or drive tions of which we speak, we believe that through an English county; and are now there is enough “clear gained” to the cause associated in our minds with the word of humanity, by the noble efforts of Miss " Union," and provocative perhaps of rather Nightingale, to make us rejoice in the move- discomforting thoughts of unaccountably ment which has taken the hearts of the Eng- high poor-rates. We all know the appearglish people by storm, There are many ance of the workhouse people" and "worknecessarily who regard the matter wholly house children” in our parish churches; we from a military point of view—who look cannot mistake the cloaks of the old women, upon what she has done simply as a contri- and the caps of the young girls. But we bution to the general success of the cam- are afraid that there are not many of us. paign. But there is still enough of good who know more than the outward appear. sense and good feeling among us to divest
, ance of the workhouse and its inmates, in the minds of at least a section of the Many, with really large instincts of charity, community, the nobility of her conduct of not only eager to do, but active in doing all such adventitious aid, and to look upon good towards their poorer brethren, shrink all that has been done as a matter of pure from “mixing themselves up with parish humanity. Moreover, it is our hope-in- business.” They administer to the wants of deed, it is our belief
, that although this the poor in their own way, and leave the camp-following, this. hospital-visiting, which poorhouse to itself, content to believe that it has made for Florence Nightingale a name is well minded by those who are paid for in English history, was in regard of its ad- looking after its concerns. But it would ventitious circumstances—its outer environ- not be easy to over-estimate the good that ments—something exceptional and unpre- might be done by the gentry of England, cedented; it was in itself only the expres- and especially by English ladies, if they sion of a previously-existing state of feeling would undertake a systematic visitation of -the outward manifestation of an already- our workhouses. We know that there are
Boards of Guardians, and periodical meet-sores” of guardsmen and linesmen - dra ings and inspections, and that there are sala- goons and lancers-gunners and riflemen. ried poor-law functionaries of a higher Indeed, we know nothing sadder ; for these grade; but it is not of such visitation that helpless little ones have never any chance we speak. In this woman has no part. from the commencement. They are born There is no communion of labour” outside to sorrow, as they are born to sin, with litthe poorhouse walls. And yet how much tle prospect of escape from either. There good might our ladies do among the women can be no greater objects of pity; none and children who constitute so large a portion more worthy of our boundless compassion. of the inmates of our workhouses. Hear The London papers have lately teemed what a practical man-long the chaplain of with accounts of disturbances and outrages a huge metropolitan workhouse (the Rev. in one or more of our great metropolitan Mr. Brewer) says upon the subject : workhouses. Attempts have been made to
reduce obstreperous girls to order by the “Ladies have been drawn to see that they have discipline of the lash. These revelations a mission-a deep and solemn one-to perform have been painful in the extreme. It is, and preach; and yet the full extent of that mis- doubtless, very bad that so indecent and so sion has not at present been unveiled to them, barbarous a system of coercion should be still less its paramount, its incalculable impor- resorted to by our workhouse jailers; but tance upon our national prosperity. Their district-visiting has been mainly confined to the dis
it is far worse that these poor girls should tribution of a few tracts, perhaps to the reading ever have come to such a state as to-require, of some verses in the Bible; whilst the insensible even in the estimation of their custodiers, influence of their common words, their ordinary such brutal and brutalizing treatment. manners, their dress, their voice, the numerous The pity of it is not that they were flogged, thoughts, suggestions, and instructions which they but that there should have existed in the convey unconsciously about them into the houses metropolis of Christian England a system of the poor, exercise a power far greater than of so depraving a character, as that young ministry at St. GilesWorkhouse. I often thought girls should grow up under it, lost to ali how much more the gentle influence and silent sense of shame, coarse and blasphemous in teaching of an earnest and meek lady would be speech, in action violent and pugnacious, effectual
, especially with her own sex, beyond all with nothing maidenly, nothing womanly that I could say or do. I have often thought about them, except the name and the attire that the very contrast would teach more than the they disgrace. But even for these lost ones most impressive argument; that the insensible there is some hope. The humanizing influconviction thus conveyed to the minds of those who had never seen the best of their sex-cer
ence of good women may still reach even tainly had never seen them engaged in a mission their hearts. Gentle words and kindly acts of mercy to themselves--would be effectual above -expressions of interest and sympathyall other methods. And I am bound to say that will not be thrown away upon them. Even I think it would be accepted with great grati- these poor creatures may in time come to tade." - Lectures to Ladies on Practical Subjects. bless the passing shadow of the kind lady
who has spoken to them the only words of And again
tenderness and encouragement which, per
haps, they have ever heard ; and better “ Turn to the Police Reports in our news- hopes may spring up in their hearts to be papers, or only watch for yourselves the boys and the parents of better deeds. And that this girls, who join in the disorders of the metropolis is not a mere visionary philanthropy we and fill our prisons, no longer prisons to them have good evidence afforded us even as we and you will see how imperative it is that something should be done to rescue them. They are write. At a meeting held in London on the mainly the produce of the workhouse and the 11th of October, in last year, to take into workhouse schools. Over them society has no consideration the state of the Marylebone bold, because society has cast them out from all Workhouse, and the treatment to which its that is human. They have been taught to feel female inmates had been subjected, Mr. that they have nothing in common with their Jacob Bell, to his honour, spoke out thus fellow-men. Their experience is not of a home or of parents, but of a workhouse and a governor
as we find his speech reported in the Daily -of a prison and a jailer as hard and rigid as
News : either.”
" These poor girls, bad as they were, were the This especially relates to workhouses in victims of a bad system. They had been educatgreat cities; but it may with some modified in the workhouse school, and they were there cation be applied even to those in our rural being placed with those likely to contaminate
subjected to contamination as they grew up, by districts. It is as sad a thing to contemplate, them. He (Mr. 'Bell) had seen this, and had as the "wounds and bruises and putrefying tried to remedy it, by insisting on the removal of