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because she is a woman, but only as she has more than be of the highest qualities of humanity; and she disclaims her divinest gift when she becomes an egotist, clamoring for supremacy. Humble abnégation is at once her own crown, and the spell with which she is to redeem man. The moment she demands precedence, that crown crumbles from her brows in fragments of dark decay.*
The superiority increasingly ascribed to woman by fine minds in our era, - a trait conspicuous enough, when we look from Tibullus to Frauenlob, from Pindar to Patmore, - is often confusedly supposed to be her due, on account of some mysterious quality inherent in her mere femineity. It should be distinctly seen to be a simple consequence of the purer representation of goodness in her. This purer good. ness is no matter of sex as such, but belongs to her by virtue of her personal renunciation of the struggle for precedence; her greater interior tenderness, modesty, spirit of sacrifice. Her mission, as the destined redemptress of society, is to set the example, and diffuse the spirit, of contented goodness, - goodness contenting itself with the universal growth of goodness. Now, in what other way can she ever fulfil this mission, except by attracting man likewise, through the influence of her example, to withdraw from the selfish battle for social distinction, and devote himself to the private attainment of personal perfection, and the public benefaction of his race? Therefore, that tendency of chivalry which led the troubadours and knights to install woman in the place of command, causing man to bow implicitly to her authority, is as erroneous as the state of things that preceded it. Neither is to command the other: both are to obey, and aid each other in obeying, what is intrinsically right and good. But the chivalric transference of authority from man to woman is a striking instance of the propensity of human nature to oscillate from one extreme to the other before poising at the mean of truth, — a propensity which has so many curious illustrations in history.
* How finely this lesson is taught in the ancient Hindu epic, the “ Mahábhárata.” As Radhika walked with Krishna, her soul was elated with pride, and she thought herself better than he; and she said, “O my beloved ! I am weary, and I pray you to carry me upon your shoulders.” Krishna sat down and smiled, and beckoned to her to mount. But, when she stretched forth her hand, he vanished from her sight, and she remained alone, with outstretched hand. Then Radhika wept bitterly.
Some of the champions of the “Rights of Women,” in our day, apparently commit the error of inverting the real desideratum, which is, to make men renounce and love like the finest women, — not to make women exact and fight like the coarsest men. They act as if they thought men were both better and better off than women, and were to be taken as models by them: as if they supposed the redemption of women was to be secured by their becoming and doing, as nearly as possible, what men are and do. If there are any who really believe thus, they certainly invert the truth. No amount of voting, or of any other externality, will ever bring the millennium. It would be a poor delusion to fancy that the millennium will come when women shall be as fully engaged in the frenzied strife for riches, honor, station, power, fame, as men in general now are. It will come only when men shall be as renouncingly withdrawn from that contest, as women in general now are. Instead of wanting to make women ambitious rivals and gladiators, we want to make men modest students of goodness for its own sake; disinterested aspirants, seeking to fulfil their destiny by perfecting their faculties and acquirements, without any invidious comparisons. Our hope lies in woman the saint, not in woman the amazon. Woman, as seen in the Mary who sat at the feet of Christ, brings a heavenly ministration to rescue man from every thing impure or discordant: woman, as seen in the Penthesilea who fought Achilles, offers man but a perverted reflection of himself.
The common belief, that human life began in a paradisal state, is a sentimental and mischievous error. The cradles of civilization are full of murder. First, for a period of unknown duration, raged the strife for precedence in physical power and its grossest symbols. In civilized nations, this strife is now reduced, for the most part, to boys and pugi
lists, who are always eager to try each other's strength, and to crow above a thrown antagonist. Next came the strife for precedence in social power, and its finer symbols of rank, wealth, position, and fame. This strife may be traced in every record of the past and present; is far more extensive and seductive and tenacious than the former; and has been left behind, as yet, only by the saintliest exemplars of our race. The third period, the ideal period which we now await, is one in which there shall be no strife among mankind for comparative superiority over each other; but, in place of it, a universal co-operating struggle for intrinsic personal worth, a constant advancement in gaining the real prizes of being. Then the wretched experiences of hate, jealousy, exclusiveness, with their thousandfold sins and pains, will rapidly lessen, and soon end. There will be no motives for envy and opposition, since their aims will be alike; and the gain of each, so far from being a loss to tho rest, will be a gain to all. Let there be no strife for precedence, and all society must be the wiser, purer, and happier for every spiritual gain made by any member of it.
Here lies the secret of genuine nobility and happiness for the individual, no less than of redemption for society. For those who quaff at the fountain of wisdom and virtue, find, as long as they live, the supply, the thirst, and the enjoy. ment, — all increasing in equal measure. There is neither satiety on the one side, nor exhaustion on the other. But the servants of factitious or external aims almost invariably get more disenchanted of the world, and more weary of life, with every year. Ambitious rivalry is wretchedness, and sure to end in sickening disappointment. Disinterested aspiration, equally to women and to men, is the benign mother of happiness.
We read in the Norse mythology, that the gods tied Loki, the impersonation of the evil principle, to three sharp rocks, and hung a snake over him in such a way, that its venom
should drip on his face. But, in this dreadful case, there · was one who did not forsake him. His wife Sigyn sate close by his head, and held a bowl to catch the torturing
drops. As often as the bowl was full, she emptied it with the utmost haste; because, during that time, the drops struck on his face, and made him writhe and howl with agony. Her patience in holding the bowl, and her speed in emptying it, never failed. It is a forcible emblem of the ministration of woman to man. But, for man to impose a service of this nature on woman as her duty, is a cruel arrogance and wrong. The voluntary spirit of such a service, the spirit of self-sacrificing devotion, teaches the one lesson which man himself needs to learn for his own salvation.
ART. VII. – JOSIAH QUINCY.
Life of Josiah Quincy, of Massachusetts. By his Son, EDMUND
QUINCY. Boston: Ticknor & Fields, 1867. Our readers will share with us, we believe, the pleasure of obtaining at length a biography of the venerable man who was for so many years our American Nestor. Longevity among our public men is so rare, and our national history so short, that a peculiar interest belongs to the life of an eminent man, to whom great length of days has been granted; but particularly does it attach to one whose life spanned the whole compass of our national existence, in whose memory were stored up all its chief incidents, and who could truly say, what is so often quoted of inferior men, quæque ipse vidi, et quorum pars magna fui. His birth anticipated the Revolution. His earliest memory was united with one of its opening scenes, — the occupation of Boston by the British under Gage, and the flight of the chief patriots from the city. The vicissitudes and the final triumph of the struggle for Independence passed before his eyes. He had witnessed the failure of the Confederation, and the birth of the Union. He had enjoyed the privilege of a personal acquaintance with most of the fathers of our republic. He had been a guest at Governor Hancock's famous dinner-parties; had heard from Hamilton's own lips his estimate of Burr; and had been received at the Presidential levees of Washington, whom, we must note as we pass, he found "a little stiff in his person, not a little formal in his manners," with the air of a country gentleman not accustomed to mix much in society, of whom Stuart's portrait is a highly idealized picture, and the best likeness is the picture by Savage, in Harvard Hall in Cambridge. He had commenced his Congressional career while Jefferson was President, and had been one of the most promi. nent actors in those early scenes of our feeble existence,- the admission of Louisiana, the Embargo, the War of 1812, and so on; on which the dust of history already lies pretty thick. And his years were protracted until the hopes of his country's prosperity, which the most fervid glow of his youthful antici. pation could reach forward to, were more than realized; until the valor and the patriotism of the Revolution were exhibited again in a second, but incomparably vaster, struggle in the cause of freedom; until the ascendancy of slavery, which he had commenced his public life by opposing, at last received its death-wound; until he found himself in the midst of a third generation, venerated as the sole relic of the great men of the country's youth. Additional age brought only additional usefulness, honor, and enjoyment. To the end, he retained his bodily health sound, and his intellectual vision as strong and clear, as ever. It was with a serene and long-lingering light that the sun of his life slipped down its western arc, and, with a brightness still undimmed, that it at last dropped below the horizon. A life rounded with such dramatic completeness is of itself a unique phenomenon. Its unusual compass of three generations of breathing men, during nearly two of which he filled conspicuous public posts, makes it rich in materials of interest. The reader will find that there are few noted characters in our history, of whom there is not here some description, anecdote, or letter.