Gambar halaman

pose such a thing. No fanatical adherent to materialistic dog. mas will ever desire it.

Therefore no one should dispute our right to judge of the world, its origin and final purpose in a manner corresponding to our moral culture gained essentially through Christianity. It ought to recognize that the Christian faith is not only the necessary consequence of our stage of moral culture, but also that it is the correct interpretation of the world by the standard of that moral culture.


AMONG the social questions now under discussion, none is more important or more freighted with principles and issues that outreach present consequences and take hold of the very life of society, than that of Female Suffrage. The frequency and urgency with which this measure is pressed upon our leg. islative bodies by a certain class of reformers, encouraged by partial success in some of the newer states and territories, and the recent advocacy of it in full or limited form by some who have very largely the ear of the public, and the apparently increasing drift of public sentiment in this direction manifest in many quarters,-call for a sober and reflective revision not only of the reasons and supposed advantages of the so-called reform, but of the very serious issues and consequences involved in it. These issues are not immediate and do not lie on the surface. The question is one which cannot be solved on abstract principles, such as that so often urged, of the right? of women to vote; since nothing is more fallacious than the application of abstract theories to practical and political problems. The profound aphorism of Burke is specially applicable here, -that in proportion as such theories are logically true, they are practically and politically false. Nor can it be decided by its immediate advantages, supposing them to be real, such as the effect of women's vote in temperance legislation and other politico-moral questions. Such temporary good, even if secured, may be purchased at too dear a price if it bring after it evils outweighing and outlasting the evil it is supposed to remedy. Illustrations of immediate advantages purchased at the cost of great and wide-sweeping evils are not wanting in our history. The admission of slavery into our Republic for the sake of union, and its subsequent ravages, ending in the war of the Rebellion, is one signal example. The exclusion of the Bible from our public schools as a concession to Roman Catholics and infidels, resulting in the secularization of our whole system of popular education, is another fearfully omin. VOL. VII.


ous fact, the end of which is not yet. Before committing ourselves to one more radical and irremediable error, and plunging blindly into this gulf of women's suffrage, it will be well to pause and see whither we are going, and what this new move. ment, or reform' really signifies ; whether it rests on a true principle or a shallow and pleasing fallacy, and whether its results are likely to be beneficial or disastrous.

We do not propose to discuss the questioni exhaustively, or as thoroughly as it really demands, but simply and briefly to expose a few points that seem to us to touch the heart of the subject, and which are very commonly overlooked in its discussion.

1. And first, this reform signifies nothing less than a radical and revolutionary change in our whole social system.

Society as at present constituted is based upon the Family as the social unit. The State is not an aggregation of individuals, but an organism, of which the family is an integral part. This social unit is represented by the constituted head of the family,--the husband, father, or householder, to whom the care and support and interests of the family are naturally intrusted. Whatever tends to disintegrate this organic family unity is a violation of the divine constitution, and can work only mischief, whether it be enforced celibacy, easy divorce, or female suffrage. Individualism is the bane of our modern social life, as is but too apparent in the theories and practices respecting marriage, which is fast becoming a mere contract, with reserved individual rights, dissolvable at the will of the parties, instead of that sacred and indissoluble union which is its divine idea. It is, whether applied to marriage, the family, or the State, an essentially infidel theory whose legitimate issue is the destruction of the family, of government, and the church, as divine institutions, and the exaltation and assertion of individual * rights' under the flag of Each one for himself.

The practical tendency of women's suffrage, as all must see, is to impair the unity of the family as a social organism, being itself a denial of it, and to create discord and rivalries between husband and wife, who by the divine ordinance are “no more twain but one flesh," but by this act are legally declared to be not one but two. Besides, such suffrage is a tacit decla

ration that the husband and father cannot be trusted to protect the interests of wife and daughter in political as in domestic affairs, which is a sure method of relaxing his sense of responsibility and loosening the ties of family affection. Where there is true affection, the wife, if she vote at all, will vote with her husband, even against her own interest; and where there is not, the multiplying of causes of discord will not remedy but only aggravate the evil. The kind of rivalries that woman suffrage will introduce into the family is strikingly seen in an actual case reported in the papers some months ago. In one place in Wyoming it was stated that “Mr. Horatio Evans and his wife ran on opposite tickets for the same office, and Mr. Evans won.” The domestic consequences of this political strife in a house thus divided against itself are not reported, but may easily be imagined. In any case, woman suffrage strikes at the root of that which should be the first end of gov. ernment to protect, the sacred unity of the Family.

But, it is said, a great many women are unmarried, and own property on which they pay taxes to the government; therefore justice requires that the right of suffrage be extended to them. Passing by the question whether the payment of taxes involves a right of representation, and this a right of voting,—wbich, though seemingly taken for granted, is a groundless assumption,-allowing the justness of the plea, we answer, that marriage is the normal status of woman; singleñess is the exception and not the rule, land political institutions should be based on broad and general and not exceptional facts. Especially should great social interests not be sacrificed to those which are special and individual. The anomaly, if it be one, is not peculiar to woman, but is inseparable from any system of law and government. All male persons under twenty-one years of age are excluded from voting, although they have as much natural right to the suffrage before as after this age. And many a young man is more capable of exercising this right than multitudes who do possess and abuse it. "Again, all minors having property may not legally dispose of it, but are put under guardians till they arrive at mature age; although many bave as much or more business knowledge and discretion at eighteen as others at forty. But government legislates on general principles for the general good, and not for exceptional


If individual right is the question, what greater personal right may any one claim, than that which a woman has to her own name? Yet this name is lost or merged by marriage in that of her husband--signifying, what few in these days consider, that her person and all that appertains to it, including her political rights, if any such exist, are surrendered and merged in those of another, with whom sbe is morally and legally gne. To be consistent, the female suffragists should demand that the wife retain ber maiden name, coupled if need be with that of the husband, and thus declare, what the movement really signifies, that the marriage union is simply a copartnership, with "all rights reserved." Under the accepted legal and Chris. tian idea of marriage, all talk about the disfranchisement of women, and their degradation to the rank of children, or of idiots and criminals, is sheer nonsense, or the most transparent fallacy.

2. The demand for woman suffrage is based upon a radically false theory of civil and political rights.

The cry of “woman's rights," so shrilly and persistently sounded in our ears, needs to be weighed and analyzed more carefully than it is wont to be by those who raise and listen to it. No human being has any natural rights beyond what nature bestows, nor any political rights except what political expediency and the best interests of society prescribe. Natural rights are grounded in the nature which God has given us, and are the claims which that nature asserts in the name of God for fulfilling its true end. A right, as the word itself implies, is first of all a moral claim, implying obligation, as is seen in the highest and most sacred of all rights, those of conscience, which are rights only because it is man's imperative duty to obey its dictates. Our boasted inalienable rights of life, lib. erty, and the pursuit of happiness,' are not supreme or inalien. able, since they may, each and all, be forfeited, and are in fact forfeited by and taken away from criminals and murderers, in the name of justice and for the protection of society. Not so with the really inalienable rights of conscience. Here, and here only, the individual is superior to the State, and is amenable

« SebelumnyaLanjutkan »