Female influence

Female Influence

Writers of fiction have not unfrequently selected this topic as the theme for poetry and romance; they have extolled woman as the being whose eloquence was to soften all the asperities of man, and polish the naturally rugged surface of his character; charming away his sternness by her grace; refining his coarseness by her elegance and purity; and offering in her smiles a reward sufficient to compensate for the hazards of any enterprise. But while the self-complacency and vanity of many of our sex have been nourished by such idle praise, how few have been awakened to a just sense of the deep responsibility which rests upon us, for the faithful improvement of this talent, and our consequent accountability for its neglect or perversion!

It were not a little amusing, if it were not so melancholy, to listen to the reasoning employed by many ladies, in evading any charges of non-improvement of this trust. She who perhaps but a moment before may have listened with the utmost self-complacency to the flattering strains of the poet, who had invested her sex with every charm calculated to render them ministering angels to ruder and sterner man, no sooner finds herself addressed as the possessor of a talent, implying responsibility, and imposing self-exertion and self-denial in its exercise, than she instantly disclaims, with capricious diffidence, all pretensions to influence over others. But we cannot avert accountability by disclaiming its existence; neither will the disavowal of the possession of a talent alter the constitution of our nature, which God has so formed and so fitted to produce impressions in, and receive them from, kindred minds, that it is impossible for us to exist  without exerting a continual and daily influence over others; either of a pernicious or salutary character.

"Woman," to use the words of an accomplished living writer, "has been sent on a higher mission than man; it may be a more arduous, a more difficult one. It is to manifest and bring to a full development certain attributes which belong, it is true, to our common nature, but which, owing to man's peculiar relation to the external world, he could not so well bring to perfection. Man is sent forth to subdue the earth, to obtain command over the elements, to form political communities; and to him, therefore, belong the more hardy and austere virtues; and as they are made subservient to the relief of our physical wants, and as their results are more obvious to the senses, it is not surprising that they have acquired in his eyes an importance which does not in strictness belong to them. But humility, meekness, gentleness, love, are also important attributes of our nature, and it would present a sad and melancholy aspect without them. But let us ask, will man, with his present characteristic propensities, thrown much more than woman, by his immediate duties, upon material things; obliged to be conversant with objects of sense, and exposed to the rude conflicts which this leads to; will he bring out these virtues in their full  beauty and strength? We think not—even with the assistance which religion promises. These principles, with many others linked with them, have been placed more particularly in the keeping of woman; her social condition being evidently more favorable to their full development."

Let us ever remember that every aggregate number, however great, is composed of units; and of course, were each  American female but faithful to her God, to her family, and to her country, then would a mighty, sanctified influence go forth through the wide extent of our beloved land, diffusing moral health and vigor through every part, and strengthening it for the endurance of greater trials than have as yet menaced its existence. A spirit of insubordination and rebellion to lawful authority pervades our land; and where are these foes effectually to be checked, if not at their fountain head—in the nursery? Oh! if every American mother had but labored faithfully in that sacred inclosure, from the period of our revolutionary struggle, by teaching her children the great lesson of practical obedience to parental authority; then would submission to constituted authority, as well as to the will of God, have been far more prevalent in our land, and the whole aspect of her affairs would have been widely different.

How much more honorable to woman is such a position, than that in which some modern reformers have endeavored to place her, or rather force  her. Instead of seeking hopelessly, and in direct opposition to the delicacy of her sex, to obtain for her political privileges; instead of bringing her forward as the competitor of man in the public arena; we would mark out for her a sphere of duty that is widely different. In the domestic circle, "her station should be at man's side, to comfort, to encourage, to assist;" while, in the Christian temple, we would assign her an ennobling, but a feminine part,—to be the guardian of the sacred and spiritual fire, which is ever to be kept alive in its purity and brilliancy on the altar of God. She should be the vestal virgin in the Christian temple—the priestess, as it were, of a shrine more hallowed and honorable than that of Delphos.

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