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A New Atmosphere by Gail Hamilton

But because a magnificence sweeps by


This

it is that I denounce,--not the use, but the abuse, of sacred things. I want girls to be saved from sacrilege. I do not want them to lay open their lives to spoliation. I want every woman to fill her heart with hopes and plans and purposes; and if a man will marry her, let him be so strong as to break down all barriers, check the whole flood-tide of her life, and sweep it around himself. If a woman is worth having, she is worth winning. Jacob served seven years for Rachel and seven more, and they seemed unto him but a few days for the love he had to her. Shiver and scatter the wan, weak attachments that dare to call themselves _love_. Scorn for this frothy, green whey that stands for the wine of life! Better that girls should be pirated away as the rough-handed Romans won their Sabine wives, than that a man should have but to touch the tree with his cane as he walks through the orchard, and down comes the ready-ripe fruit. In Von Fink's fiery wooing of Lenore, I hear the right trumpet-ring: "With rifle and bullet I have bought your stormy heart." I would have a woman marry, not because it is the only thing that offers, but because a magnificence sweeps by, in whose glorious sun her pale stars faint and fade. Her soul shall be filled and fired with the heavenly radiance. All her dross shall be consumed, and all her gold refined. She shall go to her marriage-feast as Zenobia went to Rome, crowned with flowers, but bound with golden chains, a conquered captive, and the banner over
her shall be love. I would have her go obedient, not to the requirements of a false and fatal materialism, naming itself with the names of morality and womanhood, but to the unerring instincts of her own nature. She shall not fly to the only refuge from the vacuum and despair of her life; but her great heart and her strong hands shall be wrenched from their bent by the mysterious force of an irresistible magnetism. When you have a character that can so command, a love that can so control, you have set up on earth the pillars of Heaven, and redemption draweth nigh.

V.

But if the pursuit of a separate and independent career should not disincline girls to marriage, you think it would unfit them for its duties; that an education, an occupation, and an interest in any other than a domestic direction would produce an indifferent housewife. Is this necessary? Is it even probable? Is there any sufficient reason why a woman who has trained her judgment in a medical school, shall not go into life, not only with no disadvantage, but with positive advantage from such training? If her mind have acquired power of observation, and her fingers skill in execution, will she not be so much the better prepared for the duties of her situation, whatever they may be? The ordering of a family is not like a trade,--a thing to be learned. It is multifarious and distracting. The mistress of a household is like the sovereign of a free empire. She does not need, and cannot serve, an apprenticeship. The only way to prepare her for its duties is to enlarge her capacity to discharge them. She needs a thorough education. Everything that helps to build up mind and body,--everything that makes her healthful, hopeful, cheerful, spirited, self-reliant, energetic, strong, helps her to administer her affairs successfully. A woman who can do one thing can do another thing, and she can do it all the better for having done the other one first; so that the pursuit of a profession, instead of incapacitating her for a domestic life, makes her better fitted for it. If for a year, or two or three, she has been studying the human system, or the stars, or the flowers, or the mysteries of cloak, or bonnet, or counter, or mint, she can turn aside at the beck of the master just as well as if she had been all the while frittering herself away, and she will also be a great deal better worth beckoning to. The entrance upon a "career" does not, as many seem to think and fear, prescribe perpetual adherence to it.


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