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A New Atmosphere by Gail Hamilton

But who ever heard an assembly of men admonished of theirs


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talk about the mother-instinct. The mother-instinct makes a mother love her children, but it does not make her love to destroy herself with unremitting toil for them. It makes her do it, but it does not make her love to do it. And because, in her great love, she will do it when the necessity is laid upon her,--a wicked perversion of God's good gift often lays the necessity upon her when God does not. The mother-instinct in woman corresponds to the father-instinct in man; and the wifely love to the husbandly love. Each is strong enough to bear joyfully all that God lays upon it, and patiently much that he does not lay and never intended to be laid. But he who counts upon that strength, for the purpose of abusing it, is guilty of a high crime against humanity. Each sex has the same uniformity in its loves, and would undoubtedly have the same variety in its tastes if it were not hindered. Men do not themselves believe so much as they profess in this menial gravitation. If they did, they would never lecture women so much about it. The very frenzy and frequency of their exhortations are suspicious. They join together what God has not joined. They claim identity where he has established diversity. Women are continually and publicly admonished of their household obligations, but who ever heard an assembly of men admonished of theirs? Yet men are as often derelict in furnishing provision for their families as women are lax in its administration. And while the husband may do his part in
the way which seems good in his own eyes, the wife must do hers in only one way, whether it seem good or bad. The wise woman must tread "the old dull round of things" as well as the foolish woman, and then she is so footsore that she cannot enter upon that higher path which is open only to her, and shut to the foolish woman. The low necessities usurp the throne of the lofty possibilities. Oh! for this what tender consideration should she not receive! Confined to the uninteresting routine of domestic drudgery, while her tastes incline and her powers fit her for other things, no admiration is too deep, no sympathy too warm. The gentlest and most thoughtful attention is her smallest due. Let men fancy for a moment that at marriage they must give up the law, the pulpit, the machine-shop, the farm, in which they excel, and which is adequate to purse and pleasure, and turn hod-carrier or road-mender, and they may have a glimpse of the sacrifice which many a gifted woman has made. If she made it unwittingly, marrying before she knew her powers, or the life which marriage involves, a generous pity and love will smooth her path as much as may be, and press back the unexpected thorns. If she made it wittingly, choosing, in her strong love, to lay upon the altar her pleasant things, so much the more will a generous man constrain her to forget, in the fervor and efficacy of his love, the fruit which once her soul longed for. If he cannot prevent the sacrifice, he can cause that it shall not have been made in vain.


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