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A New Atmosphere by Gail Hamilton

But oak and anemone each demands all the juice it can quaff


But

to return to the question at issue,--Are these exceptional cases? It is man's own work if they are. Just as the elevation of one negro from slavery to supremacy, from stupidity to intelligence, is an indisputable proof that the elevation of the whole race is possible, so the case of one such woman as those I have mentioned settles the question for the whole sex. All may not attain the same heights, but this shows that intellectuality is open to them without destroying spirituality. Education, it seems, can do just as much for woman as for men. As careful mental training makes a man large-minded, it makes a woman large-minded. If it does not make a man narrow-souled and shallow-hearted, it will not make a woman so. If it does not unfit a man for manly duties, it will not unfit a woman for womanly duties. If ignorance and petty interests and limited views make a man trivial, obstinate, prejudiced, why is it not the same things which make a woman so? It is not necessary to determine whether there is an essential difference between the masculine and feminine brain or nature. All the difference, both in quantity and quality, which any one demands, may be granted without affecting this question of mental culture. No matter whether it be strong or weak, large or small, educate what mind there is to its highest capacity. If there is no difference, it is so much gained. If there is a difference, each mind will select from the material furnished that which is suitable for its own sustenance.
Violet and apple-tree grow side by side. If the soil is poor they are both meagre; if the soil is rich, they both flourish. From the same tract one gathers his golden and mellow fruit, the other her glowing purple richness. You may put a covering over the violet and stunt it into a pale, puny, sickly thing, or you may cultivate it to an imperial beauty. But it will be a violet still. The utmost cultivation will not turn it into an apple-tree. Every plant may have a different taste and a different need from every other plant, but they all want the earth. The tiny draughts of the slender anemone are not to be compared with the rivers of sap that bear to the royal oak its centuries; but oak and anemone each demands all the juice it can quaff, and earth and sea and sky are alike laid under tribute to fill the fairy drinking-cup of the one, as well as the huge wassail-bowl of the other.

So with mind. The philosopher, the poet, the theologian, the chemist, quarry in the same mine, and each brings up thence the treasure that his soul loves. The same cloud sweeps over the farmer to refresh his thirsty lands, over the philosopher to confirm his theories, over the painter to tempt his pencil. The principle of selection that obtains in the lower ranks of Nature will not fail us in her higher walks.

It is because law, logic, science, philosophy, have been so almost exclusively in the hands of men, that they have accomplished such puerile results. With all their beauty and power, they have left our common life so poor, and vapid, and vicious, because only half their lesson has been learned. But they bear a message from the Most High, and when woman shall be permitted to lend her listening ear and bring to the interpretation her finer sense, we shall have good tidings of great joy which shall be to all people.

But what is to become of masculine domination and feminine submission? O faithless and perverse generation! Do you indeed believe that it is "natural" for woman to trust and for man to be trusted,--for


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