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Art. I. — THE WOMAN QUESTION.* In looking about for a convenient handle with which to get a grasp of this subject, the Scriptural narrative of Mary and Martha presented itself, together with recollections of sundry difficulties which we had heard women urge against it. This will serve to introduce the limitations and distinctions of which the subject is sorely in need, and which the womanly nature itself seems to justify.
“ Thou art careful and troubled about many things": in other words, thou art anxious and distressed about many domestic cares. Martha, being the elder sister and principal housekeeper, was naturally concerned to provide suitable entertainment for the exalted guest. But the account says that she was cumbered about much serving; a hint to us that she was a woman inclined to exaggerate the importance of the domestic routine, and fretted herself with the little boastfulness of her hospi. tality. The emphasis does not fall upon the “ much serving,” but upon the “cumbered,” plainly meaning
* 1. Woman's Rights commensurate with her Capacities and Obligations. A Series of Tracts. Syracuse (New York): J. E. Masters. 1853. 8vo.
2. The Angel over the Right Shoulder.' Boston : John P. Jewett. & Co. 1852. 16mo. pp. 32.
VOL. LVI. — 4th S. VOL. XXI. NO. I.
that she tried to do too much, and that she worried in doing it. If the amount of necessary service really exceeded her ability, the guest would not have held Mary in conversation while Martha drudged. It seems, however, that Martha was in a distracting dilemma between her desire to do what she considered hospitable, and to hear the talk that was going on between her sister and Jesus. Doubtless she caught just enough of it to excite a feeling of pique at her sister's selfish unconsciousness of the necessary service of the house; not that she wanted to destroy her sister's pleasure, but that she wanted to share it. What a touch of nature there is in her remonstrance! We see her, with some sacred utensil of the domestic altar in either hand, emerging at last, not without slight appearance of heat, where the high and solemn talk was going on : “ Lord, dost thou not care that my sis. ter hath left me to serve alone ? Bid her therefore that she help me." Dost thou not care ? — an adroit appeal to the sense of duty and to the complaisance of the guest. The soaring conversation collapsed in a moment, and Mary undoubtedly vanished with vexed step into the interior. Jesus, however, mindful that Martha's prevailing disposition was to love trifles rather than truth, and to be more readily absorbed in putting her house than her mind or heart in order, was not prevented, by the fine flattery of her anxiety to hear him, from administering a rebuke to her bustling and superficial spirit: “ Thou art careful and troubled about many things; but one thing is needful: and Mary hath chosen that good part, which shall not be taken away from her.”
But we hear numerous women immediately saying, not without indignation : “ What! and are we to neg. lect our household cares, on the pretence that they absorb our time and strength, which could be far more profitably devoted to the pursuit of truth? Shall we tell our exacting husbands that but one thing is needful, and that we intend to commence the practice of contemplation, with idle Mary for our model? And while we choose that good part which shall not be taken away from us, who will choose the duties which we have left behind ? While our husbands are absent in pursuit of the means for living, who will regulate the daily service, anticipate the coming guests, preserve the decencies of modern lise,