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rock the cradles, and prepare the shining morning faces willingly for school ? But one thing is needful ? Would that it were so! Nobody but the absent-minded scholar or the contemplative teacher ever imagines that it is a trivial thing to keep house, or ever expects a thousand vexing details to be compressed into half a dozen hours, leaving the rest of the time for him to read the poets to us, or for us to woo serene philosophy without an interruption. It is fortunate, indeed, if we find time enough in the course of a day to read so much as this brief account of Mary and Martha: as for imitating Mary, we can, when we have no more cares than she had : in the mean time we sympathize with Martha, — all but her petulance, and have already found to our cost, that, let us cry ever so loudly to husband or employer, · Dost thou not care that all this service is put upon me?' nobody is ready to reply, “But one thing is needful. Did not Martha fill her sphere and serve God better by discharging the domestic routine, than if she sat to listen to instructive talk while the house was left to take care of itself? It is only the multitude of Marthas that makes a few Marys practicable. Let those few, then, instead of abusing their opportunity in a bland, æsthetic leisure, or in preaching women's rights, show the women how the good part' of Mary can be combined with the service of Martha; for that is the only veritable woman question."
That is indeed, we confess. We may justify the rebuke which Jesus administered to Martha by supposing that she loved the cares which cumbered her. Either a commonplace disposition, or voluntary habit, had reconciled her to dwell within the narrow, but friendly, horizon of her housekeeping. Her desire to hear Jesus did not flow out of some regular and secret aspiration, but was the result of accidental curiosity. But Martha does not represent all women; least of all, the women of modern civilization. In the East, even to the present day, venerable custom confines woman rigidly to domestic toil; and when she steps abroad, it is only to perform various kinds of drudgery which more properly should fall to man. When we recollect that the larger part of the women in Jerusalem were specially bred to domestic or field labor, and inherited no tradition or hope of any
other kind of life, it seems hard to understand why Martha should be rebuked. She was a faithful representative of national and immemorial habits; all her countrywomen had been specially trained to be cumbered about much serving. The word service exhausted their idea of life, and the number of Marys must have been as small as the number of prophets. It is singular to reflect that universal education is an entirely fresh idea, though the modern world finds it an important preparative for pure and undefiled religion. The elements and means of universal culture did not exist at the Christian era. A few fortunate men in each generation, and about half a dozen women in as many thousand years of ancient civilization, devoted themselves to the existing philosophy and art. Of all places in the world, and during the brightest epochs of Greece and Rome, Jerusalem provided the scantiest schooling for her children. In her best estate, and when, in spite of her exclusiveness, a little of the Grecian spirit had been smuggled within her walls, nothing but verses of the ancient law and preposterous Talmudic traditions finished the education of the young of either sex. Out of all those generations of Hebrew women cumbered with much serving, not the name of a single reflective, refined, or cultivated woman has de. scended to us. Miriam, Jael, Judith, Deborah, represented a rather ferocious style of patriotism ; Jephtha's daughter was a kind of Hebrew Iphigenia, and the soft Ruth was a type of the amiable, undeveloped woman found in all ages and nations. Spirit and heart, and all the natural sentiments, these women had, like those of Greece and Rome; but not a spark of mind.
During the late meetings of the Teacher's Institute in this city,* we were impressed with the aid which modern times brought, in clearness and material, if not in a regenerative spirit, to the spiritual sentiments of man. How marked it became, when the Professor of Natural History interpreted the scripture of the earth itself, and who, while he seemed only to be classisying reptiles and fishes, and describing their uncouth forms upon the board, was stating the logic of God in these mute terms of his creation, and developing the wonderful yet simple idea from the first throb of life into the present manifoldness. Was it not a commentary of the scientific understanding of a religious man upon the lecture of Jesus amid the lilies of the field and the birds of the air, furnishing religious sentiment with its appropriate logic, enriching it with the wonders of a universe ? And women listened, as well as men, drinking in appropriate demonstration of the Father, and learning to declare Him whom men ignorantly worship. The spiritual man does not demand this natural wisdom for his own faith and comfort; on the contrary, it reveals nothing of itself, and continues to be an unexplained fragment till organized and interpreted by the intuitions of the soul. But when the religious nature takes the pains to become furnished with science and discovery, it can meet the natural understanding on its own ground, and compel the investigation of a restless age to acknowledge the supremacy of Christian principles, by showing the unity of the Creator's thought.
* An association, presided over by the Secretary of the Board of Edu. cation, having for its object the delivery of lectures, in various towns of the Commonwealth, to teachers, upon scientific and pedagogic subjects. Among other distinguished men, it engages the personal interest of Professor Agassiz, whose developments of the logic of ihe earth through its various epochis are full of impressive facts and suggestions.
The universal education of both sexes is a modern, we might almost say, an English idea. It would not be difficult to show how the introduction of the Greek and Roman literature suddenly awakened the European mind, and how that awakened mind has gradually found in the latent tendencies of our religion a mighty aid and justification; how, for instance, the value which Jesus placed upon a human soul, and his constant reference to internal sources of light and improvement, will develop naturally into a style of education for both sexes which will dwarf and eclipse our present boasted system. Let the roused intellect soar ever so high, or penetrate ever so profoundly, the spirit of Jesus will emulate the flight and bear a clear torch for its researches. But when he lived and spoke, he was content to leave in the world the seeds of a vital faith and the principles of righteousness, not prophesying the future instrumentalities which have developed them, nor the mental powers which introduced, interpreted, and defended them.
Why then, again remonstrates woman, should Martha, the genuine Hebrew woman, with her little stock of
Scripture and Talmud, taught nothing more scientific than to make her leavened bread, forbidden by law to learn a foreign language, with not even a copy of the ancient Testament for her perusal, no theatre nor conventicle, no book-club nor concert-room, neither newspapers nor cheap publications, to elevate the moments of her leisure, — why should she be handed down to posterity as a narrow-minded and inglorious woman because she happened to like the trifles which composed her universe ? And why should Mary have all the love and honor, when, as a younger sister, and unmarried, she had very little domestic responsibility, and could afford to indulge her reveries, or sit, nourishing her sincere respect, at the feet of the Great Teacher? We venture to say that, among modern women, quite as few have the narrow ambition of Martha as the leisure of Mary. Universal education has expanded the desires of woman without increasing her opportunities. She cannot help reflecting a portion of the general enlightenment, but some day comes when she is shut up with cares and an interminable succession of depressing trifles, and the spheres of culture and thought are virtually blotted out of her experience. We do not speak of the very few whose worldly means enable them to use to surfeit the time and toil of others; but of the great majority who are tied down to their routine, each day bringing to them the wearing alternation of sickness and accident, food and clothing, cleaning, sewing, economizing, wrestling against time and circumstances, and toiling on to hear the husband announce to them that jubilee-day of a competency, which, alas! dawns for most of them only after death has stiffened those laborious and faithful fingers. And when does a competency ever come to any modern man, that does not bring with it new ambitions and factitious arrangements, which absorb the time of the woman almost as much as her personal toil did, so that she gains the benefit of ease without the benefit of leisure. Or if leisure at last spreads its calm through her dwelling, it comes too late ; for toil and watching have worn out her young desires, and so far obliterated the drill of her early teachers, that it is a painful effort to attempt any thing beyond the last novel or the current gossip of her circle. At a time when habits are fixed, and the brain itself has become fatally conformed to an unintelligent and practical routine, perhaps an opportunity comes to open the fountains of thought and art, to spread before her the elevated page, to enlarge her vision and experience with the meditations of all the world's prophets. It comes in vain. The heart is almost tired of propelling its vital current, faithful service has stiffened the dancing organs of her prime, and those thin lines across the forehead, which hours of gayety cannot laugh away, have cut through and through the brain, dispersing its harmony, lopping its original ambitions, and putting back its serviceable action to a level with its earliest efforts. The rest of her life must be a sort of paradise of ease, proud with the success, blasted with the failure, of her children, but not even piqued to one more original effort by all their triumphant energies, which recall to her memory the buoyant steps of maidenhood.
Do we think that women view with content this ineyitable result of our raw and restless civilization ? Even if a life of routine schools them at last into apathy, do we suppose that the whole process from the beginning has been submitted to with equanimity? When the pressure is first felt, and the beautiful liberty of years unchartered by toil and watching is resigned for ever, the woman calls back her ideal of life, that she may sorrowfully readjust it with the materials of her task-work. She tries to patch her duties with a few pieces out of the wreck of her freedom, and struggles for a year or two with this grotesque combination of incessant care with snatches of reading, shreds of culture, fits of meditation ; but the trifles come thronging too thickly, — those Bedouins of the desert, light-armed and volatile enough, but fast and persevering, making up for weight in pertinacity, — till at last she submits to change the tactics of her life into a continual skirmishing with these foragers. The moments when will and freedom revolt are not always spoken; the sighs wasted after her hopes of mental excellence, and her fugitive visions of duty dressed in the ornaments of taste and knowledge, do not always pass her lips to vex the outer air. But as she sits at last in middle age, pondering over her dress-patterns, trifling with the fictitious freedoms and emotions of the last novel, discussing the neighborhood with crochet-needles