The following essay is a reproduction, modified and expanded, of an
article published in "The Dial, Boston, July, 1843," under the title
of "The Great Lawsuit.--Man _versus_ Men; Woman _versus_ Women."
This article excited a good deal of sympathy, add still more interest.
It is in compliance with wishes expressed from many quarters that it
is prepared for publication in its present form.
Objections having been made to the former title, as not sufficiently
easy to be understood, the present has been substituted as expressive
of the main purpose of the essay; though, by myself, the other is
preferred, partly for the reason others do not like it,--that is, that
it requires some thought to see what it means, and might thus prepare
the reader to meet me on my own ground. Besides, it offers a larger
scope, and is, in that way, more just to my desire. I meant by that
title to intimate the fact that, while it is the destiny of Man, in
the course of the ages, to ascertain and fulfil the law of his being,
so that his life shall be seen, as a whole, to be that of an angel or
messenger, the action of prejudices and passions which attend, in the
day, the growth of the individual, is continually obstructing the holy
work that is to make the earth a part of heaven. By Man I mean both
man and woman; these are the two halves of one thought. I lay no
especial stress on the welfare of either. I believe that the
development of the one cannot be effected without that of the other.
My highest wish is that this truth should be distinctly and rationally
apprehended, and the conditions of life and freedom recognized as the
same for the daughters and the sons of time; twin exponents of a
I solicit a sincere and patient attention from those who open the
following pages at all. I solicit of women that they will lay it to
heart to ascertain what is for them the liberty of law. It is for
this, and not for any, the largest, extension of partial privileges
that I seek. I ask them, if interested by these suggestions, to search
their own experience and intuitions for better, and fill up with fit
materials the trenches that hedge them in. From men I ask a noble and
earnest attention to anything that can be offered on this great and
still obscure subject, such as I have met from many with whom I stand
in private relations.
And may truth, unpolluted by prejudice, vanity or selfishness, be
granted daily more and more as the due of inheritance, and only
valuable conquest for us all!
WOMAN IN THE NINETEENTH CENTURY.
* * * * *
"Frailty, thy name is WOMAN."
"The Earth waits for her Queen."
The connection between these quotations may not be obvious, but it is
strict. Yet would any contradict us, if we made them applicable to the
other side, and began also,
Frailty, thy name is MAN.
The Earth waits for its King?
Yet Man, if not yet fully installed in his powers, has given much
earnest of his claims. Frail he is indeed,--how frail! how impure!
Yet often has the vein of gold displayed itself amid the baser ores,
and Man has appeared before us in princely promise worthy of his