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PART ELEVENTH. - DEBATES.
I. — ARE THE MENTAL CAPACITIES OF THE SEXES EQUAL ?
The following debate is arranged for seventeen speakers, including the Chair.
There should be seats for all those who are to take part in the debate, the Chairman being distinguished from the rest by being more elevated in his position, and having a table or desk before him. Should there not be room on the stage for all the debaters, some can sit grouped on the floor adjoining. Every speaker as he rises should try to catch the eye of the Chairman, and the latter should check every tendency to confusion by rapping on the table, and calling gentlemen to crder. To give an air of spontaneousness to the debate, several speakers may at times rise at once, crying “Mr. Chairman” The Chairman should bo courteous and attentive to all, but prompt in his decisions, and energetic in maintaining them. Occasional applause, or indications of dissent, are allowable. In English assemblies for discussion, the cry of “hear! hear!” is often uttered; sometimes ironically, and sometimes in token of approbation and encouragement. At similar assemblies in the United States this custom is not general.
The Chair man. Gentlemen, — I feel very highly the honor you have done me by placing me in the chair. I will not waste your time, however, by inflicting a speech upon you, but will proceed at once to the proper business of the meeting. The question we are to discuss is as follows (Reads from a roll of paper): “ Are the mental capacities of the sexes equal ?” I beg to call upon the Opener to commence the debate. I have only to add that I hope the discussion will be carried on in a manner befitting the importance and gravity of the subject. (The Chairman resumes his seat amid applause, and the Opener rises.)
The Opener. Sir, in rising to open the question which has been put from the chair, I assure you that I feel the need of much indulgence, and I hope that I shall not be denied it. I expect no small amount of reproach and con'tu-mely for the part I mean to take in this debate; for I know the gallantry of many of my
friends around me, and I fully make up my mind to smart under the weight of it. However, I will meet iny fate boldly, at all events; I will declare, at once, that I am a believer in the mental inferiority of the ladies. (0! 0! met by cries of hear! hear!) And, if my clamorous friends will let me, I will endeavor to prove that I am right. I will take my proofs from history. Which shines the brighter, the male sex or the female ? Look among sovereigns — Where is the female Cæsar ? — the female Alfred ? — the female Alexander ? — the female Napoleon ? Or take legislators — What woman have we to compare with Sālon or Lycurgus ? with Washington or Hamilton? Or take the glorious list of orators. Can you point to a female Demos'the-nēs, or Mirabeau, or Chatham, or Patrick Henry, or Webster ? No, sir! The ladies may have the gift of the — I beg pardon -the gift of loquacity, but not of eloquence. Where are the feinale philosophers, moreover ? Where is their Soc'ra-tēs, their Plato, their Newton, their Jonathan Edwards ? Where is their great discoverer — their Columbus, their Franklin, their Herschel, their Daguerre ? Where their great inventor
their Fulton, their Morse, their Whitney ? In literature, too, are the great names those of the fairer, or the sterner sex? Homer, Shakspeare, Milton, Wordsworth, Campbell, Irving,
what ladywriters equal these ? (Hear! hear !).
I shall not enter into the philosophical part of the question at all. Facts are the strongest arguments, and these I have produced. Besides, I dare say that some of my supporte
will choose that view of the matter, and into their hands I am quite willing to resign it.
I feel that I should weaken my cause were I to say more. I therefore commit the question to your fair and full discussion, quite convinced that a just conclusion will at length be arrived at. (Applause.)
Second Speaker. Sir, my friend, who has just resumed his seat, has regarded this question as it is answered by history : I will view it by the light of reason and philosophy. I think, then, that women were meant to be inferior to men. The female of every kind of animal is weaker than the male, and why should a distinction be made with the human species ? (Hear!) The sphere which the female is called upon to fill is the domes
To rule and to command is the sphere of man. is here to govern and to guide. Now, the exercise of authority requires greater mental power than the duties of the other sex demand; and I think that man would not have been called upon to rule, had not greater power been conferred upon him. Where would be the unutterable delight that now dwells in the magic word " HOME,” if woman were more intellectually subtle than she is ? All these true joys would be lost to us; and woman, instead of earning our gratitude and affection by creating them, would be studying metaphysics, diving into theology, or searching out new stars. It seems to me that the very happiness of the world depends upon the inequalities and differences existing in the minds of the sexes, and therefore I shall vote with my friend the Opener. (Applause.)
He MENTAL CAPACITIES OF THE SEXES.
Third Speaker. Sir, I rise to defend the ladies. (Applause.) I admit the ability of my two friends who have preceded me; but I dispute their arguments, and I utterly deny their conclusions. I shall deal with the Opener only, and leave the other gentleman to the tender mercies of succeeding speakers.
Our friend referred us to history; very unfortunately, I think. He spoke of rulers. Where is the female Cæsar? said he, and the female Alexander ? I am proud to reply — Nowhere. No, sir; the fair sex can claim no such murderers, no such usurpers, no such enemies of mankind. But I will tell my friend what the fair sex can boast : it can boast an Elizabeth, and also a Victoria. (Loud applause.) While the ladies can claim such rulers as these, their male detractors may keep their Cæsars and Alexanders to themselves; and I, for one, shall never reclaim them from their keeping. (Applause.) I had more to say, sir, but I feel that other speakers would occupy your time more profitably; and so I will resume my seat.
Fourth Speaker. Sir, the speaker who has just sat down was scarcely justified in calling his opponents “detractors of the ladies ;” such an epithet is scarcely fair, and he would prove his point better, by using more moderate language. (Ilear! hear!) He has spoken of Elizabeth and Victoria, and I agree in his admiration of at least the latter of those distinguished characters; but I would just remind him that history speaks of a Bloody Mary as well as an Elizabeth -(hear, hear) --of a Cieopatra as well as a Victoria. I am not determined, sir, upon which side I shall vote. 1 wait to be convinced ; and I assure my friends on both sides, that I am quite open to conviction. (Hear! hear!)
Fifth Speaker. Then I, sir, will try to convince my friend. I will try to convince him that he should adopt the cause of the ladies. The fair sex have not yet had justice done them. What is the argument employed to prove their inferiority ? Simply this — that they are not such strong rulers, such learnëd law-givers, or such great poets. But suppose I grant this; the sexes may be mentally equal, notwithstanding. For, if I can show that the female sex possess qualities which the male sex do not, qualities which, though widely different from those named, are quite as valuable to the world, -I establish an argument in their favor quite as strong as that against them. (Hear! hear!) And I can prove this. In affection, in constancy, in patience, in purity of sentiment, and in piety of life, they as far surpass mer as men surpass them in were bodily strength. (Applause.) And what qualities are superior to these ? Is strength of intellect superior to strength of heart? Is the ability to make laws superior to the power that wins and keeps affection ? Is a facility in making rhymes superior to sisterly love and maternal solicitude? I think, sir, that it is unwise and unfair to judge between the two. The spheres of the sexes are different, and require different powers; but, though different in degree, they may be, and I believe they arc, fully equal in amount. (Loud applause.)
Sixth Speaker. Mr. Chairman, my speech shall consist of one question. Woman's brain is smaller than man's : now, if, as philosophers toll us, the size of the brain is the evidence of intellectual power, is not woman's intellect necessarily inferior to man's ? (Ilear ! hear! and laughter.)
Seventh Speaker. Sir, my friend who has just sat down gave his speech in a question: I will give him another in reply. (Hear! hear!) If the size of the brain is the proof of intellectual power, how is it that the calf is more stupid than the dog ? (Laughter and applause.)
Eighth Speaker. Mr. Chairman, the last speaker's happy reply has saved me the necessity of answering the sagacious question of the gentleman who spoke before him. My friend, the opener of the debate, said, rather plausibly, that as the male sex can boast a Shakspeare, a Milton, and a Byron, and the other sex can not, therefore the male sex must be superior. It is but a poor argument, sir, when plainly looked at. We should recollect that there is but one Shakspeare, but one Milton, but one Byron. Who can say that the female sex may not some day surpass these writers, famous though they be?
Another gentleman spoke of philosophers. Let me remind him
- for he seems to have forgotten, or not to know — that the female sex can produce a De Staël and a Somerville. Not that I would claim for the ladies, for one moment, any merit on this ground. I think that scientific and literary excellence is by no means the choicest laurel for their gathering. Learning does not sit so gracefully on the female as on the masculine brow : blue-stocking is proverbially disagreeable. We can tolerate the spectacle of a Newton or a Locke so immersed in study that he plays the sloven; but the sight of a femalo — a lady – s0 abstracted as to play the (Cries of Order ! order!) I say, sir, the sight of a lady so abstracted as to forget that her hair is in papers, her dress untidy, or her fingers inky, is simply repulsive. No amount of beauty will reconcile us to the absence of the feminine attribute of neatness. Woman's office, sir, is to teach the heart, not the mind; and when she strives for intellectual superiority, she quits a higher throne than cver she can win. Applause.)
MENTAL CAPACITIES OF THE SEXES.
Ninth Speaker. Sir, the gentleman who called this a question of difference, not amount of intellect, put the question, to my thinking, in its proper light. I quite agree with the opener of the debate, that in mere mental power, in mere clearness, force, and intensity of intellect, the male sex is unquestionably superior to the female. But, at the same time, I can by no means admit that this proves woman to be inferior to the other sex. Much of what man has done results from his superior physical strength; and, moreover, if man has done great things visibly and mentally, woman has accomplished great things morally and silently. In every stage of society she has kept alive the conscience, refined the manners, and improved the taste ; in barbarism and in civilization alike, she has gladdened the homes and purified the hearts of those she has găthered round her. Whilst, therefore, I admit that in mental strength woman is not, and can never be, equal to the other sex, I maintain that her superior morality makes the balance at least even. (Applause.)
Tenth Speaker. I am quite ready to concede, sir, with the last speaker, that in the private and domestic virtues the female sex is superior to the male: but I can not go so far with him as to say that man is morally woman's inferior. (IIear! hear!) For which are the highest moral virtues ? Courage, fortitude, endurance, perseverance; and these, I think, man possesses far more prominently than woman. Let the field of battle test his courage: with what heroic boldness he faces certain death! His fortitude again : what shocks he bears, what bereavements he patiently sustains ! Mark his endurance, too. Privation, hunger, cold, galling servitude, heavy labor, these he suffers oftentimes without a murmur. Sce also how he perseveres! He sets some plan before him. Days, months, years, find it still distant, still unwon : he continues his exertions, and at last he gains the prize. These, sir, I contend, are amongst the highest moral virtues, and I think I have shown that the male sex possesses them more abundantly than the other. (Applause.)
Eleventh Speaker. Sir, I quite agree with the gentleman who spoke last, that courage, endurance, and fortitude, are amongst the highest moral virtues; but I do not agree with him when he says that the female sex possesses them in an inferior degree to the male. True, man shows his courage in the battle-field. He faces death, and meets it unshrinkingly. But has not woman courage quite as great ? She fights battles, - not a few : oftentimes with want, starvation, and ruin: and bravely indeed does she maintain her ground. Far more bravely than the man, in fact. The first shock overcomes him at once: when attacked by distress, he is