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Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 46.djvu/640

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THE POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY.

THE MOTHER AS A POWER FOR WOMAN'S ADVANCEMENT.
By Mrs. BURTON SMITH.

THERE are still thoughtful, liberal-minded men and women who persistingly declare that there should be no woman question; that women have now all the rights and opportunities which should be theirs, and that a just appreciation of what they have already would leave no time nor desire for further demands. There is a great deal of truth and justice in this position, as there is generally in any honest view of any really serious question; but the unalterable fact remains that there is a woman question, and that a discussion which has had the earnest attention and advocacy of so many high-minded, well-balanced men and women must have had its origin in the real needs of some portion of humanity. Surely, no matter what the point of view, the cause of woman's advancement on the best and broadest lines, whatever may be its highest expression to the individual, will have at least sympathy from every thoughtful human being. In this cause, with all its wide-reaching consequences, in all its breadth and fullness, motherhood has just now a peculiar call for effort.

In all great questions which set the world thinking and listening, which touch men's hearts and stir their brains, there is a necessary tendency to extremes. The very force of conviction and power of feeling which go to make the prophets and leaders, carry them away from lines of moderation. But when thought and agitation have developed into real activity, conservatism, as much as enthusiasm, is needed in any movement for reform.

Just at present the woman question is a most convincing illustration of these truths. The ardor of each side has carried its advocates to extremes, which have probably never been equaled in sociological discussion. There are women who affirm that there is no intellectual, social, or professional advancement for woman except as she asserts her independence of man, and arrays herself against him as the enemy of her sex; there are others who declare all marriage slavery, all married life under the existing state of things mere bondage. Such women are as far from the truth as the novelist who has recently attempted to illustrate in her heroine the "soul-destroying" influences of the higher education for women; or the woman who declares, "With the new school of thought, and the new class of woman it has bred, we have lost both the grace and the sweetness, both the delicacy and the virtues, of the real womanly ideal." Such rash generalizing on either side simply balances against rash generalizing on