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Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 49.djvu/94

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POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY.

devotion of energy, time, and thought which her official oath exacted of her, she would be obliged to do it at the expense of that assiduous care, watchfulness, and service which her wifely and maternal relations demand.

Let us consider contingencies quite likely to occur under a régime which divided fairly between men and women the responsibilities of civic and public life. Would a husband of the city where this is written, going early to and returning late from his business—say that of chief salesman in a large retail store, or a contractor engaged in erecting a block of buildings—enjoy the honor of his wife's election to the Legislature, if while she were shut up in committee rooms with men, or interviewed at her lodgings by lobbyists, or waiting to mingle her shrill voice in the mêlée of a general debate in the House, the measles or the scarlatina should break out in the forlorn group of his motherless children? The banker, who had been harassed all day by the intelligence of a financial crash that threatened his own fortunes and the funds of widows and orphans of whom he was the trustee, would have a still stronger claim on the public sympathy if, coming home at night for fellowship and cheerful words, and asking his eldest daughter where her mother was, he should be told: "Oh, you know she is out on the jury with eleven men on that dreadful murder case, and it is not thought they can come in before morning."

I know the answer to this objection generally made: Yes, there are many women, as there are also some men, whose health, whose business, whose domestic cares, render them averse to office and exempt them from its responsibility. The good sense of the voters may be trusted not to select such engaged persons as candidates; and if they should be selected the good sense of the candidate can be trusted to decline the office, and that will end it.

But is this answer quite satisfactory? It is a question of reconsidering and readjusting the occupations respectively of men and women, which all civilized and uncivilized peoples, without concert among themselves, have established and built into their social institutions. An arrangement of this permanence and universality may be considered an arrangement of Nature. Nature evidently regards as of supreme importance the perpetuation of the race, and imposes presumably, and at least potentially, upon all women a paramount duty in accomplishing this purpose. The political disability, whether extending actually to four fifths of womankind or potentially to all womankind, is one irrevocably connected with that very office and raison d'être, which called woman into existence. An objection to employment in public office good as against four fifths of the female sex ought to be good as to the whole sex, just as if it were a question of enlisting women as soldiers, or shipping them as seamen, or engaging