Visiting The Past

Sometimes things of past culture and history entertain me, sometimes inspire, or fill with wishful sentiment, and sometimes depress me. But it is always useful to know a bit how people of another time thought and viewed their world.

In spirit of that I have a quote from Young Wife’s Book; A Manual of Moral, Religious and Domestic Duties. Philadelphia: 1838, By a Ladythat tells you a bit how educated women were once viewed. Do we have vestiges of this today?

Sphere of Woman

P. 206-207: To what are generally termed learned women, Dr. and Mrs. Pierpont entertained a great aversion, but they could discern a wide difference between a well-educated woman and a pedant. The former is a rational companion, who enlivens the social hour; the latter is one who, neglecting and scorning the homely duties incumbent upon a woman, stores her mind with deep learning, and thus encroaching upon the province of man, by him is considered with astonishment, rather than admiration, with pity rather than love; while, by the greater part of her own sex, she is looked upon as one who has quitted their pale, and having done so, loses that gentle fellowship which binds them together.

The dislike of, and outcry against, educated women, has arisen from an improper display which some have made of their knowledge, and the ardour with which they have pursued abstruse studies at the expense of those avocations and employments which more immediately belong to their sex; when they have been engaged in solving a problem, translating a difficult passage, or calculating the distance of a fixed star, while their house has been in disorder, their children in rags, their husbands neglected, and themselves presenting a picture of anything but that neatness which is so incumbent upon a woman.

Knowledge is like riches; the source of much happiness or misery according as we make a good or bad use of it; if the former, we cannot possess too much or it; if the latter, the less we possess the better. It requires as much honesty in collecting, as much care in keeping and as much prudence in distributing. And surely, if the possessing of it enables a woman to perform her duties more perfectly, to be the instructress of youth, and the friend and rational companion of man, it cannot be amiss to cultivate her mind. Ignorance is a fruitful source of error, and although it may sometimes be an excuse and palliative for misdeeds, it negatives virtue, and takes from the perfection of our character, by rendering us the children of habit, rather than of reason.

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