Woman's Wrongs: A Counter-Irritant

By GAIL HAMILTON. Boston: Ticknor and Fields.
IT is the first business of the author of this sprightly little book to demolish the Rev. Dr. Todd, who some time ago printed a pamphlet on Woman’s Rights, and told woman the usual things about her sphere, and her dependence, and her divinely established inferiority, and her sovereignty of the affections, and her general wickedness in making any effort except of the sort asked of Mrs. Dombcy. Dr. Todd is such an intellectual chaos, that he had to be built up before being knocked over, and he seems in the end to be superfluously trampled upon. When our author has done with him, she enters upon much better work, namely, the discussion of woman’s place in American society and polity. This topic she treats as impersonally and frankly and vigorously as any of our own clearheaded and abstractly thinking sex, and brings knowledge of social and political economy to bear upon it; while in saying that if she were a man she would not deny the right of suffrage to woman, and that being a woman she will not ask it, leaves the question in that doubt essential to the happiness of all seekers after truth. She questions whether the ballot would socially or morally elevate woman, seeing that the great mass of men are not so elevated by it; and she is sure that it would not increase or regulate wages, which are subject only to the laws of demand and supply, and cannot be reached by statute. Women, she shows, are no longer shut out from trades or professions, and they are ill-paid because they do slovenly half-work from want of skill. The author does not believe that the typical forty thousand starving seamstresses in New York would be at all filled by the ballot, but thinks they might be quite comfortable in domestic service,—which it is well to say, though the starving forty thousand will never hear to it. There is such a vast deal for women to do before they vote, that, while she believes every woman who desires to vote ought to vote now, she counsels her sex rather to strive for success in the businesses open to them than to dream of legislating themselves into well-paid employments. All this and more is urged, without favor to wise men who tell women to choose husbands and be happy, and say no more about it. The book is altogether one of the most noticeable arguments upon the subject it treats.