Characteristics, Duties And Culture Of Woman -- By: Barnas Sears

Journal: Bibliotheca Sacra
Volume: BSAC 010:39 (Jul 1853)
Article: Characteristics, Duties And Culture Of Woman
Author: Barnas Sears


Characteristics, Duties And Culture Of Woman

Barnas Sears

It is our object in this essay to present some observations upon woman; her intellectual characteristics, her sphere of duty, and her proper culture. The attempt, we are aware is a delicate and hazardous one. It is a topic on which so many trivialities have been uttered that it were indeed a pity to add to their number. At the same time, it is a subject that reaches to the very foundations of society; and, in its philosophical treatment, can be fathomed only by the profoundest intellect, and embraced in all its details only by the most comprehensive knowledge. Though we shall despair of attaining to that eminent point of observation whence all the complicated relations of woman to our social well-being can be seen in their beautiful order and harmony, our object will not be lost, if we shall be able from a lower point of view to catch here and there a glimpse of what is true and beautiful in the ordinations of Heaven in respect to woman, and, in the light thus afforded, to make some useful suggestions to persons having the education and training of young females in charge.

It were an easy, but useless task to portray woman’s gentle nature, to present striking examples of female submission, endurance or heroism, and to speak in general of her charms and of her benefi-

cent influence in domestic and social life. It would be equally grateful, and more pertinent, perhaps, to exhibit brilliant specimens of female genius and culture in the more graceful walks of literature, science and art, in which, however, we can indulge but for a single moment. These gay flowers of humanity lie scattered over the whole field of history. In the literary annals of ancient Greece, we read of Aesara Lucana, deeply versed in the philosophy of Pythagoras, on which she wrote a treatise; of Arete, the daughter of Aristippus, who was public instructress at Athens, and wrote a life of Socrates, and a treatise on the “Miseries of Women;” of Hipparchia, also a writer on philosophy; of Sappho, who composed poetry of inimitable sweetness; of Corinna, who in five poetic contests bore away the palm even from Pindar; and of Agnocide, who is said to have put on man’s attire for the sake of studying medicine, and to have practised the art for the benefit of her sex, and even to have succeeded, though not without a severe public contest, in procuring for other females the liberty of doing the same, which, if true, entitles her to the special regards of a certain class of living philanthropists.

In Christian times, among the same people, we could speak of Macrina, the distinguished sister of Basil the Great, who adorned her sex by her talents, piety and learning; ...

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