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in proportion to the work ? No. The Master receives a salary of twenty-eight hundred, the Sub-master twenty-two hundred, Usher sixteen hundred, and the majority of the female assistants six hundred and fifty, eight hundred being the highest paid to any woman. By this it appears that the Masters receive more than four times the salary of the assistants, the Sub-Masters more than three times, and the Ushers more than twice, - the latter for no other earthly reason than their having had the good fortune, as the world goes, to have been created men, instead of women. Now, I would not be understood as attempting to underrate these gentlemen : they richly deserve every cent that they receive: were it in my power, I would increase their compensation; but I would also increase the assistants' to the amount necessary to express the difference in work, - not, as now, the difference in sex.
It is the same throughout the country. Everywhere we find men and women doing equal work on very unequal wages. Now, as this is the established state of things, let us see if it has any foundation in justice: if it has, well and good; if it has not, then, for humanity's sake, let us overthrow it. We must not say this is the duty of men; it is not. Some noble leaders among our brothers will take up and advocate our cause, —have done so in fact; but the majority among them have enough of their own business to attend to. If we cannot attend to ours, it will be likely to remain forever in abeyance. Let us then, as teachers, take the matter in hand, and work with a will, remembering that by so doing we are benefiting not only ourselves, but the poor shop-girl and the poor factory-girl, who must depend upon us, the educated class among women, to gain for them the rights, which as yet they hardly dare recognize as rights.
We will consider the arguments brought forward by the advocates of the present system of remuneration. Women, say some, are inferior to men in point of strength and capability for the work. In answer to this, I would simply ask those individuals to visit the different schools of our State, and compare those taught by men with those of the same grade taught by women. I think we need not shrink from the ordeal.
A second argument, somewhat more difficult to controvert, is the
following: Women never intend to make the pursuit of teaching the leading object of their lives; with their marriage, their active life ends; while, with their husbands, marriage is only an incentive to more strenuous exertion. This is true in some degree. Some, nay many, and perhaps even most women do at times cheer their weary hearts with bright visions of some far-distant day when theirs shall be “the sweet, safe corner of the household fire, behind the heads of children ;” and this is right. Were it not an instinct given by the Creator, it would not surely be so nearly or quite universal among women. But the argument is by no means unanswerable. It admits indeed of two answers, the one appealing to the lower perceptions of our reason, the other to our intuitions of eternal justice.
True, it may be a fact, that women generally intend to launch their barks on the uncertain billows of the sea matrimonial, but it is also a fact, that with very many this intention is never carried into effect. Should not such women, — women, who must be self-dependent throughout their whole lives, — be permitted the means of making for themselves as comfortable, or even as luxurious, a home, in which to spend their last years, and close their eyes on earth, as would have been theirs, had that home been provided for them by the earnings of a man, instead of by their own ? Again, supposing their matrimonial intentions to be carried into effect, why should they not have before marriage the means of lifting themselves above the condition of helpless dependence on the bounty of a husband, willingly though it be given ? Would husband and wife be less one, because they could mutually assist each other, not only with counsel and sympathy, but with more substantial matters; with the lucre called, unaptly in many cases, filthy ?
But we will throw quite on one side this answer to the argument. No matter whether a woman is married or single, no matter how much time she may intend to devote to her work, the fact is just this: if two people do the same work, and do it equally well, they should receive equal compensation. I think no one will deny it; certainly no one would, were the comparison instituted between two men or between two women. Why, then, when it is instituted between a man and a woman ?
This principle of simple right and wrong can also be cited in answer to a third argument occasionally brought forward, to the effect, that men have families to support, while women have not. Admitting this to be true, — an incorrect admission in five cases out of ten, — what has it to do with the question ? Pay for the work, by whomsoever done. We do not take into consideration, in remunerating two men for the performance of the same labor, that one has a family, while the other has not; why more in remunerating a man and a woman?
But we have no right to complain of the existing state of things. Is it not our own fault in great measure that we are thus wronged ? Can we expect justice until we are ready to demand it? Can we expect to secure our rights while, as a class, we contemptuously ignore them ? How many women are there who listen to every new presentation of this subject with a disdainful smile, or an impatient shrug; and look upon those of their sisters who dispassionately and considerately come before the world, and take a noble womanly stand in behalf of their sex, as representing a somewhat anomalous class of beings not quite in their right minds. We must expect to bear oppression till through long suffering we have gained the moral power to say with a strong and resolute purpose, “ This thing shall not be."
When women shall have been elevated to a height which shall compel them to the utterance of those words, it will not be. But they will not utter them till they have been, as a class, educated up to it by some who have gained a higher level, and can see more clearly the eternal truth of things. Is this education to be the work of men or of women? Of the latter, surely; and to what class of women does it belong more naturally than to us, as teachers ?
Let every teacher in this State awake to the need her sex has of her aid; let her come forward, a resolute and fearless supporter of the principles of universal justice, a stanch opponent of every form of injustice, in however specious guise it may appear,—and the work is done. It rests with us to determine the time when - women shall be brought to a thorough knowledge of their rights as women, which, once thoroughly knowing, they will most certainly dare maintain.
“But,” says some one among us who is not yet awake to the exigencies of the times, “I don't see but things are going on very well; to be sure some few rights are denied us, but it will all come out right in the end. For my part, I like rational common sense. Principles of universal justice, and so forth, are all very good for rounding periods, but I prefer to come down to the special case in hand.”
Precisely. Come down to the case in hand, but remember that all our specialties should have in view the grand generality in which they are all to merge. In this case, our generality is universal justice; one of its specialties is justice in the matter of female teachers' salaries. See that by united effort you get that; and, by the very act, you will have taken one more step in that slow but certain advance by which the wrongs of society are gradually righted.
F. H. T.
AN OBJECT IN LIFE. [We take the following sensible article from the first number of The Waif, a neat little periodical issued “from the Boston Girls' High and Normal School.” “ Mutual interest and instruction," say the editors, in their modest preface, “ are our principal objects; and we shall aim to select such articles as contain the most useful information for the student, and the most agreeable reading for their friends." We wish our young contemporary all possible success.]
“We seldom take up a manuscript in which there is any reference to practical education, but we read some argument addressed to young men, urging them to decide upon some definite object, to the attainment of which their whole life shall be directed. But these arguments are invariably addressed to young men. Young women, it would seem, are neither expected nor desired to have any object in life beyond the attainment of a few accomplishments, and the requirements necessary for the domestic circle; and it is to them this article is chiefly addressed. I would ask every intelligent young woman* who has reached the age of seventeen, why she should not have some high aim in life to which her conversation, her habits of thought and study, shall be directed; some purpose of philanthropy; some proficiency in literature or the arts. It has been urged that women are incapable of deep concentrated study, that their reasoning faculties are inferior to those of men; in a word, the only thing a man expects of a woman is, that she shall always be willing to be interested and amused by the trifles which form the subjects of his conversation. I will ask young women, Do you not, often while conversing with your young acquaintances of the other sex, feel your own mental superiority ? and, if this be the case, why do you admit to your society those who, you are perfectly aware, give you no ideas worth retaining, and, instead of improving your minds, tend to lower them by the tone of their conversation ? Would not society itself be infinitely improved, if young women had higher objects in life? They would not be less pleasing to educated, intelligent, liberal-minded men, because, having a high standard of life, they should be well-informed and interested upon various elevated topics of the day; and, enjoying these, should have lost their former exaggerated style of expression, so justly ridiculed. And with regard to those young men who are incapable of sustaining an intelligent conversation, let them be discarded from your companionship, and the result will be their own mental improvement. Women of middle life, from whom the vivacity of youth has departed, will no longer be ciphers in society, but with minds well-informed, and cultivated by education and experience, will find themselves centres of interest, and their opinions treated with consideration and respect; and woman, instead of occupying the inferior position which she does at the present day, and which is owing in a great degree to herself, will command attention and respect by her merit and her abilities. And I would remind the young women who are now acquiring their education, that the romantic dreams of their youth will pass away; but the recollection of faculties truly exercised, intellect properly applied, duties nobly performed, and great thoughts terminating in noble deeds will impart a satisfaction to