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my words in this particular, as in the whole volume, to either stand or fall, only as they are true or false.
Some witty writer says, "The women now-a-days are screaming for a fair field and no favor." I have no intention of "screaming" about it, for that would be very ridiculous, and also exceedingly futile: for by screaming" I should only become hoarse, and and lose my voice, so not be able to scream any more. But for the sake of the Truth, I do only ask fór a fair field and no favor."
I am not too proud, however, to ask the reader's indulgence for myself as a writer.
Living in a colony, I am thereby greatly debarred from the opportunities of knowledge I could have had in living near a great centre of civilization. It is no slight disadvantage to have your thoughts appear six months after date, in this hurrying age, when, perhaps, the interest in the subject you are writing about, has nearly died out, or become a bore.
It is no slight disadvantage, also, to live in a place where there are no railroads, no daily post, no daily paper, communication "from foreign parts" only once a month, and periodicals and general news three or four months old.
I have to calculate that before my book can reach England, all I have thought will have been before
thought and spoken. I can, then, only hope that the same belief having been arrived at by another mind in another position, and in different circumstances, by its coincidence, may assist in establishing the Truth.
For the subject and matter of the present volume, I can offer no apology; but for the manner and style, I would ask the reader's kind indulgence, feeling most painfully, as I do, my awkwardness and ignorance in the working out or treatment of the subject. The questions on which I have endeavored to think are no easy or light ones, so that even a failure to think them out aright, might not be considered quite disgraceful or contemptible.
By publishing anonymously, I might, perhaps, have spared myself much personal annoyance, but to do so, always seemed to me a piece of cowardice, unless for some special reason. Those who give their inmost thoughts to be scanned by every one who chooses to read them, should be, or try to be, strong enough and good-tempered enough to bear and take either praise or blame or ridicule, knowing that in all probability a share of each may fall to their lot.
A gentleman asked me did I think it was my duty, or had I any business to write on religious subjects, making, at the same time, a pointed allusion to St. Paul. To enter upon an argument on the subject,
would be foolish and useless. It is a question that
However, for the
make the same
must be answered "by its fruits." benefit of any reader, who may inquiry, I answer, in the words of another, which show that woman's ideas on the subject are desirable and desired:
"We hardly any of us know what is the spontaneous religious sentiment of woman, for, when developed hitherto, it has been nearly always under the distorting influence of some monstrous creed imposed on her uncultivated understanding. We have had enough of man's thoughts of God— of God, first as 'the King,' 'the Man of War,'' the Demiurge,' 'the Mover of all Things,' and then, at last, since Christian times, as God the Father of the World.'
"Not always have men been very competent to teach even this side of the truth alone; for during more than one thousand years the religious teachers of Christendom were men who knew not a father's feelings, who thought them less holy than their own loveless celibacy.
"But the woman's thought of God as the 'Parent of Good Almighty,' who unites in one the father's care and the mother's tenderness, that we have never heard. Even a woman hardly dares to trust her own heart, and believes that as she would have compassion on the son of her womb, 'so the Lord hath
pity on us'-[are pity and compassion the right words for a mother's feelings?]
“Surely, surely, it is time we gain something from woman of her religious nature! And we want her moral intuition also. We want her sense of the law of love to complete man's sense of the law of justice. We want her influence, inspiring virtue by gentle promptings from within, to complete man's external legislation of morality. And then we want woman's practical service. We want her genius for detail, her tenderness for age and suffering, her comprehension of the wants of childhood, to complete man's gigantic charities and nobly-planned hospitals and orphanages.
"How shall we get at all these things"?
seems that my life has
Reader, will you think me very presumptuous, or conceited, in saying that I feel I can supply some of these wants, for to me it been working to that end. I can, at least, offer a woman's free thoughts of God, for, both from natural disposition and outward circumstances, perhaps few women have been so little led by the influence of male relations or teachers. From the influence of books none who read can wholly abstract themselves, but all the books that have assisted me while writing have been named.
The writer to whom I am most indebted is Emerson; not so much in being directed or led by
his thoughts, as being encouraged through him to think my own thoughts. Such sentences as these have been golden mottos to me:
"To believe your own thought; to believe that what is true for you in your private heart is true for all men that is genius."
"He who would gather immortal palms must not be hindered by the name of goodness, but must explore if it be goodness."
"Accept your genius, and say what you think." "The way to speak and write what shall not go out of fashion, is, to speak and write sincerely."
I have endeavored so to think and write, and those chapters are the best where I have thrown aside all books and all other men's experiences; and written from my own life and my own heart.
The first half of the book I might improve by entirely re-writing, but I think it best to let it remain as it is, as I could not now place my mind exactly in the same position as it then was. By leaving it as it is I may, perhaps, be better enabled to get en rapport with minds thinking as I then thought, and be able to lift them along with me as I mount upwards.
I particularly solicit the attention of my own sex, not that they may be led by what I think, but that they may learn to think for themselves.
I fear I have talked about "I" too often; but as I