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Woman's Rights.

I Take it that we may regard the Shibboleth of Woman's Rights as being, in some sort, an outcome of all the Shibboleths which we have been considering in the foregoing chapters. It appeals to Public Opinion, in the name of Progress, on behalf of the Liberty of a section of the human race alleged to be oppressed, claiming for them their place as an element of The People, and relying upon the power and influence of Education. The Shibboleth is certainly well adapted to impress the general mind. To render to all their rights is, manifestly, simple justice. To withhold them from that half of humanity which is alike fairer and weaker, more innocent and less selfish, is, as manifestly, iniquity of a peculiarly base kind. But if the Shibboleth is specious, it is also, like most Shibboleths, vague. The utterances of those in whose mouths it is most frequently found, though strong, are by no means clear. One wants to know precisely what the rights claimed for woman are, and how they arise. And in the hideous hum of




Principal of Owens College, Manchester,
Honorary Fellow of Pelerhouse, Cambridge.

My Dear Wakd,

If the following pages contain anything helpful towards the solution of the problems which I discuss, it is largely due to the masters of Teutonic thought cited by me from time to time. It has been their mission to reassert, in the language proper to the age, the idea of perfection as an inward condition of mind and spirit: to maintain the truth, which underlies all rational philosophy, that the great mechanism of the world exists for something beyond itself: that it exists for the realization of moral worth—worth in character and in conduct. Kant and Hegel, Trendelenburg and Lotze, furnish an antidote to the dissolvent doctrine of scnsualistic individualism, by which the French intellect seems hopelessly poisoned, and which has disastrously affected many an excellent understanding among ourselves. They, more than any other modern writers, have vindicated the conception of human society as organic aiift ethical. To you I directly owe it that


I have learnt of these teachers. When, in my undergraduate days at Peterhouse, I enjoyed the advantage of your instruction as Classical Lecturer of the College and as my Private Tutor, you did much more than direct my Academical reading with sagacious judgment, and supplement it with wide and accurate knowledge. Your precept and example sent me to the study of the language and literature of Germany, in which you alone, I think, of my Cambridge friends, were deeply versed. The debt of gratitude thus laid upon mo I have never forgotten, and have long wished to record. You greatly add to it by your kindness in allowing me to write here a name so highly and so justly honoured by all students of English literature and of scientific history.

I am, my dear Ward,

Most sincerely yours,


Atuenaium Club,

November 2iul, 1801.





One of the most striking characteristics of the present

day is the great influence exercised by Shibboleths . 1

The reason why this is so is to be found in the domination of the Many. The vast majority of men are swayed by rhetoric rather than by logic; and, ia some cases, an apt phrase becomes a Shibboleth, the faculty of effectively pronouncing which is a key to popular favour . . . . .2

The object of the present work is to examine seven Shibboleths which largely dominate contemporary life. The first of them is the Shibboleth of Progress, which is, in some sort, the parent of the rest. . 2

The word is employed very vaguely. Those who use it most carefully and conscientiously intend to signify by it the ascent of mankind from bad to good and from good to better: the advancement of our race towards perfection: the continuous enhancement of the value of human life . . . . 3

Bat these are question-begging generalities, underlain by the profoundest problems. The positive value of life is not self-evident, does not admit of logical proof,

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