“The Times that Try Men’s Souls” by Maria Chapman, 1848


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“The Times that Try Men’s Souls” by Maria Chapman, 1848


“The Times that Try Men’s Souls” by Maria Chapman
Excerpt from Proceedings of the Woman’s Rights Convention, Held at the Unitarian Church, Rochester, N.Y., August 2, 1848

Speech is read by Andrea Hickerson:

“The Times that Try Men’s Souls.”
(Language of the Resolution.)

"Confusion has seized us, and all things go wrong,
The women have leaped from “their spheres,”
And, instead of fixed stars, shoot as comets along,
And are setting the world by the ears!
In courses erratic they’re wheeling through space,
In brainless confusion and meaningless chase.

In vain do our knowing ones try to compute
Their return to the orbit designed;
They’re glanced at a moment, then onward they shoot,
And are neither “to hold nor to bind;”
So freely they move in their chosen ellipse,
The “Lords of Creation” do fear an eclipse.

They’ve taken a notion to speak for themselves,
And are wielding the tongue and the pen;
They’ve mounted the rostrum; the termagant elves,
And—oh horrid!—are talking to men!
With faces unblanched in our presence they come
To harangue us, they say, in behalf of the dumb.

They insist on their right to petition and pray,
That St. Paul, in Corinthians, has given them rules
For appearing in public; despite what those say
Whom we’ve trained to instruct them in schools;
But vain such instructions, if women may scan
And quote texts of Scripture to favor their plan.

Our grandmother’s learning consisted of yore,
In spreading their generous boards;
In twisting the distaff, or mopping the floor,
And obeying the will of their Lords.
Now, misses may reason, and think, and debate,
Till unquestioned submission is quite out of date.

Our clergy have preached on the sin and the shame
Of woman, when out of “her sphere,”
And labored divinely to ruin her fame,
And shorten this horrid career,
But for spiritual guidance no longer they look
To Fulsom, or Winslow, or learned Parson Cook.

Our wise men have tried to exorcise in vain—
The turbulent spirits abroad:
As well might we deal with the fetterless main,
Or conquer ethereal essence with sword,
Like the devils of Milton, they rise from each blow,
With spirit unbroken, insulting the foe.

Our patriot fathers, of eloquent fame,
Waged war against tangible forms;
Aye, their foes were men—and if ours were the same,
We might speedily quiet their storms,
But ah! their descendants enjoy not such bliss—
The assumptions of Britain were nothing to this.

Could we but array all our force in the field,
We’d teach these usurpers of power,
That their bodily safety demands they should yield,
And in presence of manhood should cower;
But, alas! for our tethered and impotent state,
Chained by notions of knighthood—we can but debate,

Oh! shade of the prophet Mahomet, arise!
Place woman again in “her sphere,”
And teach that her soul was not born for the skies,
But to flutter a brief moment here.
This doctrine of Jesus, as preached up by Paul,
If embraced in its spirit, will ruin us all."

(New York: Robert J. Johnston, 1870), 12-13.




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(New York: Robert J. Johnston, 1870), 12-13.


““The Times that Try Men’s Souls” by Maria Chapman, 1848,” accessed May 20, 2022, https://rocheritage.org/items/show/151.