Benjamin Rush had a lot to say about the education of women during post-Revolution America. While I certainly don’t agree with all that he said, the thing I liked most about what he said was a comparison of the way women in “modern” times are praised versus the praise Solomon gave the virtuous woman in Proverbs 31. Read on and let me know what you think about his assessment.
“It is agreeable to observe how differently modern writers and the inspired author of the Proverbs describe a fine woman. The former confine their praises chiefly to personal charms and ornamental accomplishments, while the latter celebrates only the virtues of a valuable mistress of a family and a useful member of society. The one is perfectly acquainted with all the fashionable languages of Europe; the other ‘opens her mouth with wisdom’ and is perfectly acquainted with all the uses of the needle, the distaff, and the loom. The business of the one is pleasure; the pleasure of the other is business. The one is admired abroad; the other is honored and beloved at home. ‘Her children arise up and call her blessed, her husband also, and he praiseth her.’ There is no fame in the world equal to this, nor is there a note in music half so delightful as the respectful language with which a grateful son or daughter perpetuates the memory of a sensible and affectionate mother.”
–Benjamin Rush, Address to Guests of the Young Ladies’ Academy of Philadelphia, 1787
What do you think of Rush’s assessment?
What do you think about these differences?
Are the differences less or more pronounced today?
Should they be more or less pronounced?