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30 January 1855


Polysophical Society; Lorenzo Snow’s Hall, Salt Lake City, Utah Territory

A large white house surrounded by trees

Lorenzo Snow’s home on South Temple Street in Salt Lake City, Utah. Photo taken circa 1920. (Courtesy Church History Library.)

“Woman”

Address before an Assembly of the “Polysophical Institution” in Prest L. Snow’s Hall, Great Salt Lake City, Jan 30, 1855

BY MISS ELIZA R. SNOW

Before this noble audience, once again

A Lyre of Zion re-resumes its strain.

Thought is a currency—Speech is design’d

To circulate the treasures of the mind.

When this Society convenes, this Hall

Is a grand reservoir, supplying all:

And constitutes an intellectual mint,

Where words are coin’d—ideas take their tint—

Where morals, arts and sciences are taught—

Mind prompting mind, and thought inspiring thought.

When last assembled, woman’s worth and sphere

Were beautifully illustrated here:

And then the thought suggested to my view,

That woman’s self might speak of woman too:

But not for “Woman’s Rights” to plead or claim—

Not that, in Zion, I should blush to name.

I have apologies to offer here

For Gentile ladies who disclaim their sphere.

Having obtained enough of truthful light,

To see life’s strange perversions of the right;

They seek with noble, yet misguided aim,

Corruption and abuses to reclaim:

But all their efforts to remove the curse

Are only making matters worse and worse.

They could as well unlock without a key,

As change the tide of man’s degeneracy,

Without the holy priesthood: ’tis, at most,

Like reck’ning bills in absence of the host.

No more of this. I’ll speak of woman now

When Inspiration’s pow’rs, the mind endow—

Where rules are giv’n to renovate the earth—

To try all textures and to prove all worth.

And what is woman’s calling? where her place?

Is she destin’d to honor? or disgrace?

The season’s gone when she could set her stake

To which the will of man must bow or break—

The time is past for her to reign alone,

And singly make a husband’s heart her throne:

No more she stands with sovereignty confess’d;

Nor yet a play-thing, dandled and caress’d;

Neither a dazzling butterfly or mote,

On light, ethereal, balmy waves to float.

Her’s is a holy calling, and her lot

With consequence most highly, deeply fraught—

“Help-meet” for man—with him she holds a key

Of present and eternal destiny.

She bends from life’s illusive greatness down—

“She stoops to conquer”—serves to wear a crown.

Love, kindness, rectitude, with wisdom fraught

Form woman’s greatness, wheresoe’er her lot:

However great, let once her aim be pow’r,

She sinks—decreases from that hapless hour!

Aspiring brains fictitious heights create

And seek to clothe in greatness, ere they’re great:

All dignity is but an idle sport,

Where goodness forms no pillar for support.

Who thro’ submission, faith, and constancy,

Like ancient Sarah, gains celebrity;

And thus obtains an honorable place;

A high position may sustain and grace.

That there are rights and privileges too,

To woman’s sphere, and to her duties due;

Reason and justice—truth and heav’n confirm;

But they’re not held by force, nor took by storm.

If “rights” are right when they are rightly gain’d,

“Rights” must be wrong when wrongfully obtain’d:

The putting forth a hand to take the prize

Before we fairly win it, is unwise.

Let woman then, a course in life pursue

To purchase man’s respect, as merit’s due,

And feeling God’s approval, act her part

With noble independence in her heart;

Not change, nor swerve, nor shrink, whatever is;

Though fools may scoff—impertinence may quiz:

Faithful, though oft in faithfulness unknown—

With no whereon to lean, but God alone.

Then by the laws which rule the courts above,

She holds the charter to a husband’s love,

Which built on confidence—by virtue won,

Will amply—will abundantly atone

For what she feels at times, neglected now—

Misjudg’d and unappreciated too.

With chaff and tares, wheat may be buried low—

Gold hid in dross, where none but angels know.

Wit, youth, and a beauty oft a charm impart

Which throws a magic spell around the heart;

But ’tis an influence ever prone to wane

Unless the powers of worth that charm sustain.

The jewel, confidence, is far above

The fickle streams of earth’s degen’rate love.

Nature, inviolate holds certain laws—

There’s no effect produc’d without a cause:

Integrity and faithfulness, through hard

And patient labor, reap their own reward.

The gains of craft will take their own light wings,

And all assumptions are but short-liv’d things.

As we move forward to a perfect state

And leave the dross degeneracies create:

Laws of affinity will closely bind

Heart unto heart—congenial mind to mind.

Life, Order—all things are in embryo,

And through experience God is teaching how

To mould—to fashion to the pattern giv’n—

To show on earth a specimen of heaven.

A calm must be preceded by a storm,

And revolutions go before reform:

Faith, practice, heads and hearts must all be tried,

To test what can and what cannot abide.

When shakings, tossings, changings, all are thro’—

All things their level find—their classes too;

A perfect government will be restor’d,

And Truth and Holiness and God ador’d,

But ere this renovating work is thro’,

Woman, as well, as man, has much to do:

Responsibilities, however great,

Advancing onward will increase in weight;

And she, that she receiving, may dispense,

Needs wisdom, knowledge and intelligence;

Of high refinements too, she should partake

With rich endowments; for her offspring’s sake.

Queen of her household—authorized to bless—

To plant the principles of righteousness—

To paint the guideboard that thro’ life will tell,

And lead instinctively to heaven or hell—

To fix the base, the fundamental part

Of future greatness in the head and heart,

Which constitutes the germ of what will be

In the high courts of immortality.

What we experience here, is but a school

Wherein the rul’d may be prepar’d to rule.

The secret and the key—the spring—the soul

Of rule—of government, is self-control.

Cloth’d with the beauties, purity reflects,

The acknowledg’d glory of “the other sex,”

From life’s crude dross and rubbish will come forth,

By weight of character—by strength of worth;

And thro’ obedience woman will obtain

The power of reigning and the right to reign.

[. . .] [n.p.]

Source Note

Eliza R. Snow, “Woman,” Mormon 2, no. 45 (27 Dec. 1856): [1].