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Modern Persecution, or Insane Asylums Unveiled
"1st. Mr. Packard must make the confession as public as he had made the offence, that his wife has never given him any cause for regarding, or treating her as an insane person.
"2d. He must allow me the unmolested exercise of my own rights of opinion, and conscience, and post-office rights.
"3d. He must allow me to hold my own property in my own name, and subject to my own control.
"4th. He must allow me to control my own children with a mother's authority, so far as the mother's province extends.
"5th. He must allow me to be the head of my own household duties, and the mistress of my own hired girl.
"6th. The attempted usurpation of either of these inalienable rights of a married woman, shall be considered as a dissolution of the Union."
I know such stipulations serve rather to ignore a husband's protection, as indeed they do; but where neither love nor reason will hold a man to be the protector of these, his wife's rights, what can the wife of such a man do, without some such stipulation, or laws, by which her identity, as a woman, can be maintained?
The first is only virtually acknowledging my identity or accountability; that is, I am not a chattel, or an insane person, but a being, after I am married, as well as before; and unless a man can hold me upon a higher plane than the principle of common law places me upon, I am not willing to enter the marriage union.
The law says I am a non-existent being after marriage, but God says I am an existent and accountable one still; therefore I claim the recognition of this higher law principle, or I compromise with this injustice by this act of disloyalty to myself.
The conclusion of my last letter to Mr. Packard, dated April 28,1861, ends thus:
"And ere we finally part, allow me to call to your recollection that most important period of your life, when, at the altar of your God, in the presence of your fellow witnesses, you solemnly vowed to love your wife, to comfort her, to honor her and keep her in sickness and in health, for better and for worse, in poverty and riches, and forsaking all others, to keep thou only unto her, so long as both should live. Let me ask you, have you kept this solemn vow? Your lost Elizabeth."
About this time I had a letter from Mr. Packard, wherein he lays his plans before me, and asks my advice!
His plans were to break up the family and put out the children, and asks me to whom he shall give my babe, and to whom he shall give my daughter to bring up, and such like questions!
But not a single intimation is expressed that the mother would ever be allowed the right to rear her own offspring. No, not even a wish that he hoped I might ever be able or capable of doing so; yet he could ask the counsel and advice of this non compos on these most important matters of vital interest!
He then portrays the present condition of my family in facts like these. He says:
"Elizabeth has had a fall and hurt her side, so that it pains her most of the time, and yet does all the work for the family except when her Aunt Dole comes and helps a day occasionally."
Poor child! how her mother longs to embrace her, and sympathize with her as she used to in my sorrows. How can a father put upon this child of eleven years, the cares of a woman -- the care of a babe, in addition to the care of a family, while she needs to attend school!
Oh! how much inconvenience some men will almost cheerfully endure, to crush a married woman into that position of nonentity, which the common law of marriage assigns her.
Isaac too is feeling almost discouraged. He is so gentle in his disposition, he can not live without his mother's sympathy.
Oh! my darling boy, be patient. God's time to help us is not yet come. I know it is hard for thy tender heart to wait so long. I can hardly bear it myself.
Patient waiting is the hardest virtue for me to exercise. I had much rather work and toil than wait. But I will surmount all obstacles, and conquer all my impulsive feelings, by schooling them into entire submission to all God's appointments. If we could see all God's plans as God sees them, we should be satisfied.
While these reflections were passing through my mind, Dr. McFarland called at my room and remarked:
"Well, Mrs. Packard, what of the Manteno letter?"
"The family are all going to destruction; and his plan is to present such a view to my mind, as will induce me, for my children's sake, to plead to go home. He is trying to make me say:
"Oh! husband do take me home! if you only will, I will think, speak and act just as you please to have me, and will never venture to think for myself again!" But this plan fails entirely. I shall never give him a chance to put me off a second time."
Then came his usual inquiry:
"Have you a letter to send?"
I then told him:
"Sir, do you think I shall submit to be thus trifled with? you know you will not send the letter I want you to send?