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tiffs over their punch and their cigars. have been utterly forgotten, for the lack But, for the first time in the history of a modern Aristophanes to preserve of our much-striving and much-stum- their memory in a new Ecclesiasuzæ, bling race, a man's respect for women and that golden year arrives, of which and for the womanly mind is coming, the poet prophesies, the year of the and that very rapidly, to be accepted, by the cleverest and the most cultivated “World's great bridals, chaste and calm, of his own sex, as a final standard of his
Whence springs the crowning race of human
kind;" own character and capacity.
The blue-stocking of the last century, when mannish women and womanish torror of gods and men, is happily ex. men shall have become alike impossitinct, having gone out with the dodoble, and each respecting each, and about thirty years since ; the Laura each by the other respected, man Matilda is rarely to be found, except and woman find peace at last and ing in the more remote villages of the harmony in the ordered freedom of interior; and the “strong-minded dual but equal lives, then at least, if not man of the present day excites, in both before, the names of the women who sexes, such intense emotions of dislike bave illustrated the literature of the and disgust as human nature keeps in present age will become as stars in the reserve for monsters alone, woman be. minds of men for the “sweet influences" ing no longer expected to be weak or thoy shall forever rain upon the race. odious. Our grandfathers used to pa Those women have done more for the tronize our grandmothers in the most world than plant its garden-plats with humiliating way: when a young lady tube-roses and with tulips. They have made herself ridiculous by an affecta- breathed the summer breath of their tion of sentiment, she was held to be in own souls into this generation. The her vocation, and her follies faith, the hope, the earnestness of woman ranked with the pets and poutings of a
are found everywhere contending with child ; when an elderly spinster dished the doubt, the despair, the listless apaup theological twaddle with her tea, thy into which we, miserable money. and buttered her toast with Greek, the making, self-seeking men, had fallen. gentlemen in bobwigs only smiled su Those immortal instincts and SOVpreme; for women must be either silly ereign passions, without which liteor sinful, and, of course, it was better rature languishes, because without that they should be nonsensical than them life grows worthless, are more innaughty.
extinguishable, it would seem, in woman These things we have changed; not than in man. Swift and warm as the completely, to be sure, but, so far sunlight are her sympathies and her changed, that a woman may now enjoy convictions, and, pouring their genial the reputation of being clever without splendor upon the chilled and frozen ceasing to be regarded as a woman, 80 temper of man, they set free again the far that the noblest truths and the loftiest fettered currents of his inward life. In principles are not necessarily brought every age, the hearts of women have to scom when they are spoken by a kept the hopes of the world, and, within woman's lips, or written by a woman's the narrow circle of the home, it has pen.
never been possible wholly to deny to This is a glory of our age which the intellect of woman its proper should never be forgotten by those sphere and its legitimate authority. who mean to paint its portrait, or to ana That the intellect of woman could fill lyze its character a present glory and its sphere and wield its authority in the the herald of brighter glories yet to wider circle of the world, without draw. be. For the world can no more spare ing away into itself the precious life of the intellect of woman than it can dis her affections and her graces, men used pepse with the affections of man; and to doubt. But they can doubt no longinfinite good will result to us and to our It was idle to appeal, against this children, we may be sure, from the skepticism, to the examples of exceptiongrowing recognition of this truth, and al women in the past ; but, beneath the the consequent acceptance, into our constellated heaven of the present, skep literature and our life, of a new and no ticism has become ridiculous. It must ble spirit. When the follies of the fanati- be silenced now, as Napoleon, upon the cal friends of “Woman's Rights” shall deck of his war-vessel, sailing over the
still southern sea in the starlit summer moving things have been said to us in night, silenced the atheist wrangling of that silvery goddess-speech! his friends, with a finger lifted to the Even the Arabian carpet of the imaskies.
gination can bardly carry us back to the An ancient Hindoo sage, whose name days when Mrs. Carter and Madame is so absurd that we shall not risk the Dacier were esteemed marvels for do. mention of it, has left on record, in ono ing men's work almost as well as men, of the many thousand scriptures of his and the woman who published a book race, his own deliberate conviction, won for herself the same sort of famo that "all the wisdom of the Vedas, and which was achieved by Madame D'Anall that has been written in books, is to gerville when she climbed Mont Blanc. be found concealed in the heart of a The lioness is now become at least as woman." All the world has secretly common and familiar a creature as the agreed with the Hindoo sage ; and, had lion, and it is simple truth, which nothere been no women on the earth, there body fears to utter, that one meets with would certainly have been no books women who have not ceased to be written worth the reading.
women in becoming authors, quite as surely time that she, who had been the often as with men who, in becoming cause of literature in others, should vin- authors, have continued to be mene dicate her own creative capacity. This You might annibilate the works and she bas done, and, whatever else may be obliterate the names of all the women said for or against our much-debated, who ever wrote books, from the time of bepraised, and berated nineteenth cen the Exodus down to the French revotury, this, at least, will remain to be said lution, without sensibly damaging the of it forever-that it saw the first great literary renown of any country upon age of female authorship.
earth ; but, take the women of the last There were women in ancient Greece seventy years out of the Pantheon, and who wrote like women, or, at least, like how many a dismal, deserted niche Grecian women; and there were women will stare you reproachfully in the in mediæval Italy who wrote as became face! the countrywomen and the friends of a And it is in the literatures of England Petrarch or an Angelo. There have and America that women have won been women in every age who wrote the their place most loyally, and with the most delightful possible letters, and least abdication of their womanhood.
journals, and diaries; putting their per. The old Teutonic spirit of our forest sonal histories, feelings, or fancies into ancestors, whose glory it was, that they that inimitable, felicitous female dialect "consulted their women on all occasions which, in every language, moves as of importance," survives and shines nimbly as a woman's wit, and charms as again, in the roception which the Ansubtly as her smile. But, through all glo-Saxon race has given to the Sybthe range of bistory, we look in vain for illine leaves of its modern prophetany class of female authers, original, esges. powerful, unquestionably excellent, and, In France, woman has trenched upat the same time, distinctively feminine, on the special domain of man, and the until we come down to our own days. writings of the greatest and most gifted If the “large utterance of the early woman who ever held a pen in Paris, gods" is hushed among us now, we may bear witness,on every page, to her fatal fahave the consolation of knowing that we miliarity with emotions and experiences have been the first to hear the silvery through which no woman can pass and speech of the goddesses. Since the keep sacred the special spirit of her timos of Madame de Stael, who, to be sex. The same atmosphere suits not sure, was not much of a goddess, and both men and women; and it is as idle still less of a woman, and who did her to ignore this eternal fact, as it is imbebest to make a man of herself, but of cile and unjust to pass upon a diseased whom it must be always borne in mind, but glorious nature, like that of Madame that she fell upon evil days, when every Dudovant, the stern sentence which body bad been suddenly emancipated, radical depravation, or innate incapacity and nobody was really free-since the of good, alone invites. The worst qual. times of Madame de Stael in France, ity, let us say it frankly, the only realand of Mary Wollstonecraft in England, ly evil quality of Madame Dudevant's think how many charming, how many works, seems to us to be this, that her im.
morality is mandish. The discipline to womanly woman than she? We speak which she subjects Consuelo is a disci as if to those who know her personally ; pline of which a man might conceive for for there never was a writer whose himself, but from the thought of which words were more transparent than hers a woman should recoil with a natu to betray the living soul within them ; ral shudder. That sad man's name, and those who know her poems, do, in“George Sand,” is for us the symbol deed, know herself—know her lofty and sign of all that is most deplorable ambition and her modest spirit-her in the training of the splendid genius constancy to right and her gentleness which has made it immortal. No such in judgment—her ardor and her tendernom-de-plume could, for a moment, con ness. There is nothing paltry in her ceal the womanhood of the greatest fe- purposes, and nothing morbid in her male writers of our own race.
moods. She writes, because, in the long Within the small and fragile person solitude of her earlier years and the of Charlotte Bronte, for instance, there love-lit happiness of her womanbood, throbbed a life as vivid and as passion- a thousand thoughts have grown up ate as that which tinges the pages within her that could not be repressed of “ Lélia” or “ Indiana" with its fiery from utterance; but she writes as one glow.
who knows that the thougulat most Pent in her poor secluded home, precious to ourselves is worth little to among the Yorkshire hills, the slight, the world unless it be fitly uttered. hard-favored daughter of the English She does not sing merely to unburden parish priest had to struggle with her own heart, but also to enrich the womanlý instincts as warm, and with hearts of those who hear her; and her a thirst of love as keen as the first hope for all her poems doubtless is, instincts that were outraged, and that they may truly add to the world's the thirst that was not quenched stock of beauty and of truth. in the spirit of the granddaughter We give to a new poem from her, of Marsbal Saxe. But all this vivid, therefore, an artist's welcome, first passionate life, these instincts heartily receiving it and rejoicing in pressed by fate, this thirst ungrati- the real life it is so sure to bring to us ; fied, never wrought upon Charlotte then, as heartily reviewing it, to meaBronte any unwomanly change of sure our artist's progress by the standnature; never dimmed the delicacy ard of her earlier works. For Mrs. of her perceptions ; never chilled her Browning is one of the few writers of deeper inward sympathies. When you our time in whom we recognize a steady road "Jane Eyre,” or “ Shirley," or progress; and because her faults were · Villette," you
feel that you are stand always as sharply defined and as specialing face to face with a woman who has ly hers as her powers are, it has not seen a thousand illusions vanish with- been difficult to note her upward steps. out losing, her faith in the realities in her first-published poems, the whole which survive all illusion—a woman too idiosyncrasy of the writer was far from clear-sighted to be sentimental, but too being revealed, though it was very sincere to scoff. Nothing can less re- clearly indicated. The melody of her semble that dismal disgrace of civiliza- poems was broken, and their phraseology tion, the “femme incomprise," than this unequal. They reminded you of the proud, passionate creature, thwarted but strong mountain-brooks that, far up in not perverted—vexed but not vitiated the forest, fight their new way over the swift-sighted to pierce every disguise rocks with lapses of smooth fowing, of falsehood, but strong-hearted with and intervals of sudden cataract. It the immortal bope of truth.
hardly needed any external evidence Though not all of one genius, to satisfy you that these were the first most of the femalo writers, wbose works of a woman of genius, who had names are likely to survive the present lived a very sad, peculiar life, and had age, have been of one spirit with Char trained herself in studies as unusual as lotte Bronte, and, like her, have done her experience. Her pedantries of alluhonor to their sex in doing service to sion were no pedantries at all; her quainttheir art. What author of our times has nesses and obscurities of phrase had do held more loyally to the great aims of savor of affectation. She had acquired authorship than Elizabeth Browning, those tricks of thought and speech, just and yet where shall we look for a more as those, who live much alone and sor
row greatly, acquire tricks of manuer to underrate the importance of words and of bearing quite their own. They and of style. As concerning the artist were in her the evidences not of an imi. herself, they are of supreme importance; tative and incapable nature, but of an for their perfection or imperfection will isolated and intensely individual life. make to her the difference between a And all, who had eyes to see and hearts wide-enduring fame and a final esoteric to understand, hoped very high things reputation. We know this well, and of this new singer. That she sang
Mrs. Browning knows it, too, and means like the nightingale, against a thorn to use her knowledge, wo opine. For and in the dusk, saddened but did not we note in her, as we said before, a diminish our hopes of her; and when steady progress and a gradual emanciwe heard that the sunlight had suddenly pation of her mind from those habits of broken in upon her existence, and that expression which she had acquired in the solitary sufferer in England had be the narrow circle to which she at first como the happy wife in Italy, we all addressed herself. Between the world, felt that, however long a time the age whose singer she ought to be, and hermight have to wait for its recognized self, there was long interposed a barrior poet, of its poetess, at least, we were of rare old books and rare living friends, sure.
making up an audience of whose prosNor was our confidence unfounded. ence alone she was vitally aware.
Her Already, though but in the prime of Gallicisms, and Grecisms, and Miltonher years, Mrs. Browning has made isms, were little heeded in that audi. her name a household word in the best ence, or, perhaps, if heeded, praised. and most cultivated homes of the Old But, of late years, she has overlooked World and the New, and the influence of this barrier, we judge, and so purifies her spirit, grave as sweet, and earnest her speech that it may go further and as serene, may be traced in lines of fare more happily. ligbt by every observing man, through In the whole of that charming volume, all the circle of his acquaintance. The made up of “Casa Guidi Windows" and imitation of her mannerisms and her the “Sonnets from the Portuguese." faults, which is obvious in the recent you will not easily find so many obwritings of so many women, is an un
scurities and incoherencies of speech as mistakable indication of the interest you shall stumble over in one page of which she has inspired, and the atten
the “ Drama of Exile," or a dozon tion which she has commanded. And verses of the Vision of Poets." And the little harm which the imitation may then, after you have inarked this fact, do to our literature, need not, surely, and turn back again to the “ Drama of trouble us much, when weighed against Exile," or the "Vision of Poets,” how the great good which the influence will plain it becomes to you that the writer do to our life. What does it matter that of those “ Sonnets," which alone, bad a dozen young ladies, reading “ Bertha no other woman ever put pen to paper in the Lane," should, for several years in the world, would suffice to pillory thereafter, write nonsensically of being Jean Jacques Rousseau for his absurd • Flooded with a Dark,” while they blasphemy about the “ incapacity of themselves, and so many hundreds more women to write well of love !" has only that write no nonsense at all, live to go back to these earlier works, with better lives, and think better thoughts, the firm band and the clear eye she and are
more womanly-strong, and has now acquired, in order to beat the sweet, and just, for the inbreatbed gold of them out anew into lovely and spirit of that beautiful, sad story? Or, worthy shapes. In fact, we doubt if who could turn from the lovely picture it would be possible for Mrs. Browning of the Lady Geraldine, drawing all men Dow to talk, as Miss Barrett once did,
about “On to love her, And to worsbip the divineness of the smile
“ Goethe with that reaching eye bid in her eyes,"
His soul reached out from far and bigta,
And fell from inner entity!" to worry himself about a whole train of
Por Mrs. Browning would see, as Miss “ Kesonant steam-eagles
Barrett did, that here was something Following far on the direction of ber floating worth saying, but, also, which Miss dove-like band ?"
Barrett did not see, that here was somo Heaven forbid we should be thought thing very badly said. If we hoped this VOL. 1.-3
in reading “Casa Guidi Windows," we Aurora's mother, when she died, took havo become sure of it in reading “. Au- his life with her from the world, and it rora Leigh." For this best and longest was but for a few years that the child of Mrs. Browning's poems is at once a grew beside his knee, confession of ber artistic creed and a
“ His grave lips witness to her faithful works.
Contriving such a miserable smile " Aurora Leigh" is the heroine of an As if he knew needs must, or she should autobiographical sovel, in verse. She die." writes her story to explain her life, or but They lived among the mountains above to record it, as you please, sets down Pelago, alone there with their old Itaan paper the sorrows and the strength, lian servant, Assunta, and with the picthe trials and the triumpb of long years, ture of the beautiful dead mother. The that so she may put them behind her father taught the child strange scraps and press on to the new years waiting of scholar-learning, giving her all his before her.
knowledge, not because it was the best The victim, in her childhood, like for her, but the best he had to give her, • Jane Eyre," of a decent tyranny, and he must give her all he had. And and, in her womanbood, like Tennyson's there he died, bis last words breathing “ Princess,” the proud dreamer of a out to her the sum of his He's lesson, prouder dream, Aurora Leigh, fortunate “Love !" in ber genius, neither loses heart under And when he had died, there came a the tyranny, nor goes mad in the dream. stranger who took the child away from
Let us tell her story, that our readers poor old Assunta and ber mountain may see its significance, and basten to home, her mother's picture, and her study it for themselves.
blue Italy, to carry her far away across Aurora is born in Florence, of an the sea to pious, and parked, and cloudy Italian mother, “whose rare blue eyes England, to a hard now life in a hard were shut from seeing her sweet child,
Dow world. ere five summers had passed over her. It was her father's sister who reThis was the first guli opened in herceived her there, standing upon the life, for
hall-step of her country house, to give “ Women know
the poor child welcome. And what The way to roar up children (to be just), welcome! They know & simple, merry, tender knack Of tying sashes, fitting baby-shoes,
. “She stvod straight and calm, And stringing pretty words that make no Her somewhat narrow forehead braided tight, вере,
As if for taming accidental thoughts And kissing full sense into empty words; From possible pulses ; brown hair pricked Which things are corals to cut lite upon, Although such trifles; children learn by such By frigid use of life (she was not old, Love's holy earnest in a pretty play,
Although my father's elder by a year), And get not over-early solemnized –
A nose drawn sharply, yet in delicate lines; But soeing as in a rose-busb Love's Divine A close mild mouth, a little soured about Which burns and burts not-not a single The ends, through speaking unrequited lovos, bloom,
Or, peradventure, niggardly belf-truths ;, Become aware and usafraid of Love.
Eyes of no color-once they might havo Such good do mothers"
smiled, Such good Aurora's father could not
But never, never bave forgot themselves
In smiling ; cheeks in which was yet a rooo do; though all his beart was in his love
Of perished summers, like a rose in a book, for her. For she alone remained to Kept more for rutb than pleasure—if past him of all the glory of his life. He was
bloom, an "austero Englishman," who, wan
Past fading also. dering off to Florence to study drains
“She had lived, wo'll say, and husbandry, had there, most una
A barmless life, she called a virtuous life,
A quiet life, which was not life at all, wares, received his sacramental gift with
(But that, she had not lived enough to know) eucharistic meanings, from the chant Between the vicar and the county squiros, ing procession that he looked upon with The lord-lieutenant looking down. sometimes “comfortable island-scorn;" for, as the
From the empyreal, to assure their souls train of priestly banners, cross, and The apothecary looked on once a year,
Against chance vulgarisms, and, in the abyss, psalm went by him in the square, To prove their soundness of humility. “A face flashed like a cymbal on his face,
The poor-club exercised her Christian gifts Transfiguring him to music,"
Of knitting stoekings, stitching petticoata
Because we are of one flesh after all and he loved. Beloved by such a man And dood one flannel (with a proper sodio with love so sudden and complete, of difference in the quality) and still