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A STRICT REGARD OF TIME REQUIRED.
society; that the attention wearies and the interest flags, in pursuing a regular course of reading. Hence in part the youthful womanly mind wants breadth, vigor, solidity. Stedfastness of purpose must be acquired and practised here, as everywhere, if excellence be reached. The continued and studious perusal of good writers, will not only enrich the memory and fertilize the nature, but discipline the faculties to a steadiness and self-support which shall soothe and tranquilize many a fevered and anxious hour in life to come. For want of such beneficent discipline, large numbers of our married women degenerate into housekeeping drudges or drones, with scarce a thought above cooking and dusting, fallen into scandalmongering, or what is worse, into the wretched and painful boarding-house life of towns and cities, sunk into intrigues, wantonness, and destruction. The
care, anxiety, responsibility, which domestic life imposes, the want of culture, appreciation and healthful sympathy almost inseparable from the woman's condition -the fact that she must often walk the round of her duties alone, with none to help or cheer her, demand a compact fibre and clear decision, a resolute strength of nature. The radical elements of these she possesses as the gift of God. They may be ripened during her maiden life by close communion with the Epirits of the great and good who have left the best part of themselves in books. Blessed, indeed, is the
lot of the woman who crosses the threshold of mar• ried life, cherishing in her heart the hallowed influences and choicest inspiration of the sages and the poets.
It is impossible for us to calculate what female genius is competent to perform in the world of letters; but from what it has already done, what are we not justified in predicting? It is safe to assert that no two works of fiction produced within the last twenty years have made so profound an impression upon the mind of the civilized world as Jane Eyre and Uncle Tom's Cabin. I do not here propose the discussion of the inerits and defects of either of these books, nor, associating with them the product of female literary mind in England and America within the same period, to collect the data for an inductive argument to set forth woman's capabilities for creation and composition. It is sufficient for me to state what all know, that Miss Bronte and Mrs. Stowe have created a stronger interest in their characters, have more completely thrilled the hearts and kindled the sensibilities of their readers, than Bulwer, Dickens, or Thackeray. Whatever may be the defects of these books, as tried by the cold formulas of criticism, whatever may be their weakness or errors, as attempts to delineate facts and life, however perverted and unjust you may claim their statements of reality to be, in my mind there is no doubt that they are nobler works of art than have
EARNESTNESS OF FEMALE AUTHORS.
ever been produced by the illustrious trio I have mentioned above.
The women are thoroughly in earnest. They write because they cannot help it. They use their pen to unburden their hearts. They must speak, or they would die. The men have had a thousand advantages which the women never possessed. But the woman's religious nature, the purpose of writing to benefit others,--a purpose of which she is only half conscious ;—the coloring from the hues of her own heart, the tides of emotion, inundating the intellect, lifting the thoughts, bearing them on as upon some brimming mighty current-these yield the woman ample compensation for her deficiencies.
Were it necessary to vindicate the breadth and massiveness of female genius, might I not point to · Mrs. Browning, to whom since the days of Milton, there has been no superior, if an equal, in poetic sublimity? Nor is the loftiness of her thought and style gained by any sacrifice of delicacy and tenderness. The woman's deep and gentle sensibility attempers what might otherwise be the dazzling glare of genius, and sheds upon her page a soft and holy light. While she gives us in her chalices wine to nourish and invigorate strong men, there are motherly lays and cadences to soothe the heart of her sisters in distress. She leads the poet by one hand up the broad aisle to the altar where he may perform the act of self
consecration, and with the other she plants upon the grave of a little child a sweetly blooming flower, which those who have buried children will not willingly let die. There are other English women who may not have received so great a meed of renown as those already mentioned, whose works, nevertheless, are entitled to the best applause of men and women of all degrees. Such are Mrs. Gaskell, Miss Yorge, Miss Mulock, and Mrs. Olyphant; whose books evince a careful and thorough culture, a nice discrimination of character, and a complete literary excellence, sufficient to add lustre to the name of any author of the time. With such examples challenging our admiration, who will dare to disparage the capacities of woman for literature.
There are two classes of composition for which the nature, experience and education of women peculiarly fit them; I mean works for eir own sex and for children. The value of these, if they be equal to the claims of their subjects, and of those for whom they are designed, can hardly be over-rated. The domestic life of this country is in a fearful—not to say an appalling-condition. The greedy pursuit of wealth is an almost universal characteristic of the men. Wives and mothers are well-nigh as eager in their desire for the possession of gold as husbands and fathers. Early married life is devoted to a daring race to gain the prizes of Mammon. The middle life—age of
womanhood, is then given up to ostentation and vulgar display. Great houses, sumptuously furnished; costly equipages and trappings, magnificent surroundings, where the possessors are the only dwarfs, seem to constitute for the mass of the women of America a perfect paradise—a paradise in prospect only ; for when the Eden is gained, the hot breath of a simoom has withered the verdure and the flowers, dried up the fountains, and slain the singing-birds; and thence
s forth there is only a desert of pride, show and extravagance. Among the thriving mercantile and commercial classes of this country, the statement may be ventured without fear of exaggeration, that there is little or no domestic life.
Who is defrauded by the mockeries which we call homes? Who suffers the wrong and loss? Woman. How shall a revolution be wrought-a revolution in which mightier issues are involved than in any change of administrations or cabinets—a revolution upon which depend the vital interests of our individual and national life? Women must fight this battle and win it; with their pens, by their tongues, in their lives; or the hopes of our ancestors and our own cherished anticipations for the future of our country must be baffled and trodden under foot of men.
A thoughtful woman once said to me, “My only literary ambition is to be able to write a book suited to my children.”
What nobler ambition could a