She was like me in lineaments; her eyes,
"Genius has no sex," is a phrase which has captivated the imagination of some sensible women, impatient of supposed inferiority when literature is discussed. Yet we do not hesitate to say that the proposition, "Genius has no sex," is preposterous as well as false; not do we disparage the feminine mind by this assertion, as we shall show while demonstrating the contrary of this proposition, that "genius has no sex."
Is it disparagement to the rose that it differs from the acorn? Would the peach choose to be identical with the potato? Nature gives the kindly "fruits of the earth" their uses and virtues, all different and all good. With mankind it is similar. Men and women differ as essentially in their minds of modes of thought as in their forms. Men might as well set up for
"The vermeil-tinted lip and tresses like the morn,"
as women for man's strong frame, his muscular arm, and his power
"To shake alike the senate and the field."
We have, it is true, seen "The Bearded Lady" ( a frightful sight); we have seen women who have attempted to shine in the rostrum; and we have heard of a woman who officiated as constable in some Western State. Still, we doubt if these were the best specimens of human nature. We cannot suppose them lovely as women, or respectable as men. As to the lady orators, whatever may be their care and pains to efface the stamp of womanhood, there will still lurk about their manner, their phrases, their thoughts, those little refinements, spiritualities, and graces to which man's rougher nature is a stranger. In vain do these women strive to dress up their minds in broadcloth. You see the delicate feminine predominance of a silken texture in the turn of every idea, and you recognize it in the cadence and inflexion of every tone.
A foreign authoress has truly observed that a certain saying, applies to men and women in the same words, by the different notions it inspires, shows what a difference there us in the moral existence or nature of the sexes.
"He has been a good deal talked about:" this said of a man awakens at once the idea that he is a person of political, or literary, or professional celebrity. It is fame to him.
But, when you say of a woman, "She has been a good deal talked about," no person thinks better of her. It is blame to her.
Sir Walter Scott tells us, in the preface to his earliest novel, "Waverly," that he was first induced to attempt that kind of delineation of Scottish manners by reading the admirable Irish sketches of Miss Edgeworth. How he succeeded, it is needless to describe here; but the widely different manner in which he has accomplished the same object, with that of the charming authoress of "Patronage" and "Belinda," shows more clearly than anything we can say that the geniuses of the sexes is different. Both these writers have abundance of wit and humor, both copy from nature, both began to write at a mature age, both had well-balanced minds, and, with much generous enthusiasm, were quite free from bigotry or unbending prejudices. Yet, in Miss Edgeworth's writings, there are little delicacies of thought, tender, but nicely discriminating touches of feminine feelings, that no man could ever think of or describe; while, in Sir Walter's works, there are vigorous touches of manly qualities that no woman could portray, and illustrations of manly character that no woman of herself could penetrate. These differences, in two excellent, moral, imaginative, and useful writers, imply no inferiority in either. Both are delightful. As they esteemed and admired each other, so the reading public esteems and admires them. Miss Edgeworth's works are the most useful, for a good woman naturally tends to moral utility more than a good man. This is one of the distinguishing traits of the feminine mind. The early guidance and moral training of children devolve on the mother; her office is to mould the heart, "out of which are the issues of life," and thus exalt the race. Therefore women have an instructive readiness to "paint a moral" when they "adorn a tale."
Even those women who have, in action, education, and thought, seemed most like men, write in a way that could never confound them with the other sex. The unfortunate Madame Dudevant (George Sand) tried by every means to abjure her sex; but nature, stronger than all the seemings she could surround herself with, has guided her pen in descriptions of thought and character not only impossible, but inimitable by men. Compare her "Letters of a Traveler" and "True Love" with any writings of Eugene Sue or Dumas; the superior moral sense of the woman is clearly discerned. Madame de Stael is another illustration of this point. From infancy brought forward among political and literary celebrities, she was educated at a period when everybody seemed privileged to try and make himself something for which birth or nature had not intended him. Madame de Stael, so far from being held in the seclusion of women's usual life, was more versed in political debates, political intrigues, and public matters, to say nothing of her literary notoriety, than nine-tenths of the men who, in our country, or in any other, now hold the reins of political power, and devote their energies to public life. Yet, read her books, and you will see that she had not the mind or aspirations of a man. Her woman's nature is as clearly defined in her writings as it could have been in the form of her hand, or in the tome of her voice.
In poetry we see the same distinctions. Thomas Moore and Mrs. Norton, though widely apart in years, wrote contemporaneously. Both were elegant, imaginative, tender writers; and neither has written very long poems. With both, their shorter pieces are beautifully finished; both are admirable, but with a marked difference. Take, for example, a song of each, lamenting a buried affection:--
of Moore; and
of Mrs. Norton. Compare these sweet and tender songs; you will see, and feel too, the difference of sex in the genius of these two writers. The same remarks will apply to the totally different Scotch songs of Robert Burns and Joanna Baillie.
Our subject has a wide bearing on the most important questions of the day--the progress of humanity and the moral improvement of the race. These we shall not now discuss; but we would like to have those of our lady readers, if we have any who believe that "genius has no sex'" to reflect on the instances we have given; and also to consider these propositions:--
Why was woman made to differ from man in her external appearance, and in the duties assigned her by nature (maternity, for instance), if she were identical with him in her genius or mental gifts?
Why should women wish to be or to do or to write like men? Is not the feminine genius the most angel-like?
FAST WOMEN.--One of our most promising lady writers, Mrs. R. B. Hicks, editress of the Kaleidoscope, thus deftly describes this new variety of womankind:--
"This fast age, with its fast horses and faster men, has brought about that rather fashionable monstrosity, the fast woman. They were a want of the age, those fast women, or the age would never have developed them. Fast young men wanted something to keep up with them, and, presto! We have the fast young woman. The gum-elastic nature of woman supplied the deficiency; and she, who is the pride of earth and the incentive to heaven, consented to lend her splendid capabilities to fill up the measure of Young America's insolent requirements, and to become, for his convenience, the fast woman.
"Accordingly we see them with dresses decollete and bare arms, with loud-ringing laugh and questionable wit, with polka and Redowa, and a thousand other accomplishments peculiar to themselves, attracting the blasé foplings, whose attention the true woman would instinctively shun. They are up with the times and, to the honor of Old Virginia be it said, somewhat in advance of her daughters, these fast young women. But, though they are so attended, and so applauded, and so exhilarated, there is no young fopling in their train who has not at least brains enough to sneer at them behind their backs. And thus it happens that these fast young women do not marry quite as fast as they dance. In the hymeneal race, we find them lagging behind; and, as their speed is all gotten up expressly for the hymeneal race, it must be exceedingly mortifying to them to find themselves beaten by dozens of quiet, genteel girls who never danced a polka in their lives. It is the old fable of the hare and the tortoise. We would advise them not to be quite so fast."
THE SKETCH OF AUNT ANNER.--The sketch of Aunt Anner in our last "Table" would be incomplete without this pendant. Our friend Ettie Elton thus tenderly shows the sorrowful side of the home love which seemed almost to defy time and change. But all earthly happiness has its end. This truth should never be forgotten.
Aunt Anner's Grave.--Days, months, and years have gone by. I am no more the little Ettie Elton; I am now a woman; my home not among the romantic hills and dales of the Empire State, but far away in other lands. I have seen much of the world since then, the great and beautiful world, the grand, proud world, the world in the east and in the west, in the city and in the country. I have found friends among all classes, some dear ones, around whose names cluster the most endearing associations, others who were false and fickle as a summer dream, whose memory I would fain bury in oblivion. But there are no scenes graven upon the landscape of the past so replete with unsullied happiness as my childhood days; and when, but a few months ago, I turned my steps thitherward to visit again those places which were so dear to me in the morning of life, how the thronging memories loomed up in the dim vista of buried years! Even the very trees and shrubs seemed to tell of scenes long past; the willows by the brook, which were so small that I could pull down their topmost boughs, and lave their slender stems in the purling waters, are now might trees, pointing far up towards the deep blue sky; and in fancy I heard them say to me" "As time flys on, let thy pursuits be heavenward, and thus mayest thou soar above the groveling things of earth." And, as a passing breeze swayed to and fro their yielding branches, I seemed to hear them say: "Thus easily mayest thou be guided by the gentle whisperings of the messenger of peace."
But their faded leaves told of death; and the twittering poplars trembled, as it were, with fear, as they looked upon the hectic glow of their neighboring trees, with which the great destroyer had so undeniably premonitioned his coming.
How the winds sighed, and how dismally the loose shutters clattered on that October morning, when I entered the house where my Aunt had lived! There were, intermingled with many of the things which I had never seen before, many of the relics of what that home was when I was a child; but now how sadly alone that dwelling looked! Where could she be whom I had so much desired to see once more?
Not in the parlor, for that is empty and silent; not in this room, nor in that, for I have peered all around into the dim solitude, and naught could be seen of that dear familiar face. Detached portions of her wardrobe are to be seen hanging in the neglected closets; how wonderfully still they hang there! The same patchwork quilts which her hands have fabricated cover the beds which stand there--oh so alone! The same set of "flowing" blue, though somewhat broken up, keeps company with a multitude of new dishes in the china-closet; but these too are awfully silent. Oh, that I might hear on footfall, the sound of one voice, to break the dread silence of this deserted abode!
But, alas, death has been here! My aunt did not grow old; the frosts of age did not crown her brow with silver, nor the weight of years bow down her vigorous form; but the dark-browed messenger came, and in the prime of life beckoned here away to her long home. None had power to stay that summons; her spirit escaped its thralldom like music from the harp string, and is gone--where?
But for the eye of faith we could not see where; but, by its aid, methinks I can see here there in the glorious light of eternity, where they have "no need of sun, nor of the moon, nor of the stars, but where the glory of God and the Lamb shall be the light thereof forever and ever."
I turned away from that desolate spot, and, as I passed along, I saw that the fading, withering flowers drooped their heads; a group of amaranths alone stood upright, as if they could brave unharmed the blights of autumn and the stern, cold blasts of approaching winter. Sweat emblems of immortality, well may ye point upward to the skies!
I gathered a small bouquet, and through them I fancied my aunt gave me her last counsels, and whispered her last admonitions. How they breathed of joys unfading, of love undying, of happy reunions where no partings are! And how beautifully they contrasted with the short-lived flowers of summer, which, like the joys of earth, are but for a season, then pass away forever!
I went to the churchyard, and saw a new-made grave. A white rosebush, a sprig of myrtle, and a few tufts of moss had been planted there by friendly hands.
They told me it was her grave; but in no vision of the fancy could I ever see here there. I could never think of here in connection with the coffin, the shroud, and the worm or the dark, narrow portals of the cold grave; but, away up there, where the amaranths point, I fancy she dwells in a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens.
Oh, in my dreamy reveries I yearn for realms where fancy shall be filled, and the ecstasies of freedom shall be felt, :and the soul reign gloriously, risen to its royal destinies!"
The catalogues of these increase upon us; so we shall continue to give notices, drawing from each section of our hand land proof that the feminine mind is now to have its opportunities of cultivation. The results of this liberal education on the sex, on our country, on humanity, have yet to be developed. We believe these will be far more wonderful on civilization, and more important for good in the cause of true Christianity, than the most enthusiastic friend of feminine genius has yet imagined.
THE LYNCHBURG YOUNG LADIES' SEMINARY, under the care of the Misses Gordon, shows a very prosperous condition. The students numbered over eighty during the last session. Virginia is awakening to the importance of educating her daughters at home.
MAPLEWOOD INSTITUTE, at Pittsfield, Massachusetts, is very flourishing. The young ladies at this school seem to be making great proficiency, as the report of the examining committee testifies thus:--
"We can hardly suppress the gratification we felt in the examination of the senior class in Astronomy, Butler's Analogy, Moral Science, Analysis of Paradise Lost, etc. Their appearance would compare favorably with the usual examinations in these studies in our colleges; and some of the class we regard as deserving even higher praise."
The committee say that "the studies of the senior class of young ladies correspond, to a considerable extent, with those of the senior class in our colleges. They embrace the highest and noblest sciences, the most important and practical topics, those best fitted to liberalize and expand the mind. They are indispensable to anything like a complete education. For their sake, we would earnestly urge members of the other classes by no means to leave the full course unfinished, and enter upon the duties of life with only a partial preparation. In education, as well as in architecture, such is the relation between the preparation and the completion, the foundation and the finishing, that the same time and effort seem to accomplish, at the close, manifold greater results than at the beginning. Thus a more marked change in mental character seems often to be wrought during the senior year than during any two previous years of study. This fact is worthy of special consideration at the present time, when there is such an increasing tendency to leave school at too early an age. This has been called a railroad age. Impatience at the slow processes of nature is getting to be a general characteristic of the popular mind. Pupils are in haste to learn in one year what used to require, and what ought to require, several years; and they finish their educations when that great work ought to be regarded as just begun. This premature graduation proves to many an injury lasting as life.
"The most important and gratifying feature of the school is its decidedly religious character. The Bible is a prominent text-book, a large portion of which is carefully studied; and the entire Scriptures are read through once every year."
The name of the gentlemen thus earnestly promoting the instruction of women are guarantees of the importance of the design: Reverend B. G. Northrop of Saxonville; Honorable H. H. Childs and Reverend C. B. Boynton of Pittsfield, and James A. Briggs, Esq., of Cleveland, Ohio.
PEEKSVILLE YOUNG LADIES' INSTITUTE, located in a pleasant village on the east bank of the Hudson, forty miles from New York, has many advantages. There are two principals, Reverend W. S. Garthwait and Miss C. J. Hutchins, who say that, to strengthen the intellectual powers, improve the taste, cultivate the moral feelings and habits, promote physical health, and refine the manners, in a word, to educate in harmonious action all the powers of the human constitution, is the work proposed, responsible, arduous, yet delightful. To this work, the principals devote their whole time and personal attention, having associated with themselves a corps of able assistants.
CAMDEN YOUNG LADIES' INSTITUTE, during the past year had ninety students. The institution was founded in 1848, and has been successful. "The laws of health are made a branch of study;" and a very important branch these laws are. Added to this, we think the "Constitution of the United States," as prepared for schools by Professor John s. Hart, should be studied by girls as well as by boys. Women are the natural conservators of health, and truth, and freedom, because they lay the foundation of thought and of action in the notions and habits they implant in every child's mind. Mental as well as physical health depends very much on early training.
Reverend A. Morrel Cory is the principal of this Institute, and Miss Cory preceptress.
TWELVE REASONS why more attention should be given to the more general diffusion of physiological and hygienic knowledge among the present and prospective mothers of our country; and why ladies should be educated for the practice of medicine among their own sex and children:--
MOUNT VERNON LADIES' ASSOCIATION has not yet resumed active operations, though the plan is progressing. Next month, we hope to have a large list of subscribers to publish. One dollar gives membership.
MRS. ELIZABETH J. EAMES.--In our December number we gave, from the pen of this lady, "The Indian Summer Morn," a poem of great power and beauty. Before those lines were published, the gifted authoress was no more. She dies of consumption at Channabon, Illinois. The poem seems a fitting requiem for such a close of life. Consumption is the "Indian Summer" of death; so touchingly beautiful that we are dreaming of renewed life, when the brightness is but the surer symbol of decay.
In connection with the death of genius, the following poem, by Reverend W. S. Peterson, will be read with interest. Mr. Peterson is a writer of much merit. We are glad to welcome his contribution.
His pathway was dark, while he lingered below<
And few were the laurels bestowed on him here
But the nightshade of sorrow, the thorn-crown of woe;
Ah! these were his own from his birth to his bier!
Though truthful and grand were the songs that he sung,
Few indeed were the praises that greeted his ear;
And his heart, in its spring-time, with anguish was wrung
By the world's chilling scorn and its withering sneer.
But now he is walking that radiant shore
Which is free from the blighting of sorrow and sin,
Where the turmoil and trouble of time are all o'er,
And the joys of eternity's ages begin.
With the harp of pure gold, and a seraph's white wings,
And a crown of bright star-gems encircling his brow,
The bard, that the world scorned to listen to, sings
With the glorified poets of paradise now.
INQUIRIES may be made for the works of the editress of the Lady's Book. Mr. Godey will send any one or all the books in question at the prices named below.
Whoever will remit the money (letter post-paid) to the editors of the Lady's Book shall be furnished with any one of the above volumes at the price stated, without expense of postage on the book. Should the whole series be ordered, there will be a deduction of one dollar and seventy-five cents.
Address, L.A. GODEY,
No 113 Chestnut Street, Philadelphia.
To Correspondents.--The following articles are accepted, and will appear when we have room: "Death of the Honorable James Meecham"--"Memory's Dearest Picture"--"The Heart's Triumph"--"Diarium"--"Our Brother Sleeps"--"The Blue-Eyed Daughter"--"Gentle Voices"--"Sadness"--"A Sonnet"--"Alcyone"--"Penitential"--"The Child's Farewell to Earth"--and "The Heart's Story."
We have no room for the following: "Ada, a Story of the South"--"The Earth, &tc."--"Stars"--"Our Cousin Edward"--"Life Scenes"--"The Voyagers." (We would prefer a prose article from the writer)--"The Wish of a Young Friend" (no stamps were sent to return it)--"The Orphan Bride, &tc."--"Song"--"An Evening Wish"--"A Sentimental Air"--"Bish, Bash"--"Life"--"The Bride's Departure"--"To ---"--"Flora's Farewell"--"To One in Heaven." (We are crowded with poetry; no more contributions are needed at present)--"Sweet Home anew, &tc." (The Lady's Book can be obtained in Atlanta, Georgia)--"The Death of Autumn"--"Page from Life"--"The Essay of Literary Women," and all the printed matter, declined. (We never accept articles that have appeared in other journals)--"The Broken-Hearted"--"A Thought"--"Flowers of Autumn"--"Dirge to the Dying Year"--"The Feast of Life"--"Little Cares"--"Gone, all Gone"--and "The Wish at Sunset."
Agreeably to request, "Slid it into the stove."