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Translated from the French.




Ir is now quite a number of years since it became the fashion to study women, and writers of note have called to life more than one who would have preferred being left to oblivion under her cold tombstone. Is it not enough to have lived once even if we have lived wisely? "No one would accept an existence that was to last forever," said a philosopher who had suffered from the injustice of mankind.

It seems, for example, as if the heroines of the seventeenth century must smile in pity to see the pettiest actions of their lives as well as the deepest inspirations of their hearts given up for food to the indiscreet curiosity and vivid imagination of the eminent philosopher who had so lovingly resuscitated them. And the intellectual women who came after them, are not they not often wounded by the judgments passed upon them by the most inquisitive and fertile of critics?

In two works entirely devoted to woman, a fantaisiste who was once an historian, has tried to explain the best means to insure happiness to the fairer half of the human race, with a minuteness very tender in intention but often quite repugnant to our taste. He states in detail the hygienic care indispensable to creatures weak in body, feeble in mind, and so helpless when left to themselves that in truth there are but two conditions in the world suitable for them to be courtesans if they are beautiful, and maid-servants if they are destitute of physical charms; nay, such is the arrogance of this literary Celadon that he would assign to the wife an inferior position and leave the

husband to superintend not only business affairs but household matters. In short, when we read these books we seem to be attending a session of the Naturalization Society, teaching the public to rear and domesticate some valuable animal much to be distrusted.

Not even the toilettes of the eighteenth century have failed to arouse the interest of two authors of our day, who, displeased perhaps with the slight success of their book, have now abandoned the range of realities for the dreary delusions of a lawless realism. In a work as long as it is tiresome, they have described with feminine lucidity the various costumes of the ladies of the court of Louis XV., of the Revolution, and the Empire.

A book has now appeared which, according to its title, promises to show us the "Intellect of Women of our own Time," but in reality confines itself to giving three interesting biographies. The author was already known to the public through a romance which reveals true talent. "Daniel Blady." the story of a musician, is written in the German style, and shows an elevation of sentiment, a straightforward honesty of principle, and above all a simplicity of devotion rarely to be met with in the world. M. Camille Sel den admires modest women, incapable of personal ambition or vanity, who consecrate all the tender and enlivening faculties of soul and reason to the service of a husband, father, or brother. and such a woman he portrays in "Daniel Blady."

In order to represent fairly the wo men of our day M. Selden has selected

three different characters; three names worn modestly, usefully, and honorably; three contrasts of position, race, doctrine, and education: a French Catholic, an English Protestant, a German Jewess: Eugénie de Guérin, Charlotte Brontë, and Rachel Varnbagen von Ense. They were all affectionate, devoted, and self-forgetful; two of them married, and the Frenchwoman alone had the happy privilege of restoring to God a heart and soul that had belonged to no one.


Eugénie de Guérin du Cayla was born and bred en province, although of a truly noble family, of Venetian origin it is said. Her mode of life was that of a woman of the middle class (bourgeoise) enjoying that comparative ease which we see in the country; a large house scantily furnished, a garden less cultivated than the fields, and servants of little or no training, who seem to form a part of the family.

Mlle. de Guérin lost her mother early, and having two brothers and a sister younger than herself, became burthened with the care of a household and family. Her letters and journal show her to us as she was at twenty-seven or twenty-eight years of age, not one of those persons of morose and frigid virtue who are good for nothing but to mend linen and take care of birds, but a woman of intelligent and unembarrassed activity. She made fires, visited the poultry-yard, prepared breakfast for the reapers, and when her work was done, betook herself in all haste to a little retreat which she dignified with the name of study, where she ran through some book or wrote a few pages-always charming, always strong-of a sort of journal of the actions of her life. Eugénie's especial favorite was her brother Maurice, who was five years younger than herself, and it would be impossible to speak of her without recalling the passionate maternal tenderness

with which from her earliest youth she regarded this brother whom she had loved to rock and nurse in infancy.

"I remember that you sometimes made me jealous," she wrote to him one day, "it was because I was a lit tle older than you, and I did not know that tenderness and caresses, the heart's milk, are lavished on the little ones."

Devotion was the principal motivepower of Eugénie's actions; ardent prayer and charity profoundly moved her; wind, snow, rain-storms, nothing checked her when she knew that in some corner of the village there were miseries to be relieved, tears to be wiped away. She felt sympathy with all living creatures, even if they were inanimate like trees and flowers; she sighed when the wind bowed them down; "she pitied them, comparing them to unhappy human beings bending beneath misfortune," and imitating the example of the great saint, Francis of Assisi, she would gladly have conversed with lambs and turtle-doves.

Mlle. de Guérin pitied the educated peasants who knew how to read and yet could not pray. "Prayer to God," she said, "is the only fit manner to celebrate any thing in this world." And again, "Nothing is easier than to speak to the neglected ones of this world; they are not like us, full of tumultuous or perverse thoughts that prevent them from hearing."

She loved religion with its festivals and splendors; and breathed in God with the incense and flowers on the altar, nor could she ever have understood an invisible, abstract God, a God simply the guardian of morality as Protestants believe him to be.

Most women become useful only through some being whom they love and to whom they refer the actions of their lives; it is their noblest and most natural instinct to efface and lose themselves in another's glory. Having no husband or children, Mlle. de Guérin attached herself to her brother Maurice, a delicate nature, a sad

and suffering soul, destined to self-destruction, a lofty but unquiet spirit that was never to find on earth the satisfaction and realization of his hopes. "You are the one of all the family," he wrote to her, "whose disposition is most in sympathy with my own, so far as I can judge by the verses that you send me, in all of which there is a gentle reverie, a tinge of melancholy, in short, which forms, I believe, the basis of my character." Mlle. de Guérin's letters to her brother were not only tender and consoling, but strong and healthy in their tone. Indeed, he needed them, for terrible were his sufferings from the ill-will and indifference of others. He wrote and tried to establish himself as a critic; but some publishers rejected him and others evaded his proposals with vague promises, until with despair he saw every issue closed to him, and knew not what answer to make to his father, who grew impatient at the constant failure of his expectations.

Though ignorant of the world, Mlle. de Guérin did not the less suspect the dangers that Christian faith may encounter. One day, a voice that seemed to come from heaven told her that Maurice no longer prayed; and then we find her trembling and uneasy. "I have received your letter," she says, "and I see you in it, but I do not recognize you; for you only open your mind to me, and it is your heart, your soul, your inmost being that I long to see. Return to prayer, your soul is full of love and craves expansion; believe, hope, love, and all the rest shall be added. If I could only see you a Christian! Oh! I would give my life and everything else for that.". . Like all persons who try to dispense with the divine restraints of the precepts of the gospel, poor Maurice struggled in a dreary world; his sensitive and poetic soul saw God everywhere except in his own heart; he longed sometimes to be a flower, or a bird, or verdure; his brain and imagination ran away with him, and his soul poured itself forth without restraint, and lost

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its way through wandering from the veritable Source of life.

This passion for nature led him to write a work which shows genuine power even if it be unproductive; a prose poem in which Christianity is forgotten for the sake of fable and antiquity. But thanks to his sister's prayers, Maurice was one of those who return to God. He passed away without agitation or suffering, smiling on all, and begging his sister Eugénie to read him some spiritual book. At the bottom of his heart he had never ceased to love God, and he returned to him as a little child returns to its mother.

Eugénie did not give herself up to vain despair after Maurice's death. Thinking perpetually of him whom she had loved so deeply, she busied herself with the writings which he had left behind him, and prayed for his soul, recommending him also to the prayers of her friends. She still addressed herself to him, and oppressed with sadness unto death, communed with his absent soul, imploring him to come to her. "Maurice, my friend, what is heaven, that home of friends? Will you never give me any sign of life? Shall I never hear you, as the dead are sometimes said to make themselves heard? Oh! if it be possible, if there exist any communication between this world and the other, return to me!"

But one day she grew weary of this unanswered correspondence, and a moral exhaustion took possession of her. "Let us cast our hearts into eternity," she cried. These were her last words, and she died, glad to see her life accomplished, confiding in the mercy of God, in his goodness who reunites the souls which he has severed here below, but never has forgotten in their bereavement.


Charlotte Brontë, (Currer Bell,) whom M. Camille Selden offers to us

as a type of energy and virtue, was the daughter of a country clergyman. Sad was the childhood and sad the youth of the poor English girl. Her mother was an invalid, her father a man of gloomy and almost fierce disposition, their means were so limited as to border upon poverty, and as if to complete the dreary picture, the scenery about the parsonage was "austere and lugubrious to contemplate, like the sea beneath an impending tempest."

In England the clerical profession is totally unlike the holy mission of a Catholic clergyman. The ecclesiastical life there is a career, not a vocation. "Mr. Brontë never left home unarmed," a singular method of preaching peace to the world and reconciliation among brethren. He was a good father, no doubt-almost all Englishmen are so. But he kept his family at a distance, and spoke to them seldom, and then in a curt and supercilious manner. His morose spirit did not relish the society of children, and if he became the preceptor of his little family, it was rather in order to fulfil a duty and conform himself to custom, than from a feeling of tenderness or even solicitude for their future welfare. Thus the minister's children lived amid influences which were cold and serious, but upright, and in a certain sense strengthening. There are so many children in every English family that parents of the middle class are obliged to treat them less as subordinates than as auxiliaries.

The children are less familiar with their parents but more respectful than among us; life is not so easy and gentle, education more masculine.

Independence is the goal toward which all young English people tend, and both girls and boys are early taught that labor alone can lead them to it. In France we long impatiently for the time to shut up our children in the high-walled barracks which we dignify with the name of boardingschools; for it is extremely necessary, we say, to be rid of idle, noisy boys.

Girls are generally educated at home, but either through weakness or indifference, they are treated with far too much indulgence. "Poor little things!" we say pathetically; "who can tell what fate awaits them in married life?" for in this country we so far forget Christian duty as to make marriage a necessity, an obligation, a matter of business, instead of seeking therein, as the English do, a basis of true happiness.

Children, educated as they are in England, early acquire habits of observation and reflection; sitting around the tea-table in the evening, they listen to the conversation of their grandparents, and are often questioned upon the most serious subjects. This is Protestantism, you say. Not at all: it is the remains of the Christ. ian spirit anterior to the Reformation. This spirit is exhibited in habits as in laws. If family life among us were truly catholic, we should possess all this and in greater perfection.


There is another practice in England which is often beneficial, and which we do not dare to adopt openly in France. I mean the habit of writing out one's impressions. seems to be as natural in England as thought; and mothers, young girls, and men consider it a duty to keep an account of the good ideas that occur to them or of the interesting facts they may observe.

In France, on the contrary, true literary culture is closed to women, and there is a general outcry whenever any woman takes the liberty of publishing a work under her own name. It is thought quite natural that a young girl, with a dress outrageously decolletée and her head covered with flowers, should appear upon a stage and sing a bravura; but let her venture to write, and the world accuses her of want of reserve.

A Frenchman has such a horror of anything methodical and serious that he prefers to educate his daughters without thought or reflection, at hap-hazard and with no provision for

the future.

Frenchwomen understand everything without study, it is said; this may be true, and the merit is not so great as to make it worth while to deny the assertion. What a superficial method! what an incredible way to acquire knowledge and judgment!

Englishwomen on the contrary, devote themselves to a regular course of instruction; they read a great deal, making extracts and critical notes, and thus avoid idleness and ennui, those two terrible diseases that affect woman kind. Unfortunately abuses glide into their reading, and novels or even newspapers hold a place there which they ought not to occupy. This is a fruit of Protestantism, of free inquiry, and if our faith were firm and practical, we should know how to avoid the abuse and accept the useful side of this custom.

But there is again a situation which Englishwomen meet with a better grace than Frenchwomen-we mean the misfortune of remaining unmarried at twenty-eight or thirty years of age of becoming old maids. With us, as soon as a daughter comes into the world we begin to think of amassing her dower; for it is the value of this dower which is to secure a good or bad marriage for her. We persuade her that it is almost a disgrace to remain unmarried, but by a tacit agreement we conceal from her the fact that marriage, as the Church instituted it, is the union of two souls equal in the sight of God, and that in giving her hand to a man, she becomes half of himself and flesh of his flesh. No, it is not a question of heart or of duty; she marries a man whom she has known scarcely two months, and her family triumphantly congratulate themselves on being freed from the unpleasant possibility of harboring an old maid. To avoid this, some marriages are a mere sale, a present shame, a future misery, and a final sin.

As in England daughters have no dower, and sons are valued much more

highly, young women are early prepared not to marry, and are neither sadder nor more unfortunate on that account. Care of the little ones in the family; that pleasant occupation belonging by right to maiden aunts, (tantes berceuses,) study, attentive observation of men and things, and the consciousness of intellectual worth, sustain the Englishwomen until the moment, often distant, and never to arrive for many a one, when a good, sincere, and intelligent man shall unite her lot to his; but as she has self-respect and does not consider loss of youth as loss of caste, she does not accept the suitor unless she knows him well and is certain that he does not wish to take her or buy her pour faire une fin.

Charlotte, like Eugénie and like Rahel, of whom we shall speak in her turn, was rather insignificant in appearance; her features were irregular, her forehead prominent, and her eyes small but deep and piercing in expression. She was educated with two of her sisters in a boarding-school, where the regimen was hard and unhealthy, the uniform coarse, and the food insufficient and ill cooked. Mr. Brontë turned a deaf ear to his eldest daughter's complaints for a long time, and did not decide to take his children home until one of them had already sunk under the injudicious treatment. Charlotte was then placed with Miss W, with whom she lived eight years as pupil and second teacher. And here M. Camille Selden gives us some excellent remarks upon the difference existing between the French lay pension with its supplementary course, and the English boarding-school.

"In the former, as in a well-disciplined army, every movement, every manoeuvre must be executed in union. even the recess is subject to rules. In the midst of her battalion of teachers and sub-mistresses, the French direct ress, en grande tenue, resembles a bril liant colonel marching proudly at the head of his squadron in a review."

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