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in the condition of society. The bustle and intellect at the expense of something disfever of competition, the struggle of the tinctly feminine. The 'ideal woman does classės beneath them, the turmoil of opinion, not reason; her processes of thought are are to them nothing but causes of inconve- intuitive so far, that she can give no account nience, or matter for honest protest. When how she arrives at them: if she attempts to they are the-spokesmen they naturally make do so, her professed reasons are palpable out a case for the old state of things, and after-thoughts, proving that logic is at least a very plausible one, from their point of no obtrusive faculty. She is wiser not to view. But, unfortunately, the majority of pretend to it. We bow to conclusions mankind belong not to the prosperous but formed on no conscious data, and with noto the struggling class.
thing like argument to back them, because · However, these large questions only re- in her own province, though she cannot reamotely concern our present subject. What son, she is very apt to be right. Clever the nineteenth century has done and has women, on the contrary, throw intuition still to do for the masses, under the new over and aim at logic. They possess the political conditions to which they are about analytical faculty, and encourage it in themto be subject, we leave to more ambitious selves. They search into the why and the pens. Whát has impressed us lately, and wherefore, they pursue a subject in all its what'we would impress upon our readers, bearings, they trace it to its cause, they is the benign work of progress in a given study themselves, and, above all, they study period for one particular oppressed class character in others - not for a present pura class of persons for whom not even the pose, not by the intuitive method, but as a Reform Bill of the future promises largely habitual intellectual occupation. As reason
– who owe what they have, or hope to gain, ing beings they dispense with instinct, or to the more subtle insensible action of that subdue it to a subordinate capacity, which mysterious onward movement which plays revenges itself in return by ceasing to so great a part in human affairs — we mean serve their personal needs, leaving them to the class of clever women. An unpopular work out the details of conduct by the class- a class, at least, whom no other light of their boasted reason: a revenge inclass particularly likes or cares to take to deed. We all perceive, who have any exits bosom — who have always a hard battle perience of self-consciousness, what a poor to fight, but who certainly fight it now un-exchange must be a constant appeal to the der less disadvantages than they did fifty will or the judgment in the minor action of years ago. We do not here speak, we re- life, for the promptings of habit and intuipeat, of prosperous clever women, who tion in natures finely tuned, where the mind have never had any battles to fight any more does not speculate but act, comprehending than dull or commonplace ones - wealth just as much of the persons and things enand station support alike exceptional clever-countered as is necessary for success, and ness or exceptional stupidity — but the class no more. Knowing too much and thinking of able women who are thrown upon their too much are alike fatal to charm. own resources.
When we would define a clever woman, But, before entering into our subject, we mean something almost as distinct some definition of what we mean by clever from a sensible, a well-informed, or even women seems to be needed. In the first place, an intelligent woman, as from the convenall women who are not clever women are not tional charming woman. What a clever to be distinguished from them by any dis- woman sees, hears, acquires in any way, paraging epithet, or any expression of draw- assimilates itself, undergoes a certain transback whatever. On the contrary, especially mutation, and can never be reproduced as attractive women are rarely clever in the a mere act of memory. Something of hercommon sense of the word; the conven- self hangs about it. She puts it in a new tional charming woman, never. With most point of sight. A process of classification people cleverness is applied to women as a is for ever going on. Whatever the mind term of veiled reproach, and not without receives is at once placed, and goes to the show of reason, because it is a testimony to elucidation of a view, or is recognised as a
new experience, and its relation to all re- go for nothing - they are consciously at ceived knowledge is traced out. It is this fault; and therefore all that concerns art, that dignifies the veriest gossip of the literature, politics, religion, and all great clever woman. Her philosophy may be public questions, are accepted by the “ very fallacious, but news, chatter, scandal woman," from lover, husband, or whatever whatever it is - goes through a process, man is selected as guide, with real implicitunder her handling, giving it an affinity ness and docility, however these submissive with a history or study of human nature; qualities may be veiled with a feint of choice so distinguishing it from the common gossip and self-will. This graceful homage it is well defined by Monseigneur Dupanloup in not in the power of the clever woman to his Studious Women,' where he says: “I offer. Whatever her judgment and her cannot approve of all the impressions pro- opinion is worth (and it is not necessarily duced by material objects and the incidents worth much), the fatal gift of thinking is of life being immediately expressed, and hers. Even if she were to feed on the air requiring an equally immediate answer. of blind trust it would not become her — Minds thus are always laid bare to each her unlucky talents cut her off from the tenother — they are never concentrated them- derest form of sympathy. selves, and they never allow others to be And yet these awkward, so-called unfemconcentrated. One thinks aloud because inine strivings after the intellectual, seen in one thinks little.”
every age since the revival of learning, These habits of thought give to the clev- should merit some sympathy if it were oner woman an irrepressible independence, a ly for the obstacles they have successfully fancy to play her own game. However overcome. How have they been received ? much she desires the approval of men, Now it is not reasonable in women to exwhich she may do yery eagerly, her mode pect men to be so far attracted by excepof obtaining it is not deferential. It is by tional ability in them as to consent to merge showing what is in herself, not by an en- their own individuality in it. Superior ingaging conformity. The masculine mind is tellect can scarcely be what is called atnot felt a necessary complement to her own. tractive. A man is wise to desire to remain She is no mistress of the flattery of uncon- intellectual head of his own home, nor do scious submission. A woman's eyes are things go quite as they should do where the never so beautiful as when they look up; disproportion of intellect is conspicuously the eyes of her mind are not prone to as- on the wife's side. In the view of two sume this appealing grace. With unfem- making a complete whole, the woman is not ịnine awkwardness, she probably does not a better complement to the man for being see what she is about; even though she very much above, or for having an inteldoes, the distinctive qualities of her mind lectual side apart from him, clamouring for must have their way. But we may say that expression. But where there is no danger the intellectual exercises for which we give of being swamped by feminine cleverness, her credit are incompatible with tact in any how have intellectual men - men who know exquisite degree - not inconsistent with ap- what it is to “ make thinking part of their preciating tact, about which she may be diversion,"— who despise their fellow-men able to say a great many clever things, but who live on the alms-basket of borrowed with this subtle power as an instrument for opinion,- how have they treated the same use. She aims at too much; her mind is diversion in women ? If clever or learned too excursive. She does not accept a lim- women have ever hoped for the praise of ited province as especially her own. The men in reward for their trouble, the very ideal woman confines herself to her circle, simplicity of their vanity should have made her family, her home, and herself as the men lenient; and instead, wbat brutality of centre of all. Within this restricted range contempt has assailed them, and from all the mind's touch is endued with an exquis- points. Swift, who loathed the vacuity of its sensibility, because it is restricted. In the women of fashion of his time, thought larger, remoter questions, tact and instinct nothing but bad of them, and talks of
“ Seeds long unknown to womankind them to account now, naturally, quietly, For manly bosoms worthy, fit —
and as a matter of course, without exciting The seeds of knowledge, judgment, wit;" injurious notice, without instilling such a
sense of oddity and singularity as to affect who complains that not one gentleman's the manner, and often more than the mandaughter in a thousand could read or under- ner, detrimentally; either through conceit, stand her own natural tongue, or be judge or shyness, or effrontery, or simple awk. of the easiest book that could be written in wardness, and contempt for the graces of it, or read it without mangling the sense, the sex — a contempt" which comes to no or acquire the art of spelling all her life woman by nature, but which bas often been long; and who resents the utter want of in- assumed, in hopeless defiance. terest in the poor soul for any rational con Not that critics have given up the subject versation, turning, as she would do, from of the nature and limits of women's intelthe instructive talk of men — his talk, per- lect. On the contrary, it sometimes would haps — to consult with the woman that sits appear that Pope's aphorism is reversed, next her on the last cargo of fans; — Swift, and that the proper study of mankind is whose only receipt against the nonsense and woman. We counted no fewer than three frippery of women is to advise every woman articles in a late number of a popular jourhe cared for to renounce the companionship nal devoted to this one theme, and pen of her sex – with what a sledge-hammer with a caustic earnestness of purpose that does he descend on the women who, tired suggests a division of the sexes beyond the of this frippery, take a line of their own, pale of ritualism. Nor have women themand, instead of being mere listeners, at- selves ceased to damage their own cause. tempt to be wise on their own account! All the folly, in fact, of both sexes has ex“I know very well,” says he, to his fair ercised itself on the position of women. correspondent, " that those wbo are com- Lecturers, male and female, discuss woman, monly called learned women have lost all her nature and her mission, as though she manner of credit by their impertinent talk- were some abstract animal, instead of being ativeness and conceit of themselves; but half the human race; while not a few tranthere is an easy remedy for this, if you scendentalists despise a partnership of rights come to consider that, after all the pains to assert an aptitude for universal dominion, you may be at, you can never arrive in and would reduce man to the servitude of point of learning to the perfection of a which Cuddie Headrigg was so sensible, schoolboy." But this is not so bad as the who had all his life been trodden down by warning of sleeker moralists, who coun- women. “ There was first my mither, then selled women very seriously against any there was Leddy. Margaret, didna let me exercise of mind because men did not like ca' my soul my ain; and now I hae gotten it, and it stood in the way of their getting a wife, and she's like to tak the guiding op married. Any stain for woman's pretty me a'thegither.” Jenny only anticipates fingers but the stain of ink! was the cry of much feminine pretension of our age in her fifty years ago, and had been for a century reply, “ And amna I the best guide ever ye at least. Clever women have had a sad had in a' your life?" time of it since literature was literature, It is wonderful, indeed, that the clamourand perhaps, for the reasons we have sug- ers for women's rights, whether in America gested, not without fault of their own. or at home, have not told more injuriously Singularity suits no one, and especially it than they have upon the steady advance in does not suit women. Now we think pro- power and position of rational feminine ingress has done this for them — cultivated tellect; of clever women who accept their cleverness no longer provokes to conceit powers for what they are, and turn them to or eccentricity. The whole sex has made domestic, social, and marketable account, intellectual advance. There must always be as they would rank, fortune, or any other fools, but we know no class of simpletons providential gift, and with no more spirit to be addressed as “beauteous innocents," of bravado or fear of outraging convention and openly cajoled into piety by Fordyce's than men experience. argument, that never does a fine woman It is within fifty years that a woman of strike more deeply than when composed in- unusual parts has been able to give her into pious recollection. At all times, by tellect its fullest development in its most throwing off the reserve and retirement be- appropriate field, and yet live in society coming their sex, women could both assert without having her occupations treated as a and prove their powers; but progress has bar of separation.
This is a step
indeed; relieved them from an enormous disadvan- and a greater approach to the equality of tage. They can use them, and even turn the sexes, so much talked of by transcen
dental ladies, than anything yet arrived at. | cesses. A good scholar makes good schoIt is a late triumph of womanhood that a lars, and in lesser feminine degree, all acwoman should write as an habitual occupa-curacy and definiteness of knowledge can tion, and yet have no sense of being a star communicate itself. All that we term acor a special object of attention on that ac- quirement can be passed on, but qualities count. It is this class who form the real ingrain and special are in a main degree protection of their sex against the satire incommunicable. In a general sense, of and cynicism which every attempt at intel-course, it is elevating to live with superior lectual advance has always awakened. minds, and an immense advantage to have
The world has never been without its free intercourse with them — that is, if authoresses; the impulse is too natural for there are kindred qualities in the recipient; absolute repression. But their position be- but the position of a governess, bound by fore this period was not an enviable one, her contract to impart specific instruction, unless backed by wealth and social posi- interferes with this indirect accidental bention, which endorses everything; and they efit. People must be absolutely free to were so few in number, and so marked by choose their own methods, and they must circumstances - some which they could not be independent and master of the position, help, and some of their own making - that to influence others through their choicest, quiet women, whatever their ability, shrank most individual gifts. from connection with them. In his . Family The master and mistress of a household Pen, Isaac Taylor notes it as an intellectual ought to be the heads of it.. A great deal peculiarity of midland counties' Dissent that of inevitable injustice follows where this is an authoress found an honourable and nat- not the case, and clever subordinates find ural place among its members, and could themselves kept down by inferior intelliretain her distinctly feminine character gences. In fact, the ideal governess ought among them.. Miss Austen so recoiled not to be a student of character in any from the publicity which at her time was marked degree. None of us, if we knew associated with authorship, that she rigidly it, would receive a stranger into our housedeclined using her success as an entrance hold to whom all our faults and weaknesses to brilliant society, and refused to meet would soon be a printed book. Such misMadame de Staël, regarding such an en- placed discernment must be a source of suscounter as a step out of the seclusion which picion and unhappiness to all parties. Nor she valued more than fame. Practically should the governess occupy herself too speaking, the only resource for intellectual sedulously with the characters of the chiland accomplished women driven to do some-dren under her charge. The habit of readthing for their support was tuition; neither ing character often tends to a sort of fatalimagination nor experience had any other ism, and is opposed to that passion for insuggestion. The ordinary grievance at stilling and imparting and moulding which tached to this solitary refuge is, that women constitute the born teacher. Yet these inare driven to it whose intellect is not equal convenient qualities, exercised in an apto the demands of such a calling. These propriate field, constitute the great charm we pity very much; but it is so much in the and chief power of many a successful aunature of things that feebleness and incom- thoress, who is likely also to be a much petence should be at a nonplus when thrown more amiable character when her gifts bring upon their own resources, that we can her credit and fortune, than when they hardly look forward to a 'statę of society keep her, according to her temperament, in when it shall be otherwise: nor do we con- perpetual hot water or anxious mistrust. sider the suggestion of “S. G. 0." to all We have been led into this train of thought poor and helpless ladies to turn ladies' by the reperusal of a little book once familmaids, however plausible, a practical solu- iar to us which chance brought again in our tion of the difficulty, as there are probably way. It is dated forty years back, and conmore incompetent governesses than there tains an experience of governess-life of sixty are fine ladies open to their services. But years since. It bears the expressive title of our present business is with a much smaller . Dependence,' and consists of a series of and more select class — with ladies who are genuine letters detailing the feelings and not too stupid but too clever and original events of a course of anxious years. There for governesses. All that approaches to is a graphic power and an unmistakable realgenius and originality cannot be imparted ity about these letters which constitute them
not even the faculty of analysis ; while a piece of autobiography of no common these innate powers constantly interfere merit. The impression we get of the writer both with aptitude and inclination for teach- from the book itself is confirmed by the ing, which is necessarily slow in its pro- mention we find of her in a short record of
travel written several years later by an Her powers, such as they are, excite interAmerican Professor, who became acquainted est; but she could not supply a definite with the lady as the wife of his uncle, the demand. Thus she writes of her first apclergyman to whom most of the letters in plication, at the age, as we guess her at, of • Dependence' are addressed. He finds little more than twenty: “I could not honher the presiding, genius of an English estly tell Mrs. Danvers (we supply a body parsonage, every inmate of which charms to initial letters, which confuse the reader him. Of her he says: My aunt's powers of the book itself] that I was competent of conversation were such as it has not been in any way to the instruction of girls so my good fortune to see surpassed. Her far advanced as she represents her eldest tender sympathy for suffering, her strong daughters; but my ignorance of music was love of justice, her lofty scorn of oppres- the bar she could not get over. The corsion, at once flashed in her eye, glowed in respondence that I had with Mrs. Danvers her cheek, and trembled in her utterance. prepossessed me very much in her favour. Though remarkable for that self-possession After writing her an account of myself and 80 common to all well-bred persons in Eng- all my wonderful perfections, she says, land, the thrilling earnestness of her deeper “I have perused and reperused your letter, tones reminded me of what I had read of with increased regret that such a mind the conversations of Mrs. Siddons.” This should be rejected merely for the sake of is a picture of a remarkable woman, but frivolous accomplishments.'” She is connot one best fitted for the only work the scious of talent, but it never seems the right time found her to do. The letters, in fact, sort for the calling she is forced into. “What would be too painful in some of their humili- shall I do? ” she asks. “Am I always desating details, but for the novel-like consum- tined to undertake things which I am incapamation, marriage which is imminent as ble of performing? I am half inclined even we close the page. We venture to illus- now to write and tell Mrs. Venn all I know trate our subject by some extracts from the of my incapabilities and deficiencies. I did book in question, the more readily that it not willingly deceive her, if I have done it. seems to have failed to excite attention at I am aware that there is something about the time of its publication; though short me which gives people a higher idea of my extracts can never do justice to a flowing qualifications than ihey merit. I do, from epistolary pen, especially when held by the bottom of my heart, lament this; for I female hand. We learn that the writer is see no good in being able to impose upon the daughter of a clergyman - a scholar, people. It is a talent I possess in common and with habits acquired by intercourse with Miss Teach’em; there is only this difwith persons of higher rank and wealth ference — she does it from design; I never than his own — who, dying while his three advance a syllable for the purpose." daughters were scarcely more than chil The Miss Teach'em here mentioned is dren, left them wholly unprovided for, and put before her as a model governess. Her without those accomplishments indispensa- able dissection of this character points out ble for the prizes of governess-life. We another vocation for the young aspirant, if can all remember how Miss Austen's im- such had been open to her. mortal Mrs. Elton discusses these prizes. “ With your superior talents," she says to seemed perfectly to understand the present state
“She spoke to me without reserve, and she Jane Fairfax, “ you have a right to move of things. • Pretension is the order of the day,' in the first circles. Your musical know- she said, and those who cannot make any must ledge alone would entitle you to name your not expect to succeed.' I am sure she is right own terms, and have as many rooms as you I need only to look at that odious Miss Teach’em like, and mix in the family as much as you to be convinced of it. She is all pretension, and choose; that is ~ I do not know — if you see how she succeeds in establishing her own knew the harp you might do all that, I am importance ! I see more of her than of anybody ! very sure. But you sing as well as play. think. I believe it is Burns who complains Yes, I really believe you might, even somewhere, that if he happens to like a few perwithout the harp, stipulate for what you sons they are scattered all over the world di-. choose. Of all houses in the kingdom, rectly ; whereas, if there be a miscreant that he Mrs. Bragge's is the one I would most wish him in one way or other all through life. I hope
hates heartily, he is sure to be pushed against to see you in. Wax-candles in the school. I shall not be pushed against Miss Teach'em all
- you may imagine how desirable." through life. I could hardly help smiling the It was the want of the barp, and the sing- other day when Mrs. Lane, in pure kindness, ing, and so forth, that condemned the lady invited her here to bear me company in their before us to do without the wax-candles of absence. I found it quite impossible to convince governess-life. And we see it is inevitable. her that I had much rather be alone. She told