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THE WOMAN OF THE WRITERS.
BY MARY COWDEN CLARKE.
Since every woman would fain live well in the object in view will stimulate us with hope of its esteem of those she esteems, it will form an in- glorious issue. teresting subject of investigation to see how To begin, then, with Chaucer, the Father of woman fares in the pages of those intellects best English Poesy. We shall find him the flower capable of judging her, and of setting her forth of all gentleness and chivalry ; full of all for the judgment of posterity. It will be no courtesy and kindliness towards womanhood. unprofitable, certainly no unentertaining task to A bit of a rogue, nevertheless, in his sly revelaexamine whether those who have had the power, tions, his inuendoes, his hints at her foibles and have had likewise the justice, to depict us faith- frailties ; but none the less pleasant, it must be fully and truly; to see whether their discern- owned. We forgive him his waggeries, for the ment has been equalled by their candour; their sake of the sweet earnestness of his words when force of perception by their impartiality; and he seriously speaks in her behalf. Had he their ability to delineate by their wish honestly never written anything else than the story of to represent. It is of moment to ascertain how Griselda, womanhood would still have owed him we are " written down” by those who have uni- undying obligation. The wonder is, that, in an versal readers; and of no slight import to know age when license of speech was not only tohow far we have the good word of those whose lerated, but admired—when the utmost freedom lightest word will endure so long as language of allusion was not merely permitted, but apitself shall exist. It will be valuable, no less plauded as wit-Chaucer should have written than curious, to trace how we women rate in the with so much delicacy, with such refinement, estimation, and appear in the representation of grace, and purity of sentiment, in drawing the such writers as Chaucer, Spenser, Tasso, Cer character here cited. In the eight or nine vantes, Molière, Milton, Pope, Steele, Addison, speeches she utters in the course of the tale -Fielding, Richardson, Jean Paul, Goëthe, &c., for this poet is often essentially dramatic in con&c.; men who speak to the world, as well as to struction, as well as in touches of his story-Gritheir several countrymen, whose genius sways selda expresses herself with signal discretion ; the verdict of posterity, as well as of their own in a style forcible from its very simplicity and age, and who can confer immortality on the quiet straightforwardness. She uses few words; subjects of their pen, as well as obtain it for but they are characteristically expressive of pathemselves. It will be advantageous, besides tience, with sedate and steadfast purpose. They being entertaining — profitable no less than are pertinent, but entirely unornate; just such amusing, to observe, whether the Poet, in ren. as a peasant girl of excellent common sense dering us poetically, as his ideals of woman-might use. The poet has not failed to bring hood, has faithfully preserved a verisimilitude | her manner yet more present to us, by noting with Nature; the Dramatist, in making us act her“ benign voice” when she speaks. The and speak dramatically, has yet made us behave tender deprecation of her appeal to the man naturally; the Romancist, in drawing us roman- commissioned by her lord to take away her little tically, has withal depicted us true flesh-and-daughter, even while she meekly submits to the blood women, not mere heroines. To note sentence itself, is full of maternal feeling; but whether-while wit, humour, and satire, join to the most eloquent of her speeches is the one bring our follies and weaknesses into ridicule, she makes to her husband, when he puts her to denounce our defects, and censure our errors away, sending her back to her father's cottage, -sentiment, refinement, and good taste are at under the pretence that his people would have the same time active in pointing out our good him take another and a worthier wife. There is qualities, advocating our merits, and demon- a subtlety of reproach in its excess of nonstrating the peculiar attributes of feminine ex- reproach in this speech, which is profoundly cellence. Some of these writers have been pre true to the nature of such womanly gentleness eminently gifted with insight into the subtleties of temperament as Griselda's. In the depth of of womanly character. We shall see how they her humility, avowing that she held herself have used their “ so potent art;" and if its ex-ever-through all the height of position to which ercise, and the sum of its discoveries and com- he had raised her-nowise worthy of her exaltamentaries, have been calculated to raise or de- / tion, undeserving to be his wife, or yet his press womankind in the regard of her fellow- handmaiden, never deeming herself lady misbeings. We would fain believe, that the result tress of the house, but always humble servant of the search will redound to our honour. At to his worthiness, there is a covert implication any rate, its pursuit will afford us pleasure ; the of his lordly cruelty which could thus impress mere revival of our acquaintance with such her into subjection, which is perfectly characwriters will be an agreeable diversion, while the teristic of the woman. It is to be remembered
that Griselda was the daughter of one of her the young beauty. Griselda, after replying with husband's vassals; that she was born and bred her usual meekness and sweet temper, adds :in the feudal creed: her speeches, therefore, which to our senses appear almost more than “ One thing beseech I you and warn also, subservient, are, for one in her position, and that ye no prick with no tormenting
This tender maiden as you have done mo; [ine] previous relation to her lord, greatly dignified,
For she is fostered in her nourishing and even self-asserting. The reply which she
More tenderly, and to my supposing makes (in this same speech) to his bitter taunt
She inightè not adversity endure respecting the portionless state in which she As could a porè fostered creature." came to him-
The poet has shown us this charming exemplar “ And thilkè (that same] dower that ye broughten of womanly gentleness, no less by her bearing me,
than by her speech. The first description of Take it again ; I grant it of my grace"
her, in her cottage life, is quite in Chaucer's is singularly spirited in the midst of its modest exquisite style of simple grace. He tells us:-submission. It conveys sharpest rebuke by - But for to sneak of virtuous beauty. means of its very purity, and sweetness, and un- | Then was she one the fairest under sun;" resisting obedience. It is precisely the appeal best calculated to strike reproof to the heart of and quaintly adds :a man of any feeling; exactly the sort of defencere which an ultra gentle woman would permit her- "
“Well ofter of the well than of the tun she drank.” self to use. We pray the reader to mark the 'In her breast, he says: beauty of the sudden break in the speech-that burst of touching recollection, which we have!“ There was enclosed sad [serious] and ripe couràge;
ad And in great reverence and charity put in italics; it is just one of those unstudied
Her old poor father fostered she : aids which spring to a woman's lips instinctively !
| A few sheep spinning on the field she kept; at such a moment, strengthening her cause with
She would not been idle till she slept. him to whom she pleads, even while it subdues
And when she homeward came she would bring and vanquishes herself with its own rush of Wortès and other herbės times oft, emotion :
Tho whiclı she shred and seeth'd for her living,
And made her bed full hard and nothing soft; “ But there as ye me proffer such dowaire [dower]
And ay she kept her father's life on loft (sustained] As I first brought, it is well in iny mind
With every obeisance and diligence
That child may do to father's reverence.”
| The account of her sage and discreet conduct Ye seemed by your speech and your visage
| during her period of eininence, bringing peace, The day that maked was our marriage!
and good understanding amongst her hus But sooth is said, algate I find it true, For in effect it proved is on me,
band's people, is in accordance with the restLove is not old as when that it is new,
| full of strong native sense :But certes, lord, for none adversity
“ So wise and ripe wordès had sho, To-dien in this case, it shall not be
And judgment of so great equity, That ever in word or work I shall repent
That she from heaven sent was, as inen vend That I you gave mine heart in whole intent."
(weened, thought] And nothing can surpass the loving delicacy of People to save, and every wrong to amend." her closing words, reminding him that no more In her downfall she is drawn no less harmo. than her maiden faith, beauty, and innocence niously :did she bring him as her dower; and beseeching, that, while she strips her of her rich attire,
66 Thus with her father for a certain space her jewels, and all else belonging to him, he will
Dwelleth this flower of wifely patience,
That neither by her wordès nor her face, yet, of his grace, permit her to retain the simple
Before the folk, nor eke in their absence, under raiment she wears, that the mother of his
Nor showed she that her was done offence, children may not be exposed to the people's
| Nor of her high estate no remembrance, gaze. There is a Biblical simplicity, a divine Nor had she as by her countenance." whiteness of plain truth in this passage, which makes it too sacred to quote.
When her husband sends for her, these few Very beautifully consistent with the holy pa- / words describe her patient cheer:tience of the character, is the scene in which at us last she is restored to joy, to her husband, and
1 " She with humble heart and glad visage,
Nor with no swollen thought in her couruge, to her children; her first words being an excla- | Came at his hest.” [command]. mation of thanks to the Almighty.
There is one other instance of that subtlety of With such exquisite hints as the above, does the reproach in unreproachfulness, which we have poet, throughout, let us know, that not in simunoted as so strictly in keeping with such a cha-lation only is this gentle creature " the flower of racter as Griselda's; it is where her husband, wifely patience" she appears. By one lovely in cruel sportiveness, presents to her his pro- touch he shows us the pity and interest she inposed new bride, asking her what she thinks of Ispires in others, while she herself is all uncom
plaining submission. On her return to her 1“ But one word, lordings, hearken ere I go ;
In all a town Griselda's three or two; on, uttering no word, no murmur, shedding no
For if that they were put to such assays, tear for herself.
The gold of them hath now so bad allays (alloy] Three or four times in the course of the story,
With brass, that though the coin be fair at eye, Chaucer, in his own vehemently earnest way,
ory, It would rather brast [burst, break] in two than ludicrous in its very bluntness and gravity,
plie. [bend]. takes occasion to express his disapproval of the over-trials to which “ this marquis" thinks fit
Griseld is dead, and eke her patience, to subject his wife :
And both at once buried in Itaille ; [Italy]
For which I cry in open audience, “ He had assaved her enough before
No wedded man so hardy be to assail And found her ever good : what pecdeth it
His wife's patience, in trust to find Her for to tempt, and alway more and more?
Griselda's, for in certain he shall fail." Though soine inen praise it for a subtle wit,
And then the prologue to the next tale, told But as for me, I say that evil it sit
by the merchant, contains a doleful confession To assay a wife when that it is no need,
of unhappy wedlock. He says: And putten her in anguish and in drede.” [dread].
“ I have a wife the worstè that may be ; Subsequently, he indignantly says :
For though the fiend to her ycoupled were, * But wedded men ne connen (know] no remorse
She would him overmatch, I dare well swear.” When that they find a patient creature.”
The poet opens the tale itself with a flaming
laudation upon marriage :And again afterwards :
“ And certainly, as sooth as God is king, “ But there be folk of such condition,
To take a wife it is a glorious thing!"
But soon after demurely rejoins :-
“ And yet some clerkès say it is not so; They will not of their first purpose slake.” [slack, Of which he Theophrast is one of tho." (those]. relax).
Then he proceeds to curse Theophrast in no As an instance of the serious way in which measured terms, beseeching the reader to “ defy Chaucer enters into his subject, and warmly Theophrast and hearken me;" andagain resumes feels all that he describes, he throughout the his playful irony of eulogium. Once he bursts story, while Griselda's husband pursues his forth in affected rapture : course of ruthless probation, calls him “ this
h! Saint M marquis,” and “this lord ;" but when he ulti- | How might a man have any adversity mately does her justice, the poet calls him by That hath a wife? Certes, I cannot say.” his Christian name-Walter :
And goes on to praise women, with an exquisite " Walter her gladdeth, and her sorrow slaketh ;
impudence of gravity, for their uniform duty She riseth up abashed from her trance,
and obedience towards their liege lords :-And every night her joy and feastè maketh,
“ If he be poor, she helpeth him to swink; slabour] Till she hath caught again her countenance.
She keepeth his good, and wasteth never a deal; Walter her doth so faithfully pleasa unce,
All that her husband doth, her liketh well; That it was dainty for to see the cheer
She saith not once nay, when he saith yca; Betwixt them two since they be met in ferc.” [to
| Do this, saith he; all ready, sir, saith she." gether).
The whole of this mock panegyric is written As a counterbalance to this tale of womanly with delightful humour and playfulness. But excellence, the rogue of a poet follows it up by we are trenching upon our allotted space, and an epilogue abounding in sly hits, and ironical' have scarcely gianced at more than one of advice to women not to follow the example of Gri- | Chaucer's woman characters. The rest must selda. Among the former occurs this:
be for another paper.
ON MRS. BROWNING.
BY MARIA MORRIS.
There is a fancied shape that haunts my dreams Songs brimming o'er with tenderness and fire. Large-eyed and pensive, wearing on the brow These lyrics oft have moved my inmost heart ; A starty circlet, whose clear radiance seems
Like minor music fall they on the ear, Sercnely from the light within to flow.
With dying cadence lingering while they part, Serious yet sweet the expression of the face
As loath to leave me to the silence drear. Answering the modulations of the lyre,
Still be that Unknown Friend about my way, Which 'neath her hands gives out with mournful | Her Songs my dreams by night, my spirit-food by grace
day. 11th September.
A LES SON OF LIF. E.
(An American Fragment.)
BY MRS. JOSEPH C. NEAL.
Among our acquaintances the travelling fever,
this particular season, seemed contagious. Miss THE PARTING.
Barnard, as we have before said, visited Niagara,
as did the Jacksons and the Jordens, joining a " I feel the shadow on my brow,
party made up by the uncle of the Jordens, The sickness at my heart
Livingston Carroll, Esq. Adeline Mitchell bad Alas! I look on those I love,
passed several weeks with a married sister who And 'tis so hard to part."
resided in Dutchess county, and the Hardens went as far as Stockbridge, in quite an opposite
direction. But the summer was over ; SeptemThe summer passed as summers had done in ber found all once more at home, and fall house Rivertown for the last ten years at least. There cleanings rapidly progressing. Mrs. Henry was one evening party, two pic-nics, and a wed- Jorden was packing, or rather covering tur. ding to vary the monotony. Two families, the niture; Adeline Mitchell could not guess what Bays and the Barnards, visited Niagara, to the for, until it was reported that the house was to scandal of those who wondered how they could be shut up in October, and the Jordens were to afford it, and Miss Seymour joined the party of pass the ensuing winter with their brother at a relative residing in New York, and passed two | Baltimore. Mr. Jorden had business at Wash. weeks at Newport. Miss Seymour became, for lington, which would detain him most of the a while, quite the rage, for she had dined with time, and thus the arrangement became not only Daniel Webster, on which occasion the distin- | pleasant, but adinirable. guished authoress, Mrs. - sat opposite to Yet Mrs. Smith and Miss Mitchell would her, and Senator S. was pointed out after dinner. I continue to call it airs and extravagance, while Miss Seymour did not usually mention that this Mrs. Folger wondered “if they would pay was at the “ladies' ordinary” of the Revere board ; if not, it was a saving.” Mrs. Jackson House; probably she thought this was “ not alone regretted the change. She was still, com; for them to know.” But if she was not a paratively, a stranger in Rivertown, as they had lion herself, she had seen lions, and consequently resided there but a few years. She had never had innumerable calls and visits shortly after been particularly fond of the place or the people, her return.
and but that Mr. Jackson's presence was absoThen a family from New York had been lutely necessary near his large and flourishing boarding at the “ Rivertown House," and their manufactory, would never have consented to even outcomings and ingoings offered some relief. I a temporary residence there. This feeling han, Moreover, the Forresters, from Albany, had in a measure, worn away, as she came to know passed two months at their country-house, a and appreciate the warm hearts of those who mile or two below the town, and several times won her own by their friendly courtesy; and at their carriage, with its liveried coachman, had the time of her sister's marriage she began to gathered its crowd of admirers at the street look with something like satisfaction upon Rivercorners and shop windows, Not a few River- / town as a home. tonians visited their country relatives in July “ It will be very lonely, Marian,” said she, and August, and others among the first circle the evening before their departure; “ Mary and paid similar family visits in New England or yourself both away-but I know it will be ihe middle states. Journeys that from hence pleasanter for you, and I will try to be as happy forth became data—"the year that I went to as possible without you.” Connecticut,” or “the spring we were getting Mrs. Jorden “rejoiced that she was of enough ready to go to New Jersey," being often and consequence to be missed,” and, laughingly particularly alluded to.
added, “but then your particular friends, Mrs. Rivertonians, in general, were not a migratory Harden and Mrs. Folger, will still be with you, people; one trip to New York city, and two as I and I have no doubt Mrs. Smith will be neiglie far as Albany, often sufficing for life-time ad- bourly.” veniures. Many of the oldest inhabitants could! “ Do not jest to-night, Marian,” sadly renever be persuaded to “ court peril” in the wake | turned her sister. “I have been straugely trouof the rushing locomotive, and not a few had | bled from the time Mary proposed this Jong never set foot upon a steam-boat, though num-/ separation. You know I have no faith in pree berless were the elegant vessels that passed their sentiments, but I have felt as if we should never wharves daily, preferring the more tardy, but in meet again; or, if we did, not happily. Sometheir eyes far safer conveyance of a “sloop,” | times I think Archie, my precious one, may did occasion require them to visit the metro be taken from me; but that thought is too polis,
| terrible. If I should die this winter, Marie, be
as a sister and a mother to the dear ones I must | There is nothing more desolate than the street leave."
of a small country town, in a northern latitude, “My best of sisters, pray do not say such at the close of the fall. The sidewalks carpeted horrid things," was the reply. “Are you not with withered leaves that rustle to the footsteps as well as ever? And Archie I never saw in of the few passers-by; a cloud of dust obscures better spirits.”
the vision, while the slowly creaking signs and Mrs. Jackson called the noble little fellow to flapping shutters, are in melancholy and disher, and parting the thick waves of his hair, cordant union. Little children hurry to and looked long and earnestly into his deep blue from school, with well worn dinner-baskets and eyes ; so earnestly that the boy was alarmed, I faded hoods; the solitary strips of red flannel or and begged to go back to Uncle Henry, who dark broadcloth, that have taken the place of had promised to let him ride upon Nero; and the merchant's flaunting display of summer Marian said, “Yes, run away, pet; mamma is fabrics, shiver in the chill blast; and the few not well. Dear sister, do not frighten us all by baskets of withered apples and dark-coated these dismal forebodings.”
| chestnuts, that still linger around the doors of Mrs. Jackson felt that it was selfish thus to the various provision-stores, grow darker and obtrude sad thoughts on their parting; and, to more shrunken as the week slips slowly by. tell the truth, the shadow passed as the firm The mellow radiance of the Indian summer has tread and manly tone of her husband gave departed, the morning sun has scarcely power warning of his approach. So the last evening to dissolve the last night's frost, and the wayside glided away in mirth and song ; for Mr. Jack- pools are skirted with a brittle coating of ice. son was never known to be more brilliant than Now and then a large farm-waggon creaks now, pouring out sparkling anecdotes and un- slowly down the street; once or twice through studied bon mots, without thought or effort. the day the whirl of a lighter vehicle tells you Archie was allowed to stay up long past his that the physician is speeding on his errand of usual bed-time, as he was an especial favourite mercy; but otherwise the silence is rarely diswith “ Uncle Harry,” and Mrs. Jackson sang turbed. The sky grows dark as evening draws old songs they had long known and loved. on, not with heaped and threatening clouds, but
Yes, it was a very merry evening; and yet, a leaden, heavy, impenetrable pall sweeps slowly when Mrs. Jackson bade them good night, and over the horizon. came back to the warmly lighted parlour, a It was on such a day as this that Mrs. Jackstrange chill darted like an ice-bolt through her son turned shiveringly from the door-step of heart, and she leaned her head upon her hus- her comfortable and peaceful home. She had band's shoulder and wept.
accompanied her husband a little way on his He chided her gently, even while he drew her morning walk, and had parted with a fond more closely to his heart, for she told him it was pressure of the hand, and a glance that told him not simple sorrow at their transient separation. how dearer than life he had become. Archie And then he led her to the couch where her was playfully careering round the room with the child slumbered peacefully, and bade her mark hearth-brush for a steed, and the kitten purred how ruddy was the glow upon his cheek, and in undisturbed repose before the glowing grate. how gently the drapery about him was stirred She drew her work-basket toward her, and, by the quiet heaving of his little form.
lying on the piles of snowy linen, found an un“ What can come to disturb the happiness of opened letter, received in her absence. It was our little household," said her husband fondly; from Marian, and bore the impress of her joyous but even as she smiled through her tears, the spirit in every line. They were all so happy, echo in her heart whispered “ Death.!"
and needed but her presence to make that happiness complete, Mr. Carroll grew daily more
fond of his adopted daughter, who had already CHAP, II.
won for herself hosts of new friends. They
| were to go to Washington in January, and “She is leaning back now languid,
Marian descanted at length on the pleasures And her cheek is white;
she expected to enjoy. Only on the drooping eyelash
Mrs. Jackson allowed the letter to fall upon the Glistens tearful light.
carpet, as she mused over its contents. “How Cold, sunshine, hours are gone,
can people plan for the future?” thought she; and Yet the lady watches on.”
then vexed at herself for her own gloomy mood, L. E. L. she called Archie to her, and resolutely threw it
aside as she listened to his childish prattle. Mr. For several weeks after the departure of Mrs. Jackson very rarely returned until nightfall, Jorden, nothing occurred to realize even the these short, cold days, as the manufactory was a lightest of Mrs. Jackson's sad forebodings. mile or two distant, upon a small stream that The gorgeous autumn landscape slowly cast paid its gentle tribute to their beautiful river. aside its wealth of golden and crimson foliage, So the mid-day meal was solitary; and after it the summits of the Catskills became more was over, Mrs. Miller paid a friendly visit of an sharply defined against the clear blue sky, and I hour or two, and they chatted together of the so winter was at the very door ere his approach absent ones. The cold, grey clouds were already was suspected.
| veiling the setting sun as her visitor took leave,