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Title: The Friendships of Women
Author: Alger, William Rounseville, 1822-1905
Language: English
As this book started as an ASCII text book there are no pictures available.

*** Start of this LibraryBlog Digital Book "The Friendships of Women" ***





Entered according to Act of Congress, in the year 1867 by
In the Clerk's Office of the District Court
of the District of Massachusetts.




A STATEMENT of the facts in which this book began may gratify the
curiosity of some of its readers.

While gathering materials for a History of Friendship, I was often
struck both by the small number of recorded examples of the sentiment
among women, which were discovered in my researches, and by the
commonness of the expressed belief, that strong natural obstacles
make friendship a comparatively feeble and rare experience with them.
Spurred by further thought, as well as by many talks, I kept on
exploring the subject. At length, so much matter was mustered that I
determined to insert in my work a distinct chapter on the Friendships
of Women. Still the subject grew in interest for me, and the bulk of
historic illustration swelled beyond the size of a chapter. Then I
decided to make a little treatise of it by itself.

The principle and sentiment of friendship deserve a much larger share
of the attention given, alike in the life and the literature of our
time, to the passion of love. One would infer from most of the
popular writings of the day, that love is the only emotion worthy of
notice. But surely there are in human nature other feelings, which
demand far more culture than they generally receive, feelings which
really play an important part in human life, and which ought to play
a still more important part. Am I deceived in thinking, that, in
particular, the place of friendship in the Live; of women is a
subject which, if soundly discussed, and set forth with mastery and
sympathy, may give precious guidance, comfort, and inspiration to
thousands of embittered and languishing souls? Will not the large
number, who are denied the satisfactions of impassioned love, be
grateful for a book which shows them what rich and noble resources
they may find in his widely different, though closely kindred,
sentiment? Is not such a book especially needed at he present time?

In method of treatment, I have, without neglecting moral analysis or
reflective exposition, even greater prominence to biographic
narrative, living presentation of instances from which the reader may
draw the befitting lessons of the topic, and apply them for personal
profit. Poetry, it has been said, is balm on the wounds of non-
fulfilment in our lives. When our own experience and imagination are
wanting in that balm, we must borrow it from others. If we muse, with
open heart, on the enthusiastic dreams and fruitions of more richly
impassioned or more happily placed natures, the contagious glow of
their affections may enkindle ours. This is one of the highest uses
of art, a use which puts on artists the duty of setting before their
patrons sights of righteousness and bliss, trust and peace, rather
than sights of wretchedness, wrangling, doubt, and error.

In conjoined importance and interest, to those who have a taste for
it, no other study can compare with the study of human nature and
human experience, as illustrated in individual examples. If the
students are curious as to the secrets of greatness, and are emulous
of excellence, the attraction is enhanced when they deal with persons
of extraordinary powers and careers. It then becomes fascinating.
Beautiful and noble characters can find nothing so enchanting as a
beautiful and noble character. It was truly said by Vauvenargues,
"Sooner or later, we enjoy only souls." These pages will present
portrayals of a large number of charming souls, with accounts of
their happiest experiences. For our poor human heart, there will
always be a bewitchment about the memories of those persons who were
either remarkable for their power of drawing affection or were
signalized by their enjoyment of the boon. Many a rare character,
otherwise long ago consumed in the alembic of time, will long
continue to be fondly singled out and studied. So when the famous
Marchioness of Salisbury was accidentally burned to death, the
Skeleton was known as hers only by the jewels with which she had been

It may be dangerous to overlook ignorantly what is false and hateful
in society; but it is pernicious to pick out such objects for
exclusive or permanent scrutiny. The most wholesome results are
likely to be secured by the fastening of our attention prevailingly
on what is true and fair and blessed in our fellow-beings. Such a
choice will commend itself to the best spirits; for, while it is the
spontaneous movement of a mean nature to contract and swoop, a
generous nature prefers to expand and soar. The vulture pounces on
rottenness with a cry of obscene satisfaction; but the lark seeks the
sunrise with a song of worship. So let the ingenuous mind, studying
human character and life, bestow a shunning glance at evil, a fixed
gaze on good. So, should any one wish to write a history of the
enmities of women, for which, doubtless, the materials are ample, I
willingly yield him the task, appropriating only the privilege of
doing justice to their friendships.

In the present volume, my first and constant purpose has been boldly
to state the truth just as it is, to do justice to the facts of the
subject. My second purpose has been to be of use, to give help and
comfort. In whatever degree poetry and ideal sentiment may be
accompaniments, neither of them has in any sense been made an aim of
the work. While freely allowing his mind to shine into his pen, and
his heart to flow through it, the writer has adopted every precaution
to prevent or correct all those refractions of ignorance and
prejudice, and all that coloring of morbid sentimentality, which
would stand in the way of truth and use. In treating such a theme as
friendship, the worst dangers are hardness and levity on the one
extreme, exaggeration and mawkishness on the other, and cowardice and
squeamishness between. These faults, it is hoped, are not chargeable
on the following pages.

This book is a book of goodness. It is devoted to the nurture of
those benign virtues which it so plainly shows waiting on and winning
the best beauty and joy of the world. Small causes can bring about
great effects, when time and facts conspire to help them. A cocoanut,
tossed by the waves into a little sand on a rock amidst the ocean,
has been known to strike root, and to form the centre of a luxuriant
island of palms. Unable to look for any such striking result from the
influence of this work, I shall be happy, indeed, if the power of the
examples to which I have here given voice shall demonstrate the other
side of the deep thought penned by Shakespeare: One good deed, dying
tongueless, Slaughters a thousand waiting upon that.







Cornelia and the Gracchi.
Olympias and Alexander.
Monica and Augustine.
John Quincy Adams and His Mother.
Goethe and his Mother.
The Humboldts and their Mother.
Guizot and his Mother.


Tullia and Cicero.
Margaret Roper and Sir Thomas More.
Agnes and William Wirt.
Mary and John Evelyn.
Theodosia and Aaron Burr.
Maria and Richard Edgeworth.
Madame de Staël and Necker.
Letitia Landon and her Father.


Narcissus and his Reflection.
Electra and Orestes.
Antigone and Polynices.
Diana and Apollo.
Scholastica and Benedict.
Cornelia and Tasso.
Margaret and Francis.
Mary and Sir Philip Sidney.
Catherine and Robert Boyle.
Caroline and William Herschel.
Letitia and John Aikin.
Cornelia and Goethe.
Lena and Jacobi.
Lucile and Chateaubriand.
Charlotte and Schleiermacher.
Dorothy and Wordsworth.
Augusta and Byron.
Mary and Charles Lamb.
Fanny and Felix Mendelssohn.
Whittier and his Sister.
Eugénie and Maurice de Guérin.


Count and Countess del Verme.
Lady and Sir James Mackintosh.
Aspasia and Pericles.
Portia and Brutus.
Arria and Pertus.
Paulina and Seneca.
Calpurnia and Pliny.
Timoxena and Plutarch.
Castara and Habington.
Faustina and Zappi.
Jeanne and Roland.
Caroline and Herder.
Lucy and John Hutchinson.
Sarah and John Austin.
Elizabeth and Robert Browning.
Leopold Schefer and his Wife.
John Stuart Mill and his Wife.
Lady and Lord William Russell.
Artemisia and Mausolus.
Moomtaza and Jehan.


Relative Prevalence of Vice in our day.
Moral Influence of Friendships between Men and Women.
Analysis of Platonic Love.
Laura and Petrarch.
Beatrice and Dante.
Heloise and Abelard.
Danger and Safety of Platonic Love.
Countess Matilda and Hildebrand.
The "Woldemar" of Jacobi.
Influence of Chivalry in developing Friendships of Men and Women.
Causes of Prominent Social Position of Women in France.
Friendships in Catholic Church between Women and their Directors.
Olympias and Chrysostom.
Paula and Jerome.
Clara and Francis of Assissi.
Chantal and Francis of Sales.
Guion and Lacombe.
La Maisonfort and Fenelon.
Cornuau and Bossuet.
Theresa and John of the Cross.
The Friendship of Vittoria Colonna and Michael Angelo.
Mademoiselle de Scudéry and Pélisson.
Madame de Sévigné and Corbinelli.
Madame de la Fayette and Rochefoucauld.
Madame du Deffand and D'Alembert.
Mademoiselle Lespinasse and D'Alembert.
Madame de Staël and Montmorency.
Magdalen Herbert and Dr. Donne.
Lady Masham and John Locke.
Mary Unwin and Cowper.
Mrs. Clive and Garrick.
Hannah More and Langhorne.
Joanna Baillie and Sir Walter Scott.
Duchess of Devonshire and Fox.
Duchess of Gordon and Dr. Beattie.
Charlotte and Humboldt.
Bettine and Goethe.
Goethe's Treatment of Women in his Life and in his Works.
Princess of Homburg and Marchioness di Barolo and
	Silvio Pellico.
Isabel Fenwick and Wordsworth.
Harriet Martineau and Channing.
Lucy Aikin and Channing.
Frances Power Cobbe and Theodore Parker.
Friendships of Women and their Tutors.
Zenobia and Longinus.
Countess of Pembroke and Daniel.
Princess Elizabeth and Descartes.
Caroline of Brunswick and Leibnitz.
Lady Jane Grey and Elmer.
Elizabeth Robinson and Middleton.
Hester Salusbury and Dr. Collier.
Blanche of Lancaster and Chaucer.
Venetia Digby and Ben Jonson.
Countess of Bedford and Ben Jonson.
Countess Ranelagh and Milton.
Duchess of Queensbury and Gay.
Relations with Women, of Sophocles, Virgil,
	Frauenlob, Bernadin
St. Pierre, Rousseau, and Jean Paul Richter.
Rahel Levin and her Friendships with Men.
Madame Récamier and her Friendships with Men.
Elizabeth Barrett, Hugh Stuart Boyd, and John Kenyon.
Clotilde de Vaux and Auguste Comte.
Madame Swetchine and her Friendships with Men.


Madame de Sévigné and Madame de Grignan
Madame de Rambouillet and Julie d'Angenne
Mrs. Browne and Felicia Hemans.
Naomi and Ruth.


Dido and Anna.
Hannah and Martha More.
Mary and Agnes Berry.
Charlotte, Anne, and Emily Bronte.
Joanna and Agnes Baillie.


Treatment of Female Friendship in Literature.
School-girl Friendships.
Friendships in Conventual Life.
Jeanne Philippon and Angélique Boufflers.
Agnes Arnauld and Jacqueline Pascal.
Madame de Longueville and Angélique Arnauld.
Friendships between Queens and their Maids of Honor.
Sakoontali and Anastiya.
Marie de Medicis and Eleanora Galigäi.
Queen Philippa and Philippa Picard.
Lady Jane Beaufort and Catherine Douglas.
Mary Stuart and her Four Marys.
Queen Elizabeth and her Attendants.
Queen Anne and Sarah Jennings.
Marie Antoinette and the Princess de Lamballe.
Queen Hortense and Madame de Faverolles.


Beatrice Portinari and Giovanna.
Dorothea Sydney and Sophia Murray.
Katherine Phillips and Regina Collier.
Elizabeth Rowe and the Countess of Hertford.
Countess of Pomfret and Countess of Hertford.
Lady Harley and Mrs. Montague.
Hannah More and Mrs. Garrick.
Elizabeth Carter and Catherine Talbot.
Charlotte Smith and Lady O'Niel.
Anna Seward and Honora Sneyd.
The Countess of Northesk and Anna Seward.
Eleanor Butler and Sarah Ponsonby,
	the Ladies of Llangollen.
Fanny Burney and Mrs. Thrale.
Günderode and Bettine Brentano.
Miss Benger and Lucy Aikin.
Lucy Aikin and Joanna Baillie.
Mrs. Hemans and Miss Jewshury.
Mary Mitford and Mrs. Browning.
Madame de Staid and Madame Récamier.
Madame Swetchine and the Countess Edling.
Countess D'Ossoli and the Marchioness Arconati.
The Duchess of Orleans and her Lady Companion.


Evils and Defects of Society and their Remedy.
The Ideal of Marriage.
Public Life versus Domestic Life.
Caste: Diminution of its Influence.
The Common Destiny, and the Peculiar Destiny, of Woman.
Life in the Harems of the East.
Right of Woman to every form of Education and Labor.
Grounds of the exclusion of Women from Public Life
The Right of Women to engage in Politics.
The Inexpediency of their doing so
Impartial Consideration of both sides of the Question.
Morality, eternal; Politics, temporary.
Gradual historic Emancipation of Woman.
Comparative Condition of Woman in the Oriental, the Classic,
the early Christian, and the Modern World.
Relation of Mohammed and of Jesus to Women.
Light thrown on the Condition of Women in Greece by the
History of Sappho.
Sentiment of Chivalry towards Woman.
Woman ennobled by sharing in great public Interests.
Decline of Letter-writing in our day.
Duty of Women to cultivate Conversation.
Duty of Women to cultivate the art of Manners.
Value of model Types of Women.
Disinterestedness, the Redemption of Man.
Woman as seen in Mythology.
Conclusion of the matter.
Friendship in the Future.



THE peculiar mission of woman, it has been said, is to be a wife and
mother. Is it not as truly the peculiar mission of man to be a
husband and father? If she is called to add to the happiness and
worth of her husband, he is called to add to the happiness and worth
of his wife. They are alike bound to protect and educate their
children. And the other duties, the private improvement of self and
the public improvement of society rest on them in common. The
assertion, then, that the distinctive Office of woman is to be the
helpmeet of man, does not imply that she ought to be legally or
morally any more subservient to him than he to her; for the supreme
duty of a woman, as of every other human being, is, through the
perfecting of her own nature as a child of God, to fulfil her
personal destiny in the universe. To love, to marry, to rear a
family, is by no means an entire statement of the obligations and
privileges of women: because no woman always has lover, husband, or
children; many fail to have all of them in succession; and a few
never have either of them.

In some of these cases the domestic appointment of woman is defeated;
but her personal destiny may still De achieved. The qualities of her
soul and the fruitions of her life, as a free individual, may be
perfected in spite of this relative mutilation in her lot. The
growing desire in our time for show and luxury, the increase of the
excitements of publicity, the sensational literature of fiction,
which is absorbing an ever-larger share of attention from the more
sensitive portion of the feminine public, these causes are
concentrating an undue interest on the passion of love. It is the
almost exclusive theme of plays, novels, poems. One consequence is an
exaggeration of the part that should be played by this sentiment in
the experience of the individual. It comes to be the engrossing
subject of regard. Life is considered a failure, unless it contains
love, followed by marriage; yet it must often be deprived of this
experience. In the most civilized countries, especially in their
brilliant capitals, a higher and higher ratio of women miss of happy
love and marriage.

There never were many morally baffled, uneasy, and complaining women
on the earth as now; because never before did the capacities of
intelligence and affection so greatly exceed their gratifications.
New perceptions are the scouts of fresh desires; fresh desires
precede their own fulfilment: a just reconciliation is a slow,
historic process. The lives of a multitude of women all around us
contain a large element of unsuccessful outward or inward ambitions,
vain attempts and prayers. This drives them back upon themselves,
into a deeper and sadder seclusion than that naturally imposed by
their housekeeping and their historic withdrawment from the bustling
businesses of the world. In that silent retirement, in thousands of
instances, a tragedy not less severe than unobtrusive is enacted, the
tragedy of the lonely and breaking heart. An obscure mist of sighs
exhales out of the solitude of women in the nineteenth century. The
proportionate number of examples of virtuous love, completing itself
in marriage, will probably diminish, and the relative examples of
defeated or of unlawful love increase, until we reach some new phase
of civilization, with better harmonized social arrangements,
arrangements both more economical and more truthful. In the mean
time, every thing which tends to inflame the exclusive passion of
love, to stimulate thought upon it, or to magnify its imagined
importance, contributes so much to enhance the misery of its
withholding or loss, and thus to augment an evil already lamentably
extensive and severe.

Now, the most healthful and effective antidote for the evils of an
extravagant passion is to call into action neutralizing or
supplementary passions; to balance the excess of one power by
stimulating weaker powers, and fixing attention on them; to assuage
disappointments in one direction by securing gratifications in
another. Accordingly, the offices of friendship in the lives of
women, lives often so secluded, impoverished, and self-devouring, is
a subject of emphatic timeliness; promising, if properly treated, to
yield lessons of no slight practical value. This vein of sentiment
has suffered unmerited neglect among us. No other vein of sentiment
in human nature, perhaps, has so much need to be cherished. In the
lives of women, friendship is, First, the guide to love; a
preliminary stage in the natural development of affection. Secondly,
it is the ally of love; the distributive tendrils and branches to the
root and trunk of affection. Thirdly, it is, in some cases, the
purified fulfilment and repose into which love subsides, or rises.
Fourthly, it is, in other cases, the comforting substitute for love.
A just display of these points, in the light of an accurate analysis,
aided by the appropriate learning, can hardly fail to repay the study
it will require. The insight into the nature and the working of the
affections, to be secured by a careful study of the subject, should
be a precious acquisition of knowledge easily convertible into power.
The activity of the sympathies enkindled by tracing the biographical
sketches of a large number of the richest and most winsome examples
of feminine friendship preserved for us in history, should bestow a
rare pleasure. And the plain directions to be deduced from the
discussion and the narratives should furnish a store of instruction
for the wiser guidance of personal experience.

The writer, as he is about to intrust his book upon that current of
literature which flows by the doors of all the intelligent, bearing
its offerings to their hands, is quite aware that the subject of the
rights and the wrongs, the joys and the griefs, the hopes and the
fears, the duties and the plans, belonging to the outer and inner
life of womankind in the present age, happens just now to be one of
the chief matters of popular interest and agitation. This, however,
has had no influence in leading him to treat the subject. It has long
been in his mind. He has been drawn to investigate it and write on it
simply by its intrinsic attractions for him. But the extent and
earnestness with which the public mind is preoccupied by the social
and political discussions of the theme, going on in all quarters,
much increase the difficulty of treating it, as is here proposed,
from the scholarly, moral, and experimental point of view, with
perfect candor and calmness, and with a careful avoidance of
prejudices, exaggerations, and declamatory appeals. Demagogues and
partisans, who seek personal notoriety or other ends of private
passion, naturally try to produce effect by the use of pungent
epigrams, overstrained trifles, extravagant views, and sophistical
arguments, fitted to play on the biases, piques, and ignorances of
those whose attention they can gain. All this obviously adds to the
hardness of the task imposed on him who would steer clear of every
extremity, and keep in the golden mean of truth and use.

Such a one is also least likely to secure popular praise. The extreme
conclusions, peppery rhetoric, and passionate declamation of the
leaders on both sides, who aim at sensation and victory, are surest
to awaken the enthusiasm of the extremists, who always direct the
admiring gaze of heir parasites to the favorite representatives of
their own party, their scorn to the favorite representatives of the
other party. But under such circumstances, by is much as the
moderation of impartiality and of a patient search for the exact
truth is hard to be kept, an unlikely to win popularity, it is the
more a duty, and the surer to bear good fruits of service to the
public. There is a fashionable habit of laughing or sneering at the
illusions of the young, a habit usually mistimed and injurious. For
an illusion is as real as a truth. Every phenomenon implies truth,
however incorrectly t may be understood. An illusion is, in fact, but
a reality misinterpreted. Harmless, joy-breeding illusions are the
magic coloring of our existence. They should be cultivated rather
than rudely driven away.

The dry critic who daily labors, and with success, to destroy them,
may be knowing; but he is not wise. Every seeming acquisition really
impoverishes him. The noble Mendelssohn once said, "Life without
illusions is only death." The illusions of high and guileless hearts
are the blessed hopes created by generous faiths fastening on the
better aspects of truth. They are to our experience what the
tremulous iridescence is to the neck of the dove. To allow, as we
grow old, a sinister gaze at the sterner aspects of truth to banish
these rich and kindly illusions, is a wretched folly, however much it
may dress itself as wisdom. There are lures and deceits, enchanting
at an early period, which, at a later one, ought to be outgrown, seen
through and left behind, but not with arid and scoffing conceit. The
way to escape sadness, when the light of one beautiful promise after
another goes out, is to kindle in place thereof the light of one
glorious reality after another. If the gathered experience we carry
at evening renders worthless many things we prized in the morning, it
should also give preciousness to many things unvalued then.

When the fallen torch of ambition has smouldered into blackness, we
ought to make the eternal star of religion our guide. To take
spiritual treasures away without replacing them by better ones is
robbery. The cynical authors who deal chiefly in ridicule and satire,
or in what they call solid facts, the alternate levity and bitterness
of whose writings tend to destroy all ingenuous faith and glowing
affection, all magnanimous sympathies and hopes, seem to me to be
engaged in as miserable a business as those African hunters who train
falcons to dart on gazelles, and pick out their beautiful eyes. The
illusiveness of life that results from teeming love and trust is as a
mist of gold sifted into the atmosphere, through which all the
objects of our regard loom, colossal and glittering. As we advance in
years, we should indeed learn to recognize, and make allowance for,
this refraction and these tints, but without ceasing to enjoy the
beautiful aggrandizement they bestow. When there is danger that a
character will melt into a mere mush of ungirt feelings, the
astringent and bracing use of satire is fit. The application of a
fleecing nonchalance or of a jibing scorn to a soul of strong and
ardent sentiment, is unfit. A certain divinity should hedge every
manifestation of trustful affection, even though it be misjudged. It
is for the most part profane to scoff an overstretched or misplaced
admiration: it calls rather for a considerate instruction which shall
tenderly set it right.

It is insipidity of the feelings that gives rise to sentimentality,
as, when the tongue is disordered, we are always trying it. The cure
of that insipidity is to direct upon it the energy of an objective
earnestness, a current of positive faith and love. No negative
treatment, of indifference or of contempt, can avail. Sentimentality,
frozen under the cutting breath of derision, resembles that loathsome
ice-lake of poison in the Scandinavian hell. Sentimentality, fired by
the glorious contagion of self-forgetful admiration and loyalty, is
raised into sentiment, or even divinized into enthusiasm. The author
will devote his best endeavor to do justice to both sides of the
subject treated in his book, taking warning from the partisans who
fix an exclusive attention on that aspect of it which they
respectively prefer. He will try to set down such true thoughts in
such a pure spirit, as, instead of drying up in his readers the
springs of generous faith, and disenchanting them of all romantic
expectation, will leave them at the end with a higher estimate of the
worth of human nature and of the sweetness of human life.

Ever so correct a perception of what we despise and detest leaves our
moral rank undetermined; but the measure of what we love and admire
is the measure of our own worth. It should never be forgotten, that
the most delicate and enduring pleasures we enjoy are those we give.
It should always be remembered, that, while the proud demand honor,
and the humble seek sympathy, there is a self-respectful affection,
neither haughty nor cringing, which will always earn honor, but never
stop to ask it, always enjoy sympathy, but never be dependent on it.
This whole book is a demonstration of the truth, that, however much
woman may need deliverance from some outward trials and disabilities,
her grand want is a freer, deeper, richer, holier, inward life. Let
her, if she so please, reach out for the ballot, enter on a larger
range of work and responsibility. But let her not be blind to the
truth, that her foremost, weightiest need is a more thorough
intellectual possession and moral fulfilment of herself, leading to a
closer union with friends and an absolute surrender to God. The just
formula for the aims of woman, as it seems to me, is neither, on the
one hand, limitation to domestic life; nor, on the other hand,
devotion to public life as an end; but, dedication to the duties and
joys of family and social life, and to the nurture of the personal
inner life, as the true ends, and a free participation in the grand
interests of public life, as a means of purifying the domestic and
the inner life from selfish littlenesses, and enriching the
experience of the individual with the wide obligations and hopes of
humanity at large. Not domestic life alone; not public life alone;
not merely domestic life and public life together; but domestic life
and public life, for the sake of the personal inner life, purified
and aggrandized by the ideal appropriation of the essential
experience and progress of the whole world.

This, with such allowances as the distinction of sex really requires,
should be the aim of every woman as well as of every man. If this
view be correct, it is plain how great and vital an interest it gives
to the theme of the present work; the friendship of women; since the
very ground and gist of a noble friendship is the cultivation in
common of the personal inner lives of those who partake in it, their
mutual reflection of souls and joint sharing of experience inciting
them to a constant betterment of their being and their happiness.


SOME men think women unfitted for friendship. Feminine hearts are so
complex, changeable, elusive, that the belief has had great currency
among themselves as well as with their critics. In comparing the two
sexes in this particular, many persons commit a gross error by
overlooking the fact that there are all kinds and degrees of feminine
characters, not less than of masculine. When Heine says, "I will not
affirm that women have no character; rather they have a new one every
day," he means precisely what Pope meant by the famous couplet in his
poem on the Characters of Women:

Nothing so true as what you once let fall,
Most women have no characters at all.

This want of character is held by many thoughtful men for what
Coleridge asserted it to be, the perfection of a woman; as
tastelessness proves the purity of water; transparency, that of
glass. Plausible ground for this view is furnished by the fact, that
the perfection of fine and noble manners the peculiar province of
feminine genius consists in the absence of egotism, in that chaste
and lustrous exuberance of sympathetic joy which results from the
opposite of all personal domination; namely, spontaneous obedience to
the whole law of duty. Nevertheless, the opinion is unsound; partly
untrue, partly inadequate. It results from the despotic selfhood of
man, who wishes not to reflect another, but only to be reflected. The
absence of fixed individuality makes one a readier mirror; and man,
as the historic master, desires the woman who confronts him to be, at
least apparently, the yielding subject of his will. But since woman
is an independent being, endowed with a separate responsibleness, she
has a distinct personal destiny to fulfil as much as he has, and
should be granted an equal freedom of individuality.

The perfection of a woman in the sight of God is one thing: her
irresistible charmingness to selfish man may be quite another thing.
If the latter requires a soft compliance, involving the absence of
will, the former is not irreconcilable with the firmest constancy of
individual traits; and, in fact, women can no more be lumped together
in level community, either by positives or by negatives, than men can
be. Those differ from each other as widely as these do. Accuracy of
thought has seldom been more recklessly offered up to pungency of
expression than in the above-cited aphorism of Pope. There is an
ample variety of tenacious womanly characters between the extremes
marked by Miriam beating her timbrels, and Cleopatra applying the
asp; Cornelia showing her Roman jewels, and Guyon rapt in God;
Lucrezia Borgia raging with bowl and dagger, and Florence Nightingale
sweetening the memory of the Crimean war with philanthropic deeds.
What group of men indeed can be brought together, more distinct in
individuality, more contrasted in diversity of traits and destiny,
than such women as Eve in the Garden of Eden, Mary at the foot of the
cross, Rebecca by the well, Semiramis on her throne, Ruth among the
corn, Jezebel in her chariot, Lais at a banquet, Joan of Arc in
battle, Tomyris striding over the field with the head of Cyrus in a
bag of blood, Perpetua smiling on the lions in the amphitheatre,
Martha cumbered with much service, Pocahontas under the shadow of the
woods, Saint Theresa in the convent, Madame Roland on the scaffold,
Mother Agnes at Port Royal, exiled De Staël wielding her pen as a
sceptre, and Mrs. Fry lavishing her existence on outcasts!

In searching for the friendships of women, it is difficult at first
to find striking examples. Their lives are so private, their
dispositions are so modest, their experiences have been so little
noticed by history, that the annals of the feminine heart are for the
most part a secret chapter. But a sufficiently patient search will
cause a beautiful multitude of such instances to reveal themselves.
Nothing, perhaps, will strike the literary investigator of the
subject more forcibly than the frequency with which he meets the
expressed opinion, that women really have few or no friendships; that
with them it must be either love, hate, or nothing. A writer in one
of our popular periodicals has recently ventured this dogmatic
assertion: "If the female mind were not happily impervious to logic,
we might demonstrate, even to its satisfaction, that the history of
the sex presents no single instance of a famous friendship." Before
we get through our work, we shall meet with abundant confutations of
this rash and uncomplimentary statement.

Swift says, "To speak the truth, I never yet knew a tolerable woman
to be fond of her own sex." The statement, if taken with too wide a
meaning, might have been refuted by the sight, under his eyes, of the
cordial and life-long affection of Miss Johnson and Lady Gifford, the
sister of Sir William Temple. He could not expect a Stella and a
Vanessa to be friends: an exclusive love for a common object
inevitably made them deadly rivals. But the author of "Gulliver's
Travels" was a keen observer; his maxims have always a basis in fact;
and it is undoubtedly true that women of exceptional cleverness
prefer the wit, wisdom, and earnestness of the more cultivated
members of the other sex to the too frequent ignorance and triviality
of their own. Undoubtedly, in most societies, women of unusual genius
and accomplishments can more easily find congenial companionship with
men than with women. But to infer from this any natural
incompatibility for friendships between women is to draw a monstrous
inference, wholly unwarranted by the premises. In the sensible
chapter of "A Woman's Thoughts about Women," which Miss Muloch
devotes to this subject, she says, "The friendships of women are much
more common than those of men; but rarely or never so firm, so just,
or so enduring." But then she proceeds, justly, though with a little
inconsistency, to say, "With women these relations may be
sentimental, foolish, and fickle; but they are honest, free from
secondary motives of interest, and infinitely more respectable than
the time-serving, place-hunting, dinner-seeking devotion which
Messrs. Tape and Tadpole choose to denominate friendship." That the
sharper and sincerer feelings of women make them more capable than
men of sacrificing their interests to their passions, less likely to
sacrifice their passions to their interests, and that they are more
absorbed by their sympathies and antipathies, admits of no question.

Eugénie de Guérin, a woman of the rarest heart and soul, wrote in her
journal, a few years ago, this passage, which has already grown
famous: "I have ever sought a friendship so strong and earnest that
only death could break it; a happiness and unhappiness which I had,
alas! in my brother Maurice. No woman has been, or will be, able to
replace him; not even the most distinguished has been able to give me
that bond of intelligence and of tastes, that broad, simple, and
lasting relation. There is nothing fixed, enduring, vital, in the
feelings of women; their attachments to each other are so many pretty
bows of ribbons. I notice these light affections in all female
friends. Can we not, then, love each other differently? I neither
know an example in history nor am acquainted with one in the present.
Orestes and Pylades have no sisters. It makes me impatient, when I
think of it, that you men have something in your hearts which is
wanting to us. In return we have devotedness." It is striking to
notice the identity of sentiment here with that in the maxim of La
Bruyere: "In love women exceed the generality of men, but in
friendship we have infinitely the advantage."

With reference to the statement that "Orestes and Pylades have no
sisters," besides the superfluous disproofs of it contained in the
pages that follow, it is an interesting fact that classic literature
affords one example, which modern writers have never, to my
knowledge, noticed. Pausanias, in his "Description of Greece," tenth
book, twenty-ninth chapter, gives an recount of an elaborate painting
by Polygnotus of the underworld, the scenery and fate of the dead in
the future state. Among the images of the departed set forth on the
canvas were two women, Chloris and rhyia, locked in a fond embrace.
Of these two women, thus shown eternally united in the realm beyond
he grave, Pausanias says that they were a pair of friends
extraordinarily attached to each other in life. Their story is lost.
The imagination of womankind might compensate for the missing
narrative, and make the names of Chloris and Thyia live with the
lames of Damon and Pythias.

Let us sift the grounds of the opinion that women ire relatively
incapable of friendship, analyze the appearances on which it rests,
and separate the truth in it from the error.

The first fact of the subject is, that women are naturally less
selfish and more sympathetic than men.

They have more affection to bestow, greater need of sympathy, and
therefore are more sure, in the absence of love, to seek friendship.
The devastating egotism of man is properly foreign to woman; though
there are many women as haughty, hard, and imperious as any man. But
these are unfeminine, despite their sex. There are women who seem
cold and beautiful stones, their hearts icicles, their tears frozen
gems pressed out by injured pride. On the other hand, there are men
as soft, as modest, as celestially sympathetic, as almost any woman.
Still, the cardinal contrast holds, that women are self-forgetful,
men self-asserting; women hide their surplus affection under a
feigned indifference; men hide their indifference under a feigned
affection. Of course, in this comparison, depraved women are
excluded: these are generally far more heartless and calculating than
men. The aphorism of Rochefoucauld "In their first passion, women
love the lover; in their subsequent ones, they love love" is
descriptive, not of women, but of that class of women who cherish a
succession of lovers, a class familiar to the base and brilliant
French aphorist. With such, the venal commonness of affection first
profanes, then destroys it.

It is a pathetic sign of the diviner nature of women, that they
conceal sorrow more easily than joy, while men conceal joy more
easily than sorrow. The lover of Adelaide de Comminge having joined a
convent of Trappists, she followed him thither, disguised as a man,
took the vows, and was not recognized by him until on her death-bed.
Man is not capable of such pure devotion: only a woman could thus
forbear, and be content with the secret joy of the beloved presence.
Man demands action: woman demands emotion. Friendship between two
youths is martial, adventurous, a trumpet-blast or a bugle-air:
friendship between two girls is poetic, contemplative, the sigh of a
harp-string or the swell of an organ-pipe.

Woman needs friendship more than man, because she is less self-
sufficing. She is much more apt than he to think the form in the
mirror is lovely, but not to think it of herself. Milton's Eve was
startled with a shy delight at the fair shape in the fountain, never
dreaming that it was herself. Men are flutes: they must be filled
with the warm breath of a foreign sympathy. Women are harpsichords:
they have all the conditions of music in themselves, and only need to
be struck. But, containing so much, their need of being struck is the
greater. Charlotte Bronte, in her sad, weary life, full, as she
expressed it, of loneliness, of longing for companionship, had two
faithful and precious friends; her "dear, dear E.," and her "good,
kind Miss W." To the former she writes, "I am at this moment
trembling all over with excitement, after reading your note: it is
what I never received before, the unrestrained pouring out of a warm,
gentle, generous heart. If you love me, do, do, do come on Friday. I
shall watch and wait for you; and, if you disappoint me, I shall
weep." Few sayings are more touching than that which Thackeray heard
a woman utter, that she would gladly have taken Swift's cruelty to
have had his tenderness. Now, is it not true that the intenser need
naturally implies the keener search and the more copious finding?

The great reason why the friendships of women are not more frequent
and prominent than they are is, that the proper destiny of woman
calls her to love; and this sentiment, in its fullness, is usually
too absorbing to leave room and force for conspicuous friendships.
With men the other sentiments are not so much suspended or engulfed
by conjugal and parental love. "The men," La Bruyere says, "are the
occasion that women do not love each other." With the one-sided
exaggeration incident to most aphorisms, this is true. Husband and
children occupy the wife and mother; and marriage is often the grave
of feminine friendships. According to the maxim of Saint Paul, "The
head of the woman is the man:" the attraction of another woman must
generally be weaker. The lives of men are the sighs of nature: the
lives of women are their echoes. The sharp-eyed Richter says, "A
woman, unlike Narcissus, seeks not her own image and a second I: she
much prefers a not-I." This profound remark exactly touches the
difference between friendship and love, and between the respective
relations of man and woman to the two sentiments. Friendship is the
simple reflection of souls by each other. Love is the mutual
reflection of their entire being by two persons, each supplementing
the defects of the other. Love, therefore, is friendship, with a
differential addition. True love includes friendship, as the greater
includes the smaller. Now, the self-sufficient character of man makes
him seek a second I; that is, wish to see himself reflected in
another. But the sympathetic character of woman makes her seek a not-
I; that is, wish to see another reflected in herself. It is incorrect
to say, that woman has less capacity than man for friendship: it is
correct only to say, that man is more easily satisfied with
friendship than woman is. She demands that, and something more; and
every page of history teems with the records of that something more,
the heavenly records of the sufferings, sacrifices, and triumphs of
woman's love. When this imperial sentiment is baffled, and yet the
soul remains mistress of herself, it is impossible that the next
strongest sentiment should not, in all available instances, be
cultivated as a solace and vicegerent. One of the renowned apothegms
of that sinister moralist, Rochefoucauld, is, "Women feel friendship
insipid after love." But he should have limited his remark to vicious
women. It will not apply to virtuous women. Jane Austin, who in
knowledge of the feminine heart has few equals, says, "Friendship is
certainly the finest balm for the pangs of disappointed love."

Women are more sensitive and acute than men, more delicate
electrometers for all the imponderable agencies of sympathy; and this
greater penetration makes them more fastidious, gives them better
ability indeed to admire what is superior, but causes them to be less
tolerant of what is offensive. The innervation and nutrition of woman
are finer and more complicated than those of man; and, by as much as
her nerves are more numerous and more delicate, she has a keener and
richer consciousness, including many states he is incapable of
reproducing. He is more of a head; she, more of a plant. Her body is
far more intelligent than his; and feelings are the thoughts of the
body, as thoughts are the feelings of the mind. No one can forget the
lines, made so famous by their exquisite felicity, written of
Elizabeth Drury by Donne:

The pure and eloquent blood
Spoke in her cheeks, and so distinctly wrought,
Ye might have almost said her body thought.

Mothers feel as if still connected with their offspring by the fibres
that joined them in their prenatal life; as the nerves continue to
report in consciousness an amputated hand or foot. There is in all
their emotions a vascular quality or consanguineous tincture never to
be wholly eliminated.

The greater material identification of mothers than of fathers with
their children, in the long period of gestation and nursing, leads to
a closer and more persistent mental identification with them. The
physical differences of the sexes react on the mind to make moral
differences; and these are further heightened by differences in their
education, habits of life, and sphere of interests. No doubt, these
differences occupy a larger share of attention in women than in men.

Those who have suffered sharply, see keenly; and it is difficult to
conceal much from women. They have the strangest facility in reading
physiological language, tones, gestures, bearing, and all those
countless signs which make the face and eyes such tell-tales of the
soul. They will look into your eyes, and see you think; listen to
your voice, and hear you feel. The coy and subtle world of emotion
now infinitely timid and reticent, now all gates flung down for the
floods to pour is their domain. They are at home in it all, from the
rosy fogs of feeling to the twilight borders of intelligence. On the
one side, these endowments are a help to friendship. The ardor with
which a pure and generous woman enters into choice states of soul in
another is a redemptive sight. This capacity of swift perception and
sympathy makes the friendship of a woman a precious boon to a man who
aims at greatness or perfection; and scarcely ever has there been an
illustrious man who has not been appreciated, comforted, and inspired
in secret by some woman long before he became famous, circling around
him with her unselfish ministrations, like that star which is the
invisible companion of Sirius.

The poor young Niebuhr writes home from Great Britain to Madam
Hensler, the wife of the good professor who had befriended him in
college, "Your letter has made me so wild with delight, that I have
felt full of affection to every creature that has come in my way."
The melancholy heart and dismal lot of Gerald Griffin, the Irish
novelist, found almost their solitary human alleviation and
brightness in the sustaining kindness and admiration of a lady,
designated in his brother's biography of him as Mrs. L. John Foster,
whose social career was as trying to him as his massive soul was
lonely, exceedingly enjoyed the cordial encouragement and affection
of a number of cultivated and excellent women. Many of his published
letters were addressed to one of these, Mrs. Mant. He thus writes to
her of another one: "I turn, disgusted and contemptuous, from insipid
and shallow folly, to lave in the tide of deeper sentiments. There I
swim and dive and rise and gambol, with all that wild delight which
could be felt by a fish, after panting out of its element awhile,
when flung into its own world of waters by some friendly hand. Such a
hand to me is Mrs. C.'s. It is impossible to give a just idea of the
strange fascination she diffuses around her. My mind seems to be
larger, stronger, and more brilliant in her company than anywhere
else. Every fountain of sentiment opens at her approach."

The greater sensibility, insight, and impulsiveness of women, on the
other hand, expose them more to obstacles in the way of friendship.
Coldness and meanness are less endurable by them. A genuinely feeling
soul has an insuperable repugnance alike for unfeelingness, for false
feeling, and for false expressions of feeling. An Arabian courser
cannot travel comfortably with a snail. A soul whose motions are
musical curves cannot well blend with a soul whose motions are
discordant angles. A woman is naturally as much more capricious than
a man, as she is more susceptible. A slighter shock suffices to
jostle her delicate emotions out of delight into disgust. She is
therefore a severer personal critic. Male peccadilloes are female
crimes. A wet-blanket presence that she could not tolerate may
refresh him. As less strong, less stably poised, than he, she is more
tempted to have recourse to artifice; and when she does stoop to
dissimulation, she uses it with inimitable dexterity, as shield, as
foil, as poniard. It would be a difficult task for men to do what the
spotless and loving Eugénie de Guérin was horrified at seeing two
prominent Parisian ladies do, play the part of tender friends in
society, and then turn away and venomously caricature each other.
What woman who possessed a ring conferring invisibility on its
wearer, would dare to put it on, and move about among her friends?
The weakness of women is an exaggerated attention to trifles. The
great condition of steady friendship is community of plans and ends
in the parties. This is much wanting in women, who think chiefly of
persons, little of laborious aims. Two girls, who live in a multitude
of evaporating impulses and dreams it were as easy to yoke a couple
of humming-birds, and make them draw. Because the polarity of a grand
fixed purpose is absent from it, the mind of many a woman is a heap
of petty antipathies; and, where the likings are fickle, the
dislikings are pretty sure to be tenacious. A keen student of human
nature has remarked, that many women "spend force enough in trivial
observations on dress and manners, to form a javelin to pierce quite
through a character." Women's eyes are armed with microscopes to see
all the little defects and dissimilarities which can irritate and
injure their friendships. Hence there are so many feminine friends
easily provoked to mutual criticisms and recriminations.

The dear friends, Fanny Squeers and Matilda Price, experienced a
violent jealousy on account of Nicholas Nickleby. After a fierce
altercation, they fell into tears, followed by remonstrances and an
explanation, and terminated by embraces and by vows of eternal
friendship; "the occasion making the fifty-second time of repeating
the same impressive ceremony within a twelvemonth." But obviously it
is a closer approach to the truth to take the sensitiveness and
interruptions in the mutual relations of women, as compared with
those in the relations of men, as the direct, rather than as the
inverse, measure of the number and value of their respective
friendships. Yet, by a gross error, the estimate is usually made in
the latter way.

The maxim of Walter Savage Landor is a palpable stroke at the truth:
"No friendship is so cordial or so delicious as that of girl for
girl; no hatred so intense and immovable as that of woman for woman."
In fact, there is immensely less indifference between women than
between men; there are incomparably more enmities; and there are a
great many more friendships. It is the enormous preponderance of the
mutual dislikes of women over those of men, which chiefly has given
rise to the fallacious belief that their mutual likes are less.
These, too, are more, though not, perhaps, so much more.

Among women, it is true, only a few of those memorable unions of soul
and life are known which entitle the parties to be ranked as pairs of
friends. Our ignorance, however, of such cases does not prove their
non-existence. There have been thousands of them. There are a great
many at this moment. It is the characteristic modesty and privacy of
the lives of women which keep these heart-histories concealed. The
most gifted, refined, and elevated natures are most likely to have
this experience; and such natures shrink with unconquerable
repugnance from all obtrusion, or betrayal, of their inmost
experiences. The lives of noble women are "so transparent and so deep
that only the subtle insight of sympathy can penetrate them:" their
open secrets baffle all the scrutiny of coarse souls. The choicest of
her sex will, to some extent, agree with the energetic sentiment of
Eugénie de Guérin "I detest those women who mount the pulpit, and lay
their passions bare." Engrossing, then, as the attachment of two
women may be, it is not often thrust into public view so as to obtain
the literary recognition won by the similar attachments of men who
act their parts in the front of society, seeking a place in history
for their achievements. As far as the public are concerned, women
merge their heart-lives in the careers of those dear to them. It is
accordingly in exceptional cases alone that a knowledge of the
friendships of women is preserved for posterity. This, indeed, holds
likewise of men, but in a much lower degree. Thus far there have been
printed accounts of the lives of hundreds of men where there has been
a printed account of the life of one woman. Allowance should be made
for this in our estimate of their comparative friendships.

And now has not something been said to shake the current opinion,
that the friendships of women are few and superficial? It is true
that women are more imperiously called to love than men are; are more
likely to be absorbed by this master-passion, and thus are more
exposed to jealousy of each other. It is true, that, owing to their
greater sensitiveness, keener subjection to the fastidious sway of
taste, women are more apt than men to fall out, being more easily
disturbed and estranged by trifles; but this relative subjection to
trifles is chiefly a consequence of the exclusion of woman hitherto
from the grandest fields of education, the noblest subjects of
interest and action. It is true, that the attachments of women, on
account of the greater privacy of their lives, are less conspicuous
than those of men, less frequently obtain historic or literary
mention, and therefore seem to be rarer. But it is not true, either
that women are incapable of enthusiastic and steadfast friendships
for each other, or that such friendships are uncommon. If women are
more critical and severe towards their own sex than men are, it is
chiefly because they cannot, like men, be indifferent to each other:
they must positively feel either sympathy or aversion.

It is very frequently the case, that a single woman, blessed with
wealth, invites some friend, to whom she is strongly attached, to
accept a home with her; and they live thenceforth in indissoluble
union. Such an instance among men is almost as rare as a white
blackbird. Unmarried sisters so often pass all their years together,
inseparably united, both inwardly and outwardly, that almost every
one of us is acquainted with many examples. But it is extremely rare
for bachelor brothers to club together, and pass a wholly shared

In the higher classes of society, it is a common custom for nobly-
born women to have lady companions, to whom they give a home and
support and constant love, for the sake of congenial intercourse with
them, for the comfort of their presence and conversation. There is
scarcely a corresponding custom among men. It has happened to the
writer to know numerous instances in which a wealthy woman has, in
her lifetime, freely bestowed on a poor friend, from a pure impulse
of good-will, a sum of money sufficient to secure her a handsome
independence. This substantial deed of friendship he has not known
paralleled in a single instance among men.

Men do not often go so far in either moral extreme as the other sex.
It is the corruption of the best that makes the worst. Who is this,
shameless mixture of beast and fiend, with body of fire, heart of
marble, brow of bronze, and hand hollowed to hold money? It is the
woman who sells herself in the street. And who is this, with upturned
eyes of fathomless love, the radiant paleness of ecstasy transfusing
her countenance, heaven flooding her soul, the world a forgotten toy
beneath her feet? It is the woman who, in silence and secrecy, gives
herself to God. So capacious of extremes is the feminine spirit.

There is no fretfullness, spitefullness, revengefullness, equal to
those of a woman. There is no grace, sweetness, dignity,
disinterestedness, equal to those of a woman. And, when all is said,
the conclusion of one who understands the subject will be, that, for
quick depth of sympathy, intuitive divination, joyous sacrifice,
perfect reproduction of all the modulations of feeling, there is no
friendship equal to that of a woman.


THE presentation of the friendships of women in distinct classes will
add clearness to the treatment, and will also make it easier to
suggest, with some approach to adequacy, the wealth of the topic. It
is natural to begin with instances within the limits of blood
relationship, and between persons of opposite sex. The relations of
conscious affection among those of near kindred are but too apt, from
the blunting influence of custom, to have a character of tameness,
lukewarm routine. The members of the family, in their commonplace
familiarity, cherish a quiet goodwill and fidelity, without any
relishing surprise, romantic hues, or mystery. Calmly affectionate,
or perhaps listless, towards all within the domestic circle, they
look outside for inspiring intercourse and thrilling attachments, and
for calls to lofty sacrifice and delight. This is too often the case.
Identity of inheritance and situation, sameness of idiosyncrasy, and
habitude of union, squeeze poppies into the household cup, and clothe
in dull gray the familiar landscape around; and yet, happily, in
numerous instances it is not so. The confidential intimacies, the
incessant dependencies, duties, and favors of near relatives, instead
of engendering a consciousness of vapid usage, sprinkle electric
stimulants on their mutual feelings and intercommunications.

Their affictions towards each other keep fresh and grow deeper, and
the homestead stands in a landscape tinged with faith and romance.
The imagination, undeadened by custom, goes with their eyes and
hands, exerts its beautifying magic, and idealizes or glorifies their
images in each other's souls.

Then kinship becomes friendship. Upon the material consanguinity is
superinduced a spiritual consanguinity; the legal and customary bonds
of descent, association, and duty are brightened and exalted into
delightful relations of intelligence and sympathy, a choice community
of character, purposes, and experience. The relative is then hidden
in the friend. Innumerable aunts and nephews, nieces and uncles,
cousins, and other branches of kindred, have found in their
relationship, with the common interests and the consequent meetings,
a fortunate occasion for forming close and blessed friendships.

The biblical instance of Esther and Mordecai is very charming.
Esther, left an orphan, was adopted and brought up by her uncle,
Mordeoi. When the beautiful Jewish maiden was taken into the palace,
among those from whom Ahasuerus was to choose his queen, "Mordecai
walked every day before the court of the women's house, to know how
Esther did and what should become of her." And when she had been made
queen, "she did still the commandment of Mordecai, like as when she
was brought up with him." In the threatened calamity of the Jews,
Mordecai rent his clothes, and put on sackcloth with ashes, and wept.
Esther's maids told her of it. "Then was the queen exceedingly
grieved; and she sent raiment to clothe Mordecai." In all the sequel
of the well-known tale, it is easy to see that the niece's friendship
for her uncle was at least as important a sentiment as the wife's
love for her husband. Beranger caused to be placed on the tomb of his
aunt this touching inscription: She was never a mother, yet sons
mourned for her. It is a striking fact that the strength of the tie
of blood is in an historic process of decrease, while, parallel with
it, the strength of the tie of moral sympathy is in an historic
process of increase. In primitive ages, when barbaric force
prevailed, and life was full of exposures, and redress was uncertain,
the family was the unit of society. All within the bond of the family
stood compactly together in the most sacred and intense of leagues
against every hostile approach from without. But as law and order
became consolidated, and their sanctions diffused, and adequate
general tribunals were set up, and public considerations encroached
on private, the tie of physical kindred grew less, that of moral
fellowship more. The bloody feuds of old times, which ran down the
veins of successive generations like streams of fire, have become
nearly obsolete. The hates transmitted with such wild ferocity, the
friendships handed down with such burning loyalty, among the ancient
Scottish clans, are phenomena not possible in the cultured circles of
Berlin, London, Paris, or New York. This relative decay of the energy
of the sentiment of material relationship is not to be regretted; for
it is a sign of progress, when we see its connection with the
corresponding development of the force of free spiritual affinity. It
looks towards the end contemplated by Jesus when he said. "Whosoever
doeth the will of my Father in heaven, the same is my mother, and my
brother, and my sister."

Once the merit or demerit of the individual had comparatively little
to do with the regards which the other members of the family
cherished towards him. Now it goes far towards a total determination
of those regards. Multitudes of the nearest relatives are utterly
indifferent to each other; multitudes of them hate each other. Where
no fitness for a genuine union of mind and heart exists in the
parties, all the forensic ties and all the conjoining memories in the
world go for nothing. A horrid illustration of this truth is given by
the conduct of Tullia, the Lady Macbeth of antiquity, who drove her
chariot over the body of her murdered father lying in the "Wicked
Street," and smiled as his blood spattered her dress. But truly it is
a happy thing when those naturally associated in birth, position, and
circumstances of life, become by sympathy inwardly united in mutual
appreciation and will. It is like adding the spirit of music to the
material conditions of music.


PARENTS and children furnish the first class of examples in which the
fondness of a close attachment by nature is elevated into a freer and
more comprehensive connection by intelligent sympathy; in which the
affection of instinct and custom is transformed into the loftier and
richer affection of friendship. This high and benign transformation
takes place in due season between all mothers and sons, all daughters
and fathers, who afford the requisite conditions for it; that is, in
all cases where they remain long enough together, and their
characters and manners are such as naturally command respect and love
from each other. Even when children are ignoble and unworthy, their
fathers and mothers may yearn over them with every strictly parental
affection; and even when parents are vicious and degraded, their
children may regard them with every strictly filial affection; but
friendship between them is generally impossible without the
co-existence, on both sides, of intrinsic worth, of those responsive
virtues which elicit esteem and dominate sympathy. The great reason
of the failure of a broad, glowing friendship between parents and
children a failure o deplorably common in our homes is the lack, in
heir characters, of that wealth, nobleness, sweetness, patience,
aspiration, which would irresistibly draw them to each other in
mutual honor, love, and joy. The only remedy for this unhappy failure
is the cure of its unhappier cause. Whatever makes characters deep,
rich, pure, and gentle in themselves, tends to make them pleasing to
each other.

It is absurd to suppose, that mean, hateful, and miserable souls will
love each other simply because they are connected by ties of
consanguinity, of interest, or of duty.

Whatever makes us suffer, especially whatever injures our finer
emotions, naturally tends to become repulsive to us, an object of
dislike gathering disagreeable associations. Even a mother, a son, a
father, a daughter, may become such an object, as is illustrated with
melancholy frequency. But when parents and children possess those
high qualities of soul which naturally give pleasure, create
affection, and evoke homage; and when they are not too early
separated, or too much distracted in alien pursuits, a firm and
ardent friendship must spring up between them. The mere parental and
filial relation will become subordinated, as a sober central thread
in a wide web of colored embroidery. The parental instinct and the
filial instinct, weaned from their organic directness, will grow more
complex and mental; and, parallel with this process, the gracious
guardians and the clinging dependants will gradually change into
companions and friends, still retaining, however, sacred vestiges and
memories of the original cords of their union. When we have allowed
proper abatement for the thousands of instances in which this
precious result is not reached, the general statement now made opens
to us a large class of beautiful friendships. In all ages there have
been myriads of mothers and sons, myriads of daughters and fathers,
who were models of devoted, happy friends. Before paying attention to
these, it will be profitable for us to notice the other cases.

Considered with reference to our subject, there are four classes of
parents and children. First, Those who are positive enemies, their
main relation being one of opposition, dislike, and pain. Undoubtedly
a chief reason for this unfortunate result is carelessness, failure
to understand and feel in advance the inestimable importance of a
right rule and fruition of the home. But a cause working more
strongly still arises from prominent vices of character, base and
wicked qualities of soul, which make harmony impossible, friction and
alienation inevitable. Disorder, fretfullness, antagonism, and
misery, pervading the house, compel its members to detest each other.
Then hatred occupies the place which should be occupied by
friendship. This is a melancholy and odious sight to see. It is a
horrible evil for its sufferers to endure. It is a terrible
misfortune and wretchedness to all concerned.

Secondly, There are parents and children who live in entire unconcern
and neglect of each other, in a mere routine of external connections
and associations. This absence of all deep personal sensibility,
either sympathetic or hostile, is not so frightful a calamity as the
rankling resentment of a rooted and conscious enmity; but it is a
lamentable misfortune. It is a sad loss, however little they may
think of it. Absorbed in other matters, giving all their affection to
business, fashion, ambition, dissipation, or to persons outside of
the home-circle, they overlook the thing most indispensable for
placid and permanent contentment; and are sure, sooner or later, to
rue their folly, in an experience of bitter disappointment.

Thirdly, there are those who, so far from cherishing hatred or
indifference, deeply love each other, and passionately long to enjoy
an intimate union in reciprocal confidence, esteem, and sympathy, but
are prevented by some unhappy impediment, some disastrous
misunderstanding or morbid pique. Many a parent yearns with
unspeakable fondness towards a disobedient and ungrateful child; the
heart breaking with agony for the reconciliation, the embrace, the
sweet communion fate withholds. Many a child profoundly desires to
fall at the feet of a cold, hard, careless parent, and with
supplicating tears win the notice, the affection, that would be so
priceless; and, sadder still, there is many an instance where both
parent and child are truly noble and affectionate, and would give the
world if they could break through the separating barrier, and lavish
their whole hearts on each other; but, in spite of these generous
qualities, their common desires and their bitter suffering, some
falsehood, some pride, some shyness, some suspicion, some chill,
intangible phantom, is set fatally between them. In every community
there are piteous tragedies of this sort, little dreamed of by those
outside, but which the bleeding hearts concerned in them feel as a
deadly drain, hastening them towards the grave.

Fourthly, Besides the parents and children who are open enemies, who
are utter indifferentists, or who, while loving each other, are kept
apart by some obstacle, there is another class, who, as free and
cordial friends, happily realize in their relation all that is to be
desired. In these examples there are ample wisdom, considerateness,
tender sympathy, and guardian strength, on the one side; ready
docility, attentiveness, obedience, reverence, and fondness, on the
other; with an exuberance of indescribable comfort and peace on both
sides. What a treasure, what an inestimable boon, what a divine
trust, what an inexhaustible delight, is such an affection between a
parent and a child! What a paradise any country would be, if such an
experience were welling up, a pure fountain of life, in every home
throughout its borders!

Few inquiries can have greater interest or importance than the
inquiry, why there is not more generally between parents and children
that warm, ingenuous, abiding affection which produces a full and
joyous friendship. A clear perception and statement of the
difficulties in the way of it may suggest the means of removing them.
And, in the outset, is it not obvious that the home affections
flourish so scantily because scanty attention is paid to the
cultivation of them? It is forever the fallacy and folly of man to
think least of that which lies nearest to him, and is the most
indissolubly bound up with his being as a cause of happiness or of
misery. He thinks most eagerly on those comparatively exceptional and
remote things, which, in consequence of their greatness or their
rarity, are the strangest and the most impressive to him. He ought to
pay the keenest heed to that which is the most important in its
influence on his life, not to that which is the most startling to his
fancy. Now, it is unquestionably true, that while there is nothing
which contributes so much to enrich or to impoverish us, to bless or
to curse us, as our domestic relations, there is scarcely any thing
which we take less pains to cultivate into all that it is capable of
becoming. In most instances, the life of the home is so close to us,
so identified with ourselves, accepted with such a matter of course
security, that we overlook the delicate conditions for preserving its
freshness and securing its increase. But, in every relation of
persons, there are two sets of conditions, corresponding with the two
sides, neither of which can be neglected with impunity. There are a
multitude of homes which are centres of irritation and wretchedness,
miniature hells to their occupants.

The first thing to be done is to turn thought to the subject, break
up the apathy of routine, secure an earnest appreciation of the facts
in the case, and then study the remedy.

One great obstacle to the desired friendships of parents and children
consists in the difficulty of a perfect sympathy between persons
marked by such differences of age, position, interest, and
experience. Those of the same years, passions, pleasures, duties,
will naturally sympathize the most easily. But in all these respects
the disparities of parent and child are equally numerous and

They look at things from opposed points of view; they judge of
subjects in the light respectively of experience and of inexperience.
This great and constant contrast must give rise to innumerable
discrepancies of opinion and of desire, provocative of disagreements,
if not of dislikes. Nature has, however, provided powerful
neutralizers for this obstacle to sympathy between those who are so
widely unlike, counteractives which forcibly tend to prevent
disagreements from breeding hostilities. These counteractives are the
profound instincts of parental fondness and filial reverence, the
first of which tends to make the parents enter into the spiritual
states of their children, and to look at things from their point of
view; and the second, to make the children, with docile duteousness,
adopt as their own the conclusions of their parents. These
counteractives ought to be carefully fostered, neither party
forgetting the differences between himself and the other, but
endeavoring to bridge those differences by the identifying powers of
imagination and sympathy. Another frequent destroyer or lessener of
the natural love of parents and children is the conflict between the
rightful authority of the former and the wilful impulses of the

Maturity, having accumulated knowledge and wisdom out of long
experience, and being set by God and nature in charge over the
headstrong instincts of ignorant or capricious youth, cannot avoid
the duty of frequently applying the curb to excessive desires, and
the spur to defective ones. A sense of chafing, an impulse to resent
and rebel, will naturally often arise. And, in every such collision
of passion and rule, there is a tendency to hostility. It is needless
to say how lamentably frequent are the examples in which this
tendency makes actual foes of those between whom the natural bonds of
love and reverence are of the most sacred character. It is evident
that parental authority is a divine trust which must be exercised
over childhood and youth. Only it should be exercised on principle,
not from caprice; for the good of the ruled, not for the
gratification of a despotic self-assertion in the ruler; with fond
gentleness, not with harshness or cruelty. And the authority of the
parent should be vindicated as far as possible by force of wisdom,
weight of character, power of persuasion; avoiding, as far as can
properly be done, every occasion of conflict, every need of a violent
issue. The child, on the other hand, ought to remember the rightful
authority of his parents, consider their greater experience, take for
granted their benignant intention, cultivate a grateful sense of
dependence and duty towards them, and foster the habit of prompt and
hearty submission to their wishes. It is a safe rule, in general, for
a boy or girl to respect and obey the father and mother, and not to
think, when they oppose the thoughtless spirit of self-indulgence,
that this parental opposition is unreasonable or unkind. To honor
one's parents is the first scriptural commandment with promise.

It is a habit which no one will ever regret. But, alas! how many a
man, how many a woman, has kneeled on the grave where father or
mother lay mouldering, and has lamented, with burning tears of shame
and sorrow, the disobedience, the disrespect, the unkindness, the
neglect, shown in earlier years! How have they longed to lift up the
faded forms from their coffins, to re-animate them, and to have them
again in their homes, that, by unwearied ministrations of tenderness,
they might atone for the upbraiding past! Let the man in the full
maturity of his age, hardened by long contact with the world, revisit
the scenes of his childhood. Let him stand by the old homestead where
fence and wall have fallen, and house and hearth gone to dust. What
presence hallows the place? Who so fills the air about him as to seem
just ready to break into palpable vision wherever he turns? It is his
mother. Overwhelmed by a flood of memories, inspired by an immortal
faith, not less than by an immortal affection, he drops on his knees,
and cries,

Mother! thou art mother still;
Only the body dies;
Such love as bound thy heart to mine,
Death only purifies.

The same moral is drawn by Sarah Tytler in her excellent book of
"Sweet Counsel" for girls, where she says, "I do not know that I ever
told my father I was once or twice very angry with him for refusing
me this or that request. My lips will never tell him now, and beg his
pardon, and assure him that I was not worthy of him then, but that I
know all at last; my hand will never clasp his hand, my lips never
kiss his lips again. But I do not break my heart; for I think he
knows all that I ever intended to tell him, and has forgiven me long
ago. I am persuaded,

"There must be wisdom with great death;
The dead shall look me through and through."

But perhaps the most fatal influence against the growth and
perpetuation of vivid friendships between parents and children is the
disenchanting effect of familiarity. A close and constant
intercourse, long continued, usually tends to make persons arid,
commonplace, uninteresting, to each other, takes away surprise, eager
expectation, and romance. There is nothing human beings so much like
as to be able strongly to impress and be impressed. This seems to
cease to be possible in a company who fancy they have struck every
string, sounded every secret, exhausted the possibilities, in each
other. A long subjection of the same persons to the same
circumstances produces a general spirit of sameness, a flagging
tedium, a want of varied attraction and stimulation. Let a stranger,
a foreign friend, any honored guest, come in, and how his presence
quickens every thing! Life shines with novel lustre, and throbs with
new energy. Every one puts his best foot forward, exerts his best
powers to interest. The fresh pleasure every one feels gives him a
fresh power of pleasing. But, ah it would be of no use, we think, to
make any effort in the dull old circle of our familiars, who can
produce no effect on us, and on whom we, in turn, can produce no
effect. And thus life in the home becomes monotonous, torpid, and
vacant. Worlds of love are every day destroyed by indifference and
repulse. If the same pains were taken to invigorate and perpetuate
the domestic affections as to secure the good-will of other persons
whom we admire or depend on, it could scarcely fail to give a
wonderful enrichment to the satisfactions of home.

This truth is especially applicable to the relation of parents and
children in our day. The old extreme of a severe exercise of parental
authority has passed away, and a new extreme of filial
insubordination and insolent self-assertion has taken its place. It
is altogether too frequent a thing now to see lads and lasses taking
their parents to task as inferiors, and demanding every service from
them. The thought of his child should be a constant delight to a
parent. When the ill-temper and ill-behavior of a child cause every
association with him in the heart of the parent to be disturbing and
painful, how can the result be otherwise than alienating and
depressing? Let there be two children in a family, one of whom is
invariably obedient, gentle, attentive, ingenuous; the other,
irritable, insubordinate, careless, secretive, and untruthful. The
former shall be idolized, while the latter is regarded with
condemnatory repugnance. The fact that a boy is your son, or that a
girl is your daughter, cannot wholly neutralize the repulsiveness of
their odious traits. When children uniformly respect and obey their
parents, and seek by every kind attention and praiseworthy effort to
please them, it is not in human nature that they should fail to be
unspeakably loved and caressed. Deferential treatment, patient
service, quick sympathy, expectant attention, an obvious desire to
please, are the most potent charms that mortals can wield. They show
that the parties are important to each other. They give life its
highest value. In their absence, all romantic color fades, and every
precious affection expires. The most effective intercourse that
vanity can establish with strangers offers nothing comparable to the
delicious quality of the experience which results when a parent and
child, of suitable character and age, are blessed with a complete
friendship. Every thought of it pours for them a sudden sunshine
through the sky, an exhilarating fragrance through the air.

Undoubtedly the affections are greatly hurt and repressed by being
regarded as obligations rather than as privileges. They must be wooed
forth by the gentlest lures. They will not come when carelessly
expected and demanded as a matter of course. The heart will be free.
It imperiously resents bonds and orders. The love of parent and child
is certainly even more a delight than it is a duty. They should be
friends, not so much because they are commanded to be such, but more
because they are mutually worthy, and because their peace of mind,
their contentment of heart, their improvement and happiness, depend
on their being such. What privilege can be imagined superior in
purity of joy and profit, to that of a young man who has for his
friend a wise and holy mother, whom he loves with enthusiasm and
confides in with an absolute devotion?

And if there be a human tear
From passion's dross refined and clear,
A tear so limpid and so meek
It would not stain an angel's cheek,
'Tis that which pious fathers shed
Upon a duteous daughter's head.


CORNELIA, daughter of Scipio Africanus, and wife of Tiberius
Gracchus, was left a widow, with a large family of young children.
She refused all subsequent offers of marriage, even when Ptolemy of
Egypt wished to share his throne with her. Her two sons, Tiberius and
Caius, the tribunes who achieved such greatness and fame, owed every
thing to her judicious training, to her wise and unwearied pains in
educating them, guarding them, and inspiring them to high deeds. She
was almost idolized by the Roman people, and occupied, indeed, the
proudest position of any woman in the history of her country. Her two
sons venerated, and invariably took counsel with their mother.

It is evident that their inner lives were shared with her. One of
them was known to have dropped, at her request, a law which he meant
to urge through the Senate. Cicero says that Catulus pronounced a
public panegyric on his mother, Popilia, the first time such a thing
was done in Rome. In a less formal manner, Caius Gracchus often
publicly spoke the praises of his mother, Cornelia. When her sons
were murdered, she bore the cruel affliction with imposing
magnanimity. Departing from Rome, she took up her abode at Misenum,
where, in the exercise of a queenly hospitality, she lived,
surrounded by illustrious men of letters, as well as by others of the
highest rank and distinction. Universally honored and respected, she
reached a good old age, and finally received at the hands of the
Roman people a statue inscribed, Cornelia, mother of the Gracchi.
Notwithstanding her somewhat meddlesome and despotic temper, Queen
Olympias seems to have maintained an intimate friendship with her
son, Alexander the Great. He omitted no occasion, we are told, of
showing his esteem and affection for her. When absent on his
campaigns, he kept up a constant correspondence with her, highly
valuing her letters, and in return concealing nothing from her. Saint
Augustine and his mother, Saint Monica, a sublime example of this
friendship, sit on the shore of fame, side by side; the face of the
mother a little above that of the son; both of them worn with care,
full of lofty pathos and love, looking at us out of the night of
time; the sea of mortal passion far beneath their feet; the eternal
stars hanging silent above, even as Ary Scheffer reveals in his
solemn picture of them sitting in the window at Ostia, and gazing
together over the ocean.

Thirty years after the death of Monica, Augustine said in one of his
sermons, "Ah! The dead do not come back; for, had it been possible,
there is not a night when I should not have seen my mother, she who
could not live apart from me, and who, in all my wanderings, never
forsook me. For God forbid that in heaven her affection should cease,
or that she should not, if she could, have come to console me when I
suffered! She who loved me more than words can express." The example,
in American history, of a valued and fruitful friendship between a
mother and a son, given by Abigail Adams and John Quincy Adams, is
stamped with prominence by the exceptional fact of the publication of
her letters to him. These letters breathe wisdom and virtue, with
incitement to all worthy aims, no less than strong mental
companionship and fervent maternal sympathy. They have been edited by
her grandson, who pays her a deserved tribute in the memoir he has
prefixed. The wife of the elder President Adams can never lose the
exalted place she holds, in the honoring remembrance of the American
people, among those exemplary women whose powerful talents and
virtues did so much to mould the destinies of the nascent Republic.
Madame Goethe said to Bettine, "My Wolfgang and I were so nearly of
an age, that we grew up together more as playmates than as mother and
child." And, when the great Wolfgang was an old man, he said that his
mother, as yet quite a child, grew up to consciousness first with,
then in, himself and his sister Cornelia. Her intercourse with him is
prominent through a large part of his life: her influence on him is
visible through the whole of it. The union of the illustrious
brothers Humboldt with their mother was especially full and tender.
While she lived, they shared souls; and, after her departure, the
sons idolized her memory. Long years had passed, when William,
expiring in the arms of his elder brother, said, "I shall soon be
with our mother." And Alexander said, "I did not think my old eyes
had so many tears." The relation of Guizot, the distinguished French
statesman and author, with his mother, was one of the deepest,
fullest, and noblest friendships that ever conjoined mother and son.
Madame Guizot went through the horror and tragedy of the Revolution,
to which her husband was one of the choicest victims, with a heroism
and a dignity unsurpassed; and devoted herself to her maternal duties
with a calm energy and wisdom whose proper fruits she lived long to
enjoy. Her character revealed the purest feminine qualities in
conspicuous perfection. Her honored old age showed all that is lovely
and all that is august united, in her history, her spirit, her
manners, her acquirements, and her presence, to attract confidence
and to command respect. Indissolubly joined, through more than sixty
years, with her brilliant and high-souled son, she was not more proud
and fond of him than he was of her.


CICERO and his daughter, Tullia, enjoyed an extraordinary friendship.
From all the hints left us, it is to be gathered that Tullia was a
woman of sweet and noble character. It is certain that she was most
affectionately devoted to her father; and that she had
accomplishments of knowledge and taste, qualifying her to be his
companion and his delight in his age and grief. It is affecting to
read how eagerly, on his recall from exile, she hurried to Brundusium
to throw herself into his arms. She died at about thirty-two. He was
thrown into a state of lamentable prostration. Turn where he would in
his inconsolable sorrow, engage in whatever he might, tears
constantly overtook him. His friends, Atticus, Csar, Brutus,
Sulpicius, and others, wrote letters of sympathy to him. He retired
to one of country-seats. Seeking the solace of solitude, he buried
himself every morning in the thickest of the wood, and came not out
till evening. In his former reverses, he says he could turn to one
place for shelter and peace. "A daughter I had, in whose sweet
conversation I could drop all my cares and troubles.

But now every thing is changed." "It is all over with me, Atticus: I
feel it more than ever now that I have lost the only being who still
bound me to life." He purposed to erect on a commanding site, as a
monument to his dear Tullia, a splendid temple, which, as though
dedicated to some god, should survive all the changes of ownership,
and bear to distant futurity the memory of her worth, and of his
sorrow for her. For a long time, he could think of nothing but the
details of this plan, on which he intended to lavish the bulk of his
fortune. He avoided society for almost a year, and never recovered
from the wound which the loss of her gave his heart. Margaret Roper
was the pride and darling of her father, Sir Thomas More, whom in
return she venerated and loved with the whole depth of her heart. The
beauty of their relation cannot be forgotten by those who have read
the life of the great English martyr. It was by her brave duteousness
that his mutilated body was buried in the chancel of Chelsea Church.
His head, exposed upon a pole on London Bridge for fourteen days, was
ordered to be thrown into the Thames; but Margaret rescued it,
preserved it in a leaden box, and directed that, after her death, it
should be placed with her in the grave.

One of the loveliest examples of this class of friendships is
unveiled by William Wirt in the exquisite memoir he wrote of his
daughter, Agnes, after her death at the early age of sixteen. The
example is closely parallel to that of the famous and good John
Evelyn, who, apostrophizing his daughter, Mary, in mournful memory,
says, "Thy affection, duty, and love to me was that of a friend as
well as of a child." So Wirt writes of his Agnes: "To me she was not
only the companion of my studies, but the sweetener of my toils. The
painter, it is said, relieved his aching eyes by looking on a curtain
of green. My mind, in its hour of deepest fatigue, required no other
refreshment than one glance at my beloved child, as she sat beside
me." Not many fathers and daughters have been fonder or faster
friends than Aaron and Theodosia Burr. The character and memory of
Burr, in the popular imagination, have been blackened beyond the hope
of bleaching. Of course, he was a man mixed of good and bad; and was
not such an unmitigated devil as some would paint him. But his
selfishness, sensuality, recklessness, and degradation give, in one
respect, a peculiar interest and instructiveness to the enthusiastic
friendship subsisting between him and his daughter. It is no disproof
of the need of the great virtues to serve as the basis of a true and
enduring friendship. It proves that a sincere love, even in an
unclean and depraved soul, purges it, and adorns it with meritorious
charms and real worth in that relation. However bad Burr may have
been in other relations, to his daughter he was ever good, gentle,
and wise, unwearied in his devotion, and clothed with many
fascinations. Good persons may sometimes be ill-consorted and odious
to each other, their intercourse full of jars and frictions. Bad
persons may sometimes be so related as to show each other only their
good qualities, and be happy friends, while all around are detesting
them. In one of her letters to her father, Theodosia speaks of his
wonderful fortitude, and goes on to say, "Often, after reflecting on
this subject, you appear to me so elevated above all other men; I
contemplate you with such a strange mixture of humility, admiration,
reverence, love, and pride, that very little superstition would be
necessary to make me worship you as a superior being; such enthusiasm
does your character excite in me. When I afterward revert to myself,
how insignificant do my best qualities appear! My vanity would be
greater, if I had not been placed so near you; and yet my pride is in
our relationship. I had rather not live than not be the daughter of
such a man." Burr, on the evening before his duel with Hamilton,
wrote to his daughter a long letter, in which he said, "I am indebted
to you, my dearest Theodosia, for a very great portion of the
happiness which I have enjoyed in this life. You have completely
satisfied all that my heart and affections had hoped, or even
wished." Unhappily he slew his antagonist, and himself survived to
carry a load of deadly and universal obloquy which would have crushed
to the earth almost any other man.

Theodosia set sail from Charleston in a little vessel, which was
never heard of again. It was supposed to have foundered off Cape
Hatteras. The loss of his daughter, Burr said, "severed him from the
human race." Certainly, from that time to the end of his prolonged
and dishonored life, he never was wholly what he had been before. An
inner spring had been broken, and the purest contents of his heart
had escaped through the breach. Parton very fitly dedicates to the
memory of Theodosia his highly readable and charitable life of her
father. That brilliant lawyer, the late Rufus Choate, remarked, on
reading this life, that there did not seem to have been in Burr a
single glimpse of so much as the last and poorest tribute vice pays
to virtue, not even the affectation of a noble sentiment. But we may
claim with justice, that the friendship with his daughter is one
bright place in that frightfully stained, one golden gleam on that
dismally mutilated, career. Mention should be made of Richard and
Maria Edgeworth, among those whose union as father and daughter, was
merged in a superior fellowship as friends, in a more intimate and
delightful junction of ideas, sentiments, and labors. Their united
lives, their mutual devotion, their shared counsels, pleasures, and
tasks, form one of the finest of domestic pictures, a model of a
Christian household. In the preface to the life of himself which he
left for Maria to complete and publish, he says, "If my daughter
should perceive any extenuation or any exaggeration, it would wound
her feelings, she would be obliged to alter or omit, and her
affection for me would be diminished: can the public have a better
surety than this for the accuracy of these memoirs?" And Maria says,
"Few, I believe, have ever enjoyed such happiness, or such
advantages, as I have had in the instructions, society, and unbounded
confidence and affection of such a father and such a friend. He was,
in truth, ever since I could think or feel, the first object and
motive of my mind." One of the most remarkable friendships of this
sort was that of Madame de Staël and her father. Necker was a kind,
good, and able man, who occupied a distinguished position and played
a prominent part in his time. But the genius of his impassioned
daughter transfigured him into a hero and a sage. Her attachment to
him was, in personal relations, the dominant sentiment of her life.
With distinct comprehension and glowing sympathy, she entered into
his thoughts and fortunes. She was to him an invaluable source of
strength, counsel, and consolation.

An instance, partly ludicrous, illustrates her tender solicitude for
him; and it also shows how the mere idea of an event has, with a
person of her genius, the power of the actual occurrence. The
coachman chanced to overset and considerably damage the empty family
carriage. When told of it, she was indifferent until the idea of
danger to her father struck her; then, exclaiming, "My God! had M.
Necker been in it, he might have been killed," she rushed to the
luckless driver, and burst on him with a storm of denunciations,
mixed with expostulatory precautions as to the future. When her
father died, Madame de Staël was plunged into despairing grief, from
which she aroused herself for a vain effort to make the public share
in the profound admiration and love she felt for him. It was one of
her greatest trials that she could not succeed in this fond
undertaking. Perhaps she was not so much deceived in her exalted
estimate of her father as has been supposed. But he lacked that
egotistical dash, those impulsive displays of daring and brilliancy,
which are needed to make a sensation, and to secure quickly a great
and lasting popularity. During the thirteen years that she survived
him, the thought of him seemed constantly present; and she often
said, "My father is waiting for me on the other shore." The touching
words, addressed to Chateaubriand a little while before she crossed
over, in which she summed up her life, were these: "I have always
been the same, intense and sad. I have loved God, my father, and
liberty." The unhappy Letitia Landon found a congenial friend in her
father, the early loss of whom was the first in the sad series of her
misfortunes. She closes her poem of "The Troubadour" with an
affecting tribute to his memory:

My heart hath said no name but thine
Shall be on this last page of mine.

Such examples as the foregoing, showing what a treasure of help and joy
the friendship of parent and child may yield to them, should teach us
to think more of it, and to cultivate with greater fidelity the
conditions of so blessed an experience.


THE next class of friendships consists of those formed between
brothers and sisters. In this relation meet many favorable conditions
for carrying sympathy to a great height, when the blinding effect of
early familiarity and the palling effect of routine are prevented or
neutralized. The organic affinities and heritage derived from their
common parentage, with the memories and hopes they have in common,
are, of themselves, endearing bonds. Then there are differences
enough in the boy and the girl to give their communion contrasts and
zest. Unless they are frigid, selfish, or absorbed in counter
directions, or are the subjects of some unfortunate incongruity, a
rich friendship spontaneously arises between a brother and a sister
who advance to maturity in the same dwelling. A gifted woman, the
author of "Counterparts" and "Charles Auchester," who, devoured by
the flame of her own genius, died too young, has written, somewhat
extravagantly, "O blessed sympathy of sisterhood with brotherhood!
Surpassing all other friendship, leavening with angel solicitude the
purest love of earth. No lovership like that of the brother and the
sister, however passionate their spirits, when they truly love."
Narcissus, in the classic fable, had a lovely sister, to whom he was
most fondly attached. They were the images and mirrors of each other.
It was only when death had snatched her from his side, that, pining
under his bereavement, wandering by fountains and rivers, lie caught
glimpses of his own reflection; and, mistaking the illusory show for
his lost companion, fell in love with himself, and languished away
till rejoined with her in the pale world of Hades.

Hardly any picture in literature is more famous than that of the
friendship of Orestes and Electra. What divine beauty, what tragic
pathos, what immortal truth, are in it! And the friendship of
Antigone and Polynices is similar. With the Greeks this relation was
under the special protection of Apollo and Diana, the divine brother
and sister, whose physical representatives were the sun and moon.
Iphigenia, priestess in Tauris, in her distress for her brother,
prays to the goddess for pity and help:

For thou, Diana, lov'st thy gentle brother
Beyond what earth and heaven can offer thee,
And dost, with quiet yearning, ever turn
Thy virgin face to his eternal light.

A striking example of this relation, sustained with great fullness
and warmth, was given by Saint Benedict and Saint Scholastica in the
sixth century. In the ecclesiastic legends connected with. The
canonization of this brother and sister, it is narrated that they
were accustomed to meet at a place intermediate between their
retreats on Mount Cassino and at Plombariola, and to spend the night
together in spiritual conversation and communion on the joys of
heaven. Three days after their last interview, Scholastica died in
her solitude. Benedict, rapt in contemplation on his mount at that
moment, is said to have seen the soul of his sister ascend to heaven
in the shape of a dove. He immediately sent for her body, and had it
laid, with tender and solemn ceremonies, in the tomb which he had
previously prepared for himself. The friendship of Tasso and his
sister Cornelia has often been the theme of painting and of song.
When, escaping from Ferrara, lacerated, irritated, melancholy, the
poor half-mad poet fled from his persecutors, he thought he would
test the affection of this early playmate and friend, whom he had not
seen for many a weary year. Disguising himself as a shepherd, he
presented himself before her in her home at Sorrento. He drew so
piteous a picture of her brother's misfortunes and condition that she
fainted. As soon as she recovered, he made himself known; and
Torquato and Cornelia, with a swift revival of their old affection,
were locked in a tender embrace, as has been described by Mrs. Hemans
in a poem of extreme beauty and power of feeling.

The peaceful retreat, the glorious scenery, the gentle nursing,
restored him to health and cheerfullness. Alas that he would not
stay, but rushed away to his fate The beautiful and chivalrous
Margaret of Navarre was a pattern of enthusiastic devotion to her
brother, Francis I When Charles V carried him prisoner to Madrid, and
he was dying there, she went to him through every peril, and, by her
nursing, restored him. She then formed a friendship with the sister
of Charles, and induced her secretly to espouse Francis, thus
securing his deliverance by his imperial brother-in-law. The enduring
monuments of art with which Francis embellished his kingdom were her
inspiration. At a distance from him in his last illness, "she went
every day, and sat down on a stone in the middle of the road, to
catch the first glimpse of a messenger afar off. And she said, "Ah
whoever shall come to announce the recovery of the king my brother,
though he be tired, jaded, soiled, dishevelled, I will kiss him and
embrace him as though he were the finest gentleman in the kingdom."
Hearing of his death, she soon followed him. It is painful to know
that the love of Francis to her was not a tithe of hers to him. He
loved her, but treated her with a good deal of the feudal tyranny
which belonged to the age. She deserved from him boundless tenderness
and generosity. Sir Philip and Mary Sidney shared the same studies
and labors, and were endeared even more by similarity of soul than by
their common parentage. Together they translated the Psalms. The name
and dedication which the brother gave to his principal work are an
imperishable shrine of his affection for his sister, "The Countess of
Pembroke's Arcadia." Spenser refers to her as "most resembling in
shape and spirit her brother dear." She wrote a beautiful elegy on
his death at Zutphen: Great loss to all that ever did him see; Great
loss to all, but greatest loss to me. The renowned experimental
philosopher, Robert Boyle, and his sister, Catherine, the very
accomplished and famous countess of Ranelagh, were a noted pair of
friends. Bishop Burnet has drawn for us a delightful picture of them.
He says, "They were pleasant in their lives, and in their deaths they
were not divided; for, as he lived with her above forty years, so he
did not outlive her a week." The countess "lived the longest on the
most public scene, and made the greatest figure, in all the
revolutions of these kingdoms for above fifty years, of any woman of
that age." She laid out her time, her interest, and her estate, with
the greatest zeal and success, in doing good to others, without
regard to sects or relations. "When any party was down, she had
credit and zeal enough to serve them; and she employed these so
effectually, that, in the next turn, she had a new stock of credit,
which she laid out wholly in that labor of love in which she spent
her life. And though some particular opinions might shut her up in a
divided communion, yet her soul was never of a party. She divided her
charities and friendships both, her esteem as well as her bounty,
with the truest regard to merit and her own obligations, without any
difference made upon the account of opinion. She had, with a vast
reach of knowledge and apprehension, an universal affability and
easiness of access, an humility that descended to the meanest persons
and concerns, an obliging kindness and readiness to advise those who
had no occasion for any farther assistance from her. And with all
those and many other excellent qualities, she had the deepest sense
of religion, and the most constant turning of her thoughts and
discourses that way, that has been, perhaps, in our age. Such a
sister became such a brother; and it was but suitable to both their
characters, that they should have improved the relation under which
they were born to the more exalted and endearing one of friend." Two
of the most distinguished in the long roll of eminent astronomers are
a brother and a sister, Sir William and Caroline Herschel. The story
of their united labors, how, for thousands of nights, side by side
they sat and watched and calculated and wrote, one sweeping the
telescopic heavens, the other assisting, and noting down the results;
how, with one spirit and one interest, they grew old together and
illustrious together; their several achievements, both at home and in
observatories on strange shores to which they voyaged, always
associated; with what affectionate care she trained the favorite
nephew, who was to burnish into still more effulgent brightness the
star-linked name of Herschel, the story of all this is full of
attractiveness, and forms one of the warm and poetic episodes in the
high, cold annals of science. The union of John Aikin and his sister
Letitia, afterwards Mrs. Barbauld, in life, tastes, labors, was
uncommonly close and complete. The narrative of it; so warm,
substantial, and healthy was it, leaves a pleasing and invigorating
influence on the sympathies of those who read it. They composed
together several of their excellent and most useful literary works.
While Mrs. Barbauld was tarrying at Geneva, her brother addressed a
letter in verse to her:

Yet one dear wish still struggles in my breast,
And paints one darling object unpossessed.
How many years have whirled their rapid course
Since we, sole streamlets from one honored source,
In fond affection, as in blood, allied,
Have wandered devious from each other's side,
Allowed to catch alone some transient view,
Scarce long enough to think the vision true!
Oh! then, while yet some zest of life remains;
While transport yet can swell the beating veins;
While sweet remembrance keeps her wonted seat,
And fancy still retains some genial heat;
When evening bids each busy task be o'er,
Once let us meet again, to part no more!

That evening came. In the village of Stoke Newington, they spent the
last twenty years of their lives, in that close neighborhood which
admitted of the daily, almost hourly, interchanges of mind and heart.
There was a friendship of great strength between Goethe and his
sister Cornelia. She was only a year younger than her brother, his
companion in plays, lessons, and trials, bound to him by the closest
ties and innumerable associations. While she was yet in the cradle,
he prepared dolls and amusements for her, and was very jealous of all
who came between them.

They grew up in such union, that, as he afterwards said, they might
have been taken for twins. The sternness of their father drove them
into a more confiding sympathy. When he had become a young man, and
was accustomed to make frequent excursions, he says, "I was again
drawn towards home, and that by a magnet which attracted me strongly
at all times: it was my sister." Cornelia had superior endowments of
mind, great force and truth of character; but she keenly felt her
want of beauty, "a want richly compensated by the unbounded
confidence and love borne to her by all her female friends." And yet
Goethe says, "When my connection with Gretchen was torn asunder, my
sister consoled me the more warmly, because she felt the secret
satisfaction of having got rid of a rival; and I, too, could not but
feel a great pleasure when she did me the justice to assure me that I
was the only one who truly loved, understood, and esteemed her." At
twenty-three, Cornelia was married to one of Goethe's intimate
friends, Schlosser; and, in four years, she died. In one of her
brother's frequent allusions to her, this striking trait is recorded:
"Her eyes were not the finest I have ever seen, but the deepest,
behind which you expected the most meaning; and when they expressed
any affection, any love, their glance was without its equal." In his
autobiography, written long, long after her death, he says,

"As I lost this beloved, incomprehensible being but too early, I felt
inducement enough to picture her excellence to myself; and so there
arose within me the conception of a poetic whole, in which it might
have been possible to exhibit her individuality: no other form could
be thought of for it than that of the Richardsonian romance. But the
tumult of the world called me away from this beautiful and pious
design, as it has from so many others; and nothing now remains for me
but to call up, for a moment, that blessed spirit, as if by the aid
of a magic mirror."

A relation of a more absorbing character than the foregoing existed
between Jacobi and his sister Lena. "For a long series of years,"
Steffens writes, "she lived one life with her brother, even ennobling
and exalting him by her presence. She took part in all his studies,
all his controversies; and changed the still self-communion of the
lonely man into a long conversation." There are many accounts, given
by contemporaries, of her minute carefullness for him and unwearied
devotion to him. Some make the picture a little comical, from the
excess of coddling; but all agree as to the unfailing and
affectionate sincerity of their attachment.

There was an uncommon friendship between Chateaubriand and his
youngest sister, Lucile, a girl of extreme beauty, genius,
spirituality, and melancholy. He says of those years, "I grew up with
my sister Lucile: our friendship constituted the whole of our lives."
"Her thoughts were all sentiments." "Her elegance, sweetness,
imaginativeness, and impassioned sensibility, presented a combination
of Greek and German genius." "Our principal recreation consisted in
walking, side by side, on the great Mall: in spring, on a carpet of
primroses; in autumn, on beds of withered foliage; in winter, on a
covering of snow. Young like the primroses, sad like the dry leaves,
and pure as the new-fallen snow, there was a harmony between our
recreations and ourselves." Lucile first persuaded her brother to
write. Afterwards he says, "We undertook works in common: we passed
days in mutual consultation, in communicating to each other what we
had done, and what we purposed to do." The lamentation he breathed
over her grave, when she died, is one of the most affecting passages
in his long autobiography.

Ernst and Charlotte Schleiermacher were a choice and ever-faithful
pair of friends. The published life and letters of the great preacher
reveal the full beauty and importance of this relation. Their
correspondence is filled equally with the manifestations of varied
intelligence and of congenial feeling. Sharing all their experience
in affectionate intercourse, or in full and cordial letters, they
appeared thus to find their pleasures heightened, their perplexities
cleared, their trials alleviated. To this noble divine, so celebrated
for his profound scholarship, his enthusiastic piety, his exalted
sensibility, and his heroic aims, Charlotte was knit by affinities of
character and life, even more closely than by those of blood and

The souls and experiences of William and Dorothy Wordsworth were
overwrought with singular felicity and entireness. Readers will long
trace the signals of this friendship in his works the record of it in
his nephew's memoir of him with pleased surprise, and dwell on its
lessons with thoughtful gratitude. Dorothy, not quite two years
younger than William, was gifted like him, fraught with a similar
temper of patient tenderness, and bound up with him in the same
bundle of life. How thoroughly she lived in him is betrayed, with a
naïve simplicity altogether charming, in her published notes of the
tour they made in Scotland. His appreciation of her worth, and his
affectionate sense of indebtedness to her, find many memorable
utterances. Depicting her influence on him, he thanks God, and says,

The blessing of my later years
Was with me when a boy.
She gave me eyes, she gave me ears,
And humble cares and delicate fears; A
heart, the fountain of sweet tears;
And love and thought and joy.

They took a cottage at Grasmere, where they lived by themselves until
William's marriage; nor were they parted then.

This plot of orchard-ground is ours:
My trees they are, my sister's flowers.

When Coleridge was in Germany, he wrote to them a long letter in
hexameters, in which were these lines:

William, my head and my heart! dear William and dear Dorothea! You
have all in each other; but I am lonely, and want you.

At another time, the same man, so beloved by them both, writes to a
common friend in the following strain: "Wordsworth and his exquisite
sister are with me. Sue is a woman, indeed, in mind I mean, and in
heart. In every motion, her innocent soul out-beams so brightly that
who saw her would say, "Guilt is a thing impossible with her." Her
information is various; her eye, watchful in minutest observation of
nature; and her taste, a perfect electrometer." Referring to the
period of his opening manhood, and the sanguine hopes kindled by the
dawn of the French Revolution, Wordsworth says,

When every day brought with it some new sense
Of exquisite regard for common things,
And all the earth was budding with these gifts
Of more refined humanity, thy breath,
Dear sister, was a kind of gentler string,
That went before my step.

She lived with him, indoors and out of doors. She weaned him from the
embittering brawl of politics, and warded away the sourness and
despair, which, at one time, seriously threatened to possess him. In
the "Prelude," he makes this touching acknowledgment:

Then it was,
Thanks to the bounteous Giver of all good,
That the beloved sister, in whose sight
Those days were passed,...
Maintained for me a saving intercourse
With my true self.

Daily, for so many years, they went "stepping westward" in company.
His eldest daughter his most darling child, whose radiant apparition
he imagined had come for him as he was dying, and cried, "Is that
Dore" bore the dear sister's name. Several of her poems were printed
with his. In addition to the well-known poem, "To My Sister," the
"Descriptive Sketches" and "An Evening Walk" were addressed to her.
And numerous incidental tributes, woven into his chief works, will,
better than any magic spice or nard, perfume her memory, and keep it
fresh as long as his own has name and breath to live among men.

Mine eyes did ne'er
Fix on a lovely object, nor my mind
Take pleasure in the midst of happy thoughts,
But either she, whom now I have, who now
Divides with me that loved abode, was there,
Or not far off. Where'er my footsteps turned,
Her voice was like a hidden bird that sang.
The thought of her was like a flash of light,
Or an unseen companionship, a breath
Or fragrance independent of the wind.

The perverse pride of Byron, the vices to which he yielded, the bad
things in his writings, the sectarian obloquy which pursued him, have
veiled from popular apprehension some of the sweet and noble
qualities of his heart. Notwithstanding his perverse lower impulses,
he was one of the most princely and magical of the immortal lords of
fame. So far from there being any lack of permanent value and power
in his verse, any falling from his established rank, the most
authoritative critics, more generally today than ever before,
acknowledge him to be the greatest lyric poet that ever lived. One
can hardly help being awed at the thought of the genius and
fascination of the young man whom the gifted and fastidious Shelley

The pilgrim of eternity, whose fame
Over his living head, like heaven, is bent--
An early but enduring monument.

Perhaps his better traits nowhere shine out with such steady lustre
as in the constancy of glowing tenderness with which, in all his
wanderings, woes, and glory, he cherished the love of his sister
Augusta, Mrs. Leigh. She remained unalterably attached to him through
the dreadful storm of unpopularity which drove him out of England.
With what convulsive gratitude he appreciated her fond fidelity, he
has expressed with that passionate richness of power which no other
could ever equal. Four of his most splendid poems were composed for
her and addressed to her. In the one beginning, "When all around grew
drear and dark," he says,

When fortune changed, and love fled far,
And hatred's shafts flew thick and fast,
Thou wert the solitary star
Which rose, and set not to the last.

The wonderful verses commencing,

Though the day of my destiny's over,
And the star of my fate hath declined,
Thy soft heart refused to discover
The faults which so many could find,

wring the very soul by their intensity of feeling condensed into
language of such vigor and such melody.

From the wreck of the past, which hath perished,
Thus much I at least may recall:
It hath taught me that what I most cherished
Deserved to be dearest of all.
In the desert a fountain is springing,
In the wide waste there still is a tree,
And a bird in the solitude singing,
Which speaks to my spirit of thee.

To her he sent one of the first presentation copies of "Childe
Harold," with this inscription: "To Augusta, my dearest sister and
my best friend, who has ever loved me much better than I deserved,
this volume is presented by her father's son and most affectionate
brother." He wrote to her those expressions of love beginning,

The castled crag of Drachenfels
Frowns o'er the wide and winding Rhine;

and ending,

Nor could on earth a spot be found
To nature and to me so dear,
Could thy dear eyes,
In following mine,
Still sweeten more
These banks of Rhine,

expressions so transcendently fond and earnest in their beauty,
that it is a thrilling luxury to linger on them, return to them,
and repeat them over and over.

One of the finest and richest productions of his genius, both in
thought and in passion, is the poem he wrote to her when he was
living at Diodati, on the banks of Leman.

My sister, my sweet sister! if a name
Dearer and purer were, it should be thine.
Mountains and seas divide us; but I claim
No tears, but tenderness to answer mine.
Go where I will, to me thou art the same,
A loved regret which I would not resign.
There yet are two things in my destiny,
A world to roam through, and a home with thee.

I feel almost, at times, as I have felt
In happy childhood: trees and flowers and brooks,
Which do remember me of where I dwelt
Ere my young mind was sacrificed to books;
Come as of yore upon me, and can melt
My heart with recognition of their looks;
And even, at moments, I could think I see
Some living thing to love, but none like thee.

Oh that thou wert but with me! but I grow
The fool of my own wishes, and forget
The solitude which I have vaunted so
Has lost its praise in this but one regret.

The last intelligible words of Byron were,
"Augusta, Ada, my sister, my child."

It would be hard to find a friendship more deeply rooted, more
inclusive of the lives of the parties, proof against terrible
trials, full of quiet fondness and substantial devotion, than that
of Charles Lamb and his sister Mary. The earliest written
expression of this attachment occurs in a sonnet "To my Sister,"
composed by Charles in a lucid interval, when he was confined in
the asylum at Hoxton for the six weeks of his single attack of

Thou to me didst ever show
Kindest affection; and wouldst oft-times lend
An ear to the desponding love-sick lay,
Weeping my sorrows with me, who repay
But ill the mighty debt of love I owe,
Mary, to thee, my sister and my friend.

Mary was ten years older than Charles, and, as is shown well in
Talfourd's "Final Memorials," loved him with an affection combining a
mother's care, a sister's tenderness, and a friend's fervent
sympathy. Nor did he, in return, fall short in any respect. He
appreciated her devotion, pitied her sorrow, responded to her
feelings, revered her worth, and ministered to her wants with a
loving gentleness, a patient self-sacrifice, and an heroic fortitude,
which, as we gaze on his image, make the halo of the saint and the
crown of the martyr alternate with the wrinkles of his weaknesses and
his mirth. In one of her periodical paroxysms of madness, Mary struck
her mother dead with a knife. Charles was then twenty-two, full of
hope and ambition, enthusiastically attached to Coleridge, and in
love with a certain "fair-haired maid," named Anna, to whom he had
written some verses. This fearful tragedy altered and sealed his
fate. He felt it to be his duty to devote himself thenceforth to his
unhappy sister. He abandoned every thought of marriage, gave up his
dreams of fame, and turned to his holy charge, with a chastened but
resolute soul. "She for whom he gave up all," De Vincy says, "in turn
gave up all for him. And of the happiness, which for forty years or
more he had, no hour seemed true that was not derived from her." He
never thought his sacrifice of youth and love gave him any license
for caprice towards her or exactions from her. He always wrote of her
as his better self, his wiser self, a generous benefactress, of whom
he was hardly worthy. "Of all the people I ever saw in the world, my
poor sister is the most thoroughly devoid of the least tincture of
selfishness." He was happy when she was well and with him. His great
sorrow was to be obliged so often to part from her on the recurrences
of her attacks. "To say all that I know of her would be more than I
think anybody could believe or even understand. It would be sinning
against her feelings to go about to praise her; for I can conceal
nothing I do from her. All my wretched imperfections I cover to
myself by resolutely thinking on her goodness. She would share life
and death, heaven and hell, with me. She lives but for me." Their
hearts and lives were blended for forty years. Mary was unconscious
at the time of her brother's death, and the blow was mercifully
deadened in her gradual recovery. In her sunset walks she would
invariably lead her friends towards the churchyard where Charles was
laid. Their common friend Moxon paints the touching scene:

Here sleeps beneath this bank, where daisies grow,
The kindliest sprite earth holds within her breast.
Her only mate is now the minstrel lark,
Save she who comes each evening, ere the bark
Of watch-dog gathers drowsy folds, to shed
A sister's tears.

Eleven years later, this memorable friendship, so sacred to all who
knew it, was consummated for earth, as a few reverential survivors
entered the shadow of Edmonton Church, and, coming away, left Mary
and Charles Lamb sleeping in the same grave.

The union of Felix and Fanny Mendelssohn was something wonderful,
like the wonderful genius of sensibility and music which endowed them
both. Such pure, tender, and noble souls are made for each other. The
more fervid and exacting bonds of marriage and parentage did not
interfere with the profound sympathy in which they lived, both when
together and when apart. They corresponded in music. Their emotions,
too deep and strange to be conveyed in words, like articulate
thoughts, they expressed in tones. Seating themselves at their
instruments, they would for hours carry on an intercourse perfectly
intelligible to each other, and more adequate and delicious than any
vocal conversation. When Felix, at Naples, at Rome, or in London,
sent to Fanny a letter composed in notes, she translated it first
with her eyes, then with her piano. The most charming transcripts of
these affectionate and musical souls were thus made in music. Sweeter
or more divinely gifted beings have rarely appeared on this earth.
Their relations of spirit were sensitive and organic, far beneath the
reach of intellectual consciousness. They seemed able to communicate
tidings through the ethereal medium by some subtile telegraphy of
feeling, which transcends understanding, and belongs to a miraculous
region of life. For, when Fanny died in her German home, Felix,
amidst a happy company in England, suddenly aware of some terrible
calamity, from the disturbance of equilibrium and dread sinking of
his soul, rushed to the piano, and poured out his anguish in an
improvisation of wailing and mysterious strains, which held the
assembly spell-bound and in tears. In a few days a letter reached
him, announcing that his sister had died at that very hour. On
receiving the tidings, he uttered a shriek, and the shock was so
great as to burst a blood-vessel in his brain. Life had no charm
potent enough to stanch and heal the cruel laceration left in his
already failing frame by this sundering blow. The web of torn fibrils
bled invisibly. He soon faded away, and followed his sister to a
world of finer melody, fitted for natures like theirs.

One of the noblest and wisest of the American poets the pure, brave,
and devout Whittier had a sister who was to him very much what
Dorothy was to Wordsworth. Several of her poems are printed with his.
They always lived together; they studied together, rambled together,
had a large share of their whole consciousness together. After her
death, sitting alone in his wintry cottage, he said to a friend who
was visiting him, that, since she was gone, to whose faithful taste
and judgment he had been wont to submit all he wrote, he could hardly
tell of a new production whether it were good or poor. He also said
that the sad measure of his love for her was the vacancy which her
departure had left. He has paid her, in his "Snow-Bound," this
tribute, which will draw readers as long as loving hearts are left in
his land:

As one who held herself a part
Of all she saw, and let her heart
Gainst the household bosom lean,
Upon the motley-braided mat
Our youngest and our dearest sat,
Lifting her large, sweet, asking eyes,
Now bathed within the fadeless green
And holy peace of Paradise.
Oh! looking from some heavenly hill,
Or from the shade of saintly palms,
Or silver reach of river calms,
Do those large eyes behold me still?
With me one little year ago: The chill
weight of the winter snow
For months upon her grave has lain;
And now, when summer south-winds blow
And brier and harebell bloom again,
I tread the pleasant paths we trod,
I see the violet-sprinkled sod
Whereon she leaned, too frail and weak
The hillside flowers she loved to seek,
Yet following me where'er I went,
With dark eyes full of love's content.
The birds are glad; the brier-rose fills
The air with sweetness; all the hills
Stretch green to June's unclouded sky;
But still I wait with ear and eye
For something gone which should be nigh,
A loss in all familiar things,
In flower that blooms, and bird that sings.
And yet, dear heart! remembering thee,
Am I not richer than of old?
Safe in thy immortality,
What change can reach the wealth I hold?
What chance can mar the pearl and gold
Thy love hath left in trust with me?
And while in life's late afternoon,
Where cool and long the shadows grow,
I walk to meet the night that soon
Shall shape and shadow overflow,
I cannot feel that thou art far,
Since near at need the angels are;
And when the sunset gates unbar,
Shall I not see thee waiting stand,
And, white against the evening star,
The welcome of thy beckoning hand?

One more instance of intense friendship between a brother and a
sister and it is one of the most interesting that history reveals to
us shall close this list. Maurice de Guérin was born in Languedoc, in
France, in the year 1811; and there also, in 1839, he died. Although
snatched away at twenty-eight, his fascinating personality and genius
left an indelible impression on all appreciative persons who had come
in contact with him. His writings, few and unelaborate as they are,
have won admiring praise from the judges whose verdict is fame. His
sister Eugénie, six years older than himself, took the place of
mother as well as that of sister to the orphan boy. He was not more
extraordinary for winsomeness and talent than she was for combined
power of intelligence, tenacity of affection, and religiousness of
principle. They became ardent friends, in the most emphatic meaning
of the term. Maurice went to Paris to try his fortune as a writer.
Eugénie's yearning and anxious heart followed him in rapid letters.
She tells him how they whom he has left all love him, encourages him
with virtue and piety, adjures him to be true to his best self. She
says to him, with the irresistible eloquence of the heart, "We see
things with the same eyes: what you find beautiful, I find beautiful.
God has made our souls of one piece." Maurice's replies were shorter
and rarer. It is evident, the reader feels it with a pang of regret,
that Eugénie was much less to Maurice than he was to her; and yet he
loved her well. But man's love is usually poor compared with woman's;
and he was in the throngs of Paris, she in the solitude of a country
home. He fell away from his original purity and constancy, lost his
religious faith for a season, and seemed almost to forget those who
idolized him with such deep fondness. Was he not one of the charmers,
who are so much to others, but to whom others are in return
comparatively so little?

Falling ill, he revisited home, and by the stainless affections,
unwearied attentions, and devout routine there, was restored in soul
as well as in body. When, not long afterwards, he had fallen in love
with a West-Indian lady, a beautiful Creole, Eugénie went to him in
Paris, and devoted herself sedulously to promote the marriage. It was
brought about, and she spent a happy six months with the wedded pair.
After her return to Languedoc, we find her writing in her journal,
"My Maurice, must it be our lot to live apart? to find that this
marriage, which I hoped would keep us so much together, leaves us
more asunder than ever? I have the misfortune to be fonder of you
than of any thing else in the world, and my heart had from of old
built in you its happiness. Youth gone, and life declining, I looked
forward to quitting the scene with Maurice. At any time of life, a
great affection is a great happiness: the spirit comes to take refuge
in it entirely. Oh, delight and joy, which will never be your
sister's portion! Only in the direction of God shall I find an issue
for my heart to love, as it has the notion of loving, and as it has
the power of loving."

Two months after these pathetic words were written, Maurice died, of
a rapid consumption, in his father's house, ministered to by his wife
and sisters with infinite tenderness and agonizing despair. In the
last moment, his sister says, "He glued his lips to a cross that his
wife held out to him, then sank: we all fell to kissing him, and he
to dying." The shock came upon Eugénie with crushing severity. Ever
after, she was haunted by the memory of "his beloved, pale face,"
"his beautiful head." Long afterwards, she wrote, "The whole of to-day
I see pass and repass before me that dear, pale face: that
beautiful head assumes all its various aspects in my memory, smiling,
eloquent, suffering, dying." "Poor, beloved soul," she says, "you
have had hardly any happiness here below: your life has been so
short, your repose so rare, O God! uphold me. How we have gazed at
him and loved him and kissed him, his wife and we, his sisters; he
lying lifeless in his bed, his head on the pillow as if he were
asleep! My beloved one, can it be, shall we never see each other
again on earth?"

Five years previous to her brother's death, Eugénie had begun a
journal, which she forwarded to him from time to time. After the
funeral, she tried to continue this, addressing it still to him: "To
Maurice dead, to Maurice in heaven. He was the pride and joy of my
heart. Oh, how sweet a name, and how full of tenderness, is that of
brother!" She persevered for five months, when it became too painful,
and she abandoned it. From this time till death overtook her, in the
year 1848, she seemed to have but one purpose; namely, to secure
Maurice's fame by the publication of his literary remains. Poverty
and various other obstacles baffled all her efforts. But, in 1858, M.
Trebutien, a loving and faithful friend, edited and published, in a
single volume, the "Journal and Letters of Maurice de Guérin;" and,
five years later, he published, in a companion volume, the "Journal
and Letters of Eugénie de Guérin." The striking original genius and
worth of these volumes, and the enviable praise already awarded them,
insure for their authors a beautiful and enduring fame together. As
long as the words of this devoted sister shall win the attention of
gentle readers, tears will spring into their eyes, and a throb of
pitying love fill their hearts with pleasing pain. "My soul slips
easily into thee, O soul of my brother!" "We were two eyes looking
out of one forehead." "My thought was only a reflex of my brother's;
so vivid when he was there, then changing into twilight, and now
gone." "O beautiful past days of my youth, with Maurice, the king of
my heart!" "I am on the horizon of death: he is below it. All that I
can do is to strain my gaze into it."


THE friendships between persons of opposite sex, thus far considered,
spring up under the primary impulse of consanguinity, and embroider
themselves around the fostering relations of natural duty. Based on
affiliation of descent, organic community of circumstances, and
mixture of experience, and sanctioned by the most authoritative seals
of social opinion, they are, when not impoverished or poisoned by any
evil interference, warm, precious, and sacred. The strongest
preventives of their frequency and the commonest drawbacks from their
power are the dullness which creeps over all emotions under the
dominion of passive habit, and the tendency to look elsewhere for
more vivid attachments, more exciting associations.

But there is another class of friendships, more important in
influence, if not in number, having also the highest sanctions both
of law and of custom, and marked by such peculiarities that they
constitute a species by themselves. It consists of the friendships
which grow up between husbands and wives, within the shielded
enclosure of matrimony. The community of interests between those
united in wedlock if they are married in truth as well as in form is
the most intimate and entire that can exist.

Their unqualified surrender and blending of lives, unreserved
confidence and conjunction of hearts, afford, on the one hand, the
most hazardous, on the other hand, the most propitious, conditions
for a perfect mutual reflection of souls with all their contents.
Nowhere else has knowledge such free scope, have the inducements for
esteem or contempt such unhampered range, as in this relation. The
inmost secrets of the parties are always exposed to revelation or to
betrayal. Hypocrisy and deception are reduced to the narrowest
limits. Accordingly, both the most absolute antagonism and misery,
and the most absolute sympathy and happiness, are known in the
conjugal union. Milton puts in the mouth of Samson a fearful
expression of the former:

To wear out miserable days, Intangled with a poisonous bosom snake.

Of the latter we have an affecting instance in the historic narrative
of that Italian Countess del Verme, who, losing her husband after an
elysian union for eight years, was so shocked on learning his death,
that she threw herself on his body in a convulsion of grief which
broke her heart, and she instantly died beside him.

Are the parties selfish, unfeeling, ungenuine? Every possible
opportunity is afforded for the base and alien qualities to recognize
each other, and clash or effervesce. Is one wise, aspiring,
magnanimous? the other, foolish, vulgar, revengeful? The yoke, pulled
contrary ways, must gall and irritate. Then the fellowship of husband
and wife is like that of acid and alkali. But, if they are filled
with consecrating tenderness, sweet patience, and earnest purposes,
all possible motives urge them to adjust their characters and conduct
to each other; to tune their intercourse by heavenly laws; to mingle
their experience in one blessed current; to soothe, support, and
beautify each other's being. Then there results a union, including
every faculty, satisfying every want, unparalleled for its integrity
and its blessedness. In such cases as this, it may truly be said,
marriage is the queen of all friendships.

A beautiful example of such a union is unveiled, in the tribute paid
to his wife, by Sir James Mackintosh. He says, "I found an
intelligent companion and a tender friend, a prudent monitress, the
most faithful of wives, and a mother as tender as children ever had
the misfortune to lose. I met a woman, who, by tender management of
my weaknesses, gradually corrected the most pertinacious of them. She
became prudent from affection; and, though of the most generous
nature, she was taught frugality and economy by her love for me. She
gently reclaimed me from dissipation, propped my weak and irresolute
nature, urged my indolence to all the exertion that has been useful
and creditable to me, and was perpetually at hand to admonish my
heedlessness or improvidence. In her solicitude for my interest, she
never for a moment forgot my feelings or character. Even in her
occasional resentment, for which I but too often gave her cause,
(would to God I could recall those moments!) she had no sullenness or
acrimony. Such was she whom I have lost, when her excellent natural
sense was rapidly improving, after eight years' struggle and distress
had bound us fast together and moulded our tempers to each other;
when a knowledge of her worth had refined my youthful love into
friendship, and before age had deprived it of much of its original

It is to be presumed that those who enter into a relation with each
other on which so much of their destiny is staked, take the step
under the influence of love. And by love the love which looks to a
conjugal union is to be understood a general movement of personal
sympathy, imparting a special richness and intensity to the
imagination in its action toward the individuals concerned, and thus
giving each of them a genial and generous idea of the other to govern
their mutual references; the whole operation being animated and
emphasized, more or less prominently, by the impulse of sex. The idea
of each other with which the wedded pair begin their union, an idea
ennobled and vivified by imagination, and serving as the basis and
stimulus of their love, may be largely made up of illusions, or may
be sound, though inadequate. In the former case, one of three results
will follow, either, as the poetic illusions are dispelled, and the
fancied charms of the soul are replaced by barren poverty or haggard
ugliness, the ardor of affection will be reversed by disappointment
and friction into antipathy, engendering a chronic state, sometimes
of fierce hatred, sometimes of sullen dislike; or that affection,
robbed of its moral supports, admiration, gratitude, faith, and
desire, will subside into a condition of spiritual tedium, unnoticing
routine; or else, the imaginative element dying out, while the sexual
element retains or perhaps even exaggerates its force, love will
degenerate into lust. These three results depict the real union
subsisting between three classes of husbands and wives, when the
hymeneal glow has passed, and fixed realities assert their sway. The
first is a hideous association of enemies, a yoked animosity; the
second, a lukewarm connection of colleagues, an external partnership;
the third, a convenient alliance of pleasure seekers, an animal

But that imaginative stir which lends such ardor and elevation to the
honeymoon period is not always a fermentation of happy error. It is
many times a fruition of beauty and good, resting on a perception of
realities, growing greater, lovelier, more efficacious, with the
growing powers and opportunities for appreciation. In these cases,
where the divine bias which causes the newly wedded twain to put a
beautiful interpretation on all the signs of each other's being
depends not on illusion, but originates in truth, and where no fatal
alloy or shock interferes to destroy it, the blessed affection in
which they live together, instead of souring into aversion,
stagnating into indifference, or sinking to a baser level than it
began on, will naturally triumph over other changes, and grow more
comprehensive and noble, as enlarged experiences disclose vaster
grounds for justifying it, and furnish finer stimulants to feed it.
In such instances, the beautifying tinges of romance, that streak and
flush the horizon, neither fade into the grayness of fact, nor die
into the darkness of neglect, but now broaden and deepen into the
blue of meridian assurance, now clarify and ascend into the starlight
of faith and mystery. The conditions that originally inspired the
confiding and admiring sympathy become, with the lapse of time and
the progress of acquaintance, more pronounced and more adequate, and
insure a union ever fonder and more blunt. A husband and wife so
united generally remain a pair of lovers, but sometimes become a pair
of friends. Which of these two names is most descriptive of the union
depends on the relative space held in it by the element of sense and
sex. With some this ingredient is so important, that it infuses its
quality into their very thoughts, and gives the distinctive character
of love to their whole relation. With others this feature in the
marriage fellowship becomes relatively less as the heyday of youth
subsides, and the moral and mental bonds become more various and
extensive. The physical tie, however vital, is insignificant in
comparison with the entire web of their conscious ties. Love is
included in their whole relation, as a rivulet threading a lake. This
subordination of the stream to the lake is surest to take place with
those in whom pure mind most predominates, whose spirit is least
roiled by the perturbation of the senses. With such it is almost a
necessity, when hate or indifference does not intervene, that love
should refine into friendship. As the ferment of passion ceases, the
lees settle, and a transparent sympathy appears, reflecting all
heavenly and eternal things.

As an example of the transmutation of passion into sentiment, of
impulse into principle, of feverish flame into calm fire, we may
instance the Greek Pericles and Aspasia, who were friends even more
than lovers, their intellectual companionship and common pursuit of
culture being one of the precious traditions of humanity. Grote,
whose learning, ability, and fairness give weight to his opinion,
affirms his belief that the vile charges brought against Aspasia were
the offspring of lying gossip and scandal. The estimate of her
talents and accomplishments was so high that the authorship of the
greatest speech ever delivered by Pericles was attributed to her. She
is also particularly interesting to us as the first woman who kept an
open parlor for the visits of chosen friends and the culture of
conversation, as the earliest queen of the drawing room. Her house
was the centre of the highest literary and philosophical society of
Athens. Socrates himself was a constant visitor there. There too, as
Plutarch asserts, many of the most distinguished Athenian matrons
were wont to go with their husbands for the pleasure and profit of
her conversation.

In Roman history we may point to Brutus and his heroic Portia, who
was fully capable of entering into all his counsels, dangers, and
hopes, and, when he fell, of dying as became the daughter of Cato.
The characters of the noble and Arria were likewise in perfect
accord, in their high strains of wisdom, valor, and virtue; and when
the brutal emperor, Claudius, commanded the death of her husband, the
wife, stabbing herself, handed him the dagger, with the immortal
words, "Brutus, it does not hurt."

Seneca and his Paulina were bound together by community of tastes and
acquirements, and unbroken happiness. He asks, "What can be sweeter
than to be so dear to your wife that it makes you dearer to
yourself?" When the tyrant ordered the philosopher to commit suicide,
his wife insisted on opening her veins, and dying with him. After
long resistance, he consented, saying, "I will not deprive you of the
honor of so noble an example." But Nero would not allow her to die
thus, and had her veins bound up; not, however, until she had lost so
much blood that her blanched face, for the rest of her days, gave
rise to the well known rhetorical comparison, "as pale as Seneca's

Calpurnia, likewise, the wife of the younger Pliny, was identified
with her husband in all his studies, ambitions, triumphs. She
fashioned herself after his pattern, knew his works by heart, sang
his verses, listened behind a screen to his public speeches, drinking
in the applauses lavished on him. We may justly infer from the whale
character of the "Letter of Consolation," which he wrote to her, on
occasion of the death of their beloved daughter, Timoxena, that a
relation similar to the one just mentioned subsisted between Plutarch
and his wife.

By friendship in marriage is meant companionship of inner lives,
community of aims and efforts, the lofty concord of aspiring minds.
These are comparatively few, as made known to us in classic
antiquity, owing to the jealous separation of the sexes in social
life, that strict subjection of woman to man, which was
characteristic of the ancient world. If we were thinking of wedded
love instead of wedded friendship, it would be easy to cull a host of
affecting and imposing instances: such as, the Hebrew Rebekah and
Rachel; the Greek Alcestis; the Hindu Savitri; the Persian Pantheia;
and a glorious crowd of Roman matrons, like Lucretia, who have left a
renown as grand and deathless as the memory of Rome itself.

The modern examples of fortunate friendship in marriage are more
numerous than the ancient ones. Two delightful instances,
particularly worthy of study, have been so fully described by Mrs.
Jameson as to make superfluous any thing more than a slight allusion
here. The first of these pairs is the early English poet, William
Habington, and his Castara. Habington collected and published, in two
rich parts, the poems he wrote to Castara before and after his
marriage, and added a preface full of choice thought and heartfelt
emotion. By her husband's pen,

Castara's name
Is writ as fair in the register of fame
As the ancient beauties, which translated are,
By poets, up to heaven, each there a star.

The illustrious Roman lawyer, Giambattista Zappi, and Faustina
Maratti were the other pair alluded to, whose wedded love was crowned
with a superior friendship. Zappi is celebrated for his sublime
sonnet on the Moses of Michael Angelo. But the most of his verses
were inspired by his wife, and dedicated to her. Her verses were
almost exclusively inspired by her husband, and dedicated to him.
Their works are published together in one volume.

Roland, the famous Girondist minister, a man of marked abilities and
incorruptible integrity, married the gifted and high souled Jeanne
Philippon a short time before the outbreak of the French Revolution.
He was twenty two years her senior. Her love for him, founded on his
philosophic spirit and antique virtues, was so ardent and so faithful
that she has often been called "the Heloise of the eighteenth
century." Their principles, their souls, their hopes, their toils and
sufferings, were alike and inseparable. They hailed the early efforts
of the Revolutionists as the dawn of a golden age for mankind. Madame
Roland shared in the studies of her husband, aided him in his
compositions, and served as his sole secretary during his two
ministries. No intrigue of his party was unknown to her, or
uninfluenced by her genius. Yet no falsehood or trickery debased, no
meanness sullied her. "She was the angel of the cause she espoused,
the soul of honor, and the conscience of all who embraced it." When
Robespierre overthrew the Girondists, Roland, with others of his
party, saved his life by a flight to Rouen. His wife was soon
sentenced to death by the infamous Fouquier Tinville. She rode to the
guillotine clad in white, her glossy black hair hanging down to her
girdle, and embraced her fate with divine courage and dignity.
Hearing the direful news, Roland walked a few miles out of Rouen, and
deliberately killed himself with his cane sword. His body was found
by the roadside, with a paper containing his last words: "Whoever
thou art that findest these remains, respect them as those of a man
who consecrated his life to usefullness, and who dies, as he has
lived, honest and virtuous. Hearing of the death of my wife, I would
not remain another day on this earth so stained with crimes."

All appreciative readers of the works and the life of Herder
gratefully associate his Caroline with their recollections of him.
Under the stress of his many sore trials, this great, vexed,
struggling, sorrowing man would have succumbed to his afflictions,
and entered the grave much earlier than he did, if it had not been
for the solace and strength his wife gave him at home; and not a
little of his present celebrity is due to the devoted energy of pride
and affection with which she labored to have justice done to his
writings and his memory.

A spotless and exalted pair of friends look out of English history at
us, in the faces of John and Lucy Hutchinson. He was governor of
Nottingham, and one of the judges of Charles I. In her widowhood,
Lady Hutchinson drew that wonderful portrait of her husband which has
been styled the most perfect piece of biography ever penned by a

John Austin, under crushing burdens and amidst freezing neglect,
wrought out the profoundest exposition of jurisprudence which exists
in the English language. His wife, Sarah Austin, distinguished for
her early importation and unveiling of German literature to the
English mind, was every thing to him that a tender, wise, and strong
friend could be. In the prefaces to her publications of his
posthumous works, the discerning reader may trace, through the modest
concealment, something of one of the purest, deepest, most steadfast
of those friendships which adorn while they enrich the annals of
human nature.

One shrinks from the indelicacy of alluding to persons still living,
and yet can hardly help suggesting what a friendship there must have
been in the union of such scholars, thinkers, poets, aspirants, as
Robert and Elizabeth Barrett Browning. But space would fail for a
list of the royal friendships of this class revealed in literary
records. And, for every example published, there must obviously be a
multitude, quite as sweet and grand, which are hidden in purely
private life.

Leopold Schefer, the serene and lofty author of the "Layman's
Breviary," that charming work just published in our country in the
fine translation of Charles T. Brooks, lost his wife in the twenty
fifth year of their marriage. What a friend he had in her appears
from the simple words, surcharged with feeling, in which he speaks of
her. He writes, "Only a single unconquerable sorrow has smitten me in
all my life, the death of the still soul with whom life, for the
first time, was to me a life. Nor have I had any other troubles.
People who make trouble for themselves, and in an unappeased spirit
find an everlasting misery, may properly call me still a fortunate
man. But, though outwardly as much grass should grow over her grave
as ever can grow in long desolated days and nights, inwardly no grass
grows over a real life annihilating grief. One gets re adjusted with
the world; but, after all, he goes at last with an open wound into
the grave. Believe me in this."

An example yet more recent has obtained such a monumental
recognition, that mention of it is not here to be avoided. John
Stuart Mill dedicates his imperishable "Essay on Liberty" to his
deceased wife in these terms:

"To the beloved and deplored memory of her who was the inspirer, and
in part the author, of all that is best in my writings, the friend
and wife whose exalted sense of truth and right was my strongest
incitement, and whose approbation was my chief reward, I dedicate
this volume. Like all that I have written for many years, it belongs
as much to her as to me; but the work, as it stands, has had, in a
very insufficient degree, the inestimable advantage of her revision;
some of the most important portions having been reserved for a more
careful re examination, which they are now never destined to receive.
Were I but capable of interpreting to the world one half the great
thoughts and noble feelings which are buried in her grave, I should
be the medium of a greater benefit to it than is ever likely to arise
from any thing that I can write unprompted and unassisted by her all
but unrivalled wisdom."

The conditions favoring the formation of a consummate friendship
between husband and wife meet in fortunate combination in two classes
of instances.

In the first, the sovereignty is the bond of a common nobleness; in
the second, the bond of a common ambition. The united worship of
truth, beauty, goodness, make, it is to be hoped, the most absolute
friends of unnumbered wedded pairs. One adoring pursuit of
excellence, one devout trust in God, one happy aiming at perfection,
draws their noblest activities into unison, free from the impediments
of selfishness and suspicion. Under the over arching sanctions of
Divinity, knowing each other to be worthy and true, they confide in
each other with the sympathy of a total esteem, based on a common
devotion to the supreme prizes of the universe, whose reflected
lustre already transfigures their spirits and sanctifies their
persons in each other's eyes.

Many a husband and wife are also made friends, above all their mere
love, by sharing in some earnest and condign social ambition. How
many a man of genius has been chiefly indebted for his achievements
to the wife who has sedulously identified herself with his success,
ever at his side, unseen perhaps by the world, studying his art,
lightening his tasks, soothing his pride, healing his hurts,
stimulating his confidence, baffling his enemies, gaining him patrons
or allies, assuaging his falls, refreshing his energy for new trials,
and, when he has triumphed, and is applauded on his eminence,
silently drinking in, as her reward, the popular admiration bestowed
on him.

This intense co operation and struggle towards an outer goal, when
unneutralized, produces that wondrous identification which is the
type of complete friendship. A crowd of the most brilliant artists,
authors, statesmen, might each point to his wife, and say, "To that
bosom friend, to that guardian angel, to her quick intelligence,
unfailing consolation, steady stimulus, I principally owe, under
Heaven, what I am and what I have done." Many beautiful delineations
of this fact have been given in fiction. The picture of Lord and Lady
Davenant, in Miss Edgeworth's "Helen," is worthy of particular
mention as a picture drawn to the life.

Nothing in fiction, however, is finer or more commanding, as an
example of the true relation of the sexes, than is afforded in real
life by the biography of Lord William and Lady Russell. Every such
historic instance has a benign lesson for our time, in which, it is
to be feared, many bad influences are working with fatal effect,
temporarily at least, to lessen the attractions and undermine the
sanctity of marriage, Guizot ends his beautiful and noble essay on
the married life of Lord and Lady Russell with this impressive

"I have felt profound pleasure in relating the history of this lady,
so pure in her passion, always great and always humble in her
greatness, devoted with equal ardor to her feelings and her duties in
grief and joy, in triumph and adversity. Our times are attacked with
a deplorable malady: men believe only in the passion which is
attended with moral derangement. All ardent, exalted, and soul
mastering sentiments appear to them impossible within the bounds of
moral laws and social conventions. All order seems to them a
paralyzing yoke, all submission a debasing servitude: no flame is any
thing, if it is not a devouring conflagration. This disease is the
graver because it is not the crisis of a fever nor the explosion of
an exuberant force. It springs from perverse doctrines, from the
rejection of law and faith, from the idolatry of man. And with this
disease there is joined another no less lamentable: man not only
adores nothing but himself, but even himself he adores only in the
multitude where all men are confounded. He hates and envies every
thing that rises above the vulgar level: all superiority, all
individual grandeur, seems to him an iniquity, an injury towards that
chaos of undistinguished and ephemeral beings whom he calls humanity.
When we have been assailed by these base doctrines, and the shameful
passions which give birth to or are born from them; when we have felt
the hatefullness of them, and measured the peril, it is a lively
delight to meet with one of those noble examples which are their
splendid confutation. In proportion as I respect humanity in its
totality, I admire and love those glorified images of humanity which
personify and set on high, under visible features and with a proper
name, whatever it has of most noble and most pure. Lady Russell gives
the soul this beautiful and virtuous joy."

It is fitting, in the next place, to say something of the
disappointment and wretchedness which so many married men and women
notoriously experience in their relations with each other. It may be
useful to state the principal causes of this unhappiness, and to give
some definite directions in the way of remedy. Absence of love,
absence of reason, absence of justice, absence of taste, in other
words, harshness and neglect, silliness and frivolity, vice and
crime, vulgarity and slovenliness, are the leading and inevitable
creators of alienation, dislike, and misery in marriage. Whatever
tends to increase these tends to multiply separations and divorces
between those who cannot endure each other; and to multiply
irritations, quarrels, sorrows, and agonies between those who may
endure, but cannot enjoy, each other. In marriage, the intimacy is so
great and constant that the slightest friction easily becomes
galling. Nowhere beside is there such need of magnanimous forbearance
in one, or else of equality of worth and refinement in both. "Love
does not secure happiness in marriage, often the contrary: reason is
necessary." So said the wise Jean Paul. He also said, "The best man
joined with the worst woman has a greater hell than the best woman
joined with the worst man." This is, no doubt, true as a general
rule, because woman is so much more capable than man of self
abnegation, silent patience, meek submission, and flexible adjustment
to inevitable circumstances. Probably the women who keenly and
chronically suffer from unhappy marriages are far more numerous than
the kindred sufferers of the other sex. This is because they are more
deeply susceptible to cruelty and indifference and to all the
repulsive traits of character; are less capable of ignoring such
things; have less of absorbing occupation of their own to take up
their attention, and are less able to be absorbed in things beyond
the personal and domestic sphere. There are unquestionably thousands
of married women whose experience is made a living martyrdom by the
infidelity, the tyranny, the coarseness, the general odiousness and
wearisomeness of their husbands. In most cases, even where a divorce
is wished, the shocking public scandal and disgrace are too much; and
they wear on to the end. What misery delicate and conscientious
women, of dedicated souls and polished manners, who love every thing
that is pure and beautiful, are compelled to undergo in their bondage
to husbands, ignorant, uninteresting, ignoble, relentlessly
domineering, is not to be expressed. Their best weapons in such
cases, if they knew it, are gentleness, patience, persuasion, and the
skilful use of every means to improve and uplift their unequal
companions to their own level. The Persian poet expressed a rich
truth when he wrote, "Gentleness is the sail on the table of morals."
It is a tragedy that the good wife of a bad husband is so identified
with him, that the penalties of his offences fall on her head, often
more terribly than on his. A pure woman loving a wicked man must
expect to have her affections ravaged by his sins: does not the
lightning drawn by the rod blast the innocent ivy entwining it? What
lacerating woes the gambler, the drunkard, the forger, the adulterer,
inflicts on his wife!

And yet, profound as is the misfortune, sharp as is the suffering of
such, it may be doubted whether a noble, sensitive, cultivated man,
with a yearning heart of softness and peace, a capacious mind full of
grand aspirations, married, by some fatal chance, to a woman with a
petty soul, a teasing and tyrannical temper, a mendacious and rasping
tongue, whose taste is for small gossip and scandal, whose ambition
is for fashionable show and noise, whose life is one incessant fret
and sting, it may be doubted if this man's lot is not severer with
his ill matched consort than hers would be with the worst husband in
the world. He had better marry a vinegar cruet than such a Tartar.
When weary and seeking to rest, to be roused up by a scolding; when
searching for truth, or contemplating beauty, or communing with God,
or aspiring to perfection, or scheming some vast good for mankind, to
be aggravated by abuse, insulted by false charges, dragged down to
petty interests which he despises, and mixed up with wrongs and
passions which he loathes, these degrading injuries, these wasteful
vexations, are what he must endure. No wonder if he vehemently
resents a treatment so incongruous with his worth. No wonder if,
vexed, hurt, goaded half to madness, he gets enraged, and unseemly
contentions ensue, followed by painful depression and remorseful
grief. No wonder if he finds it hard indeed to forget or to forgive
the infliction of an evil so incomparably profound and frightful.
There is, to a high smiled man, no wrong more hurtful or more
difficult to pardon than to have mean motives falsely ascribed to
him, to be placed by misinterpretation on a lower plane than that
where he belongs. Every such experience stabs the moral source of
life, and draws blood from the soul itself. Husband and wife
powerfully tend to a common level and likeness. The higher must
redeem and lift the unequal mate, or live in strife and misery. If
the lower takes pattern after the superior one, the petty, frivolous,
false, and fretful becoming magnanimous, dedicated, truthful, and
serene, it is a divine triumph of grace, and the result will be full
of blessedness. But otherwise a wearing unhappiness is inevitable,
however carefully it be hidden, however bravely it be borne. George
Sand says very strikingly of Rousseau and Therese Levasseur, "His
true fault was in persevering in his attachment for that vulgar
woman, who turned to her own profit the weaknesses of his ill starred
character and his self torturing imagination. One does not with
impunity live in company with a little soul. When one is a Jean
Jacques Rousseau, one does not acquire the faults of littleness, does
not lose his native grandeur; but he feels his genius troubled,
combated, worried, distempered, and he makes a pure loss of immense
efforts to surmount miseries unworthy of him."

Let a husband be the true and pure guardian of his family, laboring
always to adorn himself with the godlike gems of wisdom, virtue, and
honor; let him bear himself in relation to his wife with gracious
kindness towards her faults, with grateful recognition of her merits,
with steady sympathy for her trials, with hearty aid for her better
aspirations, and she must be of a vile stock, if she does not revere
him, and minister unto him with all the graces and sweetness of her

Let a wife, in her whole intercourse with her husband, try the
efficacy of gentleness, purity, sincerity, scrupulous truth, meek and
patient forbearance, an invariable tone and manner of deference, and,
if he is not a brute, he cannot help respecting her and treating her
kindly; and in nearly all instances he will end by loving her and
living happily with her.

But if he is vulgar and vicious, despotic, reckless, so as to have no
devotion for the august prizes and incorruptible pleasures of
existence; if she is an unappeasable termagant, or a petty worrier,
so taken up with trifling annoyances, that, wherever she looks, "the
blue rotunda of the universe shrinks into a housewifery room;" if the
presence of each acts as a morbid irritant on the nerves of the
other, to the destruction of comfort, and the lowering of self
respect, and the draining away of peace and strength, their
companionship must infallibly be a companionship in wretchedness and

The banes of domestic life are littleness, falsity, vulgarity,
harshness, scolding vociferation, an incessant issuing of superfluous
prohibitions and orders, which are regarded as impertinent
interferences with the general liberty and repose, and are
provocative of rankling or exploding resentments. The blessed
antidotes that sweeten and enrich domestic life are refinement, high
aims, great interests, soft voices, quiet and gentle manners,
magnanimous tempers, forbearance from all unnecessary commands or
dictation, and generous allowances of mutual freedom. Love makes
obedience lighter than liberty. Man wears a noble allegiance, not as
a collar, but as a garland. The Graces are never so lovely as when
seen waiting on the Virtues; and, where they thus dwell together,
they make a heavenly home.

No affection, save friendship, has any sure eternity in it.
Friendship ought, therefore, always to be cultivated in love itself,
as its only certain guard and preservative, not less than as the only
sufficing substitute in its absence. A couple joined by love without
friendship, walk on gunpowder with torches in their hands. Shall I
venture to depict the sad decay which love naturally suffers, and the
redemptive transformation which it sometimes undergoes? I will do it
by translating a truthful and eloquent passage from Chateaubriand:

"At first our letters are long, vivid, frequent. The day is not
capacious enough for them. We write at sunset; at moonrise we trace a
few more lines, charging its chaste and silent light to hide our
thousand desires. We watch for the first peep of dawn, to write what
we believe we had forgotten to say in the delicious hours of our
meeting. A thousand vows cover the paper, where all the roses of
aurora are reflected; a thousand kisses are planted on the words,
which seem born from the first glance of the sun. Not an idea, an
image, a reverie, an accident, a disquietude, which has not its
letter. Lo! one morning, something almost imperceptible steals on the
beauty of this passion, like the first wrinkle on the front of an
adored woman. The breath and perfume of love expire in these pages of
youth, as an evening breeze dies upon the flowers. We feel it, but
are unwilling to confess it. Our letters become shorter and fewer,
are filled with news, with descriptions, with foreign matters; and,
if any thing happens to delay them, we are less disturbed. On the
subject of loving and being loved, we have grown reasonable. We
submit to absence without complaint. Our former vows prolong
themselves: here are still the same words; but they are dead. Soul is
wanting in them. I love you is merely an expression of habit, a
necessary form, the I have the honor to be of the love letter. Little
by little the style freezes where it inflamed. The post day, no
longer eagerly anticipated, is rather dreaded; writing has become a
fatigue. We blush to think of the madnesses we have trusted to paper,
and wish we could recall our letters and burn them. What has
happened? Is it a new attachment which begins where an old one ends?
No: it is love dying in advance of the object loved. We are forced to
own that the sentiments of man are subjected to the effects of a
hidden process: the fever of time, which produces lassitude, also
dissipates illusion, undermines our passions, withers our loves, and
changes our hearts even as it changes our locks and our years. There
is but one exception to this human infirmity. There sometimes occurs
in a strong soul a love firm enough to transform itself into
impassioned friendship, so as to become a duty, and appropriate the
qualities of virtue. Then, neutralizing the weakness of nature, it
acquires the immortality of a principle."

Before leaving this part of the theme, it may not be out of place to
express the belief, a belief founded on no hurried inference from a
narrow survey of history, or from a superficial study of the data in
the breast, that the greatest number of examples of the most
impassioned, absorbing, and lasting affection between the sexes have
occurred within the ties of marriage, and not outside of those ties.
More than other kindred relations, these rest on the nourishing basis
of public law and social honor, as well as of personal esteem and
avowed identification of interests. Whatever necessitates secrecy, or
compromises the fullness and frankness of self respect, even if it
give piquancy and fire, takes away moral health, steady integrity;
and inserts an insidious element, either of devouring fever or of
slow decay. Other things being equal, affection, wedded under every
legal and moral sanction, reaches the highest climax and is the most
complete and enduring. Every failure implies some defect in the
conditions. The readiness, in general, of illicit love to admit a
substitute, its facility of consolation and forgetfullness when any
fatal calamity has removed its object, demonstrates both its lower
origin and its baser nature. In a well consorted marriage, the soul,
the mind, esteem and faith, the pure strain of friendship, enter more
largely. The grave is not the boundary of its functions. After death,
the love is cherished in the ideal fife of the mind as vividly as
ever, and with an added sanctity. Widowed memory clings to the
disconsolate happiness of sitting by the fountain of oblivion, and
drawing up the sunken treasure. If, as Statius said, to love the
living be a pleasant indulgence, to love the dead is a religious

Vivam amare, voluptas; defunctam, religio.

A multitude of nameless husbands and wives have experienced this
truth in their bereavement; their love not decaying, but passing into
resurrection. The Hindus have a fine parable of Kamadeva, the eastern
Cupid. He shot Siva, who, turning on him in rage, reduced the
mischievous archer to ashes. All the gods wept over his ashes. Then
he arose in spiritual form, free from every physical trait or
quality. Literature, both eastern and western, ancient and modern,
gives us many instances of conjugal love outliving death, and, in
holy tenderness of dedication, pleasing itself with all kinds of
ideal restorations and celebrations of its object.

When Mausolus, king of Curia, died, his widow, Queen Artemisia,
seemed thenceforth almost wholly absorbed in the memory of him. She
built to him, at Halicarnassus, that magnificent monument, or
mausoleum, which was known as one of the seven wonders of the world,
and which became the generic name for all superb sepulchres. She
employed the most renowned rhetors of the age to immortalize the
glory of her husband, by writing and reciting his praises. At the
consecration of the wondrous fabric which she had reared in his
honor, she offered a prize for the most eloquent eulogy on Mausolus.
All the orators of Greece were invited to the contest. Theopompus
bore off the prize. It is said, that, during the two years by which
she survived her royal spouse, she daily mixed some of his ashes with
her drink, so that, ere their spirits met in Hades, her body was the
tomb of his. Unquestionably there is something greatly overstrained
in this; but the whole story is one of the most signal instances,
handed down from the past, of an intense wedded affection triumphant
over death, and crowning itself with death.

Still more costly honors than Artemisia lavished on her Mausolus, did
the Great Mogul, Shah Jehan, grandson of Akhar and father of
Aurungzebe, pay to his idolized wife, Moomtaza Mahul. She died, in
1631, in giving birth to a daughter. Shah Jehan's love for this
exquisite being appears to have been supreme and irreplaceable. In
her last moments, she made two requests: one, that he would build an
imposing tomb for her; the other, that he would never marry again. He
assented to both requests, and kept his word. His reign was the
culminating period of the prosperity, power, and pomp of the empire.
The gorgeousness of his state beggars description; but those terrible
British, destined to overshadow and destroy it, were already
beginning to get a foothold in India. Little, however, did the
imperial mourner, Shah Jehan, heed them.

He at once set his architects at work, with twenty thousand laborers,
to build over his lost Moomtaza a memorial worthy of her loveliness
and of his grief. For twenty two years they toiled, when, at a cost
equivalent to twenty million dollars now, unveiled from every
disfiguring accompaniment, rose on the banks of the clear blue Jumna,
at Agra, where it still stands to enchant the soul of every traveller
who approaches, the Taj Mahul, the most exquisite building on the
globe, an angelic dream of beauty, materialized, and translated to
earth. It is a romance, at once of oriental royalty, of marriage, and
of the human heart, that the unrivalled pearl of architecture in all
the world should thus be a tomb reared over the body of his wife by
the proudest monarch of the East.

Colonel Sleeman says, "Of no building on earth had I heard so much as
of this; for over five and twenty years, I had been looking forward
to the sight of it. And, from the first glimpse of the dome and
minarets on the distant horizon, to the last glance back from my tent
ropes to the magnificent gateway, I can truly say that every thing
surpassed my expectations. After going repeatedly over every part,
and examining the total view, from every position and in all possible
lights, from that of full moon at midnight in a cloudless sky, to
that of the noonday sun, the mind reposes in the calm persuasion,
that there is an entire harmony of parts, a faultless congregation of
architectural beauties, on which it could dwell for ever without
fatigue; and one leaves it with a feeling of regret that he cannot
have it all his life within his reach, and of assurance that the
image of what he has seen can never be obliterated from his mind
while memory holds her seat."

The quadrangle in which the structure stands is 964 feet one way, 329
the other. The area around is laid out in parterres, planted with
flowers, blossoming shrubs, and cypresses, interlaced by rows of
bubbling fountains, and avenues paved with freestone slabs. The
mausoleum itself, the terrace, and the minarets, are all formed of
the finest white marble, and thickly inlaid with precious stones. The
funeral vault is a miracle of coolness, softness, splendor,
tenderness, and solemnity. Fergusson, the historian of architecture,
says, "No words can express the chastened beauty of that central
chamber, the most graceful and the most impressive of all the
sepulchres of the world." When, in that vault, before the two
sarcophagi containing the bodies of Moomtaza and Shah Jehan, the
priest reads the Koran in a sort of mournful chant, or an attendant
plays with subdued breathings on a flute, the notes are borne up into
the numerous arcades and domes, reduplicated, intermingled, dying
away, fainter and fainter, sweeter and sweeter, until the ravished
hearer, as he departs, can remember no more than that the sounds were
heavenly, and produced a heavenly effect, making him feel, that, if
to die were to listen for ever to those tones, death would be
inconceivable bliss.

Russell, in his "Diary in India," thus records the impression the
scene made on him: "Write a description of the Taj! As well write a
description of that lovely dream which flushed the poet's cheek, or
gently moved the painter's hand, as he lay trembling with delight,
the Endymion of the glorious Art Goddess, who reveals herself and
then floats softly away among the moonbeams and the dew clouds, as he
springs up to grasp the melting form! Here is a dream in marble, the
Taj: solid, permanent; but who, with pen or pencil, can convey to him
who has not seen it the exquisite delight with which the structure
imbues the mind at the first glance, the proportions and the beauty
of this strange loveliness, which rises in the Indian waste, as some
tall palm springs by the fountain in a barren wilderness? It is wrong
to call it a dream in marble: it is a thought, an idea, a conception
of tenderness, a sigh of eternal devotion and love, caught and imbued
with earthly immortality. There it stands in its astonishing
perfection, rising from a lofty platform of marble of dazzling
whiteness, minarets, dome, portals, all shining like a fresh, crisp
snow wreath. The proportions of the whole are so full of grace and
feeling, that the mind rests quite contented with the general
impression, ere it gives a thought to the details of the building,
the exquisite screens of marble in the windows, the fretted porches,
the arched doorways, from which a shower of fleecy marble, mingled
with a rain of gems, seems about to fall on you; the solid walls
melting and glowing with tendrils of bright flowers and wreaths of
blood stone, agate, jasper, carnelian, amethyst, snatched, as it
were, from the garden outside, and pressed into the snowy blocks.
Enter by the doorway in front: the arched roof of the cupola soars
above you, and the light falls dimly on the shrine like tombs in the
centre of the glistening marble, see a winter palace, in whose
glacial walls some gentle hand has buried the last flowers of
autumn." In yon cenotaph, profusely covered with ornamental texts
from the Koran, sleeps the lamented bride of the Indies. "Her lord
lies beside her, in a less costly but loftier casket; and the two
tombs are enclosed by a lattice of white marble, which is cut and
carved as though it were of the softest substance in the world. A
light burns in the tombs, and garlands of flowers are laid over the
rich imitations of themselves. Hark as you whisper gently, there
rolls through the obscure vault overhead a murmur like that of the
sea on a pebbly beach in summer. A white bearded priest, who never
raises his eyes from his book as we pass, suddenly reads out a verse
from the Koran. Hark! How an invisible choir takes it up, till the
reverberated echoes swell into a full volume of sound, as though some
congregation of the skies were chanting their hymns above our heads.
The eye fills and the lip quivers, we know not why: a sigh and a tear
are the tribute which every heart that can be moved to pity, or has
thrilled with love, must pay to the builder of the Taj."

Who that reads this tender romance of love and loss, pride and grief
and peerless memorial, will not sometimes amidst enchanted
recollections of Nala and Damayanti, Haroun Al Raschid and Zobeide,
Shahriar and Scheherazade in his recurring thoughts allow a place for
the imperfectly known but fascinating story of Shah Jehan and
Moomtaza Mahul?


IN the further consideration of these genial attachments of women
with persons not of their own sex, we come to those whose relation is
that of a wholly free and elective friendship, a friendship with no
intermixture either of hereditary connections or of family
obligations. This brings us directly to an examination of that
species of affection celebrated through the world as Platonic love;
on which so many false judgments, inadequate judgments, coarse
judgments, have been pronounced by partial observers and critics. If,
in this discussion of the relations of affection between men and
women, delicate topics are handled, and some things said from which a
squeamish reader may shrink, the vital importance of the matter and
the motive of the treatment furnish the only needful apology. Prudery
is the parsimony of a shrivelled heart, and is scarcely worthy of
respect. The subject of the relations of sentiment and passion
between the sexes has paramount claims on our attention. It actually
occupies a foremost place in the thoughts of most persons. It is
constantly handled in the most unrestrained banter on the stage and
in all the provinces of fictitious literature. Almost every
sensational tale reeks with vulgar portrayals of it. In the mean
time, the reign of vice is thought daily to grow more common and more
shameless; the demoralization of our great cities, in the flaunting
openness of their profligacy, seems to be annually bringing them
nearer to an equality with the debauched cities of pagan antiquity.
The depravity of an abandoned life is supposed to gather constantly
an enlarging class of victims, and to diffuse its undermining evils
more widely around us. Shall the pulpit, the academic chair, the high
court of the finer literature, alone be dumb? It is the duty of those
clothed with the authority of wisdom and purity to speak in plain
accents of warning and guidance. They are guilty of a wrong, if they
let a mock modesty keep them silent on a matter so deeply imperilling
the most sacred interests of the community.

Yet a word of protest is called for against those exaggerated
sensational statements on this subject, so persistently forced on
public attention by well-meaning but mistaken persons. A tendency has
shown itself of late, in many quarters, to attribute that increase of
sensual vices imagined to mark the age, not to temporary outward
causes, provisional phases of our civilization, but to a growth of
depravity in character, an intrinsic lowering of moral sanctions and
heightening of foul passions in the people. Such a belief I hold to
be both false in its basis and pernicious in its influence. To every
competent student of human nature, history demonstrates a progressive
diminution in the intensity of the physical passions, and a
corresponding increase of moral sensibility and the power of
conscience. The extension of sensual vice at the present time, if it
be a fact, is owing to accidental conditions which will not be
permanent, and is itself very far from being so common or so fearful
as some alarmists think. Those alarmists are doing more hurt than
good by their overdrawn descriptions and excited declamation. They
are fastening a morbid attention on a morbid subject. There is an
innocent ignorance, which, if dangerous in some cases, is, in many
cases, the highest safety. There is a wholesome unconsciousness, a
noble preoccupation with good and pure things, which is a far more
promising protective from evil and its temptations than a keen scent
and an eager notice of every tainted thing in the wind. If you choose
the crow for your guide, you must expect your goal to be carrion. The
travellers, who, after making the tour of the United States, write
books taken up with the frequency of divorce among us, or devoted to
such limited and exceptional aspects as that presented by the Mormon
settlement at Utah, are not to be accepted as sound expositors of our
social and moral condition. A De Tocqueville is a truer and more
adequate teacher. Many recent writers on the relation of the sexes in
the present age, writers belonging to the medical, priestly, and
literary professions, appear to be infested with the suspicion that
certain wicked and disgusting customs are almost universal. They seem
occupied in looking everywhere to trace the signs of those customs.
Their writings are less adapted to prevent or cure the deprecated
evil than they are to fix a diseased gaze on it, and thus to
aggravate its mischief. Their readers must get more harm than benefit
from them. The belief in the exceptionality and the loneliness of
vice is a restraint from it; the belief in its commonness is a
demoralizing provocative to it. There are well-meant books now having
a wide circulation in consequence of the efforts made to push them,
which I cannot help believing do more injury than many books which
are universally condemned. They give their readers the suspicion that
the vilest forms of sensuality are universally prevalent, and induce
in them the habit of looking for their signals in every direction. To
every pure and lofty soul, such a suspicion and habit are enough to
turn the sunshine into a stench and make the very landscape
loathsome. The crowding of population in manufacturing and commercial
centres, our thronged and exposed hotel-life, the expensive habits of
fashion, the excessive luxury of wealth and vanity, are, undoubtedly,
causes of much personal vice. But, notwithstanding all this, the vile
and degraded men and women are the marked exception in every
community among us. The vile and degraded are more segregated into a
class by themselves, and are therefore more conspicuous and obtrusive
than ever before. Licentiousness may have been more prevalent
formerly than now, as I believe it was; but less prominent and less
noticed, because of its greater diffusion. It was not so concentrated
into relief. The unstainedly honorable and virtuous are the vast
majority, and will, when a few evil conditions of society are
outgrown, rapidly become an ever larger majority. Especially do I
believe it to be a truth, which none but the ignorant or the vicious
can question, that every city and village in America, outside of
Mormondom, abounds with matrons and maidens, the face of any one of
whom Purity herself might take for her escutcheon.

But, after we allow every just abatement from the overcharged
representations of the extent of sensual vice in our time, there
remains cause enough to make every lover of virtue anxious to employ
all available means to lessen the force of social temptation and to
increase the firmness Of individual resistance. And there cannot be a
reasonable doubt that high-toned friendships of earnest men and women
would be a holy and powerful restraint from illicit habits. To
represent such attachments and intercourse as dangerous lures to
evil, or, as a popular novelist of the day has called them,
"delusions and snares," is an inversion of their true influence.
Consider the following picture drawn by a young Frenchman from his
own experience amid the exposures of Paris:

"The house of Julius Fontaine is another home for me; he and his wife
are a family for me. When I am gay, I go to them to pour out my
gayety; if I am sad, I go to them to have my grief consoled; they
receive kindly both my joy and my sorrow. No fixed day nor hour of
admission, no ceremony and grand toilet; they receive me when I
arrive; they welcome rue in whatever costume I present myself. I
enjoy to the utmost, with these good friends, the pleasure of being
spoiled; I give myself up to it with delight. As soon as I enter,
they install me in a comfortable arm-chair, in a choice situation in
the corner of the fireplace. They speak to me of every thing that is
interesting to Ime; they listen to all my nonsense; they give me
advice, if I ask for it; they consult me about all they intend doing.
I am initiated, by a lively conversation, into the most minute
details of the household; they relate to me the little triumphs and
misdeeds of the children, whom they caress or scold before me. If the
hour arrives for the meal, my place is set; and, invited or not,
there are sure to be on the table some dishes for which they know my
preference. In playing with the children, in dreaming aloud, in
talking seriously, sometimes in a little discussion or backbiting, in
laughing, and exchanging those nothings which charm, we know not why,
the hours glide away. I leave as late as possible; we give cordial
grasps of the hand, which express our regret at parting. The next
day, or a few days after, I find myself there with renewed pleasure.
It seems as if each evening we become more necessary to one another.
They almost make me forget that they are two, and that I am one."

Such a friendship must be a guardian guidance of virtue and
happiness. The cultivation of such relations cannot be too strongly
recommended. The odious vices of sensuality would die out before
them. Profligacy either rots or petrifies the heart; but a pure
friendship inspires, cleanses, expands, and strengthens the soul. It
is the nutriment of genius and of every form of philanthropic virtue.
"How can one who hates men love a woman without blushing?" is one of
Richter's incisive questions.

In now taking up the subject before us, the meaning of the thing in
debate should first be perceived; for, while the ignorant are always
the least competent, they are often the most forward, to give
decisions. Truly understood, the Platonic sentiment does not denote
love, in the distinctive significance of that word, but a pure and
fervent friendship. Ideal love is ordinary love taken up, out of
material organs and relations, into pure mentality, with the
preserved correspondence of all it had on that lower plane where it
naturally lives. Platonic love is a high personal passion, like the
former, with the exception that no physical influence of sex enters
into it; imagination exalting the soul, instead of inflaming the
senses. Actual love is the marriage of total persons for mutual
happiness, and for the transmission of themselves in new beings.
Ideal love is either the memory of actual love, or the notion of it
prevented from becoming actual by some impediment. Platonic love is
the marriage of souls for the production of spiritual offspring,
ideas, feelings, and volitions. The first looks ultimately to the
perpetuation of life by providing new receptacles for it; the last
looks ultimately to the enhancement of life by a sympathetic
reflection of it. The children of actual love are organic
reproductions of the being of the parents; the children of Platonic
love are spiritual reflections of the being of the parents. The
perfected offspring of love are boys and girls; the perfected
offspring of friendship are states of consciousness.

Love, in its high and pure forms, is confined to one object.
Friendship has this advantage, that it may be given to all, however
numerous, whose conduct and qualities of character are fitted to
command it. It is, therefore, less perilous, less exposed to fatal
wreck, more capable of consolations and replacements. Love and
friendship are properly not antagonists, but coadjutors. They
naturally go together where there is adaptedness for them, mutually
quickening and increasing each other. The former should never exist
without the ennobling companionship and clarifying mixture of the
latter. But there are numberless instances in which, while the former
is impossible, or would be wrong, the latter is abundantly capable of
nurture, and would prove a boon of unspeakable solace.

Six immortal names will serve to set in relief the distinction
between that impassioned friendship of man and woman which
constitutes Platonic love, and those forms of ideal love which are
often erroneously confounded with it.

The affection of Petrarch for Laura, after her death, was ideal love.
The love which, in her life, had pervaded his system, then rose,
strained of its carnal elements, and re-appeared in his mind alone,
with the ideal equivalents of all it had before. She became a
heavenly idea exciting emotions in him, instead of an earthly object
productive of sensations; yet a correspondence of all that had been
in the sensations was still seen, purged and eternized, in the

The affection for Beatrice which consecrated the soul of Dante was
Platonic love, or a divine friendship. It was free from sensual
ingredients from the first. It was his spirit, ruled by an intense
sympathy, mentally confronting hers, as a live mirror before a live
mirror; creating in his own, in correspondent states of
consciousness, all the entrancing shapes of truth, beauty, and
goodness he saw passing in hers, revealed from God, revealing God,
and clothed with power to redeem the gazer from every thing corrupt.
Dante promised to immortalize Beatrice by dedicating to her such a
strain of love as had never before celebrated a woman. He kept his
promise wonderfully. But the essence of his love was not a new
creation; it was simply an ardent, sexless, worshipping friendship,
that Platonic passion which, wholly cleansed from sense, adored a
beautiful soul as a type of the Divine Beauty, a medium of celestial
realities, which shone through it in half-veiled reminiscences. The
originality of the Dantean love consists, first, in the unique
personality of the poet, and the equally peerless personality which
his genius has given to his lady; secondly, in associating and
blending with the Platonic substance of that love the constituents
and scenery of the Christian doctrines of God and the future life.

Abelard and Heloise began with ordinary friendship, in the relation
of teacher and pupil. The extreme beauty, genius, and graces of the
parties soon poured into their intercourse an intoxicating potion,
which swept the senses into the mental whirl; and friendship
fermented into love. After their misfortunes and separation, the
love, refined from passion to memory, rose out of the senses into the
thoughts, and circulated in idea, instead of detaching itself in act.
We imagine Petrarch offering enamored tribute to Laura, who warmly
persuades his homage, but coldly repels his ardor. We think of
Abelard and Heloise in pensive converse, hand in hand, eye to eye,
living over the past with tender regrets. But we see Dante kneeling
before Beatrice, in profound humility and intellectual entrancement,
touching the hem of her robe, while she points upward to the supernal
Glory, whose light is falling on her face.

What distinguishes this Platonic affection from ordinary friendship
is, that the magic of imagination, with a religious emphasis, is in
it. What distinguishes it from love is, that the consciousness of sex
has nothing to do with it, while that element is essential in the
latter. If woman is generally the object to whom this affection
attaches, it is not because she is woman, but because she is purer,
lovelier, more self-abnegating, a clearer mirror of divinity.
Precisely the same affection exists, when favorable conditions meet,
between man and man; as is abundantly shown in the sonnets of
Shakespeare, in the writings of Plato himself, and in many other

The type of affection now defined, many people consider a mere
theory, spun by a finical fancy, incapable of reduction to practice
in the substantial relations of life. But such critics criticise
themselves. They identify their own limitations with the diagram of
human nature. This is the procedure ever characteristic of arrogant
folly, to make its actual experience the measure of possible
experience. All beauty that is sufficiently marked, does, in its very
nature, awaken a blessed ravishment in every soul that is
sufficiently harmonious and sensitive. The charm operates to this
result through the imagination. Now, if the imagination distribute
the spell through the body, as well as through the soul, ordinary
love is the consequence; but, if imagination be confined within the
intellect, Platonic love is the consequence. Some persons, no doubt,
are incapable of the latter; the instant any form of beauty strikes
their perceptions, it is deflected downward, and dips into the
senses. Every esthetic impression, even the loveliness of painting,
music, or a soft landscape, affects them voluptuously. But it is an
outrage for them to attribute this peculiarity of constitutional
structure, or temperamental key, to everybody else. There are persons
built after a nobler pattern, keyed to a loftier music, susceptible
of a more undefiled and eternal stir of the atoms of consciousness.
They look on a beautiful woman, with a delight circling purely in the
mind, with a serene melodious joy, like that given them by an
exquisite picture, statue, or landscape. Dante tells us, in his Vita
Nuova, that he carried about with him a list of the loveliest ladies
in Florence. To attach any prurient association to the act, would be
blasphemy; it can only be understood by reference to that sweet,
poetic, religious worship of lovely forms, which seems to rise
through contemplation of beauty to adoration of God. One man, brought
into intimate relation with an attractive and gifted woman, feels as
if he were a vase of fiery quicksilver; another feels as if he were a
mirror of divine ideas. The latter is capable of a friendship with
her as fervent as love, but without its alloy; the former is not. St.
Beuve says of Maurice de Guérin, "The sympathetic friendship of a
beautiful woman appeased instead of inflaming him."

The exalted friendship of man and woman, known as Platonic love, is
not, then, an empty mirage of sentimentality. But is it not too
dangerous to be cultivated? Is it not liable to go too far, and to
work fatal mischiefs? Many, judging from unworthy instances, With an
inadequate knowledge of the data, answer these questions with a
sweeping affirmative. But justice requires a careful discrimination.
Unquestionably there are some who are unfit for this relation, in
danger of perversion and betrayal at every step of its progress. Such
should either shun the connection, or keep themselves with double
guards of discreet reserve and watchfullness. Love and friendship,
with them, are two electrical regions, insulated by a thin line of
non-conduction. The more highly charged region tends, at the touch of
any stimulative sign, to break through the barrier, and to flood the
whole being with its own kind. For those of inflammable temperament
and weak conscience, it is obvious enough what jeopardy must attend
their playing about the conscious edges of relations on which such
thunders of soul and fate hang, ready to be unleashed at a look. But
there is another class of persons, with whom the fire of affection is
harmless. Like those weird heat-lightnings that play in the firmament
on summer evenings, it retains the lambent warmth and luminous
loveliness, without the blasting violence. Of the intellectual and
sensual regions, only the former is surcharged; the latter is either
exhausted, or separated by an insulation so sure that it cannot
possibly flash into the other. The unclean electricity of lust cannot
find its way through the non-conductors of esteem, reverence, duty,
and honor. Those are safe, who, shielded by such holy barriers, pay
their worship, in the mental holy of holies, to the supernal charms
of truth and virtue, to the dazzling sanctity of the principle of
good. It is only the gross and weak who are discharged to their ruin
by the lures of vice and pleasure. A profound reverence for a person
at the same time inflames the soul and refrigerates the senses.

The common apprehension of danger from friendship between men and
women is exaggerated. Those who fear such a danger should study the
moral exaltation and the unspeakable usefullness and comfort of the
friendship between Gunther, the court physician, and Matilda, the
queen, depicted by Auerbach, with such careful truth, in his great
novel, "On the Height." Friendship is more likely to spring from love
than love from friendship, in all but degraded characters. Desire is
unprincipled. Love rests on a basis of desire, and naturally fights
against the obstacles that oppose its gratification. It is,
therefore, taken by itself, essentially dangerous. But friendship
rests on a basis of esteem. Esteem is the very voice and face of
moral and religious principle, the essential enemy of low
temptations. It is the clear cold signet with which the soul stamps a
commanding veto against every vicious act. Whenever there is danger
that friendship will become another passion, where there are legal or
moral duties forbidding it, the true course is not to dismiss and
denounce the friendship, but to preserve it in its undegenerate
integrity, by strengthening the sanctions, restraints, and
obligations that should properly guide and guard it. The element of
sense and sex sometimes breaks out with horrible fury in the closest
relations. The cruel crime of Hebrew Amnon, the dark tale of Italian
Cenci, numerous Greek tragedies, many of the terrible English
tragedies of Massinger, Ford, Beaumont and Fletcher, and Beddoes,
furnish harrowing examples. The amours of the unworthy yield no
better argument against profound and earnest friendships between men
and women than the morbid cases referred to yield against the proper
affection of parent and child, brother and sister. One does not
refuse to exercise his mind for fear it will lead to insanity; but he
takes care to exercise it healthily. So he should not repudiate the
friendship of a woman, because it may lead to harm; he should cherish
the friendship, and beware of the harm. It is a profanation to judge
of the natural effect of intimacy with the innocent or the wise and
virtuous from the effects of intimacy with the depraved and guileful.
Poor, sinful Tannhauser, long enslaved in the Venusberg, yearned to
be free from the degrading bonds of sensuality. Utterly vain were his
agonizing prayers to Venus to release him. But when, with a sudden
ardor of faith and resolve, he cried to the Virgin Mary, the grotto
in which he was confined instantly faded away, with all its
unhallowed seductions.

The degree of danger in these connections will always depend on the
characters of the parties. We cannot lay down, as tests, general
rules which have much value irrespective of particular persons. Jean
Paul, at twenty-six, wrote a prize-essay on "How far Friendship may
proceed with the other sex without Love, and the Difference between
it and Love." The essay won the prize; but, if ever published, it is
not contained in his collected writings. Probably the author's
maturer judgment pronounced it of but little value. In one of the
volumes of the "Southern Literary Messenger" there is a very pleasing
tale, entitled "How far Friendship may go with a Woman;" arguing that
it is sure to end in love. The same conclusion is also advocated with
much spirit in "A Debate on Friendship," in the thirty-fourth volume
of "Knickerbocker." The opposite and better view is gracefully and
effectively maintained in an article entitled "De l'Amitie," in the
fifteenth volume of "Harper's Magazine." Such special pleadings,
however, will have slight weight with a sincere inquirer after the

The most important principle for the guidance of such an inquirer is
this: Friendship can be carried, without adulteration or peril, to a
degree proportioned to the nobleness and consecration of the parties.
It is shocking for those drawn together by a common pursuit of
pleasures, to judge, by the standard applicable to themselves, those
attracted towards each other by a common service of authorities. As a
general rule, sensuality is in inverse ratio to intellectuality, but
sensibility in direct ratio.

Accordingly, there is a select class of men and women, of the
loftiest genius and character, the native haunt of whose souls is in
the purest regions of nature and experience, who are made for
friendship; and who, destitute of this, are deprived of their truest
and fullest happiness. The movement of imagination which beauty
starts in them keeps to the chariot-paths of celestial ideas, and is
never switched into the burning tracks of sense. Friendship then
reigns in sovereign distinction from love, sometimes by an
unfittedness for the latter, sometimes by the interposition of moral
principles and sentiments which lift their insulating behests as an
impenetrable wall between the different regions.

One of the most striking of the testimonies borne to the value of the
friendship of a woman is that of Sir Edward Bulwer Lytton:

"It is a wonderful advantage to a man, in every pursuit or avocation,
to secure an adviser in a sensible woman. In woman there is at once a
subtile delicacy of tact, and a plain soundness of judgment, which
ire rarely combined to an equal degree in man. A woman, if she be
really your friend, will have a sensitive regard for your character,
honor, repute. She will seldom counsel you to do a shabby thing; for
a woman Triend always desires to be proud of you. At the same time,
her constitutional timidity makes her more cautious than your male
friend. She, therefore, seldom counsels you to do an imprudent thing.
By friendships I mean pure friendships, those in which there s no
admixture of the passion of love, except in the married state. A
man's best female friend is a wife of good sense and good heart, whom
he loves, and who loves him. If he have that, he need not seek
elsewhere. But supposing the man to be without such a helpmate,
female friendship he must have, or his intellect will be without a
garden, and there will be many an unheeded gap even in its strongest

"Better and safer, of course, are such friendships, where disparities
of years or circumstances put the idea of love out of the question.
Middle life has rarely the advantage youth and age have. Moliere's
old housekeeper was a great help to his genius; and Monaigne's
philosophy takes both a gentler and loftier character of wisdom from
the date in which he finds, in Marie de Gournay, an adopted daughter,
'certainly beloved by me,' says the Horace of essayists, with more
than paternal love, and involved in my solitude of retirement, as one
of the best parts of my being. Female friendship, indeed, is to a man
the bulwark, sweetener, ornament, of his existence. To his mental
culture it is invaluable; without it, all his knowledge of books will
never give him knowledge of the world."

Mrs. Jameson quotes the opinion of Auguste Comte, that "the only true
and firm friendship is that between man and woman, because it is the
only one free from all possible competition." And she adds, "In this
I am inclined to agree with him, and to regret that our conventional
morality, or immorality, places men and women in such a relation
socially as to render such friendships difficult and rare." Sydney
Smith said, and the remark applies as forcibly to America as to
England, "It is a great happiness to form a sincere friendship with a
woman; but a friendship among persons of different sexes rarely or
never takes place in this country." The strong jealousy felt in these
countries for any intimate relations of affection between men and
women other than fathers and daughters, mothers and sons, brothers
and sisters, husbands and wives; the readiness to cast coarse
insinuations on them, is more discreditable to our hearts than it is
creditable to our morals. It implies the belief that they cannot be
attached as spirits without becoming entangled as animals. It is
absurd to pretend that the multiplication of virtuous friendships
between the sexes would foster licentiousness. Their flourishes best
in their absence. Their lifeelement, esteem, is death to
licentiousness. A holy thought, with its train of vestal emotions,
like Diana and her nymphs, hunts impure desire out of the blood. One
of the most known and remarkable friendships of woman and man was
that of the Pope Hildebrand and the Countess Matilda of Tuscany.
Their relation was based on veneration for each other's commanding
and austerely virtuous characters, ardent sympathy in convictions,
plans, dangers, labors, and sufferings. They were both supremely
devoted to the Church, to the support of its creed, and to the
extension of its power. An enthusiastic community in so much
experience made them enthusiastic friends. The vile charges of
impurity brought against them by their vulgar foes then, and repeated
since by prejudiced historians, are a matter of indignation and
disgust to every impartial judge.

The most persuasive recommendation of these friendships is seen in
the class of persons who are their most distinguished cultivators and
exemplars. Men overflowing with the tenderest sensibility, devoted to
the loftiest ends, bravest to dare, firmest to suffer, quickest to
renounce, studious, afflicted, holy, unconquerable souls, are the
ones who put the highest estimate on the friendships of women; who
instinctively seek to win the confidence and interest of the best
women they meet; who are surest to surround themselves with a group
of pure and noble women, from whose sympathy, through conversation
and correspondence, they draw unfailing supplies of comfort, strength
and hope. Find a person to whom a tender friendship is an absolute
necessity, as it was to the classic De Tocqueville, who said, "I
cannot be happy, or even calm, unless I meet with the encouragement
and sympathy of some of my fellow-creatures," and you will never find
him sneering at Platonic love. Klopstock, soul of ethereal softness
and sanctity; Jean Paul, who added the finest heart of womanhood to
the athletic soul of manhood; Richardson, so blameless in his life,
so pathetic in his writings, so pleasing in his half naïve, half
grandiose, personality; William Humboldt, the loving son and brother,
the irreproachable statesman, the majestic scholar, the model of a
Christian gentleman; Matthieu de Montmorency, hero and saint;
Schleiermacher, the unflinching thinker and prophet, devout rouser,
yearning comrade, encircled by Rahel Levin, Charlotte Von Kathen,
Dorothea Veit, Henrietta Herz, and the rest; Charming, brave seeker
and servant of truth, spotless patriot, lofty friend of humanity,
burning aspirant to God, finest and grandest American character,
these, and such as these, are the men who have most valued
friendships with choice and unspotted women. On the other hand, the
contemners of such a sentiment will be found most fitly represented
by Thersites, who continued to ridicule Achilles for the tender-
heartedness he showed towards the dead queen of the Amazons, until
the hero killed the rancorous scoffer with one blow of his fist.

But, of all the class of men we have been speaking of, no one has
more thoroughly tasted the contents of this relation in personal
experience, or more completely mastered and displayed its secrets by
psychological criticism, than Jacobi. Jacobi sat, for half his life,
in the centre of a sort of Platonic academy of noble women, such as
his own sisters, and the Princess Galitzin, Sophia Delaroche, and
Cornelia Goethe, revolving, both in native feeling and critical
thought, all the treasures of pure affection. Bettine, after a visit
to him, said, "Jacobi is tender as a Psyche awakened too early." In
his two works, "Allwill's Correspondence" and "Woldemar," he unfolds
the true philosophy of Platonic love, in its psychological
foundations and workings, and in all its subtilest ramifications,
more fully than anybody else has ever done it. Jacobi held the glass
before his own bosom, dipped the pen in his own heart, and drew the
noble though fevered Woldemar after the life. The chief characters in
this romance of philosophy and sentiment are Woldemar; his brother
Biderthal, to whom he is passionately attached; Dorenburg; the three
sisters, Caroline, Luise, and Henriette Hornich; and their dear
neighbor and associate, Allwina Clarenau. Caroline and Luise marry
Biderthal and Dorenburg; Allwina becomes Woldemar's wife; but
Henriette becomes his friend. This friendship becomes so
comprehensive and intense in its vitality, that life would be nothing
to them without it. After a while, an element of strange perturbation
and suspicion enters into it; they fear it is becoming love, and are
most wretched. But at length, after much perplexity and distress, all
comes clear; and they are again blessed with a perfect spiritual
sympathy, as serene and pure as that between two seraphs.

The story and many of its separate incidents have been greatly
censured and ridiculed; but Jacobi had an insight, a knowledge, a
mastery, in these delicate matters, far superior to that of his
critics. Whoso really fathoms his exposition must justify and admire
it. The characters of Woldemar and Henriette are extraordinary and
exceptional; they are nevertheless true; and their experience is
accurately depicted, and offers an invaluable lesson for those who
can read it. "I had, from a child," Woldemar writes, "a sweet
lovingness for every thing which came in beauty towards my senses or
my soul. I was full of pleasure, courage, and sadness. I bore
something in my heart which divided me from all things; yea, from
myself, I strove so earnestly to embrace and unite myself with all.
But what made my heart so loving, so foolish, so warm and good, that
I never found in any one. Before the rising and before the setting
sun, under the moon and the stars, full of love and full of despair,
I have wept as Pygmalion before the image of his goddess." After
many vain trials to win a sufficing friendship, after long
observation of others and study of himself, Woldemar concluded it
unattainable, and laid the hope aside. "I found," he says, "that,
collectively and singly, we nourish too many and too eager desires,
are too deeply harassed by the pursuits, cares, joys, and pains of
life, are too much tortured, excited, distracted, for two men
anywhere, in these times, to become and remain so completely one as
my loving enthusiasm had made me dream." But Henriette revived this
long-forgotten dream in Woldemar, and made it real; and in his
friendship we see carried out the idea of a man in whom a foreign
personality has so overlaid and taken up his own, absorbing his will
and determining his re-actions, that, in his relation to her, the
element of sex is excluded, as it is in his relation to himself; and
marriage with her would seem to him worse than incest.

The Duchess de Duras, in a letter to Madame Swetchine, expresses
herself as being "indignant with the refinements of Woldemar,"

"The mixture of true and false, the combination of just reasoning
with perverted sentiment. This love which is not friendship! and this
friendship which is not love! Well, in the name of God, to love, is
it not to love? Ah, Madame la Duchesse! do you think, then, that all
the infinitely complicated minglings and windings of human feeling
are so lucid and simple? Is Jacobi, the German Plato, so stupid a
metaphysician and so low a moralist that you can so easily teach him
acumen and ethics? Scorn or mirth is misdirected against him." Had
Madame Swetchine read "Woldemar," we may be sure her verdict would
have been different.

France has stood for a long time in advance of every other nation, in
regard to the friendships of its men and women, pure as well as
impure; it is a slander to limit them to the latter class. The reason
of this is to be traced in historic causes, going back to the birth
and dispersed influence of chivalry. Chivalry burst into its most
gorgeous flower in Provence; Toulouse was the capital whence its
light and perfume radiated through France. It spread thence into
Spain, Italy, Germany, England, and other places; but nowhere reached
the height and copiousness of power it had in the land of its origin.
Its most fervent manifestation, at the summit of its state, was seen
in the worship of woman, the chaste and enthusiastic homage paid by
the knight to the lady of his choice. This ideal idolatry of woman,
which played so dazzling a part in the poems of the minstrels and in
the inner life and historic feats of the knights, subsided, in the
gradual change of times, into delight in the society and conversation
of woman. The peculiar combination of influences that presided over
this process may be briefly indicated.

Few women at the present time appreciate the debt of honor and
gratitude they owe to the troubadour or wandering minstrel of the
early Middle Age. Moncaut has well revealed it in his "History of
Modern Love." Feudal tyranny then held the whole sex in the sternest
slavery. One day, the wife, or the young daughter, confined in the
upper story of the walled fortress, sees, passing by the castle, a
poor youth with a guitar suspended from his neck, humming a
languishing air. She gazes on him; she hearkens to his song; she
thanks him with a gesture and a smile. He has brought a momentary
relief to the weariness of her sad captivity. Cast a glance on this
roaming singer, this houseless rhymer; the last representative of
that noble poesy born before Homer. This gentle son of poverty,
seeking his bread with the strings of his viol, this Bohemian of the
eleventh century, goes to regenerate barbarian society. The influence
of music and poesy, which nothing mortal can resist, will win him
permission in all places to sing what no one would dare to say. He
will publish the sighs of woman for liberty, at a time when her life
is an imprisonment; the prerogatives of love, its independence, when
the father disposes of his daughter without deigning to consult her
wishes or her vows. Before the ladies of the castles, he will
celebrate the splendid deeds of the knights; before the knights, he
will compassionate the tears and hardships of the ladies shut up in
the castles; and thence will arise a double current of attraction and
of sympathy between the oppressed women who suffer, and the generous
men who long to deliver them.

But causes far deeper and wider than that of minstrelsy wrought in
the favorable influence of chivalry on the condition of women, causes
psychological, physiological, and social. The exalting effect of love
is well known; its inciting and glorifying power is seen even in
birds and beasts at the pairing-time, in a new brilliancy of plumage,
and a wonderful increase of courage. Love produces a greater
secretion of force in the brain and other nervous centres. This
exuberance of spirit, or exaltation of function, is usually a
transient phenomenon, the gratification of its impulses bringing its
cause to a termination. It may, however, be made permanent by such an
appropriation of the product as will re-act to keep the cause alive.
That is to say, materialize a passion, and you destroy its power, its
flame dies in the damps of indulgence; but spiritualize a passion,
and you perpetuate its power, its flame becomes a spur, pricking the
sides of intent.

The love of woman has in all ages given birth in man to passionate
desires, poetic dreams, deferential attentions, persuasive forms of
politeness; but only once in the whole of history has this softening,
quickening, exalting power restrained from a destructive outlet, and
stimulated to an unparalleled richness of manifestation, stamped with
chastity by the dominant conscience and imagination of the time
broken out in one great swell as an inspiration to glorious deeds,
illuminating the world, and making an immortal epoch. Such, in one of
its aspects, is the significance of chivalry, whose crest-wave broke
into bloom in the Provencal literature; whose consummate flower,
lifted far aloft, was Dante's homage to Beatrice. The inspiration of
chivalry was the love of woman; but that love was spiritual. It aimed
not at a personal union, to die away in marriage, but at a deathless
fruition in heroic achievements. This ideal appropriation of love, to
engender self-abnegating valor and beneficent deeds, originated from
the meeting of the two currents of martial history and the Christian
religion in a prepared people and period.

War was the chief institution and experience of man down to the
Middle Age; Christianity had then become sovereign of the common
beliefs and fears. The priests, who governed thought and conscience
almost without check, were vowed to perpetual chastity; that was held
up as the highest virtue. But gallantry has always marked the
soldier. This element of military life, inoculated with the fire of
imagination and the sanctity of the gospel, as happened in the poetic
atmosphere of priestly and feudal Provence, was transformed into that
pure, intense worship of woman which was sung by the Christian
troubadours, and admired and emulated alike by lords, minstrels, and
squires. For when the priesthood adopted the sons of war, and sent
them forth under Christian sanctions, they naturally imparted to
them, as far as possible, their own duties and sentiments. The result
was the knight, with his lyre, cross, and sword, mixture of poet,
warrior and saint; impersonating, in strange but beautiful union, the
military, the literary, and the ecclesiastic ideal, in which the
sensual flame fostered in the atmosphere of battle was blended with
the mental purity nourished by the exercises of the cloister, and
tempered with the rich fancy evoked under the stimulus of the
academy. Chivalry was the child of martial adventure and religious
faith, married by the culture of the Church. The gallant worship of
woman native to the camp, the poetic worship of woman created in the
court of minstrelsy, and the religious worship of woman set forth by
the Church in the apotheosis of the Virgin Mary, blent in chivalry,
produced that stainless and ardent devotion of the knight to his
lady, which was appropriated as at once the incitement and the reward
of brave and disinterested actions. Dipped in that pure pool of
sentiment which the Angel of Christianity stirred, the darts of Cupid
were cleansed from aphrodisiacs. The thought of a pure and lovely
woman was then naturally allied with the thought of Divinity; the
association of garter and star was not difficult.

The enthusiasm thus copiously generated, forbidden by the reigning
spirit and circumstances of the age to escape, either through the
vent of sensual indulgence, or through that of mere dreaming
sentimentalism, was forced to flow forth in the only remaining
channel, that of self-consecration to perilous adventures, glorious
services, feats of toil and penance. When arms and knight-errantry
fell out of fashion, in a more settled age, this force of enthusiasm,
no longer flashing forth in warlike emprise, illumined the saloon;
the current of feeling, instead of being directed upon the field,
circled in the breast, and sparkled out in genial talk and graceful
forms. The idolatrous devotion to woman, which had nerved the arm of
the knight, and upheld chivalry, now subsided into a respectful
sympathy with woman, and, animating the heart of the gentleman,
became the ornament and sweetener of society, the inspiring basis of
intercourse. In consequence of the stimulus and position resulting
from the extreme honor paid to the great feudal dames and their
beautiful sisters, in that palmy era, the higher class of women in
France obtained a social development whose advantages they have never
since lost.

France also had another period quite unique for the varied and
wonderful development it gave to the genius and character of woman.
An anonymous writer, in the English "National Review," has described
this epoch in a passage of marked wisdom and brilliancy. "The court
of France," he says, "in the reign of Louis XIII, the regency of Anne
of Austria, and the early part of the reign of Louis XIV, produced a
company of ladies, in whose presence all the remaining tract of
history looks dim. Cousin has nobly drawn the portraits of their
leaders. The wars of the League had left the great nobles of France
in the enjoyment of an amount of personal freedom, importance, and
dignity, greater than was ever before or since the lot of any
aristocracy. Chivalrous traditions; the custom of appeal to arms for
the settlement of personal quarrels, a custom which is said to have
cost the country some nine hundred of its best gentlemen in about as
many years; the worship of womanhood, carried to a pharisaical
strictness of observance, were conditions, which, though socially
disastrous in various ways, exalted the individual worth, power, and
majesty of men to the most imposing height, and rendered a
corresponding exaltation imperative upon the women, in order to
secure that personal predominance which it is their instinct to seek.
The political state of France was one which afforded the members of
its court extraordinary occasions for the display of character. That
state was one of a vast transition. Feudal privileges had to be
either moderated, defined, and constitutionalized, or else destroyed.
The revolution which was about to operate in England, and to end in
liberty, was already working in France with a manifestly opposite
destiny. Richelieu and Mazarin were slowly and surely bringing about
an absolute despotism, as the only solution of the political
difficulties of the State consistent with its greatness, and,
probably, even with its unity. The opposition of the nobles to the
diminution of their power was carried on with far greater boldness
and grandeur of personal effect, inasmuch as it was done without
directly affronting the monarchical authority in the persons of its
weak representatives, Louis XIII. and Anne of Austria. The two great
ministers were the objects against which the whole wrath of the
nobility was directed. Hence the war against encroaching monarchy was
in great part waged in the court itself; and the king and the queen-
regent were themselves found from time to time in the ranks of the
indignant aristocracy. Here, then, was a wonderful field for
individual effect; and that field was open to women no less, or even
more, than to men; for the struggle on the part of the latter was,
upon the whole, a selfish and ignoble one. No national idea inspired
it; every one was for himself and his house; and the women were
perfectly able to sympathize and assist in quarrels of this personal
and intelligible interest. In these days, too, rose Port-Royal, with
its female reformers, saints, and theologians, offering an asylum to
weary and repentant worldliness and passion, or a fresh field for
vanity which had exhausted its ordinary irritants. On every side lay
great temptations and great opportunities; and the women of the
period seem to have been endowed with singular qualifications for the
illustration of both."

The historic tradition of her great, lovely, brilliant, accomplished
women is one chief reason why friendships of women with men are more
common and important in France than in most other countries. Besides,
the French are a more ideal people than others; live more from the
brain, less from the spinal axis; take a deeper delight in the mere
social reflection and echoing of life. And in this, on account of
their instinctive swiftness of susceptibility, perception, and
adroitness, refined women can have no rivals in the other sex. The
luxury of the British is taciturnity; but to this day the favorite
excitement of the French is conversation; and conversation is the
food of friendship.

The inner history of the Catholic Church, so wealthy in many
departments of experience, is especially rich in an original class of
profound friendships of men and women, friendships between devout
ladies and their spiritual directors. Without referring to the abuses
which would sometimes occur in the instances of weak or sinister
characters, these religious friendships have often been surprisingly
permeating and transparent. This follows from the nature of the case.
For the most ardent healthy devotees of religion are persons of the
most exalted ideas and affections, most deeply endowed with the
sensibility of genius. Every coarse passion both alien to their souls
and awed away by the infinite realities they adore in common, the
historic abyss of the Church scintillating around them with the
memories and presences of saints, martyrs, angels, it is natural that
all the purer sympathies of their being, enkindled and consecrated,
should yearn together. The woman also confides every secret, unveils
the inmost states of her spirit, to her confessor; takes counsel of
him; holds with him the most confidential communion known outside of
marriage. And the priest, in turn, shut out from the chief personal
ties and vents of family, spontaneously bestows, so far as is
blameless, his best human affections, turned back elsewhere, on the
sister, daughter, mother, friend, fellow-worshipper, who looks up to
him with such affecting trust, opening her heart to him, telling him
her hopes and griefs, her errors, prayers, and fears. Madame de
Sévigné, speaking of the attachment of women for their confessors,
says, "They would rather talk ill of themselves than not talk of
themselves." When pure and beautiful women, wonderfully dowered with
spiritual charms, and noble priests, eminently possessed of every
virtue and authority of character, so often meet, amid such inspiring
circumstances, beneath the august sanctions of the church, drawn
forward by the sublime mysteries of religion, and blending the
potential perfections of heaven with the actual experiences of earth,
it would be no less than a miracle if many friendships of singular
sincerity and power did not spring up. They have sprung up in every
part and period of Christendom; more in the Catholic Church than
anywhere else, because its ritual and doctrine, its organized
religious life and its practice of direction, furnish for them
unequalled facilities and provocatives.

The friendship all divine which Jesus showed for many women, of whom
Mary and Martha, the sisters of his friend Lazarus, are examples--the
friendship which drew such matchless devotion from them, has been
perpetuated in the Church in a relation of peculiar tenderness
between the priest and the devotee.

"Many women followed Jesus from Galilee, ministering unto him." With
what godlike benignity he spoke to the Samaritan woman, to the
Syrophenician woman, and to the poor adulteress! With what
indescribable compassion he turned to the women who accompanied him
towards Calvary, bewailing and lamenting him, and said, "Daughters of
Jerusalem, weep not for me". And what words shall be set beside those
which fell from his lips when, as he hung on the cross, he saw his
mother, and the disciple standing by whom he loved, and he saith unto
his mother, "Woman, behold thy son!" then he saith to the disciple,
"Behold thy mother!" Verily, from that hour, the Church has taken
woman to itself, as the recipient of a ministration full of respect
and purity. In any enumeration of renowned ecclesiastical
friendships, Saint Chrysostom and Saint Olympias, the gold-mouthed
bishop of Constantinople and the rich and noble widow, deserve to
head the list. Under the guidance of the eloquent preacher, she
labored to perfect herself in the religious life, and gave her time
and wealth to all kinds of charity and good works. From her Christian
affection he drew precious strength and comfort. When he was carried
from his church and driven into exile, the weeping Olympias fell at
his feet, and clasped them so closely that the officers had to use
force in tearing him from her. Sixteen letters addressed to her by
Chrysostom during his banishment are still extant, silently
pronouncing her eulogy throughout the Christian world. A friendship
like the foregoing, only still more complete, was that of Saint
Jerome and Saint Paula. The talents, scholarship, services, and
enthusiasm of Jerome are universally known; and the chief personal
attachment of his life is scarcely less familiar to the public.
Paula, immortalized not less in literary history as his friend than
in the ecclesiastical calendar for her virtues, was one of the most
distinguished women of the age. She had great riches and high rank,
as well as pronounced talents and worth. The blood of the Scipios, of
the Gracchi, and of Paulus Emilius, met in her veins. Jerome was her
spiritual director at Rome for two years and a half-her other soul
while life remained. She built and supported at her own expense an
extensive monastery for Jerome and his monks at Bethlehem. When she
died, Jerome wrote to her daughter the long and celebrated letter
called "Epitaph of Paula," in which he exhausts the hyperboles of
praise. The features of a rare character and the proofs of an
extraordinary affection may be discerned within the extravagances of
this eloquent panegyric. The tombs of Jerome and Paula are still to
be seen side by side in the monastery at Bethlehem. Saint Clara of
Assisi, on account of her high rank, great wealth, and extreme
loveliness, had many offers of marriage, many temptations to enter
into the gayeties and luxuries of the world. But she preferred the
thorny path of mortification and the crown of celestial beatitude.
The melting pathos of the preaching of Saint Francis, with the
penetrative charm of his spirit, drew her to throw herself at his
feet and supplicate his guidance. He approved her desire to devote
herself wholly to the religious life in seclusion; and, when she had
made her escape by night from the proud castle, clad in her festal
garments, and with a palm-branch in her hand, he and his poor
brotherhood met her at the chapel-door, with lighted tapers and hymns
of praise, and led her to the altar. Francis cut off her long golden
hair, and threw his own penitential habit over her. She became his
disciple, daughter, and friend, never wavering, though exposed to
dangers and trials of the severest character. Under his direction,
she formed the famous order of Franciscan nuns, afterwards named from
her the Poor Clares.

These nuns, clad in gowns of gray wool, knotted girdles, white coifs
and black veils, engaged in touching works of humility and charity,
have been seen in many nations now for seven centuries, keeping alive
the example of their foundress. When the body of Saint Francis, on
its way to burial, was borne by the church of San Damiano, where
Clara and her nuns dwelt, she came forth with them weeping, saluted
the remains of her friend, and kissed his hands and his garments. The
memory of the relation of these sainted friends is perpetuated in
many pictures of the Madonna, wherein Clara is portrayed on one side
of the throne of the Virgin, and Francis on the other, both
barefooted, and wearing the gray tunic and knotted cord emblematic of
poverty. Perhaps the most fervent and interesting of all the
friendships between director and devotee, of which the documents have
been published, is that of Saint Francis of Sales and Madame de
Chantal. Full materials for studying this relation are furnished in
the letters that passed between the parties, both of whom were of a
temperament strung to the most exquisite tones of consciousness, with
minds both wise and strong, and with characters under the control of
austere principles of duty and piety. Michelet, in his work on the
Confessional, gives a skilful and forcible picture of this rapt
friendship; but his own pervading sensuousness, not to say
sensuality, does the sentiment gross injustice by mixing in it so
much of flesh and earth. The union of these two mystics in spirit and
deed was as taintless as that of two angels in heaven.

If throbs of agonizing passion sometimes mounted up, the invariable
heroism with which they were veiled and suppressed simply adds the
martyr merit to the saintly one. Saint Francis had an irresistible
attractiveness of figure and face, a temper and bearing of singular
sweetness. Childlike, and so fair in appearance that it was difficult
to withdraw the eyes from him, he united the greatest social insight
and skill with the greatest sincerity and simplicity. Madame de
Chantal, early left a widow, with several children and an aged and
infirm father, administered the business of her household with
systematic prudence, and filled her leisure hours with fervent
religious exercises. Saint Francis and Madame de Chantal seem to have
been predestined for friends. Their biographers relate, that, long
before they had seen each other, they met in mystical visions and
ecstasies. Archbishop Fremiot, brother of Madame de Chantal, and an
intimate acquaintance of Saint Francis, invited him to preach at
Dijon. During his sermon, the preacher noticed one lady particularly
above the rest; and, as he came down from the desk, asked, "Who is
that young widow who listened so attentively to the word?" The
archbishop replied, "That is my sister, the Baroness de Chantal." An
inspired understanding appears to have at once united their minds.
"It is enchantment," Michelet says, "to read the vivacious and
delightful letters which open the correspondence of Saint Francis
with his dear sister and dear daughter. Nothing can be more pure,
nothing can be more ardent." He says the sentiment she awakened
powerfully assisted his spiritual progress. He thought of her at the
moment of partaking of the sacrament. "I have given you and your
widowed heart and your children daily to the Lord, in offering up his
Son." She dispensed with her former confessor, and confided her
spirit to Saint Francis. She desired to take the conventual vows; but
he restrained her a long time. In the name of his mother, he gave her
his young sister to educate.

This occupation tranquillized her mind; but the beloved child soon
died at her house, in her arms. She prayed God "to take her own life,
or one of her children, in place of her dear pupil." Saint Francis
now consented that she should withdraw from the world. Her household
presented a piteous scene-her old father and father-in-law in tears;
her son, afterwards the father of Madame de Sévigné, prostrating
himself on the threshold to prevent her departure. But the passionate
response in her to the supposed call of Heaven broke all lower ties;
and she passed over the body of her son, and said farewell for ever
to her home. Saint Francis intrusted her with the formation of a new
religious order--the celebrated Order of the Visitation. In nurturing
this order, writing, travelling, praying in its interests, with
intervals of silent retreat, she spent the rest of her days. Her
intense temperament, her absolute faith and submission, her
systematic attention to business, her mystical ecstasies, her heroic
sacrifice, form a most original combination. Her life seems an
alternation of sober processes, stormy raptures, and stifling calms.
Her restless sensibility, girdled by fixed principle, gives us the
picture of a sea of fire breaking on a shore of frost. Her essay on
"Desire and the Agony of Disappointment" is a gush forced from the
bottom of a heart full of baffled feeling, under the pressure of a
mountain of pain. The constancy and power of her attachment to Saint
Francis, through all, are marvellous. On the day of his mother's
death, he writes, "I have given you the place of my mother in my
memorial at the mass: now you hold in my heart both her place and
your own." She writes to him, "Pray that I may not survive you."
Twenty years did she outlive him; finding, to the last, her greatest
pleasure in remembering him, carrying out his wishes, and
corresponding about him with his friends. Ten years after the death
of Saint Francis, Madame de Chantal had his tomb opened in the
presence of her community, and made an address before the embalmed
body. A testimony to the deep impression their friendship had made is
found in the myth, that, when on this occasion she reverently lifted
to her head the dead hand of the saint, it acknowledged her devotion
by an answering caress. The winning qualities of Madame Guion
awakened an enthusiastic interest in many of those whom her
remarkable religious experience brought into close relations with
her. Especially they produced in her confessor, Father Lacombe, such
a ruling admiration, reverence, and tenderness, that he was subdued
into a caricature of her. He followed her everywhere, could not dine
without her, made her directions his law. When her peculiar doctrines
of the Quietist life, and her fame, had caused a disturbance in the
Church, her enemies circulated scandals about the friends. The
spotless and heavenly-minded woman smiled, and paid no heed to the
wrong. But Father Lacombe, under the combined power of his Quietistic
fanaticism, poor health, bitter persecutions, and relentless
imprisonment, lost the balance of his mind altogether, and died.
Fenelon also, interested in Madame Guion by her genuine piety, and by
sympathy with many of her views, and finding this interest greatly
deepened on personal acquaintance, formed a strong attachment for
her. Convinced of her innocence, and knowing her rare worth, the
misfortunes and sufferings brought on her by her persecutors served
but to redouble his kindness. Her enemies then became his; and they
made him pay dearly for his fidelity, by robbing him of waiting
honors, and throwing him into disgrace at court.

His friendship for Madame Guion was like that of a guardian angel. It
never failed. One can imagine what her feelings towards him must have
been. Many noble women had a strong friendship for Fenelon. He could
not come into the confiding relations of his office with them without
that result. His face was all intelligence and all harmony; his
voice, music; his manner, fascination; his character, heaven. His
unconscious suavity, his abnegated personality, formed a mighty
magnet; and every soul, with any steel of nobleness in it, fondly
swayed to him. Madame Maintenon gave him, for years, all the
reverence and affection of which her commonplace nature was capable;
and then, at the command of her selfish bigotry, became chilled. The
impassioned and unhappy La Maisonfort, so talented and so beautiful,
whose pathetic story is charged with every element of romance, adored
him. And the Duchess de Chevreuse and the Duchess de Beauvilliers
always paid him an homage whose grace and sweetness the happiest man
that ever lived might well sigh for. To the latter of these queenly
women, then a sorrowing widow, he wrote, in the last letter he
penned, "We shall soon find again that which we have not lost: every
day we approach it with swift strides; yet a little while, and there
will be no more cause for tears." Among the penitents of Bossuet,
there was one--a widow, named Cornuau, to whom the great prelate gave
more of his heart than to any of the rest. In submitting her
spiritual life to his oversight, they were often brought together,
both by letters and by personal interviews. The affectionate docility
and loyalty of the novice won his kind esteem, and the condescending
benignity and greatness of the noble genius kindled her enthusiasm.
And so the opposite ends of the chain of their attachment were
fastened. After displaying exemplary zeal, for fifteen years, in all
the works of duty assigned her, she was permitted to become a nun,
taking the name of Bossuet in addition to the title of Sister Saint
Benigne. Despite her humble origin and the mediocrity of her
intellect, Bossuet preferred her above all the high-born and
brilliant ladies who constantly knelt for his benedictions. It was
only natural, that, notwithstanding the work of grace, she should
sometimes feel jealous. But once, after she had expressed herself
"ready to burst with jealousy" of a certain great lady, whom she
falsely supposed esteemed more than herself by the lofty director,
when the object of her jealousy was smitten with a frightful disease,
Sister Benigne, with sublime self-sacrifice, went to Paris, and
became her nurse; "shut herself up with her, watched over and loved
her." When Bossuet died, La Cornuau, "happily guided by her
friendship, forgetting her own vanity, and mindful only of the fame
of her spiritual father, did more for him, perhaps, than any
panegyrist." She published the two hundred letters he had written to
her, "noble letters, written in profound secrecy, never intended to
see the light, but worthy of exposure to the perusal of the whole

A friendship, such as we might suppose would be characteristic of
such ecstatic natures, was cherished between the two celebrated
Spanish mystics, Saint Theresa and Saint John of the Cross. The
fullest expressions of it may be found in their respective writings,
now translated into many languages, and easy of access almost
anywhere. Unquestionably there have been very numerous Friendships,
worthy of notice, between clergymen and devout women, in the
Protestant sects. But they are different from those in the Catholic
communion, which has, in this respect, great advantages. In the
Protestant establishment, all are on a free equality; and the
religion is an element fused into the life. With the Catholics, the
overwhelming authority of the Church invests the priests with godlike
attributes; while celibacy detaches their hearts from the home and
family, leaving them ready for other calls. The laity are placed in a
passive attitude, except as to faith and affection, which are more
active for the restrictions applied elsewhere; and religion is
pursued and practised as an art by itself. The church ritual, by its
dramatic contents and movement, peerless in its pathetic, imaginative
power, intensifies and cleanses the passions of those who
appreciatively celebrate or witness it, and who are naturally
attracted together, as, in blended devotional emotions and aims, they
cultivate that supernatural art whose infinite interests make all
earthly concerns appear dwarfed and pale.

The instances already cited of the friendships thus originating
suffice to indicate the wealth in this kind of experience which must
remain for ever unknown to the public. But one example which has just
been brought to light, and is worthy to rank with the best of earlier
times, should be mentioned here. It is the relation of Madame
Swetchine and the most renowned preacher of our century, Lacordaire.
This friendship has been beautifully portrayed by Montalembert. A
full account of it will be found farther on in these pages. The
friendship that joined the souls, and still links the names, of
Vittoria Colonna and Michael Angelo, is one of the most celebrated in
history. Her married life with the chivalrous and magnificent Marquis
of Pescara, in his palace on the bewitching isle of Ischia, was one
of the most romantically happy unions ever known; and nothing could
be more noble than her impassioned fidelity to his memory. It was in
the twelfth year of her widowhood that she first met with Michael
Angelo, then sixty-three years old. Such were their respective
attributes of personal worth and majesty, rank and fame, exaltation
of character and genius, stainless purity, dignity, earnestness, and
devotion, that they could not fail to regard each other with ardent
esteem. For ten years, till death separated them, this esteem, with a
consequent sympathy and happiness, steadily grew. To her he dedicated
many works of his chisel and his pencil, and addressed several
exquisite poems.

Their example affords a fine illustration of the sentiment of
Platonic love; and his verses repeatedly give it a rhetorical
expression equally fine. He says,

Better plea
Love cannot have, than that, in loving thee,
Glory to that eternal Peace is paid,
Who such divinity to thee imparts
As hallows and makes pure all gentle hearts.
His hope is treacherous only whose love dies
With beauty, which is varying every hour.
But in chaste hearts, uninfluenced by the power
Of outward change, there blooms a deathless flower,
That breathes on earth the air of Paradise.

Vittoria said, "He who admires only the works of Michael Angelo
values the smallest part in him." One of the only two portraits he
ever painted was hers. The aged Angelo stood by the couch of Vittoria
at her death. When the last breath had gone, "he raised her hand, and
kissed it with a sacred respect." It is touching to know, that the
sublime old man, years afterwards, recalling that scene to a friend,
lamented, that, in the awe of the moment, he had refrained from
pressing his lips on those of the sainted Colonna. Hermann Grimm
says, "How great the loss was which he sustained can be realized only
by him who has himself felt the void which the removal of a superior
intellect irretrievably leaves behind it. It must have been to him as
if a long-used, magnificent book, in which he found words suiting
every mood, had been suddenly closed, never to be re-opened. Nothing
can compensate for the loss of a friend who has journeyed with us for
many years, sharing our experiences. Vittoria was the only one who
had ever fully opened her soul to him. What profit could he draw from
the reverence of those who would have ceased to understand him, had
he shown himself as he was in truth? His only consolation was the
thought, that his own career was near its close."

Among the celebrated French women, who have had a genius and a
passion for friendships, Mademoiselle de Scudéry deserves prominent
mention. Her great talents, virtuous character, and affectionate
disposition, made her a favorite in the distinguished society she
frequented. The great Conde, Madame de Longueville, and the other
famous visitors of the Hotel Rambouillet, honored her, and took
delight in her companionship. Her ardent devotion to her friends, her
beautiful and heroic fidelity to them, her chivalrous vein of
sentiment and character, Cousin has illustrated with his minute
learning and generous eloquence. Why Madame de Longueville was in
disgrace with the court party, Mademoiselle de Scudéry, with a
fearless and noble constancy, dedicated a book to her, and, in
consequence, lost her pension, and had to write for her bread. For
this her aristocratic friends, instead of forsaking her, admired and
clung to her the more. Her famous work, the "Grand Cyrus," in ten
thick volumes, to which Cousin has brought to light a complete key,
is filled with disguised portraits of her friends and associates, and
with descriptions of the times.

She draws her own likeness under the name of Sappho. In this work,
the pictures, incidents, and conversations reflect a state of
society, in which "the degrees and shades of friendship, from deep
Platonic love to the slight impression one person makes on another at
first meeting, are the real pre-occupations of existence; the
smallest grace of mind or manner is observed, and of importance;
there is an intense epicurism in companionship; it is both the first
occupation and the greatest pleasure of life." The second edition of
an English translation of the whole ten volumes of the "Grand Cyrus"
was published in London in 1691. The translator, F. G., Esq.,
erroneously attributes the authorship to "that famous wit of France,
Monsieur de Scudéry, Governour of Nostre-Dame." He confounds the
sister with the brother. It is dedicated to Queen Mary, wife of
William of Orange, in a style of sonorous pomp, worthy of the court
of Nadir Shah. In his preface, F. G. says, "If you ask what the
subject is; 'Tis the Height of Prowess, intermixed with Virtuous and
Heroick Love; consequently the language lofty, and becoming the
Grandeur of the Illustrious Personages that speak; so far from the
least Sully of what may be thought Vain or Fulsom, that there is not
anything to provoke a Blush from the most modest Virgin; while Love
and Honour are in a seeming Contention which shall best instruct the
willing ear with most Delight." In describing the deep and rare
friendships with which the "Grand Cyrus" abounds, Mademoiselle de
Scudéry had but to look into her own heart, and make copies from her
experience. Especially might the union of Sappho and Phaon stand for
the picture of her own connection with Pélisson." The exchange of
their thoughts was so sincere that all those in Sappho's mind passed
into Phaon's, and all those in Phaon's came into Sappho's. They told
each other every particular of their lives; and so perfect was their
union, that nothing was ever seen equal to it. Never did love join so
much purity to so much ardor. He wished for nothing beyond the
possession of her heart. They understood each other without words,
and saw their whole hearts in each other's eyes." Pélisson was
twenty-nine, and Mademoiselle de Scudéry forty-five, when they first
met. Their instant mutual interest deepened, on more thorough
acquaintance, into the warmest esteem and affection, and remained
unshaken for over forty years. The perfection of their intimacy was
known to every one; and every one believed in its entire purity.
Cousin says it is touching to see these two noble persons made so
happy by their friendship, a friendship which even the coarse and
slanderous Tallement respected so much that he refrained from casting
a single sneer at it. The story of Pélisson's imprisonment in the
Bastile is known to the whole world by the anecdote of the spider.

His only companion, during those wretched years, was a large spider,
which he had tamed, and was accustomed to feed and play with. One
day, the brute of a jailer trod on him, and killed him; and Passon
wept. His friend employed all her ingenuity, during his confinement,
in inventing means of communication with him. "At times, when he was
ready to fall into despair, a few lines would reach him, and bring
him comfort." At length his prison was opened, and fortune smiled
again. At his death, Mademoiselle de Scudéry, though eighty-six years
old, wrote and published a simple and affecting memoir of him, paying
a deserved tribute to his character, in which, she said, there
reigned a singular and most charming combination of tenderness,
delicacy, and generosity. The most constant among the large circle of
admiring friends drawn around Madame de Sévigné by her merits and
charms was a cultivated Italian gentleman named Corbinelli, who lived
in Paris, on a moderate income, asking only leisure, and the
gratification of his high tastes. He was "one of those rare
exceptions who seem created by nature to be the benevolent spectators
of human events, without taking any part in them beyond that of
observation and interest for the actors." He had talents equal to the
greatest achievements, but was indolent and unambitious.

He was one of the earliest to discern and to proclaim Madame de
Sévigné's exquisite superiority of mind, disposition, and manners,
and to pay reverential court to her. Lamartine gives this account of
the friendship that ensued--an account not less instructive than
interesting: "His admiration, his worship, which sought no return,
gained him admittance to her house, where he was regarded as one of
the family, and became a necessary appendage. Madame de Sévigné, at
first charmed by his wit, afterward touched by his disinterested
attachment, concluded by making him the confidant of her most secret
emotions. Every heart that beats warmly beneath its own bosom seeks
to hear itself repeated in that of another. Corbinelli became the
echo of Madame de Sévigné's mind, soul, and existence. He
participated in her adoration of her daughter. At Paris, he visited
her every day: he sometimes followed her to Livry; and, when absent,
corresponded with her frequently.

"The dominion which his friend exercised over him was so gentle, that
he experienced no feeling of slavery while submitting 'implicitly to
the rule of her tastes. So absolute was her empire, that, when she
became a devotee, he became a mystic: he followed her, as the
satellite accompanies the planet, from the worldly gayeties of her
youth, even to the foot of the altar, and the ascetic self-denial of
Port-Royal. He survived her, as though he had survived himself, and
lived to the extraordinary age of one hundred and four years,
animated to unusual life by his gentle and amiable feelings. Such was
Madame de Sévigné's principal friend. If his name were erased from
her letters, the monument would be mutilated." La Rochefoucauld,
whose reputation the indignant eloquence of Cousin has so damaged,
was the object of an admiring friendship, of which he was not worthy,
from Madame de Sévigné and Madame de la Fayette. But of all the
friends to whom the ardent, imaginative, faithful heart of Madame de
Sévigné attached itself, no one, after her husband and her daughter,
held so commanding a place as Fouquet, the unfortunate minister of
Louis XIV. Fouquet must have had rare traits, besides his
acknowledged greatness of mind, to have won such a pure and
unconquerable affection. Cast down from power, disgraced, closely
imprisoned for fifteen years in the fortress of Pignerol, scoffed at
by those who had fawned on him in his prosperity, and forgotten by
nearly all whom he had befriended, never did Madame de Sévigné forget
him, or cease, for one day, her efforts to alleviate his condition--
cheering him with letters, and toiling to secure his liberation.
D'Alembert had a long and sedulously improved friendship with Madame
du Deffand, of whom Henault said, "Friendship was a passion with her;
and no woman ever had more friends, or better deserved them."

There was a basis for this eulogy; but it needs much qualification.
She and D'Alembert prized each other's society highly, and passed
much time together. But jealousy and exaction are tenacious
occupants, easily recalled to the heart even of an aged and friendly
woman. When D'Alembert formed a closer friendship with Mademoiselle
Lespinasse, the young and charming companion of Madame du Deffand,
the latter imperiously dictated the renunciation of the new friend as
the condition of retaining the old. The superiority of temper,
genius, and worth in Mademoiselle Lespinasse did not permit
D'Alembert to hesitate; and she repaid him with memorable fidelity.
The affectionate and dependent girl was harshly driven out. In her
anguish, she took laudanum, but not with a fatal result. D'Alembert
then called Du Deffand an old viper; but his friend checked him, and
would never allow any abuse of her former mistress, much less herself
indulge in vituperation of her. When D'Alembert was attacked by a
malignant fever, she went to his bedside, and nursed him day and
night till he was convalescent. Marmontel says, "Malice itself never
assailed their pure and innocent intimacy." She afterwards formed an
attachment, of the most romantic character, to the young Spanish
Marquis de Mora, who reciprocated her affection with impassioned
ardor. He died while on the road to join her; and she was not long in
following him into the grave, though, in the mean time, a still
stronger passion for Guibert had weaned her from D'Alembert. The
fervent tenderness of the latter for her remained unaltered, and he
was inconsolable at her departure. On hearing of her death, Madame du
Deffand said, "Had she only died fifteen years earlier, I should not
have lost D'Alembert." Her letters are famous in the literature of
love. Sir James Mackintosh says, "They are, in my opinion, the truest
picture of deep passion ever traced by a human being." Margaret
Fuller writes, "I am swallowing by gasps that cauldrony beverage of
selfish passion and morbid taste, the letters of Lespinasse. It is
good for me. The picture, so minute in its touches, is true as
death." Madame de Staël had many devoted friendships, as would
naturally be expected from the overwhelming wealth and ardor of her
nature. Affinity of genius and a common love of liberty drew Benjamin
Constant and her into intimate relations; and she maintained for
years still closer relations with the all-knowing, all-cultured
August Schlegel, whose devouring egotism and ever-sensitive vanity
put all her patience and generosity to the proof.

The current opinion concerning Madame de Staël, that she was an
exacting and disagreeable woman, is unjust. Schiller, who shrank from
her impetuous eloquence, and Heine, whose reckless satire depicts her
as going through Europe, a whirlwind in petticoats, both do her
wrong. William von Humboldt, who knew her well, pronounces a glowing
eulogy on her exalted traits, and says that Goethe, from prejudice
and ignorance, was very unjust to her. Madame Mole says, "Women are
not half grateful enough to Madame de Staël for the honor she
conferred upon her sex by taking up the noble side of every question,
armed with her pen and her eloquence, and never once calculating what
the consequences might be. As time goes on, and details sink into
insignificance, she will rise as the grand figure who withstood
Bonaparte at the head of six hundred thousand men, with Europe at his
back. His vanity was such that he could not bear one woman should
refuse to praise him; for that was her only guilt." She was capable
of the utmost magnanimity and disinterestedness. Every exalted
sentiment struck a powerful chord in her heart. She lived in justice,
freedom, beneficence, love, aspiration. The friendship of Matthieu de
Montmorency, the most intimate and devoted of all her friends, is
enough to prove her exalted worth, making every abatement for her
acknowledged foibles. This chivalrous nobleman came, in his youth, to
America with Lafayette, and fought for the new Republic. Although one
of the foremost members of the aristocracy, it was on his motion in
the Constituent Assembly that the privileges of the nobility were
abolished. Sympathy in opinions and in the generous strain of their
characters was the basis of a connection between him and Madame de
Staël, that constantly grew in strength with the trials to which it
was subjected, and was not severed even by death. When his brother,
ardently loved, fell under the axe of the Revolution, it was her
delicate sympathy, her ingenious and indefatigable goodness, that
first soothed his anguish, assuaged the horror that threatened his
reason, and prepared the way for religion and peace. And in turn,
when she was exiled by Napoleon, Montmorency journeyed to Switzerland
to visit her, at the risk of being banished himself, as he
immediately was. "Matthieu, the friend of twenty years, is the most
faultless being I have ever known." "How could he think I should
tarry in Germany, when, by leaving it, I had a chance of seeing him?
All Germany could not pay me for the loss of two days of his
society." No unkindness, suspicion, or ignobleness of any sort, ever
interrupted or mixed in the affection of these high friends. When
Montmorency died, suddenly, in church, years after the death of
Madame de Staël, the daughter of the latter, the Duchess de Broglie,
instinctively exclaimed, on hearing of the event, "Ah, my God! I seem
to see the grief of my poor mother." The prejudice in England and
America against friendships between men and women has operated
considerably to lessen their frequency, still more to keep them from
public attention when they do exist. Undoubtedly, many a charming
English woman, many a charming American woman, in her time the centre
of the social circles of fashion, letters, and politics, has been
surrounded by a company of friends as devoted at heart as those who
have gathered with more public homage about the famous dames of
France and Germany. Such groups will be called to mind by the English
names of Mrs. Montagu, Lady Melbourne, Lady Holland; the American
names of Mrs. Madison, Mrs. Hamilton, Mrs. Seaton, Mrs. Schuyler, and
many others. But, since, with the most of these latter, the details
have not been taken from the category of private property, by
publications of memoirs and journals, it would be impertinent to
single them out for personal mention, even where it is possible.

Magdalen Herbert, mother of George Herbert, befriended Dr. Donne in
his distresses, ministering to the wants of his family with generous
delicacy, and comforting him by her society. His discernment of her
wit and piety, her gracious and noble disposition, combined with his
gratitude to make him her fast and fervent friend. His conversation,
together with that of Bishop Andrews, whose renown Clarendon and
Milton unite to swell, appears to have given Lady Herbert great
delight. Lasting evidence of the impression her character and
kindness made on him is found in his verses and letters addressed to
her, and in the funeral sermon which, with many tears, he preached
for her. He says in verse, in her advancing age,

No spring nor summer beauty has such grace
As I have seen on an autumnal face.

And he gratefully writes to her in his quaint prose, "Your favors to
me are everywhere. I use them and have them. I enjoy them at London
and leave them there, and yet find them at Mitcham. Such riddles as
these become things inexpressible; and such is your goodness." There
was a choice, ever-comforting, and sacred friendship between the
great John Locke and the excellent Lady Damaris Masham, the only
daughter of that ornament of the English Church, the learned and
benignant Cudworth.

She was one of the most gifted, cultivated, and elegant women of her
time. The genius and moral worth of Locke are well known to all.
Domesticated in the family of Lady Masham for many years before his
death, giving her all the advantage of his talents, acquirements, and
sympathy, "she returned the obligation with singular benevolence and
gratitude, always treating him with the utmost generosity and
respect; for she had an inviolable friendship for him." She watched
by him in his last illness. He asked her to read a psalm to him. As
death approached, he desired her to break off reading, and in a few
minutes breathed his closing breath. She wrote the fine sketch of his
character published in the "Historical Dictionary." She says his
manners made him very agreeable to all sorts of people, and nobody
was better received than he among those of the highest rank. "His
greatest amusement was to talk with sensible people, and he courted
their conversation." The amiable, unfortunate Cowper, the most
shrinking and melancholy of men, too gentle and too unworldly for
common companionship, was especially fitted for the soothing
ministrations and the healing sympathy of women. He was dependent on
these friendships, and found his chief happiness in them. But for
them, his career would have been as brief as it was wretched; and his
name, now haloed with such sadly pleasing attractions, would have had
no place in English literature, except in the dark list of madmen and
suicides. Who that has read his matchless lines on his mother's
picture will not bless the good women who shed so many rays of peace
and bliss on his unhappy lot. His cousin, the angelic Lady Hesketh,
whose disinterested tenderness lavished grateful attentions on him,
with a sweet skill that failed neither in his youth nor in his age,
was as a light from heaven on his path through the whole journey.
Some touching verses, and innumerable references in his letters,
attest his appreciation of her. Mrs. Throckmorton and her husband, in
whose grounds he loved to walk, and in whose kindly and refined
society he spent so many delightful hours, furnished a healthy relief
from the gloom of his austere religion, in the atmosphere of their
genial catholicity; and were an invaluable comfort and benefit to
him. Lady Austen also, a sprightly and accomplished woman, of
intellectual tastes, quick sympathies, and charming manners, whose
appearance at Olney "added fresh plumes to the wings of time," was at
one period an inexpressible blessing to him. "Lady Austen's
conversation acted on Cowper's mind as the harp of David on the
troubled spirit of Saul." He christened her "Sister Ann," and wrote
cordial verses to her. Constant communications with her withdrew his
attention from depressing superstitions, and enlivened his spirits.
At her suggestion it was, and under her sustaining encouragement,
that he composed the immortal ballad of "John Gilpin," the "Dirge for
the Royal George," and his greatest work, "The Task." Love being
proscribed by his repeated subjection to insanity, friendship was the
resource in which he was thrice fortunate.

Far above all others in the number of his female friends, in
importance, must be ranked Mary Unwin, whose name is indissolubly
joined with his in the memories of all who are familiar with his
plaintive story. Mrs. Unwin, wife of a clergyman, religious after the
most scrupulous evangelical type, was first drawn to Cowper by a
sectarian interest. They were fated to be friends, as by the striking
of a die. "That woman," he soon wrote to Lady Hesketh, "is a blessing
to me; and I never see her without being the better for her company."
This is the secret of the charm of all true friendship--that it
soothes the heart, clarifies the mind, heightens the soul. One feels
so much the better for it. Almost penniless as he was, a shiftless
manager, assailed by terrible depression and even madness, the Unwins
took him under their roof, and gave him a home on the most generous
terms. From this time until her death, the friendship of Mary was a
necessity to Cowper, the greatest support and enjoyment the hapless
poet knew, combining with his native humor and gentleness to combat
his melancholy malady with frequent and long victories. In his fits
of insanity, she watched and waited on him day and night, defying
alike personal hardships and the slanderous remarks of the vile. The
only drawback on Cowper's indebtedness to Mrs. Unwin was her jealous
wish to restrict him to the society of her own sect of religionists,
that harrowing type of piety represented by John Newton. Otherwise,
he might have enjoyed much more frequent and prolonged periods of
what he cheerily characterized as "absences of Mr. Blue-devil." Lady
Hesketh said of her, "She seems in truth to have no will left on
earth but for his good. How she has supported the constant attendance
she has gone through with the last thirteen years is to me, I
confess, wonderful." Cowper himself said, "It is to her, under
Providence, I owe it that I am alive at all." With a devotion in
which self appeared to be lost, "there she sat, on the hardest and
smallest chair, leaving the best to him, knitting, with the finest
possible needles, stockings of the nicest texture. He wore no others
than of her knitting." After nearly a generation of her fond and
sedulous ministering, repeatedly stricken with paralysis, her mind
decayed, mute, almost blind, as she sat by his side, a pathetic
memento of what she had been, Cowper composed for her that
unsurpassed tribute, his exquisite and imperishable lines, "To Mary":

The twentieth year has well-nigh past,
Since first our sky was overcast:
Ah! would that this might be our last,
My Mary!

Thy spirits have a fainter flow:
I see thee daily weaker grow;
'Tis my distress that brought thee low,
My Mary!

Thy needles, once a shining store,
For my sake restless heretofore,
Now rust, disused, and shine no more,
My Mary!

Thy indistinct expressions seem
Like language uttered in a dream;
Yet me they charm, whate'er the theme,
My Mary!

Thy silver locks, once auburn bright,
Are still more lovely in my sight
Than golden beams of orient light,
My Mary!

Partakers of my sad decline,
Thy hands their little force resign;
Yet, gently prest, press gently mine,
My Mary!

Yet ah! by constant heed, I know
How oft the sadness that I show
Transforms thy smiles to looks of woe,
My Mary!

And should my future lot be cast
With much resemblance of the past,
Thy worn-out heart will break at last,
My Mary!

Lady Hesketh, ever a true angel, came and dwelt with the afflicted
pair. And when Cowper, after four wretched years of separation,
plunged, as he expressed it, in deeps unvisited by any human soul
save his, followed his faithful sister-spirit to a better world, Lady
Hesketh, that model of a third friend, built, in St. Edmund's Chapel,
where he was buried, a monument displaying two tablets, both bearing
poetical inscriptions; one dedicated to William Cowper, the other to
Mary Unwin. The friendship of Garrick and Mrs. Clive is memorable for
its sprightliness, sincerity, unbroken harmony-saving a few momentary
quarrels for relish--long duration, and the large measure of happiness
it yielded. Their correspondence is very entertaining, and reflects
honor on them both. Their talents and virtues contributed in a high
degree to adorn and elevate the profession to which they belonged. It
is an interesting fact, equally creditable to all the parties, that
"Pivy," as they affectionately called Kittie Clive, was as dear to
the excellent Mrs. Garrick as to her brilliant husband. The
friendship of David Garrick was also one of the most delightful
features in the life of the admirable Hannah More. A letter written
by Hannah on seeing him play Lear, greatly pleased him, and led to
their acquaintance. Acquaintance soon ripened into a warm esteem, and
produced a friendship of the most cordial--and intimate character,
which lasted until death. He declared that the nine muses had taken
up their residence in her mind; and both in his conversation and his
letters he constantly called her "Nine." One day when she and
Johnson, and a few others, were at table with the Garricks, David
read to the company her Sir Eldred, with such inimitable feeling that
the happy authoress burst into tears. Friendship filled a large space
in the life of Hannah More, administering incalculable strength in
her labors, joy in her successes, comfort in her afflictions. It has
left its memorials in the records of a host of visits, gifts,
letters, poems, dedications. Her correspondence with Sir William
Pepys shows what an invaluable resource a wise, pure, comprehensive
friendship is in the life of a thoughtful woman. Bishop Porteus
bequeathed her a legacy of a hundred pounds. She consecrated an urn
to him near her house with an inscription in memory of his long and
faithful friendship. Mr. Turner, of Belmont, to whom she was for six
years betrothed, but broke off the engagement after he had three
times postponed the appointed wedding-day, always retained the
highest esteem for her, and left her a thousand pounds at his death.
She also maintained a most friendly relation, as long as his
increasing habit of intemperance allowed it, with her early tutor,
Langhorne, the translator of Plutarch. On occasion of an anticipated
visit from her, Langhorne wrote a very pretty poem, beginning,

Blow, blow, my sweetest rose!
For Hannah More will soon be here;
And all that crowns the ripening year
Should triumph where she goes.

Joanna Baillie and Sir Walter Scott were deeply attached friends.
United by a generous admiration for genius, by esteem for exalted
worth and by community of tastes, they were drawn still more closely
together by many mutual kindnesses, visits, and frequent
correspondence. A copy of Scott's "Marmion," fresh from the press,
was placed in Joanna's hands. She cut the leaves and began to read it
aloud to a small circle of friends, when she suddenly came upon the
following magnificent and electrifying tribute to herself:

Or, if to touch such chord be thine,
Restore the ancient tragic line,
And emulate the notes that rung
From the wild harp that silent hung
By silver Avon's holy shore
Till twice an hundred years rolled o'er;
When she, the bold enchantress, came
With fearless hand and heart in flame,
From the pale willow snatched the treasure,
And swept it with a kindred measure,
Till Avon's swans, while rung the grove
With Monfort's hate and Basil's love,
Awakening at the inspired strain,
Deemed their own Shakespeare lived again!

Joanna, though taken by surprise, read on in a firm voice, till she
observed the uncontrollable emotion of a friend by her side. Then she
too gave way. It is delightful to partake by sympathy in so generous
a gift of joy. What a pity it is that such a loving magnanimity as
that of glorious Sir Walter is not more frequent among authors! The
chief advantage of Fox over Pitt consisted in the fascinating
demonstrativeness of his heart and manners. This won him hosts of
idolizing friends, foremost among whom were many of the choicest
ladies of the kingdom.

Pre-eminent among these were the two dazzlingly lovely women, ardent
friends of each other too, Mrs. Catherine Crewe and Georgiana
Cavendish, Duchess of Devonshire. They were indefatigable in
canvassing for him. On one occasion, when the conflict for votes was
intense, a butcher offered to vote for Fox on condition that the
Duchess of Devonshire would allow him a kiss. The enthusiastic
canvasser, perhaps the most beautiful woman then living, granted it
amid deafening cheers. Nor was Mrs. Crewe less efficient. At a
private banquet in honor of Fox's triumph, the Prince of Wales gave
as a toast, "True Blue, and Mrs. Crewe." She gave in return, "True
Blue, and all of you." The Duchess of Devonshire exerted all her
powers, though in vain, to reconcile Burke with Fox, after their
quarrel. On the death of Fox, she wrote a poetic tribute to his
memory. Dr. Beattie, author of "The Minstrel," so many of whose
touching lines have rung through souls of sensibility and are
familiar to all lovers of poetry--such, for example, as,

Ah, who can tell how hard it is to climb
The steep where Fame's proud temple shines afar:
Ah, who can tell how many a soul sublime
Has felt the influence of malignant star,
And with inglorious fortune waged eternal war!

enjoyed a delightful friendship with the Duchess of Gordon. He spent
the happiest hours of his saddened life at her castle, in the
enjoyment of her unvarying kindness. He sent her books; they
exchanged letters; and in all the brilliant whirl of her life as a
reigning beauty, an ardent politician, and a leader of fashion, she
fully appreciated his worth, and reciprocated his attentions and
esteem until his death.

A friendship of an uncommon character, containing the elements of a
romance, has left a monument of itself in two volumes, called
"Letters of William Von Humboldt to a Female Friend." Humboldt, then
an undergraduate at Göttingen, during one of his vacations spent
three days at Pyrmont. Much of this time he passed in the society of
a lovely and very superior young lady who was staying there with her
father. Each was deeply interested in the other, without suspecting
that the feeling was mutual. On parting, Humboldt gave his fair
friend an album-leaf as a memento. The image of the fascinating
student was indelibly impressed on her imagination, a centre of ideal
activity and accumulation. So, it afterwards seemed, was her image
left in his imagination. Twenty-six years passed in absence and
silence. Humboldt had become famous and prominent, and was blessed
with a happy family. Charlotte had been married, and was now a
childless widow. Deprived of her parents, her husband, her property,
she was overwhelmed with misfortunes. Her large property having been
devoted to the State, it occurred to her that her old friend, of the
three youthful days at Pyrmont, now a minister of the king, might
assist her to recover, at least a portion of it, or at all events
give her valuable advice as to what to do. She gathered courage to
write him a letter, enclosing his old album-leaf, recalling their
early meeting, telling how sacredly the memory of him had been
enshrined in her soul, and begging him to counsel and console her in
her great distress. The character of the letter was such, revealing a
spirit so rich, high, and pure, that the generous nature of Humboldt
was much moved. He at once replied with great kindness and wisdom,
and with oars of practical aid. Thus began a correspondence which
lasted until his death, twenty years later, during the whole of which
period they only met twice for a brief time. Charlotte's portion of
the correspondence, which is clot published--so affectionately
reverential, so transparently sincere and trustful, evidently gave
the great scholar and statesman extreme pleasure, a most varied
stimulus. His letters reveal the fragrant warmth of his heart, the
rare virtues and treasures of his soul, his saintly wisdom, in a most
attractive manner. They were prized by Charlotte as the religion and
sanctuary of her existence, and left to be given to the world as a
holy bequest after her death. An interesting fact in the character of
Charlotte, often noticed in these letters, and full of fruits in her
life, is that she always had an intense desire to have a friend in
the fullest sense of the word--a desire which was early heightened by
the repeated enthusiastic perusal of Richardson's "Clarissa Harlowe."
This dream had many partial realizations--the most complete and
lasting in Humboldt. Rarely has any relation of individuals been so
original, and awakened so much interest, as that between Goethe and
his child-friend Bettine. In publishing their correspondence, many
years after its close, Bettine prefaces it with the remark: "This
book is for the good, and not for the bad." She foresaw how the bad
would misinterpret it, yet felt that she could afford to defy their
incompetent construal. She loved Goethe to idolatry--her whole soul
vibrating beneath the power of the possession; but the ideality of
the passion, in her naïve and spontaneous nature, was a perfect
safeguard from evil. Under this spell, all her rich, unquestioning
ardors of reverence and fondness were as sacredly guided as the
movements of Mignon, dancing blindfold amidst the eggs, with never a
false step. Goethe's conduct towards the trustful and impassioned
girl was exceedingly discreet, in its mingled kindness and wisdom. He
felt the sweetness of her worship; he guarded her, as a father would,
from its dangers. But, above all, he was profoundly interested in the
spectacle of her young, original, unveiled soul. The electric soil of
her brain teemed with a miraculous efflorescence, on which he never
tired of gazing. It was to him like sitting apart in some still
place, and watching the secret forces and workings of nature,
reflected in a small mirror. Thus Bettine writes from the strange
fullness of her mind, in mystic language, to Goethe's mother: "Would
that I sat, a beggar-child, before his door, and took a piece of
bread from his hand, and that he knew, by my glance, of what spirit I
am the child. Then would he draw me nigh to him, and cover me with
his cloak, that I might be warm. I know he would never bid me go
again. I should wander in the house, and no one would know who I was
nor whence I came; and years would pass, and life would pass, and in
his features the whole world would be reflected to me, and I should
not need to learn any thing more." And Goethe replies, "Your dear
letters bestow on me so much that is delightful, that they may justly
precede all else: they give me a succession of holidays, whose return
always blesses me anew. Write to me all that passes in your mind.
Farewell. Be ever near me, and continue to refresh me." Mont Blanc
stoops, with all his snows, to kiss the rosy vale nestling at his
feet. Goethe, in the course of his life, stood in the most intimate
relations with a large number of the rarest women. Few men have ever
appreciated female character so well. No one has exhibited their
virtues, and pleaded their cause with a more impressive combination
of insight, sympathy, and veneration.

His many sins towards women deserve severe condemnation and rebuke;
but it is an outrageous wrong towards his noble genius to limit
attention, as so many critics do, to that aspect of the case. The
wondering love and study which Frederike, Lili, and others drew from
him; the religious admiration and awed curiosity evoked in him by the
spiritual Fraulein von Klettenburg, "over whom," as he said, "in her
invalid loneliness, the Holy Ghost brooded like a dove;" the
respectful affection, gratitude, and homage commanded by the
extraordinary merits of his lofty and endeared friends, the Duchess
Amelia, and the Grand Duchess Louise--all bore fruits in his
experience and his works. The revelations they made, the examples
they set, the lessons they taught, the noble suggestions they
kindled, re-appear in the series of enchanting, glorious, adorable
women--Gretchen, Natalia, Ottilia, Iphigenia, Makaria, and the rest--
who, with their artless affection, their self-renouncement, their
wisdom, their dignity, their holiness, their sufferings, appear in
his master-works, breathing presentments of life, for the edification
and delight of generations of readers. He has recognized, more
profoundly than any other author, the essentially feminine form of
that divine principle of disinterested love, that impulse of pure
self-abnegation, in which resides the redemptive power of humanity;
and has set it forth with incomparable clearness and constancy. At
the close of Faust, he has given it statement in a form which
associates his genius with that of Dante, and in a kindred height. It
is the womanly element, he would say, worshipful and self-denying
love, that draws us ever forward, redeeming and uplifting our grosser

Das ewig weibliche
Zieht uns hinan.

Wieland and Sophia de la Roche were profoundly attached to each other
during the greater part of their lives. He and his beloved wife were
buried beside her; and a tasteful monument erected over them, according
to his orders. It bears the inscription, in German, composed by himself:--

Love and Friendship joined these kindred souls in life,
And their mortal part is covered by this common stone.

Hölderlin, whose soaring and fiery soul was caged in too exquisite
an organization, lived, for some time, when he first became sick,
in a peasant's hut, beside a brook, sleeping with open doors,
spending hours, every day, reciting Greek poems to the murmur of the
stream. The princess of Homburg, who greatly admired his genius,
and his deep, pure sentiment, had made him a present of a grand
piano. In the coming-on of his madness he cut most of the strings.
On the few keys that still sounded he continued to fantasy until
his insanity grew so engrossing, that it was necessary to remove
him to an asylum. Silvio Pellico, the story of whose sufferings in
the prison of Spielberg, has carried his plaintive memory into all
lands, and the Marchioness Giulia di Barolo were a pair of friends
brought together as by a special appointment of Heaven.

When the holy and gentle poet, patriot, and Christian came
out of his prison, with a broken constitution and a wounded heart,
into a bleak and prizeless world, the Marchioness--who had long been
a mother to the poor of her native city, an assiduous visitor of the
jails, a saintly benefactress to all the unhappy whom her charities
could reach--drawn to him by a strong interest of respect and pity,
gave him a home in her house, and supplied him with congenial
employment. Pellico gratefully appreciated her goodness to him, and
deeply reverenced her worth. In works of religion and beneficence
their lives moved on. He began to write a memoir of his friend; but
left it, a fragment, when his lingering consumption brought him to
the grave. The pious friendship of the Marchioness did not end with
his death. On his tomb, in the Campo Santo, at Turin, she placed a
column surmounted by a marble bust, and inscribed with this epitaph
from her own pen:

Under the weight of the cross
He learned the way to heaven.
Christians pray for him, And follow him.

The pathetic life, the gentle sweetness of spirit, the mournful end
of Silvio Pellico, are well known to all. The Marchioness di Barolo,
whose name is linked to his in the memory of so pure and benign a
union of friendship, lived the life, died the death, and bequeathed
the renown of a saint.

She said, "It is a great suffering to have done all in your power for
a person, and to find only ingratitude in return. There is no anger
in this suffering, nor does it necessarily destroy affection; but the
wound is buried deep in the heart; and if it has been inflicted by
one very dearly loved, no human consolation can heal it. The most
profitable education persons receive is the one they give themselves,
through the love of God and labors of charity. I was a great deal
alone in my youth, and I am sure it was good for me."

Wordsworth's affection for persons, not less than for nature, was
remarkable for its tenacity, the perseverance with which his
attention returned to it, and for the deep, clear consciousness with
which he cherished it. The most beloved of his lady friends was
Isabel Fenwick, who was a frequent visitor at Rydal Mount during the
last twenty years of his life. She wrote, to his dictation, the
autobiographical notes used in the memoir of him. Her admiring and
devoted friendship was evidently a strong inspiration and precious
solace to him. It was for her sake that he built the Level Terrace,
on which he paced to and fro for many an hour, in sight of the valley
of the Rothay and the banks of Lake Windermere. Not many finer
expressions of sentiment are to be found in our tongue than
Wordsworth has given in his sonnet on a portrait of his dear friend

We gaze, nor grieve to think that we must die.
But that the precious love this friend hath sown
Within our hearts, the love whose flower hath blown
Bright as if heaven were ever in its eye,
Will pass so soon from human memory;
And not by strangers to our blood alone,
But by our best descendants be unknown,
Unthought of this may surely claim a sigh.
Yet, blessed Art, we yield not to dejection,
Thou against time so feelingly dost strive:
Where'er, preserved in this most true reflection,
An image of her soul is kept alive,
Some lingering fragrance of the pure affection,
Whose flower with us will vanish, must survive.

Charming had many qualities especially fitting him for friendships
with women. His sensitive delicacy of refinement, disinterested
justice, tender magnanimity, earnest culture of every thing beautiful
and true, immaculate purity of soul, and burning ideal enthusiasm,
made him feel most joyfully at home with women of enlarged
sympathies, well-trained minds, and noble aspirations. He was too
shrinking, fastidious, devout, to enjoy intercourse with the rough,
hard average of society.

His diffidence, depression, and loneliness, were soothed and
alleviated, his noblest powers inspired, by affectionate communion
with several of the choicest women of his time. "To them," his
biographer says, "he could freely unveil his native enthusiasm, his
fine perceptions of fitness, his love of beauty in nature and art,
his romantic longings for a pure-toned society, his glorious hopes of
humanity. And his profound reverence for the nature and duty of women
gave that charm of unaffected courtesy to his manner, look, and tone,
which won them freely to exchange their cherished thoughts as with an
equal." The following extract from one of his letters to a woman,
whose solemn depth of soul and mind, and wondrous range of
acquirements and experience rank her with the very greatest of her
sex, Harriet Martineau, is an exceedingly interesting revelation:

"MY DEAR FRIEND, I thought I had spoken my last word to you on this
side the Atlantic; but I have this moment received your letter, and
must write a line of acknowledgment. I know, from my own experience,
that there are those who need the encouragement of praise. There are
more than is thought who feel the burden of human imperfection too
sorely, and who receive strength from approbation. Happy they who
from just confidence in right action, and from the habit of carrying
out their convictions, need little foreign support. I thank you for
this expression of your heart. Without the least tendency to
distrust, without the least dejection at the idea of neglect, with
entire gratitude for my lot, I still feel that I have not the power,
which so many others have, of awakening love, except in a very narrow
circle. I knew that I enjoyed your esteem; but I expected to fade
with my native land, not from your thoughts, but from your heart.
Your letter satisfies me that I shall have one more friend in
England. I shall not feel far from you, for what a nearness is there
in the consciousness of working in the same spirit!" The friendship
between Channing and Lucy Aikin, as seen in the rich series of her
letters to him, extending over a period of sixteen years, must have
been a valued resource, enjoyment, and stimulus to them both. An
extract or two will make the reader regret that relations charged
with such priceless blessings are not more cultivated. "To converse
with my guide, philosopher, and friend, has now become with me not a
mere indulgence, but a want. I daily discover more and more how much
I have come under the influence of your mind, and what great things
it has done, and I trust is still doing, for mine. I was never duly
sensible, till your writings made me so, of the transcendent beauty
and sublimity of Christian morals; nor did I submit my heart and
temper to their chastening and meliorating influences. In particular,
the spirit of unbounded benevolence, which they breathe, was a
stranger to my bosom: far indeed was I from looking upon all men as
my brethren. I shudder now to think how good a hater I was in the
days of my youth. Time and reflection, a wider range of acquaintance,
and a calmer state of the public mind, mitigated by degrees my
bigotry; but I really knew not what it was to open my heart to the
human race, until I had drunk deeply into the spirit of your
writings. You have given me a new being. May God reward you!" At
another time she writes, "O my dear friend, I was told yesterday that
you had been very, very ill; and though it was added that you were
now better, I have been able to think of little else since. What
would I give to know how you are at this moment! The distance which
separates us has something truly fearful in such circumstances."

"Never, my friend, are you forgotten, when my soul seeks communion
with our common Father; and when I strive most earnestly to overcome
some evil propensity, or to make some generous sacrifice, the thought
of you gives me strength not my own."

There is something especially attractive, solacing, and noble in such
a relation as the foregoing. It covers a large class of friendships
existing between Protestant clergymen and the women who, blessed by
their instructions and personal interest, have formed an attachment
to them of grateful reverence and sympathy. Such an attachment is
often a communication of profit and pleasure most precious to both

Several instances are recorded in the memoirs of Theodore Parker. His
friendship with Miss Frances Power Cobbe is particularly worthy of
notice. She wrote her gratitude to him for the benefits her mind had
derived from his writings. Gratefully appreciating her worth and high
aims, he continued to correspond with her by letter until his death.
How cordial their relation became; what kind deeds went across it;
what delights it yielded; what a deep and pure blessing of
encouragement, joy, and peace it was to them both--appears in the few
letters given to the public. When they first met, the titanic toiler,
outworn with his cares and battles, was at the edge of death. "Do
not," said the expiring athlete, "do not say what you feel for me; it
makes me too unhappy to leave you." During those lingering days of
transition from the earthly state to the heavenly, he dared not trust
himself to see her often. As he said, "it made his heart swell too
high." A class of friendships of extreme moral value, and often of
great attractiveness, results from the relations of noble and royal
women with the scholars and philosophers chosen to serve them as
tutors or advisers. The names of Zenobia and Longinus give us an
example of it in antiquity. If the annals of the crowned houses of
Europe, imperial and provincial, were searched with reference to this
point, a large number of admirable instances would be brought to
light. On the one side power, rank, grace, patronage, every courtly
charm; on the other side, learning, experience, gratitude, devoted
service, eminent personal worth--could not fail in many instances to
give birth to the most cordial esteem, and lead to a charming
intercourse. Such was the case with both Wieland and Herder, and
those queenly ladies, the Duchess Mother and the reigning Duchess of
the court of Weimar. The relation between Columbus and Queen
Isabella, after her chivalrous confidence and patronage--must have
drawn their souls towards each other with a romantic interest, only
needing better opportunities for personal intimacy to warm into a
fervent sympathy.

The Countess of Pembroke, wife of that Philip Herbert who was the
brother of Shakespeare's friend, showed how tenderly she remembered
her old instructor, Daniel, the poet-laureate, by erecting a handsome
monument to him in Beckington Church, bearing this inscription: "Here
lies, expecting the second coming of our Lord and Saviour Jesus
Christ, the dead body of Samuel Daniel, Esq., who was tutor to the
Lady Anne Clifford in her youth. She was that daughter and heir to
George Clifford, Earl of Cumberland, who, in gratitude to him,
erected this monument to his memory, a long time after, when she was
Countess Dowager of Pembroke, Dorset, and Montgomery." One of the
most beautiful recorded friendships of this kind is that revealed in
the long correspondence of Descartes and his pupil, the Princess
Elizabeth of Bohemia. Her charming character and distinguished
attainments add largely to the gratification with which we trace her
ardent esteem and attachment for her instructor and friend, whose
brilliant genius and adventurous career are of themselves
fascinating. A pleasing little volume by M. de Caren was published at
Paris so lately as the year 1862, under the title, "Descartes and the
Princess Palatine, or the Influence of Cartesianism on the Women of
the Seventeenth Century." An example of a kindred friendship is also
given by Leibnitz and his pupil, Caroline of Brunswick. Soon after
the electoress became Queen of Prussia, she invited him to visit her,
saying, "Think not that I prefer this greatness and this crown, about
which they make such a bustle here, to the conversations on
philosophy we have had together in Lutzenburg." Frederick the Great
relates that the queen, in her last hours, mentioned the name of
Leibnitz. One of the ladies in waiting burst into tears, and the
queen said to her, "Weep not for me; for I am now going to satisfy my
curiosity respecting the origin of things, which Leibnitz has never
been able to explain to me, respecting space, existence and non-
existence, and the Infinite." Frederick adds, that, as "those persons
to whom Heaven vouchsafes gifted souls raise themselves to an
equality with monarchs, this queen esteemed Leibnitz well worthy of
her friendship." The philosopher was affected deeply and long by the
loss of her who had been his closest and best friend. He wrote, being
absent at the time, to one of her favorite maids, who was also a
friend of his own, "I infer your feelings from mine. I weep not; I
complain not; but I know not where to look for relief. The loss of
the queen appears to me like a dream; but when I awake from my
revery, I find it too true. Your misfortune is not greater than mine;
but your feelings are more lively, and you are nearer to the
calamity. This encourages me to write, begging you to moderate your
sorrow. It is not by excessive grief that we shall best honor the
memory of one of the most perfect princesses of the earth; but rather
by our admiration of her virtues. My letter is more philosophical
than my heart, and I am unable to follow my own counsel: it is,
notwithstanding, rational." Ascham relates, in his "Schoolmaster," a
conversation he once held with Lady Jane Grey. She said that the
sports of the gentlemen and ladies in the park were but a shadow of
pleasure compared with that which she found in reading Plato. And, in
explaining how she came to take such delight in learning, she said,
"One of the benefits that ever God gave me is that he sent so sharp
and severe parents, and so gentle a schoolmaster. For when I am in
presence of either father or mother, whether I speak, keep silence,
sit, stand, or go, eat, drink, be merry, or sad, be sewing, playing,
or dancing, or any thing else, I must do it, as it were, in such
weight, measure, and number, even so perfectly, as God made the
world; or else I am so sharply taunted, so cruelly threatened; yea,
presently sometimes, with pinches, nips, bobs, and other ways, which
I will not name, for the honor I bear them, so without measure
misordered that I think myself in hell, till time come that I must go
to Mr. Elmer, who teaches me so gently, so pleasantly, with such fair
allurements to learning, that I think all the time nothing while I am
with him." Elizabeth Robinson, afterwards the famous Mrs. Montague,
the attracting centre of a noted and memorable association of
friends, both men and women, had an exemplary friendship, full of
good offices and pleasure, and undisturbed by any thing until death,
with her preceptor, the distinguished scholar and writer, Conyers
Middleton. Hester Lynch Salusbury, at thirteen, formed a most
affectionate attachment to Dr. Collier, a guest of her father, who
had volunteered to supervise her education. "He was just four times
my age; but the difference or agreement never crossed my mind. A
friendship more tender, or more unpolluted by interest or by vanity,
never existed. Love had no place at all in the connection, nor had he
any rival but my mother." The young Hester afterwards became the
famous Mrs. Thrale, to all the varied incidents of whose long and
close friendship with Dr. Johnson the world-Wide renown of that great
man has given a universal publicity. The relation of patroness,
sustained with such signal grace and generosity, and with such
soothing and inspiring effect, by many queenly ladies in former
times, is virtually obsolete now. But it has left memorials never to
die; and it is hard to imagine any office which at this day should be
more grateful and gracious, more full of happiness and good to a
woman of noble heart and mind, blessed with position, wealth, and
culture, than that of extending appreciative sympathy, aid, and
encouragement, to young men of genius, in their unbefriended, early
struggles. It has been strikingly said by that noble woman, Sarah
Austin, with reference to Madame Récamier, "All who were admitted to
her intimacy, hastened to her with their joys and their sorrows,
their projects and ideas; certain not only of secrecy and discretion,
but of the warmest and readiest sympathy. If a man had the rough
draught of a book, a speech, a picture, an enterprise, in his head,
it Was to her that he unfolded his half-formed plan, sure of an
attentive and sympathizing listener. This is one of the peculiar
functions of women. It is incalculable what comfort and encouragement
a kind and wise woman may give to timid merit, what support to
uncertain virtue, what wings to noble aspirations." Chaucer was thus
patronized by Philippa, queen of Edward III; by Anne of Bohemia, for
whom he composed his "Legend of Good Women;" and most of all by
Blanche of Lancaster, wife of John of Gaunt, whose courtship he
celebrated allegorically in the "Parliament of Birds," whose
epithalamium he sang in his "Dream," and whose death he lamented in
his "Book of the Duchess." The beautiful and kindly Lady Venetia
Digby patronized and befriended Ben Jonson. The attentions of so fair
and gentle a creature as she was, according to the description of her
in his two poems, called, "The Picture of the Body," and "The Picture
of the Mind,"--could not have been otherwise than most soothing,
grateful, and inspiring to him. She was found dead in her bed one
morning, her cheek resting on her hand.

She past away
So sweetly from the world, as if her clay
Laid only down to slumber.

Jonson dedicated to her memory the imperishable tribute of his heart
in a long poem made up of ten parts. The ninth part is inscribed,
"Elegy on my Muse, the truly honored Lady Venetia Digby, who, living,
gave me leave to call her so." These lines are from it:

There time that I died too, now she is dead,
Who was my Muse, and life of all I said,
The spirit that I wrote with and conceived
All that was good or great with me, she weaved,
And set it forth: the rest were cobwebs fine,
Spun out in name of some of the old Nine,
To hang a window or make dark the room
Till, swept away, they were cancelled with a broom.

Lucy, the Countess of Bedford, was likewise a great friend of Ben
Jonson. He has sung her worth in one of the most magnificent of his
shorter poems. She was also a kind and fast friend of Daniel and
Donne, both of whom wrote verses in her honor. But Jonson vastly
distanced them both. Exquisite and sublime as his praise was, it was
agreed, by those who knew her, that she fully deserved it. It is a
luxury to recall such a tribute:

This morning, timely rapt with holy fire,
I thought to form unto my zealous Muse
What kind of creature I could most desire
To honor, serve, and love; as poets use,
I meant to make her fair and free and wise,
Of greatest blood, and yet more good than great;
I meant the day-star should not brighter rise,
Nor lend like influence from his lucent seat.
I meant she should be courteous, facile, sweet,
Hating that solemn vice of greatness, pride:
I meant each softest virtue there should meet,
Fit in that softer bosom to reside.
Only a learned and a manly soul
I purposed her, that should, with even powers,
The rock, the spindle, and the shears, control,
Of Destiny, and spin her own free hours.
Such when I meant to feign, and wished to see,
My Muse bade, BEDFORD write, and that was She.

Milton had many qualities and tastes fitting him to be the delight of
female society, and to delight in it. His natural bent for all the
delicacies of sentiment, for every fine and high range of character,
thought, and passion, has strewn many choice expressions of itself in
his writings, and sprinkles his poems with eulogistic allusions to
the virtues and charms of womanhood. These have too much escaped the
popular notice, which has fastened on the numerous stinging
utterantes wrung from certain bitter passages of his experience.
Scores of critics have dwelt on the terrible traits he has given to
Delilah in "Samson Agonistes," where one has called attention to the
breathing emotion, the celestial coloring, the ineffable sweetness
and grandeur he has lavished on the Lady in "Comus." For imperishable
monuments of his friendships with the selectest women of that age,
behold his Italian lines to Leonora Baroni, his sonnets "To a
Virtuous Young Lady," "To the Lady Margaret Ley," "To the Memory of
Mrs. Catharine Thomson," and the record of his long and unbroken
intimacy with the admirable and all-accomplished Countess Ranclagh,
of whom he said, "She was to me in the place of every want."

The Duchess of Queensbury was the unfailing friend and encourager of
Gay. When Gay died, she eloquently rebuked the vitriolic Swift, for
expressing the heartless sentiment, that a lost friend might be
replaced as well as spent money. Madame Rambouillet was the friend of
Voiture; Madame Sabliere of La Fontaine. Hundreds of similar examples
might easily be gathered. Few of the French literary men of the
seventeenth or the eighteenth century led those disorderly and
disreputable lives which were the calamity and the disgrace of most
of the professed writers of England at that time. Madame Mole justly
observes, "They owed their exemption from these miseries chiefly to
the women, who, from the earliest days of French literature, gave
them all the succor they could; bringing them into contact with the
rich and the great, showing them off with every kind of ingenuity and
tact, so as to make them understood and valued. If we examine the
private history of all their celebrated men, we find scarcely one to
whom some lady was not a ministering spirit. They helped them with
their wit, their influence, and their money. They did far more. They
helped them with their hearts, listened to their sorrows, admired
their genius before the world had become aware of it, advised them,
entered patiently into all their feelings, soothed their wounded
vanities and irritable fancies. What balm has been found in the
listening look, for the warm and vexed spirit how has it risen again
after repeated disappointment, comforted by encouragements gently
administered! If the Otways and the Chattertons had possessed one
such friend, their country might not have been disgraced by their
fate. Are the life and happiness of the poet, of the man of genius, a
trifle? What would human society be without them? Let all who hold a
pen think of the kind hearts who, by the excitement of social
intercourse and sympathy, have preserved a whole class from
degradation and vice."

The extent to which women have been the occasions, the suggesters,
and sustaining encouragers of artistic creations in literature,
painting, sculpture, and music, will astonish any one who will take
the trouble to look up the history of it. When Orpheus found that
Eurydice was gone, he threw his harp away. Women have delighted to
administer inspiration, praise, and comfort, to great poets, orators,
philosophers, because it gratifies their natural talent for admiring,
and because they are reverentially grateful to the genius which can
so clearly read their secrets, and so powerfully portray their souls
to themselves. Sophocles, the highest Greek poet, whose firm and
delicate portraitures of feminine character were not equalled in
antique literature, must have had many admirers and friends among the
choice women of Athens. And Virgil, we cannot imagine any high-
souled, refined woman knowing the tender Virgil without a respectful
and affectionate attachment. Octavia fainted away when he read before
her his undying description of the death of Marcellus. The kiss of
Aileen Margaret on the lips of the sleeping minstrel, Alain Chartier,
is a type of woman's homage to literary genius. The same thing was
shown, a little earlier in the same century, at the funeral of
Heinrich von Meissen, surnamed Frauenlob, from the infinite praises
he had lavished on the Virgin Mary, and on the female sex in general.
After his death in the outer quarters of the cathedral at Mayence,
which were set apart for hospitality to strangers and honored guests,
a great company of women, it is related, sighing and weeping, bore
his coffin to the burial, and poured into his sepulchre such an
abundance of wine as ran over the whole circumference of the church.
Five hundred years later, the women of Mayence celebrated his memory
by tributary eulogies, and by the erection of a beautiful new
monument, faced with a marble portrait of him.

Bernardin Saint Pierre says, "There is in woman an easy gayety, which
scatters the sadness of man." It may be said, on the other hand, that
there is in the man of literary genius a masterly insight, joined
with sympathetic tenderness and masculine strength, which administers
to woman that reflective and glorifying interpretation, and that
supporting guidance, whereof she continually stands in such need.
What woman would not be proud and grateful at receiving such a
tribute as that which Waller paid to the Countess of Carlisle, on
seeing her dressed in mourning?

When from black clouds no part of sky is clear,
But just so much as lets the sun appear,
Heaven then would seem thy image, and reflect
Those sable vestments and that bright aspect.
A spark of virtue by the deepest shade
Of sad adversity is fairer made:
No less advantage doth thy beauty get,
A Venus rising from a sea of jet!

What woman capable of appreciating the genius of Racine could read
the works in which his choice thoughts and effusive sentiments are
enshrined, purified and confirmed echoes of the finest sighs ever
breathed by the heart, and not be drawn to him honoring esteem and
love? It was this mastery of the interior life, this impassioned
voicing of its subtilest secrets, that made Rousseau so irresistibly
attractive to women. To the many who befriended him, or paid precious
tributes to him in his life, the name of Madame de Verdelin has
recently been added, by the publication of her correspondence. Sainte
Beuve has prefixed her recovered portrait in an essay marked by his
best touches. After quoting her final letter, he says, "From that
day, Madame de Verdelin wholly disappears. She is known only through
Rousseau. A ray of his glory fell on her; that ray--withdrawn, she
repasses into the shade, and every trace is lost." The gifted critic
says he feels a deep gratification in thus recalling the image of
this generous woman. "She is a conquest for us: we pay the debt of
Rousseau to her." He concludes what he has written with reference to
these friendships of mind to mind, these intimacies of intelligence
and feeling, these affections of women and authors, more tender than
those of men, and yet quite distinct from love, by saying, with
instructive emphasis, "Evidently, social morality has taken a step
forward: a new chapter, unknown to the ancients, too much forgotten
by the moderns, is henceforth to be added in all treatises of

Perhaps no author has ever written more that must speak with
irresistible power to the inmost hearts of all women who have souls
sensitive enough, complex, cultivated, and forcible enough, for an
adequate reaction on the richness of his works, than Jean Paul
Richter. In all the heights and depths and subtilties of the natural
affections, and of imaginative or ideal emotion, as well as in
truthful and endlessly varied expressions of those mysteries, he has
no equal, scarcely a rival, in literature. In spite of his poverty
and confining toil, he made, in his day, a profound personal
sensation. And such is the personal spell of his ineffable
tenderness, nobleness, and grandeur, even as exerted on the reader
from his printed pages, that many a strong man, pilgriming thither
from remote lands, has been known to kneel with convulsive emotion on
his lowly grave at Bayreuth. His life was heroic in labor, and
spotless in purity. When his heart sank in death, it seems as though
the earth itself ought to have collapsed with the breaking of so
great a thing. His sensibility was a world-harp, responding to every
tremulous breath of air or flame. Sweet, pure, wise, mighty, modest,
no wonder he drew upon himself the affectionate interest of many
lofty ladies, and found treasures of inspiration and solace in their
conversation and letters. Reviewing his life in the circle of his
friends, he seems as a sun, with pale and burning moons and planets
revolving around him. Charlotte von Kalb; Caroline Herder; Emilie von
Berlepsch; Josephine von Sydow; the mother and the wife of Carl
August; the daughters of the Duke of Mecklenburg, to whom, as "The
Four Lovely and Noble Sisters on the Throne," he dedicated his
"Titan," such, with many others like them, were the gracious women
with whom Jean Paul, in his much-tried life, interchanged homage,
friendly counsels, and sacred joys. The intelligent and enthusiastic
praises they poured on him for his works must have been to him a
divine luxury. And ah I how much he needed such comforts, he who
could say, in one of his frequent moments of sadness, "Reckoning off
from the neighborhood of my heart, I find life cold and empty"! A
whole volume of his before unpublished "Correspondence with Renowned
Women" was given to the public in 1865, a glowing treasury of gems of
the heart.

Rahel Levin was such a fascinating queen of society, such a signal
and fortunate mistress of friendships with celebrated men, that her
character and career are on this account full both of interest and
instruction. The secrets of influence, the charms that attract
attention, awaken confidence, exert authority, dispense pleasure, and
minister to human wants, are scarcely anywhere more clearly shown
than in her person and story. The pronounced character, the uncommon
talents, the rare combination of extreme candor and tact, the broad,
intellectual culture, and impulsive demonstrativeness of the youthful
Jewess, very soon gave her a prominent position in society, and made
her fascination felt and talked about. Her first advent and sway
prophesied her future renown as the most celebrated woman in Germany
who has kept an open drawing-room for the practice of conversation
and the joy of intellectual society. It was said of her, at that
early period, "She was full of an obliging good temper, that made her
anticipate wishes, divine annoyances in order to relieve them, and
forget herself in seeking to make others happy."

Her thirtieth year she spent in France, where she had the finest
opportunities for studying the famous salon-life of Paris. Without
being captivated or at all overborne by it, she no doubt drew many
lessons and profited much from it, on carrying her German soul back
to her German home. Returning to Berlin, she bewitched all the choice
spirits of that city. Married to Varnhagen von Ense, her house was,
for a quarter of a century, the rendezvous of whatever was noblest,
purest, strongest, most distinguished in Germany. She moved among
them as a queen, looked up to by all. She had glowing and sustained
friendships, emphatically rich and faithful friendships, of the
highest moral order, with Marwitz, Gentz, Prince Louis Ferdinand,
Brinckmann, and Veit; besides relations of earnest affection and
communion with many other honored contemporaries, such as
Schleiermacher, Schlegel, and Jean Paul.

In addition to sketches of her by different hands, we possess five
volumes, drawn chiefly from her own pen and edited by her husband,
containing records of her thoughts, portraits of her closest friends,
and full accounts of her intercourse and correspondence with them. In
all this literary transcript, as in the course of experience which it
copies, the most conspicuous element is friendship, the reception,
reciprocation, culture, and expression of friendship. The king among
her friends was her lover and husband, Varnhagen von Ense; her union
with whom was not more a marriage of persons, than it was a marriage
of minds, souls, interior lives, and social interests and ends. It is
principally through him, next after her own writings, that welearn
the characteristics of Rahel, which made such deep impressions on
people, and held them so fast to her. He thus describes her, as she
first dawned on him amidst the highest society of Berlin: "There
appeared a light, graceful figure, of small stature, but strong make,
with delicate and full limbs, feet and hands remarkably small; the
countenance, encircled with rich, dark locks, spoke intellectual
superiority; the quick, and yet firm, deep glances left the observer
in doubt whether they gave or received more; an expression of
suffering lent a soft grace to the clear features. She moved in a
dark dress, light almost as a shadow, but also with freedom and
sureness; her greeting was as easy as it was kindly. But what struck
me most was the sonorous and mellow voice which seemed to swell from
the inmost depths of the soul, and a conversation the most
extraordinary that I had ever met with. She threw out, in the most
facile and unpretending fashion, thoughts full of originality and
humor, where wit was united with simplicity, and acuteness with
amiability; and into the whole a deep truth was cast, as it were out
of iron, giving to every sentence a completeness of impression which
rendered it hard for the strongest, in any way, to break or rend it.
In her presence, I had the conviction that a genuine human being
stood before me, in its most pure and perfect type; through her whole
frame, and in all her motions, nature and intellect in fresh, breezy
reciprocity; organic shape, elastic fibre, living connection with
every thing around; the greatest originality and simplicity in
perception and utterance; the combined imposingness of innocence and
wisdom; in word and deed, alertness, dexterity, precision; and all
imbosomed in an atmosphere of the purest goodness and benevolence;
all guided by an energetic sense of duty, and heightened by a noble
self-forgetfullness in the presence of the joys and griefs of

Such is a glimpse of the Rahel, who, for thirty years, exemplified in
her drawing-room, amidst the joy and admiration of the most glorious
circle of her countrymen, that rich, strong, free, and noble ideal of
womanhood, which Herder, Schiller, Richter, and Goethe, illustrated
in so many of their works. So many contrasted qualities met and were
reconciled in her, that different friends and critics report her in
quite different likenesses. According to one, she never thought
pronouncedly, but gave forth the exquisite perfume of thought: her
life was made of tears, smiles, dreams, fantasies, flutterings of
wings, too celestial for the gross air of earth. According to
another, she was too recklessly thorough, and used too shattering an
emphasis. In fact, both these sides were true. Gentz, the celebrated
politician, called her "a great man," and confessed himself to be, in
comparison, a woman. Yet no one who knew her could deny that she
strikingly possessed the best traits of her sex, purity, tenderness,
modesty, patience, and self-sacrifice. In 1813, during the horrors of
disease in Berlin, and the horrors of war in Prague, she gave herself
up with joy to nursing the sick and the wounded. "The feast of doing
good," she called it. "Never have I seen elsewhere," said Varnhagen,
"such a mass of masculine breadth and penetration, alongside of
which, however, swelled, without remission, the warm flow of womanly
mildness and beauty. Never have I seen an eye and a mouth animated
with such loveliness, and yet, at times, giving vent to such
outbreaks of enthusiasm and indignation."

Her intellectual power and her tact formed, no doubt, one strong
element of the attraction which drew and kept so many artists,
philosophers, preachers, statesmen, and brilliant social leaders by
her side. But her heroic and unconquerable truthfullness was a still
more royal and authoritative trait. She sought for truth; she spoke
truth; she indignantly denounced all falsehoods and shams. Some of
her sentences on this point seem burned into the page, as by the
flame of a blowpipe. "The whole literary and fashionable world is
baked together of lies." To those who expressed their respect and
admiration of her she said, "Natural candor, absolute purity of soul,
and sincerity of heart are the only things worthy of homage: the rest
is conventionality." She wrote to a friend, "Never try to suppress a
generous impulse, or to crowd out a genuine feeling: despair or
discouragement is the only fruit of dry reasoning, unenlightened by
the heart." In the following sentence she betrays, by the law of
opposites, the deepest charm of such a nature as her own; namely, a
thoroughly sincere and fluent spontaneousness of character. "I have
just found out the thing that I most utterly hate: it is pedantry. To
see such a big nothing in full march is to me the most revolting and
the most unendurable of all sights."

Another fine and winning quality in Rahel was her profound interest
in exalted and original characters, and her ardent veneration for
them. This drew them gratefully to her in return. She had an almost
idolatrous admiration for Goethe. All aspirants for true interior
greatness naturally love and revere those who exemplify their ideal
to them. She once called Goethe and Fichte the first and second eyes
of Germany. A soul capable of such enthusiasm for great souls is
rare, and is most charming. Her maxim, like that of all the highest
and strongest of the guiding souls of our race, was, "Act only from
your inmost conscience, and only good will come to you." A vast,
tonic freedom and charity breathe in some of her sentences. "A
catholic sympathy with all possible systems; a resolute liberation
from the exclusive trammels of any; an entire surrender into the
hands of Him who wields all possibilities; and an honest dealing with
the depths of our own hearts, this seems to me more than all
philosophy, and a thing well pleasing to God."

It is no wonder that the favored friends of such a woman honored her
even to the verge of worship, as we find then doing in their letters.
Though not technically--or professedly a religious woman, she was
really one. She felt the mystery of things; she revered the
providential guides of the race; she owned the law of the whole; she
bowed in submissive adoration before God. "Since the decease of my
mother," she said, "I know death better. I see him everywhere. He has
assumed a new power over me." A fatal disease struck her at sixty-
two. Her husband scarcely left her bedside. Until the last, he
continued to read her favorite books to her. The young Heine, how
different then from the dreadful wreck he became! hearing that fresh
rose-leaves, applied to her inflamed eyes, were grateful, sent her
his first hook of poems, enveloped in a basket of roses. With what
fitter words can we take leave of Rahel and her friends than these of
her own: "I have thought an epitaph. It is this, Good men, when any
thing good happens to mankind, then think affectionately in your
peace also of mine."

The life of Madame Récamier is interesting, in a pre-eminent degree,
on account of the warmth, elevation, and fidelity of the friendships
which filled it. Her personal loveliness and social charm made her a
universal favorite, and gave her an unparalleled celebrity. But, full
as her career was of romantic adventures, rich as it was in brilliant
associations, its keynote throughout, its strongest interest at every
point, is friendship. Unlike those of so many of the famous women of
France, her friendships were as remarkable for their rational
soundness, purity, and tenacity, as for their fervor. They were free
from every thing morbid or affected. An adverse fate forbade the love
to which she seemed destined by her bewitching beauty and grace; and
a certain divine chill in the blood, a stamp from Diana in the
senses, turned all the warmth of affection upwards into the mind, to
radiate thence in her face and manners, and to make her a high
priestess of friendship. The pure and wise Ballanche, who idolized
her, said that she was originally an Antigone, of whom people vainly
wished by force to make an Armada.

Her nominal husband is supposed by some to have been in reality her
father; the marriage being merely a titular one, to secure his
fortune to her in case of his death by the guillotine, of which he
was then in daily dread. Deprived of the usual domestic vents of
affection, her rich heart naturally led her to crave the best
substitute, friendship. And her matchless personal gifts, together
with her truly charming traits of character, enabled her permanently
to win and experience this in a very exalted degree. Her three
principal friends were Montmorency, Ballanche, and Chateaubriand; all
three original and extraordinary characters, and all three worthy in
spite of some drawbacks on the part of the last of the extraordinary
devotion she gave them. The letters of these three possess extreme
interest. Especially, those of the first named are the unique
monument of an affection whose purity and delicacy equalled its
vivacity and depth.

Matthieu de Montmorency was one of the noblest of the nobility of
France, alike in birth and in spirit. In his youth a voluptuous
liver, he had afterwards undergone a genuine and solemn conversion.
While in Switzerland, the news of the guillotining of his brother
gave him such a shock, that it revolutionized his motives and his
life. The gay, impassioned, fascinating man of the world became an
austere and fervent Christian. The rich sensibility he had formerly
spent in amours and display, henceforward ennobled by wisdom and
sanctified by religion, lent a singular charm of tenderness and
loftiness to his friendships. The memory of his own errors gave a
gracious charitableness to his judgments; his sorrow imparted an
incomparable refinement to his air; his grave and devout demeanor
inspired veneration; his sweet magnanimity drew every unprejudiced
heart. He had long been a fervent friend of Madame de Staid, when the
youthful virgin-wife, the dazzling Julie Récamier, formed an
engrossing attachment to that gifted woman. Drawn mutually to this
common goal, the fore-ordained friends soon met. He was then fifty
years old; she, twenty-three. Her extraordinary charms of person and
spirit, her dangers, exposed, with such, bewildering beauty and such
peculiar domestic relations, to all the seductions of a most corrupt
society, awakened at once his admiration, his sympathy, and his pity.
As an increasing intimacy revealed her irresistible sweetness of
disposition, her many gifts and virtues, Montmorency found himself
ever more and more drawn to her by the united bonds of reason,
conscience, and affection. He undertook not merely to be her friend
in the ordinary pleasures of sympathy, but, as a Christian, under the
eye of God, sincerely and profoundly to befriend her. From that
moment until his death, his devotion, though once severely tried,
never faltered nor slumbered. He was to her more than a father and a
brother; he was her guardian angel, as pure in feeling, as watchful
to warn, to restrain, to encourage, to support, and console. For many
years, through trying reverses of fortune, he visited her every
evening. For many years each had a vital share in all that concerned
the other; and, when he died, it was as if a large part of her being
had been suddenly torn out of her soul, and transferred to heaven.
The letters that passed between them form one of the most delightful
and impressive records ever made of Christian friendship, a record in
which wisdom and duty are as prominent as affection.

Pierre Simon Ballanche, one of the most delicate and philosophical of
French authors, most disinterested and affectionate of men, the
perfect model of a friend, was born at Lyons in 1776. He was first
introduced to Madame Récamier, in 1812, by their common friend, the
generous and eloquent Camille Jordan. Ballanche, in an enthusiastic
attachment to a noble, portionless young girl, had suffered a
disappointment so deep, that it caused him to dismiss all thoughts of
marriage for ever. He sought to ease the burden of rejected love, by
letting the sadness it had engendered exhale in a literary work. This
exquisite work, called "Fragments," Jordan induced Madame Récamier to
read: he also described to her the refined and magnanimous character
of the author. Thus prepared, and aided by her own keen discernment,
she immediately detected his choice talents, his rare vein of
sentiment, his abiding hunger for affection. Ballanche was a
philosopher of solitude, a poet and priest of humanity, spending his
days far from the crowd and uproar of the world, his proper haunt the
summits of the loftiest minds, the mysterious cradle of the destinies
of society. His soul was an "AEolian harp," through which the music of
the pre-historic ages played. Chastity and sorrow were two geniuses,
who unveiled to him the destiny of man. His philosophy, so redolent
of the heart and the imagination, amidst the material struggles and
selfishness of the time, has been compared to a chant of Orpheus in
the school of Hobbes. The friendship which Madame Récamier gave this
lonesome, sad, expansive, and lofty spirit, was as if a goddess had
come down from heaven on purpose to minister to him. She brought him
the attention he needed, the sympathy he pined for, the position and
praise which were so grateful to his sensitive nature. She strove to
win for him from others the recognition he deserved, to call out his
powers, and to show off his gift to the best advantage. Ballanche was
timid, awkward, ugly, with no wealth, with no rank; but, in the sight
of Madame Récamier, the treasures and graces of his soul were an
intrinsic recommendation far superior to these outward advantages,
and she was ready to honor it to the full.

Never was kindness more worthily bestowed; never was it more
gratefully received. "I often," he says, "find myself astonished at
your goodness to me. The silent, weary, sad man, whom others neglect,
you notice, and seek with infinite tact to draw him out. You are
indulgence and pity personified, and you compassionately see in me a
kind of exile. Together with the feeling of a brother for a sister, I
offer you the homage of my soul." From that time, he belonged to her,
and could not bear to live separate from her. Under her appreciation
and encouragement, he expanded, like a plant moved from a chill shade
into the sunshine. His devotion was entire, and sought no equal
return. It was simply the natural expression of his gratitude to her,
his admiration of her, his delight in seeing her and in being with
her. His love for her, like that of Dante for Beatrice, was a
religious worship, a celestial exhalation of his soul, utterly free
from every alloy of earth and sense. For thirty-four years, he was
almost inseparable from her. He removed to Paris, that he might look
on her every day. Wherever she travelled, abroad or at home, he was
one of her companions. At her receptions of company, the fame of
which has gone through the world, he was invariably an honored and
active assistant. And, despite his deformed face, and uncouth
appearance and bearing, he was a great favorite with all the chosen
guests at the Abbaye-aux-Bois. To those who really knew him, his
large, beaming eyes and noble forehead, his disinterested goodness,
his literary and philosophical accomplishments, his modest
unworldliness and attentive sympathy, redeemed his physical
blemishes, and covered them with a radiance superior to that of mere
beauty. The letters of Ballanche to Madame Récamier are charming in
their originality. His praise of her is marked by an inimitable grace
of sincerity and refinement:

"Your presence, so full of magic, the sweet reflection of your soul,
will be to me a powerful inspiration. You are a perfect poem; you are
poesy itself. It is your destiny to inspire, mine to be inspired. An
occupation would do you good; your disturbed and dreamy imagination
has need of aliment. Take care of your health, spare your nerves: you
are an angel who has gone a little astray in coming into a world of
agitation and falsehood."

What a reading of her inmost heart through her envied position, what
matchless felicity of representation, in this picture of herself sent
to her in one of his letters "The phoenix, marvellous but solitary
bird, is said often to weary of himself. He feeds on perfumes, and
lives in the purest region of the air; and his brilliant existence
ends on a pyre of odoriferous woods, kindled by the sun. More than
once, without doubt, he envies the lot of the white dove, because she
has a companion like herself."

In his high estimate of her talent, he tried to persuade her to
undertake a literary work, the translation and illustration of
Petrarch, which she actually began, but left unfinished.

"Your province, like my own," he writes, "is the interior of the
sentiments; but, believe me, you have at command the genius of music,
of flowers, of brooding meditation, and of elegance. Privileged
creature, assume a little confidence, lift your charming head, and
fear not to try your hand on the golden lyre of the poets. It is my
mission to see that some trace of your noble existence remains on
this earth. Help me to fulfil my mission. I regard it as a blessing
that you will be loved and appreciated when you are no more. It would
be a real misfortune if so excellent a being should pass merely as a
charming shadow. Of what use is memory, if it does not perpetuate the
beautiful and good?"

This league of lofty friendship, of endearing intercourse and
service, held good while a whole generation of mortals came upon the
stage and disappeared; and it throve with growing validity in the
latest old age of the fortunate parties. Ballanche believed, after
the death of his mother, that he saw her, several successive
mornings, enter his room, and ask him how he had passed the night.
This ocular illusion affords us an affecting glimpse of his heart. He
wrote to his friend, "Antiquity confides its weariness and grief to
us, without doubt, to beguile us from our own." "Had Orpheus never
met Eurydice, his existence would have remained incomplete; and, in
place of the cruel grief of her loss, he would have known another
grief not less intense, solitude of soul." "I am alone, and the
solitude weighs heavily upon me. Permit me to solace myself by
talking a moment with you." "I protest to you in all sincerity, that
my one absorbing thought is my warm feeling of friendship for you. I
have need to be assured by you, and that as often as possible, that
this sentiment shall not end in unhappiness for me. The thought of
that is an agony which terrifies me. You are so kind, you have so
much sympathy for all unhappy persons, that I fear it is through pity
and condescension that you show kindness to me." This expression was
in the year 1816; but all such uneasiness soon vanished, and he
learned to rely on her sincere cordiality with a serene assurance,
which was the richest luxury of his life.

In 1830, Ballanche, publishing his chief work, the "Palingénésie
Sociale," dedicated it to Madame Récamier, in a form whose delicacy
and fervor made it one of the most exquisite pieces of praise ever
paid in letters. Alluding to Canova's portrait of Madame Récamier, in
the character of the celestial guide of Dante, he says, "An artist
enveloped in a grand renown, a sculptor who has just shed so much
glory on the illustrious land of Dante, and whose graceful
imagination the masterpieces of antiquity have so often exalted, one
day, for the first time, saw a woman who seemed to him a living
apparition of Beatrice. Full of that religious emotion which is the
gift of genius, he immediately commanded the marble, always obedient
to his chisel, to express the sudden inspiration of the moment; and
the Beatrice of Dante passed from the vague region of poetry into the
domain of substantial art. The sentiment which dwells in this
harmonious countenance, now become a new type of pure and virgin
beauty, in its turn inspires artists and poets. This woman, whose
name I would here conceal, whom I would veil even as Dante does, is
endowed with all the generous sympathies of our age. She has visited,
with the select few, the haunts of lofty minds. Here, in this seat of
imperturbable peace, of unalterable security, she has formed noble
friendships, those friendships which have filled her life, which,
born under immortal auspices, are sheltered alike from time, from
death, and from all human vicissitudes. I address myself, then, to
her who has been seen as a living apparition of Beatrice. Can she
encourage me with her smile, with that serious smile of love and of
grace, which expresses at once confidence and pity for the pains of
probation, for the burdens of an exile that should end, sweet and
calm augury, wherein is revealed, even in the present, the certainty
of our infinite hopes, the grandeur of our definitive destinies?"

When the good Ballanche was taken dangerously ill, Madame Récamier
had just undergone an operation for cataract, and was under strict
orders from the physician not to leave her couch. But, on the
announcement of the condition of Ballanche, she immediately rose, and
went to his bedside, and watched by him until his last breath. In the
anxiety and tears of this experience, she lost all hope of recovering
her sight. Her incomparable friend received the supreme hospitality
at her hands, and was buried in her family tomb, leaving, in his
works, a delightful picture of his mind; in his life, a perfect model
of devotion. The removal of this soul, echo of her own; this heart,
wholly filled by her; this mind, so gladly submissive to her
influence, could not but leave a mighty void behind. For,
notwithstanding the wondrous array of gifts, attractions, and
attentions lavished on her, her deep sensibility and interior
loneliness made her often unhappy. She would sit by herself, in the
twilight, playing from memory choice pieces of the great masters of
music, the tears rolling down her cheeks. Friendship was more than a
delight: it was a necessity to her.

De Tocqueville pronounced an exquisite eulogy by the grave of
Ballanche, in the name of the Academy. La Prade, in the funeral
address he delivered at Lyons, the birthplace of the deceased, said,
"There was in his mind, in its serenity, its charming simplicity, its
tenderness, something more than is found in the wisest and the best.
His virtue was of a divine nature: it was at once a prolonged
innocence and an acquired wisdom. Serene and radiant as his soul may
now be in the mansions of peace, we can hardly conceive of it as more
loving and more pure than we beheld it on this earth of infirmity and
of strife." What a delight it is to contemplate the relation that
bound two such spirits together, the measureless treasures of
inspiration, solace, joy, it must have yielded to them both I Sarah
Austin, who was in Paris at the time Ballanche died, and an intimate
of the illustrious circle of friends, says, "I shall never forget the
sort of consternation, mingled with sorrow, which this death caused.
Everybody felt regret for so pure and excellent a man, but yet more
of grief and pity for Madame Récamier, whose loss was felt to be
overwhelming, and entirely irreparable." Ampere says, in his cordial
and glowing memoir of Ballanche, "While he was composing his
'Antigone,' Poetry appeared to him under an enchanting form. He
became acquainted with her, of whom he said that the charm of her
presence laid his sorrows to sleep; who, after being the soul of his
most elevated and delicate inspirations, became in later years the
providence of every moment of his life." Ballanche himself often
assured Madame Récamier, that the ideal of the "Antigone" of his
dreams was revealed to him by her, and that, in drawing this perfect
portrait, he had copied largely from her. "It was only through
Eurydice," he writes, "that Orpheus had any mission for his brother-
men. If my name survives me, as appears more and more probable, I
shall be called the Philosopher of the Abbaye-aux-Bois, and my
philosophy will be considered as inspired by you. This thought is my
joy. I am now entering on the last stage of my life: however
prolonged this stage may be, I know well what is at the end of it. I
shall fall asleep in the bosom of a great hope, full of confidence
that your memory and mine will live the same life." Fortunate
friends! happy in their living union immaculate as heaven, happy in
the grateful admiration and love of all fit souls who shall ever read
of them!

And if he grieved because his words, his name,
The breath of after-ages will not stir,
'Tis but because he would impart his fame,
And share an immortality with her;
So might there, from the brightest, holiest flame
That ere did martyrdom of heart confer,
Two shadowy forms of Truth and Friendship rise,
To seek their home together in the skies.

Pervading and earnest, however, as were these attachments of Madame
Récamier to Montmorency and Ballanche, the crowning passion of her
life was her friendship for Chateaubriand. This grand writer and
imposing person has described his first meeting with her:

"I was one morning with Madame de Staël, who, at toilet in the hands
of her maid, twirled a green twig in her fingers while she talked.
Suddenly Madame Récamier entered, clothed in white. She sits down on
a blue-silk sofa. Madame de Staël, standing, continues her eloquent
conversation. I scarcely reply, my eyes riveted on Madame Récamier. I
had never seen any one equal to her, and was more than ever
depressed. My admiration of her changed into dissatisfaction with
myself. She went out, and I saw her no more for twelve years. Twelve
years! What hostile power squanders thus our days, ironically
lavishing them on the indifferences called attachments, on the
wretchednesses named felicities!"

But it was in 1817, at a private dinner in the chamber of the dying
Madame de Staël, that their real acquaintance began. The literary
fame of Chateaubriand was then greater than that of any living man.
He was a lofty, romantic, melancholy person, with a superb head and
face, polished manners, and a grand vein of eloquence. Nothing was so
deeply characteristic of Madame Récamier as her enthusiasm for
brilliant minds, noble sentiment and conduct. It was this that had so
fascinated her with Madame de Staël. The sure proof of the ideal
nature of her attachments, their freedom from sensual ingredients, is
this ruling stamp of reverence and loyalty. Those whom she admired
the most enthusiastically she loved the most passionately. It was
inevitable that her imagination would be captivated with the
chivalrous and imposing Chateaubriand, especially at such an
affecting time. "He seemed the natural heir to Madame de Staël's
place in her heart." Speaking of this overwhelming sentiment, thirty
years later, she said, "It is impossible for a head to be more
completely turned than mine was: I used to cry all day." Montmorency
and Ballanche were greatly distressed, and not a little mortified and
jealous. It was not that they had fallen into a lower and narrower
place in her affection, but that they saw Chateaubriand installed in
a higher and larger place. They feared that her peace would be
wrecked in wretchedness by an intimate connection with one so
discontented and capricious, a sort of spoilt idol, a hero of ennui,
filled with causeless melancholy, voracious of praise, querulous,
exacting, his own imperious and inevitable personality ever
uppermost. In vain they sought to warn and dissuade her from the new
attachment. Montmorency seems to have fancied that the passion was
not friendship, but love; and faithfully, with solemn energy, he
adjured her, by all the sanctions of religion, to guard herself. He
soon learned his error, and gracefully apologized: "When I read your
perfect letter, lovely friend, remorse seized me, and now fills my
soul. I am deeply touched by the proofs of your friendship, and by
the triumphs of your reason. I am, for friendship's sake, proud of
the exclusive privilege you accord to me of admission and
consolation, and impatiently long to go and exercise the sweet right.
Pardon me my letter of this morning. Adieu. Persist in your generous
resolutions, and turn to Him who alone can strengthen them and reward

The friendship of Madame Récamier and Chateaubriand became more
absorbing and complete, and was destined to endure with their lives.
"It was," Madame Lenormant says, "the one aim of her life to appease
the irritability, soothe the susceptibilities, and remove the
annoyances of this noble, generous, but selfish nature, spoiled by
too much adulation." Her steady moderation, moral wisdom, beautiful
repose, and sweet oblivion of self, were an admirable antidote to his
extreme moods, uneasy vanity, and morbid depression. Communion with
her serene equity, her matchless beauty, her inexhaustible
tenderness, the experience of her constant homage, soothed his
haughty and mordant, but magnanimous and affectionate, nature, and
were an infinite luxury to him. An admiring recognition is almost a
necessity for those highly endowed with genius. And Madame Récamier's
intense faculty of admiration, with her self-forgetting devotedness,
exactly fitted her for this ministry. Chateaubriand became the first
object of her life. Modifying her habits to suit his tastes, she made
him, instead of herself, the centre around which every thing was to
revolve. She devised endless means of lending an interest to his
existence. She listened to every thing he wrote. She drew into her
parlor, to meet him, all those persons who could interest or amuse
him, or in any way give him pleasure. She diverted attentions from
herself to him with exhaustless skill and generosity. In a poem which
he addressed to her, he called her the "soft star that guided his

Such jealousy as can find a place in natures so noble is easily to be
traced in the letters of Ballanche and Montmorency. Chateaubriand
calls Ballanche "the hierophant" or "the mysterious initiator," "the
man the most advanced at the Abbaye-aux-Bois." Ballanche, in turn,
calls Chateaubriand "the king of intelligence." But Madame Récamier's
wonderful sweetness and discretion invariably restored the
interrupted harmony. Nor, indeed, did she allow the superior
attraction to cast her old friends in the shade. Several years after
the death of Montmorency, which happened in church on a Good Friday,
Chateaubriand wrote to her thus: "Yesterday I believed myself dying,
as your best friend did. Then you would have found one resemblance at
least between us, and perhaps you would have joined us in your
heart." Five years after their first meeting, Chateaubriand, then
ambassador at Berlin, writes to her, "That I shall see you in a
month, seems a kind of dream to me." Twenty-five years later, two
years before his death, he writes to her at a watering-place whither
she had gone for her health, "Do not hasten back. I pass my time here
in Notre Dame. It is well occupied; for I think only of you and of
God." The persistence of an affection so profound and so pure as that
of Madame Récamier bore its proper fruit, and ended by subduing
Chateaubriand. Gratitude, respect, veneration, struck their roots to
the very bottom of his heart. Little by little, his self-occupied
personality yields, and at last he writes to her, "You have
transformed my nature." When she was alarmingly ill, in the winter of
1837, he, together with Ballanche, might be seen, in the cold
mornings, "his beautiful white hair blown about by the wind, his
physiognomy the image of despair," in the court of the Abbaye-aux-
Bois, waiting for the doctor to come out. He then writes, "I bring
this note to your door. I was so terrified yesterday at not being
admitted, that I believed you were going from me. Ah! remember it is
I who am to go before you. Never speak of what I shall do without
you. I have not done any thing so evil that I should be left behind
you." She recovered, and devoted herself more than ever, if possible,
through the years of his mental decay, to alleviate and disguise the
sad changes that came over him. Blindness began their separation
before death came. Nothing can more emphatically bespeak her divine
self-abnegation than the fact, that, for a long time after she had
become perfectly blind, a dislike to trouble others with her
infirmities led her to conceal the misfortune from her general
acquaintance. Her eyes kept their brightness, and her hearing was
most acute: she recognized, by the first inflection of the voice,
those who drew near. The furniture was carefully arranged, always in
the same way, so that she could move about confidently; and many
persons, when she spoke of her "poor eyes," never dreamed that she
had actually lost her sight.

After the decease of his wife, Chateaubriand besought Madame Récamier
to marry him. She refused, on the ground, that, if she resided with
him, the variety and pleasure his daily visits brought into the
tedium of his existence would be destroyed. "Were we younger," she
said, "I would gladly accept the right to consecrate my life to you.
Age and blindness give me this right. I know the world will do
justice to the purity of our relation. Let us change nothing." During
his last sickness, he was as unable to speak as she was to see. She
had the fortitude to undergo two operations on her eyes in the hope
of looking on him once more; but in vain. By his bedside when he
expired, she felt the sources of her life struck. She came from the
room with no outward sign of distress, but clothed with a deadly
paleness, which from that hour never left her. Her niece wrote, at
the time, to a friend in England, "Those who, during the last two
years, have seen Madame Récamier, blind, though the sweetness and
brilliancy of her eyes remained uninjured, surrounding the
illustrious friend, whose age had extinguished his memory, with cares
so delicate, so tender, so watchful; who have seen her joy when she
helped him to snatch a momentary distraction from the conversation
around him, by leading it to subjects connected with that past which
still lingered in his memory, those persons will never forget the
scene. They could not help being deeply affected with pity and
respect at the sight of that noble beauty, brilliancy, and genius
bending beneath the weight of age, and sheltered, with such ingenious
tenderness, by the sacred friendship of a woman who forgot her own
infirmities, in the endeavor to lighten his."

History scarcely affords a finer instance of the ministrations of
womanhood to soothe the woes and supply the wants of man than is
exhibited in the relation of Madame Récamier and Chateaubriand. His
egotistic and restless mental activity; his exaggerated, perturbed,
and gnawing self-consciousness; his despairing view of men; his
alienation from the spirit of his age, made him most lonely and
unhappy. Meanwhile his ardent poetic susceptibility, his soaring
imagination, his impassioned tenderness, his knightly sentiments, his
religious feeling, pre-eminently fitted him to enjoy the moral
homage, the delicate, sympathetic attentions, of a woman crowned with
every exalting attribute of her sex. He appreciated the prize at its
full worth. When nothing else could any longer interest him, her
charm retained its pristine power. When beyond his threescore and
ten, he writes to her thus, at different times:

"Other things are old stories: you are all that I love to see." "I am
going to walk out with the lark. She shall sing to me of you: then
she will be silent for ever in the furrow into which she drops." "I
have only one hope graven on my heart, and that is, to see you
again." "Cherish faithfully your attachment to me: it is all my life.
You see how my poor hand trembles; but my heart is firm." "I have but
one thought, fidelity to you: all the rest is gone."

For many years, even after his noble faculties were broken, and he
had lost the use of his limbs, so that he was forced to be carried
into her room, he passed the hours of every day, from three to six,
with her. Amidst the ordinary hatreds, miseries, and indifferences of
society, is it not indeed instructive and refreshing to see this
example of a spotless friendship still yielding, in extreme old age,
the interest, the solace, the happiness, which every thing else had
ceased to yield?

Chateaubriand devotes to Madame Récamier the eighth volume of his
"Memoires d'Outre Tombe." He recognizes, in her serious friendship, a
support for the weariness of his life, a remuneration for all his

"It seems, in nearing the close of my existence, as if every thing
that has been dear to me has been dear to me in Madame Récamier, and
that she was the concealed source of my affections. All my memories,
both of my dreams and of my realities, have been kneaded into a
mixture of charms and sweet pains, of which she has become the
visible form. In the midst of these Memoirs,' the temple I am eagerly
building, she will meet the chapel which I dedicate to her. Perhaps
it will please her to repose there. There I have placed her image."
During the few months that she survived their loss, Madame Récamier
often spoke of Chateaubriand and Ballanche together. Repeatedly, if
the door chanced to open at the hour when these two friends had been
accustomed to enter, she started; and, on being asked the reason,
replied that at certain moments her thought of them was so vivid,
that it amounted to an apparition. Only three days previous to her
death, she received M. de Saint Priest, and took great interest in
hearing him read the eulogy on Ballanche which he was about to
pronounce before the Academy.

Besides these three chief friends, Madame Récamier had many others
well deserving of separate mention. Paul David, nephew of her
husband, was a most devoted and inseparable companion of her whole
life. When she lost her sight, he used to read to her every evening.
He was a poor reader; and, perceiving that she was sensitive to this
defect, he secretly took lessons, at the age of sixty-four, to
improve his elocution. Junot and Bernadotte were her ardent, lasting
friends, and always delighted to serve her. Her rare graces, and her
generous goodness to Madame Desbordes-Valmore, disarmed the
prejudices and won the heart of the gifted but misanthropic Latouche.
The Duke de Noailles, who, under the envelope of a chill manner,
concealed a conscientiousness of judgment, a constancy and delicacy
of feeling, in strong sympathy with her own nature, was admitted to
the rank and title of friend, "a serious thing," says her biographer,
"for her who, more than any one in the world, inspired and practised
friendship in the most perfect sense of the word." He held a place in
her esteem like that held by Matthieu de Montmorency. One of the
latest and warmest of her friends was the brilliant and high-souled
Ampere, introduced to her by Ballanche, who had been an intimate
friend of his father, and who now loved the son with double fervor, a
debt which the grateful young man repaid with interest in a noble
tribute to his memory. Never did a mother feel a deeper solicitude in
the prospects of a darling son, or exert herself more devotedly to
further his success; never did a son more thoroughly idolize a
beautiful and good mother, than was realized between Madame Récamier
and Ampere. Solely to please her, this most entertaining and most
courted man in Paris devoted himself not merely to her, which would
have been easy; but to Chateaubriand, which was difficult. Nothing
can better illustrate her irresistible charm. And nothing can better
illustrate the coarseness and ignorance of many of our critics, than
the presumption with which one of them, in 1864, speaking of Ampere's
funeral, says, "He was one of Madame Récamier's many lovers, and was
bitterly disappointed at her refusal to marry him after the death of

Such were the few principal men who penetrated to the centre of that
select circle, in whose outer ranges of general benevolence the right
of citizenship was granted to so many choice figures. Among the more
distinguished of these latter may be named Benjamin Constant, the
Duke de Doudeauville, De Gerando, Prosper de Barante, Delacroix,
Gerard, Thierry, Ville-main, Lamartine, Guizot, De Tocqueville,
Sainte Beuve. Surrounded by such persons as these, in the humble
chamber to which, on the loss of her fortune, she had betaken
herself, she presided like a priestess in the temple of friendship,
ever pre-occupied with them, their glory her dominant passion, never
herself seeking to shine, but intent only to elicit and display their
gifts. Was it not natural, that they should, in the humorous phrase
of Ballanche, "gravitate towards the centre of the Abbaye-aux-Bois"?

Elizabeth Barrett Barrett allows us a few glimpses into two
friendships, which, to a nature like hers, we cannot but think must
have been nobly precious. One, celebrated in her poem of "Cyprus
Wine," was with Hugh Stuart Boyd, who amused himself during some
weary periods in his blindness with the grateful occupation of
teaching her to read Greek. The other was with her cousin, John
Kenyon, author of "A Rhymed Plea for Tolerance," to whom she so
expressively inscribes the most elaborate work of her life, "Aurora

It is difficult to find any more remarkable example of the
inspiration, the balm, and the joy a great man may derive from the
pure friendship of an appreciative woman than that which is furnished
in the relation between Auguste Comte and Madame Clotilde de Vaux. In
his "Catechism of Positive Religion," and in the preface and
dedication of the first volume of his "System of Positive Politics,"
he has given quite a full account of this friendship, of its
circumstances and its effects. Comte was a man of an extraordinary
original genius; of profound effusiveness; but excessively proud, and
sensitive to affronts. Full of noble thoughts and sentiments,
heroically devoted to the pursuit of truth and the good of his race,
his outward life was unfortunate. He was poor and lonely. He had many
severe quarrels, disappointments, and vexations. No one appreciated
him with admiring love. His wife was utterly unsuited to his tastes,
and finally deserted him. Meantime he toiled, with a martyr-like
pertinacity, at his great task of philosophical construction.
Believing his work destined to be of incalculable service to mankind,
he rewarded himself, for his vast achievements and his unmerited
sufferings, with an exceptional valuation and esteem of himself.

Just at this time, sad, weary, solitary, and teeming with suppressed
tenderness, he met with Madame Clotilde de Vaux, a young woman of a
fine feminine genius and character, made virtually a widow by the
crime and imprisonment of her unworthy husband. She seems at once to
have fully appreciated the best side of the genius of Comte, entered
into his disinterested sentiments, pitied his misfortunes, and
ministered to his highest wants like an angel. As his disciple and
friend, she lavished on him an enthusiastic admiration and affection.
She reflected him, in her esteem and treatment, at a height, and in a
glory, harmonizing with his own estimation of his mission. It was a
celestial luxury; and it wrought miracles in him. He was transformed
into apparently another person. His scientific and philosophical
career became a poetic and religious one. He reproduced the most
glowing and delicate emotions of Dante and Petrarch and Thomas a
Kempis. The relation between Comte and Madame de Vaux was one of
absolute blamelessness and purity. For one year only was he allowed
to enjoy this divine delight. He was about to adopt her legally as
his daughter, when she died, leaving him inconsolable, save for the
melancholy satisfaction of beatifying her memory with his pen, and of
worshipping her in his heart.

"An unalterable purity," he says, "confirmed her tenderness, and was
the cause of a moral resurrection to me during the incomparable year
of our external union. My present adoration of her is more assiduous
and profound, but less vivid, than when she was alive. It daily makes
me feel the truth of a sentence which once dropped from her pen:
There is nothing in life irrevocable, except death.'"

The deep and stern solitude of Comte, the wearisome toils he
underwent, the austere pre-occupations of his mind, the harassments
and lacerations he had known, seemed to make him doubly susceptible
to the action of the sympathetic instincts, to those pleasures of
praise and tenderness which aggrandize and sweeten our existence, and
constitute our keenest happiness. No one was purer than he in his
life; no one severer in his condemnation of every form of corrupt
indulgence. Therefore, no one has had a higher idea of the value of
feminine friendship, and no one been more loyal to it in his own
experience. It is truly touching to read, in the light of his life
and character, what he has written on this topic. The three guardian
angels, for devout and effusive communion with whom he set apart a
sacred period every day, were, Rosalie Boyer, Clotilde de Vaux, and
Sophie Eliot, his mother, his friend, and his servant. By prayer and
meditation on these three beloved memories, he cultivated the three
chief sympathies, veneration for superiors, attachment to equals,
goodness to inferiors. He expresses the deepest gratitude for the
privilege of that friendship, "the tardy felicity reserved for a
solitary life, devoted, from the first, to the fundamental service of
humanity." Even its removal by death, he said, did not restore his
former isolation; for the inward treasure of affection it had
bestowed, constantly contemplated afresh in memory, remained the
permanent and principal resource of his life. "She has, now for more
than six years since her death, been associated with all my thoughts,
and with all my feelings."

The injustice of the popular view of Comte's character, in its
deepest truth, as hard, coarse, despotic, is shown by his favorite
aphorisms. "Live for others." "Disinterested love is the supreme good
of man." "Love cannot be deep, unless it is also pure." "The one
thing essential to happiness is, that the heart shall be always nobly
occupied." It is probable that Comte exaggerated the worth of his
friend, when he ascribed to her "a marvellous combination of
tenderness and nobleness, never, perhaps, realized in another heart
in an equal degree;" but he did not exaggerate the blessed comfort
which her friendship was to him, or the power with which it wrought
in his soul. That she was a very superior nature, appears clearly
from the few expressions of her mind which are preserved to us. For
example, she says, "No one knows better than myself how weak our
nature is, unless it has some lofty aim beyond the reach of passion."
And again she says, "Our race is one which must have duties, in order
to form its feelings."

In speaking thus of Auguste Comte, I am not ignorant of his foibles
of character, the morbid side of his ill-balanced mind and heart. But
the unquestionable greatness and nobleness of the man are so much
superior to his weaknesses, and are so much less appreciated by the
public, that I can treat his memory only with reverence, willingly
leaving to others the ungrateful task of ridiculing or scorning him.
He had, no doubt, an exaggerated pride and vanity. But he labored for
truth and his fellow-men with transcendent fidelity. His irascible
egotism made him suffer its own punishment. His lot was lonely and
was painful. The solace of the stainless friendship which Madame
Clotilde de Vaux brought him appeals to my most respectful sympathy.
And it has a lesson which many of those who sneer would be benefited
by appropriating. Let us leave the history with the breathing words
of Comte himself:

"Adieu, my unchangeable companion! Adieu, my holy Clotilde, who art
to me at once wife, sister, and daughter! Adieu, my dear pupil, and
my fit colleague. Thy celestial inspiration will dominate the
remainder of my life, public as well as private, and preside over my
progress towards perfection, purifying my sentiments, ennobling my
thoughts, and elevating my conduct. Perhaps, as the principal reward
of the grand tasks yet left for me to complete under thy powerful
invocation, I shall inseparably write thy name with my own, in the
latest remembrances of a grateful humanity."

When Paul, the Czar of Russia, espoused the Princess Marie de
Wurtemburg, Sophie Soymonof, then in her sixteenth year, and
distinguished for her accomplishments, was chosen maid of honor to
the new empress. Marie was endowed with rare beauty, and surrounded
by seductions and difficulties; but she set such an example of
amiable and solid virtue in her lofty place, that calumny never
assailed her.

A strong affection, based on mutual esteem and tenderness, sprang up
between the empress and her maid. This affection was never
interrupted nor chilled. The fury and puerility, the monstrous pride
and jealousy, of Paul, made him constantly quarrel with those who
were brought into close relations with him. The empress alone
triumphed over his outbursts, by dint of unfailing sweetness,
modesty, and patience. She smilingly submitted to the capricious
exactions, distasteful exercises, and excessive fatigues he imposed.
However bitter her sufferings, the serenity of her soul was never
visibly altered. But, in sympathizing with the hardships of her kind
mistress, Sophie early learned to penetrate the secret of noisy pomp
and hidden woes, glittering prosperity and silent tears.

Secretary Soymonof, aware of the precarious tenure by which the
dependents of the court held their prosperity, was anxious to secure
for his daughter a trustworthy protector, and a handsome position in
the future. He cast his eyes on his personal friend, General
Swetchine, a man of an imposing aspect, a firm character, a just and
calm spirit, who had had an honorable career, and was held in high
consideration. Sophie accepted, with her usual deference to her
father's wishes, the husband thus chosen, although he was twenty-five
years older than herself. It cost her many a secret pang; for she was
already in love with a young man of noble birth and fortune, with
rare qualities of mind and a brilliant destiny. She knew that her
affection was reciprocated. But, from a sense of filial duty, she
silently renounced him; and, when he in turn resigned himself to
another marriage, she became the warm and steadfast friend of his
wife. This painful renunciation, in the introspective reflection, and
the dissolution of romantic dreams to which it led, was the first of
those earthly disenchantments, which, shattering and darkening the
empire of social ambition, transferred her interest from material
pleasures and hopes to the imperturbable satisfactions of religion.

The second blow quickly followed. Only a few days after that marriage
which her father thought promised so much security and consolation to
his old age, the Emperor Paul, in a cruel whim, suddenly banished him
from Petersburg. Retiring to Moscow, the galling sense of his
disgrace, the separation from his darling daughter, together with a
frigid reception by a friend on whom he had especially relied,
plunged him into the deepest grief. A terrible attack of apoplexy
swept him away. At the dire announcement, Madame Swetchine sunk on
her knees; and, in the spiritual solitude, unable any more to lean on
her father, turned with irrepressible need and effusion to God.

General Swetchine was made military commandant and governor of St.
Petersburg. At the head of a splendid establishment, his young wife
found herself in the highest circle of the most brilliant society in
Europe; for at that time the Revolution had banished the noblest
families of France, and their headquarters were in the Russian
capital. Madame Swetchine always possessed, in remarkable union, an
earnest desire for action and companionship, and a strong taste for
solitude and meditation. She managed her life so skilfully, that both
these inclinations were largely gratified. With many of the most
high-toned and accomplished persons whom she met, both of the Russian
nobility and the French emigrants, she formed earnest and lasting
relations of mind and heart. The most refined, pronounced, and
impressive characters in St. Petersburg, between the years 1800 and
1815, were embraced in her friendships. Her leisure hours were
scrupulously and eagerly devoted to self-improvement. She engaged in
a wide range of literary, historic, and philosophical studies; making
copious extracts from the books she read, patiently reflecting on the
subjects, and setting down independent comments. The progress she
made was rapid, and soon rendered her a notable woman.

Paul, full of lugubrious visions and suspicions, one day disgraced
General Swetchine by removing him from office. But this official
dismission did not entail banishment, and was followed by no loss of
social caste. The general and his exemplary wife continued to live
amidst their numerous friends as happily as before. The interchange
of literary and philosophic ideas shared the hours in their
attractive parlor with the revolutionary and reactionary politics of
the time. The profound attachments, stamped with reverence and the
rarest truthfullness, which in those years united many admirable
persons with Madame Swetchine, were frequently reporting themselves,
under far other circumstances, in a distant land, half a century

In 1833, the celebrated Count Joseph de Maistre was accredited from
France to the Russian court. He was then about fifty, a man of pure
life, rare genius, and fervent enthusiasm; familiar with the world,
with the human heart, and with the loftiest ranges of sentiment and
learning. His zeal for the Catholic Church was extreme. Madame
Swetchine, at this time, without being at all a devotee, was a
sincere member of the Greek Church. She was already familiar with the
great minds of all ages and lands; and, at this particular period,
was earnestly studying modern philosophical controversies, comparing
the ideas of Kant, Fichte, and Hegel with those of Descartes, Pascal,
and Leibnitz. Despite the difference in their points of view, and the
many other contrasts between them, these two remarkable persons the
thoroughly trained master, in whom the gifts of knowledge, eloquence,
faith, and finesse, were accumulated; and the meditative, earnest,
consecrated young woman of twenty-one had no sooner met than they
felt the parity and harmony of their souls. They formed an exalted
friendship, full of solace and happiness to them both, a friendship
charged with the most important results on the destiny of the woman,
since it led to her conversion from the Greek Church to the Catholic,
and gave a deep religious inspiration and stamp to her entire
subsequent life. Such minds have a thousand lofty topics of common
interest to talk of; and they frequently visited each other,
exchanging thoughts with ever-deepening confidence and esteem. "The
cold countenance of the Count de Maistre," Madame Swetchine writes to
her dearest female friend, "conceals a soul of profound sensibility.
Without praising me, he often says pleasing things to me." At another
time, she humorously writes to the same friend: "The Princess Alexis
and I have been to spend an evening at the house of the Count de
Maistre. From deference to the duties of hospitality, he would not
suffer himself a single moment of sleep. He rose with the palm of
victory out of this terrible struggle of nature and politeness; but
who can tell at what a cost?" She said that great griefs had purified
his ambition, and lent a strange interest to him, elevating and
aggrandizing his character. He set an extreme value on her
friendship; and wrote to her, that he should never spare any pains to
preserve in its integrity what he felt was an infinite honor to him.
He wrote to his friend, the Viscount de Bonald, that he had never
seen so much moral strength, talent, and culture, joined with so much
sweetness of disposition, as in Madame Swetchine. On their
separation, by a residence in different countries, De Maistre gave
her a magnificent portrait of himself, on the frame of which he had
written four verses, adjuring the happy image, in answer to the call
of awaiting friendship, to fly, and take its place where the original
would so gladly be. This portrait she kept prominently hung in her
parlor as long as she lived. In one of his letters to her, he writes:
"My thought will always go out to seek you: my heart will always feel
the worth of yours." The memory of this first great friend continued
to hover over her life to the end. In her last days, generously
offended by what she thought the unjust strokes in the portraiture of
De Maistre, presented by Lamartine in his "Confidences," she took up
her pen in refutation, and wielded it with telling effect. This
eloquent vindication of her old friend, when he had been dead nearly
forty years, was one of her latest acts, and truly characteristic of
her tenacious fidelity of affection.

The enthusiasm shown by the Count de Maistre for the Roman Catholic
Church awakened a deep interest in Madame Swetchine. This interest
was greatly enhanced by the admirable examples of piety and charity
set before her in the lives of several of the French exiles in St.
Petersburg, with whom she had contracted friendships. Especially was
she impressed and attracted by the amiable virtues of the Princess de
Tarente, the devout elevation of her character, and the triumphant
sanctity of her death. Madame Swetchine at length resolved to make a
deliberate examination of the claims of the Roman Church, and to come
to a settled conclusion. Providing herself with an appropriate
library, acompanied only by her adopted daughter Nadine, in the
summer of 1815, she withdrew to a lonely and picturesque estate,
situated on the borders of the Gulf of Finland. Here, through the
days and nights of six months, she plunged into the most laborious
researches, historical and argumentative. The result was, that she
became convinced of the apostolic authority of the Roman primacy, and
avowed herself a Catholic. Soon after this conversion, the Jesuits
were ordered to leave Russia. Indignant at an order which she
regarded as unjust, she openly identified herself with the cause of
these proscribed missionaries. The machinations of the political
enemies of General Swetchine had made his situation disagreeable to
him; and, when he saw those enemies gaining credit, his pride took
offence, and he determined to leave the country. Madame Swetchine's
passion for travel and observation combined with her new religious
faith to make this removal less unwelcome than it would otherwise
have been.

The close of the year 1816 found her established in Paris, where,
with the exceptions of a year in Russia, and a couple of years in
Italy, she was to reside until her death. The Bourbon nobility, now
recalled to France, and reinstated in power, repaid the generous
kindness she had shown them in St. Petersburg, by giving her a hearty
welcome, and lavishing attentions and affection on her. Her deep
interest in charitable institutions soon brought her into intimate
and most cordial relations with De Gerando. Baron Humboldt and the
Count Pozzo di Borgo, among the earliest to become her friends, were
assiduous visitors at her house; and, in the salon of the brilliant
Duchess de Duras, where she was quickly appreciated and made to feel
at home, she became acquainted with the most interesting and
commanding minds of France at that time, such as Chateaubriand,
Remusat, Cuvier, Montmorency, Villemain, Barante. These persons have
all testified, in turn, to the great impression her character made on

Madame Swetchine formed with a large number of men of rare excellence
and accomplishments ardent and lasting attachments, which were the
greatest comfort to herself, and administered invaluable inspiration
and happiness to them. Among these, particular mention should be made
of her confessor, the pious and venerable Abbé Desjardins; her
brother-in-law, Father Gargarin; Moreau; Turquety; Montalembert; and,
at a later date, De Tocqueville, who writes to her, "The friendship
of such as you are, imposes obligations." Another expression of De
Tocqueville must not be omitted here: "Let me thank you for your last
letter. It contained, as all your letters do, proofs of an affection
which consoles and strengthens me. I never received a line of your
writing without being sensible of this twofold impression. The reason
is, I think, that one finds in you a heart easily moved, in
connection with a mind firmly fixed upon abiding principles. Here is
the secret of your charm and your sway. I want to profit more than do
by your precious friendship. It distresses me that I succeed so ill."
She was one of those few natures able to forget themselves, take an
enthusiastic interest in others, and devote unwearied pains to
further their interests, sympathize and aid in their pursuits, calm,
refine, enrich, and bless their souls. She sustained the ideal
standards, and raised the self-respect, of every one who enjoyed the
honor of her regard. Accordingly, no noble man could be intimate with
her without grateful and affectionate veneration. M. de Maistre said
of her, "More loyalty, intellect, and learning were never seen joined
to so much goodness." The Viscount de Bonald said, "She is a friend
worthy of you; and one of the best heads I have ever met, effect or
cause of the most excellent qualities of the heart with which a
mortal can be endowed." The poet Turquety sent her an exquisite poem,
descriptive of herself and of his feelings towards her. She wrote in
reply, "Before thanking you, I have thanked God for giving your heart
such an impression of me, unworthy of it as I am. The illusion which
arises from affection is another grace, I had almost said another
virtue. Your accent has a persuasive sincerity; and faith, when it is
vivid, believes in miracles." And then she thus delicately indicates
her objection to the publication of the verses: "I condemn this
charming flower to enchant only my solitude; but this is the better
to gather its fragrance, and it will survive me."

An invaluable friendship also existed between Madame Swetchine and
Alexander the Emperor of Russia, one of the most interesting and
romantic characters of modern time, of whom she said to Roxandra
Stourdza, "Already above other men, by his glory; by the influence of
religion, he will be above himself." When the famous mystical Madame
de Kriidener appealed to him, in the name of virtue and of religion,
to be true to his own better nature, he burst into tears, and hid his
face in his hands. As she paused apologetically, he exclaimed, "Speak
on, speak on: your voice is music to my soul." She obtained a great
influence over him. He had likewise an enthusiastic attachment for
Napoleon; and Madame de Kriidener called them respectively the white
angel and the black angel. His sensibility to all generous
sentiments, all thoughts of poetic height and richness, was
extraordinarily tender and expansive. He was often known, in the
overwhelming re-action of his emotions, convulsed with tears, to leap
into his carriage alone, and drive out into the solitary country or
forest. Such were the exalted traits of his character, and his many
beautiful deeds, that Madame Swetchine felt her natural relations of
duty and submission transmuted into those of vivid admiration and
devotion. "I fully sympathize," she writes to her earliest bosom-
friend, "with the vivacity of your admiration for our dear Emperor.
What a happiness to be able to eulogize with truth! Let us hope we
are in the aurora of a most beautiful day for Russia. How pleased I
am at having always seen in his soul that which this day shows itself
with a glory so fair and so pure! He is a true hero of humanity. He
seems in his conduct to realize all my dreams of moral dignity; and I
find, at last, in this union of religious sentiments and liberal
ideas, the long-sought resemblance of the type I carry in my mind,
and which has hitherto been qualified as fantastic, the creation of a
too sanguine imagination. In him we see, that, even on the throne, in
the wild tumult of all interests, of all passions, one can remain
man, Christian, philosopher; pursue the wisest and most generous
plans; and carry into his actions every thing that is beautiful, from
the highest justice to the most touching modesty."

Alexander testified his respect and regret, when Madame Swetchine
departed to reside in Paris, by asking her to be his correspondent.
The correspondence was continued until his death, ten years
afterwards. The Emperor Nicholas, on his accession, restored to
Madame Swetchine all her letters; and she allowed an eminent
statesman, in 1845, to read the whole collection. After her death, no
trace of it was to be found among her papers. It must possess an
intense interest; and it is to be hoped that it still exists, and may
yet one day see the light.

Perhaps the most intimate and truly devoted of all the friends of
Madame Swetchine was that accomplished member of the French Academy
whose biographic and editorial labors have erected such an attractive
and perdurable monument to her memory, the Count Alfred de Falloux.
The soul of reverence, gratitude, and love exhales in his sentences
when he writes of her. After describing what "she was to all who had
the inexpressible happiness of knowing her," he acids, "and this she
will now be to all who shall read her; and death will but give to her
words one consecration more." But the modesty of M. de Falloux has
not given the public her letters to him, and has kept his personal
relations with her much in the background. We are left to guess the
measure and the activity of their friendship, from indirect

On the whole, possibly because of the editor's reticence as to
himself, we are left to believe, that the friend who held the
pre-eminent place in the heart of Madame Swetchine, during the last
twenty-five years of her life, was Father Lacordaire, the illustrious
Catholic preacher. A complete picture of this ardent and unfaltering
friendship is shown in the letters of the two parties, gathered in an
octavo volume of nearly six hundred pages. We know not where, in the
annals of human affection, to find the account of a friendship more
spotless or more morally satisfying than this. The volume which
preserves and exhibits it will be found by all who are duly
interested in the psychology and experience of persons so
extraordinary, both for their genius in society, and for the quantity
and quality of their private experience full of solid instruction and
romantic interest. The inner life of Madame Swetchine was a sacred
epic: the outer career of Lacordaire, an electrifying drama. This
double interest of a private, spiritual ascent, and of a chivalrous
gallantry in the thick of battle, is clearly unfolded in the book
before us.

The chivalrous young Count de Montalembert was one of the dearest
friends of Madame Swetchine. She said that his soul seemed formed
under the inspiration of the fine thought of Plato: "The beautiful as
a means of reaching the true." Behold, in the following extract from
one of the many letters in which she strove to pacify his perturbed
spirit, by recalling him from the war of politics, and reconciling
his passionate reformatory sentiments with the ruling principles and
authorities of the Catholic Church, the tender wisdom and affection
with which she speaks: "You seize only on the disinterested and
poetic side of these questions, but all the same you are in the
battle, giving and taking blows. And thus, with a mind perfectly
high-toned and honorable, a crystal which is almost a diamond, with
faultless habits, and all the believing and pious sentiments they
involve, you have neither the heart's sweet joy nor its sweet peace.
The reason why you are so ill at ease, is, that your conscience lies
so near your heart that their voices and their troubles are
confounded. My dear Charles, will you not reward me by being all that
my wishes and my prayers would fain make you? I will not say whether
you have the power to rejoice or afflict my heart; but, when you woke
in me a mother's emotions, I cannot believe that you condemned me to
the sorrow of Rachel."

One day this beloved young man led to the drawing-room of his
maternal friend his heart's brother, the eloquent Lacordaire, then in
the early renown of his wonderful career of ecclesiastical oratory.
Madame Swetchine had already been deeply moved by his preaching, and
was desirous of knowing him. She quickly won his confidence, and
became, what she ever continued to be, a ministering angel to his
spirit. She was much older than he, much more profoundly versed in
human nature, much more soberly balanced and calm in soul. With a
vigilance, a wisdom, and a tenderness that were unwearied and
inexhaustible, she watched his course, studied the wants of his mind
and heart, and labored, as need was, alternately to confirm his
sinking courage and to soothe his excited imagination. Without being
ostensibly such, she was really his spiritual director. "Her subtile
and tender spirit," as Dora Greenwell has remarked, "seems to move
across his heart, to woo and to caress it to peace and goodness, to
call out its deepest concords, as the hand of the skilled musician
moves across his instrument, knowing well each fret and chord of the
sweet viol he doth love."

It was the greatness, not the weakness, of Lacordaire, that, before
loving God, he had loved glory. Few men have spirit enough truly to
seek fame: it is notice which they wish. The heart of Lacordaire was
a pure fire, encased in a cold intellect. It reminds us of an intense
flame clothed in transparent ice. Sometimes, he said, he hardly knew
whether his voice was moved from within by the spirit, or from
without by renown. In regard to every such scruple Madame Swetchine
was an infallible counsellor. Her advice was as the speech of
incarnate reason and love in their most purified and exalted form.
The heavy perfume that drenched his oratoric atmosphere would have
intoxicated most men with self-adulation; but he offset every such
allurement by constantly withdrawing from trifles, excitements, and
seductions, and spending long hours in the unbroken solitude of
thought and the awful neighborhood of God. If both these extremes
brilliant public triumphs, and severe seclusion and asceticism had
their special dangers, Madame Swetchine was his resistless guardian
against them both. No one who has not read their correspondence,
reaching richly through a whole generation, can easily imagine the
services rendered by this gifted and saintly woman to this holy and
powerful man. Community of faith, of loyalty, of nobleness, joined
them. It was in looking to heaven together that their souls grew
united. Drawn by the same attractions, and held by one sovereign
allegiance, such souls need no vows, nor lean on any foreign support.
The divinity of truth and good is their bond.

No prayer persuades, no flattery fawns,
Their noble meanings are their pawns:
And so thoroughly is known
Each other's counsel by his own,
They can parley without meeting.

At first Madame Swetchine shrank from the excessive agitation she
underwent in listening to the great sermons of Lacordaire in Notre
Dame. "I go through all his perils," she said: "I tremble at every
rock; I feel every stroke. His way of speaking acts upon the human
soul in the same way as sanctity: it wounds; but it enraptures." At
length her attendance on his sermons became so constant, and her
pleasure and admiration so obvious, that many of the congregation
supposed her to be literally, as she was morally, his mother. One
day, as she was leaning against a pillar in the crowded church, her
face upturned towards the pulpit, two persons were heard whispering
to each other: "Would you like to see the preacher's mother?" "Why,
she died ten years ago." "No, there she is: look at her."

The genius of Madame Swetchine was sweeter, serener, more tolerant,
than that of her friend. Her influence on him in these respects was
benignant. He thought more of the strict doctrine: she, more of the
broad and charitable spirit. She once said, concerning dogmas, that
she could consent to see the ocean filtered to a thread of water, if
it but remained pure. He wrote to her, "My dear friend, you have
proved yourself deficient in holy anger; otherwise you would not have
been able to tolerate M." His electric, vehement soul needed exactly
the check her reflective subtilty and prudent consideration gave. So
she tells him once, "I acted as your ballast, or rather I held you by
the skirts of your garment, to retard your too impetuous movements.
Perhaps these are the very attributes with which you would have done
well to invest some one at Rome, who might have united the two
conditions which I fulfilled so perfectly: first, that of not being
you, either in natural disposition, antecedents, or age; second, and
more essential, that of loving you better than you could possibly
love yourself."

With the lapse of years, their attachment grew closer and deeper.
Lacordaire writes from Rome, "I have been bitterly disappointed in
not hearing from you. You know what a need one has of friendly words
when one is alone and so far away." And when the epistle comes, he
writes to her, "I had no sooner opened your letter than my soul was
inundated with joy." Again he says, "I found in your last letter the
expression of an affection so tender, and a watchfullness so fixed,
that I was melted by it, even to tears." "Your letters are always to
me a balm and a force." In excuse of his own reserve, he strikingly
writes, "Women have this admirable quality, that they can talk as
much as they wish, as they wish, with what expression they wish:
their heart is a fountain that flows naturally. The heart of man,
especially mine, is like those volcanoes whose lava leaps forth only
at intervals after a convulsion." We find Madame Swetchine saying, in
one of her letters to Lacordaire, "I protest against long silences:
they are to me that vacuum of which nature has a horror." The
exceeding care which this discreet woman took always to administer
her advice, her praise, or rebuke, in such a way as not to offend or
injure the most sensitive recipient of it, is a rare lesson for
others. Lacordaire once wrote to her, although he knew very well how
guileless was the motive of her managements, "You say, dear friend,
that you fear to displease me in speaking your thought about me. I
assure you my sole reproach is, that you are too circumspect and
delicate in your style of expression. I appreciate all the more that
flattery which is the guardian escort of truth, because it is wholly
wanting to me. I speak things out too bluntly; and it is true that
almost always men need an extreme sweetness in the language of those
who would benefit them. The heart is like the eyes: it cannot bear
too glaring a light. However, I find you excessive in the art of
shades." Soon afterwards he says, "Excuse my franknesses; with you,
as with God. I can say every thing." Scarcely ever did a man owe more
to a woman than this eloquent and heroic priest to the heavenly-
minded friend who said she loved him as father, brother, and son, all
at once. He deeply felt his debt, and faithfully paid it. He paid it
in loving words and attentions, while she lived, and in a tribute of
immortal eloquence when she was dead. "You appeared to me," he tells
her, "between two distinct parts of my life, as the angel of the Lord
might appear to a soul wavering between life and death, between earth
and heaven." To a common friend he wrote of her, "Her soul was to
mine what the shore is to the plank shattered by the waves; and I
still remember, after the lapse of twenty-five years, all the light
and strength she afforded to me when I was young and unknown." He
dedicated to her his "Life of Saint Dominic," saying, "I wish that
some one of your descendants may one day know that his ancestress was
a woman whom Saint Jerome would have loved as he loved Paula and
Marcella, one who needed only a pen illustrious and saintly enough to
do her justice." Hearing of her last illness, he made a journey of
six hundred miles, to be with her, and lavished on her every winning
word and act that filial love and reverence could suggest; and, after
all was over, he pronounced on her a funeral address, which will
always rank with the highest trophies of his genius. No other words
can be so fitting as his own to close this sketch:

"She belongs to the nation of the great minds of our age. In a time
of intellectual dependence, when parties bore every thing in their
train, she made no engagement, and submitted to no attraction: she
isolated every question from the noise around her, and placed it in
the silence of eternity. A constant simplicity and an equal elevation
gave to her ideas a personal influence. This double charm might be
resisted; but she could not fail to be loved herself, and to inspire
the desire to become better. Happy mouth, which for forty years made
not an enemy to God, but which poured into a multitude of wounded or
languishing hearts the germ of the resurrection and the rapture of
life! Alas! dear and illustrious lady. I cannot attach to your name
the glory of those Roman women whom Saint Jerome has immortalized;
and yet you were of their race. Conquered for God through the
language of France, you wished to live under the French speech; and,
quitting a country you alwaysloved, you came among us with the
modesty of a disciple and of an exile. But you brought us more than
we gave you. The light of your soul illumined the land which received
you, and for forty years you were for us the sweetest echo of the
gospel and the surest road to honor."


THE first species of exclusively female friendship is that which
exists between mother and daughter. The maternal tie of organic
instinct and moral guardianship on the one side, and the filial tie
of respect, dependence, and gratitude on the other, form the ordinary
connection of mothers and daughters. In exceptional cases, these
bonds of affectionate protection and pious love are lifted out of the
faded commonplace of custom by deep mutual appreciation and sympathy,
broadened and brightened into a friendship emphatically worthy of the
name. The sight of a mother and a daughter thus happily paired is
beautiful and holy. And there are far more examples of it than the
world knows.

Probably, the best representation of this union is the one afforded
by Madame de Sévigné and Madame de Grignan. These celebrated ladies,
among the most brilliant of the long roll of distinguished French
women, were possessed of every charm of person and spirit,
fascinating grace, dignity, intelligence, accomplishments, purity,
and generosity. In their early years, they were inseparable. They
hung on each other's looks and motions. The wish of the mother was
the instinctive law of the child. The beautiful image of the
daughter, loved to the verge of distraction, seemed gradually to
occupy the whole being of the mother. For, as Madame de Sévigné
successively lost her idolized husband and her most endeared friend,
the unhappy Fouquet, the maternal instinct seemed to take up into
itself all the baffled or bereaved passions, and, magnified and
vivified by the appropriation, to transform itself into a friendship
which almost annihilated her individuality, beneath the ideal stamp
and transfused impression of that of her daughter. The pain of
parting from her was like the anguish of tearing the soul out of the
body. During the period of their separation, memory took the place of
sight; ideas, of actions; correspondence, of conversation. She
constantly writes to the absent one, and seems to live only for this.
Every observation, reflection, emotion, finds a place in the tender
and immortal record. She spares no pains to make her letters
interesting to the receiver. She writes, "I shall live for the
purpose of loving you. I abandon my life to that occupation." It is
affecting to note the agitation of the mother at every ruffle on the
life of the daughter. In tracing the thoughts, feelings, events, that
vibrated across the relation between them, one can hardly escape the
conviction, that the soul of the younger friend was ideally
superimposed on the self-abnegating soul of the elder friend, and
governed it, as the mental processes of a magnetized person are said
to be superseded by the personality and states of consciousness of
the magnetizer. A single passion has seldom so consistently ruled a
being as the affection of Madame de Sévigné for her daughter; and it
was returned by the latter with all the fervor of which her less
ardent nature was capable. The collection of letters in which the
sentiment and its manifold workings are enshrined, created, as
Lamartine says in his eloquent sketch, a new species of literature,
and formed an epoch in authorship. "The genius of the hearth held the
pen, and the heart flowed through it. The literature of the family,
or confidential conversation written out, began. It is the classic of
closed doors."

This friendship had an earthly close worthy of its progress. For,
when Madame de Grignan was attacked by a dangerous and lingering
malady, her mother watched incessantly by her bedside, as she had
formerly watched by her cradle. After three months of sleepless care,
she had the joy of seeing the beloved patient return to life; but she
had given her own in exchange. "Intense affection alone seemed to
have enabled her to retain existence until the convalescence of
Madame de Grignan, when it fled, having fulfilled its last object
upon earth. She expired in the arms of her daughter, and surrounded
by her weeping grandchildren. Her last glance fell upon the being
enshrined in her soul, and restored to health by her care. She was
interred in the chapel of the Chateau de Grignan. But her letters are
her true and living sepulchre. Grignan holds her body; but her
correspondence contains her soul."

Another fine example of a noble and glowing friendship between a
mother and her daughter is furnished by Madame de Rambouillet and
Julie d'Angenne. They were equally endowed with loveliness of person,
attractiveness of mind, elevation of character, and perfection of
manners. They were the magic centres of every circle in which they
moved together. When the plague, of which all Paris was in terror,
seized Madame de Rambouillet's youngest son, she nursed him; and
Julie shut herself in the room with them till the boy died. The sweet
harmony of their souls and intercourse was unmarred, unalloyed, in
life and in death. Some mothers make slaves of their daughters; some
are slaves to them; some even find rivals in them. Some are prevented
from forming friendships, by tyranny on one side or by
insubordination on the other; by selfishness there or by
heartlessness here. Envy, vanity, fickleness, spite, festering
incompatibilities of character, often prove fatal in these veiled and
intimate relations. But when the characters of mother and daughter
are happy accords, or accurate counterparts, rich, lofty, ardent, and
disinterested, the solidly assured friendship which results, is a
felicity scarcely inferior to any known on earth. The example of such
a relation between Mrs. Browne and Mrs. Hemans was charming. Its
inexpressible preciousness to the sensitive soul of that sweet
singer, every reader of sensibility, who traces the numerous
allusions to it in her letters and poems, will recognize with
emotion. There is much in the relation between a mother and the wife
of her son to create peculiar interest and love. And they, allowing
for exceptions of an opposite character, become the warmest friends
in unnumbered instances. A better example can hardly be desired than
is furnished in the sweet pastoral tale of Hebrew Scripture. What
passage in literature is more pervaded with the pathetic charm of the
affection of the early world than the story of Naomi and her widowed
daughter-in-law, Ruth, the Moabitish ancestress of David and of
Jesus? Ruth said, "Entreat me not to leave thee, or to return from
following after thee: for whither thou goest I will go; and where
thou lodgest I will lodge; and thy people shall be my people, and thy
God my God. Where thou diest will I die, and there will I he buried.
The Lord do so to me, and more also, if aught but death part thee and
me." So they two, Naomi and Ruth, went till they came to Bethlehem;
and there did they sojourn together until the end.

All the near ties of kindred, by the closeness of association and
sympathy naturally consequent on them, must often prove the fostering
occasions or incentives of warm and lasting friendships between those
whom they draw together. In thousands of families there is an aunt
who becomes to her nieces a friend only less intimate and trusted
than the mother herself. Such was the case with Mrs. Barhauld and her
brother's only daughter, Lucy Aikin. In a multitude of families there
are likewise cousins bound to each other by bonds as numerous and
glowing as those of sisterhood. So, too, there are countless examples
in which a wife and the sister of her husband grow into the most
ardent sincerity of friendship. An interesting instance of this union
is celebrated by Pliny in his famous panegyric of Trajan. Pliny says
it is a wonder for two ladies of the same quality to dwell in the
same place, without feuds or contention. But he declares that Plotina
and Marciana, the wife and the sister of Trajan, never disputed over
the right of precedence; but had the same intentions, and followed
the same course of life; nay, were scarcely to be distinguished as
two different persons.

Mrs. Hemans writes, on the eve of the removal of her brother George
to Ireland, "I fear I shall feel very lonely and brotherless, as I
have always been one of a large family circle before. I could laugh
or cry when I think of the helplessness I have contrived to
accumulate." And then she adds, with reference to her sister-in-law,
"In her I shall be deprived of the only real companion I ever had.
She is to leave me on Saturday next; and I am haunted by those
melancholy words of St. Leon's guest, the unhappy old man with his
immortal gifts, Alone! Alone!"

THERE is also another unspeakably important class of womanly
friendships; namely, those subsisting between sisters. In the fourth
book of the Aeneid, Virgil powerfully paints this union in the
example of Dido and Anna. Scott has drawn an impressive picture of
such a friendship, in the characters of Minna and Brenda Troil; and a
still more affecting one in the story of Jeannie and Effie Deans.
Thrown into constant intimacy, with an endearing community of
inheritance, duties, and associations-multitudes of sisters must
become ardent friends. The failure of that result, in consequence of
base qualities, irritating circumstances, or cold and meagre natures,
is a great misfortune and loss in a household: the fruition of it is
a blessing worthy of the most earnest gratitude of its subjects.
Perhaps there is no species of friendship more sure to elude
publicity. It plays its undramatic part in domestic scenes, avoiding,
rather than asking, the notice of the world. We need not wonder, that
there are so few examples of it sufficiently exciting and public to
induce the historian or biographer to narrate their stories.

Hannah More and her four sisters were a group of happy friends, who
kept house together for more than half a century. The union of Hannah
and Martha was especially one of entire admiration and fondness. In
Wrington churchyard the remains of the five sisters rest together
under a stone slab, enclosed by an iron railing, and overshadowed by
a yew-tree.

Mary and Agnes Berry, who were such widely courted favorites, in the
most intellectual society of the time of their ardent friend, Horace
Walpole, dwelt together, for over eighty years, in entire and fervent
affection: and they now sleep side by side in their grave at

The three wonderful sisters, Charlotte, Anne, and Emily Bronte, were
joined by uncommonly deep and intense bonds. Their strange, fervid
personalities; their solitary, melancholy lives; their tastes and
pursuits; their joys and triumphs, were held in common. Writing to
her best friend, Charlotte says, "You, my dear Miss W., know, as well
as I do, the value of sisters' affection to each other; there is
nothing like it in this world, I believe, when they are nearly equal
in age, and similar in education, tastes, and sentiments." In another
letter, written after she had lost both her sisters, she says, "Emily
had a particular love for the moors; and there is not a knoll of
heather, not a branch of fern, not a young bilberry leaf, not a
fluttering lark or linnet, but reminds me of her. The distant
prospects were Anne's delight; and, when I look round, she is in the
blue tints, the pale mists, the waves and shadows of the horizon."
Let any one, who would understand what these rare natures felt for
each other, read the memoir of her two sisters, prefixed by Charlotte
to "Wuthering Heights" and "Agnes Grey."

In 1846, Margaret Fuller wrote an account of a visit she had just
paid to Joanna Baillie, whom she had long honored almost above any of
her sex. She says, "I found on her brow, not, indeed, a coronal of
gold, but a serenity and strength undimmed and unbroken by the weight
of more than fourscore years, or by the scanty appreciation which her
thoughts have received. We found her in her little calm retreat, at
Hampstead, surrounded by marks of love and reverence from
distinguished and excellent friends. Near her was the sister, older
than herself, yet still sprightly and full of active kindness, whose
character, and their mutual relations, she has, in one of her last
poems, indicated with such a happy mixture of sagacity, humor, and
tender pathos, and with so absolute a truth of outline." This
admirable, semi-biographical, semi-psychological poem was addressed
by Joanna to her sister Agnes, her dear, life-long companion, on one
of the latest anniversaries of her birthday. It is an interesting
fragment in the literature of the friendships of sisters.

THE friendship of woman with woman, outside of the ties of blood, is
pictured with varying degrees of fidelity in the works of many
romance writers and novelists. One of the most glowing delineations
of it, also one of the most famous, is given by Richardson in the
character of Clarissa Harlowe. Jane Austen, in her "Northanger
Abbey," treats it with great insight, in the relations of Catherine
Morland, Isabella Thorpe, and Eleanor Tilney. Miss Edgeworth's
"Helen" is likewise full of it: both its sympathies and its
antagonisms are forcibly depicted. Helen Stanley is Lady Cecilia's
double, her second self, her better self. Lady Katrine Hawksby is
such an acidified piece of envy, so jealous of all her sex, that
"every commonly decent marriage of her acquaintance gives her a sad
headache." That there is truth in this bitter stroke cannot be
denied; but there is truth as well in the extreme opposite. Many a
girl, with a sublime self-renunciation, stifling an agony sharper
than death, has given up a lover to a friend, in silence and secrecy.
Women are capable of any sacrifice, and their grandest deeds are
hidden. Could any woman capable of voluntarily withdrawing herself,
in order that her friend might marry the man they both loved, be
capable of boasting of it, or willingly letting it be known?

Mrs. Barbauld gives a beautiful description of pious friendship in
her hymn beginning,

How blest the sacred tie that binds
In union sweet according minds!
How swift the heavenly course they run
Whose hearts, whose faith and hope, are one!
Their streaming tears together flow
For human grief and mortal woe;
Their ardent prayers together rise
Like mingling flames in sacrifice.

Pictures of female friendships, in all their glory and tragedy, their
ecstatic fusions and heroic sacrifices, their bitter jealousies and
inversions, abound in the great dramatists, who are the crowned
expositors of human nature. Auger, Secretary of the French Academy,
in his "Philosophical and Literary Miscellanies," has an excellent
little essay entitled, "The Friendships of Women among themselves
compared with the Friendships of Men among themselves; Difference of
the two Friendships, and the Causes of that Difference." The essay,
though not adequate, is true and suggestive. Charles Lamb's poem of
"The Three Friends, "--Mary, Martha, and Margaret--is an extremely
truthful and effective description of female friendship, its fervor,
jealousy, estrangement, generosity, and restoration.

Grace Aguilar has written a work expressly on the subject of Woman's
Friendship. Though not a work of a high order, it possesses
considerable interest as a tale; and, as a treatment of the theme, it
is full of sincere feeling and discriminating observations. In Lady
Ida Villiers and Florence Leslie we have a picture of a pair of noble
friends, proof against every trial. The black-hearted falsehood and
hate of Flora Rivers form an effective foil; and, incidentally, there
are many telling strokes and sidelights on the relations of women to
each other. "It is the fashion to deride female friendship," Grace
Aguilar says: "to look with scorn on those who profess it. There is
always to me a doubt of the warmth, the strength, and purity of her
feelings, when a girl merges into womanhood, looking down on female
friendship as romance and folly." The subtile and masterly knowledge
of the characters of women, their weaknesses and their strengths, is
not the least of the charms of that consummate work of art, "The
Princess" of Tennyson. Blanche, Melissa, Ida, Psyche, in their
unions, Two women faster welded in one love Than pairs of wedlock, in
their jealousies, quarrels, aspirations, sorrows, are psychological
studies full of delicate truth. Mrs. Browning's "Aurora Leigh"
discusses many of the same topics, in a manner characteristically
contrasting with Tennyson's, but marked by all her own
conscientiousness, power, and care. Lady Waldemar, Marian Erle,
Aurora Leigh, with the unsparing censures, magnanimous thoughts, and
burning aspirations strewn through this profound and massive work,
are lasting lessons for all womankind. It seems to have been much
easier for most of the critics of this great work to feel its
artistic faults, its jarring metre, and cumbrous forms, than to
appreciate the transcendent nobleness and wisdom wrought into it from
the soul of its creator.

School-girl friendships are a proverb in all mouths. They form one of
the largest classes of those human attachments whose idealizing power
and sympathetic interfusions glorify the world and sweeten existence.
With what quick trust and ardor, what eager relish, these susceptible
creatures, before whom heavenly illusions float, surrender themselves
to each other, taste all the raptures of confidential conversation,
lift veil after veil till every secret is bare, and, hand in hand,
with glowing feet, tread the paths of paradise Perhaps a more
impassioned portrayal of this kind of union is not to be found in
literature than the picture in "A Midsummer-Night's Dream," which
Shakespeare makes Helena hold before Hermia, when the death of their
love was threatened by the appearance of Lysander and Demetrius:

Is all the counsel that we two have shared,
The sisters' vows, the hours that we have spent,
When we have chid the hasty-footed time
For parting us, O! is all forgot?
All school-days' friendship, childhood innocence?
We, Hermia, like two artificial gods,
Have with our needles ccreated both one flower,
Both on one sampler, sitting on one cushion,
Both warbling of one song, both in one key,
As if our hands, our sides; voices, and minds
Had been incorporate. So we grew together,
Like to a double cherry, seeming parted,
But yet an union in partition,
Two lovely berries moulded on one stem:
So with two seeming bodies, but one heart;
Two of the first, like coats in heraldry,
Due but to one and crowned with one crest.
And will you rend our ancient love asunder,
To join with men in scorning your poor friend?

Romantically warm and generous as the friendships of school-boys are,
those of school-girls are much more so. They are more purposed and
absorbing, more sedulously cultivated and consciously important.
School-girls often have their distinctly defined and well-understood
degrees of intimacy--their first, their second, their third, friend.
Thus a thousand little dramas are daily played, full of delights and
woes, of which outsiders, who have no key to them, never so much as
dream. Probably no chapter of sentiment in modern fashionable life is
so intense and rich as that which covers the experience of budding
maidens at school. In their mental caresses, spiritual nuptials,
their thoughts kiss each other, and more than all the blessedness the
world will ever give them is foreshadowed. They have not yet reached
the age for a public record or confession of their pangs and
raptures; so these dramas are for the most part only guessed at. But
keener agonies, more delicious passages, are nowhere else known than
in the bosoms of innocent school-girls, in the lacerations or
fruitions of their first consciously given affections. A startling
illustration has come to the knowledge of the writer just as he is
penning these words. Two girls, about sixteen years old, attending a
private school together, in one of the chief cities of the United
States, formed a strong attachment to each other, and were almost
inseparable. The father of one of the girls, for some reason, had a
dislike for the other, and forbade his daughter to associate with
her. The two friends preferred death to separation. They took
laudanum, and were found dead in each other's arms. What element of
romance or tragedy ever known, is not every day experienced, all
about us, under the thin disguise of commonplace?

No doubt there is often something a little grotesque or laughable in
these youthful relations. An anecdote will illustrate it, and, at the
same time, convey the corrective moral. There were a couple of
school-girl friends, each of whom loved to do and experience whatever
the other did or experienced. One of them accidentally set fire to
the window-curtains in her chamber, and the house came near being
burned down. She wrote word to her friend of the dangerous accident.
The other at once proceeded carefully to set fire to the curtains in
her chamber, so as to be just like her friend in everything.

One may well reprove, with a complacent smile of superiority,
the folly of the act; but the sentiment underneath should never be

A harrowing instance of the suffering consequent on the overstrung
feelings of girls is furnished by Margaret Fuller in the story of
"Mariana," a vivid autobiographic leaf inserted in her "Summer on the
Lakes." Much precious wisdom is learned, many cruel scars are
received, in these sincere, though often fickle, connections--these
inebriating preludes to the sober strain of existence. There is a
touch of sadness in the thought that the earliest friendship of youth
must so frequently fade and cease. But there is comfort for that
sadness in the knowledge that the fair flowers of April are but
precursors of those which June shall fill with the richer fragrance
of a more royal fire.

Oft first love must perish
Like the poor snow-drop, boyish love of Spring,
Born pale to die, and strew the path of triumph
Before the imperial glowing of the rose,
Whose passion conquers all.

Some of the conditions for friendship between women are furnished in
a high degree in the secluded intimacy of conventual life, with its
stimulus of solitude and religious romance. Under such circumstances,
Madame Roland, in her youth, had an ardent union with Angélique
Boufflers. She had likewise a precious friendship of this kind with
the two sisters, Sophie and Henrietta Cannet. Her description of the
sisters' arrival at the convent, of the sensation which they made,
and of her own love for them, is extrernel, graphic and spirited. Her
letters to them, extending through many years, and reaching in number
to near two hundred and fifty, give us one of the best record of the
value and joy of a friendship whose parties, b: freely unbosoming
themselves to each other, assuage every pang and double every

Among the crowds of nuns, young ladies of noble families and refined
education, early set apart to this mode of existence, with all their
glowing sentiments and dreams undispelled by the cold touch of the
world, the inviting and innocent vent of sisterly love must often
have been welcomed as a heavenly boon, and improved with enthusiasm.
Also a deep affection, mixed of many choice ingredients of authority,
dependence, admiration, sympathy, and tenderness, must frequently
have sprung up, and been nourished to an intense development, between
Lady Superiors and their pupils, Abbesses and nuns. The relation of
Mother Agnes Arnauld and Jacqueline Pascal exhibits an instance. The
correspondence and memoirs of Madame de Chantal afford many striking
examples. In the Order of the Visitation, founded by her, and whose
outlines were drawn by St. Francis of Sales, the element of Christian
friendship plays a large part. The Lady Superior has an aide, a
sister chosen by herself, to admonish and warn her of her faults, and
to receive all complaints from those who might feel that she had
wronged or aggrieved them. The duty of the directress of the novices
is to exercise them in obedience, sweetness, and modesty; to clear
from their minds all those follies, whims, sickly tendernesses, by
which their characters might be enfeebled; to instruct them in the
practice of virtue, the best methods of prayer and meditation; and to
give them a wise and patient sympathy and guidance in every exigency.

Madame de Longueville and Angeliaue Arnauld formed an impassioned
friendship, worthy of mention as one of the richest on record--after
the conversion of the former, and her retirement from the world.
Unquestionably, if, at the waving of a wand, all the secrets of
conventual life, of the female religious orders, could be revealed, a
host of friendships would swarm to light, many of them as pure as
those which link the white-robed angels. Yet, in affirming this, one
need not be supposed ignorant of the meagre and repulsive phase of
the life sometimes led in the convent, its mechanical ritual, its
cold rules, and its irritating espionage.

The unions of heart formed between queens, princesses, or other great
ladies, and their favorite maids of honor or their chosen companions,
when these happen to be especially congenial, compose a still further
class of female friendships. They are very frequent, and are
especially attractive, on account of the scenes of rank and splendor,
conspicuous romance and tragedy, amidst which they occur. Kadidasa,
in his "Sakoontahi," that exquisite picture of ancient Hindu life,
shows us the beautiful akoontaltl, constantly accompanied by her two
confidential friends, Priyamvada and Anastiya. In the biographies of
royal houses, it is a common occurrence to meet with an unhappy queen
who was so fortunate as to find refuge and consolation for the
sorrows inflicted on her by an unfaithful or cruel husband, in the
ever-ready sympathy of some attendant, some true and loving woman of
her court. In the annals of courts, the examples of jealousies and
quarrels, of confidants turning rivals, and of maids undermining and
ousting their mistresses, are also unhappily frequent. So, for
instance, Maintenon displaced her patroness, Montespan; so Anne of
Austria, after years of utter devotion, successively alienated her
self-forgetful friends, Madame de Chevreuse, Mademoiselle de la
Fayette, and the incomparable Mademoiselle de Hautefort; so did the
unhappy Marie de Medicis, after half a life-time of lavished
fondness, forsake her faithful Eleonora Galigäi, and turn against her
in the cruel selfishness of misfortune and danger.

Catherine Picard was the beloved companion of Blanche of Lancaster.
Her sister, Philippa Picard, was the favorite of Philippa, queen of
Edward the Third. She was so attached to her mistress, that she kept
her lover, the immortal Chaucer, waiting for her hand eight years,
until the death of the queen set her free. Catherine Douglas, maid of
honor to the Lady Jane Beaufort, wife of James the First of Scotland,
showed her love for her queen by a deed which history and song will
never forget to celebrate. When the assassins were forcing their way
into the royal chamber, Catherine thrust her beautiful arm into the
stanchion of the door, as a bolt, and held it there till it was

Mary Stuart was blessed with the society of four maids of honor,
lovely girls of rank, about her own age, named for her, and appointed
from childhood to be her companions. Their names were Mary Flemming,
Mary Seton, Mary Beton, and Mary Livingstone; and they were called
the Queen's Marys. Through her unhappy fortunes, imprisonments and
all, they remained with her, and ardently loved her, whatever her
errors may have been. With the exception of Mary Seton, who, on
account of illness, had withdrawn to a convent in France, they
accepted, for the sake of supporting and comforting her, even the
anguish of witnessing her execution.

The attendants of Queen Elizabeth, on the other hand, detested her.
When, in her age and ugliness, she would no longer look in a glass,
it is said they used to amuse themselves with powdering her cheeks,
and rouging her nose. Elizabeth, as a woman, no doubt hated Mary for
her fascinations more than, as a queen, she feared her for her
political pretensions; and, in spite of every justifying argument, it
must be said, that she treated her with cruel treachery. In their
earlier days, Elizabeth sent Mary a most rare diamond ring as a
pledge of her friendship, and accompanied it with earnest promises of
aid and sympathy. Aubrey describes this ring as consisting of
separate parts, which, united, formed the device of two right hands
supporting a heart between them, the heart itself being composed of
two diamonds held together by a spring. The Queen of Scots, in her
final distress, dispatched this token to Elizabeth by a trusty
messenger, and in return was ordered to the block. Mrs. Jameson
eloquently thinks, we must feel that the scale was set even, when we
remember how Mary was loved, how Elizabeth was hated, and died at
last in loneliness, writhing on the floor like a crushed spider.
However much to be regretted, it is yet natural that the powerful
facts and logic of the later historians, like Froude, should find our
prejudices so stubbornly set in favor of Mary, and against Elizabeth.
They will change slowly; but I suppose they must, in a large degree,
change. Sarah Jennings, famous as that Duchess of Marlborough whom
Pope so fearfully satirized under the name of Atossa, having been
selected as lady in waiting of Queen Anne, was immediately taken to
her bosom. The queen asked no subserviency: "Afriend is what I most
want," she said. They laid aside all titles, and addressed each other
as equals under the assumed names of Mrs. Freeman and Mrs. Morley.
This lackadaisical relation subsisted for several years. At length
Mrs. Morley and Mrs. Freeman disappeared in the Queen and the
Duchess. The familiarity and arrogance of "Queen Sarah" became
insufferable to Queen Anne, and the quondam friends parted as
irreconcilable foes. Swift says of Queen Anne, that she "had not a
sufficient stock of amity for more than one person at a time." She
would always have a favorite, now, Miss Jennings; afterwards, Miss
Hill, better known as Lady Masham, the earnest friend of Locke; then,
somebody else.

In the terrible romance of the life of Marie Antoinette, the deserved
friendships and the undeserved hatreds that clustered around the
stately, affectionate, ill-fated queen, are clothed with exceeding
interest. In the memoirs of the Countess D'Adhemar, the most beloved
and steadfast of her attendants, who was equally her watchful servant
and her trusted friend, all the details of these attractions and
aversions may be found, drawn as only a woman would draw them. Madame
Geniis, whose overtures for familiarity were repulsed, plotted
against her with spiteful vindictiveness. Madame Campan, whom the
queen loved and took into her service, in return idolized and sought
to shield and bless her. By far the first, however, in the heart of
the queen, was the Princess Lamballe, a young widow, whose charms of
person and of character made her one of the most universally admired
women of that period. The queen revived for the princess the office
of superintendent of the household, that she might live at
Versailles. Their attachment, based on mutual esteem and tenderness,
and nurtured by many events, grew enthusiastic. It became the fashion
for every lady to have a friend, who accompanied her wherever she
went, to whom morning notes were written, and with whom tea was
sipped, and the evening spent, after the pattern of Antoinette and
Lamballe. The princess showed herself as heroic in devotion to her
friend, amidst the horrible carnival which surrounded the close of
their lives, as she had been modest, gentle, and sympathizing in the
brilliant season that preceded. A few days before the terrible crisis
of the Revolution burst on the head of the queen herself, the
princess, who occupied a room in the palace, adjoining that of her
friend, that she might share all her tears and dangers, was called
for a short time to the Chateau de Vernon, by the illness of her aged
father-in-law. Marie seized the opportunity to write a letter to her
friend, begging her to take care of herself and not return. "Your
heart would be too deeply wounded, you would have too many tears to
shed over my misfortunes, you who love me so tenderly. Adieu, my dear
Lamballe; I am always thinking of you; and you know I never change."

The princess hastened back to the side of her imperilled mistress.
With unfaltering fondness and resolution she clung to her through the
sack which filled the palace with ruins and blood; through the
tedious and brutal examinations in the Assembly; and through the
fearful imprisonment in the Temple, until the jailers violently tore
her from the arms of her sobbing friend. In vain the ferocious
wretches in power strove to wring from her something prejudicial to
the queen. The brave and beautiful woman preferred death; and was
delivered over to the crowd to be murdered. Madame de Lebel, to whom
the princess had been very kind, was going to inquire after the fate
of her beloved benefactress, when she heard the howls of an
approaching procession. She ran into the shop of a hairdresser; and
was quickly followed by one of the mob, who ordered the master of the
shop to dress the head of Madame de Lamballe. The princess was
celebrated for the length and richness of her fine, golden locks. At
this very moment, concealed among their bright, clustering masses,
was found the letter from Antoinette, quoted above. The barber took
the poor, disfigured head into his hands, cleansed the face from
blood, and arranged and powdered the ringlets. The ruffian said,
"Antoinette will recognize it now;" and, replacing it on the point of
his pike, moved forward with the mob to the prison of the unhappy
queen, before whose windows they elevated the appalling trophy, at
the same time shrieking to her to look on it. After this experience,
and others scarcely less revolting, we may well believe that the
high-souled daughter of Maria Theresa welcomed the executioner's axe
as a blessed relief. We see her, clad in the pale royalty of her
personal beauty and grief, refusing insult, moving, in the death-
cart, through the yelling masses of the populace, to her doom, like a
goddess, incapable of degradation, borne in a car above an infuriated
herd of apes, who vainly struggle to drag her down to themselves.
Madame Salvage de Faverolles had a passionate faculty of admiration.
She was fascinated with Madame Weamer, who was not much drawn to her,
though she always treated her with kindness. Her unclaimed affection
at length found its home in Queen Hortense, the daughter of
Josephine, and the mother of Louis Napoleon. She was inseparable from
her, and was called, with a touch of satire or humor, her body-guard.
She identified herself with every enterprise, hope, or thought of her
friend; accompanied her on every journey; watched over her in her
last sickness, night and day, with heroic fidelity; and, after her
death, executed her will in all particulars. The present Emperor of
France has always had the credit of an ardent love for his mother. A
just sentiment of gratitude would seem to require him--if he has not
already done it--to enshrine, with tributary honor, close beside the
ashes of the unhappy queen of Holland, those of Madame Salvage, the
most unwearied and inalienable of all her friends.


PASSING on from the classes of feminine friendships now described, we
come to individual instances of this affection in pairs of women. The
young Beatrice Portinari, and Giovanna, that chosen companion of
hers, who, for the singular freshness of her beauty, was called by
the Florentines, Primavera, the Spring, are immortalized as a pair of
friends by the divine touch of Dante, in his "Vita Nuova," where he
mentions them under the names of Monna Vanna and Monna Bice. Very
likely they were schoolgirls together, who did not suffer the
fondness engendered in their shared studies and painted hopes and
opening dreams of life to cease with the close, of that enchanted

Lady Dorothea Sydney and Lady Sophia Murray were a pair of friends
whom it must have been delightful to contemplate, and is still, in a
paler way, delightful to recall by literary reminiscence. They were
the Sacharissa and Amoret of Waller. He dedicates a graceful poem to
their friendship. These lines Occur in it:

Not the silver doves that fly
Yoked to Cytherea's car;
Not the wings that lift so high,
And convey her son so far,
Are so lovely, sweet, and fair,
Or do more ennoble love,
Are so choicely matched a pair,
Or with more consent do move.

Regina Collier and Katherine Phillips were, for a long period, a
happy pair of friends. Friendship held so large a place in the life
and writings of the latter lady that a brief sketch of her
experience, and of its expression, will be interesting. The Mrs.
Katherine Phillips, to whom Jeremy Taylor dedicated his celebrated
discourse on the "Offices and Measures of Friendship," enjoyed a
great reputation among her contemporaries, in the middle of the
seventeenth century, and in the succeeding generation, as a woman of
accomplishments and genius. Now that she is almost forgotten, it
surprises one to read the extravagant published compliments lavished
on her, in her life-time, by so many distinguished persons. The most
remarkable peculiarity, alike of her character and of her literary
productions, is the extraordinary prominence in them of the sentiment
of friendship. She seems nearly all her life to have been enamored of
this experience. Her affectionate spirit drew people to her by its
strong charms, and still breathes vividly in her neglected pages. The
overcharged and somewhat fantastic ideal of friendship which she
unweariedly strove to realize in her relations with various persons,
was so sincere and earnest in heart, that no one, who appreciates it,
can suffer himself to ridicule, though he may smile at, its apparent
affectation on the surface. Its deep ear nestness is proved in her
life and character, as set forth by her associates: its superficial
fancifullness appears in the sentimental names she was pleased to
give herself and her friends. She was Orinda: her friends were
Palmon, Poliarchus, Philaster, Silvander, Polycrite, Valeria,
Lucasia, Rosania. Friendship is prominently treated in nearly every
thing that she wrote. Her friendships with men, Jeremy Taylor,
Francis Finch, Sir Charles Cotterel, and others, were as happy and
unbroken as they were fervent and pure. Her long correspondence with
Cotterel was published under the title, "Letters from Orinda to
Poliarchus." When Finch had written his treatise on friendship, Mrs.
Phillips addressed to him a poem, inscribed, "To the Noble Palmon, on
his Incomparable Discourse of Friendship:"

Temples and statues time will eat away;
And tombs, like their inhabitants, decay:
But here Palm non lives, and so he must
When marbles crumble to forgotten dust.

There is also in her volume of poems, another one addressed to "Mr.
Francis Finch, the Excellent Palmmon:"

'Twas he that rescued gasping friendship,
when The bell tolled for her funeral with men:
'Twas he that made friends more than lovers burn,
And then made love to sacred friendship turn.

Mrs. Phillips was less fortunate in the sequels to her friendships
with persons of her own sex; though, while they lasted, they were,
at least on her side, moreardent and entire. Her principal female
friends were Regina Collier, whom she named Rosania, and Mrs. Anne
Owen, designated, in all their communications, as Lucasia. Many of
her poems were written to these two idolized friends. She
concludes a most glowing celebration of her union with the former,

A dew shall dwell upon our tomb,
Of such a quality
That fighting armies, thither come,
Shall reconciled be.
We'll ask no epitaph, but say,

The exaggerated pitch of sentiment in Orinda, the sensitive and
absorbing demands of her affection, and, perhaps, some lightness, or
even falsity, on the part of Rosania, led to a rupture. The indignant
and unhappy Orinda expressed her sorrows in several heartfelt poems,
one of which bears the superscription, "To the Queen of Inconstancy,
Regina Collier:"

Unworthy, since thou hast decreed
Thy love and honor both shall bleed,
My friendship could not choose to die
In better time or company.

Another is entitled, "On Rosania's Apostacy and Lucasia's
Friendship." For the injured Orinda tried to find solace for the loss
of an old, in the arms of a new, friend; or, rather, by transferring
to one, in intensified unity, the love and attention she had before
divided between two. She writes "To my Lucasia, in Defence of
Declared Friendship,"

I did not live until this time Crowned my felicity,
When I could say, without a crime,
I am not thine but thee.

And, again, in "Friendship's Mystery, To my dearest Lucasia,"

Our hearts are mutual victims laid,
While they, such power in friendship lies,
Are altars, priests, and offerings made;
And each heart which thus kindly dies,
Grows deathless by the sacrifice.

For a good while this attachment kept its keen flavor, and was only
heightened by sympathy in misfortunes and distress. Cowley celebrated
it in the following lines:

The fame of friendship which so long had told
Of three or four illustrious names of old,
Till hoarse and weary of the tale she grew,
Rejoices now to have got a new,
A new and more surprising story,
Of fair Lucasia and Orinda's glory.

Mr. Owen, Lucasia's husband, died. Mrs. Phillips went from a distance
to visit her bereaved friend, and they fell into each other's arms
with copious tears. In a poem, Orinda describes this meeting under
the beautiful image of two sister rivulets, which, creeping from
their separate springs, in secret currents under ground, burst
together at last, swollen by their own embraces to a flood. Lucasia
marries again, and becomes Lady Dungannon. This marriage, by the new
scenes, ties, and pleasures it introduces, proves the undoing of poor
Orinda's happiness. Lucasia cools towards her, allows her less space
in her heart than she craves; and finally we have a reluctant
farewell poem, bearing the ominous title, "Orinda to Lucasia.
Parting, October, 1661, at London:

"Adieu, dear object of my love's excess,
And with thee all my hopes of happiness.
I to resign thy dear converse submit,
Since I can neither keep nor merit it:
I ask no inconvenient kindness now,
To move thy passion or to cloud thy brow;
And thou wilt satisfy my boldest plea
By some few soft remembrances of me.

The lines may remind one of the pathetic sentiment expressed almost
two hundred years later by a kindred heart. Eugénie de Guérin says,
"In the moment of union, the seed of separation is sown. Cruel
illusion, the belief in friendships that are eternal. The knowledge
is bitter, but let me learn the lesson." Yes: learn the lesson
indeed, so far as it is true; but do not exaggerate it, nor let it
cast too wide and dense a shadow over the rest of life.

Elizabeth Rowe seems to have had a heart peculiarly alive to tender
attachments. And she was happy in winning and retaining many friends.
Her superiors, her equals, her servants, all loved her as one of the
best of women. Her "Friendship in Death, in Twenty Letters from the
Dead to the Living," enjoyed great celebrity in its day. The
beautiful Countess Hertford was her enthusiastic friend. She
exchanged many visits with her, again and again leaving her own
stately mansion to abide in the humble house of her admired friend;
and she sacredly cherished her memory after death had parted them.
Thomson, in the original form of his "Hymn to Solitude," celebrated
these friends as "Philomela and the gentle-looking Hertford." Lady
Hertford had so affectionate a heart, so rich a mind, so gracious a
mien, and was so tenacious in her fondnesses, that she captivated the
souls of many of her contemporaries. She was the patron of Thomson,
who, in some exquisite lines, dedicated his "Spring" to her. She
rewarded the young Elizabeth Carter for a poem in honor of Mrs. Rowe,
with her steadfast love and her correspondence. But her most
important friendship was that with the Countess of Pomfret. This ran
through the largest part of her life, was a source of the greatest
comfort and edification to them both, and has left a monument of its
unwavering sincerity and fullness in the long series of their
published letters.

Mrs. Montague's passion for friendships led her to form intimacies
with many of the most distinguished persons of her time, both men and
women. When she was Elizabeth Robinson, at the age of twelve she
exchanged her doll for a living friend, in the person of Lady
Margaret Harley, who became the celebrated Duchess of Portland. This
intimacy was kept up to the end of their lives, by constant letters,
visits, and other endearments. The admirable Mrs. Barbauld, Hannah
More, and Elizabeth Carter, were also her cherished friends. She was
the founder of the far-famed "Blue-Stocking Club." Few friendships,
it is certain, have ever existed between women more thoroughly sound
and comforting than that of Hannah More and Mrs. Garrick. After the
death of the great tragedian, Hannah spent a large part of her time
with his widow. Mrs. Garrick fondly called Miss More her chaplain. As
friends of Elizabeth Carter, besides those already named, Pulteney,
Earl of Bath, Mr. Montague, Dr. Johnson, Sir George Lyttleton,
Archbishop Seeker, Miss Sutton, Mrs. Vesey, and, above all, Miss
Catherine Talbot, deserve to be especially Mentioned. Miss Carter and
Miss Talbot corresponded regularly for thirty years, and shared
almost every secret. Not a single misunderstanding occurred to mar
the placidity of their solid confidence and good will. It is a
pleasure, even at this day, to look through their voluminous, rather
stiff and prosy, but entirely sensible and affectionate

There was an ardent friendship, of which the details have perished,
between the once famous novelist and poet, Charlotte Smith, and the
lovely, unhappy, romantic Henrietta, Lady O'Niel.

Twelve times the moon, that rises red
O'er yon tall wood of shadowy pine,
Has filled her orb, since low was laid,
My Harriet, that sweet form of thine!

No more thy friendship soothes to rest
This wearied spirit, tempest-tossed:
The cares that weigh upon my breast
Are doubly felt since thou art lost.

But, ere that wood of shadowy pine
Twelve times shall yon full orb behold,
This sickening heart, that bleeds for thine,
My Harriet, may like thine be cold!

Anna Seward, considerably admired in her own generation, as a beauty
and as a writer, though the great faults of her judgment and style
are fast bringing oblivion over her pages, was a devoted friend of
that beautiful Honora Sneyd of whom Major Andre was the rejected
lover. It was a profound sympathy with both the parties which
prompted the composition of her once famous "Monody on Major Andre."
One is sorry to learn, that, on the marriage of Honora with Mr.
Edgeworth, and her removal to Ireland, her friendship for Anna, as
often happens in such cases, died of a slow consumption. But, on the
other side, the early affection never ceased to glow. Miss Seward
writes to one of her lady friends, "When my attachment to Cornet sunk
in the snow-drifts of his altered conduct, Honora Sneyd, educated in
our family from five years old, was commencing woman, and only eight
years younger than myself; more lovely, more amiable, more
interesting than any thing I ever saw in the female form. Death had
deprived me of my beloved and only sister, who had shared with me in
the delightful task of instructing our angelic pupil; and, when
disappointed love threw all the energies of my soul into the channel
of friendship, Honora was its chief object. The charms of her
society, when her advancing youth gave equality to our connection,
made Lichfield an Edenic scene to me. Ah, how deeply was I a fellow
sufferer with Major Andre on her marriage! We both lost her for

The following verses, written by Anna to Honora, from the seaside,
are pleasing in the picture they present and in the sentiment they
enshrine. The prophecy they make has also been fulfilled:

I write Honora on the sparkling sand!
The envious waves forbid the trace to stay:
Honora's name again adorns the strand,
Again the waters bear their prize away!

So Nature wrote her charms upon thy face,
The cheek's bright bloom, the lip's envermeilled dye,
And every gay and every witching grace
That youth's warm hours and beauty's stores supply.

But Time's stern tide, with cold Oblivion's wave,
Shall soon dissolve each fair, each fading charm;
E'en Nature's self, so powerful, cannot save
Her own rich gifts from this o'erwhelming harm.

Love and the Muse can boast superior power;
Indelible the letters they shall frame:
They yield to no inevitable hour,
But on enduring tablets write thy name.

Romney, in his fancy-picture of Serena reading by candle-light,
accidentally produced an accurate likeness of this lost friend of
Miss Seward's heart. "Drawing his abstract idea of perfect
loveliness, the form and the face of Honora Sneyd rose beneath his
pencil." This beauteous resemblance Anna hung in her room, and made
her constant companion. "It contributes to endear, as the bright
reality endeared, in times long past, this pleasant mansion to my
affections. Thus are those dear lineaments ever present to my sight,
retouching the traits of memory, over which indistinctness is apt to
steal." Again she says, "The luxury of mournful delight with which I
continually gaze upon that form, is one of the most precious comforts
of my life." Years after, in giving to Lady Eleanor Butler and Miss
Ponsonby an account of a recent journey she had made, Miss Seward
writes, "The stars glimmered in the lake of Weston, as we travelled
by its side: but their light did not enable me to distinguish the
church, beneath the floor of whose porch rests the mouldered form of
my heart, dear Honora. Yet of our approach to that consecrated spot
my spirit felt all the mournful consciousness." In her poem on the
death of her intimate friend. Andre, Miss Seward had written,

O Washington! I thought thee great and good,
Nor knew thy Nero-thirst for guiltless blood,
Severe to use the power that Fortune gave,
Thou cool, determined Murderer of the Brave!

It is interesting to read in a letter, written by her long afterwards
to the Ladies of Llangollen, "A few years after peace was signed
between this country and America, an officer introduced himself,
commissioned by Washington to call upon me, and to assure me from the
general himself, that no circumstance of his life had been so
mortifying as to be censured in the "Monody on Andre" as the pitiless
author of his ignominions fate; that he had labored to save him; that
he requested my attention to papers on the subject, which he had sent
by this officer for my perusal. On examining them, I found they
entirely acquitted the general. They filled me with contrition for
the rash injustice of my censure."

An extraordinary instance of feminine friendship, of the courage and
sacrifice the affections will prompt in woman, was afforded in the
relation of Anna Seward to the Countess of Northesk. The countess,
afflicted by a malady which had baffled the most skilful physicians
in London, was drawn to Lichfield by the fame of Dr. Darwin. She
staid for some time at his house, and awakened the deepest interest
in his family and friends. Miss Seward was especially attracted by
her engaging manners and disposition, as well as by sympathy for her
peril, and for the distress of her husband and children. She was
unwearied in efforts to alleviate the sufferings and the weary hours
of the countess, whose fervent gratitude re-acted to enhance to
enthusiasm the interest of the fair ministrant. One day, Dr. Darwin
suggested the possibility of effecting a cure of his patient by
transfusing into her veins a supply of vital blood, freshly taken
from some healthy person. Anna, then in the full bloom of youth,
instantly offered her own veins. The project was abandoned from want
of sufficiently delicate instruments. But the countess was deeply
affected by the generous offer of her friend, and repaid it with the
most affectionate attachment. She was restored to health; and, on
returning home, sent Miss Seward the gift of a set of jewels, in
token of her love. They continued to correspond with each other until
the tragic death of the countess by the accidental burning of her

The most remarkable instance in history, perhaps, of a pair of female
friends is the romantic example of the Ladies of Llangollen, whose
story, widely renowned two generations ago, is now obliterated from
popular knowledge, save in meagre literary allusions.

A little after the middle of the eighteenth century, Lady Eleanor
Butler and Miss Sarah Ponsonby, two young women of wealth and high
station, formed an extreme mutual attachment, and were possessed with
an ardent desire to forsake the world, and devote their lives to each
other. Taking measures accordingly, they departed to an obscure
retreat in the country. Their relatives frowned on this eccentricity,
traced them out in their hiding-place, and, despite their
protestations, separated them, and brought them back. But they soon
effected a second elopement, which proved a successful and permanent
one. Confiding the place of their flight only to a single faithful
servant, they sacrificed, in the prime of their lives, the prizes and
the glare of the fashionable world, and settled down in a secret nook
of beauty and peace. In the romantic Valley of Llangollen, in Wales,
one of the sweetest and quietest spots on earth, they bought a
charming cottage, fitted it up with every comfort, and adorned it
with exquisite taste. Here, in this remote and lovely haunt, amply
provided with books, pictures, and other means of culture, giving
themselves up to the enjoyment of their own society, they lived
together in uninterrupted contentment for nearly threescore years.
For a long period, their neighbors, ignorant of their names, knew
them only as the "Ladies of the Vale." For a quarter of a century, it
is said, they never spent twenty-four hours at a time out of their
happy valley.

They seem never to have fallen out, never to have wearied of each
other, never to have repented of their repudiation of public life. By
books and correspondence, they kept up a close connection with the
brilliant world they had deserted. The romance of their action,
penetrating far and wide, through cultivated circles, brought many
distinguished visitors to their hospitality, literary and titular
celebrities from all parts of Great Britain, likewise from the
continent. Many of these became fast friends to them; and, in letters
to other persons, speak of their fine qualities of sentiment and
taste, their engaging traits of character and manners. Madame Geniis
writes rapturously of her tarry with them, the charms of their
residence, and especially of the Aeolian harp, which she there heard
for the first time, amid the befitting associations of the mystic
legends and natural minstrelsy of Welsh landscape. Mrs. Tighe also,
the winsome but unfortunate authoress of the "Loves of Psyche and
Cupid," on departing from their cottage after a delighted stay, left
upon her table a beautiful sonnet addressed to them.

But Miss Anna Seward; between whom and the pair of friends a warm
affection was cherished, has given the fullest description known to
us of the home and habits of the Ladies of Llangollen. She thought
that the compliment Hayley paid to Miers, the miniature painter,

"His magic pencil in its narrow space
Pours the full portion of uninjured grace"

might be transferred to the talents and exertion which converted a
cottage in two acres and a half of turnip ground to a fairy palace
amid the bowers of Calypso. It consisted of four small apartments;
the exquisite cleanliness of the kitchen, its utensils and auxiliary
offices, vying with the finished elegance of the light-some little
dining-room, as that contrasted with the gloomy grace of the library
into which it opened. This room was fitted up in the Gothic style,
the door and large sash windows of that form--the latter of painted
glass, shedding a dim religious light. Candles were seldom admitted
into this apartment. The ingenious friends had invented a kind of
prismatic lantern, which occupied the whole elliptic arch of the
Gothic door. This lantern was of cut glass, variously colored,
inclosing two lamps with their reflectors. The light it imparted
resembled that of a volcano--sanguine and solemn. It was assisted by
two glowworm lamps, that, in little marble reservoirs, stood on the
opposite chimney-piece. These supplied the place of the daylight,
when the dusk of evening sabled, or night wholly involved the
solitude. A large Aeolian harp was fixed in one of the windows; and,
when the weather permitted them to be open, it breathed its deep
tones to the gale, swelling and softening as that rose and fell.

Ah me! what hand can touch the strings so fine?
Who up the lofty diapason roll
Such sweet, such sad, such solemn airs divine,
And let them down again into the soul?

This saloon of the two Minervas, Miss Seward says, contained the
finest editions, superbly bound, and arranged in neat wire cases, of
the best authors in prose and verse, which the English, French, and
Italian languages boast. Over them hung the portraits in miniature,
and some in larger ovals, of the favored friends of these celebrated
votaries to the sentiment which exalted the characters of Theseus and
Peirithous, of David and Jonathan.

The wavy and shaded gravel-walk which encircled this elysium was
enriched with curious shrubs and flowers. It was nothing in extent,
every thing in grace and beauty and in variety of foliage. In one
part of it you turned upon a small knoll, which overhung a deep,
hollow glen. At the tangled bottom of this glen, a frothing brook
leaped and clamored over the rough stones in its channel. A large
spreading beech canopied the knoll, and beneath its boughs a
semilunar seat admitted four persons. It had a fine effect to enter
the Gothic library at dusk, as Miss Seward says she first entered it.
The prismatic lantern diffused a light gloomily glaring, assisted by
the paler flames of the little lamps on the chimney-piece. Through
the open windows was shown a darkling view of the lawn, of the
concave shrubbery of tall cypresses, yews, laurels, and lilacs, of
the wooded amphitheatre on the opposite hill, and of the gray, barren
mountain which forms the background. The evening star had risen above
the mountain; and the airy harp rang loudly to the breeze, completing
the magic of the scene.

And what of the enchantresses themselves, beneath whose wand these
graces arose? Lady Eleanor was of middle height, and somewhat over-
plump, her face round and fair, with the glow of luxuriant health.
She had not fine features, but they were agreeable, enthusiasm in her
eye, hilarity and benevolence in her smile. She had uncommon strength
and fidelity of memory, an exhaustless fund of knowledge, and her
taste for works of imagination, particularly for poetry, was very
awakened; and she expressed all she felt with an ingenuous ardor, at
which cold-spirited beings stared. Both the ladies read and spoke
most of the modern languages, and were warm admirers of the Italian
poets, especially of Dante. Miss Ponsonby, somewhat taller than her
friend, was neither slender nor otherwise, but very graceful. Easy,
elegant, yet pensive, was her address; her voice, kind and low. A
face rather long than round, a complexion clear, but without bloom,
with a countenance whose soft melancholy lent it peculiar interest.
If her features were not beautiful, they were very attractive and
feminine. Though the pensive spirit within permitted not her dimples
to make her smile mirthful, they increased its sweetness, and,
consequently, her power of engaging the affections. We could see,
through the veil of shading reserve, that all the talents and
accomplishments which enriched the mind of Lady Eleanor, existed with
equal power in her charming friend. Such are the portraits drawn by
Miss Seward, of the two extraordinary women, who, in the bosom of
their deep retirement, were sought by the first characters of the
age, both as to rank and talents. To preserve that retirement from
too frequent invasion, they were obliged to be somewhat coy of
approach. Yet they were generous in a select hospitality; and when,
toward the end of their lives, they welcomed a coming guest, Miss
Martineau says it was a singular sight to see these ancient ladies,
in their riding habits, with their rolled and powdered hair, their
beaver hats, and their notions and manners of the last century.

When we consider their intellectual resources, their energy and
industry, their interludes of company and correspondence, we need not
be surprised at the assertion they made to one of their most intimate
visitors, that neither the long summer's day, nor winter's night, nor
weeks of imprisoning snows, had ever inspired one weary sensation,
one wish of returning to the world they had abandoned.

Anna Seward had so interested Lady Butler and Miss Ponsonby in the
character of her dear friend, Honora Sneyd, by the sonnet addressed
to her, which she showed them, by impassioned descriptions of her
loveliness, as well as by the celebrated poem on the fate of Major
Andre, that the two ladies were desirous of possessing a portrait of
the deceased beauty.

With great pains, Anna succeeded in obtaining for them a copy of what
was a perfect image of her, Romney's ideal picture of Serena in the
"Triumphs of Temper." Writing on it, "Such was Honora Sneyd," she had
it framed and glazed, and sent it as a gift to the Ladies of
Llangollen. They received it with delight, and hung it in a prominent
position, where the fair giver afterward had the pleasure of gazing
on it with romantic emotion.

Miss Seward paid several happy tributes in verse to her admired
friends. One of these, written at the close of a prolonged visit,
began thus:

Oh, Cambrian Tempe! Oft with transport hailed,
I leave thee now, as I did ever leave
Thee and thy peerless mistresses, with heart
Where lively gratitude and fond regret For mastery strive.

She also published, in a little volume by itself, an enthusiastic
poem in praise of the Cambrian Arden, Llangollen Valley, adorned with
an engraving of the landscape as seen from the home of its Rosalind
and Celia. They fully appreciated her affection, and returned it.
They sent her the gift of a jewel consisting of the head and lyre of
Apollo, making a ring and seal in one. In acknowledgment of this, the
pleased and grateful poet wrote, "I have to thank you, dearest
ladies, for a beautiful but too costly present. It is a fine gem in
itself, and a rich and elegant circlet for the finger."

When Lady Butler and Miss Ponsonby left their splendid family
residences in Ireland to seek in Wales a retirement where they might
spend their days in the culture of letters and friendship, a faithful
and affectionate servant who pined for them, after a few months of
their absence, set out to search for them in England. She had no clew
to direct her pursuit; since, to avoid solicitations to return, they
had kept their place of abode secret even from their nearest
relatives. Learning, however, of her attempt, they sent for her. She
went, and was their fond servitor until her death, thirty years
afterward. Miss Seward once writes to Lady Eleanor, "I was concerned
to hear that you had lately been distressed by the illness and
alarmed for the life of your good Euryclea. That she is recovering, I
rejoice. The loss of a domestic, faithful and affectionate as
Orlando's Adam, must have cast more than a transient gloom over the
Cambrian Arden: the Rosalind and Celia of real life give Llangollen
Valley a right to that title." When this endeared servant died, her
mourning mistresses buried her in the grave which they had prepared
for themselves, and inscribed above her a cordial tribute in verse.

Drawn by the pleasing sentiment that invests the story of these
ladies, the writer, being then in England, made a pilgrimage from
London to Llangollen in the early autumn of 1865.

It was Saturday afternoon when I arrived at the little Welsh inn. The
next morning I found my way to the classic cottage. The fingers of
Time had indeed been busy on it. The vestiges of its former glory
were still apparent, but the ornaments were crumbled and dim. The
prismatic lantern over the door was a mixture of garishness and dust.
The bowers were broken, the vines and plants dead, the walks draggled
and uneven, the gates rickety, the fences tottering or prostrate. The
numerous tokens of art and care in the past made the present
ruinousness and desolation more pathetic. I could not help recalling
the final couplet of Miss Seward's poem, prophesying the fame of this

While all who honor virtue gently mourn Llangollen's vanished Pair,
and wreathe their sacred urn.

Threading the briery dell, and following the brook that prattled down
the steep slope, I climbed the hill which directly overhangs the
hamlet. It was church-time as I sat down on the top, and slowly drank
in the charms of that celebrated landscape. To such a scene, at such
an hour, the very heart-strings grow. The fields were clothed with a
dense velvety-green. Across the narrow glen, on the strange cone of
Dinas Bran, frowned threateningly, in dark mass, unsoftened by
distance, the huge, bare fragments of an old castle, the immemorial
type of an iron age when the hearts of men were iron. Beneath my
feet, the vapors of the morning floated here and there in the
sunshine, like torn folds of a satin gauze. A hundred smokes curled
from the village chimneys, and the tones of the sabbath bells were
wafted up to me with no mixture of profane toils. The very cattle
seemed to know the holy day, and to browse and gaze, or ruminate and
look around, with an unusual assurance of repose and satisfaction.
But the spell must be broken, however reluctantly.

Descending into the village, just as the religious service was ended,
I went into the churchyard, and copied from the triangular tomb in
which the Ladies of Llangollen sleep, with their favorite servant,
amid the magical loveliness of the pastoral scenery, these three
inscriptions. On the first side:

Deceased 22 November, 1809,
This Monument is erected by Eleanor Butler
And Sarah Ponsonby, of Plas Newydd, in this Parish.

Released from earth and all its transient woes,
She, whose remains beneath this stone repose,
Steadfast in faith resigned her parting breath,
Looked up with Christian joy, and smiled in death.
Patient, industrious, faithful, generous, kind,
Her conduct left the proudest far behind.
Her virtues dignified her humble birth,
And raised her mind above this sordid earth.
Attachment (sacred bond of grateful breasts)
Extinguished but with life, this tomb attests;
Reared by two friends who will her loss bemoan,
Till with her ashes here shall rest their own.

On the second side:

The Right Honorable
Late of Plas Newydd, in this parish,
Deceased 2d June, 1829,
Aged Ninety Years,
Daughter of the Sixteenth, Sister of the Seventeenth
Earls of Ormonde and Ossory,
Aunt to the late and to the present
Marquess of Ormonde.

Endeared to her many friends by an almost
Unequalled excellence of heart, and by manners
Worthy of her illustrious birth, the admiration
And delight of a very numerous acquaintance,
From a brilliant vivacity of mind, undiminished
To the latest period of a prolonged existence.
Her amiable condescension and benevolence
Secured the grateful attachment of those
By whom they had been so long and so
Extensively experienced: her various perfections,
Crowned by the most pious and cheerful
Submission to the Divine Will, can only be
Appreciated where, it is humbly believed, they are
Now enjoying their eternal reward; and by her.
Of whom for more than fifty years they constituted
That happiness which, through our blessed Redeemer,
She trusts will be renewed when this Tomb
Shall have closed over its Latest Tenant.

On the third side:

departed this life
On the 9th of December, 1831, aged 76.

She did not long survive her beloved companion,
Lady Eleanor Butler, with whom she had lived in this
Valley for more than half a century of uninterrupted friendship
But they shall no more return to their house, neither
Shall their place know them any more.

In that sequestered valley, how quietly, with what blessed joy and
peace, their lives kept the even tenor of their way Standing
beside their grave, in the shadow of the old church, while the
little Welsh river ran whispering by, and thinking how the eyes
and hearts in which so long and happy a love had burned, were now
fallen to atoms, and literally mixed in the dust below, as once
they morally mixed in life above, I felt, What a pity that those
thus blessed cannot live forever! Then I thought, No, it is better
as it is. They were happy. They drained the best cup existence can
offer. When the world was becoming an infirmary, and the song of
the grasshopper a burden, it was meet that they should sleep.
Those only are to be pitied who die without the experience of

This attempt to revive the story and brighten the urn of the Ladies
of Llangollen may suggest that friendship lies within the province of
women as much as within the province of men; that there are pairs of
feminine friends as worthy of fame as any of the masculine couples
set by classic literature in the empyrean of humanity; that uncommon
love clothes the lives of its subjects with the interest of unfading
romance; that the true dignity, happiness, and peace of women and of
men, too--are to be found rather in the quiet region of personal
culture, and the affections, than in the arena of ambitious
publicity. Mrs. Thrale and Fanny Burney were every thing to each
other for a long time. But, on the marriage of the former with Mr.
Piozzi, a breach occurred, which was never repaired. Four years after
this coldness, Fanny writes in her diary, "Oh, little does she know
how tenderly, at this moment, I could run into her arms, so often
opened to receive me with a cordiality I believed inalienable." Two
years after that, Mrs. Piozzi writes in her diary, "I met Miss Burney
at an assembly last night. She appeared most fondly rejoiced in good
time I answered with ease and coldness, but in exceeding good humor;
and all ended, as it should do, with perfect indifference." Thirty-
one years later still, Fanny enters in her diary this brief record:
"I have just lost my once most dear, intimate, and admired friend,
Mrs. Thrale Piozzi."

The young Bettine Brentano, several years before her acquaintance
with Goethe, was placed temporarily in the house of a female
religious order to pursue her studies. There she soon made the
acquaintance of a canoness named Günderode, considerably older than
herself, though still young, with rare mental endowments and romantic
affections. The cultivated intellect, spirituality, and mystic
melancholy of Günderode, under her singularly attractive features and
calm demeanor, drew the impassioned and redundant Bettine to her by
an irresistible bond. Their companionship ripened into romantic
friendship. Their letters, collected and published by the survivor,
compose one of the most original and stimulative delineations of the
inner life of girlhood to be met with in literature. To cold and
shallow readers, this correspondence will prove an unknown tongue;
but those who can appreciate the reflection of wonderful
personalities, and the workings of intense sentiment, will prize it
as a unique treasure.

Bettine was electrical, magical, seeming ever to be overcharged with
the spirit of nature; Günderode, cloudy, opalescent, suggesting a
spirit native of some realm above nature. The interplaying of the two
was strangely delightful to them both; and they made day after day
rich by hoarding and sharing what life brought, the wealth of their
souls. The fresh vitality of Bettine, her rushing inspiration, her
dithyrambic love of wild nature, breathed a balsamic breath over her
drooping friend, who yet had a more than counterbalancing depth of
consciousness to impart in return.

Günderode, keyed too high for common companionship, too deep and
tenacious in her moods, of a delicacy preternaturally lofty and far-
reaching in its sensitiveness, was solitary, sad, thoughtful,
yearning, prescient of an early death; yet, by the whole impression
of her being, she gave birth, in those who lovingly looked on her, to
the surmise that she was mysteriously self-sufficing and happy.
Bettine writes to her, "I begin to believe thy feelings are enthroned
beyond clouds which cast their shadows on the earth; while thou,
borne on them, art revelling in celestial light." The best way to
indicate briefly what this friendship was, will be to quote a
selection of the characteristic expressions of it, though such a
compilation of fragments does great wrong to a correspondence so
compacted of the sparks of love and genius. Let those who find in
this relation only the expression of a fantastic sentimentality,
weigh what Sarah Austin says, a woman who speaks with the utmost
weight of authority which learning, experience, and wisdom can give:
"We, in England and France," Mrs. Austin says, "have no measure for
the character of a German girl, brought up in comparative solitude,
nurtured on poetry and religion, knowing little of the actual world,
but holding close converse with the ideal in its grandest forms. She
is capable of an enthusiasm we know not of."

At different times, Günderode writes thus: "I have bad many thoughts
of thee, dear Bettine. Some nights ago I dreamed thou wast dead: I
wept bitterly at it; and the dream left, for a whole day, a mournful
echo in my heart." "My mood is often very sad, and I have not power
over it." "Thou art my bit of a sun that warms me, while everywhere
else frost falls on me." "Thy letter, dear Bettine, I have sipped as
wine from the goblet of Lyus." "I am studying the distinguished
Spartan women. If I cannot be heroic, and am always ill from
hesitation and timidity, I will at least fill my soul with that
heroism, and feed it with that vital power, in which I am so sadly
deficient." "Thou seemest to me the clay which a god is moulding with
his feet; and what I perceive in thee is the fermenting fire, that,
by his transcendent contact, he is strongly kneading into thee."
"When I read what I have written some time ago, I think I see myself
lying in my coffin, staring at my other self in astonishment."

"Clemens's letters make me think and consider, while over thine I
only feel; and they are grateful as a breath of air from the Holy
Land." "If two are to understand each other, it requires the
inspiring influence of a third divine one. And so I accept our mutual
existence as a gift of the gods, in which they themselves play the
happiest part."

And thus, on the other side, Bettine at various times writes to
Günderode: "I wrote down, To-day I saw Günderode: it was a gift of
God. To-day, as I read it again, I would gladly do every thing for
the love of thee. How much do I think of thee and of thy words, of
the black lashes that shaded thy blue eyes as I saw thee for the
first time; of thy kindly mien, and thy hand that stroked my hair!"
"Thy letter today has drawn a charmed ring around me." "On the castle
of the hill, in the night-dew, it was fair to be with thee. Those
were the dearest hours of all my life; and, when I return, we will
again dwell together there. We will have our beds close together, and
talk all night." "Thou and I think in harmony: we have as yet found
no third who can think with us, or to whom we have confided what we
think." "Thou art the sweet cadence by which my soul is rocked."
"What will become of me, if ever I pass out of the light which beams
on me from thine eyes? for thou seemest to me an ever-living look,
and as if on that my life hung." "I feel a deep longing to be with
thee again; for, beautiful as it is here on the Rhine, it is sad to
be without an echo in a living breast. Man is nothing but the desire
to feel himself in another." "When I dare look up to thee from my
childish pursuits, I think I see a bride whose priestly robes do not
betray, nor her face express, whether she is sad or joyous in her
ecstasy." "Thou lookest deeper into my breast, knowest more of my
spiritual fate, than I, because I need only read in thy soul to find
myself." "I would possess every thing, wealth and power of beautiful
ideas, art and science, only to give it to thee, to gratify my love
to thee, and my pride in thy love." "Formerly, I often thought, Why
was I born? but, after thou wert with me, I never asked again." "I
see thee wandering past the grove where I am at home, just as a
sparrow, concealed by dense foliage, watches a solitary swan swimming
on the quiet waters, and, hidden, sees how it bends its neck to dip
into the flood, drawing circles around it; sacred signs of its
isolation from the impure, the reckless, the unspiritual!" "I have
been made happy to-day: some one secretly placed in my room a rose-
tree with twenty-seven buds; these are just thy years."

Many plaintive presentiments of unknown woe, parting, death, gave a
mysterious undertone of sadness to much of the correspondence of
these two friends. The forebodings were destined to be more than
fulfilled in the tragic reality. Poor Günderode, wrought to madness
by a disappointment in love, committed suicide. She drowned herself
in a river, where her body was found entangled in the long sedge.
Years afterwards, Bettine relates the story in a letter to Goethe,
the perusal of which has made many a gentle heart ache. The substance
of the tragedy may be briefly told:

"One day," Bettine writes, "Günderode met me with a joyful air, and
said, "Yesterday I spoke with a surgeon, who told me it was very easy
to make away with one's self. She hastily opened her gown, and
pointed to the spot beneath her beautiful breast. Her eyes sparkled
with delight. I gazed at her, and felt uneasy. And what shall I do
when thou art dead?' I asked. Oh! ere then,' said she, thou wilt not
care for me any more; we shall not remain so intimate till then: I
will first quarrel with thee.' I turned to the window to hide my
tears and my anger. She had gone to the other window, and was silent.
I glanced secretly at her: her eye was lifted to heaven; but its ray
was broken, as though its whole fire were turned within. After I had
observed her awhile, I could no longer control myself: I broke into
loud crying, I fell on her neck, I dragged her down to a seat, and
sat upon her knee, and wept, and kissed her on her mouth, and tore
open her dress, and kissed her on the spot where she had learned to
reach the heart. I implored her, with tears of anguish, to have mercy
upon me; and fell again on her neck, and kissed her cold and
trembling hands. Her lips were convulsed; and she was quite cold,
stiff, and deadly pale. Speaking with difficulty, she said slowly,
Bettine, do not break my heart.' I wanted to recover myself, and not
give her pain. But as, amidst my smiles and tears and sobs, she grew
more anxious, and laid herself on the sofa, I jestingly tried to make
her believe I had taken all as a joke.

"A few days after, she showed me a dagger with a silver hilt, which
she had bought at the mart. She was delighted with the beauty and
sharpness of the steel. I took the blade, and pressed on her with it,
exclaiming, Rather than suffer thee to kill thyself, I myself will do
it.' She retreated in alarm, and I flung the dagger away. I took her
by the hand, and led her to the garden, into the vine-bower, and
said, Thou mayest depend on me: there is no hour when, if thou wert
to utter a wish, I would hesitate for a moment. Come to my window at
midnight and whistle, and I will, without preparation, go round the
world with thee. What right hast thou to cast me off? How canst thou
betray such devotion? Promise me now.' She hung her head and was
pale. 'Günderode,' said I, if thou art in earnest, give me a sign.
She nodded.

"Two months passed away, when I again came to Frankfort. I ran to the
chapter-house of the canonesses, opened the gate, and lo! there she
stood, and looked coldly at me. 'Günderode,' I cried, may I come in?'
She was silent, and turned away. 'Günderode, say but one word, and my
heart beats against thine.' 'No,' she said, 'come no nearer, turn
back, we must separate.' 'What does this mean?' I asked. 'Thus much,
that we have been deceived, and do not belong to one another.' Ah! I
turned away. First despair; first cruel blow, so dreadful to a young
heart! I, who knew nothing but entire abandonment to my love, must be
thus rejected."

A short period elapsed, when news was brought to Bettine that a young
and beautiful lady, who was seen walking a long time at evening
beside the Rhine, had been found the next morning, on the bank, among
the willows. She had filled her handkerchief with stones, and tied it
about her neck, probably intending to sink in the river; but, as she
stabbed herself to the heart, she fell backward; and they found her
thus lying under the willows by the Rhine, in a spot where the water
was deepest. It was the poor, unhappy Günderode.

The next day, Bettine, who was then with her brother and a small
party of friends, sailing on the Rhine, landed at Rudesheim. "The
story was in every one's mouth. I ran past all with the speed of
wind, and up to the summit of Mount Ostein, a mile in height, without
stopping. When I had come to the top, I had far outstripped the rest;
my breath was gone, and my head burned. There lay the splendid Rhine,
with his emerald island gems. I saw the streams descending to him
from every side, the rich, peaceful towns on both banks, and the
slopes of vines on either side. I asked myself if time would not wear
out my loss. And then I resolved to raise myself above grief; for it
seemed to me unworthy to utter sorrow which the future would enable
me to subdue."

The dithyrambic exuberances in this relation, the romantic
extravagances of sentiment, illustrate both the strength and the
weakness of a genius bordering close on disease. They show how much
such a genius needs to apply to itself the balancing and rectifying
criticisms of a sober wisdom. They may also contribute something to
awaken and enrich more cold and sluggish natures, which are yet
aspiring and docile.

Lucy Aikin has left record of the warm and faithful friendships with
which she was blessed by some of the most gifted and amiable women of
her time. She was a person of strong character, of highly cultivated
talents, and quite remarkable for her powers of conversation, an
accomplishment which seems hastening to join the lost arts. The
parties which modern fashion gathers, are not so much groups of
friends, drawn together for rational and affectionate communion, as
they are jabbering herds, among whom all individuality and docile
earnestness are lost in the general buzz and clack of simultaneous

One of these friends was Miss Benger, an estimable literary lady, who
had considerable celebrity a quarter of a century ago. Miss Aikin has
written a brief memoir of her. The following extract sufficiently
shows the cordiality and comfort of their union: "To those who knew
and enjoyed the friendship of Miss Benger, her writings, pleasing and
beautiful as they are, were the smallest part of her merit and her
attraction. Endowed with the warmest and most grateful of human
hearts, she united to the utmost delicacy and nobleness of sentiment,
active benevolence, which knew no limit but the furthest extent of
her ability, and a boundless enthusiasm for the good and fair,
wherever she discovered them. Her lively imagination, and the flow of
eloquence which it inspired, aided by one of the most melodious of
voices, lent an inexpressible charm to her conversation; which was
heightened by an intuitive discernment of character, rare in itself,
and still more so in combination with such fertility of fancy and
ardency of feeling. As a companion, whether for the graver or the
gayer hour, she had, indeed, few equals; and her constant
forgetfullness of self, and unfailing sympathy for others, rendered
her the general friend, favorite, and confidante of persons of both
sexes, all classes, and all ages. Many would have concurred in
judgment with Madame de Staël, when she pronounced Miss Benger the
most interesting woman she had seen during her visit to England. Of
envy and jealousy there was not a trace in her composition; her
probity, veracity, and honor were perfect. Though as free from pride
as from vanity, her sense of independence was such, that no one could
fix upon her the slightest obligation capable of lowering her in any
eyes. She had a generous propensity to seek those most, who needed
her offices of friendship. No one was more scrupulously just to the
characters and performances of others, no one more candid, no one
more deserving of every kind of reliance. It is gratifying to reflect
to how many hearts her unassisted merit found its way. Few persons
have been more widely or deeply deplored in their sphere of
acquaintance; but even those who loved her best could not but confess
that their regrets were purely selfish. To her the pains of
sensibility seemed to be dealt in even fuller measure than its joys:
her childhood and early youth were consumed in a solitude of mind,
and under a sense of contrariety between her genius and her fate,
which had rendered them sad and full of bitterness; her maturer years
were tried by cares, privations, and disappointments, and not seldom
by unfeeling slights or thankless neglect. The irritability of her
constitution, aggravated by inquietude of mind, had rendered her life
one long disease. Old age, which she neither wished nor expected to
attain, might have found her solitary and ill-provided: now she has
taken the wings of the dove to flee away and be at rest."

Miss Aikin also held a constant intercourse, through a large part of
her life, with Joanna Baillie, whom she always regarded with profound
honor and love. She had a personal acquaintance with almost every
literary woman of celebrity in England, from the last decade of the
eighteenth, to the middle of the nineteenth, century. And of all
these, with the sole exception of Mrs. Barbauld, she says, Joanna
Baillie made by far the deepest impression on her. "Her genius,"
writes this admiring friend, "was surpassing; her character, the most
endearing and exalted." No one had suspected the great genius of
Joanna Baillie, so thick a veil of modest reserve had covered it.
Soon after the publication of her "Plays on the Passions," Miss Aikin
says, "She and her sister I well remember the scene arrived on a
morning call at Mrs. Barbauld's. My aunt immediately introduced the
topic of the anonymous tragedies, and gave utterance to her
admiration with that generous delight in the manifestation of kindred
genius which distinguished her. But not even the sudden delight of
such praise, so given, could seduce our Scottish damsel into self-
betrayal. The faithful sister rushed forward to bear the brunt, while
the unsuspected author lay snug in the asylum of her taciturnity. She
had been taught to repress all emotions, even the gentlest. Her
sister once told me that their father was an excellent parent; when
she had once been bitten by a dog thought to be mad, he had sucked
the wound, at the hazard, as was supposed, of his own life; but that
he had never given her a kiss. Joanna spoke to me once of her
yearning to be caressed, when a child. She would sometimes venture to
clasp her little arms about her mother's knees, who would seem to
chide her; but I know she liked it. Be that as it may, the first
thing which drew upon Joanna the admiring notice of society was the
devoted assiduity of her attention to her mother, then blind as well
as aged, whom she waited on day and night.

"An innocent and maiden grace still hovered over Miss Baillie to the
end of her old age. It was one of her peculiar charms, and often
brought to my mind the line addressed to the vowed Isabella, in
Measure for Measure: I hold you for a thing enskyed and saintly. If
there were ever human creature pure in the last recesses of the soul,
it was surely this meek, this pious, this noble-minded, and nobly-gifted
woman, who, after attaining her ninetieth year, carried with her to the
grave the love, the reverence, the regrets, of all who had ever enjoyed
the privilege of her society." The graves of these friends are side by
side in the old churchyard at Hampstead.

The exquisite delicacy and wealth of Mrs. Hemans's nature, her
winning beauty, modesty, and sweetness, drew a circle of dear friends
around her wherever she tarried. In her poems and letters and
memoirs, they numerously appear, in becoming lights, men and women,
lofty and lowly in rank, from Wordsworth and Scott, to whom she paid
visits, giving and receiving the choicest delight, to her own
dependants, who worshipped her. She tells one of her correspondents,
"I wish I could give you the least idea of what kindness is to me,
how much more, how far dearer, than fame." The most interesting of
her many prized friendships is that which she formed with Miss
Jewsbury, who, having long admired her with the whole ardor of her
powerful nature, passed a summer in Wales, near Mrs. Hemans, for the
express purpose of making her acquaintance. The enthusiastic
admiration on one side, the grateful appreciation of it on the other,
the spiritual purity and earnestness and high literary and personal
aspirations on both sides, quickly produced an attachment between
these two gifted women, which yielded them full measures of
encouragement, comfort, and bliss. They had just those resemblances
and those contrasts of person and mind, together with community of
moral aims, which made them delightfully stimulative to each other.
Miss Jewsbury dedicated to her friend her "Lays of Leisure Hours,"
addressed her in the poem "To an Absent One," and described her in
the first of the "Poetical Portraits" contained in the same book.
Also, in her "Three Histories," Mrs. Hemans is the original of
Egeria. "Egeria was totally different from any other woman I had ever
seen, either in Italy or England. She did not dazzle, she subdued,
me. I never saw another woman so exquisitely feminine. Her movements
were features. Her strength and her weakness alike lay in her
affections. Her gladness was like a burst of sunlight; and if, in her
depression, she resembled night, it was night wearing her stars. She
was a muse, a grace, a variable child, a dependent woman, the Italy
of human beings." Miss Jewsbury married, and went to India, where she
soon died. Mrs. Hemans paid a heartfelt tribute to her memory, in the
course of which she says, "There was a strong chain of interest
between us, that spell of mind on mind, which, once formed, can never
be broken. I felt, too, that my whole nature was understood and
appreciated by her; and this is a sort of happiness which I consider
the most rare in earthly affection."

Mary Mitford and Mrs. Browning were blessed with a friendship
enviably full and satisfying. It has recorded itself in a
correspondence, which, if published, would add fresh honor to them
both in the hearts of their admirers. It was likewise celebrated with
happy heartiness by Miss Barrett, in her maiden days, in her fine
poem, "To Flush, my Dog;" the dog, Flush, being a valued gift from
Miss Mitford.

Margaret Fuller, after seeing an engraving of Madame Récamier, writes
in her journal,

"I have so often thought over the intimacy between her and Madame de
Staël. It is so true, that a woman may be in love with a woman, and a
man with a man. I like to be sure of it; for it is the same love
which angels feel, where Sie fragen nicht nach Mann und Weib."

Of the friendships of women, perhaps none is more historic than this.
A large selection from the correspondence was published, in 1862, by
Madame Lenormant, in connection with a volume called "Madame de Staël
and the Grand Duchess Louise." It is impossible to read these
letters, without being struck by the rare grace that reigned in the
union of which they are the witnesses, and being affected by the
sight of a friendship so faithful, a confidence so entire.

The first meeting of these celebrated women took place when Madame de
Staël was thirty-two years old; Madame Récamier, twenty-one. Among
the few existing papers from the pen of the latter is a description
of this interview:

"She came to speak with me for her father, about the purchase of a
house. Her toilet was odd. She wore a morning gown, and a little
dress bonnet, adorned with flowers. I took her for a stranger in
Paris. I was struck with the beauty of her eyes and her look. She
said, with a vivid and impressive grace, that she was delighted to
know me; that her father, M. Necker at these words I recognized
Madame de Staël. I heard not the rest of her sentence. I blushed, my
embarrassment was extreme. I had just come from reading her 'Letters
on Rousseau,' and was full of the excitement. I expressed what I felt
more by my looks than by my words. She at the same time awed and drew
me. She fixed her wonderful eyes on me, with a curiosity full of
kindness, and complimented me on my figure, in terms which would have
seemed exaggerated and too direct if they had not been marked by an
obvious sincerity, which made the praise very seductive. She
perceived my embarrassment, and expresssd a desire to see me often,
on her return to Paris; for she was going to Coppet. It was then a
mere apparition in my life; but the impression was intense. I thought
only of Madame de Staël, so strongly did I return the action of this
ardent and forceful nature."

Madame de Staël was a plain, energetic embodiment of the most
impassioned genius. Madame Récamier was a dazzling personification of
physical loveliness, united with the perfection of mental harmony.
She had an enthusiastic admiration for her friend, who, in return,
found an unspeakable luxury in her society. Her angelic candor of
soul, and the frosty purity which enveloped her as a shield, inspired
the tenderest respect; while her happy equipoise calmed and refreshed
the restless and expensive imagination of the renowned author. There
could be no rivalry between them. Both had lofty and thoroughly
sincere characters. They were partly the reflection, partly the
complement, of each other; and their relation was a blessed one,
charming and memorable among such records. "Are you not happy,"
writes Madame de Staël, "in your magical power of inspiring
affection? To be sure always of being loved by those you love, seems
to me the highest terrestrial happiness, the greatest conceivable
privilege." Again, acknowledging the gift from her friend of a
bracelet containing her portrait, she says, "It has this
inconvenience: I find myself kissing it too often." In 1800, Madame
Récamier had a brilliant social triumph in England: "Ah, well,
beautiful Juliette! do you miss us? Have your successes in London
made you forget your friends in Paris?" Madame Récamier was the
original of the picture of the shawl-dance in "Corinne;" and her
friend says of her, in the "Ten Years of Exile," that "her beauty
expressed her character." The following passages, taken from letters
written in 1804, show how the intimacy had deepened:

"For four clays, faithless beauty, I have not heard the noise of the
wind without thinking it was your carriage. Come quickly. My mind and
my heart have need of you more than of any other friend." "I have
just seen Madame Henri Belmont. People say that all beautiful persons
remind them of you. It is not so with me. I have never found any one
who looks like you; and the eyes of this Madame Henri seem to me
blind by the side of yours." "Dear and beautiful Juliette, they give
me the hope of seeing you when I return from Italy; then only shall I
no longer feel myself an exile. I will receive you in the chateau
where I lost what of all the world I most loved; and you will bring
the feeling of happiness which no more exists there. I love you more
than any other woman in France. Alas! when shall I see you again?"

The friends passed the autumn of 1807 together at Coppet, with
Matthieu de Montmorency, Benjamin Constant, and a brilliant group of
associates, amidst all the romance in which the scenery and
atmosphere of that enchanted spot are steeped. One day they made a
party for an excursion on Mont Blanc. Weary, scorched by the sun, De
Staël and Récamier protested that they would go no farther. In vain
the guide boasted, both in French and German, of the spectacle
presented by the Mer de Glace. "Should you persuade me in all the
languages of Europe," replied Madame de Staël, "I would not go
another step." During the long and cruel banishment inflicted by
Napoleon on this eloquent woman, the bold champion of liberty, her
friend often paid her visits, and constantly wrote her letters:

"Dear Juliette, your letters are at present the only interest of my
life." "How much, dear friend, I am touched by your precious letter,
in which you so kindly send me all the news! My household rush from
one room to another, crying, A letter from Madame Récamier!' and then
all assemble to hear her" "Every one speaks of my beautiful friend
with admiration.. You have an ethereal reputation which nothing
vulgar can approach." "Adieu, dear angel. My God, how I envy all
those who are near you!"

When an envious slanderer had greatly vexed and grieved Madame
Récamier, Madame de Staël wrote to her, "You are as famous in your
kind as I am in mine, and are not banished from France. I tell you
there is nothing to be feared but truth and material persecution.
Beyond these two things, enemies can do absolutely nothing; and your
enemy is but a contemptible woman, jealous of your beauty and
purity." "Write to me. I know you address me by your deeds; but I
still need your words."

In 1811, Madame de Staël resolved to flee to Sweden. Montmorency,
paying her a parting visit, received from Napoleon a decree of
instant exile. Madame Récamier determined, at any risk, to embrace
her friend before this great distance should separate them. The
generous fugitive wrote, imploring her not to come: "I am torn
between the desire of seeing you, and the fear of injuring you." No
dissuasion could avail; but no sooner did she arrive at Coppet than
the mean soul of Napoleon sought revenge by exiling her also. The
distress of Madame de Staël knew no bounds. On learning the fatal
news, she wrote,

"I cannot speak to you; I fling myself at your feet; I implore you
not to hate me." "What your noble generosity has cost you! If you
could read my soul, you would pity me." "The only service I can do my
friends is to make them avoid me. In all my distraction, I adore you.
Farewell, farewell! When shall I see you again? Never in this world."

Throughout the period of their banishment, the friends kept up an
incessant correspondence, and often interchanged presents.

"Dear friend," writes Madame de Staël, "how this dress has touched
me! I shall wear it on Tuesday, in taking leave of the court. I shall
tell everybody that it is a gift from you, and shall make all the men
sigh that it is not you who are wearing it."

In return, some time later, she sends a pair of bracelets, and a copy
of a new work from her pen, adding, "In your prayers, dear angel, ask
God to give peace to my soul." In another letter she says, "Adieu,
dear angel: promise to preserve that friendship which has given me
such sweet days." And again,

"Angel of goodness, would that my eternal tenderness could recompense
you a little for the penalties your generous friendship has brought
on you!" "You cannot form an idea, my angel, of the emotion your
letter has caused me. It is at the extremity of Moravia that these
celestial words have reached me. I have shed tears of sorrow and
tenderness in hearkening to the voice which comes to me in the
desert, as the angel came to Hagar."

What a rare and high compliment is contained in the following
passage! "You are the most amiable person in the world, dear
Juliette; but you do not speak enough of yourself. You put your mind,
your enchantment, in your letters, but not that which concerns
yourself. Give me all the details pertaining to yourself." "The
hundred fine things Madame de Boigne and Madame de Belle-garde say of
you and me, prove to me that I live a double life: one in you, one in

When Napoleon fell, in 1814, Madame de Staël hurried home from her
long exile. The great news found Madame Récamier at Rome. In a few
days, she embraced her illustrious friend in Paris. Close was their
union, great their joy. It was engrossing admiration and devotion on
one side; absorbing sympathy, respect, and gratitude, on the other.
The power and charm of Madame Récamier were not merely in her
ravishing beauty, imperturbable good nature, and all-subduing
graciousness, but also in her mind and character. Madame de Staël,
who was a great critic, and no flatterer, says to her,

"What a charm there is in your manner of writing! I wish you would
compose a romance, put in it some celestial being, and give her your
own natural expressions, without altering a word. You have a
character of astonishing nobleness; and the contrast of your delicate
and gracious features, with your grand firmness of soul, produces an
incomparable effect."

The last letter written by the dying author to her friend concluded
with the words, "All that is left of me embraces you." The survivor
paid the pious rites of affection to the departed, with the devotion
which had marked their whole relation. And when, years afterward, on
the loss of her property, Madame Récamier betook herself to the
Abbaye-aux-Bois, in her humble chamber, where she was more sought and
admired than ever in her proudest prosperity, the chief articles to
be seen, in addition to the indispensable furniture, were, as
Chateaubriand has described the scene, a library, a harp, a piano, a
magnificent portrait of Madame de Staël by Gerard, and a moonlight
view of Coppet. Madame de Staël had once written to her, "Your
friendship is like the spring in the desert, that never fails; and it
is this which makes it impossible not to love you." Death caused no
decay of that sentiment, but raised and sanctified it. Her translated
friend now became an object of worship; and she devoted her whole
energies to extend and preserve the memory of the illustrious writer.

The self-forgetting sympathy of Madame Récamier, and the magical
atmosphere of loveliness she carried around her, obtained for her
many warm friendships with women. Foremost, by far, among these was
that with Madame de Staël. But others also were very dear. The widow
of Matthieu de Montmorency was extremely attached to her, wrote her
touching letters, and took every opportunity to see her. Madame de
Boigne, too, was joined with Madame Récamier in a relation of respect
and affection truly profound and vivid. This lady was greatly
distinguished for her beauty as well as for her voice, which was
compared with that of Catalani. She was much impressed by the noble
behavior of Madame Récamier at the time of her husband's bankruptcy;
and, by her delicate attentions, secured the most grateful love in
return. Their earnest and faithful affection lasted until death. A
novel, entitled "Une Passion dans le Grande Monde," in which Madame
de Staël and Madame Reeamier are the two chief characters, was left
for publication by Madame de Boigne at her death. It was published in

One of Madame Récamier's sweetest friendships was with the
accomplished and charming Elizabeth Foster, Duchess of Devonshire,
the fame of whose exquisite loveliness traversed the earth. The
duchess said of her friend, "At first she is good, then she is
intellectual, and after this she is very beautiful," a striking
compliment, when spoken, in relation to an admired rival, by one who
was herself so dazzlingly gifted. The order of precedence in her
charms, however, was differently recognized by men. They were subdued
successively by her beauty, her goodness, her judgment, her
character. The Duchess of Devonshire had known all the romance and
all the sorrow of life. Her experience had left upon her a melancholy
which attracted the heart almost as quickly as it did the eye, and
lent to her something pensive and caressing. Although a Protestant,
she had formed, during her long residence in Rome, an entire
friendship with the Cardinal Consalvi, who was the prime-minister and
favorite of Pope Pius VII through his whole pontificate. These two
beautiful women, as soon as they met, felt, by all the laws of
elective affinity, that they belonged to each other. The death of the
Pope was followed, in a few months, by that of his minister and
friend. During the illness of Consalvi, Madame Récamier shared all
the hopes, fears, and distresses of the duchess. And when the fatal
event had befallen, and the cardinal was laid in state, and the
romantic and despairing woman would go to look on her dead friend,
she accompanied her, deeply veiled, through the crowd, and knelt with
her, amidst the solemn pomp, in tears and prayer, beside the
unanswering clay. The duchess was struck to the heart by this
irreparable loss. All that a devoted sympathy could yield to soothe
and sustain, she received from Madame Récamier. And when, soon after,
unable to speak, she lay dying, she silently pressed the hand of this
faithful friend, as the final act of her existence.

Madame Récamier retained to the last her enviable power of inspiring
affection. Madame Lenormant says that the Countess Caffarelli found
her, in her age and blindness, watching by the death-bed of
Chateaubriand. Drawn by her singular goodness, she sought to share
with her in these holy cares. She thus became the loving and beloved
associate of the final hour. This admirable person worthily closes
the list the rich and bright list of the friends of Madame Récamier.

In her youth, the first wish of Madame Récamier was the wish to
please; and she was, no doubt, a little too coquettish, not enough
considerate of the masculine hearts she damaged, and the feminine
hearts she pained. The Duke de Laval said, "The gift of involuntary
and powerful fascination was her talisman." Not, sometimes, to make a
voluntary use of that talisman, she must have been more than human.
As years and trials deepened her nature, she sought rather to make
happy than merely to please. She always cared more to be respected
than to be flattered, to be loved than to be admired. Admiration and
sympathy were stronger in her than vanity and love of pleasure:
reason and justice were strongest of all. Her judgment was as clear,
her conscience as commanding, her sincerity, courage, and firmness as
admirable, as her heart was rich and good. When Fouche said to her,
in her misfortunes and exile, "The weak ought to be amiable," she
instantly replied, "And the strong ought to be just." Her exquisite
symmetry of form, her dazzling purity of complexion, her graciousness
of disposition, her perfect health, her desire to please, and
generous delight in pleasing, composed an all-potent philter, which
the sympathy of every spectator drank with intoxicating effect. She
discriminated, with perfect truthfullness, the various degrees of
acquaintance and friendship. She made all feel self-complacent, by
her unaffected attention causing them to perceive that she wished
their happiness and valued their good opinion. Ballanche tells her,
"You feel yourself the impression you make on others, and are
enveloped in the incense they burn at your feet." Wherever she went,
as if a celestial magnet passed, all faces drifted towards her with
admiring love and pleasure. By her lofty integrity and her matchless
sweetness and skill, as by a rare alchemy, she transmuted her
fugitive lovers into permanent friends. Her talents were as
attractive as her features: little by little her conversation made
the listener forget even her loveliness. Saint-Beuve says, "As her
beauty slowly retreated, the mind it had eclipsed gradually shone
forth, as on certain days, towards twilight, the evening star appears
in the quarter of the heaven opposite to the setting sun." Her voice
was remarkably fresh, soft, and melodious. Her politeness never
forsook her: with an extreme ease of manner, she had a horror of
familiarity, as well as of all excess and violence. Her moderation of
thought, serenity of soul, and velvet manner, were as unwearying as
reason and harmony. Without pretence of any sort, she hid, under the
full bloom of her beauty and her fame, like humble violets, modesty
and disinterestedness. At the time of her death, Guizot, when a
distinguished American lady asked him what was the marvel of her
fascination, replied, with great emotion, "Sympathy, sympathy,
sympathy." She had none of that aridity of heart which regular
coquetry either presupposes or produces. Deprived by destiny of those
relations which usually fill the heart of woman, she carried into the
only sentiment allowed her, an ardor, a faithfullness, and a
delicacy, which were unequalled; and the veracity of her soul, joined
with her singular discretion, gave her friends a most enjoyable sense
of security. Ballanche called her "the genius of devotedness;" and
Montalembert, "the genius of confidence."

From the most dangerous and deteriorating influences of her position
she found a safeguard in active works of charity. Her pecuniary
generosity, in her days of opulence, was boundless. She seemed to
feel that every unfortunate had a right to her interest and her
assistance. "Disgrace and misfortune had for her," avowed one who
knew her entirely, "the same sort of attraction that favor and
success have for vulgar souls; and under no circumstances was she
ever false to this characteristic." The fine taste she had for
literature and art, the great pleasure she took in their beauties,
the natural grace and good-will with which she expressed her
admiration, furnished precisely that kind of incense which authors
and artists love to breathe. Old Laharpe, who, in her young days, had
derived the deepest delight from her attention and praise, wrote to
her, "I love you as one loves an angel." The readiness with which the
word "angel" rises to the lips of her friends is striking. Almost
every one of them applies the word to her on nearly every occasion.
Madame de Krudener writes to her, "I shall have the happiness, I
hope, dear angel, of embracing you to-morrow, and talking with you."
All seemed instantly to recognize something angelic in her
expression. It was in her disposition as much as in her appearance,
apparently in the latter because in the former, as Ballanche said to
her, "In your thought, taste, and grace will ever be united in one
harmonious whole. I am fascinated at the idea of so perfect a
harmony, and want the whole world to know what I so easily divine. It
will be your mission to make the intrinsic character of beauty fully
understood; to show that it is an entirely moral thing. Had Plato
known you, he need not have resorted to so subtile an argument. You
would have made him alive to a truth that was always a mystery to
him; and that rare genius would thus have had one more title to the
admiration of the world."

There was something celestial in her motions, that suggested the
undulations of a spirit rather than joints and muscles, and made her
soul and flesh one melody. As to her heavenly temper of goodness,
there is but one voice from all who knew her. She accorded to the
sufferings of self-love a pity and kindness seldom shown to them. She
had the sweetest faculty for dressing the wounds of envy and
jealousy, soothing the lacerations of rivalry and hate, assuaging the
bitterness of neglected and revengeful souls. For all those moral
pains, or griefs of imagination, which burn in some natures with a
cruel intensity, she was a true sister of charity. To the rest of her
winsome gifts she added according to the unanimous testimony of the
witnesses this rare and resistless quality, the power of listening
to, and occupying herself with, others, the secret both of social
success, and of happiness without that success. "She said little," De
Tocqueville avers, "but knew what each man's forte was, and led him
to it. If any thing was said particularly well, her face brightened.
You saw that her attention was always active, always intelligent."
Lamartine said, "As radiant as Aspasia, but a pure and Christian
Aspasia, it was not her features only that were beautiful: she was
beautiful herself." Sarah Austin affirmed, "It was the atmosphere of
benignity which seemed to exhale like a delicate perfume from her
whole person, that prolonged the fascination of her beauty." And
Lemoine declared, in his eloquent obituary notice, "In the hearts of
those who had the honor and the happiness of living in constant
intercourse with her, Madame Récamier will for ever remain the object
of a sort of adoration which we should find it impossible to
express." The only fault her friends would confess in her was the
generous fault of too great toleration and indulgence. And to dwell
unkindly on this is as ungracious a task as to try to fix a stain on
a star.

Arrayed in her divine charms; armed with irresistible goodness and
archness; enriched with equal wisdom and uprightness, every movement
a mixture of grace and dignity; protected by an aureole of purity
which always surrounded her; walking among common mortals, "like a
goddess on a cloud," she made it the business of her life to soften
the asperities, listen to the' plans, sympathize with the
disappointments, stimulate the powers, encourage the efforts, praise
the achievements, and enjoy the triumphs, of her friends. No wonder
they loved her, and thronged around her alike in prosperity and in
adversity. To appreciate her character is a joy; to portray her
example, a duty. She was a kind of saint of the world.

The single fault which Saint-Beuve finds with the spirit of the
society she formed, and governed so long with her irresistible
sceptre, is that there was too much of complaisance and charity in
it. Stern truth suffered, and character was enervated, while courtesy
and taste flourished: "The personality or self-love of all who came
into the charmed circle was too much caressed." One can scarcely help
lamenting that so gracious a fault is not oftener to be met in the
selfish and satirical world. For the opposite fault of a harsh
carelessness is so much more frequent as to make this seem almost a
virtue. Cast in an angel's mould, and animated with an angel's
spirit, her consciousness vacant of self, vacant also of an absorbing
aim, ever ready to install the aim of any worthy person who came
before her, she was such a woman as Dante would have adored. It seems
impossible not to recognize how much fitter a type of womanhood she
is for her sex to admire than those specimens who spend their days in
publicly ventilating their vanity, feverishly courting notoriety and
power; or those who, without cultivation, without expansion, without
devotion, without aspiration, lead a life of monotonous drudgery,
with not a single interest beyond their own homes.

A certain Madame Ancelot has written a book, in which, doubtless
under the pain of some galling memory--she attacks Madame Récamier
as a selfish coquette, enamored only of admiration, fame, and power.
Her chief weapon, as this woman asserts, was a skilful application of
deliberate unprincipled flattery to the pride and vanity of everybody
she met. The conduct attributed to Madame Récamier in the odious
examples fabricated by this slanderer, would have been insufferably
repulsive even to average persons. To persons of such insight,
refinement, and elevation as marked all her most intimate associates,
it would have been unutterably disgusting. The whole representation,
while awakening the indignation of the reader, shows what a degrading
caricature noble souls undergo when reflected in the minds of base
observers. Contrast with the view of this Madame Ancelot what is said
with unquestionable authority, after the intimacy of a lifetime, by
the gifted and illustrious Countess de Boigne. "Amidst the
overwhelming reverses of her husband's fortunes, I found Madame
Récamier so calm, so noble, so simple, lifted so far above all the
vain shows of her former life, that I was extremely struck; and I
date from that moment the vivid affection which subsequent events
have served only to confirm. No portrait does her justice. All praise
her incomparable beauty, her active beneficence, her sweet urbanity.
Many declare her great talents; but few have discerned, through the
habitual ease of her intercourse, the loftiness of her heart, the
independence of her character, the impartiality of her judgment, and
the fairness of her soul!" These are the words of one absolutely
competent to judge, intrinsically incapable of falsifying; and also
when death had removed every motive for flattery.

All who have written on this most admired and beloved woman have had
much to say of the secret and the lesson of her sway. One ascribes
her dominion to a subtile blandishment; another to a marvellous tact,
another to an indescribable magic. But really the secret was simple.
It was the refined suavity and Womanliness of her nature, the
ineffable charm of a temper of unconquerable sweetness and
kindliness, a ruling "desire to give pleasure, avert pain, avoid
offence, render her society agreeable to all its members, and enable
every one to present himself in the most favorable light." Let the
fair creatures made to adorn and reign over society add to their
beauty, as Sarah Austin observes, the proper virtues of true-born and
Christian women, gentleness, love, anxiety to please, fearfullness to
offend, meekness, pity, an overflowing good-will manifested in kind
words and deeds, and they may see in the example before us how high
and lasting its empire is. This is the true secret revealed, this the
genuine lesson taught, by the rare career which we have been

After this glorious example of the moral mission of woman, glorious
despite its acknowledged imperfections, it is not necessary to deny
the common assertion, that men have a monopoly of the sentiment of
friendship. Neither is it necessary to expatiate on the great
happiness this sentiment is capable of yielding in the comparatively
narrow and quiet lives of women, or to insist on the larger space
which ought to be assigned to the cultivation of it in those lives.
The moral of the whole subject may be put into one short sentence,
namely this: The chief recipe for giving richness and peace to the
soul is, less of vague passion, less of ambitious activity, anti more
of dedicated sentiment in the private personal relations of the inner

How little matter unto us the great!
What the heart touches, that controls our fate.
From the full galaxy we turn to one,
Dim to all else, but to ourselves the sun;
And still, to each, some poor, obscurest life
Breathes all the bliss, or kindles all the strife.
Wake up the countless dead; ask every ghost,
Whose influence tortured or consoled the most?
How each pale spectre of the host would turn
From the fresh laurel and the glorious urn,
To point where rots, beneath a nameless stone,
Some heart in which had ebbed and flowed its own!

The salon which Madame Swetchine opened in the Rue Saint-Dominique
was one of the powers of Paris for over forty years. Here she drew
around her all that was most select, most distinguished, most
exalted, in Catholic France; and subdued all by the holy dignity of
her character, the authority of her wisdom, the sweetness of her
spirit, and the charm of her manners. In the homage she inspired, the
favors she distributed, and the tributes she received, she was truly
a queen. Her days were divided into parts, observed with strict
uniformity. She reserved the morning to herself, hearing mass and
visiting the poor until eight o'clock; then returning home, and
closing her door until three. From three to six she received company;
secluded herself from six to nine; and welcomed her friends again
from nine until midnight. Her drawing-room, if not so famous, was as
influential and fascinating to its frequenters as that of Madame
Récamier. Unlike as they were, they have often been compared. The
Récamier salon, with its slightly intoxicating perfume of elegance,
was infinitely more easy, more agreeable; the Swetchine salon, with
its bracing atmosphere of sanctity, was more earnest, more religious.
Though personal nobleness was honored in both, polished fashion
predominated in one, devout principle in the other. The presiding
genius of the former was the perfection of the best spirit of the
world; the presiding genius of the latter was the perfection of the
best spirit of the Catholic Church. The guests of Madame Récamier
went to the Abbaye-aux-Bois to please and to be pleased, to exchange
eloquent thoughts, to breathe chivalrous sentiments, and to enjoy an
exquisite grace of politeness never surpassed. The guests of Madame
Swetchine went to the Rue Saint-Dominique to take counsel on the
affairs of the higher politics, the interests of the nation, and the
welfare of the Church; to enjoy a community of faith and aspiration,
to refresh their best purposes, and to learn how more effectively to
serve the great ends to which they were pledged. There, liberty of
opinion and speech was unlimited, and a refined complacency aimed at;
here, loyalty to certain foregone principles and institutions was
expected, and a tacit spiritual direction maintained: but in both
were found the same delightful moderation, repose, and gracious
forbearance; the same reconciling skill; the same indescribable art
of ruling and leading while appearing to obey and follow.

These illustrious women were perhaps equal in the interest they
awakened, and the sway they exercised over their friends; but there
was a great difference in the secret of the charm which they
severally possessed. There is nothing more disagreeable in a
companion than pre-occupation, if it be pre-occupation with self;
nothing more fascinating, if it be pre-occupation with you, or with
something of universal authority and attraction. The spell of Madame
Récamier lay in her irresistible personal beauty, grace, and
graciousness; that of Madame Swetchine, in her unquestionable
greatness and goodness and simplicity. Each was marvellously self-
detached and kind to everybody. But Madame Récamier was an unoccupied
mirror, ready to reflect upon you what you brought before it; Madame
Swetchine, a mirror pre-occupied with the lovely and authoritative
forms of virtue, wisdom, and piety. The former personally enchanted
and captivated all; the latter caused all to bow, with herself,
before a common sovereignty. The one was the fairest model of nature;
the other, a representative of supernatural realities, a holy symbol
of God.

It is extremely interesting to trace the effect of these remarkable
personalities on each other. When Madame Swetchine visited Rome, at
the age of forty-two, her mind was somewhat imbued with prejudices
against Madame Récamier, whom she had never seen, and who was then
tarrying there. Madame Récamier was forty-seven years old, with a
reputation unsullied by a breath, and a beauty which was remarkable
even twenty years afterwards. The manner in which Madame Swetchine
speaks of her, in a letter to Madame de Montcalm, forms the least
satisfactory passage we remember in all her correspondence:

"Madame Récamier seems sincerely to prefer a secluded life. It is
fortunate, her beauty and celebrity being on the decline: ruins make
little sensation in a country of ruins. It seems that to be drawn to
her one must know her more; and, after such brilliant successes,
certainly nothing can be more flattering than to reckon almost as
many friends as formerly lovers. Perhaps, however, not that I would
detract from her merit, had she but once loved--the number would
have been sensibly diminished."

It is charming to see, in the rich, eloquent letter which Madame
Swetchine wrote to Madame Récamier, soon after their first interview,
how quickly these prejudices were dispelled on personal contact, and
replaced by an earnest attachment:

"I have yielded to the penetrating, indefinable charm with which you
enthrall even those for whom you do not yourself care. It seems as if
we had passed a long time together, and had many memories in common.
This would be inexplicable, did not certain sentiments have a little
of eternity in them. One should say, that, when souls touch, they put
off all the poor conditions of earth; and, happier and freer, already
obey the laws of a better world."

The reciprocation of this interest is shown by the fact, that Madame
Récamier urgently besought Madame Swetchine to make her residence in
the same house with her, the Abbaye-aux-Bois; which she would
probably have done, had it not been for the objections of General

The open secret of the wonderful influence which Madame Swetchine
exerted on all who came in contact with her, of the extreme reverence
and love with which they regarded her, was, therefore, the
incomparable power, sincerity, generosity, and gentleness of her
character. But to appreciate this truth, and learn the lesson it
conveys, we must analyze the case more in detail. The distinguished
friend who has written her life says,

"The most remarkable peculiarity of the character of Madame Swetchine
was, that all the qualities, all the virtues, and all the powers were
distributed in perfect harmony. She was in the same degree
enthusiastic and sensible, because her reason was equal to her
imagination: she thought as deeply as she felt. However often a man
in mind, she always remained a woman in heart; and her personal
abnegation was neither feigned nor studied. As exempt from envy as
from ambition, she lived first in others, then in public works; only
thought of herself after being occupied with everybody else; and
great as was her dislike of egotism, never needed to rebuke it
because she found such a rich joy in the opposite sentiment. Her
disinterestedness reconciled others to her superiority."

Her faith stood so firm in the whirlwind of opinions, that she needed
not to bolster it by bigotry. To the friends, who once murmured
against her too great tolerance, she replied, "Of what use is it to
live, if one is never to hear any thing but his own voice?" Her
compassion and her patience were unconquerable. Nothing could draw
from her the slightest sign of vexation or weariness. One of her
constant visitors, for fifteen years, was a woman universally
detested for her outrageous temper and her bad manners. The
announcement of her name was the signal of dismay and dispersion. But
the saintly hostess invariably gave her an affectionate reception;
and to all the attempts made to induce her to cast off the obnoxious
guest, she said, with a smile, "What do you wish? All the world
avoids her; she is unhappy, and she has only me." This woman died of
old age; and, during her last days, Madame Swetchine went often to
see her, and passed long hours beside her death-bed.

The face of Madame Swetchine, without being handsome, was remarkably
expressive; and the inflections of her singularly rich and strong
voice were exactly modulated to every thought and feeling of her
soul. Destitute of egotism herself, she showed an invariable
tolerance for the egotisms of others, and her management of them was
a marvel of magnanimous considerateness and soothing skill. The
unrestrained frankness of her affection, the intimate confidences she
imparted, the noble grounds she assumed to be common to them and her,
the tender compliments she was ever paying them with all the skill of
a sincere heart, were irresistible. She writes to the Duchess de la
Rochefoucauld, "Reply to all my inquiries; especially speak to me of
yourself. I long to be relieved from the punishment of your reserve."
Some persons would deal with souls as carelessly as if they were
pieces of mechanism; handle hearts as they would handle groceries.
Madame Swetchine was unable to contemplate without awe, or treat
without scrupulous delicacy, a human spirit seeking to open and show
itself to her as it was in the eyes of God.

In addition to all this, she had an amazing knowledge of the
mysteries of human nature and the experience of human life. She said
she had traversed the whole circle of passions and affections, and
was a true doctor of that law. "Reading in my own heart, I have
learned to understand the hearts of others: the single knowledge of
myself has given me the key of those innumerable enigmas called men."
She avowed herself an instinctive disciple of Lavater, and said, "The
expression of the face is the accent of the figure." Her biographer
says that her insight amounted almost to divination. A word, a
gesture, a look, a silence, hardly noticed by others, was to her a
complete revelation. She had the science of souls, as physicists have
the science of bodies. While the ordinary man sees in a plant merely
its color or its outline, the botanist discerns, at first sight, all
its specific attributes. Such was the power of Madame Swetchine: one
lineament, one trait, enabled her to recognize and reconstruct a
whole character. There is no luxury greater than that of unveiling
our inmost souls where we are sure of meeting a superior
intelligence, invincible charity, generous sympathy, and needed
support and guidance. All this was certain to be found in Madame
Swetchine. She had no rivalry, no envy, no desire to eclipse any one,
no bigotry or asperity; and the aged, the mature, and the youthful,
alike came with grateful pleasure under her empire. Women, usually
little accessible to the influence of another woman, were full of
trust and docility towards her. Loving solitude, plunging into
metaphysics as into a bath, she yet took great delight in the beauty,
freshness; playfullness, and hopes of girls just entering society.
Her taste in every thing belonging to the toilet was known to be fine
and sure: they loved, when in full dress for company, to pass under
her eyes; and she deeply enjoyed admiring and praising them, at the
same time pointing out any thing ill-judged or excessive. Not
unfrequently, the same ones, who, in the evening, in their glittering
array, had paused on their way to the ball, would return in the
morning, and sit with her, face to face, in communion on far other
and graver matters. Sick and erring hearts showed themselves to her
in utter sincerity, while, with unwearied sympathy and adroit wisdom,
she poured on them, drop by drop, the light, the truth, the life,
they needed. No one can tell to how many she was a spiritual mother,
her direction all the more welcome and efficacious that she was not a
director by profession, but by instinctive fitness.

Madame Swetchine enjoyed friendships of extraordinary strewth and
preciousness with the Countess de Nesselrode, the Princess Galitzin,
Madame de Saint Aulaire, the Duchess de Duras, the Marchioness de
Lillers, Madame Craven, the Duchess de la Rochefoucauld, and many
other women of noble natures and rich interior lives. The record of
their intercourse is an imperial banquet for the mind and heart of
the reader. The study of it must make ordinary women sigh for envy
and shame over their own cold relations, outward ambition, sterile
experience, and suspicious caution. Madame Swetchine writes, "I have
long made over all my invested capital to the account of those I
love: their welfare, their hopes, are the income on which I live."
The Duchess de Duras writes to her, "I love you more than I should
have believed it ever would be possible for me to love, after what I
have experienced. I believe in you, I who have become so suspicious.
I rely on you with entire security, whatever happens." Again she
writes, when her friend is absent in Russia, "I miss you every
moment. Return, return. Your chamber is ready, and that of Nadine.
Come, come, dear friend: life is so short, why lose it thus?" Madame
Swetchine held such a high place in the esteem of her friends,
because she was so serene, so wise, so steadfast, so kind, so pure,
that she soothed and strengthened all who came near her. One of her
friends expresses this in saying to her, "No society pleases and
agrees with me like yours." She always acted on her own aphorism, "To
bear faults, to manage egotisms, is an aim perhaps best accomplished
by a skilful dissimulation; but the true ideal is to correct faults
and to cure self-love."

The best example, in a relation with one of her own sex, of that
sentiment of friendship which was such a pervasive need of Madame
Swetchine's nature, and which she experienced so profusely, was her
connection with Roxandra Stourdza, a Greek maiden of great beauty and
genius, born at Constantinople. Originally brought together at court,
when the latter was maid of honor to the Empress Elizabeth, they
formed an enthusiastic attachment, which, for half a century, largely
constituted the richness, consolation, and joy of their lives. The
monument of it preserved in their correspondence possesses extreme
interest and value, and must secure for it a prominent place among
the few historic friendships of women. The oriental Roxandra was the
object of an admiration truly romantic from her friend, who seemed
always to see her seated on an ideal throne, and to address her as
some queen of Trebizond. Saint-Beuve says, the refined and exalted
affection between these two young persons, living in the artificial
world of the Russian court, and each throwing back, in her own way,
the mystic influences derived from the sky of Alexandria, affected
him as the exciting perfume exhaled by two rare plants nourished in a
hot-house. It is unimaginable what lofty, exquisite, and mysterious
sentiments they exchange. Their naked souls and minds, with all their
workings, are visible in these ingenuous and crowded letters, as in a
glass hive we can study the industry of bees. Saint-Beuve affirms,
that the later difference in their religion, the Countess Edling
always remaining in the Greek communion, Madame Swetchine becoming a
zealous Catholic, finally made ice between them; and that, when the
countess came to Paris to visit her old friend, she complained of
finding coldness and reserve. Probably there was something in this,
but not much. The friendship will be best revealed by citing, from
the parties themselves, some of its characteristic expressions.

The letters of Roxandra have not been published; but, in those of
Sophie, both souls are clearly reflected. For, as M. de Falloux says,
Madame Swetchine never Ised hackneyed language, never repeated for
one what he had first thought for another. She placed herself, with a
skill, or rather a condescension, truly marvelous, at the point of
view of those with whom she conversed; and she would never have so
easily ended by bringing them to herself, had she not always begun
by going to them. This habit was so familiar, this movement so
natural to her, that, at the close of every correspondence, we have
before our eyes the physiognomy of the correspondent as distinctly
outlined as the physiognomy of the writer:

"Did you believe me, my dear Roxandra, when I mechanically said, on
leaving you, that I should write to you only after five or six clays?
I knew not what I said at the time. If you begin to know me a little,
you have seen that I could never hear so long a silence. La Bruyere
has said, How difficult it is to be satisfied with any one! Ah! well,
my friend, I am satisfied with you; and, were it not for my extreme
self-distrust, which nourishes so many inquietudes, I should be
almost tranquil, almost happy, almost reasonable. My friend, this
moment I receive your letter: how can I thank you? Ah! read my
grateful heart; and sometimes tell me, that you wish to keep it, in
order that it may become worthy of you." "I feel so deeply the
happiness of being loved by you, that you can never cease to love
me." "I need to know all your thoughts, to follow all your motions,
and can find no other occupation so sweet and so dear." "My heart is
so full of you, that, since we parted, I have thought of nothing but
writing to you." "I see in your soul as if it were my own." "Dear
Roxandra, you are every way a privileged being: you unite the
advantages of the most opposed characters without any of their
inconveniences." "My attachment for you will, without doubt, be a
consolation; but that word, when not unmeaning, is so sad that I
desire my friendship to fulfil higher offices. I often envy
characters whose impressions are slight and transient. The sponge
passes across the slate, and nothing is left. Perhaps such a nature
best agrees with man, whose pleasures are for a moment, whose pains
for a life. Adieu, my friend! How many times already that word has
filled my heart with grief! Take good care of yourself; hasten to
God; and, when the struggle is too severe, beseech grace instead of
combating." "It seems to me that souls seek each other in the chaos
of this world, like elements of the same nature tending to re-unite.
They touch, they feel themselves tallied; confidence is established
without an assignable cause. Reason and reflection following, and
fixing the seal of their approval on the union, think they have done
it all, as subaltern ministers regard the transactions of their
masters nothing until they have been permitted to sign their names at
the bottom. I fear no misunderstanding with you; and my gratitude
alone can equal the perfect security with which you inspire me." "I
must show myself to you absolutely as I am." "I know of no pleasure
more alluring than a sweet and confidential converse which begins
with an interchange of ideas, and ends with one of sentiments. This I
have found in our intercourse." "It seems to me that your good angel
is very busy about you, and is covering your thorns with some few
flowers. How I should like to be charged with the visible execution
of this charming mission!" "When near you, I breathe the atmosphere
of calmness and depth, which agrees with me: although I have not the
rages of King Saul, there is in the sound of your voice something, I
know not what, that reminds me of the effect of the harp of David."
"Never was there a goodness more compassionate and penetrating than
yours. Yours are the words that seek pain at the bottom of the soul
in order to soothe it. How well you possess that divine dexterity
which applies balm to wounds almost without touching them!" "My
friend, I have met nothing sweeter, more consoling to love, than you.
The admirable simplicity of your character, its steadiness, its
frankness, have a charm which more than attracts: it fixes." "We must
carry, untouched, to the gates of eternity the deposit each has
confided to the other."

The above extracts give some idea of the warmth and preciousness of
the surpassing friendship, but no idea of the high and varied range
of intellectual and religious interests that entered into it. "I
always," Madame Swetchine writes, "have your little ring on my
finger. This symbol, fragile as all symbols, will outlive me; but I
grieve not for that, since I am sure that the sentiment which makes
me prize it so highly will survive it in turn." Dora Greenwell says,
"The letters of Madame Swetchine are full of an intimate sweetness
that has something in it, piercing even to pain, like the scent of
the sweet-brier." We are reminded of this when she writes, "If life
were perfectly beautiful, yet death would be perfectly desirable."
Also again, when she writes to her Roxandra, "What is the pen, sad
signal of our long separation, after the pleasure of flinging myself
on your neck, and pouring my soul into yours through a deluge of
words?" The two friends often indulged the sweet dream of passing
their last years together, preparing; each other for the passage
equally dreaded and desired, advancing arm in arm and heart in heart
towards the unknown. The dream was not destined for fulfilment. But
Madame Swetchine had the great joy of seeing her favorite nephew one
of the Gargarin boys whom she loved so fondly in their childhood
married to Marie Stourdza, the niece and sole heiress of her friend.
The only words we have seen from Roxandra herself are worthy of the
eulogies paid her, and would seem to justify the highest estimate of
her character. She says, "May we all contribute, by our life and our
death, to the great thought of God, the re-establishment of order and
of truth among men!" And again, amid the alarming revolutions that
were shaking all Europe, she says, "We are witnessing the grand
judgment of human pride."

Among the wretched children of misfortune, loved and aided by the
saintly charity of Madame Swetchine, she was especially drawn to the
solacement of deaf mutes. She keenly felt the sadness and danger
consequent on this cruel infirmity. She took, as her own maid, a poor
deaf mute, named Parisse, whose temper was so bad that she was
scarcely tolerated by any one. She found a charm in taking her walks
with this still companion, to whom it was not necessary to speak, and
who was not humiliated in keeping silence. "With Parisse," she said,
"I can believe myself alone, and have a needed arm to support me, and
an aid which does not encroach on my liberty." Thus she loved to
appear the obliged party rather than the benefactress. The haughty
and quarrelsome Parisse often put on the grand airs of an outraged
queen. When the other servants were battling with her, Madame
Swetchine would go among them, and say, "I love you all, but know
that every one shall go before Parisse: she is the most unfortunate,
and much should be excused in her." After enduring almost every
thing, she succeeded, by her imperturbable good-nature and firmness,
in winning the poor girl to a more amiable behavior. Parisse
worshipped her mistress, and had the joy one day of being represented
behind her in the likeness engraved by a celebrated artist. They
became really attached friends. Is it not touchingly instructive thus
to trace the religious ascent of the soul of this noble woman in her
friendships, as they successively stoop from the Czarina Marie to the
deaf mute Parisse? In his funeral sermon on Madame Swetchine,
Lacordaire thus alludes to Parisse: "As we watched the sad setting of
that beauteous star, I saw her beloved mute following her with her
eyes from an adjoining chamber, the vigilant sentinel of a life which
had been so lavish of itself, and whose light went out with faithful
friendship on the one side, and grateful poverty on the other."

Madame Swetchine was endowed from birth with the material, the
physiological conditions, for a great and original character, force
competent to the finest and the grandest things, with an over-bias of
that force to the brain. For long periods, she was compelled to walk
in her chamber from seven to eight hours a day, to avoid intolerable
nervous pressures and pains. At sixty-six, she wrote to one of her
friends, "My interior life sterilizes itself by reason of
superabundance; the too great fullness causes an incessant
restlessness. I cannot give body to the multitude of confused ideas
which crowd each other, interweave, and suffocate me for want of
articulation." This profuse force, which continued throughout her
life, enabled her to achieve an amount of work, and acquire a wealth
of knowledge and wisdom, truly astonishing. Her youthful education,
with the many difficult accomplishments she mastered, was the first
resource for the occupation of her teeming energy. The second was the
discharge of her domestic and public duties, with as much discretion
and skill as if her sole ambition were to be a faultless housekeeper
and member of the social order. The third was friendship, to whose
genial duties of visiting and correspondence she devoted herself with
a fullness and an ardor as passionate as they were genuine. And yet
there remained a surplusage of unappropriated soul, whose vague and
constant action distressed her. She entered on an extensive study of
literature, history, psychology, and philosophy. Her biographer says,
that scarcely an important work on these subjects appeared in Europe
for fifty years with whose contents she did not familiarize herself,
pen in hand. She interspersed these arduous labors by a systematic
application to philanthropic works, personally visiting the sick and
the poor, and ministering to their wants. And still her force was
unexhausted she had more faculty and strength longing to be used, and
disturbing her with mysterious solicitations; a solitary activity,
without aliment; a wheel for ever revolving in a void; a burning
ardor, which, in the absence of sufficing affections below, turned
upward, and became a subtile mysticism. When practical duty,
friendship, literature, philosophy, and charitable deeds had failed
to absorb and satisfy her, plainly there was but one resource left,
religion. She entered on the path to God and his fellowship, the
sublime way of the life of perfection. She entered on it with an
extraordinary capacity for ascending through the various degrees of
perception, feeling, and transfusion; and, at the same time, with a
power of rational poise which kept her experience of piety from the
two extremes of mawkishness and delirium. Such balancing good sense
and sobriety, such freedom from every thing morbid, combined with so
much thoroughness of faith and so much fervor, we know not where else
to find. Some hearts open downward, and send their exciting drench
through the body; hers opened upward, and sent its pure vapor aloft
into the mind to wear celestial colors. Her head was a higher heart,
playing off intelligence and affection, transmuted into each other.

In the charming treatise on "Old Age," from the pen of Madame
Swetchine, a piece of serene poetry and impassioned wisdom, a critic
complains that she rather transfigures the subject than shows it.
But, however much she may have transfigured it in description, in
person and experience she has shown it in the most beautiful form of
truth of which it is susceptible. Year by year, to the very end, she
became ever wiser, calmer, more influential, more honored and
beloved, more saintly and content. Her religious abnegation grew
perfect; her peace deepened; her active benevolence broadened; her
spirit, always genially tolerant, acquired a mellower ripeness. In
relation to one of her acquaintances, she says, "The last time I saw
him, I was struck by a kind of rigidity, of bitterness, a want of
charity in his judgments which injured their justice; for the more I
see, the more I am convinced that we must love in order to know." The
detestable Rochefoucauld said, "Old age is the hell of women." For
Madame Swetchine it had much more of paradise, as the rich ardor and
impetuosity of her youth slowly moderated, and, by judicious
oversight, she trained her powers into harmony among themselves and
submission to God. Long before, she had said that the saddest of all
sights was that of an aged woman, deprived of the consideration and
respect belonging to a serious life. Now she could say of herself, "I
have deserved most of the disappointments I have experienced; yet God
has softened them, as if he meant them not for penalties, but trials.
Benevolence surrounds me; my need of esteem is satisfied; I have
known the most distinguished people; my heart has been fortunate in
friendship. Self-detached, in a calm and sweet tranquillity, I need
no more, to close my course with courage." She was not one of those
who never speak of themselves because they are always thinking of
themselves. De Tocqueville, after receiving an epistle from her,
wrote back, with grateful delight in her frank and honoring
confidence, "Your letter is a full-length portrait of yourself." In
fact, she always spoke of herself with the utmost freedom, because
she looked at herself from without as she would at any other object.
Her last years were a fine illustration of her own thought, "Old age
is the majestic and imposing dome of human life."

The death of this memorable woman, touchingly described by Falloux in
a letter to Montalembert written at the time, was worthy of what had
gone before it, of the preparations she had made for it, and of the
glorious destiny to which she believed it the entrance. That "we are
to seek God, not deludedly wait for him to seek us," was not more the
maxim of her pen than of her practice. "I speak to others; but with
whom do I converse, if it be not, O my God with thee?" To one of the
group of tearful and venerating friends standing around her, she
said, "Do not, my good friend, ask for me one day more, or one pang
less." Without any decay of her faculties or waning of her moral
force, bearing her sufferings with invincible patience and sweetness,
maintaining a dignity of thought and speech comparable with that of
the last conversation of Socrates, but with the triumph of a perfect
Christian faith, she dropped what was mortal, and passed immortally
into the bosom of God. It was in September, 1857, and she was
seventy-five years young. The great, dazzling, guilty Paris has
loosed no purer or richer spirit for the skies. Her dust hallows the
cemetery of Montmartre, where, in the coming days, many a pilgrim
will go to look on her monument.

While Margaret Fuller was yet a little girl, in her father's house,
an elegant English lady came to pass a few weeks in Cambridge. Her
beauty, with her repose and softness of manner, wrought like a
strange spell on the idealizing spirit of the lonely and passionate
girl. She found the first angel of her life: heaven was opened; and
the image of the fair stranger, who soon vanished beyond the sea, was
an intoxicating vision in her brain, full of light and perfume, for
many a year. In her later life, Margaret formed impassioned
connections with a great many superior girls, who were drawn to her
by an affinity for her overflowing powers of intellect, feeling, and
aspiration. The last on the list of her friendships was the noble
Marchioness Arconati, in Italy. The entire intercourse of these two
women forms a chapter of devoted warmth and frankness. Through all
her life, Margaret felt the necessity for intense relations of
affection with the worthiest persons she met. One of her biographers
says, "Her friendships wore a look of such romantic exaggeration that
she seemed to walk enveloped in a shining fog of sentimentalism. Yet,
in fact, Truth at all cost was her ruling maxim. Her earnestness to
read the hidden history of others was the gauge of her own emotion."

This prayer was found among the papers written in her earlier life:
"Father, I am weary. Re-assume me for a while, I pray thee. Oh, let
me rest awhile in thee, thou only Love! In the depth of my prayer, I
suffer much. Take me only awhile. No fellow-being will receive me. I
cannot pause: they will not detain me by their love. Take me awhile,
and again I will go forth on a renewed service. I sink from want of
rest; and none will shelter me. Thou knowest it all. Bathe me in thy
Love." Emerson says of her, "Her friendships, as a girl with girls,
as a woman with women, were not unmingled with passion, and had
passages of romantic sacrifice and of ecstatic fusion, which I have
heard with the ear, but could not trust my profane pen to report." At
the close of her life, amidst the ruins of Rome, she wrote, "I have
been the object of great love, from the noble and the humble: I have
felt it towards both. Yet I am tired out, tired of thinking and
hoping, tired of seeing men err and bleed. Coward and foot-sore,
gladly would I creep into some green recess, where I might see a few
not unfriendly faces, and where not more wretches should come than I
could relieve. I am weary, and faith soars and sings no more. Nothing
good of me is left, except, at the bottom of the heart, a melting

The Duchess of Orleans, that Helen of Mecklenburg who married the
eldest son of Louis Philippe, was one of those women whose exalted
charms of person, character, and manners glorify their sex, fascinate
all beholders, and win the enthusiastic devotion of their associates.
She was the worthy grand-daughter of that noble Duchess Louise of
Saxe-Weimar, wife of Carl August, the friend of Goethe and Schiller,
of whom Napoleon said, "Behold a woman whom all my cannon cannot
frighten." Through the checkered scenes of her brilliant and
melancholy lot, her happy childhood; her dazzling nuptials; her
enviable married life; the terrible shock of her sudden widowhood;
the frightful scenes of the revolution, when, with her infant son by
her side, she confronted the levelled muskets of the infuriated mob,
and looked massacre in the face, without the ruffle of a feature; the
dismal days of exile, decline, and death, she bore herself with that
sweet dignity, that spotless purity, that ineffable and sublime grace
of wisdom and goodness which sometimes appear to lift the perfection
of womanhood so nearly to the prerogatives of an angel. She had many
friends of her own sex, who cherished an idolatrous affection for
her. One of these, the inseparable companion of her existence, has
anonymously written a sketch of her life and character, a most
charming and impressive tribute. This modest memoir instructively
suggests far more than it betrays. The writer says of her adorable
friend, "Life was interesting by her side. She captivated the
imagination of every one. I know no other woman with whom I could
converse for twelve hours together, without for an instant feeling
void or weariness. I feel as if I had always something to say to her;
for her interest never flags." It is singular that, of all the
multitude who desire to enchain their friends, so few ever learn to
practise the deep secret contained in this italicized clause, the
innocent secret of a self-abnegating heart of love.

Sarah Austin, one of the wisest and noblest women of England, formed
a reverential and ardent friendship for this matchless lady, in her
adversity. How profound, how sacred this attachment was, is proved by
the notice which, on the day the duchess died, Mrs. Austin wrote, and
sent to the press, blotted with tears; and also by the fuller sketch
she afterwards prefixed to her English translation of the life of the
duchess from its French original. "Her character was always
presenting itself in new and harmonious lights; her manners were
indescribably refined and winning; her conversation never flagged,
was never trifling, never pedantic, never harsh; it always kept you
at an elevation which at once soothed and invigorated the mind. There
was not in her nature the slightest tinge of the cynical skepticism
or sarcastic contempt which chill the soul, and annihilate hope and
courage. These are the weapons which vulgar minds oppose to
misfortune, the bitter and poisonous plants which wrongs and
calamities produce in poor and barren hearts; but her tender and
magnanimous nature could bring forth nothing which was not good and
generous. It was most affecting to watch the working of her
transparent mind through its faithful index, her countenance, during

"The interest her great qualities inspired was raised, by pity for her
cruel misfortunes, to a height which might almost be called a
passion. A veil of sadness overspread her sweet face; but behind this
veil there was always such a beaming benignity, so lovely a concern
for the welfare of mankind, such a high-hearted courage, that you
left her cheered rather than depressed. It is to the extraordinary
power she had of giving a high tone to the minds of others, joined to
the unalterable sweetness of her daily intercourse, that I attribute
the discouraged feeling common to those who mourn her loss. If her
misfortunes were august, solemn, and terrible as a Greek tragedy, her
heart was large, high, and strong enough to meet them. With all her
gentleness, Christian and womanly patience, the most striking feature
in her character was its moral grandeur.

"Greatness of mind and nobleness
Build in her loveliest, and create an awe
About her, as a guard angelic placed."

Such a woman is the highest exemplar and benefactor of her sex. A
religious quality is evoked in the soul that contemplates her. Every
impure feeling is struck dead with awe before her. The angelic
serenity of her face is as if the smiles which others wear outwardly,
with her had retreated inward, and hovered in perpetual play about
the heart. By spiritual contact with her, other persons become
angelic also. She teaches, by example, what a divine exaltation is
sometimes reached through adversity and pain. The head, discrowned of
earthly glory, is crowned with celestial beauty. When sufferings
stimulate virtues, the thorn-wreath blossoms on our brow: when
sacrifices feed faith, the cross which we clasp puts on wings and
lifts us heavenward.

I have reserved, to close this chapter, a singularly romantic example
of a pair of female friends, set forth by old Thomas Heywoode, in his
"Nine Books of Various History concerning Women," published at London
in 1624. A certain sinless maiden, called Bona, "who lived a retired
life in a house of religious Nunnes, had a bedfellow, unto whom,
above all others, she was tied, lying on her death-bed, and no help
to be devised for her recovery." This Bona, being herself in perfect
health, besought the Almighty, that she might not survive her friend;
but, as they had lived together in all sanctity and sisterly love, so
their chaste bodies might not be separated in death. As she prayed,
so it happened. Both died on the same day, and were buried in the
same sepulchre, being fellows in one house, one bed, and one grave;
and now, no question, joyful and joint inheritors of one kingdom.


IF one-tenth of the efforts which women now make to fill their time
with amusements, or to gratify outward ambition, were devoted to
personal improvement, and to the cultivation of high-toned
friendships with each other, it would do more than any thing else to
enrich and embellish their lives, and to crown them with contentment.
Their characters would thus be elevated, their hearts warmed, their
minds stored, their manners refined, and kindness and courtesy
infused into their intercourse.

Nothing else will ever add to society the freshness, variety, and
stimulant charm, the noble truths and aspirations, the ingenuous,
co-operating affections, whose absence at present makes it often so
deceitful and repulsive, so barren and wearisome. The relish of
existence is destroyed, the glory of the universe darkened, to
multitudes of tender and highsouled persons, by the loathsome
insincerity and treachery, the frivolous fickleness, the petty
suspicions and envies, and the incompetent judgments, which they are
constantly meeting. These superficial and miserable vices of common
society disenchant the soul, and dry up the springs of love and hope.
They are fatal to that magnanimous wisdom and that trustful sympathy
which compose at once the brightest ornaments of our nature, and the
costliest treasures of experience. Ah, if, in place of them, we could
everywhere meet the honest hand, the open heart, the serious mind,
the frank voice, the upward eye, the emulous and helpful soul largely
endowed with knowledge and reverence! Then one would never be
troubled with that frightfully depressing feeling--the feeling that
there is nothing worth living for. Verily, the most dismal of all
deaths is to die from lack of a sufficient motive for living. And is
it not to be feared that many in our age die this death?

The true remedy for the fierce, shallow war of society, or its faded
and jaded hollowness, is to be found in generous friendships,
begotten by a common pursuit of the holiest ends of existence. In the
nurture of these relations, by every law of fitness and want, it
belongs to women to take the lead. The realm of the affections, with
its imperious exactions and its imperial largesses, is theirs.
Certainly no right or privilege should be withheld from women; but
they ought to be careful not to mistake dangers or defects or vices
for rights and privileges. It is simple blindness to fail to see that
the distinctively feminine sphere of action is domestic life, and the
inner life--not the brawling mart and caucus. The freedom and
education of woman should be so enlarged that she can include, in
intelligence and sympathy, all the interests of mankind. But, in
action, we would rather coax men to withdraw from the gladiatorial
strifes and shows of the world, than goad women to enter them.

And yet this statement needs qualification. There is much to be said
on the other side. Woman is still generally regarded, on account of
the transmitted opinions and usages of the past, as a mere appendage
to man. The truth of the greatest importance to be considered is,
that the element of humanity, not the element of sex, is the supreme
fact by which the question should be determined. Seen from the point
of view of absolute morality, man is no more a child of God and an
heir of the eternal universe, than woman. She has a personal destiny
of her own to fulfil, irrespective of him, just as much as he has
one, irrespective of her "The most important duty of woman," it has
been said, "is to perfect man." Why so? No one would say that the
most important duty of man is to perfect woman. And yet, why is it
not just as much his duty to be her servant, as it is her duty to be
his servant? It is a remnant of barbaric prejudice, preserved from
the ages of brute force, which makes the difference in the estimate.
The first duty of every human being is self-perfection. The ideal of
marriage is the mutual perfection of both parties. In its truest
idea, marriage is an institution for the perfecting of the race, by
the perfecting of individual men and women through their co-operating
intelligence and affection. To limit its end to the perfecting of the
man alone, is the highest stretch of masculine arrogance. Is it not a
just inference, that, if woman is as completely a human unit as man,
she has an equal right with him to the use of every means of self-
development in the fulfilment of her destiny? The foremost claim to
be made in behalf of women, therefore, is liberty, as untrammelled a
choice of occupation and mode of life, as free a range of
individuality and spiritual fruition, as is granted to men. But would
this really be an advance, or a retrogression? Many maintain that it
would be subversive of the genuine progress of civilization, to
abandon the prejudices and throw down the bars which have hitherto
restrained women from a full share in the chosen avocations and
ambitions of men. All improvement is marked, they say, by an increase
of differences, greater separation and complexity of offices.
Therefore, to efface or lessen the social distinctions between the
sexes would be to reverse the order of development. Auguste Comte,
who felt a strong interest in this subject, and had a deep insight
into some of its data, says, "All history assures us, that, with the
growth of society, the peculiar features of each sex have become not
less but more distinct. Woman may persuade, advise, judge; but she
should not command. By rivalry in the selfish pursuits of life,
mutual affection between the sexes would be corrupted at its source.
There is a visible tendency towards the removal of women, wherever it
is possible, from all industrial occupations. Christianity has taken
from them the priestly functions they held under Polytheism. With the
decline of the principle of caste, they are more rigidly excluded
from royalty and every kind of political authority. Thus their life,
instead of becoming independent of the Family, is becoming more
concentrated in it. That Man should provide for Woman is a law of the
human race--a law connected with the essentially domestic character of
female life." There is a larger admixture of error in the foregoing
representation, than is usual with this deep and original thinker on
social ethics. It is true that differences increase with the progress
of society; it is also true that similarity increases. There is both
a minuter subdivision of functions, and a wider freedom of choice in
the selection of their functions by individuals. In the rudest state,
the relative condition and mode of life of whole classes are rigidly
fixed by their birth or by arbitrary violence. As science and art are
developed, and wealth accumulated, the varieties of industry and of
social rank are largely multiplied; liberty of choice is extended,
and facility of change is increased. Once there was a royal caste, a
priestly caste, a warrior caste, a servile caste; determined by
blood, and unalterable. These invidious castes are now, for the most
part, broken down, and their several functions comparatively open to
all who, observing the conditions, choose to fulfil them. The most
prevalent and obstinate of caste distinctions is that of sex; the
monopoly by man of public action, power, and honor; the exclusion of
one-half of our race from what men regard as the highest social
prerogatives, an exclusion which was no deliberate act, but a natural
result of historic causes. Dr. Hedge says, with the clear vigor
characteristic of his admirable mind, "As to the charge of exclusion,
I think it would be quite as correct to say that women have combined
to exclude men from the kitchen, the laundry, the nursery, as that
men have combined to exclude women from the army or the navy, or the
bar or the pulpit, or the broker's board. I suppose the assignment of
either sex to the class of occupations which society, as now
constituted, respectively devolves upon them came about in the
beginning as naturally as the difference in costume which has always
divided male and female. A sense of fitness, of natural affinity,
determined each in its several way. There was no compulsion of the
weaker by the stronger, and no formal allotment. Each following its
own instincts arrived where it is. A tacit agreement settled this
point as it has so many others of the social economy. Nor would any
discontent with the present arrangement have arisen; had the family
life kept pace with the growth of society." This exclusive usurpation
of the public life by man--or rather, as we should say, this natural
development and division--so organized by immemorial usage as to have
become a second nature in both parties, is at last beginning to
reveal its injustice, and to give way. In savage life, woman is
little more than a bearer of burdens, a slave, and a drudge; as
coarse as man, and lower in rank and treatment. The man fishes,
hunts, fights, plays, rests; putting every repulsive task exclusively
on the woman. It is the brute right of the stronger, which very
slowly yields to the refining influence of reflective sympathy.

With each successive advance of society, it is not true that the
distinction of sex becomes more definite and more important; but it
is true that the distinctive feeling of men towards women becomes
less a feeling of scorn and authority--more a feeling of deference and
homage. Woman is as distinct from man in the grossest barbarism as in
the finest civility: only, in that, she is the degraded servant of
his senses; in this, the honored companion of his soul. If, with the
progress of society, the sphere of feminine life becomes more
domestic, inward, individual, so also does that of man. His ideal
life constantly encroaches more on his active life; his physical
energies become less predominant, and his moral sympathies stronger.
Woman begins by being totally distinct from man in personality and
estate, totally subjected to him in service. She goes on, with the
improvement of civilization, to be ever freer from his authority,
nearer his equal in status, more closely blended with him in
personality and moral pursuits. They are not master and servant; but
equals, responsible to one another for mutual perfection, each
responsible to God for personal perfection. While, therefore, to
efface the intrinsic characteristics of the sexes would undoubtedly
be a retrograde step, it is an impossible step, which no one proposes
to take. It is proposed merely to efface those factitious
characteristics, whose removal will clear away barriers and secure
the more rapid improvement of all, by blending their culture, their
liberty, and their worship--showing us men and women as equal units of
humanity in its personal ends, but dependent co-adjutors in its
social means.

The common destiny of a woman, as a representative of humanity, is
the same as that of a man; namely, the perfect development of her
being in the knowledge of truth, and in the practice of virtue and
piety. Her peculiar destiny is wifehood and maternity. But if she
declines this peculiar destiny of her sex, or it is denied her, still
her common human destiny remains unforfeited; and she has as clear a
right to the unrestricted use of every means of fulfilling it as she
could have if she were a man.

The good wife and mother fulfils a beautiful and a sublime office--the
fittest and the happiest office she can fulfil. If her domestic cares
occupy and satisfy her faculties, it is a fortunate adjustment; and
it is right that her husband should relieve her of the duty of
providing for her subsistence. But what shall be said of those
millions of women who are not wives and mothers; who have no adequate
domestic life--no genial private occupation or support?

Multitudes of women have too much self respect to be desirous of
being supported in idleness by men; too much genius and ambition to
be content with spending their lives in trifles; and too much
devotedness not to burn to be doing their share in the relief of
humanity, the work and progress of the world. If these were all happy
wives and mothers, that might be best. But denied that function, and
being what they are, why should not all the provinces of public labor
and usefullness, which they are capable of occupying, be freely open
to them? What else is it save prejudice that applauds a woman dancing
a ballet or performing an opera, but shrinks with disgust from one
delivering an oration, preaching a sermon, or casting a vote? Why is
it less womanly to prescribe as a physician than to tend as a nurse?
If a woman have a calling to medicine, divinity, law, literature,
art, instruction, trade, or honorable handicraft, it is hard to see
any reason why she should not have a fair chance of pursuing it.

Of course, such must ever be the exceptional callings of women; but
in proportion as those not otherwise more satisfactorily employed
enter into them, we must believe that the burden on men, instead of
being aggravated by the new competition, will be shared, and thus
lightened, and the best interests of society receive impulse. Is it
not, then, a sound claim which demands for women a full initiation
into all the noble realms and interests of humanity? Slavery and
ignorance engender worse vices and more hopeless degradation than can
result from the exposures of freedom and knowledge. Besides, freedom
and knowledge are the guides to every form of nobleness. They alone
can fit women truly to exert their most sacred prerogatives. Those
who have enjoyed the best means of knowing the truth say, that the
Harems of the East are the hot-beds of every wicked quality whose
seeds slumber in the heart of woman. Surrounded by rivals;
incessantly watched by those cunning and merciless monsters, the
eunuchs; knowing nothing of science, art, literature, or industry--
they must be devoured by animal passion, by love of intrigue and
deception, by jealousy, envy, and hatred. The true remedy for the
melancholy stagnation or the frightful effervescence of their
existence is not indeed to call them forth into a contest with men
for the notice of society and the prizes of the world; but to give
them their liberty, remanding them to their own consciences and the
social sanctions of the great laws of right and wrong, to educate
them to the highest point in every department of knowledge and
sentiment, and to throw open to them the boundless field of private
and public moral influence, with a fair chance for the achievement of

Therefore, while as perfect an education, and as absolute a liberty,
are claimed for women as for men, they are to be adjured to remember
that their conscious aims should be wisdom, goodness, spiritual
force, delicacy, and harmony, with the consequent moral influence and
contentment; and not the trophies of power, or the publicities of
fame. And precisely the same duty holds with regard to men.

The effort to attain the highest graces of character, instead of
plunging recklessly into the selfish ways of the world, is as truly
obligatory for man as for woman.

Brazen impudence, unprincipled greed, ignorance, cruelty, are vices
in him too; modesty, patience, obedience, cleanliness, and
aspiration, are virtues in him too. If those vices were to receive a
new development, these virtues a new check, by setting before women
the higher industries and prizes of society, it would be an immense
evil. But is it not probable that such a course will do more to
elevate than to degrade, by a larger diffusion of the moral
stimulants and restraints of life more closely assimilating the sexes
in their diversity, interchanging their respective traits for mutual
advantage, and speeding them forward in the common race? The two most
pronounced feminine characteristics are tenderness and purity;
masculine, courage and knowledge. Humanity will not be perfected,
either in individual character or social destiny, by the greater
separate enhancement of these in the sexes, but only by their
balanced diffusion in both, making the women wise and courageous, the
men tender and pure.

It is necessary to see more clearly the grounds on which women, as a
class, have hitherto been excluded from public activity and
authority, in order properly to understand the justice or the
injustice of that exclusion. And, in studying the origin of customs
and opinions now prevalent, it is as much our right to do it with
freedom, as it is our duty to do it with reverence. Many persons
forget that the highest question is, what ought to be? and not, What
has been or is? Usages frequently endure after their utility has
ceased, after their propriety has gone. The true ideal of human
conduct is not to be seen in the imperfections of the past, but to be
constructed from the perfections of the future. The fact that a thing
has always been, is an historic justification of it for bygone time,
but not a moral justification of it for coming time. This requires
intrinsic and enduring reasons--reasons of right and use. While the
exclusion of women from public life has been natural in the ages
behind us, it is a distinct inquiry whether such an exclusion be
either obligatory or expedient now.

History demonstrates that the male sex has greater muscular strength,
with its natural accompaniments, than the female. The more
differentiated and largely supplied nervous structure, connected with
the offices of maternity, detracts so much from the amount of force
furnished for the muscles and the will. In the rudeness of the
primitive state, it is an unavoidable result of the superior muscular
power of man that woman is his subject. But the more pronounced
nervous system of woman gives her certain spiritual advantages. Her
greater sensibility, her greater seclusion, with its relative
stimulus of solitude and meditation; the closer endearments of
maternity--develop her affections in a higher degree than his. Hence
arises a tendency to refinement, elevation, influence, on her part--a
tendency, to which, in proportion to his moral susceptibility, he
responds with sympathy, respect, and veneration. Every step of social
progress has been marked by a softening of the tyranny of man and a
lifting of the position of woman--an approximation towards an equal
companionship. First the tool of his will, next the toy of his
pleasure, then the minister of his vanity, she is at last to become
the free sharer of his life, the friend of his mind and heart. In the
first of these stages, no question of right was consciously raised:
the brute preponderance of strength decided all. In the last stage,
there will be no question in debate, no exercise of executive
authority on either side; all being settled by a spontaneous harmony
of privileges and renunciations on both sides. But in the
intermediate stages, covering the whole historic period thus far, man
has sought to justify himself in monopolizing authority.

The first argument of the master was the argument, prompted by the
unneutralized selfish instincts, that the mere possession of power to
rule, gives the right to rule. Muscular superiority is, by intrinsic
fitness and necessity, divinely installed to reign. Woman, as "the
weaker vessel," must obey. Such a mode of thought was unavoidable,
and had its legitimate ages of sway. But no moralist would dream of
adopting it, after the conscience has advanced to the stage of
general principles, has risen into the region of disinterested
sympathy or justice. No one would now consciously employ this
argument to maintain the subjection of women; yet in multitudes,
below the stratum of their conscious thoughts, it blindly upholds
that subjection. A single consideration is enough to show the logical
absurdity of the assumption. If men are entitled to the exclusive
enjoyment of political privileges, simply because they have more
physical might, then, by the same principle, among men themselves,
the weak should be subject to the strong. But the very purpose of
law, the moral essence of civilization, is to rectify the natural
domination of strength, and bring all before a common standard.

The argument from intellectual inferiority is as vacant as that from
muscular inferiority. In the first place, it is an open question
whether women, as a whole, are inferior in mind to men. Many
intelligent judges firmly believe, that, taken as a whole, they are
superior. Cornelius Agrippa wrote a book in 1509, entitled "The
Nobility of the Female Sex, and the Superiority of Woman over Man."
Lucretia Marinella published a book at Venice, in 1601, undertaking
to prove the superiority of her sex to the other. A book entitled "La
Femme Genereuse," an attempt to demonstrate "that the women are more
noble, more polite, more courageous, more knowing, more virtuous, and
better managers than the men," was published at Paris, in 1643.
Madame Guillaume also published at Paris, in 1665, a work called "Les
Dames Illustres," devoted to the proof of the proposition that the
female sex surpasses the masculine in all kinds of valuable
qualifications. Mrs. Farnham devotes her book "Woman and her Era,"
published in New York in 1864, to the support of the same thesis,
with new arguments and illustrations. That woman is intellectually
superior to man, was likewise the opinion of Schopenhauer, an
exceedingly strong and independent thinker. The supreme examples of
genius have indeed been furnished by men; but this is no disproof of
the opinion, that the average height and quickness of feminine
mentality are above the masculine average.

Granting, however, that women have less spiritual force than men,
they certainly have greater fineness. Their smaller volume of power
is compensated by their greater delicacy and tact, their more
sensitive moral capacity: the power of self-sacrifice is surely
higher than the power of self-assertion. The examples of queens, from
Semiramis to Domna, from Zenobia to Catherine; of philosophers and
scholars, like Theano, Hypatia, and Olympia Morata; of founders of
orders and institutions, organizers and leaders of great enterprises,
like Clara and Chantal; of actresses, like Siddons; of singers, like
Malibran; of scientists, like Somerville; of heroines, like Charlotte
Corday and Joan of Arc; of mystic prophetesses, like Kriidener; of
religious thinkers, like Sarah Hennell; of novelists, like Madame
Dudevant and Marian Evans; of artists, teachers, martyrs, saints--a
host whose faces shine on us out of history, have abundantly
vindicated for their sex, so far as force of will, intellect,
imagination, and passion is concerned, the right of eminent domain in
the whole empire of human experience. Besides, admitting the courage,
knowledge, skill, and energy of average men to be greater than those
of average women, the difference in their respective opportunities
and training would go far towards explaining it. Women, as a class,
have been excluded from a thousand lists and stimulants, under whose
influences men have been sedulously educated. And, finally, even if
we confess the hopeless inferiority of woman to man in some of the
highest departments of action, that is no reason for denying her the
chance to go as far as she can. If her mental victories must be lower
and narrower than his, still she should enjoy the stimulus of the
struggle, as one means of aiding the fulfilment of her human destiny.
Because one can do more than another, shall he compel the other to do

When the untenableness of muscular or mental power, as a ground for
holding women in an inferior position, becomes obvious, the next
support man conceives for his exclusive appropriation of authority,
is the belief that he is exclusively the representative and
vicegerent of God on earth; that woman is placed in subordination to
him by the direct command of God. In the Hindu law we read, "The
husband of a woman is her deity;" and in the Ramayana, "A husband is
the god of his consort." The New Testament says, "Man is the head of
the woman, but the head of the man is God;" "Man is the glory of God,
but woman is the glory of man. For the man is not of the woman, but
the woman of the man." The Apostle likewise declares, "I suffer not a
woman to teach, nor to usurp authority over the man, but to be in
silence. For Adam was first formed, then Eve." This position of the
Apostle was based on the Hebrew account of the creation of the first
woman from the rib of the first man, and of the sentence of God upon
her in consequence of her sin in eating the apple: "Thou shalt be
subject to thy husband, and he shall rule over thee." Few persons
have a conception of the extent to which this representation has
moulded the opinions and feelings of the Christian world. The origin
of the view is obvious: the desire of the stronger for homage, and
the willingness of the weaker to reflect that desire in their
conduct. Is it a sound view? or is it a fallacy and a superstition?
or is it a mixture of truth and error?

For those who believe in the infallibility of every word of
Scripture, the subject is taken out of the province of natural
reason, conscience, and expediency; and there is nothing to be said.
They hold by the current tradition as the explicit will of God. But,
at the present day, there is an increasing proportion of persons who
look on the Hebrew narrative of the origin and earliest experience of
our race in the garden of Eden, as a legend, similar to kindred
narratives in other literatures. They are led, by teachings of
philosophy and science which they cannot resist, to the conclusion,
that the Almighty did not produce the human species by an arbitrary
and wholly exceptional interposition; but created them just as he did
the other species--through a law of development. It seems to them
incredible, that man and woman were made separately, in succession,
the latter exclusively for the former. They are obliged to suppose
that man and woman were created simultaneously--the differentiation of
sex having gone on in the lower types for incomputable ages, causing
humanity to appear in its earliest rise as male and female. So,
instead of saying, "The man was not made for the woman, but the woman
for the man," they would affirm, "The man and the woman were equally
made for each other, to advance hand in hand to perfection." Those
who assume this scientific point of view, will see that the question
of the rights of woman, and her true relation to man, is to be
decided purely by a philosophical mastery of the expediency and
inexpediency, the essential right and wrong, in the facts of the
case. The question of the eligibility of woman to public life and
political prerogatives has nothing to do with her comparative
personal weakness; nothing to do with any supposed rule, given in an
ancient revelation; nothing to do with any supposition that man was
the first to be created and the second to sin, woman the second to be
created and the first to sin. Did priority of creation confer
authority to govern, then man should obey the lower animals; for they
were made before he was. Even Apostolic logic sometimes limps. The
question can be understood only by a correct perception of the will
of God, as indicated in the nature and destiny of progressive
humanity composed of male and female.

What, then, is the will of God, so indicated? Regarded as the two
halves of humanity, men and women are alike and equal. Their
unlikeness, when regarded as male and female, cannot destroy this
primary and fundamental equality, or vitiate any of the rights it
involves. Consequently, whatever belongs to humanity proper, belongs
equally to men and to women. Woman has an equal claim with man to
every thing permanently connected with the fulfilment of the human
destiny; that is, the full and harmonious exercise of the faculties
of human nature. The division into male and female, affecting not
their equality of rights, merely gives special fitnesses and duties
to each. Unquestionably, the higher nervous development and maternal
offices of woman relatively fit her for tenderness and domesticity:
the coarser muscular development and adventurousness of man
relatively fit him for hardihood and publicity. But this can furnish
no ground for subjecting one, and enthroning the other. It is a
reason for their equal co-operation in assimilating each other's best
qualities for their mutual and common perfection. Every thing that is
good should be granted to both: whatever is evil should not be sought
by either.

The true social desideratum at last is, not that women, equally with
men, assume the exercise of authority; but that men, equally with
women, forego the exercise of authority. The genuine perfection of
humanity, instead of being the enforced obedience of one half to the
other half, is the spontaneous obedience of both halves to the law of
God. The incomplete statement of Paul, "I suffer not a woman to usurp
authority," is supplemented by the far deeper word of Christ, "Ye
know that the princes of the Gentiles exercise dominion over them,
and they that are great exercise authority upon them. But it shall
not be so among you: whosoever will be great among you, let him be
your minister; and whosoever will be chief among you, let him be your
servant." This is the ideal of the future--that man shall no more have
authority to command than woman, everybody doing right voluntarily,
under the intrinsic sway of morality. Politics is the reign of force
by legislative sanctions: morality is the reign of affection by
social sanctions. The latter is pre-eminently the sphere of woman. Is
it her sole sphere, or is she also called to enter the other sphere?

One thing is clear; namely, that it is unjust for the laws to
discriminate against women on account of their actual exclusion from
political power. They ought to have the same legal rights as men to
earn, hold, and control property. Since they have the same interest
as man in the laws they live under, they are entitled, in some way,
either by their own voice or through others, to the same
consideration in the framing and execution of those laws.

Shall we go still further, and say that they ought to take an equal
part with men in the caucus, at the ballot-box, in the senate, at the
bar, on the bench, and elsewhere? If universal suffrage be the true
theory of government, then, logically, women are entitled to vote;
because they, equally with men, represent humanity. Every asserted
disqualification, on the ground of ignorance or preoccupation, is
sophistical; because the same plea would disqualify four-fifths of
the men too. If a government of all by all be the true theory, it is
a wrong to exclude women. If they are not fully qualified, they ought
to become qualified; and the only way to qualify them is to confess
their claim and begin their education. Either all should vote, or
merely those who are fitted: if merely those who are fitted, then
thousands of men would be shut out, thousands of women admitted.

The plea for the admission of women to political activity is often
met by the assertion, that they do not themselves wish it; that the
best women revolt with profound distaste from every thing of the
sort. But is this distaste a veracious instinct? or is it a
prejudice, owing to the ideal of feminine character and life, which
they have been educated to admire? Men have coveted a monopoly of
executive power, and held up passive obedience as the fittest type of
womanliness. Women, as a general rule, partake the prejudices, and
like to flatter the vanity, of the stronger sex. The question is not,
What do women desire? but, What ought they to desire? What is right
and best for them? The question must not be decided by any thing
extrinsic or accidental, any prejudices or fortuitous associations.

Every measure of intrinsic justice should be sustained despite of the
incidental evils which may be feared. The opinion that women would be
demoralized by voting, is no reason for withholding that right from
them, if it be a right. To become egotistic, clamorous, corrupt, and
brazen, is not a necessary accompaniment of political life; but is
the personal fault of those who become so, and just as much a vice in
men as in women, just as good a reason for recalling those from the
ballot-box, as for withholding these. There is no incompatibility
between the different realms of duty or of privilege.

What would be the effect of female voting? The physical womanliness
of woman essentially consists in wifehood and maternity. This, of
course, cannot be changed by any enlargement of her domain of
interests and activities. Her moral womanliness consists in modesty
and self-denial, the preponderance of disinterestedness over egotism.
Now, is there any real likelihood that the assumption by women of the
elective franchise, with its accompaniments, will destroy this type
of womanhood, universally acknowledged as the ideal of womanly beauty
and excellence? Is it not too well established in the authority of
the most cultivated souls, to be so easily shaken? It is the true
type, which, developed out of the historic progress in social
conditions, cannot be lost, but must be more confirmed and glorified
by the continued action, in the future, of the same causes which have
already produced it. Not the destruction of the most exalted moral
type of feminine character, rather its extension to masculine
character, is what is to be looked for in the changes of the future.
The greater the number of types of character exhibited to the public,
and the greater the facility of comparison between them, the more
sharply defined, and the more clearly recognized, will the best one
be. Will not a pure and noble woman, eminently fitted by her wisdom
and virtues for social influence, entering the political arena, set
an example there, adapted to make men revere her, assimilate to her,
and become themselves more modest, self-sacrificing, and
incorruptible? On the other hand, when she is unfitted and unworthy,
will not the reflection, in her, of their own vices of exasperated
rivalry, pride, and tyranny, appear doubly detestable? Then the
ideal, so far from being injured, would rather be improved--manly
responsibilities making the women less timid and foolish, contact
with womanly sentiment making the men less coarse and reckless. How
well this conclusion is sustained by sound probabilities, deserves to
be carefully weighed. No one should dogmatize on it.

In determining how far, if at all, women had best enter into the
sphere of public life, and take part in the functions of government,
there remains another consideration, which will be decisive with many
minds. It is drawn from the difference between those things which are
in themselves good, and therefore enduring parts of human life, and
those things which are merely provisional means to good--means
necessitated by existing evils, but destined gradually to lessen, and
finally to pass away. Were political government an intrinsic and
permanent end, an essential good of humanity, all, or at least all
who are qualified, should share in it; because every human being has
a right to a portion in every thing which is indispensable to the
completion of the human destiny. Liberty, culture, and work are
intrinsic and eternal elements of the human lot: women, therefore,
have as clear a claim to these as men. But government is not a good
in itself, is not an end. It is an evil attendant on human
wickedness, a means devised to prevent severer evils; an element of
decreasing proportions and of temporary duration. It is an artifice
which we wish to see lessen as fast as is safe, and to disappear as
soon as is possible.

Take the example of war. War is an evil, a transient incident in the
fortunes of humanity; therefore the fewer who take part in it, the
better. Women, being out of it, had best keep out of it. No one
desires to have women become soldiers. Mental and physical labor
will, as long as the world lasts, be a necessary part of the
experience of humanity; therefore men and women properly have a joint
heritage in its exactions and its privileges. But government is a
passing phase in the evolution of the social system: when men are
perfected, it will vanish in spontaneous obedience. War or crude
violence universally governed in the primitive society. Little by
little, this barbaric reign of force was encroached upon and
superseded by politics, the forms of statesmanship and legislation.
Then, little by little, the realm and rule of politics began to
shrink before the increasing sway of conscience, reason, and
sympathy, the personal law of justice and love, the intrinsic motives
appropriated by the private heart from society and religion. As war
has been narrowing and receding before politics, politics in turn
must narrow and recede before morality. The less need a nation has of
governmental interference for the securing of justice, the better off
that nation is. The smaller the number of persons engaged in working
that political mechanism, which is never productive, but merely
regulative, the better it would seem to be for the people. We do not
desire ever to see a woman occupy the office of a hangman, nor of a
prosecuting attorney, nor yet of an electioneering politician;
because, these being transient accompaniments of an imperfect
society, the desideratum is to have concentrated on them the interest
and energy of the smallest number competent to secure the needful
results of order. He who believes that a universal devotion to
politics would most speedily achieve the end of politics, namely, the
supersedure of its whole machinery by the arrival at a self-
rectifying observance of the conditions of private and public
welfare--must advocate the bestowment of legislative and other public
functions on women. Let all take part in voting and governing, for
the sake of more quickly reaching the time when none shall vote or
govern, but every one be a law unto himself. On the contrary, he who
believes that a universal rush into public life, forensic
controversy, party and personal rivalry, would exasperate the
interest, and prolong the dominion, of politics, must earnestly
recommend women to abstain from the struggle. Whatever logical right
they may have, he will think it best that they abandon that right,
and devote their zeal to the sphere of morality, whose elements are
the eternal concern of all humankind. A wider outbreak of plots and
cabals, an enlargement of the chase for notoriety and the scramble
for office, a more virulent division of neighbors and of families, a
new lease for the spirit of ambition and partisanship, would be an
evil of the deadliest fatality. Being out of politics, which is the
transient sphere of some, is it not best that woman keep out of it,
and devote herself to morality, which is the permanent sphere of all?
Here is furnished an honorable ground on which she may be, not shut
out of, but excused from, the province of government.

What is the ideal of perfect society? Is it a state where there is a
universal contention for notice, power, and honor? Then let women
enter that contest now. Is it a state where each is content with the
personal fruition of his own powers, in harmony with the same
enjoyment by all others? Then let women, by setting such an example
of abstinence from the public realm of politics, draw men also to
their true happiness, in "the realm of home and morals."

Turning from the authority of history to the authority of moral
science, there is no reason for the enslavement of woman to man. This
is not yet fully seen, because the historic type of woman as pure
subject, of man as pure sovereign, has sunk so deeply into the
imagination of both sexes. The Gentoo Code declared, "A woman ought
to burn herself alive on the funeral pyre of her husband." Body and
soul, she was a mere appendage to him. The Mosaic Code declared a
woman unclean eighty days after bearing a female child, but only
forty days after bearing a male child. One of the laws of Solon
forbade the Greek fathers and brothers from selling their daughters
and sisters as slaves; showing that such an infamous custom had been
prevalent. The passage of thousands of years had brought a degree of
physical emancipation to woman; but she still remained mentally
servile, when Catharine Parr said to her husband, Henry VII, "Your
majesty doth know right well, neither I myself am ignorant, what
great imperfection, by our first creation, is allotted to us women,
to be appointed as inferior and subject unto man as our head; and
that, as God made man in his own likeness, even so hath he made woman
of man, by whom she is to be governed." This type of unquestioning
subjection and obedience is depicted by Chaucer, after Boccaccio, in
his "Griselda," and by Tennyson in his "Enid." The husbands of these
most lovely and womanly of women try their temper, and their
subjectedness, by the most capricious, and the most cruel, tests.
They submit to every thing with unmurmuring sweetness and humility.
The true lesson of these charming stories is, that an inexhaustible
self-abnegation and obedience forms the most heavenly trait and power
of human nature. But it is a perversion to limit the application to
woman. Moral excellence is the same in man as in woman. It is an
outrage to make that meek submission to wrong, which shows so
divinely in her, a duty; and it is equally an outrage to make that
autocratic authority of man over woman, which he so complacently
assumes, a right. The progressive emancipation of woman, revealed in
history, will go on until she ceases to be, in any sense, "a mere
appendage of man," and they become mutually as independent as they
are mutually dependent.

It is very curious to study the extremes of dishonor and of honor, in
which women, as such, have been held, at different periods, under
various social conditions. In the Oriental world, in consequence of
the character fostered in them by despotism, they have always been
regarded by men with complacent condescension as toys, or with
distrust and scorn as vicious inferiors. In the Classic world, they
were always treated as far inferior to the other sex, and held up in
literature in the most odious light. Euripides was surnamed the
woman-hater, from the scorn with which he depicts the sex. The
comedies of Aristophanes are mercilessly sarcastic, in their
portrayals of women: his "Ecclesia" might be taken for a freshly
painted ironical picture of the "Woman's-rights Movement" of to-day.
And what a frightful picture of the Roman women Juvenal paints in his
"Sixth Satire "! In the Christian world, the pagan type of woman,
thought of as lower and wickeder than man, bore, for a long period,
an aggravated form, imparted by an intense theological dogma. The
theologians taught that woman--by the seduction of Adam and the
introduction of original sin, which led to the crucifixion of Christ--
was the guiltiest and worst of human beings, the Temptress of Man and
the Murderess of God. Hear how Tertullian raged against her: "She
should always be veiled, clothed in mourning and in rags; that the
eye may see in her a penitent, drowned in tears, and atoning for the
sin of having ruined the human race. Woman! thou art the gateway of

The condition of women in the East has been unfavorably affected by
polygamy, despotism, stagnant ignorance, their close confinement, and
the profound sensual element in their religion. Yet there are
exceptions to the rule there as well as elsewhere. It was a woman who
recited the "Arabian Nights' Entertainments" to the Sultan. Oriental
literature boasts many shining names of women. We have a pleasing
introduction to some of them in Garcia de Tassy's essay on "The
Female Poets of India." Ruckert's "Hamiisa," a collection of Arabic
poetry, contains specimens from fifty-five female poets of Arabia.
The genius of the Mohammedan saint, Rabia, has been given to fame by
her wonderful sayings, translated into many modern tongues. In spite
of these examples, however, the superiority of the condition of
Western women over Eastern is not only incontestable, but, as a
whole, incomparable.

The difference of the character of Jesus from that of Mohammed, and
the difference of the spirit which they showed in their personal
relations with women, would legitimate just the difference now
existing in the condition of women, respectively in Christian and
Mohammedan lands. Passing over other more notorious incidents, one
anecdote will illustrate this statement. After the battle of Bedr, a
Jewess of Medina, named Asma, wrote some satirical couplets against
Mohammed. Omeir, at dead of night, instigated by the prophet, crept
into the apartment where Asma, surrounded by her children, lay
asleep. Feeling stealthily with his hand, he removed her infant from
her breast, and plunged his sword into her bosom with such force that
it went through her back. The next morning, at prayers in the Mosque,
Mohammed said, "Hast thou slain the daughter of Marwan?" "Yes; but is
there cause of fear for what I have done?" The implacable prophet
replied, "None whatever: two goats will not knock their heads
together for it."

Lamartine says of the Armenians, with whom he was intimate at
Damascus, "I could not turn my eyes from these beautiful and graceful
women. Our visits and conversations were everywhere prolonged; and I
found them as amiable as they were lovely. The customs of Europe, the
dress and ways of the women of the West, were our chief topics. They
did not seem to envy the lives of our women; and, on observing the
grace, the amiability, the simplicity, the serenity of mind and heart
which they preserved in the seclusion of their domestic life, it
would be difficult to say what they could envy in our women of the
world, who, in the turmoil of society, waste in a few years their
beauty, their minds, and their health." And yet, allowing the utmost
for this greater calm and contentment, our women would lose a boon,
standing quite alone in its immense value, if they were to give up
that liberty which is so fast gaining them a full share in every real
privilege enjoyed by men. Christian women mingle on equal terms in
our social, literary, patriotic, and religious festivals. Hindu or
Mohammedan ladies are condemned merely to look in, through windows
grated with bamboo slats, on the preaching of the priests, and on the
banquets of their husbands. Perhaps our ignorance as to the facts,
and our prejudices as to the principle, exaggerate the actual evils
of polygamy in Asia. The most trustworthy travellers there testify
that not one man in ten can afford to maintain more than one wife;
and that not one in ten, of those who can afford it, will venture on
the trial, if they have a child by the first. Besides, the dreadful
mortality of wives in many parts of America--owing to excessive worry,
household drudgery, and rapid child-bearing--amounts to polygamy, only
it is successive instead of simultaneous.

But one privilege European and American women have, which they cannot
easily over-estimate; namely, their exemption from the irresponsible
despotism still exercised over a majority of their sisters. The whole
force of public opinion and of civil law is pledged for their
protection. In his travels in Khasmir, published in 1844, Vigne
relates this horrid incident, which happened within his own
knowledge. Mihan Singh, governor of Kabul, had a favorite wife, the
mother of his only son, who was accused of an intrigue. Her son,
fearing the worst, dashed his turban on the ground before his father--
the most imploring act an Oriental can use--and knelt, bareheaded, at
his feet. But the enraged husband was inexorable, and caused his
hapless wife to be baked alive. What a breadth of progress separates
us from the state of society in which such a deed could be done
openly, and without illegality, by a ruler! Can any woman be too
grateful that she stands on this side of that breadth instead of on
the other side? It is to be feared that her sex is not always mindful
enough of the duty of those who are free to be bravely sincere and
true. Deceit is proper to the slave. Liberty imposes frankness. The
Asiatic woman carefully covers her face, but leaves her legs naked,
and considers her European sister shameless in reversing this custom,
There are, however, more impenetrable veils than those outwardly put
on. When we compare the simplicity of the primitive ages of the East
with the guileful art and hardened worldliness of the fashionable
society of the West, we are tempted to think, that the more woman has
bared her face, the more she has masked her mind.

Truth requires us to qualify the view of the social condition of
women which we derive from the comic poets, from the later Greek
writers in general, and from the biting epigrams on women preserved
in the Greek Anthology. That qualification may be drawn from the
history of Sappho. The consenting conclusions of the best critical
scholars of recent times--as may be seen in such works as Smith's
"Dictionary of Greek and Roman Biography" and Miller's "Literature of
Ancient Greece,"--have cleared her name from the foul aspersions
thrown on it by the authors of a subsequent age, who interpreted her
life and works by the unclean standards of their own. "Not a line in
her fragments, rightly understood, can cast a cloud on her fair
fame." In her time, sensual and sentimental love were not distinctly
separated; and she expressed her passionate but pure sentiments with
a simple freedom and fervor afterwards grossly misconceived. It is to
a friend of her own sex that Sappho writes, "Equal to the gods seems
to me the man who sits opposite to thee, and watches thy sweet mouth
and charming smile. While I look at thee, my heart loses its force,
my tongue ceases to speak, a subtile fire glides through my veins,
and a rushing sound fills my ears." This mixture of feelings, this
carrying on of friendships between men, or between women, in the
language of passionate love, without the implication of any thing
corrupt, was a feature of the Greek character, unknown to nations of
a poorer and colder temperament. It seems, as is set forth by Miller,
in the fourth book of his "Dorians," that, in Lesbos, and some other
parts of Greece, female societies were formed, each under the lead of
some woman of distinguished genius, for the cultivation of poesy,
music, refinement and grace of manners, and the other elegant arts.
Girls were sent from distant cities, and even from foreign lands, to
be educated in these societies. Sappho was the head of one of them.
She calls her house, "The House of the Servant of the Muses." She
formed ardent friendships with many of her pupils. It is these
friendships which she celebrates in most of her poems. They reveal
the varied, affectionate intercourse sometimes known by the women of
classic Greece in their private apartments. The fragments which have
reached our day preserve, as the names of the choicest friends of
Sappho, Telesilla, Megara, Athis, Mnasidica; Anactoria, of Miletus;
Gongyla, of Colophon; Eunica, of Salamis; and Damophila, of
Pamphylia. The animosity of her allusions to her rivals, Gorgo and
Andromeda, shows that she could hate as vigorously as she loved, and
reminds us of the title of Middleton's tragedy, "Women, beware

In the world of modern civilization, the tendency is in the opposite
direction from that of the Oriental, Classic, and early Christian
worlds. It expresses reverence for woman as a moral superior. But the
chivalrous impulse to exalt woman above man is as mistaken as the
impulse to degrade her beneath him. Humanity is worshipful only as it
exhibits worshipful attributes; and these attributes have the same
rank, wherever they appear. A woman deserves to be honored above a
man only as she has more than he of the highest qualities of
humanity. The moment she demands precedence, the crown crumbles from
her brows in fragments of dark decay. This lesson is finely taught in
the ancient Hindu epic, the "Mahilbhiirata." As Radhika walked with
Krishna, her soul was elated with pride, and she thought herself
better than he; and she said, "O my beloved! I am weary, and I pray
you to carry me upon your shoulders." Krishna sat down and smiled,
and beckoned to her to mount. But, when she stretched forth her hand,
he vanished from her sight; and she remained alone, with outstretched
hand. Then Radhika wept bitterly.

The superiority ascribed to woman by fine minds in our era--a trait
conspicuous, when we look from Tibullus to Frauenlob, from Pindar to
Patmore--is often supposed to be her due, on account of some quality
inherent in her mere femineity. It should be seen to be a consequence
of the purer representation of goodness in her, by virtue of her
personal renunciation of the struggle for precedence. Her mission is
to set the example, and diffuse the spirit, of contented goodness--
goodness contenting itself with the universal growth of goodness. In
what way can she ever fulfil this mission, except by attracting man
likewise to withdraw from the selfish battle for social distinction,
and devote himself to the private attainment of personal perfection,
and the public benefaction of his race? The chivalric transference of
authority from man to woman is a striking instance of the propensity
of human nature to oscillate from one extreme to the other.

Some of the champions of the "rights of women," in our day,
apparently commit the error of inverting the real desideratum, which
is, to make men renounce and love like the finest women--not to make
women exact and fight like the coarsest men. They act as if they
thought men were both better and better off than women, and were to
be taken as models by them. But our hope lies in the saint, not in
the amazon. Woman, as seen in the Mary who sat at the feet of Christ,
brings a heavenly ministration to rescue man from every thing
discordant: woman, as seen in the Penthesilea who fought Achilles,
offers man but a perverted reflection of himself.

The common belief, that human life began in a paradisal state, is a
sentimental and mischievous error. The cradles of civilization are
full of murder. First, for a period of unknown duration, raged the
strife for precedence in physical power and its grossest symbols. In
civilized nations, this strife is now, for the most part, reduced to
boys and pugilists, who are always eager to try each other's
strength, and to crow above a thrown antagonist. Next came the strife
for precedence in social power, and its finer symbols of rank,
wealth, position, and fame. This strife may be traced in every record
of the past and present; is far more extensive, seductive, and
tenacious than the former; and has been left behind, as yet, only by
the saintliest exemplars of our race. The third period, the ideal
period which we now await, is one in which there shall be no strife
among mankind for comparative superiority over each other; but, in
place of it, a universal co-operating struggle for intrinsic personal
worth, a constant advancement in gaining the real prizes of being.
Then the wretched experiences of hate and jealousy, with their
thousandfold sins and pains, will rapidly lessen. There will be no
motives for envy and opposition, since the aims of men will be alike;
and the gain of each, so far from being a loss to the rest, will be a
gain to all. Let there be no strife for precedence, and all society
must be the wiser, purer, and happier for every spiritual gain made
by any member of it. Ambitious rivalry is wretchedness, and sure to
end in sickening disappointment. Disinterested aspiration, equally to
women and to men, is the benign mother of happiness.

We read in the Norse mythology, that the gods tied Loki, the
impersonation of the evil principle, to three sharp rocks, and hung a
snake over him in such a way, that its venom should drip on his face.
But, in this dreadful case, there was one who did not forsake him.
His wife Sigyn sat close by his head, and held a bowl to catch the
torturing drops. As often as the bowl was full, she emptied it with
the utmost haste; because, during that time, the drops struck on his
face, and made him scream with agony. Her patience in holding the
bowl, and her speed in emptying it, never failed. It is a forcible
emblem of the ministration of woman to man. But, for man to impose a
service of this nature on woman as her duty, is a cruel arrogance and
wrong. The voluntary spirit of such a service teaches the one lesson
which man himself needs to learn for his own salvation.

The laborious life of a statesman, a merchant, a banker, or a
mechanic, is not rewarded by tender emotions, but by power, applause,
or money. The heart of such a man, too often, gradually ossifies,
becomes insensible to those fine and noble fruitions which
imperatively demand leisure, and a steady lucid sensibility. The hard
devotions of an external utility devour the riches of the
imagination, and destroy the overflow of the affections. But the
woman, who, shielded from the harsh frictions of the world, makes her
soul a pure and still mirror of every form of celestial truth and
good, may well be an inspiring prophetess for those who reverence and
love her. Such a woman is, in some degree, a living representative of
that star-girt face of the Virgin Mary which the medieval Church
lifted into the night, and floated above the boiling nationalities of
Europe. A Poppiea drawn by mules shod with gold, five hundred asses
kept to supply her with baths of milk for the softening of her skin--
is the enemy--and disgrace of both sexes. The true type and glory of
the one sex, the admiration and salvation of the other, are displayed
in such an example as that of the last hours of Madame Roland, who,
riding in the death-cart to the guillotine, with an infirm and aged
man who was broken down with terror and grief, devoted herself with
heroic benevolence to comfort and sustain him. In order to spare him
the double agony of seeing her execution previous to his own, with a
sublime abnegation she refused the offered privilege of being the
first victim, soothed and supported the trembling old man, saw him
perish, then calmly bared her neck to the knife.

In one of De Tocqueville's letters to the illustrious Madame
Swetchine occurs a passage marked by rare insight and weight. The
noble writer urges that the clergy, without teaching special
political doctrines, ought to instill into their hearers certain
grand sentiments and loyalties, such as the feeling that every man
belongs more to collective humanity than he does to himself. He then
adds this impressive testimony: "During my somewhat long experience
of public life, nothing has struck me more than the influence of
women in developing public spirit--an influence the greater because
indirect. I do not hesitate to say, that they give to every nation a
moral temperament, which is shown in its politics. A hundred times I
have seen weak men becoming of real political value, because they had
by their side women who supported them, not by advice as to
particulars, but by fortifying their feelings, and directing their
ambition. More frequently, I must confess, I have seen the domestic
influence gradually transforming a man, naturally noble and generous,
into a cowardly, commonplace, selfish office-seeker, thinking of
public affairs merely as a means of making himself comfortable; and
this, simply by daily contact with a well-conducted woman, a faithful
wife, an excellent mother, from whose mind the grand notion of public
duty was entirely absent."

The hardening exposures, the gnawing jealousies, of overmuch
fashionable society, with its shallow and bitter emulations, do far
more to contract and sour the spirit of woman, to falsify and deprave
her heart, to belittle and spoil her mind, to degrade and veneer her
character, than any professional career can well be supposed to do.
It cannot be doubted, that many a woman, who displays herself, as
good as naked, in brilliant drawing-room assemblies, spends half her
existence in the frivolity of crowded dinners, suppers, and balls, is
more corrupted and bronzed than she could be by studying medicine,
theology, jurisprudence, or political economy, and taking a zealous
part in the affairs of her country. Let not the greater and nearer
evil be neglected in a prejudiced imagination of a lesser and remoter
one. Where do you find an exterior of politeness covering an interior
of indifference or guile? a flaming demonstrativeness in front of a
soul of ice? a beautiful show of nobleness and happiness, with a
haggard reality of weariness and woe underneath? In the glare and
fuss of society. And where do you find, purely shielded behind
manners all frost, a heart all celestial fire? under conditions of
unpretending simplicity, an experience ever fresh and serene, full of
joy and dignity, and endlessly progressive? In those who lead lives
of quiet sincerity and humility, consecrated to choice studies and
chosen friends. What sweet charm or commanding grandeur or satisfying
worth can be looked for in persons, the highest palpitations of whose
hearts are raised by the touches of pride, money, and vanity? More
patience, sincerity, studious seclusion, meditative consecration, and
steady sympathy are the foremost want of our age.

The two arts of letter-writing and conversation, invaluable both as
instruments of pleasure and of culture, seem to be dying out before
the encroachment of innumerable trifles, absorbing amusements,
tyrannical egotisms, and that pernicious flood of ephemeral
literature, whose varieties are daily spawned upon all tables. The
long, careful letters, full of thought, full of true personal
interest and earnest general sentiment, so common two or three
generations ago, are all but unknown now. There is no time left for

Conversation, too, has become the ghost of what it was. Where are the
famous talkers now? Where are the circles in which conversation is
carried on as the loftiest and richest of the social arts? The
sustained comparison of views, interchange and discussion of
opinions, accumulation of knowledge, argument, wit, sympathy, on
themes of intense interest and solemn import, once so common in
cultivated society, where all listened while each successively spoke,
have given way before the telegraph, the newspaper, the pamphlet, the
book, the platform, the swift diffusion of all information and the
incessant hurry of everybody. Letter-writing is an indirect exchange
of thoughts. Conversation is a personal exchange of life. The obvious
decline of the former is a great loss; the notorious decline of the
latter is a greater loss.

There is no way in which those women who are able to give the tone
and set the fashion in society, can do so much good as by endeavoring
to reinstate conversation, and to teach in every company the
nobleness of leisure and attention, that each one who speaks shall be
inspired to the fullest training of his best powers by the listening
expectation of the rest. No one can talk well amidst a rude jabber of
voices, or a perpetual succession of interruptions. Subtile thought,
sacred sentiment, eloquent emotion, and artistic speech, are coy:
they must have the encouragement of respectful audience. Conversation
becomes the crowning art and luxury of life, the most completely
satisfying of all employments, when groups of friends regularly meet,
under the rules of gracious breeding, with leisure, with confidence
in each other, with no jealous ambitions, no intolerant partisanship,
but with catholic purposes of improvement. Instead of such meetings
of choice friends, we now have mobs of people, drawn together by
every sort of factitious motive--crowds who crush each other's
dresses, desperately bow and smirk at each other; exchange
intolerable commonplaces, with unmeaning conventionality; affect to
listen to music, which no one can hear or would care for if he could
hear; mix all their buzzing voices in one oceanic roar; or, when
there is room, break up into whispering knots; then charge together
upon the supper-table, as if it were a fortress to be taken by storm,
and are unspeakably relieved when the assembly is over. As company is
held in fashionable society now, the talk is not tenaciously kept to
important themes, for ends of conviction, culture, light, or joy, but
is a hodge-podge of trifles, an incoherent succession of unconsidered
remarks. Each one speaks with his neighbor, regardless of all the
rest of the guests, as if it were an evil to be silent, or an
absurdity to expect that anybody could say any thing worth being
listened to by all. Some one has said, with much piquancy, "Lectures
are soliloquies reared on the ruins of conversation." Madame Mole
suggestively remarks, "At the Hotel Rambouillet conversation was the
all-sufficient amusement: we hear of neither cards nor music; for,
wizen the habit of changing all thoughts and sentiments into words
has become natural and easy, it offers so great a variety in itself
that society needs no other. That form of talk alone can be called
conversation in which what we really think and feel is called out,
and flows the quicker from the pleasure of seeing it excite thoughts
and feelings in others."

Those who, now-a-days, have a reputation as good talkers are rather
declaimers, haranguers, orators, than conversers. True
conversationalists seem to be nearly obsolete; because our social
gatherings, whether in the drawing-room or at the table, do not
furnish the needed conditions. To shine as a talker, one must
override others by sheer vociferation and monopoly, treading his way
amidst insincere applause and general dislike, over the injured self-
love of every one present, to the throne of monologue. Such a
condition is equally incompatible with what is best in character, in
manners, and in personal communion.

For the revival of conversation, an improvement of character is
necessary--a purification and deepening of the interior life. It grows
out of friendship and the fervor of noble interests. And to these the
fickleness and thinness of soul attendant on ignorance and
selfishness, as well as on miscellaneous dissipation, are fatal.

For sparks electric only strike
On souls electrical alike;
The flash of intellect expires
Unless it meet congenial fires.

There can be no deep and enduring union of human beings without
truthfullness, earnestness, aspiration. It is glorious for people to
meet who ascend to meet. For social conquests, as well as for private
content, the aggrandizement of individual character and experience is
the mightiest talisman. As with the increase of esteem and confidence
the spiritual veils are lifted, one by one, the person itself charms
because the soul is seen, and seen to be divine. Even in those
examples where beauty is the hook, grace is the bait, and virtue the
line, with which hearts are caught. When we see wisdom and goodness
the guests of another's eyes, love becomes the guest of our own. The
great evil of an excessive devotion to society and fashion is the
mechanical hollowness and insincerity it breeds--an evil as fatal to
happiness as it is to virtue. Economy of force is the governing
standard with those who are too constantly in contact with the world,
too much given to the spirit of crowded company and fashion.
Conscientious truthfullness, earnest discrimination, and a behavior
honestly adapted to the facts of feeling and duty, are too expensive,
would quickly drain to death the fop, the self-seeker, and the
coquette. Accordingly, indifference is the shield of polite society,
and affectation is the valve of artificial characters; but sincerity
of soul is the first charm of manners, and extent of sympathy is the
proper measure of happiness. The soul, dried and hardened by the heat
and wear of crowds, or exhausted by dissipation, measures its success
by how much it can exclude, how much it despises, how much it can
save; but the glory of youth, the joy of genius, the height and charm
of life, is the exuberance of the expenditure of force they can
afford. Their standard of success is how much their sympathies can
include, how much they can revere and love and serve. It is
littleness and misery to make a private hoard of the good of the
universe. The amount it lavishes measures the wealth of the rich and
happy soul. That will be a blessed day when we make our social
parties not for the purpose of ostentation or luxury, not to give
dinners or suppers in return for those to which we have been invited,
not to secure acquaintances who will aid in gratifying our external
ambition, but simply to enjoy the society of friends whom we honor
and love, to enhance our interior life by sincere spiritual
intercourse, the reflection of minds and hearts. Wherever human
beings meet, the bazaar of Fate stands open.

Another duty, closely allied with the foregoing, and especially
incumbent on the finest and highest women, is to improve the common
standard of good manners. This is a region of influence of momentous
importance, and for which the most honored and beloved women have a
pre-eminent adaptation by their beauty, grace, docility, and
sympathetic ease of self-sacrifice. To associate with a quick-witted
woman is an education. The last words of Madame Pompadour, addressed
to her withdrawing confessor, just before her final breath, were,
"Wait a moment, father; and we will go out together." In a democratic
age and country like ours, many causes are at work to lower the
average standard of manners by generating universal self-assertion,
arrogance, and irreverence. As compared with the gracious type of
chivalric manners exhibited in the best specimens of three or four
centuries ago, it must be confessed that sweetness of dignity,
abundance of courtesy, gentleness, magnanimity, have suffered badly.
No gentle and lofty mind can turn from the reading of Digby's "Broad
Stone of Honor" to that of Thackeray's "Book of Snobs," without deep
pain. Here is a field of influence superlatively fitted for the
activity of women, and worthy of the aspirations of the most favored
and admirable representatives of the sex. Opinions may ascend; but
manners descend.

The chief source of complacency to petty natures is in contemplating
the weaknesses of their superiors. Pride nourishes itself by gazing
on inferiors, and heightening the contrast. But the true habit of
virtue is to stoop graciously, to lift inferiors towards itself, and
to look reverentially on the merits of superiors, lifting itself with
aspiring docility towards them.

Among the people of the present age, there is no need of teaching the
lessons of social scorn or envy; but there is need of teaching the
lessons of disinterested reverence and aspiration. It must therefore
be a profitable service to hold up for the contemplation and study of
women the examples of the noble sway, the delightful charm exerted by
such women as the grand Duchess Louise of Weimar, Madame Récamier,
Madame Swetchine, or the Duchess of Orleans. Each one of these
deserves the homage of being patterned after:

For she was of that better clay
That treads not oft this earthly stage:
Such charmed spirits lose their way,
But once or twice into an age.

They seemed to shed dignity, wisdom, virtue, repose, and bliss around
them wherever they moved, and to put all persons in their debt by the
boons unconsciously emitted from their being and their manners. We
cannot hold too constant or too worshipful communion with such
characters: it is equally a culture and an enjoyment. The secret of
their divine skill is not flattery, but deferential treatment. They
take for granted, that their friends have noble qualities and
admirable aims, and treat them accordingly, with a respectful
attention which heightens the self-respect of its recipients. Neglect
is insolent, and contempt is injurious. He who suffers them is hurt
and lowered. One blessed magic there is, as guileless as it is
supreme. This charm, this witchcraft, is a sincere and honoring

Woman can more keenly than man "taste the pure enjoyment that results
from the mere growth and exercise of good feelings." Who so well as
she knows how much more true pleasure there is in one peaceful moment
of modest goodness than in all the excitement that waits on the gaudy
game of ambition? She is never so happy, as when doing most and
asking least.

The Duchess de Duras wrote to a friend, "Madame de Montcalm has been
sick: she is eaten up by politics: they are her vulture." To man,
genius is an instrument, which he must use to achieve triumphs: to
woman, it is a load, which she must transmute into blessings. Thus
far in human history, it has been much easier for the most gifted of
our race to be unhappy than to be happy; because happiness is an
equilibrium of inner powers and outer conditions, and the most
extraordinary gifts are surest to destroy or prevent that adjustment.
The divine remedy is self-sacrifice, self-detachment, and the
attuning of the soul by the laws of the ideal world, the perfect
state of society.

Poor and feeble souls exact most from the world. Rich and soaring
souls have a self-sufficing modesty, which, in its own exuberance,
asks but little from others. The lark, when, at sunrise, she rises,
singing, above our sight, shows that it was not from lack of power to
climb, that she made the humble choice to build her nest in the
grass. Here lies the most elect office of woman--to attract and train
men to the sober and blissful ends of wisdom and love, and withdraw
their passions from the wretched ends of folly, on which so many
waste their lives, in ploughing the air, sowing the sea, and trying
to catch the wind with a net. The redemption of the worst men will be
effected when they make voluntary acquisition of what the best women
possess by instinct, and spontaneously exhibit; namely, that
disinterested love of goodness, which is willing to give all and ask
nothing. Happy is he, and he alone safely happy, who gives affection
to his fellows, as the sun gives light to the creation. It receives
not directly back from single objects what it gives them; but, from
the whole, all that it radiates is returned. It is so with the good
man and his race. Persons may not return the reverence and love he
lavishes, but humanity will. For what is his total feeling towards
the collective individuals that constitute his race, except the
glorified reverberation from humanity, back into his experience, of
what his own soul has sent forth?

The call of woman, in this age, then, is not to be a brawling
politician, clamoring for her share in the authorities and honors of
the world, launching jokes, sarcasms, and sneers to the right and the
left. Clearly, her genuine work, beyond the family circle, is to set
an example of modest devotion to personal improvement and the social
weal. Sir Philip Sidney describes a horseman who "stirred the bridle
so gently, that it did rather distil virtue than use violence." That
is, in some sense, a type of the proper power of woman. It is her
heavenly mission to influence by yielding, rule by obeying, conquer
by surrender, and put the crowning grace of joy and glory on her sex
by ministering to the hurts and wants of humanity. Kindled by her
example, and compensated by her smile, man will aspire to complete
his highest destiny. Her destiny will be fulfilled with his, and in
it; his in hers, and with it. They cannot be really separated; since
woman as the inspirer and rewarder of man, in the most intense action
at the top of society, moulds him by her ideal of him reflected in
his imagination. Womanhood is by no means to be personified in the
exclusive aspect of a nurse; but as artist, teacher, law-giver,
queen, as well. The just personification of womanhood must include
the total aspects and offices of humanity. She has as good a claim as
man to them all. But let no hasty advocate insist on adding to the
totality of true and permanent features in that personification, any
of those vicious, accidental, and temporary features incident to the
imperfect stages through which humanity has been passing, and is
still passing, in its progressive evolution.

There is one respect, not often thought of, in which the various
ethnic pantheons, from those of the rawest barbarism to those of the
most intellectual civilization, possess deep interest and
instructiveness. Their leading personages, gods and goddesses, reveal
to us the chief types of human character from which they were
created. The heavens and hells of mythology are the higher and lower
reflections, or upward and downward echoes, of the earth; and the
supernatural beings who people them are idealizations of men and
women, more or less richly draped with attributes suggested by the
phenomena of the universe. The groups of feminine figures furnished
by mythology, therefore, afford a most striking exhibition of the
typical groups of women which must have been known in the
mythological ages of the world. Conceived in this way, with what
thoughtfullness we should contemplate the Graces, the Muses, the
Furies, the Fates, Nemesis, Vesta, Fortuna, Diana, Eris, Ceres, the
majestic port of Juno, the frosty splendor of Minerva, the melting
charm of Venus, the snaky horror of Medusa, Egvptian Isis, throned
among the stars, and Scandinavian Hela, crouching in her grisly

It is a characteristic of satirists, in every age, that they class
women together, as if they were all alike. Every fair view of the
subject shows how false such a conclusion is. There is more
freshness, subtilty, spontaneity, variety, in womanly characters than
in manly. Their range, between the extremes of the demure and the
hoydenish, is greater. The feminine types, Helen and Penelope, or
Clytemnestra and Antigone, are as distinct as the masculine types,
Agamemnon and Ulysses, or OEdipus and Philoctetes. The injustice of
the vulgar saying, "It is just like a woman," implying that there are
no differences among women, makes one indignant. Have we not seen
women to whom death seems an indignity--looking, in every feature and
glance, as immortal as Pallas Athene? And have we not seen women
whose hideous shape and fiendish spirit suggested an alliance with
antediluvian monsters? Is there not a Volumnia, as chaste as that
star seen in winter dawns shivering on the cold forehead of the
morning? And is there not a Messalina, who would receive embraces in
a bath of blood? Is there not a Fulvia, who takes the head of the
murdered Cicero in her hands, and tears his dumb tongue with her
bodkin? And are there not a Saint Elizabeth and a Lady Godiva,
capable of supernal deeds of self-denial and heroism for the sake of
blessing the poor? The personality of any one of the best
representatives of womanhood is as vivid and delicate as though
moulded from a sensitive leaf instead of clay; yet of such strength
as to be rich in frankness and courage, and sublime in patience. In
fact, the distinction of woman is as much greater than that of men
psychologically as it is physiologically. But her choicest vocation
must always lie in the domestic range of the personal relations, and
throughout the heights and depths of the spiritual life. Let her
become there all that the capacities of human nature prophesy, and
man will rapidly be perfected everywhere else.

The number of claimants contending for the prizes of society
increases. The facility of a shallow and momentary success become
greater; but the difficulty and rareness of a substantial and
enduring triumph grow in a higher ratio. The arena is crowded; the
battle is vulgar; the sufferings of the contestants are extreme; the
rewards sought are uncertain and disappointing. How quickly, in our
day, notoriety ends; and what a poor cheat it is! The passionate
aspirant for fame, as described so finely by Michelet, stands beside
the unknown sea of futurity, picks up a shell, lifts it to his ear,
and listens to a slight noise, in which he fancies he hears the
murmur of his own name! For solid dignity or pure contentment, no
life can compare with the one devoted to intrinsic personal ends, the
achievement of knowledge, harmony, and piety. Not the warrior,
Ambition, not the giant, Legislation, but the little child, Love, is
to lead in the golden age. She is the best woman who does most to
hasten the inauguration of that divine Child.

Thoughtful observers agree, that the most ominous characteristic of
the present age is, its complication of interests, its doubts, its
weariness, its frittering multiplicity of indulgences, cares, and
obligations. The best individual remedy for this evil is friendship.
Affectionate communion with a trusted and confiding friend, more than
any other experience, appeases the misgivings of conscience,
satisfies the vague searches of the mind, and gives peace to the
eternal cravings of our gregarious nature.

If ever the cry of the horse-leech shall cease to be the painful
language of the heart, it will be when, the longings of the heart no
longer baffled by the vacancies or the irritating rivalries of a
vapid and jealous society, all human beings developed enough to need,
and noble enough to deserve, shall also be fortunate enough to
possess, true friends with whom they may commune in unity of spirit
and mirrored doubleness of life. Gratified affection is the true
fruition of a spiritual existence. To hope and fear in the being of
another first gives us the fulfilled consciousness of our own.


*** End of this LibraryBlog Digital Book "The Friendships of Women" ***

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