Imágenes de páginas
PDF
EPUB

It is therefore that I would have woman lay aside all thought, such as she habitually cherishes, of being taught and led by men. I would have her, like the Indian girl, dedicate herself to the Sun, the Sun of Truth, and go no where if his beams did not make clear the path. I would have her free from compromise, from complaisance, from helplessness, because I would have her good enough and strong enough to love one and all beings, from the fulness, not the poverty of being.

Men, as at present instructed, will not help this work, because they also are under the slavery of habit. I have seen with delight their poetic impulses. A sister is the fairest ideal, and how nobly Wordsworth, and even Byron, have written of a sister.

There is no sweeter sight than to see a father with his little daughter. Very vulgar men become refined to the eye when leading a little girl by the hand. At that moment the right relation between the sexes seems established, and you feel as if the man would aid in the noblest purpose, if you ask him in behalf of his little daughter. Once two fine figures stood before me, thus. The father of very intellectual aspect, his falcon eye softened by affection as he looked down on his fair child, she the image of himself, only more graceful and brilliant in expression. I was reminded of Southey's Kehama, when lo, the dream was rudely broken. They were talking of education, and he

said,

“ I shall not have Maria brought too forward. If she knows too much, she will never find a husband ; superior women hardly ever can.”

Surely,” said his wife, with a blush, “you wish Maria to be as good and wise as she can, whether it will help her to marriage or not."

“ No," he persisted, “I want her to have a sphere and a home, and some one to protect her when I am gone.”

It was a trifling incident, but made a deep impression. I felt that the holiest relations fail to instruct the unprepared and perverted mind. If this man, indeed, would have looked at it on the other side, he was the last that would have been willing to have been taken himself for the home and protection he could give, but would have been much more likely to repeat the tale of Alcibiades with his phials.

But men do not look at both sides, and women must leave off asking them and being influenced by them, but retire within themselves, and explore the groundwork of being till they find their peculiar secret. Then when they come forth again, renovated and baptized, they will know how to turn all dross to gold, and will be rich and free though they live in a hut, tranquil, if in a crowd. Then their sweet singing shall not be from passionate impulse, but the lyrical overflow of a divine rapture, and a new music shall be elucidated from this many-chorded world.

Grant her then for a while the armor and the javelin. Let her put from her the press of other minds and meditate in virgin loneliness. The same idea shall reappear in due time as Muse, or Ceres, the all-kindly, patient EarthSpirit.

I tire every one with my Goethean illustrations. But it cannot be helped.

Goethe, the great mind which gave itself absolutely to the leadings of truth, and let rise through him the waves which are still advancing through the century, was its intellectual prophet. Those who know him, see, daily, his thought fulfilled more and more, and they must speak of it, till his name weary and even nauseate, as all great names have in their time. And I cannot spare the reader, if such there be, his wonderful sight as to the prospects and wants of women.

As his Wilhelm grows in life and advances in wisdom, he becomes acquainted with women of more and more character, rising from Mariana to Macaria.

Macaria, bound with the heavenly bodies in fixed revolutions, the centre of all relations, herself unrelated, expresses the Minerva side.

Mignon, the electrical, inspired lyrical nature.

All these women, though we see them in relations, we can think of as unrelated. They all are very individual, yet seem nowhere restrained. They satisfy for the present, yet arouse an infinite expectation.

The economist Theresa, the benevolent Natalia, the fair Saint, have chosen a path, but their thoughts are not narrowed to it. The functions of life to them are not ends, but suggestions.

Thus to them all things are important, because none is

necessary. Their different characters have fair play, and each is beautiful in its minute indications, for nothing is enforced or conventional, but everything, however slight, grows from the essential life of the being.

Mignon and Theresa wear male attire when they like, and it is graceful for them to do so, while Macaria is confined to her arm chair behind the green curtain, and the Fair Saint could not bear a speck of dust on her robe.

All things are in their places in this little world because all is natural and free, just as “there is room for everything out of doors." Yet all is rounded in by natural harmony which will always arise where Truth and Love are sought in the light of freedom.

Goethe's book bodes an era of freedom like its own, of “extraordinary generous seeking," and new revelations. New individualities shall be developed in the actual world, which shall advance upon it as gently as the figures come out upon his canvass.

A profound thinker has said “no married woman can represent the female world, for she belongs to her husband. The idea of woman must be represented by a virgin.”

But that is the very fault of marriage, and of the present relation between the sexes, that the woman does belong to the man, instead of forming a whole with him. Were it otherwise there would be no such limitation to the thought.

Woman, self-centred, would never be absorbed by any relation; it would be only an experience to her as to man. It is a vulgar error that love, a love to woman is her whole existence; she also is born for Truth and Love in their universal energy. Would she but assume her inheritance, Mary would not be the only Virgin Mother. Not Manzoni alone would celebrate in his wife the virgin mind with the maternal wisdom and conjugal affections. The soul is ever young, ever virgin.

And will not she soon appear? The woman who shall vindicate their birthright for all women ; who shall teach them what to claim, and how to use what they obtain ? Shall not her name be for her era Victoria, for her country and her life Virginia ? Yet predictions are rash ; she herself must teach us to give her the fitting name.

THE YOUTH OF THE POET AND THE PAINTER.

LETTER I.

EDWARD ASHFORD TO JAMES HOPE.

Do you

Lovedale. DEAR Hope,

I have been a week in this beautiful place. I am glad to fly the round of forms for the breath of the green

fields This sweet spot was carved, by the Spirit of beauty, for a fairer race than mortals ; and if I am not happy, it is that I wander alone, with the faithless figures of hope to light the path. I believe in solitude, with one friend. remember our week at Hillsborough, and those homelike evenings, after our tramps up the mountains, and our strolls in the meadows ? What a peculiar sympathy is that which can tolerate society at such seasons; and I believe I shall never meet another, with whom I shall be so willing to wander, as with you. Have you sailed much on the inland rivers?

When we wandered, we did not use the stream, so smoothly gliding at the foot of purple mountains, but I spend much time in my boat now. I love its motion, and pass among the trees, free from being entangled in the branchés, and rustle the long grass of the morass in dry shoes. The leafy walls on each side produce new combinations of shade, picturesque and artistical, and their reflections double the forest, with the clouds brought so low, that I fear the actual woods may lose part of their pleasure, when I again tread their recesses. This spot combines the attraction of two rivers. The larger, in contrast with the less, seems almost a sea, from its high banks. The sunset, streaming across the water, reminds me of the ocean. There is a wildness, in the larger river, that would better suit you, than my little boating-ground; the woods, on the lofty shores, are bold and massive, and the hills soar into the sky. When the wind blows fresh, there are waves, and the sailboats dash through the foam, as if the mimicry of the sea acted on their keels, and excited them with its life.

My little skiff dares not tempt the flow of the large river, and winds its way on the tranquil bosom of the Willow,

for this is the name given to the little stream, from many groups of this graceful tree, floating on the margin. I am sheltered from storms in a cove, circled with trees, where the banks nod with white and red flowers; my caverns are roofed with leaves and brown branches, and, instead of seagulls, I have robins and thrushes sweeping over the crags of verdure, and the blue king-fisher glances between the two skies, and calls shrilly to me. If I feel the wind, it is in the mimic rain pattering in the leaves, or see the tiny waves frolic below me, where the forest opens.

I never hear better music than listening to these songs on the river. I wish I had your talent, and could bring these scenes home in a sketch-book, or was poet enough to express my acquaintance with this delightful river, in verse. He, who can do this, need not ask men to give; nature has enriched him. I suppose his poetry is more valuable to the poet, than to his auditors, and I wonder at his sensitiveness, and delicacy, as to his productions. It is enough for him to embalm the world in human affection, for himself.

At some distance, from the mill where I live, up the Willow, is a sand-bank, covering some acres, on which not a tree grows, nor a blade of grass. I came to it, fresh from reading some African travels, and felt I had discovered a little Sahara, in these green plains. Though it was noon, I wandered over it, in a festive mood, and if the soles of my shoes did not burn, I felt the solid heat.

I have no doubt, you will dub me African traveller, and claim me for a second Ledyard, whom you used greatly to admire, and say there had been no other modern man of a similar character. I am sitting on this sand-bank, and writing my letter, just on its edge, under the shade of an oak, whose glossy leaves shine in the sun. The broad fields of sand are everywhere covered with warmth, yet nothing grows; if you dig down only two inches, how damp and cłammy is the soil. I have found some Indian arrow-heads upon it, and I see various shining insects hopping about.

Have you been much in a mill? It is a domestic place. There is an honest tone in the spinning stones, the impersonation of a loaf of bread; it is a speech of power besides, rolling and whirling. The beams, coated with dust, glow like dead alabaster, and every spider's web is made from white yarn. Even at noon, the

VOL. IV.

NO. I.

« AnteriorContinuar »