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of administering to its necessities, are usefulness beyond our sphere of action, or our term of years: they go where we never went, and continue when we are found no longer. And though I will allow that this is not a woman's most common task, I cannot allow that what God has given, accepted, and blessed, can be out of the order of his provi. dence.”
Here I made up my mind to have a great deal of intellect.
“ If I granted your position on the subject of utility,” said Mrs. W., "I am afraid I should
prove the world very ungrateful by the remainder of my argument; which goes, you know, to prove the woman of distinguished talent less beloved than those who walk the ordinary paths of female duty. I must take the risk, however; for, of all women in the world, your women of genius are those I love the least; and, I believe, just or unjust, it is a very common feeling. We are not disposed to love our superiors in any thing, but least of all in intellect; one has always the feeling of playing an equal game, without being sure that no advantage will be taken of your simplicity. A woman who has the reputation of talent, is, in this respect, the most unfortunate being upon earth. She stands in society, like an European before a horde of savages, vainly endeavouring to signify his good intentions. If he approaches them, they run away; if he recedes, they send their arrows after him. Every one is afraid to address her, lest they expose to her penetration their own deficiencies. If she talks, she is supposed to display her powers; if she holds her tongue, it is attributed to contempt for the company. I know that talent is often combined with every amiable quality, and renders the character really
the more lovely; but not therefore the more beloved. It would, if known; but it seldom is known, because seldom approached near enough to be examined.
“ The simple-minded fear what they do not understand; the double-minded envy what they cannot reach. For my good, simple housewife, everybody loves her who knows her; and nobody who does not know her, trouble themselves about her. But place a woman on an eminence, and everybody thinks they are obliged to like or dislike her; and being too tenacious to do the one without good reason, they do the other without any reason at all. Before we can love each other, there must be sympathy, assimilation, and, if not equality, at least such an approach to it, as may enable us at least to under.
and each other. When any one is much superior to us, our humility shrinks from the proffers of her love, and our pride revolts from offering her our own. Real talent is always modest, and fears often to make advances towards affection, lest it should seem, in doing so, to presume upon itself: but having rarely the credit of timidity, this caution is attributed to pride. Your superior woman, therefore, will not be generally known or beloved by her own sex, among whom she may have many admirers, but few equals. I say nothing of marriage, because I am not speculating upon it for my child, as upon the chances of a well-played game; but it is certain that the greater number of men are not highly intellectual, and, therefore, could not wisely choose a highly intellectual wife, lest they place themselves in the condition in which a husband should not be, of mental inferiority."
“ Mrs. W.," answered her friend, “ I am aware
this is your strongest post; but I must not give ground without a battle. A great deal I shall yield you. I shall give up quantity, and stand upon the value of the remainder. Be it granted, then, that of any twenty people assembled in society, every one of whom will pronounce your common-place woman to be very amiable, very good, and very pleasing, ten shall pronounce my friend too intellectual for their taste; eight shall find her not so clever as they expected, and of the other two, one at least shall not be sure whether they like her or not. Be it granted, that of every five ladies assembled to gossip freely, and tell out their small cares and feelings to the sympathizing kindness of your friend, four shall become silent as wax-work on the entrance of mine. And be it granted, that of any
ten gentlemen to whom yours would be a very proper wife, not more than one could wisely propose himself to mine. But have I, therefore, lost the field ? Perhaps, she would tell you no: the two in twenty, the one in five or ten, are of more value in her estimation than all the number else.
Things are not apt to be valued by their abundance. On the jeweller's stall, many a brilliant trinket will disappear, ere the high-priced gem be asked for; but, is it, therefore, the less valued, or the less cared for? When beloved at all, she is loved permanently : for in the lapse of time, that withers the charm of beauty, and blights the simplicity of youth, her ornaments grow but the brighter for the wearing. If difficult to reach—like the deep mine, that the light adventurer abandons in discouragement, once penetrated, it will never be relinquished, because it cannot be exhausted. Those who, in the sunshine, amused themselves elsewhere, will come,
in the hour of danger, to seek shelter in her bosom, and, like the constant ivy, bind their weakness fondly round her strength. And how intense are the affections thus formed! Would she change them for the small likings of a multitude with whom she has few sentiments in common? In proportion to the depth of the intellect, I believe, is the depth of every thing: feelings, affections, pleasures, pains, or what. ever else the enlarged capacity conceives. It is difficult, perhaps, for an inferior mind to estimate what a superior mind enjoys in the reciprocation of affection. Attachment, with ordinary persons, is enjoyed to-day, and regretted to-morrow, and the next day replaced and forgotten: but with these it can never be forgotten, because it can never be replaced.”
As the argument, thus terminated, converted neither party, it is needless to say it left me in suspense. Mrs. W. was still determined her child should not be a superior woman. Mrs. A. was still resolved her child should be at all ventures; and I was still undetermined whether I would endeavour to be a learned woman or not. The little Fanny laughed aloud, opened her large round eyes, and shouted, 66 So I will, mamma !” The little Jemima coloured to the ends of her fingers, and lowered still farther the lashes that veiled her eyes.
My essay has already reached its customary length. Shall I be excused, if I, for once, transgress, and prolong it yet considerably ? For I, like Solomon, though neither so wise nor so old, have seen the end of many things; as well as the beginning: and of this
many I have seen Fanny and Jemima brought up in pursuance of their parent's determination : they have become women, and I have seen the results. But when I consider that there is all