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licate forms of insects ; the trembling shadows of boughs and leaves dancing on the ground in the highest noon ; these were to me perfect pleasures of which the imagery now in my mind is distinct. Wordsworth's poem of The Daffodils,' the one beginning
• I wandered lonely as a cloud,' may appear to some unintelligible or overcharged, but to me it was a vivid truth, a simple fact; and if Wordsworth had been then in my hands I think I must have loved him. It was this intense sense of beauty which gave the first zest to poetry: I loved it, not because it told me what I did not know, but because it helped me to words in which to clothe my own knowledge and perceptions, and reflected back the pictures unconsciously hoarded up in my mind. This was what made Thomson's "Seasons' a favourite book when I first began to read for my own amusement, and before I could understand one half of it ; St. Pierre's • Indian Cottage' (La Chaumière Indienne') was also charming, either because it reflected my dreams, or gave me new stuff for them in pictures of an external world quite different from that I inhabited, -palm-trees, elephants, tigers, dark-turbaned men with flowing draperies; and the Arabian Nights' completed my Oriental intoxication, which lasted for a long time.
I have said little of the impressions left by books, and of my first religious notions. A friend of mine had once the wise idea of collecting together a variety of evidence as to the impressions left by certain books on childish or immature minds : if carried out, it would have been one of the most valuable additions to educational experience ever made. For myself I did not much care about the books put into my hands, nor imbibe much information from them. I had a great taste, I am sorry to say, for forbidden books; yet it was not the forbidden books that did the mischief, except in their being read furtively. I remember impressions of vice and cruelty from some parts of the Old Testament and Goldsmitii's • Ilistory of England,' which I shudder to recall. Shakspeare was on the forbidden shelf. I had read him all through between seven and ten years old. He never did me any moral mischief. He never soiled my mind with any
disordered image. What was exceptionable and coarse in language I passed by without attaching any meaning whatever to it. How it might have been if I had read Shakspeare first when I was fifteen or sixteen, I do not know ; perhaps the occasional coarsenesses and obscurities might have shocked the delicacy or puzzled the intelligence of that sensitive and inquiring age. But at nine or ten I had no comprehension of what was unseemly ; what might be obscure in words to wordy commentators, was to me lighted up by the idea I found or interpreted for myself—right or wrong
No; I repeat, Shakspeare_bless him !-never did me any moral mischief. Though the Witches in Macbeth troubled me,-though the Ghost in Hamlet terrified me (the picture that is,-for the spirit in Shakspeare was solemn and pathetic, not hideous)—though poor little Arthur cost me an ocean of tears,-yet much that was obscure, and all that was painful and revolting was merged on the whole in the vivid presence of a new, beautiful, vigorous, living world. The plays which I now think the most wonderful produced comparatively
little effect on my fancy : Romeo and Juliet, Othello, Macbeth, struck me then less than the historical plays, and far less than the Midsummer Night's Dream and Cymbeline. It may be thought, perhaps, that Falstaff is not a character to strike a child, or to be understood by a child :—no; surely not. To me Falstaff was not witty and wicked-only irresistibly fat and funny; and I remember lying on the ground rolling with laughter over some of the scenes in Henry the Fourth,—the mock play, and the seven men in buckram. But The Tempest and Cymbeline were the plays I liked best and knew best.
Altogether I should say that in my early years books were known to me, not as such, not for their general contents, but for some especial image or picture I had picked out of them and assimilated to my own mind and mixed up with my own life. For example, out of Homer's Odyssey (lent to me by the parish clerk) I had the picture of Nasicaa and her maidens going down in their chariots to wash their linen: so that when the first time I went to the Pitti Palace, and could hardly see the pictures through blinding tears, I saw that picture of Rubens, which all remember who have been at Florence, and it flashed delight and refreshment through those re. membered childish associations. The Syrens and Polypheme left also vivid pictures on my fancy. The Iliad, on the contrary, wearied me, except the parting of Hector and Andromache, in which the child, scared by its father's dazzling helm and nodding crest, remains a vivid image in my mind from that time.
The same parish clerk-a curious fellow in his way,-lent me also some religious tracts and stories by Hannah More. It is most certain that more moral mischief was done to me by some of these than by all Shakspeare's plays together. These so-called pious tracts first introduced me to a knowledge of the vices of vulgar life, and the excitements of a vulgar religion,—the fear of being hanged and the fear of hell became coexistent in my mind; and the teaching resolved itself into this,—that it was not by being naughty, but by being found out, that I was to incur the risk of both. My fairy world was better!
About Religion :-I was taught religion as children used to be taught it in my younger days, and are taught it still in some cases, I believe-through the medium of creeds and catechisms. I read the Bible too early, and too indiscriminately, and too irreverently. Even the New Testament was too early placed in my hands; too early made a lesson book, as the custom then was, The letter of the Scriptures—the words were familiarised to me by sermonising and dogmatising, long before I could enter into the spirit. Meantime, happily, another religion was growing up in my heart, which, strangely enough, seemed to me quite apart from that which was taught, which, indeed, I never in any way regarded as the same which I was taught when I stood up wearily on a Sunday to repeat the collect and say the catechism. It was quite another thing. Not only the taught religion and the sentiment of faith and adoration were never combined, but it never for years entered into my head to combine them; the first remained extraneous, the latter had gradually taken
root in my life, even from the moment my mother joined my little hands in prayer. The histories out of the Bible (the Parables es. pecially) were, however, enchanting to me, though my interpretation of them was in some instances the very reverse of correct or orthodox. To my infant conception our Lord was a being who had come down from heaven to make people good, and to tell them beautiful stories. And though no pains were spared to indoctrinate me, and all my pastors and masters took it for granted that my ideas were quite satisfactory, nothing could be more confused and heterodox.”
“ Educators are not always aware, I think, how acute are the perceptions, and how permanent the memories of children. I remember experiments tried upon my temper and feelings, and how I was made aware of this, by their being repeated, and, in some in. stances, spoken of, before me. Music, to which I was early and peculiarly sensitive, was sometimes made the medium of these experiments. Discordant sounds were not only hateful, but made me turn white and cold, and sent the blood backward to my heart; and certain tunes had a curious effect, I cannot now account for: for though, when heard for the first time, they had little effect, they became intolerable by repetition; they turned up some hidden emotion within me too strong to be borne. It could not have been from association, which I believe to be a principal element in the emotion excited by music. I was too young for that. What associations could such a baby have had with pleasure or with pain? Or could it be possible that associations with some former state of existence awoke up to sound? That our life •hath elsewhere its beginning, and cometh from afar,' is a belief, or at least an instinct, in some minds, which music, and only music, seems to thrill into consciousness. At this time, when I was about five or six years old, Mrs. Arkwright-she was then Fanny Kemble, used to come to our house, and used to entrance me with her singing. I had a sort of adoration for her, such as an ecstatic votary might have for a Saint Cecilia. I trembled with pleasure when I only heard her step. But her voice l-it has charmed hundreds since ; whom has it ever moved to a more genuine passion of delight than the little child that crept silent and tremulous to her side? And she was fond of me,-fond of singing to me, and, it must be confessed, fond also of playing these experiments on me. The music of • Paul and Virginia' was then in vogue, and there was one air-a very simple air-in that opera, which, after the first few bars, always made me stop my ears and rush out of the room. I became at last aware that this was sometimes done by particular desire to please my parents, or amuse and interest others by the display of such vehement emotion. My infant conscience became perplexed between the reality of the feeling and the exhibition of it. People are not always aware of the injury done to children by repeating before then things they say, or des scribing things they do: words and actions, spontaneous and uncon. scious, become thenceforth artificial and conscious. I can speak of the injury done to myself, between five and eight years old. There was some danger of my becoming a precocious actress,-danger of permanent mischief such as I have seen done to other children,
but I was sared by the recoil of resistance and resentment excited in my mind.
This is enough. All that has been told here refers to a period between five and ten years old."
Growing up thus, in all the refined natural tastes of a very woman, Mrs. Jameson has become the mental anatomist of
It must be acknowledged, that whilst claiming their fullest and highest position in the ranks of human nature, she has never become, in the most remote degree, a woman's right advocate. With ability of the highest order ; gifted with energy of mind, and endowed with great and eloquent powers of expression, she has always been mindful of the truth, that the qualities making woman glorious, and equal to man, are not the qualities wbich induce women to demand equality with men.
We have, from this book, selected, and here inserted, in order, the passages scattered through its pages, and expressing Mrs. Jameson's opinions on all the subjects relating to her own sex noted by her :
“ Among the absurdities talked about women, one hears, perhaps, such an aphorism as the following, quoted with a sort of ludicrous complacency,— The woman's strength consists in her weakness !' as if it were not the weakness of a woman which makes her in her vio. lence at once so aggravating and so contemptible, in her dissimulation at once so shallow and so dangerous, and in her vengeance at once so cowardly and so cruel.
I should not say, from my experience of my own sex, that a wo. man's nature is flexible and impressive, though her feelings are.
I know very few instances of a very inferior man ruling the mind of a superior women, whereas I know twenty-fifty-of a very inferior woman ruling a superior man. If he love her, the chances are that she will in the end weaken and demoralise him. If a superior woman marry a vulgar or inferior man he makes her miserable, but he seldom governs her mind, or vulgarises her nature, and if there be love on his side the chances are that in the end she will elevate and refine him.
The most dangerous man to a woman is a man of high intellectual endowments morally perverted; for in a woman's nature there is such a necessity to approve where she admires, and to believe where she loves,--a devotion compounded of love and faith is so much a part of her being,--that while the instincts remain true and the feelings uncorrupted, the conscience and the will may both be led far astray. Thus fell our general mother,' type of her sex,overpowered, rather than deceived, by the colossal intellect,-half serpent, half angelic.
Coleridge speaks, and with a just indignant scorn, of those who consider chastity as if it were a thing-a thing which might be lost or kept by external accident-- a thing of which one might be robbed,
instead of a state of being. According to law and custom, the chastity of Woman is as the property of Man, to whom she is accountable for it, rather than to God and her own conscience. Whatever people may say, such is the common, the social, the legal view of the case.
It is a remnant of oriental barbarism. It tends to much vice, or, at the best, to a low standard of morality, in both sexes. This idea of property in the woman survives still in our present social state, particularly among the lower orders, and is one cause of the ill treatment of wives. All those who are particularly acquainted with the manners and condition of the people will testify to this ; namely, that when a child or any weaker individual is ili treated, those standing by will interfere and protect the victim, but if the sufferer be the wife of the oppressor, it is a point of etiquette to look on, to take no part in the fray, and to leave the brute man to do what he likes with his own.' Even the victim herself if she be not pummelled to death, frequently deprecates such an interference with the dignity and the rights of her owner. Like the poor woman in the · Médecin malgré lui : — Voyez un peu cet impertinent qui veut empêcher, les maris de battre leurs femmes !—et si je veux qu'il me batte, moi ?'— and so ends by giving her defender a box on the
• I observe,' said Sydney Smith, that generally about the age of forty, women get tired of being virtuous and men of being honest.' This was said and received with a laugh as one of his good things; but, like many of his good things, how dreadfully true? And why? because, generally education has made the virtue of the woman and the honesty of the man a matter of external opinion, not a law of the inward life.
Dante, in his lowest hell, has placed those who have betrayed women; and in the lowest deep of the lowest deep those who have betrayed trust.
Inveterate sensuality, which has the effect of utterly stupifying and brutifying lower minds, gives to natures more sensitively or more powerfully organised a horrible dash of ferocity. For there is an awful relation between animal blood-thirstiness and the proneness to sensuality, and in some sensualists a sort of feline propensity to tor. ment and lacerate the prey they have not the appetite to devour.
Our present social opinion says to the man, “ You may be a vulgar brutal sensualist, and use the basest means to attain the basest ends; but so long as you do not offend against conventional good manners you shall be held blameless.' And to the woman it says, 'You shall be guilty of nothing but of yielding to the softest impulses of tenderness, of relenting pity ; but if you cannot add hypocrisy you shall be punished as the most desperate criminal.'
Miiton's Eve is the type of the masculine standard of perfection in woman; a graceful figure, an abundance of fine hair, much coy submission, and such a degree of unreasoning wilfulness as shall risk perdition.
And the woman's standard for the man is Adam, who rules and demands subjection, and is so indulgent that he gives up to blandishment what he would refuse to reason, and what his own reason condemns.