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There is another characteristic of women of our practical force, of the force which dis not peculiar to them, for many men have it in covers and originates, is due to our common an astonishing degree, and yet more general habit of analytical observation; yet it is in the female sex than in the male: I allude scarcely too much to say that most of our into the absence of scientific curiosity. Ladies ventions have been suggested by actually or see things of the greatest wonder and interest intellectually pulling something else in pieces. working in their presence and for their ser- And such of our discoveries as cannot be vice without feeling impelled to make any in- traced directly to analysis are almost always quiries into the manner of their working. I due to habits of general observation which could mention many very curious instances lead us to take note of some fact apparently of this, but I select one which seems typical. quite remote from what it helps us to arrive Many years ago I happened to be in a room at. One of the best instances of this indirect filled with English ladies, most of whom were utility of habitual observation, as it is one of highly intelligent, and the conversation hap-| the earliest, is what occurred to Archimedes pened to turn upon a sailing-boat which be- in his bath. When the water displaced by longed to me. One of the ladies observed his body overflowed, he noticed the fact of that sails were not of much use, since they displacement, and at once perceived its applicould only be available to push the boat in cability to the cubic measurement of complithe direction of the wind; a statement which cated bodies. It is possible that if his mind all the other ladies received with approbation. had not been exercised at the time about the Now, all these ladies had seen ships working adulteration of the royal crown, it would not under canvas against head-winds, and they have been led to anything by the overflowing might have reflected that without that por- of his bath; but the capacity to receive a sugtion of the art of seamanship every vessel un- gestion of that kind is, I believe, a capacity provided with steam would assuredly drift exclusively masculine. A woman would have upon a lee-shore; but it was not in the fem- noticed the overflowing, but she would have inine nature to make a scientific observation noticed it only as a cause of disorder or inof that kind. You will answer, perhaps, that convenience. I could scarcely expect ladies to investigate This absence of the investigating and dismen's business, and that seamanship is essen- covering tendencies in women is confirmed tially the business of our own sex. But the by the extreme rarity of inventions due to truth is, that all English people, no matter of women, even in the things which most interwhat sex, have so direct an interest in the est and concern them. The stocking-loom maritime activity of England, that they might and the sewing-machine are the two invenreasonably be expected to know the one pri- tions which would most naturally have been mary conquest on which for many centuries hit upon by women, for people are naturally that activity has depended, the conquest of inventive about things which relieve themthe opposing wind, the sublimest of the early selves of labor, or which increase their own victories of science. And this absence of possibilities of production; and yet the stockcuriosity in women extends to things they ing-loom and the sewing-machine are both of use every day. They never seem to want to them masculine ideas, carried out to practical know the insides of things as we do. All efficiency by masculine energy and perseladies know that steam makes a locomotive verance. So I believe that all the improve go; but they rest satisfied with that, and do ments in pianos are due to men, though womnot inquire further how the steam sets the en have used pianos much more than men wheels in motion. They know that it is nec- have used them. essary to wind up their watches, but they do This, then, is in my view the most impornot care to inquire into the real effects of that tant negative characteristic of women, that little exercise of force.
they do not push forwards intellectually by Now this absence of the investigating spirit their own force. There have been a few inhas very wide and important consequences. stances in which they have written with The first consequence of it is that women do power and originality, have become learned, not naturally accumulate accurate knowl- and greatly superior, no doubt, to the majoredge. Left to themselves, they accept various ity of men. There are three or four women kinds of teaching, but they do not by any in England, and as many on the Continent analysis of their own either put that teaching who have lived intellectually in harness for to any serious intellectual test, or qualify many years, and who unaffectedly delight in themselves for any extension of it by inde- strenuous intellectual labor, giving evidence pendent and original discovery. We of the both of fine natural powers and the most permale sex are seldom clearly aware how much severing culture; but these women have usually been encouraged in their work by some samples of men earning a large income by a near masculine influence. And even if it laborious profession, who have gained repuwere possible, which it is not, to point to tation in one of the sciences or in some some female Archimedes or Leonardo da branch of literature, but these are very exVinci, it is not the rare exceptions which con- ceptional cases. A man who works at his cern us, but the prevalent rule of Nature. profession as most Englishmen with large Without desiring to compare our most families have to work, can seldom enjoy that learned ladies with anything so disagreeable surplus of nervous energy which would be to the eye as a bearded woman, I may ob- necessary to carry him far in literature or serve that Nature generally has a few excep-science. I remember meeting an English tions to all her rules, and that as women hav- tradesman in the railway between Paris and ing beards are a physical exception, 80 wom- the coast, who told me that he was obliged to en who naturally study and investigate are visit France very frequently, yet could not intellectual exceptions. Once more let me speak French, which was a great deficiency repudiate any malicious intention in estab- and inconvenience to him. “Why not learn?" lishing so unfortunate and maladroite an as- I then asked, and received the following ansociation of ideas, for nothing is less agreea- swer: ble than a woman with a beard, whilst, on “I have to work at my business all day the contrary, the most intellectual of women long, and often far into the night. When may at the same time be the most perma- the day's work is over I generally feel very nently charming.
tired, and want rest; but if I don't happen to feel quite so tired, then it is not work that I need, but recreation, of which I get very lit
tle. I never feel the courage to set to work LETTER V.
at the French grammar, though it would be TO A YOUNG GENTLEMAN WHO CONTEMPLATED
both pleasant and useful to me to know
French; indeed, I constantly feel the want of MARRIAGE.
it. It might, perhaps, be possible to learn The danger of deviation-Danger from increased expenditure from a phrase-book in the railway train, but -Nowhere so great as in England-Complete absorption to sova timal olwovo travel at night
to save time I always travel at night. Being
Reino in business Case of a tradesman-Case of a solicitorThe pursuit of comfort dangerous to the Intellectual Life a married man, I have to give my whole at-The meanness of its results-Fireside purposes-Dangertention to my business.” of deviation in rich marriages-George Sand's study of | A solicitor with a large practice in London this in her story of “Valvèdre."
held nearly the same language. He worked AMONGST the dangers of marriage, one of at his office all day, and often brought home those most to be dreaded by a man given to the most difficult work for the quiet of his intellectual pursuits is the deviation which, own private study after the household had in one way or other, marriage inevitably gone to bed. The little reading that he could produces. It acts like the pointsman on a indulge in was light reading. In reality the railway, who, by pulling a lever, sends the profession intruded even on his few hours of train in another direction. The married man leisure, for he read many of the columns in never goes, or hardly ever goes, exactly on the Times which relate to law or legislation, the same intellectual lines which he would and these make at the end of a few years an have followed if he had remained a bachelor. amount of reading sufficient for the mastery This deviation may or may not be a gain; it of a foreign literature. This gentleman anis always a most serious danger.
swered very accurately to M. Taine's descripSometimes the deviation is produced by the tion of the typical Englishman, absorbed in necessity for a stricter attention to money, business and the Times. causing a more unremitting application to In these cases it is likely that the effect of work that pays well, and a proportionate neg. marriage was not inwardly felt as a deviaject of that which can only give extension to tion; but when culture has been fairly beour knowledge and clearness to our views. gun, and marriage hinders the pursuit of it,
In no country is this danger so great as it or makes it deviate from the chosen path, is in England, where the generally expensive then there is often an inward consciousness manner of living, and the prevalent desire to of the fact, not without its bitterness. keep families in an ideally perfect state of A remarkable article on “Luxury," in the physical comfort, produce an absorption in second volume of the Cornhill Magazine, business which in all but the rarest instances deals with this subject in a manner evidently leaves no margin for intellectual labor. suggested by serious reflection and experiThere are, no doubt, some remarkable ex-lence. The writer considers the effects of the pursuit of comfort (never carried so far as it so well, might have been and ought to have is now) on the higher moral and intellectual been trained to far higher things, which for life. The comforts of a bachelor were not the most part are left undone, because the what the writer meant; these are easily pro- clever workman thinks himself bound to cured, and seldom require the devotion of all earn what will keep himself, his wife, and his the energies. The “comfort” which is really six or seven children, up to the established dangerous to intellectual growth is that of a standard of comfort. What was at first a family establishment, because it so easily be necessity, perhaps an unwelcome one, becomes the one absorbing object of existence. comes by degrees a habit and a pleasure, and Men who began life with the feeling that they men who might have done memorable and would willingly devote their powers to great noble things, if they had learnt in time to purposes, like the noble examples of past consider the doing of such things an object times who labored and suffered for the intel- worth living for, lose the power and the wish lectual advancement of their race, and had to live for other than fireside purposes." starvation for their reward, or in some cases But this kind of intellectual deviation, you even the prison and the stake--men who in may answer, is not strictly the consequence their youth felt themselves to be heirs of a of marriage, quá marriage; it is one of the nobility of spirit like that of Bruno, of Swam- consequences of a degree of relative poverty, merdam, of Spinoza, have too often found produced by the larger expenditure of marthemselves in the noon of life concentrating ried life, but which might be just as easily all the energies of body and soul on the ac- produced by a certain degree of money-presquisition of ugly millinery and uglier uphol- sure in the condition of a bachelor. Let me stery, and on spreading extravagant tables to therefore point out a kind of deviation which feed uncultivated guests.
may be as frequently observed in rich mar“It is impossible,” says the writer of the riages as in poor ones. Suppose the case of a article just alluded to, “it is impossible to bachelor with a small but perfectly indepensay why men were made, but assuming that dent income amounting to some hundreds a they were made for some purpose, of which year, who is devoted to intellectual pursuits, the faculties which they possess afford evi- and spends his time in study or with cultidence, it follows that they were intended to vated friends of his own, choosing friends do many other things besides providing for whose society is an encouragement and a their families and enjoying their society. help. Suppose that this man makes an exThey were meant to know, to act, and to feel ceedingly prudent marriage, with a rich wom-to know everything which the mind is able an, you may safely predict, in this instance, to contemplate, to name, and to classify; to intellectual deviations of a kind perilous to do everything which the will, prompted by the highest culture. He will have new calls the passions and guided by the conscience, upon his time, his society will no longer be can undertake; and, subject to the same entirely of his own choosing, he will no longguidance, to feel in its utmost vigor every er be able to devote himself with absolute emotion which the contemplation of the va- singleness of purpose to studies from which rious persons and objects which surround us his wife must necessarily be excluded. If he can excite. This view of the objects of life were to continue faithful to his old habits. affords an almost infinite scope for human and shut himself up every day in his library activity in different directions; but it also or laboratory, or set out on frequent scienshows that it is in the highest degree danger-tific expeditions, his wife would either be a ous to its beauty and its worth to allow any lady of quite extraordinary perfection of temone side of life to become the object of idola- per, or else entirely indifferent in her feelings try; and there are many reasons for thinking towards him, if she did not regard his purthat domestic happiness is rapidly assuming suits with quickly-increasing jealousy. She that position in the minds of the more com- would think, and justifiably think, that he fortable classes of Englishmen. ... It is a ought to give more of his time to the enjoysingular and affecting thing, to see how every ment of her society, that he ought to be more manifestation of human energy bears witness by her side in the carriage and in the draw to the shrewdness of the current maxim that ing-room, and if he loved her he would yield a large income is a necessary of life. What to these kindly and reasonable wishes. He ever is done for money is done admirably would spend many hours of every day in a well. Give a man a specific thing to make or manner not profitable to his great pursuits, to write, and pay him well for it, and you may and many weeks of every year in visits to with a little trouble secure an excellent arti- her friends. His position would be even less cle; but the ability which does these things favorable to study in some respects than that ject.
of a professional man. It would be difficult for a fixed time. It shall be where you will, for him, if an amateur artist, to give that un- and if the place does not suit you, we will try remitting attention to painting which the another; but from time to time you will perprofessional painter gives. He could not say, mit me a phase of sedentary work.' "I do this for you and for our children;" he " Yes, yes, you want to live for yourself could only say, “I do it for my own pleas- alone; you have lived enough for me. I unure," which is not so graceful an excuse. As derstand; your love is satiated and at an a bachelor, he might work as professional end.' people work, but his marriage would strongly “Nothing could conquer her conviction accentuate the amateur character of his posi- that study was her rival, and that love was tion. It is possible that if his labors had won only possible in idleness. great fame the lady might bear the separa “To love is everything,' she said; and he tion more easily, for ladies always take a no- who loves has not time to concern himself ble pride in the celebrity of their husbands; with anything else. Whilst the husband is but the best and worthiest intellectual labor intoxicating himself with the marvels of often brings no fame whatever, and notoriety science, the wife languishes and dies. It is is a mere accident of some departments of the destiny which awaits me; and since I am the intellectual life, and not its ultimate ob- a burden to you, I should do better to die at
once.' George Sand, in her admirable novel “Val- "A little later Valvèdre.ventured to hint vèdre," has depicted a situation of this kind something about work, hoping to conquer his with the most careful delicacy of touch. Val- wife's ennui, on which she proclaimed the rèdre was a man of science, who attempted hatred of work as a sacred right of her nature to continue the labors of his intellectual life and position. after marriage had united him to a lady inca- "Nobody ever taught me to work,' she pable of sharing them. The reader pities said, and I did not marry under a promise both, and sympathizes with both. It is hard, to begin again at the a, b, c of things. What on the one hand, that a man endowed by na-ever I know I have learned by intuition, by ture with great talents for scientific work reading without aim or method. I am a should not go on with a career already glori- woman; my destiny is to love my husband ously begun; and yet, on the other hand, a and bring up children. It is very strange woman who is so frequently abandoned for that my husband should be the person who science may blamelessly feel some jealousy counsels me to think of something betof science.
ter.'” Valvèdre, in narrating the story of his I am far from suggesting that Madame unhappy wedded life, said that Alida wished Valvèdre is an exact representative of her to have at her orders a perfect gentleman to sex, but the sentiments which in her are exaccompany her, but that he felt in himself aggerated, and expressed with passionate a more serious ambition. He had not aimed plainness, are in much milder form very prevaat fame, but he had thought it possible to be- lent sentiments indeed; and Valvèdre's great come a useful servant, bringing his share of difficulty, how to get leave to prosecute his patient and courageous seekings to the edifice studies with the degree of devotion necessary of the sciences. He had hoped that Alida to make them fruitful, is not at all an uncomwould understand this. “ There is time mon difficulty with intellectual men after enough for everything,' she said, still retain- marriage. The character of Madame Valvèing him in the useless wandering life that she dre, being passionate and excessive, led her had chosen. 'Perhaps,' he answered, but to an open expression of her feelings; but on condition that I lose no more of it; and it feelings of a like kind, though milder in deis not in this wandering life, cut to pieces by gree, exist frequently below the surface, and a thousand unforeseen interruptions, that I may be detected by any vigilant observer of can make the hours yield their profit.' human nature. That such feelings are very
**Ah! now we come to the point!' ex-natural it is impossible even for a savant to claimed Alida impetuously. You wish to deny; but whilst admitting the clear right of leave me, and to travel alone in impossible a woman to be preferred by a man to science regions.'
when once he has married her, let me observe ** No, I will work near you and abandon that the man might perhaps do wisely, before certain observations which it would be neces- the knot is tied, to ascertain whether her insary to make at too great a distance, but you tellectual dowry is rich enough to compenalso will sacrifice something: we will not see sate him for the sacrifices she is likely to 80 many idle people, we will settle somewhere exact,
neighborhood where you live it is an eccen
tricity to study, for nobody but you studies TO A SOLITARY STUDENT.
anything. A man so situated is fortunate
when this feeling of eccentricity is alleviated, Need of a near intellectual friendship in solitude-Persons who live independently of custom run a peculiar risk in an
in and unfortunate when it is increased. A marriage-Women by nature more subservient to custom wife would certainly do one or the other. than men are-Difficulty of conciliating solitude and mar- | Married to a very superior woman, able to riage-De Sénancour-The marriages of eccentrics--Their wives either protect them or attempt to reform them.
understand the devotion to intellectual aims,
you would be much relieved of the painful ISOLATED as you are, by the very superior-consciousness of eccentricity; but a woman ity of your culture, from the ignorant provin- of less capacity would intensify it. cial world around you, I cannot but believe So far as we can observe the married life of that marriage is essential to your intellectual others, it seems to me that I have met with health and welfare. If you married some instances of men, constituted and occupied cultivated woman, bred in the cultivated so- very much as you are, who have found in ciety of a great capital, that companionship marriage a strong protection against the ig. would give you an independence of surround-norant judgments of their neighbors, and an ing influences which nothing else can give. assurance of intellectual peace; whilst in You fancy that by shutting yourself up in a other cases it has appeared rather as if their country house you are uninfluenced by the solitude were made more a cause of conscious world around you. It is a great error. You suffering. as if the walls of their cabinets know that you are isolated, that you are were pulled down for the boobies outside to looked upon and probably ridiculed as an ec- stare at them and laugh at them. A woman centric, and this knowledge, which it is im- will either take your side against the customs possible to banish from your mind, deprives of the little world around, or she will take your thinking of elasticity and grace. You the side of custom against you. If she loves urgently need the support of an intellectual you deeply, and if there is some visible result friendship quite near to you, under your own of your labors in fame and money, she may roof. Bachelors in great cities feel this ne possibly do the first, and then she will processity less.
tect your tranquillity better than a force of Still remember, that whoever has arranged policemen, and give you a delightful sense of his life independently of custom runs a pecul- reconciliation with all humanity; but many iar risk in marriage. Women are by nature of her most powerful instincts tend the other far more subservient to custom than we are, way. She has a natural sympathy with all more than we can easily conceive. The dan- the observances of custom, and you neglect ger of marriage, for a person of your tastes, is them; she is fitted for social life, which you that a woman entering your house might enter are not. Unless you win her wholly to your it as the representative of that minutely-inter- side, she may undertake the enterprise of fering authority which you continually ignore. curing your eccentricities and adapting you And let us never forget that a perfect obedi- to the ideal of her caste. This may be highence to custom requires great sacrifices of ly satisfactory to the operator, but it is full time and money that you might not be dis- of inconveniences to the patient. posed to make, and which certainly would interfere with study. You value and enjoy your solitude, well knowing how great a thing it is to be master of all your hours. It is dif
LETTER VII. ficult to conciliate solitude, or even a wise
TO A LADY OF HIGH CULTURE WHO FOUND IT and suitable selection of acquaintances, with
DIFFICULT TO ASSOCIATE WITH PERSONS OF the semi-publicity of marriage. Heads of
HER OWN SEX. families receive many persons in their houses whom they would never have invited, and Men are not very good judges of feminine conversation-The from whose society they derive little pleasure
interest of it would be increased if women could be more
freely initiated into great subjects-Small subjects interand no profit. De Sénancour had plans of
esting when seen in relation to central ideas-That ladies studious retirement, and hoped that the of superior faculty ought rather to elevate female society “douce intimité" of marriage might be com
than withdraw from it-Women when displaced do not
appear happy. patible with these cherished projects. But marriage, he found, drew him into the circle What you confided to me in our last interof ordinary provincial life, and he always esting conversation has given me material suffered from its influences.
for reflection, and afforded a glimpse of a You are necessarily an eccentric. In the state of things which I have sometimes sus