Literary and other Notes

Title

Literary and other Notes

Description

Reviews and excerpts "The Memoirs of Wilhelmine, Margravine of Bayreuth," translated by Princess Christian; "Women's Voices: an Anthology of the Most Classic Poems, by English, Scotch, and Irish Women; and "A Village Tragedy" by Margaret L. Woods. The essay closes with reflections on the links between women's dress and their labor, and with notes on the deaths of Dinah Mulock Craik and Annie Brassey.

Creator

Wilde, Oscar

Date

November 1888

Type

essay (review)

Coverage

pp. 36–40

Text

By the editor

The Princess Christian's translation of “The Memoirs of Wilhelmine, Margravine of Bayreuth” (David Stott), is a most fascinating and delightful book. The Margravine and her brother, Frederick the Great, were, as the Princess herself points out in an admirably written introduction, "among the first of those questioning minds that strove after spiritual freedom" in the last century. "They had studied," says the Princess, "the English philosophers, Newton, Locke, and Shaftesbury, and were roused to enthusiasm by the writings of Voltaire and Rousseau. Their whole lives bore the impress of the influence of French thought on the burning questions of the day. In the eighteenth century began that great struggle of philosophy against tyranny and worn-out abuses which culminated in the French Revolution. The noblest minds were engaged in the struggle, and, like most reformers, they pushed their conclusions to extremes, and too often lost sight of the need of a due proportion in things. The Margravine's influence on the intellectual development of her country is untold. She formed at Bayreuth a centre of culture and learning which had before been undreamt of in Germany."

The historical value of these "Memoirs" is, of course, well known. Carlyle speaks of them as being "by far the best authority" on the early life of Frederick the Great. But considered merely as the autobiography of a clever and charming woman, they are no less interesting, and even those who care nothing for eighteenth-century politics, and look upon history itself as an unattractive form of fiction, cannot fail to be fascinated by the Margravine’s wit, vivacity, and humour, by her keen powers of observation, and by her brilliant and assertive egotism. Not that her life was by any means a happy one. Her father, to quote the Princess Christian, “ruled his family with the same harsh despotism with which he ruled his country, taking pleasure in making his power felt by all in the most galling manner," and the Margravine and her brother "had much to suffer, not only from his ungovernable temper, but also from the real privations to which they were subjected." Indeed, the picture the Margravine gives of the King is quite extraordinary. “He despised all learning," she writes, "and wished me to occupy myself with nothing but needlework and household duties or details. Had he found me writing or reading he would probably have whipped me. He considered music a capital offence, and maintained that every one should devote himself to one object: men to the military service, and women to their household duties. Science and the arts he counted among the seven deadly sins." Sometimes he took to religion," and then," says the Margravine, "we lived like Trappists, to the great grief of my brother and myself. Every afternoon the King preached a sermon, to which we had to listen as attentively as if it proceeded from an Apostle. My brother and I were often seized with such an intense sense of the ridiculous, that we burst out laughing, upon which an apostolic curse was poured out on our heads, which we had to accept with a show of humility and penitence.” Economy and soldiers were his only topics of conversation, his chief social amusement was to make his guests intoxicated, and as for his temper, the accounts the Margravine gives of it would be almost incredible if they were not amply corroborated from other sources. Suetonius has written of the strange madness that comes on kings, but even in his melodramatic chronicles there is hardly anything that rivals what the Margravine has to tell us. Here is one of her pictures of family life at a Royal Court in the last century, and it is not by any means the worst scene she describes: —

"On one occasion, when his temper was more than usually bad, he told the Queen that he had received letters from Anspach, in which the Margrave announced his arrival in Berlin for the beginning of May. He was coming there for the purpose of marrying my sister, and one of his Ministers would arrive previously with the betrothal ring. My father asked my sister whether she were pleased with the prospect, and how she would arrange her household. Now my sister had always made a point of telling him whatever came into her head, even the greatest home-truths, and he had never taken her outspokenness amiss. On this occasion, therefore, relying on former experience, she answered him as follows: — ‘When I have a house of my own I shall take care to have a well-appointed dinner-table, better than yours is; and if I have children of my own I shall not plague them as you do yours, and force them to eat things they thoroughly dislike.’ — ‘What is amiss with my dinner-table?’ the King inquired, getting very red in the face. — ‘You ask what is the matter with it?’ my sister replied; ‘there is not enough on it for us to eat, and what there is, is cabbage and carrots, which we detest.' Her first answer had already angered my father, but now he gave vent to his fury. But instead of punishing my sister, he poured it all on my mother, my brother, and myself. To begin with, he threw a plate at my brother’s head, who would have been struck, had he not got out of the way; a second one he threw at me, which I also happily escaped; then torrents of abuse followed these first signs of hostility. He reproached the Queen with having brought up her children so badly. ‘You will curse your mother,' he said to my brother, ‘for having made you such a good-for-nothing creature.'...As my brother and I passed near him to leave the room, he hit out at us with his crutch. Happily we escaped the blow, for it would certainly have struck us down, and we at last escaped without harm."

Yet, as the Princess Christian remarks, "despite the almost cruel treatment Wilhelmine received from her father, it is noticeable that throughout her ‘Memoirs' she speaks of him with the greatest affection. She makes constant reference to his ‘good heart,’ and that his faults 'were more those of temper than of nature.’” Nor could all the misery and wretchedness of her home life dull the brightness of her intellect. What would have made others morbid, made her satirical. Instead of weeping over her own personal tragedies, she laughs at the general comedy of life. Here, for instance, is her description of Peter the Great and his wife, who arrived at Berlin in 1718:—

“The Czarina was small, broad, and brown-looking, without the slightest dignity or appearance. You had only to look at her to detect her low origin. She might have passed for a German actress, she had decked herself out in such a manner. Her dress had been bought second-hand, and was trimmed with some dirty- looking silver embroidery; the bodice was covered with precious stones, arranged in such a manner as to represent the double eagle. She wore a dozen Orders; and round the bottom of her dress hung quantities of relics and pictures of saints, which rattled when she walked, and reminded one of a smartly-harnessed mule. The Orders, too, made a great noise, knocking against each other.

“The Czar, on the other hand, was tall and well-grown, with a handsome face; but his expression was coarse, and impressed one with fear. He wore a simple sailor's dress. His wife, who spoke German very badly, called her Court jester to her aid, and spoke Russian with her. This poor creature was a Princess Gallizin, who had been obliged to undertake this sorry office to save her life, as she had been mixed up in a conspiracy against the Czar, and had twice been flogged with the knout!

“The following day the Czar visited all the sights of Berlin, amongst others the very curious collection of coins and antiques. Amongst these last-named was a statue representing a heathen god. It was anything but attractive, but was the most valuable in the collection. The Czar admired it very much, and insisted on the Czarina kissing it. On her refusing, he said to her, in bad German, that she should lose her head if she did not at once obey him. Being terrified at the Czar's anger, she immediately complied without the least hesitation. The Czar asked the King to give him this and other statues, a request which he could not refuse. The same thing happened about a cupboard, inlaid with amber. It was the only one of its kind, and had cost King Frederick I an enormous sum, and the consternation was general on its having to be sent to Petersburg.

“This barbarous Count happily left after two days. The Queen rushed at once to Monbijou, which she found in a state resembling that of the fall of Jerusalem. I never saw such a sight. Everything was destroyed, so that the Queen was obliged to rebuild the whole house."

Nor are the Margravine’s descriptions of her reception as a bride in the principality of Bayreuth less amusing. Hof was the first town she came to, and a deputation of nobles was waiting there to welcome her. This is her account of them: —

"Their faces would have frightened little children, and, to add to their beauty, they had arranged their hair to resemble the wigs that were then in fashion. Their dresses dearly denoted the antiquity of their families, as they were composed of heirlooms, and were cut accordingly, so that most of them did not fit. In spite of their costumes being the ‘Court Dresses,’ the gold and silver trimmings were so black that you had a difficulty in making out of what they were made. The manners of these nobles suited their faces and their clothes. They might have passed for peasants. I could scarcely restrain my laughter when I first beheld these strange figures. I spoke to each in turn, but none of them understood what I said, and their replies sounded to me like Hebrew, because the dialect of the Empire is quite different from that spoken in Brandenburg.

"The clergy also presented themselves. These were totally different creatures. Round their necks they wore great ruffs which resembled washing-baskets. They spoke very slowly, so that I might be able to understand them better. They said the most foolish things, and it was only with much difficulty that I was able to prevent myself from laughing. At last I got rid of all these people, and we sat down to dinner. I tried my best to converse with those at table, but it was useless. At last I touched on agricultural topics, and then they began to thaw. I was at once informed of all their different farmsteads and herds of cattle. An almost interesting discussion took place as to whether the oxen in the upper part of the country were fatter than those in the lowlands.

“I was told that, as the next day was Sunday, I must spend it at Hof, and listen to a sermon. Never before had I heard such a sermon! The clergyman began by giving us an account of all the marriages that had taken place from Adam's time to that of Noah. We were spared no detail, so that the gentlemen all laughed and the poor ladies blushed. The dinner went off as on the previous day. In the afternoon all the ladies came to pay me their respects. Gracious heavens! What ladies, too! They were all as ugly as the gentlemen, and their head-dresses were so curious that swallows might have built their nests in them!”

As for Bayreuth itself, and its petty Court, the picture she gives of it is exceedingly curious. Her father-in-law, the reigning Margrave, was a narrow-minded mediocrity, whose conversation "resembled that of a sermon read aloud for the purpose of sending the listener to sleep," and who had only two topics, "Telemachus, and Amelot de la Houssaye's “Roman History.'" The Ministers, from Baron von Stein, who always said “yes" to everything, to Baron von Voit, who always said "no," were not by any means an intellectual set of men. "Their chief amusement," says the Margravine, "was drinking from morning till night, and horses and cattle were all they talked about." The palace itself was shabby, decayed, and dirty. "I was like a lamb among wolves," cries the poor Margavine; "I was settled in a strange country, at a Court which more resembled a peasant's farm, surrounded by coarse, bad, dangerous, and tiresome people.”

Yet her esprit never deserted her. She is always clever, witty, and entertaining. Her stories about the endless squabbles over precedence are extremely amusing. The society of her day cared very little for good manners, knew indeed very little about them, but all questions of etiquette were of vital importance, and the Margravine herself, though she saw the shallowness of the whole system, was far too proud not to assert her rights when circumstances demanded it, as the description she gives of her visit to the Empress of Germany shows very clearly. When this meeting was first proposed, the Margravine declined positively to entertain the idea. "There was no precedent," she writes, "of a King's daughter and an Empress having met, and I did not know to what rights I ought to lay claim." Finally, however, she is induced to consent, but she lays down three conditions for her reception: —

“I desired first of all that the Empress’ Court should receive me at the foot of the stairs; secondly, that she should meet me at the door of her bedroom; and, thirdly, that she should offer me an arm-chair to sit on.

"They disputed all day over the conditions I had made. The two first were granted me, but all that could be obtained with respect to the third was that the Empress would use quite a small arm-chair, whilst she gave me a chair.

"Next day I saw this Royal personage. I own that had I been in her place I would have made all the rules of etiquette and ceremony the excuse for not being obliged to appear. The Empress was small and stout, round as a ball, very ugly, and without dignity or manner. Her mind corresponded to her body. She was terribly bigoted, and spent her whole day praying. The old and ugly are generally the Almighty's portion. She received me trembling all over, and was so upset that she could not say a word.

"After some silence I began the conversation in French. She answered me in her Austrian dialect that she could not speak in that language, and begged I would speak in German. The conversation did not last long, for the Austrian and low Saxon tongues are so different from each other that to those acquainted with only one the other is unintelligible. This is what happened to us. A third person would have laughed at our misunderstandings, for we caught only a word here and there, and had to guess the rest. The poor Empress was such a slave to etiquette that she would have thought it high treason had she spoken to me in a foreign language, though she understood French quite well."

Many other extracts might be given from this delightful book, but from the few that have been selected some idea can be formed of the vivacity and picturesqueness of the Margravine’s style. As for her character, it is very well summed up by the Princess Christian, who while admitting that she often appears almost heartless and inconsiderate, yet claims that, "taken as a whole, she stands out in marked prominence among the most gifted women of the eighteenth century, not only by her mental powers, but by her goodness of heart, her self-sacrificing devotion, and true friendship." An interesting sequel to her "Memoirs" would be her correspondence with Voltaire, and it is to be hoped that we may shortly see a translation of these letters from the same accomplished pen to which we owe the present volume.

"Women's Voices" (Walter Scott) is an anthology of the most characteristic poems by English, Scotch, and Irish women, selected and arranged by Mrs. William Sharp. "The idea of making this anthology," says Mrs. Sharp, in her preface, "arose primarily from the conviction that our women-poets had never been collectively represented with anything like adequate justice; that the works of many are not so widely known as they deserve to be; and that at least some fine fugitive poetry could be thus rescued from oblivion;" and Mrs. Sharp proceeds to claim that "the selections will further emphasise the value of women's work in poetry for those who are already well acquainted with English literature, and that they will convince many it is as possible to form an anthology of ‘pure poetry’ from the writings of women as from those of men." It is somewhat difficult to define what "pure poetry" really is, but the collection is certainly extremely interesting, extending, as it does, over nearly three centuries of our literature. It opens with "Revenge," a poem by "the learned, virtuous, and truly noble ladie," Elizabeth Carew, who published a "Tragedie of Mariam the Faire Queene of Jewry," in 1613, from which "Revenge" is taken. Then come some very pretty verses by Margaret, Duchess of Newcastle, who produced a volume of poems in 1673. They are supposed to be sung by a sea-goddess, and their fantastic charm and the graceful wilfulness of their fancy are well worthy of note, as these first stanzas show: —

"My cabinets are oyster-shells
In which I keep my Orient pearls;
And modest coral I do wear
Which blushes when it touches air.

“On silvery waves I sit and sing,
And then the fish listening:
Then resting on a rocky stone,
I comb my hair with fishes bone;

"Then whilst Apollo with his beams
Doth dry my hair from soaking streams:
His light doth glaze the water's face
And make the sea my looking-glass."

Then follow "Friendship's Mystery," by ‘The Matchless Orinda," Mrs. Katharine Philips; a "Song," by Mrs. Aphra Behn, the first Englishwoman who adopted literature as a profession; and the Countess of Winchelsea's "Nocturnal Reverie." Wordsworth once said that, with the exception of this poem and Pope's "Windsor Forest," the "poetry of the period intervening between ‘Paradise Lost' and ‘The Seasons' does not contain a single new image of external Nature," and though the statement is hardly accurate, as it leaves Gay entirely out of account, it must be admitted that the simple naturalism of Lady Winchelsea's description is extremely remarkable. Passing on through Mrs. Sharp's collection, we come across poems by Lady Grisell Baillie; by Jean Adams, a poor serving-maid in a Scotch manse, who died in the Greenock workhouse; by Isobel Pagan, an Ayrshire "lucky," who kept an alehouse, sold whisky without a licence, and sang her own songs as a means of subsistence; by Miss Thrale, Dr. Johnson's friend; by Mrs. Hunter, the wife of the great anatomist; by the worthy Mrs. Barbauld, and by the excellent Mrs. Hannah More. Here is Miss Anna Seward, called by her admirers "The Swan of Lichfield," who was so angry with Dr. Darwin for plagiarising some of her verses; Lady Anne Barnard, whose "Auld Robin Gray" was described by Sir Walter Scott as "worth all the dialogues Corydon and Phillis have together spoken from the days of Theocritus downwards;" Jean Glover, a Scottish weaver's daughter, who married a strolling player, and became the best actor and singer of the troop; Joanna Baillie, whose tedious dramas thrilled our grandfathers; Mrs. Tighe, whose "Psyche" was very much admired by Keats in his youthful days; Frances Kemble, Mrs. Siddons' niece; poor L. K. L., whom Disraeli described as "the personification of Brompton, pink satin dress, white satin shoes, red cheeks, snub nose, and her hair à la Sappho;" the two beautiful sisters, Lady Dufferin and Mrs. Norton; Emily Brontë, whose poems are instinct with tragic power, and quite terrible in their bitter intensity of passion, the fierce fire of feeling seeming almost to consume the raiment of form; Eliza Cook, a kindly, vulgar writer; George Eliot, whose poetry is too abstract, and lacks all rhythmical life; Mrs. Carlyle, who wrote much better poetry than her husband, though this is hardly high praise; and Mrs. Browning, the first really great poetess in our literature. Nor are contemporary writers forgotten. Christina Rossetti, some of whose poems are quite priceless in their beauty; Mrs. Augusta Webster, Mrs. Hamilton King, Miss Mary Robinson, Mrs. Craik; Jean Ingelow, whose sonnet on "A Chess-King" is like an exquisitely carved gem; Mrs. Pfeiffer; Miss May Probyn, a poetess with the true lyrical impulse of song, whose work is as delicate as it is delightful; Mrs. Nesbit, a very pure and perfect artist; Miss Rosa Mulholland, Miss Katharine Tynan, Lady Charlotte Elliot, and many other well-known writers, are duly and adequately represented. On the whole, Mrs. Sharp's collection is very pleasant reading indeed, and the extracts given from the works of living poetesses are extremely remarkable, not merely for their absolute artistic excellence, but also for the light they throw upon the spirit of modern culture.

It is not, however, by any means a complete anthology. Dame Juliana Berners is possibly too antiquated in style to be suitable to a modern audience, but where is Anne Askew, who wrote a ballad in Newgate, and where is Queen Elizabeth, whose "most sweet and sententious ditty" on Mary Stuart is so highly praised by Puttenham as an example of "Exargasia," or The Gorgeous in Literature? Why is the Countess of Pembroke excluded? Sidney's sister should surely have a place in any anthology of English verse. Where is Sidney's niece, Lady Mary Wroth, to whom Ben Jonson dedicated the "Alchemist"? Where is "the noble ladie Diana Primrose," who wrote "A Chain of Pearl, or a memorial of the peerless graces and heroic virtues of Queen Elizabeth, of glorious memory"? Where is Mary Morpeth, the friend and admirer of Drummond of Hawthornden? Where is the Princess Elizabeth, daughter of James I, and where is Anne Killigrew, maid of honour to the Duchess of York? The Marchioness of Wharton, whose poems were praised by Waller; Lady Chudleigh, whose lines beginning —

“Wife and servant are the same,
But only differ in the name;”

are very curious and interesting; Rachel Lady Russell, Constantia Grierson, Mary Barber, Laetitia Pilkington; Eliza Haywood, whom Pope honoured by a place in the “Dunciad”; Lady Luxborough, Lord Bolingbroke's half-sister; Lady Mary Wortley Montagu; Lady Temple, whose poems were printed by Horace Walpole; Perdita, whose lines on the snowdrop are very pathetic; the beautiful Duchess of Devonshire, of whom Gibbon said that "she was made for something better than a Duchess;" Mrs. Ratcliffe, Mrs. Chapone, and Amelia Opie, all deserve a place on historical, if not on artistic grounds. In fact, the space given by Mrs. Sharp to modern and living poetesses is somewhat disproportionate, and I am sure that those on whose brows the laurels are still green would not grudge a little room to those the green of whose laurels is withered and the music of whose lyres is mute.

One of the most powerful and pathetic novels that have recently appeared is “A Village Tragedy” (Bentley and Son) by Margaret L. Woods. To find any parallel to this lurid little story one must go to Dostoieffski, or to Guy de Maupassant. Not that Mrs. Woods can be said to have taken either of these two great masters of fiction as her model, but there is something in her work that recalls their method; she has not a little of their fierce intensity, their terrible concentration, their passionless yet poignant objectivity; like them, she seems to allow life to suggest its own mode of presentation; and, like them, she recognises that a frank acceptance of the facts of life is the true basis of all modem imitative art. The scene of Mrs. Woods's story lies in one of the villages near Oxford; the characters are very few in number, and the plot is extremely simple. It is a romance of modern Arcadia — a tale of the love of a farm-labourer for a girl who, though slightly above him in social station and education, is yet herself also a servant on a farm. True Arcadians they are, both of them, and their ignorance and isolation only serve to intensify the tragedy that gives the story its title. It is the fashion now-a-days to label literature, so no doubt Mrs. Woods's novel will be spoken of as “realistic.” Its realism, however, is the realism of the artist, not of the reporter; its tact of treatment, subtlety of perception, and fine distinction of style, make it rather a poem than a procès-verbal; and though it lays bare to us the mere misery of life, it suggests something of life's mystery also. Very delicate, too, is the handling of external Nature. There are no formal guide-book descriptions of scenery, nor anything of what Byron petulantly called “twaddling about trees," but we seem to breathe the atmosphere of the country, to catch the exquisite scent of the beanfields, so familiar to all who have ever wandered through the Oxfordshire lanes in June, to hear the birds singing in the thicket, and the sheep-bells tinkling from the hill. Characterisation, that enemy of literary form, is such an essential part of the method of the modem writer of fiction, that Nature has almost become to the novelist what light and shade are to the painter — the one permanent element of style; and if the power of “A Village Tragedy” be due to its portrayal of human life, no small portion of its charm comes from its Theocritean setting.

It is, however, not merely in fiction and in poetry that the women of this century are making their mark. Their appearance amongst the prominent speakers at the Church Congress some weeks ago, was in itself a very remarkable proof of the growing influence of women's opinions on all matters connected with the elevation of our national life, and the amelioration of our social conditions. When the Bishops left the platform to their wives, it may be said that a new era began, and the change will no doubt be productive of much good. The Apostolic dictum, that women should not be suffered to teach, is no longer applicable to a society such as ours, with its solidarity of interests, its recognition of natural rights, and its universal education, however suitable it may have been to the Greek cities under Roman rule. Nothing in the United States struck me more than the fact that the remarkable intellectual progress of that country is very largely due to the efforts of American women, who edit many of the most powerful magazines and newspapers, take part in the discussion of every question of public interest, and exercise an important influence upon the growth and tendencies of literature and art. Indeed, the women of America are the one class in the community that enjoys that leisure which is so necessary for culture. The men are, as a rule, so absorbed in business, that the task of bringing some element of form into the chaos of daily life is left almost entirely to the opposite sex, and an eminent Bostonian once assured me that in the twentieth century the whole culture of his country would be in petticoats. By that time, however, it is probable that the dress of the two sexes will be assimilated, as similarity of costume always follows similarity of pursuits.

In a recent article in La France, M. Sarcey puts this point very well. The further we advance, he says, the more apparent does it become that women are to take their share as bread-winners in the world. The task is no longer monopolised by men, and will, perhaps, be equally shared by the sexes in another hundred years. It will be necessary, however, for women to invent a suitable costume, as their present style of dress is quite inappropriate to any kind of mechanical labour, and must be radically changed before they can compete with men upon their own ground. As to the question of desirability, M. Sarcey refuses to speak. "I shall not see the end of this revolution," he remarks, "and I am glad of it." But, as is pointed out in a very sensible article in the Daily News, there is no doubt that M. Sarcey has reason and common sense on his side with regard to the absolute unsuitability of ordinary feminine attire to any sort of handicraft, or even to any occupation which necessitates a daily walk to business and back again in all kinds of weather. Women's dress can easily be modified and adapted to any exigencies of the kind; but most women refuse to modify or adapt it. They must follow the fashion, whether it be convenient or the reverse. And, after all, what is a fashion? From the artistic point of view, it is usually a form of ugliness so intolerable that we have to alter it every six months. From the point of view of science, it not unfrequently violates every law of health, every principle of hygiene. While from the point of view of simple ease and comfort it is not too much to say that, with the exception of M. Félix's charming tea-gowns, and a few English tailor-made costumes, there is not a single form of really fashionable dress that can be worn without a certain amount of absolute misery to the wearer. The contortion of the feet of the Chinese beauty, said Dr. Naftel at the last International Medical Congress, held at Washington, is no more barbarous or unnatural than the panoply of the femme du monde.

And yet how sensible is the dress of the London milkwoman, of the Irish or Scotch fishwife, of the Northcountry factory-girl! An attempt was made recently to prevent the pit-women from working, on the ground that their costume was unsuited to their sex, but it is really only the idle classes who dress badly. Wherever physical labour of any kind is required, the costume used is, as a rule, absolutely right, for labour necessitates freedom, and without freedom there is no such thing as beauty in dress at all. In fact, the beauty of dress depends on the beauty of the human figure, and whatever limits, constraints, and mutilates is essentially ugly, though the eyes of many are so blinded by custom that they do not notice the ugliness till it has become unfashionable.

What women’s dress will be in the future it is difficult to say. The writer of the Daily News article is of opinion that skirts will always be worn as distinctive of the sex, and it is obvious that men's dress, in its present condition, is not by any means an example of a perfectly rational costume. It is more than probable, however, that the dress of the twentieth century will emphasise distinctions of occupation, not distinctions of sex.

It is hardly too much to say that, by the death of the author of "John Halifax, Gentleman," our literature has sustained a heavy loss. Mrs. Craik was one of the finest of our women-writers, and though her art had always what Keats called "a palpable intention upon one," still its imaginative qualities were of no mean order. There is hardly one of her books that has not some distinction of style; there is certainly not one of them that does not show an ardent love of all that is beautiful and good in life. The good she perhaps loved somewhat more than the beautiful, but her heart had room for both. Her first novel appeared in 1849, the year of the publication of Charlotte Bronte's "Jane Eyre," and Mrs. Gaskell's "Ruth," and her last work was done for the magazine which I have the honour to edit. She was very much interested in the scheme for the foundation of THE WOMAN’S WORLD, suggested its title, and promised to be one of its warmest supporters. One article from her pen is already in proof, and will appear next month, and in a letter I received from her, a few days before she died, she told me that she had almost finished a second, to be called "Between School-days and Marriage." Few women have enjoyed a greater popularity than Mrs. Craik, or have better deserved it. It is sometimes said that John Halifax is not a real man, but only a woman's ideal of a man. Well, let us be grateful for such ideals. No one can read the story of which John Halifax is the hero without being the better for it. Mrs. Craik will live long in the affectionate memory of all who knew her, and one of her novels, at any rate, will always have a high and honourable place in English fiction. Indeed, for simple narrative power some of the chapters of "John Halifax, Gentleman" are almost unequalled in our prose literature.

The news of the death of Lady Brassey has been also received by the English people with every expression of sorrow and sympathy. Though her books were not remarkable for any perfection of literary style, they had the charm of brightness, vivacity, and unconventionality. They revealed a fascinating personality, and their touches of domesticity made them classics in many an English household. In all modern movements Lady Brassey took a keen interest. She gained a first-class certificate in the South Kensington School of Cookery, scullery department and all; was one of the most energetic members of the St. John's Ambulance Association, many branches of which she succeeded in founding; and, whether at Normanhurst or in Park Lane, always managed to devote some portion of her day to useful and practical work. It is sad to have to chronicle in the first number of THE WOMAN’S WORLD the death of two of the most remarkable English women of our day.