Literary and other Notes


Literary and other Notes


Comments on the recent publications, Gossips with Girls and Maidens by Blanche St. John Bellairs; Constance Naden's "A Modem Apostle, and other Poems"; Phyllis Browne's "Life of Mrs. Somerville" and "Life of Miss Mary Carpenter"; and May Laffan's "Ismay's Children." Short notices also address the inclusion of a fashion plate in the previous month's issue that elicited criticisim; thoughts on modern theater; the founding of The Lyceé Racine; the awarding of the Literature Scholarship; the Empress of Japan's fashion; and the Ministering Children's League.


Wilde, Oscar


December 1888


essay (review)


pp. 81–85


Lady Bellairs’s “Gossips with Girls and Maidens" (William Blackwood and Sons) contains some very interesting essays, and a quite extraordinary amount of useful information on all matters connected with the mental and physical training of women. It is very difficult to give good advice without being irritating, and almost impossible to be at once didactic and delightful; but Lady Bellairs manages very cleverly to steer a middle course between the Charybdis of dulness and the Scylla of flippancy. There is a pleasing intimité about her style, and almost everything that she says has both good sense and good humour to recommend it. Nor does she confine herself to those broad generalisations on morals, which are so easy to make, so difficult to apply. Indeed, she seems to have a wholesome contempt for the cheap severity of abstract ethics, enters into the most minute details for the guidance of conduct, and draws out elaborate lists of what girls should avoid, and what they should cultivate.

Here are some specimens of "What to Avoid": —

“A loud, weak, affected, whining, harsh, or shrill tone of voice.”
“Extravagances in conversation — such phrases as ‘Awfully this,’ ‘Beastly that,’ ‘Loads of tune,' ‘Don't you know,' ‘hate' for ‘dislike,' &c.”
“Sudden exclamations of annoyance, surprise, and joy — often dangerously approaching to ‘female swearing' — as ‘Bother!’ ‘Gracious!’ ‘How jolly!’”
"Yawning when listening to any one.”
“Talking on family matters, even to your bosom friends.”
“Attempting any vocal or instrumental piece of music that you cannot execute with ease.”
“Crossing your letters."
“Making a short, sharp nod with the head, intended to do duty as a bow.”
“All nonsense in the shape of belief in dreams, omens, presentiments, ghosts, spiritualism, palmistry, &c.”
“Entertaining wild flights of the imagination, or empty idealistic aspirations."

I am afraid that I have a good deal of sympathy with what are called "empty idealistic aspirations;" and "wild flights of the imagination” are so extremely rare in the nineteenth century, that they seem to me deserving rather of praise than of censure. The exclamation "Bother," also, though certainly lacking in beauty, might, I think, be permitted under circumstances of extreme aggravation, such as, for instance, the rejection of a manuscript by the editor of a magazine; but in all other respects the list seems to be quite excellent. As for "What to Cultivate," nothing could be better than the following: —

“An unaffected, low, distinct, silver-toned voice.”
“The art of pleasing those around you, and seeming pleased with them and all they may do for you.”
The charm of making little sacrifices quite naturally, as if of no account to yourself.”
“The habit of making allowances for the opinions, feelings, or prejudices of others.”
An erect carriage — that is, a sound body."
“A good memory for faces, and facts connected with them — thus avoiding giving offence through not recognising or bowing to people, or saying to them what had best been left unsaid.”
“The art of listening without impatience to prosy talkers, and smiling at the twice-told tale or joke."

I cannot help thinking that the last aphorism aims at too high a standard. There is always a certain amount of danger in any attempt to cultivate impossible virtues. However, it is only fair to add that Lady Bellairs recognises the importance of self-development quite as much as the importance of self-denial; and there is a great deal of sound sense in everything that she says about the gradual growth and formation of character. Indeed, those who have not read Aristotle upon this point, might with advantage read Lady Bellairs.

Miss Constance Naden's little volume, "A Modem Apostle, and other Poems" (Kegan Paul, Trench, and Company), shows both culture and courage — culture in its use of language, courage in its selection of subject-matter. The modern apostle of whom Miss Naden sings is a young clergyman who preaches Pantheistic Socialism in the Free Church of some provincial manufacturing town, converts everybody except the woman whom he loves, and is killed in a street riot. The story is exceedingly powerful, but seems more suitable for prose than for verse. It is right that a poet should be full of the spirit of his age, but the external forms of modern life are hardly, as yet, expressive of that spirit. They are truths of fact, not truths of the imagination, and though they may give the poet an opportunity for realism, they often rob the poem of the reality that is so essential to it. Art, however, is a matter of result, not of theory, and if the fruit is pleasant we should not quarrel about the tree. Miss Naden’s work is distinguished by rich imagery, fine colour, and sweet music, and these are things for which we should be grateful wherever we find them. In point of mere technical skill her longer poems are the best, but some of the shorter poems are very fascinating. This, for instance, is pretty: —

“The copyist group was gathered round
A time-worn fresco, world-renowned,
Whose central glory once had been
The face of Ghrist, the Nazarene.

And every copyist of the crowd
With his own soul that face endowed,
Gentle, severe, majestic, mean;
But which was Christ, the Nazarene?

Then one who watched them made complaint,
And marvelled, saying, ‘Wherefore paint
Till ye be sure your eyes have seen
The face of Christ, the Nazarene?’”

And this sonnet is full of suggestion: —

“The wine-flushed monarch slept, but in his ear
An angel breathed — ‘Repent; or choose the flame
Quenchless.' In dread he woke, but not in shame.
Deep musing— ‘Sin I love, yet hell I fear.'

Wherefore he left his feasts, and minions dear.
And justly ruled, and died a saint in name.
But when his hasting spirit heavenward came,
A stem voice cried— ‘O Soul! what dost thou here?’

‘Love I forswore, and wine, and kept my vow
To live a just and joyless life, and now
I crave reward.’ The voice came like a knell —
‘Fool! dost thou hope to find again thy mirth,
And those foul joys thou didst renounce on earth?
Yea, enter in! My heaven shall be thy hell.’”

Miss Constance Naden deserves a high place among our living poetesses, and this, as Mrs. Sharp has shown lately in her volume, entitled "Women’s Voices,” is no mean distinction.

Phyllis Browne's "Life of Mrs. Somerville" (Cassell and Co.) forms part of a very interesting little series, called "The World's Workers" — a collection of short biographies catholic enough to include personalities so widely different as Turner and Richard Cobden, Handel and Sir Titus Salt, Robert Stephenson and Florence Nightingale, and yet possessing a certain definite aim. As a mathematician and a scientist, the translator and populariser of Laplace's La Mécanique Céleste, and the author of an important book on physical geography, Mrs. Somerville is, of course, well known. The scientific bodies of Europe covered her with honours; her bust stands in the hall of the Royal Society, and one of the Women's Colleges at Oxford bears her name. Yet, considered simply in the light of a wife and a mother, she is no less admirable; and those who consider that stupidity is the proper basis for the domestic virtues, and that intellectual women must of necessity be helpless with their hands, cannot do better than read Phyllis Browne's pleasant little book, in which they will find that the greatest woman-mathematician of any age was a clever needle-woman, a good house-keeper, and a most skilful cook. Indeed, Mrs. Somerville seems to have been quite renowned for her cookery. The discoverers of the North-west Passage christened an island "Somerville," not as a tribute to the distinguished mathematician, but as a recognition of the excellence of some orange marmalade which the distinguished mathematician had prepared with her own hands and presented to the ships before they left England; and to the fact that she was able to make currant jelly at a very critical moment she owed the affection of some of her husband's relatives, who up to that time had been rather prejudiced against her on the ground that she was merely an unpractical Blue- stocking.

Nor did her scientific knowledge ever warp or dull the tenderness and humanity of her nature. For birds and animals she had always a great love. We hear of her as a little girl watching with eager eyes the swallows as they built their nests in summer or prepared for their flight in the autumn; and when snow was on the ground she used to open the windows to let the robins hop in and pick crumbs on the breakfast-table. On one occasion she went with her father on a tour in the Highlands, and found on her return that a pet goldfinch, which had been left in the charge of the servants, bad been neglected by them and had died of starvation. She was almost heart-broken at the event, and in wilting her "Recollections" seventy years after, she mentioned it, and said that, as she wrote, she felt deep pain. Her chief pet in her old age was a mountain sparrow, which used to perch on her arm and go to sleep there while she was writing. One day the sparrow fell into the water-jug and was drowned, to the great grief of its mistress, who could hardly be consoled for its loss, though later on we hear of a beautiful paroquet taking the place of le moineau d’Uranie and becoming Mrs. Somerville's constant companion. She was also very energetic, Phyllis Browne tells us, in trying to get a law passed in the Italian Parliament for the protection of animals, and said once with reference to this subject, “We English cannot boast of humanity so long as our sportsmen find pleasure in shooting down tame pigeons as they fly tenitied out of a cage" — a remark with which I entirely agree. Mr. Herbert's Bill for the protection of land birds gave her immense pleasure, though, to quote her own words, she was "grieved to find that ‘the lark, which at heaven's gate sings,' is thought unworthy of man's protection;" and she took a great fancy to a gentleman who, on being told of the number of singing birds that are eaten in Italy — nightingales, goldfinches, and robins — exclaimed in horror, "What! robins! — our household birds! I would as soon eat a child! " Indeed, she believed to some extent in the immortality of animals, on the ground that if animals have no future it would seem as if some were created for uncompensated misery — an idea which does not seem to me to be either extravagant or fantastic, though it must be admitted that the optimism on which it is based receives absolutely no support from science.

On the whole, Phyllis Browne's book is very pleasant reading. Its only fault is that it is far too short, and this is a fault so rare in modern literature that it almost amounts to a distinction. However, Phyllis Browne has managed to crowd into the narrow limits at her disposal a great many interesting anecdotes. The picture she gives of Mrs. Somerville working away at her translation of Laplace in the same room with her children, is very charming, and reminds one of what is told of George Sand; there is an amusing account of Mrs. Somerville's visit to the widow of the young Pretender, the Countess of Albany, who after talking with her for some time exclaimed, "So you don't speak Italian! You must have had a very bad education!" And this story about the Waverley Novels may possibly be new to some of my readers: —

"A very amusing circumstance in connection with Mrs. Somerville’s acquaintance with Sir Walter arose out of the childish inquisitiveness of Woronzow Greig, Mrs. Somerville's little boy.

During the time Mrs. Somerville was visiting Abbotsford, the Waverley Novels were appearing, and were creating a great sensation; yet even Scott's intimate friends did not know that he was the author; he enjoyed keeping the affair a mystery. But little Woronzow discovered what he was about. One day when Mrs. Somerville was talking about a novel that had just been published, Woronzow said, ‘I knew all these stories long ago, for Mr. Scott writes on the dinner-table; when he has finished he puts the green cloth with the papers in a corner of the dining-room, and when he goes out Charlie Scott and I read the stories.'

Phyllis Browne remarks that this incident shows “that persons who want to keep a secret ought to be very careful when children are about;" but the story seems to me to be far too charming to require any moral of the kind.

Bound up in the same volume is a life of Miss Mary Carpenter, also written by Phyllis Browne. Miss Carpenter does not seem to me to have the charm and fascination of Mrs. Somerville. There is always something about her that is formal, limited, and precise. When she was about two years old she insisted on being called "Doctor Carpenter" in the nursery; at the age of twelve she is described by a friend as a sedate little girl, who always spoke like a book; and before she entered on her educational schemes she wrote down a solemn dedication of herself to the service of humanity. However, she was one of the practical hard-working saints of the nineteenth century, and it is no doubt quite right that the saints should take themselves very seriously. It is only fair, also, to remember that her work of rescue and reformation was carried on under great difficulties. Here, for instance, is the picture Miss Cobbe gives us of one of the Bristol night- schools: —

“It was a wonderful spectacle to see Mary Carpenter sitting patiently before the large school-gallery in St. Jane’s Back, teaching, singing, and praying with the wild street-boys, in spite of endless interruptions caused by such proceedings as shooting marbles at any object behind her, whistling, stamping, fighting, shrieking out ‘Amen’ in the middle of a prayer, and sometimes rising en masse and tearing, like a troop of bisons in hob-nailed shoes, down from the gallery, round the great school-room, and down the stairs, and into the street. These irrepressible out-breaks she bore with infinite good-humour.”

Her own account is somewhat pleasanter, and shows that “the troop of bisons in hob-nailed shoes" were not always so barbarous.

“I had taken to my class on the preceding week some specimens of ferns, neatly gummed on white paper. . . . This time I took a piece of coal-shale, with impressions of ferns, to show them. I told each to examine the specimen and tell me what he thought it was. W –––– gave so bright a smile that I saw he knew; none of the others could tell; he said they were ferns, like what I showed them last week, but he thought they were chiselled on the stone. Their surprise and pleasure were great when I explained the matter to them.

The history of Joseph. They all found a difficulty in realising that this had actually occurred. One asked if Egypt existed now, and if people lived in it. When I told them that buildings now stood which had been erected about the time of Joseph, one said that was impossible, as they must have fallen down ere this. I showed them the form of a pyramid, and they were satisfied. One asked if all books were true.

The story of Macbeth impressed them very much. They knew the name of Shakespeare, having seen it over a public-house.

A boy defined conscience as ‘a thing a gentleman hasn’t got who, when a boy finds his purse and gives it back to him, doesn’t give the boy sixpence.’

Another boy was asked, after a Sunday evening lecture on ‘Thankfulness,’ what pleasure he enjoyed most in the course of a year. He replied candidly, ‘Cock-fighting ma’am: there’s a pit up by the "Black Boy” as is worth anythink in Brissel’”

There is something a little pathetic in the attempt to civilise the rough street-boy by means of the refining influence of ferns and fossils, and it is difficult to help feeling that Miss Carpenter rather over-estimated the value of elementary education. The poor are not to be fed upon facts. Even Shakespeare and the Pyramids are not sufficient; nor is there much use in giving them the results of culture, unless we also give them those conditions under which culture can be realised. In these cold, crowded cities of the North, the proper basis for morals, using the word in its wide Hellenic signification, is to be found in architecture, not in books.

Still it would be ungenerous not to recognise that Mary Carpenter gave to the children of the poor, not merely her learning, but her love. In early life, her biographer tells us, she had longed for the happiness of being a wife and a mother, but later she became content that her affection could be freely given to all who needed it, and the verse in the prophecies, "I have given thee children whom thou hast not borne," seemed to her to indicate what was to be her true mission. Indeed, she rather inclined to Bacon's opinion that unmarried people do the best public work. “It in quite striking," she says in one of her letters, "to observe how much the useful power and influence of woman has developed of later years. Unattached ladies, such as widows and unmarried women, have quite ample work to do in the world for the good of others to absorb all their powers. Wives and mothers have a very noble work given them by God, and want no more." The whole passage is extremely interesting, and the phrase “unattached ladies" is quite delightful, and reminds one of Charles Lamb.

"Ismay's Children" (Macmillan and Co.) is by the clever authoress of that wonderful little story "Flitters, Tatters, and the Counsellor," a story which delighted the realists by its truth, fascinated Mr. Ruskin by its beauty, and remains to the present day the most perfect picture of street-Arab life in all English prose fiction. The scene of the novel is laid in the south of Ireland, and the plot is extremely dramatic and ingenious. Godfrey Mauleverer, a reckless young Irishman, runs away with Ismay Darcy, a pretty, penniless governess, and is privately married to her in Scotland. Some time after the birth of her third child, Ismay died, and her husband, who has never made his marriage public, nor taken any pains to establish the legitimacy of his children, is drowned while yachting off the coast of France. The care of Ismay’s children then devolves on an old aunt. Miss Juliet Darcy, who brings them back to Ireland to claim their inheritance for them. But a sudden stroke of paralysis deprives her of her memory, and she forgets the name of the little Scotch village in which Ismay's informal marriage took place. So Tighe O'Malley holds Barrettstown, and Ismay’s children live in an old mill close to the great park of which they are the rightful heirs. The boy, who is called Godfrey after his father, is a fascinating study, with his swarthy foreign beauty, his fierce moods of love and hate, his passionate pride, and his passionate tenderness. The account of his midnight ride to warn his enemy of an impending attack of Moonlighters is most powerful and spirited; and it is pleasant to meet in modern fiction a character that has all the fine inconsistencies of life, and is neither too fantastic an exception to be true, nor too ordinary a type to be common. Excellent also, in its direct simplicity of rendering, is the picture of Miss Juliet Darcy; and the scene in which, at the moment of her death, the old woman's memory returns to her is quite admirable, both in conception and in treatment. To me, however, the chief interest of the book lies in the little life-like sketches of Irish character with which it abounds. Modern realistic art has not yet produced a Hamlet, but at least it may claim to have studied Guildenstern and Rosencrantz very closely; and, for pure fidelity and truth to nature, nothing could be better than the minor characters in "Ismay's Children." Here we have the kindly old priest who arranges all the marriages in his parish, and lifts a strong objection to people who insist on making long confessions; the important young curate fresh from Maynooth, who gives himself more airs than a bishop and has to be kept in order; the professional beggars, with their devout faith, their grotesque humour, and their incorrigible laziness; the shrewd shopkeeper, who imports arms in flour-barrels for the use of the Moonlighters, and, as soon as he has got rid of them, gives information of their whereabouts to the police; the young men who go out at night to be drilled by an Irish-American; the farmers with their wild land-hunger, bidding secretly against each other for every vacant field; the dispensary doctor, who is always regretting that he has not got a Trinity College degree; the plain girls, who want to go into convents; the pretty girls, who want to get married; and the shopkeeper’s daughters, who want to be thought young ladies. There is a whole pell-mell of men and women, a complete panorama of provincial life, an absolutely faithful picture of the peasant in his own home. This note of realism in dealing with national types of character has always been a distinguishing characteristic of Irish fiction, from the days of Miss Edgeworth down to our own days, and it is not difficult to see in "Ismay's Children" some traces of the influence of "Castle Rackrent." I fear, however, that few people read Miss Edgeworth nowadays, though both Scott and Tourgénieff acknowledged their indebtedness to her novels, and her style is always admirable in its clearness and precision.

Miss Leffler-Arnim's statement, in a lecture delivered recently at St Saviour's Hospital, that "she had heard of instances where ladies were so determined not to exceed the fashionable measurement that they had actually held on to a cross-bar while their maids fastened the fifteen-inch corset," has excited a good deal of incredulity, but there is nothing really improbable in it. From the sixteenth century to our own day there is hardly any form of torture that has not been inflicted on girls, and endured by women, in obedience to the dictates of an unreasonable and monstrous Fashion. “In order to obtain a real Spanish figure," says Montaigne, "what a Gehenna of suffering will not women endure, drawn in and compressed by great coches entering the flesh; nay, sometimes they even die thereof!" "A few days after my arrival at school," Mrs. Somerville tells us in her memoirs, “although perfectly straight and well made, I was enclosed in stiff stays with a steel busk in front; while above my frock, bands drew my shoulders back till the shoulder-blades met. Then a steel rod with a semicircle, which went under my chin, was clasped to the steel busk in my stays. In this constrained state I and most of the younger girls had to prepare our lessons;" and in the life of Miss Edgeworth we read that, being sent to a certain fashionable establishment, "she underwent all the usual tortures of back-boards, iron collars and dumbs, and also (because she was a very tiny person) the unusual one of being hung by the neck to draw out the muscles and increase the growth," a signal failure in her case. Indeed, instances of absolute mutilation and misery are so common in the past that it is unnecessary to multiply them; but it is really sad to think that in our own day a civilised woman can hang on to a cross-bar while her maid laces her waist into a fifteen-inch circle. To begin with, the waist is not a circle at all, but an oval; nor can there be any greater error than to imagine that an unnaturally small waist gives an air of grace, or even of slightness to the whole figure. Its effect, as a rule, is to simply exaggerate the width of the shoulders and the hips; and those whose figures possess that stateliness, which is called stoutness by the vulgar, convert what is a quality into a defect by yielding to the silly edicts of Fashion on the subject of tight-lacing. The fashionable English waist, also, is not merely far too small, and consequently quite out of proportion to the rest of the figure, but it is worn far too low down. I use the expression "worn " advisedly, for a waist nowadays seems to be regarded as an article of apparel to be put on when and where one likes. A long waist always implies shortness of the lower limbs, and from the artistic point of view has the effect of diminishing the height; and I am glad to see that many of the most charming women in Paris are returning to the idea of the Directoire style of dress. This style is not by any means perfect, but at least it has the merit of indicating the proper position of the waist. I feel quite sure that all English women of culture and position will set their faces against such stupid and dangerous practices as are related by Miss Lefller-Arnim. Fashion’s motto is, Il faut souffrir pour être belle; but the motto of art and of common sense is, Il faut être bête pour souffrir.

Talking of Fashion, a critic in the Pall Mall Gazette expresses his surprise that I should have allowed an illustration of a hat, covered with “the bodies of dead birds," to appear in the first number of The Woman's World; and as I have received many letters on the subject, it is only right that I should state my exact position in the matter. Fashion is such an essential part of the mundus mulicbris of our day that it seems to me absolutely necessary that its growth, development, and phases should be duly chronicled; and the historical and practical value of such a record depends entirely upon its perfect fidelity to fact. Besides, it is quite easy for the children of light to adapt almost any fashionable form of dress to the requirements of utility and the demands of good taste. The Sarah Bernhardt tea-gown, for instance, figured in the present issue, has many good points about it, and the gigantic dress-improver does not appear to me to be really essential to the mode; and though the Postillion costume of the fancy dress ball is absolutely detestable in its silliness and vulgarity, the so-called Late Georgian costume in the same plate is rather pleasing. I must, however, protest against the idea, that to chronicle the development of Fashion implies any approval of the particular forms that Fashion may adopt.

Mrs. Craik's article on the condition of the English stage will, I feel sure, be read with great interest by all who are watching the development of dramatic art in this country. It was the last thing written by the author of "John Halifax, Gentleman," and reached me only a few days before her lamented death. That the state of things is such as Mrs. Craik describes, few will be inclined to deny; though, for my own part, I must acknowledge that I see more vulgarity than vice in the tendencies of the modern stage; nor do I think it possible to elevate dramatic art by limiting its subject-matter. On tue une littéraure quand on lui interdit la vérité humaine. As far as the serious presentation of life is concerned, what we require is more imaginative treatment, greater freedom from theatric language and theatric convention. It may be questioned, also, whether the consistent reward of virtue and punishment of wickedness be really the healthiest ideal for an art that claims to mirror nature. However, it is impossible not to recognise the fine feeling that actuates every line of Mrs. Craik's article; and though one may venture to disagree with the proposed method, one cannot but sympathise with the purity and delicacy of the thought, and the high nobility of the aim.

The French Minister of Education, M. Spuller, has paid Racine a very graceful and appropriate compliment, in naming after him the second college that has been opened in Paris for the higher education of girls. Racine was one of the privileged few who were allowed to read the celebrated Traité de l’Éducation des Filles before it appeared in print: he was charged, along with Boileau, with the task of revising the text of the constitution and rules of Madame de Maintenon's great college; it was for the Demoiselles de St. Cyr that he composed Athalie; and he devoted a great deal of his time to the education of his own children. The Lyceé Racine will no doubt become as important an institution as the Lyceé Fénelon, and the speech delivered by M. Spuller on the occasion of its opening was full of the happiest augury for the future. M. Spuller dwelt at great length on the value of Goethe's aphorism, that the test of a good wife is her capacity to take her husband's place, and to become a father to his children, and mentioned that the thing that struck him most in America was the wonderful Brooklyn Bridge, a superb titanic structure, which was completed under the direction of the engineer's wife, the engineer himself having died while the building of the bridge was in progress. “Il me semble,” said M. Spuller, "que la femme de l’ingénieur du pont de Brooklyn a réalisé la pensée de Goethe, et que non seulement elle est devenue un père pour ses enfants, mais un autre père pour l’æuvre admirable, vraiment unique, qui a immortalisé le nom qu'elle portait avec son mari.” M. Spuller also laid great stress on the necessity of a thoroughly practical education, and was extremely severe on the "Blue-stockings" of literature. "Il ne s’agit pas de former ici des ‘femmes savantes,’ Les ‘femmes savantes' ont été marqueés pour jamais par un des plus grands génies de notre race d’une légère teinte de ridicule. Non, ce n’est pas des femmes savantes que nous voulons: ce sont tout simplement des femmes: des femmes dignes de ce pays de France, qui est la patrie du bons sens, de la mesure, et de la grâce; des femmes ayant le notion juste et le sens exquis du rôle qui doit leur appartenir dans la société moderne.” There is, no doubt, a great deal of truth in M. Spuller's observations, but we must not mistake a caricature for the reality. After all, Les Précieuses Ridicules contrasted very favourably with the ordinary type of womanhood of their day, not merely in France, but also in England; and an uncritical love of sonnets is preferable, on the whole, to coarseness, vulgarity, and ignorance.

I am glad to see that Miss Ramsay's brilliant success at Cambridge is not destined to remain an isolated instance of what women can do in intellectual competitions with men. At the Royal University in Ireland the Literature Scholarship, of £100 a year for five years, has been won by Miss Story, the daughter of a North of Ireland clergyman. It is pleasant to be able to chronicle an item of Irish news that has nothing to do with the violence of party politics or party feeling, and that shows how worthy women are of that higher culture and education which has been so tardily and, in some instances, so grudgingly granted to them.

The Empress of Japan has been ordering a whole wardrobe of fashionable dresses in Paris for her own use and the use of her ladies-in-waiting. The chrysanthemum (the imperial flower of Japan) has suggested the tints of most of the Empress's own gowns, and in accordance with the colour-schemes of other flowers the rest of the costumes have been designed. The same steamer, however, that carries out the masterpieces of M. Worth and M. Félix to the Land of the Rising Sun, also brings to the Empress a letter of formal and respectful remonstrance from the English Rational Dress Society. I trust that, even if the Empress rejects the sensible arguments of this important Society, her own artistic feeling may induce her to reconsider her resolution to abandon Eastern for Western costume.

I hope that some of my readers will interest themselves in the Ministering Children's League, for which Mr. Walter Crane has done the beautiful and suggestive design of "The Young Knight." The best way to make children good is to make them happy, and happiness seems to me an essential part of Lady Meath's admirable scheme.