Pagina-afbeeldingen
PDF
ePub

stretched out to take it away her fingers must be to-day! Very little sleep they seemed to cling to it, and in spite of their had we may be sure on that sad night trembling, she finished making up her bou- when the news came, hardly more than quet without letting her cousin touch the the dear Mademoiselle Emmé herself, who flowers. Alma was satisfied that she would looked so white, so white on the morning not be a very helpless travelling coinpan. she left us, and who yet stopped to kiss ion for her father, in spite of that look of little Jean Baptiste at the last momentoverpowering paid in her eyes. She had when she was getting into the carriage. more self-command and strength of will | After that, as far as one hears, she took than one would give her credit for, to look no notice of any one. Le gros Jean who at ber.

was working by the roadside five miles Lady Rivers was, of course, vociferous from La Roquette that morning, affirms, in her lamentations when Emmie went to indeed, that the carriage passed him closewish her good-by, and Sir Francis had to ly, and that Mademoiselle Emmé made come up-stairs at the last possible minute him a sign of farewell from the window; and carry her off, leaving Alma to soothe but still it is well known that while she her mother as best she might.

was in the village she never looked out Except a distant glimpse of the carriage no, not even when the carriage passed the as it wound down the hill, Alma saw no château, though madame herself was standmore of the travellers, but she heard many ing out at the gate, longing - so Joseph stray scraps of news of them during the Marie tells us - for a look, or a word. long tedious days that followed. When. Well, well, the world goes round; and it is ever she came across any of the people now a funeral, and now a wedding that one belonging to the farm, they stopped her to is hurried towards. But that dear demoiimpart some piece of intelligence that had selle — to have seen her and the relation travelled up the hill, and was being circu- of madame, as they passed through that lated through the neighborhood by some little gate in the rose hedge, on their way lucky person who had caught a passing to the valley three days ago. Hold, madeglimpse of Emmie's face or figure, as the moiselle, I was watching them from the carriage drove through the village. The window of my dairy down there, and cerfurther away from La Roquette that the tainly it was not of death and missortune glimpse ha been obtained, the more valu one was reminded in looking at them. able it was held to be, and the greater in- The one as beautiful as the other — as I terest was attached to a full account of it. ventured to tell madame not 'twelve hours As the days passed, and the interest did after, she laughed like this, but bah! not diminish, Alma felt bewildered, not mademoiselle wishes to be alone" and knowing how to reconcile this universal la fermière at last gathered up her knitoccupation of a whole neighborhood about ting, and walked off to her own end of the Emmie West with the family opinion of house. Alma quite understood the unfa. her insignificance.

vorable comparisons between herself and “That poor sweet mademoiselle,” la Mamselle Emmie that the good woman fermière began, seating herself by Alma's made as she went. side in the porch on the last evening be- Still, with all these distractions, how fore her departure, and talking as famil- long the days of preparation were to Alma! iarly to her as if she had been Emmie Her heart was heavy and anxious, and yet

"that dear Mademoiselle Emmé, the she could pot help feeling irritated instead whole neighborhood is desolated at her of sympathetic with her mother's constant having been carried away from us so sud- wailings, which always seemed poured out denly, and for so sad a cause. The other over the least legitimate causes of comnight at the dance at Père Babou's some plaint. She racked her brains for consolone brought in the sad news among the atory remarks, and found all her efforts wedding-guests, and it was one exclama. useless, since nothing but a direct assurtion of regret, one cry of sorrow. Made- ance that she would marry Horace Kirklon, the bride of to-morrow, wept; oh! how man without delay, and undertake that his she wept, in spite of the bad omen of tears father should make the fortunes of all the at a betrothal feast; and her lover could West orphans — would satisfy her mothnot chide her, for he was almost as bad er's requirements, or give her the only himself. It was terrible ! and then Ma- comfort she would accept. Under the dame la Comtesse and her English rela- guise of complaint and condolence a wearytion who were to have assisted at the ing contest of wills went on all day long, wedding to-morrow, with Mademoiselle and Alma had no time to give to anticipaEmmé, only to imagine what their feelings | tions of the mountain journey and the

[ocr errors]

companionship it would bring her into, till daughter's wedding this morning. Yes, late on the last evening, when Lady Rivers the wedding that is going on precisely at had fallen asleep; and she sat for more this moment in the church down there. If than an hour at the window in Emmie's mademoiselle had been up a little earlier little bedroom, listening to the song of a and had chosen to climb the brow of the nightingale that from the rose hedge was hill and stand under that clump of fiy-trees, filling the garden with melody.

she might have seen madame, and mon. Her spirits rose under this soothing in- sieur her English relation, and M. le Curé fuence, and she found her thoughts stray crossing the place on their way to church. ing far away from the Wests' troubles, and Alas, that Mademoiselle Emmé should not complacency with her present situation be one of that party! Stay - this piece creeping in. Three days out of her old of orange-blossom; mademoiselle sees how life given back to her (that she thought fine it is? It is from a tree that Jean Bapwas going to happen); three days out of tiste calls his own, and he had flattered her youth, before ambition and worldly himself, the poor child, to present a boucouncils had spoiled her; three days of quet to his dear Mademoiselle Emmé this complete sorgetfulness of the Kirkmans, morning; and now, for want of better he three days of such interchange of thought bas stuck it here in his mother's cap. and sympathy as, she believed, for her, Hark! the bell — that is the signal that could only be had with one person, and that mass is half over, and in another ten min. must never be tasted again. That, at all utes or so the procession will be leaving events, she might hope for, to say nothing the church. Will mademoiselle come to of possibilities arising from these, which, the fig-trees, or will she wait here and in the hush of the soft night looked quite take in the letters should the facteur pass near and easy of attainment,

within the next quarter of an hour ?” The first day's journey was to be an Alma smilingly declined the scramble easy one, and the start was not to take up hill, and her companion, overjoyed to be place till after twelve o'clock, as Madame set at liberty, ran off, shaking the spray of de Florimel had an engagement in the orange-blossom from her head on to the morning, and Lady Rivers wished to await path as she ran. Alma took the trouble of the arrival of the post which might bring going to pick it up, and then stood still news of the travellers. This would be the for a minute or two turning her head to last opportunity of receiving letters for catch the faint tinkling of bells far below some days, and Alma, having heard of the in the valley which the soft wind brought uncertainty of the facteur's movements, at intervals to her ear. A swift little joy. came out into the porch once or twice note, now clear, now faint, now dying during the early morning to watch for his away, and again sounding a réveil to gladapproach as Emmie had so often done. ness and hope. But for that, the house

She was in much better spirits this and garden were intensely still, for Lady morning, and more sociably inclined to- Rivers and her maid were busy in the wards the inmates of the farm when they upper story, and all the other inhabitants came up to her, for things were altogether had betaken themselves to the point of oblooking brighter. Lady Rivers had slept servation under the fig-trees. well, and was equal to taking an interest in As Alma mounted the steps again, it the packing, and in the prospect of the flashed into her mind that this was the day mountain drive ; and besides Joseph Ma- when she was to have gone to Hurlingham rie had been to the maisonnette with a with the Kirkmans and a party of great message from madame long before the people whom poor Mrs. Kirkman would English inhabitants of the best rooms were be puzzled to entertain without her help. awake, and Alma felt sure that if there had Horace would have been coming to fetch been a departure from the château yester- her soon, and she would have been at her day, Madame Dallon would have told her toilette just now hard at work, really interof it the first thing when she came up into ested and anxious to shine forth among the porch, to point out the road down the guests, and make the doubtful enterwhich the facteur might soon be seen ap- tainment a splendid success by the sheer proaching, and which they were to follow force of her social gifts and fascinations. for the first stage of their journey. A splendid dress, a present from old Mr.

“ A hot drive they would have in the Kirkman, for the occasion, which Alma middle of the day, to-day," Madame Dal- blushed to think she had accepted will. lon waited to remark. “But what would ingly, was hanging up useless in her wardyou have ? Madame could not disappoint robe at this moment. Would there ever the good Claires of her presence at their come another suitable occasion for her to

66

THE POSITION AND

wear it, or was she really, really going ding-guest, though unluckily too late for during this journey to bid good-by to that the ceremony. If the young lady would part of her life, to the side of her char- only relieve him of the last contents of his acter that loved it, - forever?

bag - this great bundle of letters for the She crossed her arms on the balcony at chăteau - he should be at liberty to return the top of the steps, and fixed her eyes on through the bosquet and join in welcoming the point of the road where she expected the bridal party at the orange-tree house the postman to appear, but her thoughts on their return from church." were soon too busy for observation. She wondered over the strange interweaving of lots : joy to one, grief to another, that go to make up life. What a great many people's loss and trouble had it not taken

From The Contemporary Review.

INFLUENCE OF to buy this chance of a new decision for

WOMEN IN ANCIENT ATHENS. her, and the tranquil, bright days during which it would be possible for her to make

AFTER the Spartan women,* we should

* it! Poor little Emmie West, was she naturally discuss the position and influence thinking of the contrast, too? The very

of women among the Athenians. But a flower in Alma's bosom, whose strong fra singular phenomenon chronologically antegrance forced itself on her notice through rior arrests our attention. The Spartan her reverie, was Emmie's by right. It

constitution remained nearly in the same had budded for Emmie, and now it was

condition from the ninth century to the breathing its full-blown perfume into her fourth. Our knowledge of the life of the face. Yes, it was strange how things were

Athenian women relates mainly to the fifth ordered. Alma's thoughts wound round and later centuries. In the seventh and and round this question, touching it and sixth occurred the movement among straying a little beyond her own personal

women to which I allude. Unfortunately concerns to grapple with the problem why many features of it are obscure. The an. benefit to one should, as it seemed, be cients did not feel much interest in it, and bought by loss to another; but she did the records in which its history was connot, as Emmie might have done, turn her tained have nearly all perished. The cenperplexity into a prayer. Serious thought

tre of the movement was the poetess with her was more prone to exhale itself Sappho. She of herself would deserve a in half-discontented speculation than to passing notice in any account of ancient turn into prayers, though at that moment, women, for she attained a position altoas she remembered afterwards, there was gether unique. She was the only woman a whisper in lier conscience urging her to in all antiquity whose productions by uni. send up one cry for light and guidance in versal consent placed her on the same what she felt was likely to be a turning level as the greatest poets of the other point of her life; one prayer that she sex. Solon, on hearing one of her songs might not be allowed to make a cruel use sung at a banquet, got the singer to teach of other people's sorrow, and put her foot it to him immediately, saying that he wished upon another's life to reach what she to learn it and die.t Herodotus, Plato, wanted for herself. It was a little whis. Aristotle, refer to her in terms of profound per, not so distinct to her mental ear as respect. Plato called her the tenth Muse. the tinkling of the joy-bell in the valley,

And Strabo seems to express the opinion and it sank into silence soon when it was

of antiquity when he says that she was not heeded.

something quite wonderful ; " for we do She was roused from her absorption by not know," he says; # " in the whole period a voice addressing her, and turning round, of time of which there is any record, the she saw that the postman (who must have appearance of a single woman that could passed down the road unseen by her) was rival her, even in a slight degree, in respect

of mounting the steps with a packet of letters poetry.” in bis hands. He would not let her take

This woman determined to do her ut. them till he had delivered himself of a

most to elevate her sex. The one method long explanation of his reasons for leaving of culture open to women at that time was the letters for the château with her, as poetry. There was no other form of literwell as those addressed to the maisonnette. ature, and accordingly she systematically

“ Was not madame coming up the hill trained her pupils to be poets, and to weave in half an hour?” he asked, smiling, and

* LIVING AGE, No. 1817, p. 106. pointing to a spray of orange-blossom in

† Stob. 29, 58. his buttonhole." "Yes, he too was a wed

1 xiii. c. 2, sect. 3.

into verse the noblest maxims of the intel-strove, to establish much closer conneclect and the deepest emotions of the heart. tions, such strong ties of love between Young people with richly endowed minds members of her own sex as would unite flocked to her from all quarters, and formed them forever in firm friendship, soothe a kind of woman's college.

them in the time of sorrow, and make the There can be no doubt that these young hours of life pass joyfully on. And her women were impelled to seek the society poetry expresses an extraordinary strength of Sappho from disgust with the low and warmth of affection. Just as Socrates dringery and monotonous routine to which almost swoons at the sight of the exquisite won en's lives were sacrificed, and they beauty of an Athenian youth, so Sappho were anxious to rise to something nobler treinbles all over when she gazes on her and better. We learn this from Sappho lovely girls. And she weaves all the herself. It is thus that she addresses an beauties of nature into the expression of uneducated woman:

the depth of her emotion. She seems to

have had a rarely intense love of nature. Dying thou shalt lie in the tomb, and there The bright sun, the moon and the stars, shall be no remembrance of thee afterwards, the music of birds, the cool river, the shady for thou partakest not of the roses of Pieria : yea, undistinguished shalt thou walk in the grove, Hesperus, and the golden-sandalled halls of Hades, fluttering about with the pith. dawn - all are to her ministers of love, of less dead.

this intense love for her poetical pupils, for

one of whom she says she would not take And one of her most distinguished pupils, the whole of Lydia. But though this asErinna, who died at the early age of nine- sociation may have been one great object, teen, sang in her poem “ The Distaff” the it cannot be affirmed that she formed any sorrows of a girl whom her mother com- idea of making the love of women a subpelled to work at the loom and the distaff stitute for the love of men. Some of her while she herself longed to cultivate the girls unquestionably married, and Sappho worship of the Muses.

composed their hymeneal songs. She enDid she attempt any other innovation in tered into their future destinies and symregard to the position of women? What pathized with them throughout their career, did she think were the relations which following them to the grave with the sad ought to subsist between the one sex and lament which they only can utter wl have the other ? These are questions that we felt intensely the joys of life, and see in should fain wish we could answer; but death the entrance to a cold, shadowy, history remains silent, and we can only and pithless existence. form conjectures from isolated facts and It is possible that she may have venstatements. A late Greek writer, Maxi- tured on new opinions as to the nature of mus Tyrius, compares her association with marriage. When we come to treat of young women to the association which ex- Athens, we shall see that the restrictions isted between Socrates and young men. on marriage in the ancient world were of It has to be remembered that even in the sternest and most narrow character. Sparta the men were thrown into very close Her Lesbian countrywomen enjoyed conand continual intimacy; and that this was siderable liberty, and Heraclides Ponticus still more the case in other states where says that they were daring and bold. But the women were kept in strict confinement they were surrounded by Ionians among Even in Sparta the men dined together whom the position of women was almost alone; they were often away on military servile. Sappho may have opened her expeditions for whole months together, home to the girls who were tired of such and men

were the instructors of the close restriction, and may have counselled youths. In this way passionate intimacies marriage from choice. Probably this cirarose between old and young, the old man cumstance would account for the treatment striving to instruct his favorite youth in all which the character of Sappho received in manly and virtuous exercises, and the subsequent times, for all women who have young man serving and protecting his old dared to help forward the progress of their friend to the best of his power. These sex, and all men who have boldly aided attachments were like the loves of Jonathem, have almost uniformly been slanthan and David, surpassing the love of dered and reviled in all ages.* All the

It is likely that Sappho did not notices which we have of her from consee why these intimacies, fraught as they temporary or nearly contemporary sources were with so many advantages, should be confined to the male sex; and she strove, of the blockhead who is jealous of her talents."

"To attack a woman's reputation is the ready resort or at least Maximus Tyrius thought she Cornwallis.

women.

- Miss

as

[ocr errors]

a

speak of her in high terms of praise. Al cal movements which agitated her native cæus, her fellow-townsman, sings of her island, but it seems more likely that she

“the violet-crowned, chaste, sweet. would give offence by trying to strike smiling Sappho,” and approaches her in off some of the restrictions which in her verses wbich imply a belief in her purity: opinion harassed or degarded her sex.* Herodotus tells how she bitterly rebuked a brother who squandered all his money We come now to the Athenians. The on a beautiful courtezan. Her fellow-citi- phenomenon that presents itself here is as zens bonored her by stamping her figure peculiar and striking as anything we have upon their coins, “honored her,” says yet examined. In Athens we find two Aristotle, though she was a woman.' classes of women who were not slaves. And the fragments of her own poems bear There was one. class who could scarcely testimony to the same fact. They show, move a step from their own rooms, and indeed, the warm blood of a southern girl who were watched and restricted in every who has no concealments. If she loves, possible way. There was another class she tells it in verses that vibrate with emo- on whom no restrictions whatever were tion, that tremble with passion. And she laid, who could move about and do whatwas no prude. Like the rest of her sex ever seemed good in their own eyes. And of that day, she thought that it was wom- the unrestricted would in all probability an's destiny to love, and that the woman ha exchanged places with the restricted, who tried to resist the impulse of the god and many of the restricted envied the tried an impossible feat. But there is not freedom of the other members of their one line to show that she 'fell in love with sex. We proceed to the explanation of any man.

She may have done so, she this phenomenon. probably did so, but there is no clear proof. First of all the ancient idea of a State There is only one reference to a man, and has to be firmly kept in mind. The anit is most likely that she is celebrating not cient Greeks did not dream, as we have her own passion, but the love of one of said, of any political constitution more exher girls. And if she wrote many a hymn tensive than a city. Athens was the larg. to the golden-throned Aphrodite, she wrote est of these city-States in Greece, and also hymns to the chaste Artemis, and yet it probably never numbered more than prayed to the chaste graces.

thirty thousand citizens. These citizens, But when we pass from her contempo- according to the Greek idea, were all conraries to the Athenian comic writers, all nected by ties of blood more or less disis changed. No less than six comedies, tant; they all had the same divine anceswritten by six different poets, bore her tor; they all worshipped the same gods in name and exhibited her loves, and four the same temples, and they possessed other plays probably treated the same sub- many rights, properties, and privileges in ject. In these she was represented as lov- common.

It was therefore of supreme ing a poet who died before she was born, importance that in the continuation of the and two poets who were born after she State only true citizens should be admitted, died. But especially she fell into an in- and accordingly the general principle was fatuated love at the age of fifty for a kind laid down that none could become citizens of mythological young man who was gifted but those whose fathers and mothers had by Aphrodite with the power of driving been the children of citizens. From this any woman he liked into desperation for it followed the utmost care should be him. Old Sappho became desperate ac- taken that no spurious offspring should be cording to these poets, and plunged into palmed upon the State.

The women the sea to cool this mad passion; but could not be trusted in this matter to whether she ever reached the bottom, no their own sepse of propriety. comic poet or subsequent historian has natural for a woman to love. Even men vouchsafed to tell us. All these villanous were powerless before irresistible love, stories, which gathered vileness till, as and much less self-control could be exs Philarète Chasles remarks, they reached a pected from weak women. Means must climax in Pope, seem to me indicative therefore be devised to prevent the possi. that she ventured on some bold innova- bility of anything going wrong, and actions in regard to her own sex which shocked the Athenian mind. And per

The controversy about Sappho's character between haps confirmation is added to this by a Welcker and Col. Mare is well known. reliable inscription that she was banished "Kleine Schriftencontain several essays on her, in

addition to his famous defence. There is a very good and fled to Sicily. She may, indeed, have

essay on her and her times in Koechly's “ Akademische taken part in some of the numerous politi- Vorträge."

a

It was

Welcker's

« VorigeDoorgaan »