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a great measure original; and yet there are many things in the situation of women, in the ground which they occupy in society, that seem to assist nature in the production of the effect described. Their conscious inferiority of personal strength must of itself dispose them to a cultivation of the finer and lovelier feelings; and this disposition is much aided by their exemption from those employments which hackney the minds of the other sex, and have a tendency to wear down all the minuter feelings. In consequence, too, of their domestick life, that reciprocation of social kindnesses, which is only a recreation to men, is to women, in some sense, a business. It is their field duty, from which household cares are their repose. Men do not seek the intercourse of society as a friend to be cultivated, but merely throw themselves on its bosom to sleep. Women, on the contrary, resort to it with recollections undistracted, and curiosity all alive. Thus, that which we enjoy and forget, keeps their attention and their feelings in constant play, and gradually matures their perceptions into instinct.
To similar causes, the softer sex owe their exquisite acquaintance with life and manners; their fine discernment of those smaller peculiarities of character which throw so much light and shade over the surface of ordinary society. Of the deeper varieties of the mind they know little; because they have not been accustomed to watch its movements when agitated by the vexing disquietudes of business, or ploughed up into frightful inequalities by the tempests of publick life. It is human nature in a calm, or ruffled only into gentle undulations ; it is the light restlessness of the domestick and the social passions; it is the fireside character of mankind which forms their chief study, and with which, of course, they are perfectly intimate.
Consider also that class of domestick occupations which concerns the care of children. Peace be to those wretched votaries of dissipation, if indeed they can find peace, who, all selfishness, resign their offspring to fortune, apparently not as pledges, but as presents. Of these we say nothing; but with respect to the majority of the middling classes, there can be no question that, either as mothers, or as elder sisters, the female sex are infinitely more conversant with children than the other. Trace the effects naturally produced on their minds by this sort of society, for surely it may be honoured with that appellation. What habits of quick and intelligent observation must be formed, by the employment of watching over interesting helplessness, and construing ill explained wants ! How must the perpetual contemplation of unsophisticated nature reflect back on the dispositions of the observer a kind of simplicity and ingenuousness! What an insight into the native constitution of the human mind must it give, to inspect it in the very act of concoction! It is as if a chymist should examine
-young diamonds in their infant dew. Not that mothers will be apt to indulge in delusive dreams of the perfection of human nature and human society. They see too much of the waywardness of infants to imagine them perfect. They neither find them nor think them angels, though they often call them so. But whatever is bad or good in them, they behold untrameled and undisguised. All this must, in some degree, contribute to form those peculiarities in the female character, of which we are attempting to follow out the natural history.
The same peculiarities, may, in part, perhaps, be traced up to the system of European manners, which allows to women a free association with the world, while it enjoins on them the condition of an unimpeachable strictness of conduct. However loosely the fulfilment of this condition may be exacted in some countries of Europe, the system is still pretty extensively
acted upon ; and it doubtless tends to produce in the sex a habit of circumspection, an alarmed sense of self-respect, and a scrupulous tenderness of that feeling, which is to conscience what decorum is to virtue. But these qualities seem to be intimately allied with delicacy of perception and of mind. In fact, in the western world, bienséance has become (if we may use a very hard and workman-like term) the professional virtue of the fair, and it is therefore that they excel in it. On the whole, if it should be asked, why women are more refined than men, it may be asked in return, why civilized men are more refined than barbarians. It is society which has polished the savage. It is the task of presiding over the society of society, The more civilized part of civilized life, which has so highly polished, and thrown so fine a finish over the women.
Is it not then wonderful to hear some men wonder, that female minds should be so quick of comprehension on common subjects, and yet so much averse to profound disquisition ; so intelligent, so susceptible of impressions, in familiar discourse, and yet, in politicks so dull, in metaphysicks so tasteless? They wonder at all this as inconsistent ; but the wonder and the inconsistency would be, if the matter were otherwise. We are all adroit at that which we have practised; and these sagacious wonderers may as well consider, why many a sage, who has mines of thought and magazines of infor. mation sufficient to supply the intellectual commerce of a kingdom, should yet be miserably clumsy and stupid at the retail traffick of ordinary chit. chat; or why many a philosopher, who can determine to a minute the curvature of a comet's path, should be utterly unable to curve his own person into a tolerable bow. From these, however, or any of the preceding remarks, it were strange to conclude that women are to be repelled from the severer studies, as if ignorance were the first of female qualifications. The remarks would rather justify an opposite conclusion. Provi. dence has clearly assigned to the one sex the forensick, to the other the domestick occupations; and before so obvious a difference of destination can be overlooked, not only must all right principles and feelings be abandoned, but the essence of things must almost be changed. Till this crisis occurs, women will be the tutelary powers of domestick and social enjoyment; and so long, if there be any truth in the foregoing reflections, they will retain their present agrémens. To embellish their minds, therefore, with an ampler furniture of knowledge, would only confer on them the means of decorating, with additional effect, their proper sphere; for the muses can never, of themselves, be at war either with the graces or with the virtues.
And yet, after all, there must be an original susceptibility in the female mind, which no education can give, and which hardly any could entirely destroy. Suppose a country, in which all the feebler and more rickety males should be carefully culled out, and instead of being committed to the river, as they would have been in Sparta, should be cooped up in drawingrooms; secluded from publick affairs ; forbidden the gallery of the house of commons; devoted to the household deities; and in all respects subjected to those laws of conduct which opinion has, in this country, imposed on women. There can be no rational doubt, but that this order of beings would make a considerable approach to the female character; but surely it would prove but a sorry concern. They would turn out, it is much to be feared, a mere corporation of tailors ; sad men, and worse women. Many of them would scribble novels; but which of them would prove such a novelist as Madame Cottin? Many a tolerable Bancis or Mopsa should we find among item; but which of them would resemble Elizabeth?
The mention of this last name, recalls us from a digression which must have fatigued the reader; and without, therefore, inflicting on him the further detention of a tedious apology, we will abruptly hasten to the discharge of the duty immediately pressing upon us. We are fearful, however, of spoiling the story for him, were we to give a complete abridgment of it; and shall therefore prefer the method of exciting his curiosity by drawing out an analysis of the first part only.
Elizabeth, in infancy, was happy ; but, as she advanced in years, her father's melancholy and her mother's tears could not escape her notice. She inquired the cause of their sorrows, and did not understand the reply, when she was told that they mourned for their country. Nothing more was revealed to her, but she became sad. She had, indeed, no griefs of her own; or rather she would have had none, if she had not regarded her parents as a dearer self. She forgot all her innocent pleasures, her birds and her flowers, and was absorbed in meditation. One single thought occupied her abroad, at home, at night, by day ; but it was religiously concealed; it filled her mind, but was not suffered to overflow.
Yes: she determined to tear herself from the emitraces of her parents-to go alone, on foot, to Petersburgh, and to implore pardon for her father. Such was the bold design which had presented itself to her imagination : such was the daring enterprise, the dangers of which could not daunt the heroick courage of a young and timid female. She beheld in their strongest light, many of the impediments she must overcome ; but her confidence in God, and the ardour of her wishes, encouraged her, and she felt convinced that she could surmount them all. p. 30.
But, bow execute this daring project? How perform the circuit of half Europe? How find her road without a guide? How traverse it without a protector? These thoughts held her anxious and hesitating, till at last one avenue of hope seemed to open through the gloom of despondency. Some years before, Springer had been rescued from imminent peril during a bear-hunt, by the son of M. de Smoloff, the governour of Tobolsk, who accidentally encountered liim during this dangerous sport. The name of this benefactor was ever afterwards recollected and repeated with enthu. siasm in the cottage of the exiles. Elizabeth and her mother had never seen him ; but they daily implored Ileaven to visit him with its choicest blessings. In her present difficulty Smoloff recurred to the recollection of Elizabeth. He had never been absent from her thought or her prayer, and his idea therefore naturally mixed itself with the designs that absorbed her mind. He had saved her father, and his fancied image, therefore, entered into the noble visions framed by her filial piety. But how was an interview with him to be procured?
Springer one day did not return to his cottage at the hour promised. His wife and child anxiously awaited, and at length sallied out in quest of him. Elizabeth was better able to support fatigue than her mother, and therefore proceeded further. Night was already approaching, when the report of a gun, and soon after the figure of a man behind a mass of rocks, caught her attention. "Is it my father?” she exclaimed. A young and handsome man appeared, and seemed as much overwhelmed with surprise at the meeting, as Elizabeth was lost in disappointment.
It is easy to guess that this youth was Smoloff, and that Smoloff is to be the lover of the tale. Madame Cottin, however, has not by any means overcharged her narrative with the details of the tender passion. The celebration of filial piety was her object, and she never loses sight of it. She has contrived to make this noble species of passion so engaging in her pages, that the garnish of a more romantick feeling is hardly required. She bas the art of making her heroine attractive rather by making her lovely,
than loved. In truth, the reader himself is enamoured of Elizabeth, and needs not the history of any other attachment, to render her interesting in his eyes:
“ 'Tout Paris pour Chiméne à les yeux de Rodrigue.” From Smoloff Elizabeth learns that her father has returned to his cot. tage, and rushes thither into the arms of her parents. Smoloff too, is there, for he had followed her unperceived. We cannot detail the particulars of the interesting interview that ensued; the arguments by which Springer was prevailed upon to grant his youthful guest an asylum for the night; and the respective feelings of all the parties. Elizabeth found no opportunity of disclosing to Smoloff her project and of demanding his assistance; but she did not despair. In the morning, Smoloff took his departure, with a declared resolution of repeating his visit. He wished to return, because he loved Elizabeth. Elizabeth wished him to return, because she loved her parents.
Few more interesting scenes can be found, than that which followed; the scene, in which Elizabeth first intimates to her father her great project, and shows him the extent of the treasure which he possessed even in a desert. But we will leave untouched, what, to be justly estimated, ought to be fully displayed, and hasten onwards to the second visit of Smoloff.
One of those terrible hurricanes, which are the scourges of a Siberian winter, overtook Elizabeth in one of her walks. The author, who excels in the painting of natural scenery, gives a particularly animated description of this fine subject; but we are constrained to shorten our extract, and will begin at once with our heroine.
One morning in the month of January, Elizabeth was overtaken by one of these terrible storms. She was in the plain near the little chapel; and as soon as the sudden obscurity of the sky presaged the approaching tempest, sought shelter under its venerable roof. The furious wind soon attacked this feeble edifice, and, shaking it to its foundation, threatened every instant to level it with the ground. Elizabeth, bending before the altar, felt no fear. The storm she had heard destroying all around her, created no sensation in her breast but that of a reverential awe, caused by a natural reflection on the Omnipotent Being from whose hand it came. As her life might be serviceable to her parents, she felt a confidence that Heaven would, for their sake, watch over and guard it, till she had delivered them from suffering. This sentiment, approaching almost to superstition, created by the fervour of her filial piety, inspired Elizabeth with a tranquillity so perfect, that in the midst of warring elements, with the thunderbolts of Heaven falling around her, she yielded calmly to the heaviness which oppressed her, and lying down at the foot of the altar, before which she had been offering up her prayers, fell into a slumber, secure and peaceful as that of innocence reposing on the bosom of a father. p. 68__70.
During her absence from the cottage, Smoloff arrived there. It was to be his last visit; for he had sworn this to his father, and Elizabeth was ab. sent! While in anxious expectation he prolonged his stay, the storm arose, and excited in the bosoms of both of the exiles, and of Smoloff, the most disquieting apprehensions respecting her fate.
“Elizabeth! Oh, Elizabeth! What will become of my Elizabeth ?” exclaimed the agonized mother. Springer took his stick in silence, and went to seek his daughter. Smoloff rushed after him. The tempest raged with the most terrifick violence on every side. The trees were torn up by the roots, and an attempt to cross the forest was attended by the most imminent danger, Springer remonstrated with Smolott, and endeavoured to deter him from following, but in vain. Smoloff' saw all the danger, buit rejoiced that an opportunity should offer for him to encounter such for the site of Elizabeth. He would give a proof of an affection he would have scarcely dlared to declare to its object.
They were now in the middle of the forest.“ On which side shall we turn ?" asked Smoloff.-“ Towards the plain," Springer replied; “ she walks there every day, and his probably taken shelter in the chapel.” They said no inore. Their anxiety was
equal. Stooping to shelter their heads from the blows of the broken boughs, and of the fragments of rocks which the wind scattered about, they walked forward as fast as the snow, which beat in their faces, would permit.
On gaining the plain, the danger with which they had been menaced from the fall. ing of the trees ceased; but in this exposed situation, they were sometimes driven backwards, and at others thrown down by the violence of the tempest. At last they reached the little chapel, in which they hoped Elizabeth had taken refuge ; but when they beheld this dangerous shelter, the walls of which consisted only of slightly jointed planks, that seemed ready every instant to fall, and become a pile of ruins, they began to shudder at the idea that she might be within them. Animated with renewed ardour, Smoloff leaves Springer some steps behind-he enters first; he seesIs it a dream ?-he sees Elizabeth, not terrified, pale, and trembling, but in a peaceful sleep before the altar. Struck with unutterable surprise, he stops, points out to Springer the cause of his amazement, and both impelled by similar sentiments of veneration, fall on their knees by the side of the angel sleeping under the special protection of heaven. The father bent over his child, while Smoloff, casting down his eyes, retired some steps, not presuming to approach too near to such supreme in
Elizabeth awoke, beheld her father, and throwing herself into his arms, exclaimed, "Ah! I knew thou watchedst over me.” Springer pressed her to his heart with indescribable emotion. “ My child," said he, “into what agonies hast thou thrown thy mother and me!”—“Oh, my father! pardon me for causing those tears," answered Elizabeth, "and let us hasten to relieve the terrours of my mother.” In rising she perceived Smoloff. “Ah!" said she, in gentle accents of pleasure and surprise ; “all my protectors have then been watching over me. Heaven, my father, and you." With extreme difficulty did her delighted lover repress the emotions of his heart.
Springer resumed. "My dear child," said he, “thou talkest of rejoining thy mother; but dost thou know whether it will be possible? whether thou wilt be able to resist the violence of a tempest that M. de Smoloff and I seem to have escaped from but by a miracle ?"-"I will try,” answered she; “my strength is greater than you think; and I rejoice in an opportunity which enables me to show you how much it is capable of performing when the consolation of my mother calls forth its exertion."
As she spake, unwonted courage beamed in her eyes; and Springer perceived that her enterprise was far from being relinquished. She walked between her father and Smoloff, who supported her together, and sheltered her head with their wide mantles. How much did Smoloff rejoice in that boisterous wind which obliged Elizabeth to trust to him for support! He thought not of his own life, which he would gladly have exposed a thousand times to prolong those moments. He feared not even for that of Elizabeth, which in the ecstacy that possessed him, he would have defied the elements combined to hinder him from preserving. p. 73–78.
During this visit, Smoloff, in the name of his father, accorded to Phedo. ra and her daughter, what their piety accounted a high privilege, the liberty of attending the service in the church of the neighbouring village of Saimka. It was to Smoloff, too, a privilege, for he hoped on these occasions to meet Elizabeth. The surprise of Elizabeth at the novelties which her first attendance at this church brought before her eyes, is very well described ; and the piety both of the mother and the daughter is placed in a very pleasing view. But Elizabeth had not yet revealed her project to Smoloff, and a tête-à-téte with him was absolutely necessary for the purpose.
She contrived, therefore, unobserved by her mother, to appoint a meeting with him for the next day at the little chapel which had already been the witness of so sweet a scene. Smoloff, more enamoured than ever, now securely indulged the belief that Elizabeth returned his attachment. How was it possible to interpret this appointment otherwise ? Could imagination have conceived a design so heroick as that which really prompted it? It was common for a youthful mind to be susceptible ; but was the filial virtue of Elizabeth a common quality ? One thing only perplexed him, that the open heart of Elizabeth should consent to an interview which was to be concealed from her parents; but he forgave all to what he imagined her passion. “Ah!" exclaims the author, « il ne se