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Sewall, represents, in different degrees, a general advance. The “little vagrant pen" of Frances Sargent Osgood, as she confessed, “wandered lightly down the paper," but its fanciful turns had now and then a swift, capricious grace. The poems of Sarah Helen Whitman, belonging to the landscape school of Bryant, are of marked value, as are also the deeply earnest productions of Mrs. Anna Lynch Botta; which display a new distinctness of motive, possibly attributable to the influence of Longfellow. The same influence is felt in some of the early work of Alice Cary; whose individual strain of melancholy melody clings to remembrance, its charm stubbornly outliving our critical recognition of defects due, in great measure, to over-production. Emily Judson sometimes touched finely the familiar chords, as in the well-known poem of motherhood, “My Bird." The tender “Morning Glory” of Maria White Lowell, whose poems are characterized by a delicate and childlike simplicity, will be remembered.
In 1873 a critic not generally deemed too favorable to growths of the present day, recorded the opinion that there was “more force and originality,-in other words more genius,in the living female poets of America than in all their predecessors, from Mistress Anne Bradstreet down. At any rate there is a wider range of thought in their verse, and infinitely more art.” For the change first noted by Mr. Stoddard there is no accounting; the tides of genius are incalculable. The other gains, like those in fiction, are to be accounted for partly by the law of evolution working through our whole literature, by the influence of sounder models and of a truer criticism, and by the winnowing processes of the magazines; partly also, by the altered position and improved education of women in generalnot necessarily of the individual, since change in the atmosphere may have important results in cases where other conditions remain unchanged.
The poems of Mrs. Howe express true womanly aspiration, and a high scorn of unworthiness, but their strongest characteristic is the fervent patriotism which breathes through the famous “Battle-Hymn of the Republic.” The clear hopeful "orchard notes'' of Lucy Larcom—it is impossible to refrain from quoting Mr. Stedman's perfect phrase—first heard long since, have grown more mellow with advancing years.
The dramatic lyric took new force and naturalness in the hands of Rose Terry Cooke, and turned fiery in those of Mrs. Stoddard; whose contemplative poems also have an eminent sad dignity of style. The fine-spun subjective verse of Mrs. Piatt flashes at times with felicities as a web with dew-drops. Many names appear upon the honorable roll: Mrs. Fields, Mrs. Spofford, -whose rich nature reveals itself in verse as in the novel,—Mrs. Margaret J. Preston, Mrs. Mary Ashley Townsend; Elizabeth Akers Allen, Julia C. R. Dorr, Mrs. Stowe, Mrs. Whitney, Mrs. Dodge, Mrs. Moulton; Mrs. Thaxter, the sea's true lover, who has devoted herself to the faithful expression of a single phase of natural beauty; Mrs. Mary E. Bradley, Kate Putnam Osgood, Nora Perry, Mary N. Prescott, and Harriet McEwen Kimball; Mary Clemmer Hudson, Margaret Sangster, Miss Bushnell, “Susan Coolidge,” “Howard Glyndon," "Stuart Sterne,” Charlotte Fiske Bates, May Riley Smith, Ella Dietz, Mary Ainge De Vere, Edna Dean Proctor, the Goodale sisters, Miss Coolbrith, Miss Shinn, "Owen Innsley,” Elizabeth Stuart Phelps, and Alice Wellington Rollins. There is a kind of white fire in the best of the subtle verses of“H. H.”—a diamond light, enhanced by careful cutting. Generally impersonal, the author's individuality yet lives in them to an unusual degree. We may recognize, also, in the Jewish poems of Emma Lazarus, especially in "By the Waters of Babylon” and the powerful fourteenth-century tragedy, “The Dance to Death,” “the precious life-blood of a master spirit, embalmed and treasured up on purpose to a life beyond life.” The poems of Edith M. Thomas, with their exquisite workmanship, mark the high attainment of woman in the mastery of poetic forms, and exhale some breath of that fragrance which clings to the work of the young Keats. Miss Hutchinson's “Songs and Lyrics'' have also rare quality. The graceful verse of Mrs. Deland has been quick to win the ear of the public. Louise Imogen Guiney, sometimes straining the voice, has nevertheless contributed to the general chorus notes of unusual fullness and strength. In other branches of literature, to which comparatively few women have chosen to devote themselves, an increasing thoroughness is apparent, a growing tendency to specialism. The irresponsible feminine free-lance, with her gay dash at all subjects, and her alliterative pen-name dancing in every melée like a brilliant pennon, has gone over into the more appropriate field of journalism. The calmly adequate literary matron-of-all-work is an admirable type of the past, no longer developed by the new conditions. The articles of Lucy M. Mitchell on sculpture and of Mrs. Schuyler van Renssalaer on art and architecture; the historical work of Martha J. Lamb and of Mary L. Booth, the latter also an indefatigable translator; the studies of Helen Campbell in social science; the translations of Harriet Waters Preston—these few examples, given at random, are typical of the determination and concentration of woman's work at the present day. We notice in each new issue of a magazine the well-known specialists. Miss Thomas has given herself to the interpretation of nature in prose as in verse; “Olive Thorne" Miller to the loving study of bird-life. Mrs. Jackson, the most versatile of later writers, possessed the rare combination of versatility and thoroughness in such measure that we might almost copy Hartley Coleridge's saying of Harriet Martineau, and call her a specialist in everything; but her name will ever be associated with the earnest presentation of the wrongs of the Indian, as that of Emma Lazarus with the impassioned defense of the rights of the Jew.
The just and genial Colonel Higginson expresses disappointment that woman's advance in literature has not been more marked since the establishment of the women's colleges. “It is,” he says, “considerable and substantial; yet in view of the completeness with which literary work is now thrown open to women, and their equality as to pay, there is room for some surprise that it is not greater."
The proper fruit of the women's colleges in literature has, in fact, not yet ripened. It may at first seem strangely delayed, yet reflection will suggest the reasons. An unavoidable self-consciousness hampers the first workers under a new dispensation. It might appear at a casual glance that those released from the burden of a retarding tradition were ready at once for the race; but in truth the weight has only been exchanged for the lighter burden of the unfamiliar. Collegebred women of the highest type have accepted, with grave conscientiousness, new social responsibilities as the concomitant of their new opportunities.
“ Pealing the clock of Time
Has struck the Woman's hour;
We hear it on our knees,” wrote Miss Phelps for the graduates of Smith College ten years ago. That the summons has indeed been reverently heard and faithfully obeved, those who have followed the work of the Association of Collegiate Alumnæ can testify. The deed, and not the word, engages the energy of the college woman of to-day; but as these institutions grow into the life of our land, that life will be everywhere enriched; and the word must follow in happy time. Individual genius for literature is sure sooner or later to appear within the constantly widening circle of those fairly equipped for its exercise. It would be idle to expect that the cases in which native power and an adequate preparation go hand in hand, will be frequent; since they are infrequent among men. The desirable thing was, that this rare development should be made a possibility among women. It is possible to-day; some golden morrow will make it a reality.
WOMAN IN JOURNALISM.
SUSAN E. DICKINSON.
The pioneer woman in American journalism was Mrs. Mar. garet Craper, of the Massachusetts Gazette and News Letter, in the years of the Revolutionary War. After her to the year 1837 must be referred the first entrance of any American woman into the field of active journalism. At that time Mrs. Ann S. Stephens accepted the duties of editorial writer and literary critic in the columns of the New York Evening Express. Her connection with that paper continued for thirty years, but after 1857 it was limited to the editorial pages by the press of exacting duties elsewhere. In the last named year Mrs. Elizabeth F. Ellet succeeded her as literary editor of the Express, sustaining well the reputation which Mrs. Stephens had gained for it of a just and high standard of criticism. But in the intervening twenty years other women had followed Mrs. Stephens's lead, and made their mark in journalism with a freshness, a vigor, and a brilliance unsurpassed by any of the numerous later comers. During the thirties Mrs. Sarah Josepha Hale and the once famous Grimke sisters, Sarah and Angelina, availed themselves of the opportunities. offered for special writing by New York and Philadelphia papers. In 1841 Mrs. Lydia Maria Child, one of the most widely known authors of the day, made her appearance in the arena of New York journalism as editor of the Anti-Slavery Standard, a weekly newspaper published by the American AntiSlavery Society. Mrs. Child had already demonstrated her editorial ability in the establishment and conduct, for eight years, of the Juvenile Miscellany, the pioneer children's magazine of America. For two years Mrs. Child conducted the Standard alone; then, for six years more, in conjunction with her husband. But her best work during these years was done in 1842–'3-'4 as special New York correspondent for the Boston Courier, then edited by Joseph T. Buckingham. These weekly