lundi 7 novembre 2011

Augusta Jane Evans, ST. ELMO, New York, G. W. Carleton & Co., 1867, 571 pages.

The orphan's eyes were bent to the floor, and never once lifted, even when the trembling voice of her beloved pastor pronounced her St. Elmo Murray's wife. The intense pallor of her face frightened Mrs. Andrews, who watched her with suspended breath, and once moved eagerly toward her. Mr. Murray felt her lean more heavily against him during the ceremony; and, now turning to take her in his arms, he saw that her eyelashes had fallen on her cheeks--she had lost all consciousness of what was passing.         Two hours elapsed before she recovered fully from the attack; and when the blood showed itself again in lips that were kissed so repeatedly, Mr. Murray lifted her from the sofa in the study, and passing his arm around her, said:
        "To-day I snap the fetters of your literary bondage. There shall be no more books written! No more study, no more toil, no more anxiety, no more heart-aches! And that dear public you love so well, must even help itself, and whistle for a new pet. You belong solely to me now, and I shall take care of the life you have nearly destroyed, in your inordinate ambition. Come, the fresh air will revive you."
        They stood a moment under the honeysuckle arch over the parsonage gate, where the carriage was waiting to take them to Le Bocage, and Mr. Murray asked:
        "Are you strong enough to go to the church?"
        "Yes, sir; the pain has all passed away. I am perfectly well again."
        They crossed the street, and he took her in his arms and carried her up the steps, and into the grand, solemn church, where the soft, holy violet light from the richly-tinted glass streamed over gilded organ-pipes and sculptured columns.
        Neither Edna nor St. Elmo spoke as they walked down the aisle; and in perfect silence both knelt before the shining altar, and only God heard their prayers of gratitude.

p. 568

Augusta Jane Evans, ST. ELMO, New York, G. W. Carleton & Co., 1867, 571 pages.

In the midst of prompt preparations for departure, Edna's new novel appeared. She had christened it "SHINING THRONES OF THE HEARTH," and dedicated it "To my countrywomen, the Queens who reign thereon."         The aim of the book was to discover the only true and allowable and womanly sphere of feminine work, and, though the theme was threadbare, she fearlessly picked up the frayed woof and rewove it.
        The tendency of the age was to equality and communism, and this, she contended, was undermining the golden thrones shining in the blessed and hallowed light of the hearth, whence every true woman ruled the realm of her own family. Regarding every pseudo "reform" which struck down the social and political distinction of the sexes, as a blow that crushed one of the pillars of woman's throne, she earnestly warned the Crowned Heads of the danger to be apprehended, from the unfortunate and deluded female mal-contents, who, dethroned in their own realm, and despised by their quondam subjects, roamed as pitiable, royal exiles, threatening to usurp man's kingdom; and to proud, happy mothers, guarded by Prætorian bands of children, she reiterated the assurance that
        "Those who rock the cradle rule the world."

        Most assiduously she sifted the records of history, tracing in every epoch the sovereigns of the hearth-throne who had reigned wisely and contentedly, ennobling and refining humanity; and she proved by illustrious examples that the borders of the feminine realm could not be enlarged, without rendering the throne unsteady, and subverting God's

Page 526 law of order. Woman reigned by divine right only at home. If married, in the hearts of husband and children, and not in the gilded, bedizened palace of fashion, where thinly veiled vice and frivolity hold carnival, and social upas and social asps wave and trail. If single, in the affections of brothers and sisters and friends, as the golden sceptre in the hands of parents. If orphaned, she should find sympathy and gratitude and usefulness among the poor and the afflicted.
        Edna attached vast importance to individual influence, and fearing that enthusiastic young minds would be captivated by the charms of communism in labor, she analyzed the systems of "sisterhoods" which had waxed and waned from the Béguinages of the eleventh century, to Kaiserswerth, and Miss Sellon's establishment at Devenport. While she paid all honor to the noble self-abnegation and exalted charity which prompted their organization, she pointed out some lurking dangers in all systems which permanently removed woman from the heaven-decreed ark of the family hearthstone.
        Consulting the statistics of single women, and familiarizing herself with the arguments advanced by the advocates of that "progress," which would indiscriminately throw open all professions to women, she entreated the poor of her own sex, if ambitious, to become sculptors, painters, writers, teachers in schools or families; or else to remain mantua-makers, milliners, spinners, dairy-maids; but on the peril of all womanhood not to meddle with scalpel or red tape, and to shun rostra of all descriptions, remembering St. Paul's injunction, that "It is not permitted unto women to speak;" and even that "It is a shame for women to speak in the church."
        To married women who thirsted for a draught of the turbid waters of politics, she said: "If you really desire to serve the government under which you live, recollect that it was neither the speeches thundered from the forum, nor the

Page 527 prayers of priests and augurs, nor the iron tramp of glittering legions, but the ever triumphant, maternal influence, the potent, the pleading 'My son!' of Volumnia, the mother of Coriolanus, that saved Rome."
        To discontented spinsters, who travelled like Pandora over the land, haranguing audiences that secretly laughed at and despised them, to these unfortunate women, clamoring for power and influence in the national councils, she pointed out that quiet happy home at 'Barley Wood,' whence immortal Hannah More sent forth those writings which did more to tranquillize England, and bar the hearts of its yeomanry against the temptations of red republicanism than all the eloquence of Burke, and the cautious measures of Parliament.
        Some errors of style, which had been pointed out by critics as marring her earlier writings, Edna had endeavored to avoid in this book, which she humbly offered to her countrywomen as the best of which she was capable.
        From the day of its appearance it was a noble success; and she had the gratification of hearing that some of the seed she had sown broadcast in the land, fell upon good ground, and promised an abundant harvest.

p. 525-527

Augusta Jane Evans, ST. ELMO, New York, G. W. Carleton & Co., 1867, 571 pages.

I confess she has cured me to a great extent, of my horror of literary characters. She is the only one I ever saw who was really lovable, and not a walking parody on her own writings. You would be surprised at the questions constantly asked me, about her habits and temper. People seem so curious to learn all the routine of her daily life. Last week a member of our club quoted something from her writings, and said that she was one of the few authors of the day whose books, without having first examined, he would put into the hands of his daughters. He remarked: 'I can trust my girls' characters to her training, for she is a true woman; and if she errs at all in any direction, it is the right one, only a little too rigidly followed.'

p. 522

Augusta Jane Evans, ST. ELMO, New York, G. W. Carleton & Co., 1867, 571 pages.

 With renewed zest Edna devoted every moment stolen from Felix, to the completion of her new book. Her first had been a "bounteous promise"--at least so said criticdom--and she felt that the second would determine her literary position, would either place her reputation as an author beyond all cavil, or utterly crush her ambition.         Sometimes as she bent over her MS., and paused to re-read some passage just penned, which she had laboriously composed, and thought particularly good as an illustration of the idea she was striving to embody perspicuously, a smile would flit across her countenance while she asked herself:
        "Will my readers see it as I see it? Will they thank me for my high opinion of their culture, in assuming that it will be quite as plain to them as to me? If there should accidentally be an allusion to classical or scientific literature, which they do not understand at the first hasty, careless, novel-reading glance, will they inform themselves, and then appreciate my reason for employing it, and thank me for the hint; or will they attempt to ridicule my pedantry? When will they begin to suspect that what they may imagine sounds 'learned' in my writings, merely appears so to them because they have not climbed high enough to see how vast, how infinite is the sphere of human learning? No, no, dear reader shivering with learning-phobia, I am not learned. You are only a little, a very little more ignorant. Doubtless you know many things which I should be glad to learn; come, let us barter. Let us all study the life of Giovanni Pico Mirandola, and then we shall begin to understand the meaning of the word 'learned.'"

p. 519

Augusta Jane Evans, ST. ELMO, New York, G. W. Carleton & Co., 1867, 571 pages.

While aware of the prejudice that exists against literary women, she endeavored to avoid the outré idiosyncrasies that justly render so many of that class unpopular and ridiculous.         She felt that she was a target at which all observers aimed random shafts; and while devoting herself to study, she endeavored to give due attention to the rules of etiquette, and the harmonious laws of the toilette.

p. 468

Augusta Jane Evans, ST. ELMO, New York, G. W. Carleton & Co., 1867, 571 pages.

So it came to pass that finally, after toiling over many obstacles, she reached the vine-clad valley of Eschol.
        Each day brought her noble fruitage, as letters came from all regions of the country, asking for advice and assistance in little trials of which the world knew nothing. Over the young of her own sex she held a singular sway; and orphan girls of all ranks and ages wrote of their respective sorrows and difficulties, and requested her kind counsel. To these her womanly heart turned yearningly; and she accepted their affectionate confidence as an indication of her proper circle of useful labor.
        Believing that the intelligent, refined, modest Christian women of the United States were the real custodians of national purity, and the sole agents who could successfully arrest the tide of demoralization breaking over the land, she addressed herself to the wives, mothers, and daughters of America; calling upon them to smite their false gods, and purify the shrines at which they worshipped. Jealously

Page 468 she contended for every woman's right which God and nature had decreed the sex. The right to be learned, wise, noble, useful, in woman's divinely limited sphere; the right to influence and exalt the circle in which she moved; the right to mount the sanctified bema of her own quiet hearthstone; the right to modify and direct her husband's opinions, if he considered her worthy and competent to guide him; the right to make her children ornaments to their nation, and a crown of glory to their race; the right to advise, to plead, to pray; the right to make her desk a Delphi, if God so permitted; the right to be all that the phrase "noble, Christian woman" means. But not the right to vote; to harangue from the hustings; to trail her heaven-born purity through the dust and mire of political strife; to ascend the rostra of statesmen, whither she may send a worthy husband, son, or brother, but whither she can never go, without disgracing all womanhood.

p. 467-468

Augusta Jane Evans, ST. ELMO, New York, G. W. Carleton & Co., 1867, 571 pages.

 THE Greek myth concerning Demophoön embodies a valuable truth, which the literary career of Edna Earl was destined to exemplify. Harsh critics like disguised Ceres plunged the young author into the flames; and fortunately for her, as no shortsighted, loving Metanira snatched her from the fiery ordeal, she ultimately obtained the boon of immortality.

p. 465

Augusta Jane Evans, ST. ELMO, New York, G. W. Carleton & Co., 1867, 571 pages.

 "As yet, sir, it is not assured. My next book will determine my status in literature; and I have too much to accomplish--I have achieved too little, to pause and look back, and pat my own shoulder, and cry, Io triumphe! I am not so indifferent as you seem to imagine. Praise gratifies, and censure pains me; but I value both as mere gauges of my work, indexing the amount of good I may or may not hope to effect. I wish to be popular--that is natural, and, surely, pardonable; but I desire it not as an end, but as a means to an end--usefulness to my fellow-creatures;
                       'And whether crowned or crownless, when I fall,
                       It matters not, so as God's work is done.'

p. 457

Augusta Jane Evans, ST. ELMO, New York, G. W. Carleton & Co., 1867, 571 pages.

The young author was told that she had not succeeded in her grand aim, because the subject was too vast for the limits of a novel, and her acquaintance with the mythologies of the world was not sufficiently extensive or intimate. But she was encouraged to select other themes more in accordance with the spirit of the age in which she lived; and the assurance was given to her, that her writings were destined to exert a powerful influence on her race. Some faults of style were gravely reprimanded, some beauties most cordially eulogized and held up for the admiration of the world.
Page 446
        Edna had as little literary conceit as personal vanity she saw and acknowledged the errors pointed out by Mr. Manning, and resolved to avoid them in future. She felt that some objections urged against her book were valid, but knew that she was honest and earnest in her work, and could not justly be accused of trifling.
        Gratefully and joyfully she accepted Mr. Manning's verdict, and turned her undivided attention upon her new manuscript.
        While the critics snarled, the mass of readers warmly approved; and many who did not fully appreciate all her arguments and illustrations, were at least clear-eyed enough to perceive that it was their misfortune, not her fault.
        Gradually the book took firm hold on the affections of the people; and a few editors came boldly to the rescue, and nobly and ably championed it.
        During these days of trial, Edna could not avoid observing one humiliating fact, that saddened without embittering her nature. She found that instead of sympathizing with her, she received no mercy from authors, who, as a class, out-Heroded Herod in their denunciations, and left her little room to doubt that--

                       "Envy's a sharper spur than pay,
                       And unprovoked 'twill court the fray;
                       No author ever spared a brother;
                       Wits are gamecocks to one another."

p. 445-446

Augusta Jane Evans, ST. ELMO, New York, G. W. Carleton & Co., 1867, 571 pages.

Newspapers pronounced her book a failure. Some sneered in a gentlemanly manner, employing polite phraseology; others coarsely caricatured it. Many were insulted by its incomprehensible erudition; a few growled at its shallowness. To-day there was a hint at plagiarism; to-morrow an outright, wholesale theft was asserted. Now she was a pedant; and then a sciolist. Reviews poured in upon her thick and fast; all found grievous faults, but no two reviewers settled on the same error. What one seemed disposed to consider almost laudable the other denounced violently. One eminently shrewd, lynx-eyed editor discovered that two of her characters were stolen from a book which Edna had never seen; and another, equally ingenious and penetrating, found her entire plot in a work of which she had never heard; while a third, shocked at her pedantry, indignantly assured her readers that they had been imposed upon, that the learning was all "picked up from encyclopædias;" whereat the young author could not help laughing heartily, and wondered why, if her learning had been so easily gleaned, her irate and insulted critics did not follow her example.         The book was for many days snubbed, buffeted, browbeaten; and the carefully-woven tapestry was torn into shreds and trampled upon; and it seemed that the patiently sculptured shrine was overturned and despised and desecrated.
        Edna was astonished. She knew that her work was not perfect, but she was equally sure that it was not contemptible. She was surprised rather than mortified, and was convinced,

Page 445 from the universal howling, that she had wounded more people than she dreamed were vulnerable.
        She felt that the impetuosity and savageness of the attacks must necessitate a recoil; and though it was difficult to be patient under such circumstances, she waited quietly, undismayed by the clamor.

p. 444-445

Augusta Jane Evans, ST. ELMO, New York, G. W. Carleton & Co., 1867, 571 pages.

For several weeks her book had been announced as in press, and her publishers printed most flattering circulars, which heightened expectation, and paved the way for its favorable reception. Save the first chapter, rejected by
Page 443 Mr. Manning long before, no one had seen the MS.; and while the reading public was on the qui vive, the author was rapidly maturing the plot of a second work.
        Finally, the book was bound; editors' copies winged their way throughout the country; the curious eagerly supplied themselves with the latest publication; and Edna's destiny as an author hung in the balance.
        It was with strange emotions that she handled the copy sent to her, for it seemed indeed a part of herself. She knew that her own heart was throbbing in its pages, and wondered whether the great world-pulses would beat in unison.
        Instead of a preface she had quoted on the title-page those pithy lines in "Aurora Leigh":

                       "My critic Belfair wants a book
                       Entirely different, which will sell and live;
                       A striking book, yet not a startling book--
                       The public blamos originalities.
                       You must not pump spring-water unawares
                       Upon a gracious public full of nerves--
                       Good things, not subtle--new, yet orthodox;
                       As easy reading as the dog-eared page
                       That's fingered by said public fifty years,
                       Since first taught spelling by its grandmother,
                       And yet a revelation in some sort:
                       That's hard, my critic Belfair!"
        Now, as Edna nestled her fingers among the pages of her book, a tear fell and moistened them, and the unvoiced language of her soul was, "Grandpa! do you keep close enough to me to read my book? Oh! do you like it? are you satisfied? Are you proud of your poor little Pearl?"

p. 442-443

Augusta Jane Evans, ST. ELMO, New York, G. W. Carleton & Co., 1867, 571 pages.

  Her name was known in the world of letters, her reputation was already enviable; extravagant expectations were entertained concerning her future; and to maintain her hold on public esteem, to climb higher, had become necessary for her happiness.         Through Mr. Manning's influence and friendship she was daily making the acquaintance of the leading men in literature, and their letters and conversation stimulated her to renewed exertion.
        Yet she had never stooped to conciliate popular prejudices, had never written a line which her conscience did not dictate, and her religious convictions sanction; had bravely attacked some of the pet vices and shameless follies of society, and had never penned a page without a prayer for guidance from on High.
        Now in her path rose God's Reaper, swinging his shining sickle, threatening to cut off and lay low her budding laurel-wreath.
        While she stood silent and motionless in the quiet library, the woman's soul was wrestling with God for permission to toil a little while longer on earth, to do some good for her race, and to assist in saving a darkened soul almost as dear to her as her own.

p. 441

Augusta Jane Evans, ST. ELMO, New York, G. W. Carleton & Co., 1867, 571 pages.

 The design of the second book appeared to her partial eyes almost perfect, and the first seemed insignificant in comparison. Trains of thought that had charmed her, making her heart throb and her temples flush; and metaphors that glowed as she wrote them down, ah! how tame and trite all looked now, in the brighter light of a newer revelation! The attained, the achieved, tarnished in her grasp. All behind was dun; all beyond clothed with a dazzling glory that lured her on.         Once the fondest hope of her heart had been to finish the book now in the publisher's hands; but ere it could be printed, other characters, other aims, other scenes usurped her attention. If she could only live long enough to incarnate the new ideal!

p. 440

Augusta Jane Evans, ST. ELMO, New York, G. W. Carleton & Co., 1867, 571 pages.

 "Miss Earl, I never deceive my patients. It is useless to dose you with medicine, and drug you into semi-insensibility. You must have rest and quiet; rest for mind as well as body; there must be no more teaching or writing. You are over-worked, and incessant mental labor has hastened the approach of a disease which, under other circumstances, might have encroached very slowly and imperceptibly. If latent (which is barely possible) it has contributed to a fearfully rapid development. Refrain from study, avoid all excitement, exercise moderately but regularly in the open air; and, above all things, do not tax your brain. If you carefully observe these directions, you may live to be as old as your grandfather. Heart diseases baffle prophecy, and I make no predictions."         He rose and took his hat from the table.
        "Miss Earl, I have read your writings with great pleasure, and watched your brightening career with more interest than I ever felt in any other female author; and God knows it is exceedingly painful for me to tear away the veil from your eyes. From the first time you were pointed out to me in church, I saw that in your countenance which distressed and alarmed me; for its marble pallor whispered that your days were numbered. Frequently I have been tempted to come and expostulate with you, but I knew it would be useless. You have no reader who would more earnestly deplore the loss of your writings, but, for your own sake, I beg you to throw away your pen and rest."

p. 437

Augusta Jane Evans, ST. ELMO, New York, G. W. Carleton & Co., 1867, 571 pages.

The night was almost spent when Edna laid down her pen, and raised her clasped hands over the MS., which she had just completed.
        For many weary months she had toiled to render it worthy of its noble theme, had spared neither time nor severe trains of thought; by day and by night she had searched and pondered; she had prayed fervently and ceaselessly, and worked arduously, unflaggingly, to accomplish this darling hope of her heart, to embody successfully this ambitious dream, and at last the book was finished.
        The manuscript was a mental tapestry, into which she had woven exquisite shades of thought, and curious and quaint, devices and rich, glowing imagery that flecked the groundwork with purple and amber and gold.
        But would the design be duly understood and appreciated by the great, busy, bustling world, for whose amusement and improvement she had labored so assiduously at the spinning-wheels of fancy -- the loom of thought? Would her fellow-creatures accept it in the earnest, loving spirit in which it had been manufactured? Would they hang this Gobelin of her brain along the walls of memory, and turn to it tenderly, reading reverently its ciphers

Page 434 and its illuminations; or would it be rent and ridiculed, and trampled under foot? This book was a shrine to which her purest thoughts, her holiest aspirations travelled like pilgrims, offering the best of which her nature was capable. Would those for whom she had patiently chiselled and built it guard and prize and keep it; or smite and overturn and defile it?
        Looking down at the mass of MS. now ready for the printer, a sad, tender, yearning expression filled the author's eyes; and her little white hands passed caressingly over its closely-written pages, as a mother's soft fingers might lovingly stroke the face of a child about to be thrust out into a hurrying crowd of cold, indifferent strangers, who perhaps would rudely jeer at and brow-beat her darling.
        For several days past Edna had labored assiduously to complete the book, and now at last she could fold her tired hands, and rest her weary brain.

p. 433-434

Augusta Jane Evans, ST. ELMO, New York, G. W. Carleton & Co., 1867, 571 pages.

Brief but severe was the struggle in Edna's heart. Probably no woman's literary vanity and ambition has ever been more fully gratified than was hers, by this most unexpected offer of marriage from one whom she had been taught to regard as the noblest ornament of the profession she had selected. Thinking of the hour when she sat alone, shedding tears of mortification and bitter disappointment over his curt letter rejecting her MS., she glanced at the stately form beside her, the mysteriously calm, commanding face, the large white, finely moulded hands, waiting to clasp hers for all time, and her triumph seemed complete.         To rule the destiny of that strong man, whose intellect was so influential in the world of letters, was a conquest of which, until this hour, she had never dreamed; and the blacksmith's darling was, after all, a mere woman, and the honor dazzled her.
        To one of her peculiar temperament wealth offered no temptation; but Douglass Manning had climbed to a grand eminence, and, looking up at it, she knew that any woman might well be proud to share it.
        He filled her ideal, he came fully up to her lofty moral and mental standard. She knew that his superior she could never hope to meet, and her confidence in his nobility of character was boundless.

p. 428

Augusta Jane Evans, ST. ELMO, New York, G. W. Carleton & Co., 1867, 571 pages.

  "Miss Earl, I fear you will regret your determination to
Page 372 make literature a profession; for your letters informed me that you are poor; and doubtless you remember the witticism concerning the 'republic of letters which contained not a sovereign.' Your friend, Mr. Murray, appreciated the obstacles you are destined to encounter, and I am afraid you will not find life in New-York as agreeable as it was under his roof."

p. 371-372

Augusta Jane Evans, ST. ELMO, New York, G. W. Carleton & Co., 1867, 571 pages.

 "Mr. Manning, why do you apprehend more danger from writing a book than from the preparation of magazine articles?"
        "Simply because the peril is inherent in the nature of the book you contemplate. Unless I totally misunderstand your views, you indulge in the rather extraordinary belief that all works of fiction should be eminently didactic, and inculcate not only sound morality but scientific theories. Herein, permit me to say, you entirely misapprehend the spirit of the age. People read novels merely to be amused, not educated; and they will not tolerate technicalities and abstract speculation in lieu of exciting plots and melodramatic dénouements. Persons who desire to learn something of astronomy, geology, chemistry, philology, etc., never think of finding what they require in the pages of a novel, but apply at once to the text-books of the respective sciences, and would as soon hunt for a lover's sentimental dialogue in Newton's 'Principia,' or spicy small-talk in Kant's 'Critique,' as expect an epitome of modern science in a work of fiction."
        "But, sir, how many habitual novel-readers do you suppose will educate themselves thoroughly from the text-books to which you refer?"
        "A modicum, I grant you; yet it is equally true that those who merely read to be amused will not digest the scientific dishes you set before them. On the contrary, far from appreciating your charitable efforts to elevate and broaden their range of vision, they will either sneer at the author's pedantry, or skip over every passage that necessitates thought to comprehend it, and rush on to the next page to discover whether the heroine, Miss Imogene Arethusa Penolope Brown, wore blue or pink tarlatan to her first ball, or whether on the day of her elopement the indignant papa succeeded in preventing the consummation of her felicity with Mr. Belshazzar Algernon Nebuchadnezzar Smith. I neither magnify nor dwarf, I merely state a simple fact."

Page 370
        "But, Mr. Manning, do you not regard the writers of each age as the custodians of its tastes, as well as its morals?"
        "Certainly not; they simply reflect and do not mould public taste. Shakespeare, Hogarth, Rabelais, portrayed men and things as they found them; not as they might, could, would, or should have been. Was Sir Peter Lely responsible for the style of dress worn by court beauties in the reign of Charles II.? He faithfully painted what passed before him. Miss Earl, the objection I urge against the novel you are preparing does not apply to magazine essays, where an author may concentrate all the erudition he can obtain and ventilate it unchallenged; for review writers now serve the public in much the same capacity that cupbearers did royalty in ancient days; and they are expected to taste strong liquors as well as sweet cordials and sour light wines. Moreover, a certain haze of sanctity envelopes the precints of 'Maga,' whence the incognito 'we' thunders with oracular power; for, nowithstanding the rapid annihilation of all classic faith in modern times which permits the conversion of Virgil's Avernus into a model oysterfarm, the credulous public fondly cling to the myth that editorial sanctums alone possess the sacred tripod of Delphi. Curiosity is the best stimulant for public interest, and it has become exceedingly difficult to conceal the authorship of a book, while that of magazine articles can readily be disguised. I repeat, the world of novel-readers constitute a huge hippodrome, where, if you can succeed in amusing your spectators or make them gasp in amazement at your rhetorical legerdemain, they will applaud vociferously, and pet you, as they would a graceful danseuse, or a dexterous acrobat, or a daring equestrian; but if you attempt to educate or lecture them, you will either declaim to empty benches or be hissed down. They expect you to help them kill time not improve it."
        "Sir, is it not nobler to struggle against than to float ignominiously with the tide of degenerate opinion?"

Page 371
        "That depends altogether on the earnestness of your desire for martyrdom by drowning. I have seen stronger swimmers than you go down, after desperate efforts to keep their heads above water."

p. 369-371

Augusta Jane Evans, ST. ELMO, New York, G. W. Carleton & Co., 1867, 571 pages.

 "My child, your ambition is your besetting sin. It is Satan pointing to the tree of knowledge, tempting you to eat and become 'as gods.' Search your heart, and I fear you will find that while you believe you are dedicating your talent entirely to the service of God, there is a spring of selfishness underlying all. You are too proud, too ambitious of distinction, too eager to climb to some lofty niche in the temple of fame, where your name, now unknown, shall shine in the annals of literature and serve as a beacon to encourage others equally as anxious for celebrity. I was not surprised to see you in print; for long, long ago, before you realized the extent of your mental dowry, I saw the kindling of that ambitious spark whose flame generally consumes the women in whose hearts it burns. The history of literary females is not calculated to allay the apprehension that oppresses me, as I watch you just setting out on a career so fraught with trials of which you have never dreamed. As a class, they are martyrs, uncrowned and uncanonized; jeered at by the masses, sincerely pitied by a few earnest souls, and wept over by the relatives who really love them. Thousands of women have toiled over books that proved millstones and drowned them in the sea of letters. How many of the hundreds of female writers scattered through the world in this century, will be
Page 292 remembered six months after the coffin closes over their weary, haggard faces? You may answer, 'They made their bread.' Ah child! it would have been sweeter if earned at the wash-tub, or in the dairy, or by their needles. It is the rough handling, the jars, the tension of her heart-strings that sap the foundations of a woman's life, and consign her to an early grave; and a Cherokee rose-hedge is not more thickly set with thorns than a literary career with grievous, vexatious, tormenting disappointments. If you succeed after years of labor and anxiety and harassing fears, you will become a target for envy and malice, and, possibly, for slander. Your own sex will be jealous of your eminence, considering your superiority as an insult to their mediocrity; and mine will either ridicule or barely tolerate you; for men detest female competitors in the Olympian game of literature. If you fail, you will be sneered down till you become imbittered, soured, misanthropic; a curse to yourself, a burden to the friends who sympathize with your blasted hopes. Edna, you have talent, you write well, you are conscientious; but you are not De Staël, or Hannah More, or Charlotte Brontë, or Elizabeth Browning; and I shudder when I think of the disappointment that may overtake all your eager aspirations. If I could be always near you, I should indulge less apprehension for your future; for I believe that I could help you to bear patiently whatever is in store for you. But far away among strangers you must struggle alone."

p. 291-292

Augusta Jane Evans, ST. ELMO, New York, G. W. Carleton & Co., 1867, 571 pages.Augusta Jane Evans, ST. ELMO, New York, G. W. Carleton & Co., 1867, 571 pages.

Of all my pet aversions my most supreme abhorrence is of what are denominated 'gifted women;' strong-minded, (that is, weak-brained but loud-tongued,) would-be literary females, who, puffed up with insufferable conceit, imagine they rise to the dignity and height of man's intellect, proclaim that their 'mission' is to write or lecture, and set themselves up as shining female lights, each aspiring to the rank of protomartyr of reform. Heaven grant us a Bellerophon to relieve the age of these noisy Amazons! I should really enjoy seeing them tied down to their spinning-wheels, and gagged with their own books, magazines, and lectures! When I was abroad and contrasted the land of my birth with those I visited, the only thing for which, as an American, I felt myself called on to blush, was my countrywomen. An insolent young count who had traveled through the Eastern and Northern States of America, asked me one day in Berlin, if it were really true that the male editors, lawyers, doctors, and lecturers in the United States were contemplating a hegira, in consequence of the rough elbowing by the women, and if I could inform him at what age the New-England
Page 261 girls generally commenced writing learned articles, and affixing LL.D., F.E.S., F.S.A., and M.M.S.S. to their signatures?

p. 260-261

Augusta Jane Evans, ST. ELMO, New York, G. W. Carleton & Co., 1867, 571 pages.

Literary women, whose avocation is selected simply because they fancy it easier to write than to sew for bread, or because they covet the applause and adulation heaped upon successful genius, or desire mere notoriety, generally barter their birthright of quiet, life-long happiness in the peaceful seclusion of home for a nauseous mess of poisoned pottage that will not appease their hunger; and they go down to untimely graves disappointed, imbittered, hating the public for whose praises they toiled, cheated out of the price for which they bargained away fireside joys and domestic serenity.
        The fondest hope of Edna's heart was to be useful in "her day and generation"--to be an instrument of some good to her race; and while she hoped for popularity as an avenue to the accomplishment of her object, the fear of ridicule and censure had no power to deter her from the line of labor upon which she constantly invoked the guidance and blessing of God.

p. 238

Augusta Jane Evans, ST. ELMO, New York, G. W. Carleton & Co., 1867, 571 pages.

During her long reverie, she wondered whether all women were browbeaten for aspiring to literary honors; whether the poignant pain and mortification gnawing at her heart was the inexorable initiation-fee for entrance upon that arena, where fame adjudges laurel crowns, and reluctantly and sullenly drops one now and then on female brows. To possess herself of the golden apple of immortality, was a purpose from which she had never swerved; but how to baffle the dragon critics who jealously guarded it was a problem whose solution puzzled her.         To abandon her right to erudition formed no part of the programme which she was mentally arranging, as she sat there watching a moth singe its filmy, spotted wings in the gas-flame; for she was obstinately wedded to the unpardonable heresy, that, in the nineteenth century, it was a woman's privilege to be as learned as Cuvier, or Sir William Hamilton, or Humboldt, provided the learning was accurate, and gave out no hollow, counterfeit ring under the merciless hammering of the dragons. If women chose to blister their fair, tender hands in turning the windlass

Page 236 of that fabled well where truth is hidden, and bruised their pretty, white feet in groping finally on the rocky bottom, was the treasure which they ultimately discovered and dragged to light any the less truth because stentorian, manly voices were not the first to shout Eureka?

p. 235-236

Augusta Jane Evans, ST. ELMO, New York, G. W. Carleton & Co., 1867, 571 pages.

"MISS EARL: I return your MS., not because it is devoid of merit, but from the conviction that were I to accept it, the day would inevitably come when you would regret its premature publication. While it contains irrefragable evidence of extraordinary ability, and abounds in descriptions of great beauty, your style is characterized by more strength than polish, and is marred by crudities which a dainty public would never tolerate. The subject you have undertaken is beyond your capacity--no woman could successfully handle it--and the sooner you realize your over-estimate of your powers, the sooner your aspirations find their proper level, the sooner you will succeed in your treatment of some theme better suited to your feminine ability. Burn the inclosed MS., whose erudition and archaisms would fatally nauseate the intellectual dyspeptics who read my 'Maga,' and write sketches of home-life--descriptions of places and things that you understand better than recondite analogies of ethical creeds and mythologic systems, or the subtle lore of Coptic priests. Remember that women never write histories nor epics; never compose oratorios that go sounding down the centuries; never paint 'Last Suppers' and 'Judgment Days;' though now and then one gives to the world a pretty ballad that sounds sweet and soothing when sung over a cradle, or another paints a pleasant little genre sketch which will hang appropriately in some quiet corner, and rest and refresh eyes that are weary with gazing at the sublime spiritualism of Fra Bartolomeo, or the gloomy grandeur of Salvator Rosa. If you have any short articles which you desire to see in print, you may forward them, and I will select any

Page 235 for publication, which I think you will not blush to acknowledge in future years.

"Very respectfully,
Your obedient servant,
DOUGLASS G. MANNING."

p. 234-235

Augusta Jane Evans, ST. ELMO, New York, G. W. Carleton & Co., 1867, 571 pages.

Ah! it was a frail paper bark, freighted with the noblest, purest aspirations that ever possessed a woman's soul, launched upon the tempestuous sea of popular favor, with ambition at the helm, hope for a compass, and the gaunt spectre of failure grinning in the shrouds. Would it successfully weather the gales of malice, envy, and detraction?

Page 207 Would it battle valiantly and triumphantly with the piratical hordes of critics who prowl hungrily along the track over which it must sail? Would it become a melancholy wreck on the mighty ocean of literature, or would it proudly ride at anchor in the harbor of immortality, with her name floating for ever at the masthead?
        It was an experiment that had stranded the hopes of hundreds and of thousands; and the pinched, starved features of Chatterton, and the white, pleading face of Keats, stabbed to death by reviewers' poisoned pens, rose like friendly phantoms and whispered sepulchral warnings.
        But to-day the world wore only rosy garments, unspotted by shadows, and the silvery voice of youthful enthusiasm sung only of victory and spoils, as hope gayly struck the cymbals and fingered the timbrels.

p. 206-207

Augusta Jane Evans, ST. ELMO, New York, G. W. Carleton & Co., 1867, 571 pages.

Mr. Hammond shook his head, and after some reflection answered:
        "We can do nothing but wait and watch for an opportunity of aiding her. I confess, Gordon, her future fills me with serious apprehension; she is so proud, so sensitive, so scrupulous, and yet so boundlessly ambitious. Should her high hopes, her fond dreams be destined to the sharp and summary defeat which frequently overtakes ambitious men and women early in life, I shudder for her closing years, and the almost unendurable bitterness of her disappointed soul."
        "Why do you suppose that she aspires to authorship?"
        "She has never intimated such a purpose to me; but she can not be ignorant of the fact that she possesses great talent, and she is too conscientious to bury it."
        "Mr. Hammond, you may be correct in your predictions, but I trust you are wrong; and I can not believe that any woman whose heart is as warm and noble as Edna's, will continue to reject such love as I shall always offer her. Of one thing I feel assured, no man will ever love her as well, or better than I do, and to this knowledge she will awake some day. God bless her! she is the only woman I shall ever want to call my wife."
(p. 195) 

Augusta Jane Evans, ST. ELMO, New York, G. W. Carleton & Co., 1867, 571 pages.

"My dear Gordon, your happiness as well as hers is very dear to me. I love you both, and you will, you must forgive me if what I am about to say should wound or mortify you. Knowing you both as I do, and wishing to save you future disappointment, I should, even were you my own son, certainly tell you, Gordon, you will never be Edna's husband, because intellectually she is your superior. She feels this, and will not marry one to whose mind her own does not bow in reverence. To rule the man she married would make her miserable, and she could only find happiness in being ruled by an intellect to which she looked up admiringly. I know that many very gifted women have married their inferiors, but Edna is peculiar, and in some respects totally unlike any other woman whose character I have carefully studied. Gordon, you are not offended with me?"
(p. 193)

Augusta Jane Evans, ST. ELMO, New York, G. W. Carleton & Co., 1867, 571 pages.

To this literary Fouquier Tinville, the orphan had daringly written some weeks before, stating her determination to attempt a book, and asking permission to submit the first chapter to his searching inspection. She wrote that she expected him to find faults--he always did; and she preferred that her work should be roughly handled by him, rather than patted and smeared with faint praise by men of inferior critical astuteness.         The anxiously expected reply had come at last, and as she locked her door and sat down to read it, she trembled from head to foot. In the centre of a handsome sheet of tinted paper she found these lines.


        "MADAM: In reply to your very extraordinary request I have the honor to inform you, that my time is so entirely consumed by necessary and important claims, that I find no leisure at my command for the examination of the embryonic chapter of a contemplated book. I am, madam,

Very respectfully,
DOUGLASS G. MANNING."

        Tears of disappointment filled her eyes and for a moment she bit her, lip with uncontrolled vexation; then refolding the letter, she put it in a drawer of her desk, and said sorrowfully:
        "I certainly had no right to expect any thing more polite from him. He snubs even his popular contributors, and of course he would not be particularly courteous to an unknown scribbler. Perhaps some day I may make him regret that letter; and such a triumph will more than compensate for this mortification. One might think that all literary people, editors, authors, reviewers, would sympathize with each other, and stretch out their hands to aid one another; but it seems there is less free-masonry among literati than other guilds. They wage an internecine war among themselves, though it certainly can not be termed 'civil strife,' judging from Mr. Douglass Manning's letter."
(p. 179-180)

Augusta Jane Evans, ST. ELMO, New York, G. W. Carleton & Co., 1867, 571 pages.

The daring scheme of authorship had seized upon Edna's mind with a tenacity that conquered and expelled all other purposes, and though timidity and a haunting dread of the failure of the experiment prompted her to conceal the matter, even from her beloved pastor, she pondered it in secret, and bent every faculty to its successful accomplishment. Her veneration for books--the great eleemosynary granaries of human knowledge to which the world resorts--extended to those who created them; and her imagination invested authors with peculiar sanctity, as the real hierophants anointed with the chrism of truth. The glittering pinnacle of consecrated and successful authorship seemed to her longing gaze as sublime, and well-nigh as inaccessible, as the everlasting and untrodden Himalayan solitudes appear to some curious child of Thibet or Nepaul; who, gamboling among pheasants and rhododendrons, shades her dazzled eyes with her hand, and looks up awe-stricken and wondering at the ice-domes and snow-minarets of lonely Deodunga, earth's loftiest and purest altar, nimbused with the dawning and the dying light of the day. There were times when the thought of presenting herself as a candidate for admission into the band of literary exoterics seemed to Edna unpardonably presumptuous, almost sacrilegious, and she shrank back, humbled and abashed; for writers were teachers, interpreters, expounders, discoverers, or creators and what could she, just stumbling through the alphabet of science and art, hope to donate to her race that would ennoble human motives or elevate aspirations? Was she, an unknown and inexperienced girl, worthy to be girded with the ephod that draped so royally the Levites of literature? Had God's own hand set the Urim and Thummim of Genius in her soul? Above all, was she mitred with the plate of pure gold--"Holiness unto the Lord?"         Solemnly and prayerfully she weighed the subject, and having finally resolved to make one attempt, she looked trustingly to heaven for aid, and went vigorously to work.
        To write currente calamo for the mere pastime of author and readers, without aiming to inculcate some regenerative principle, or to photograph some valuable phase of protean truth, was in her estimation ignoble; for her high standard demanded that all books should be to a certain extent didactic, wandering like evangels among the people, and making some man, woman, or child happier, or wiser, or better--more patient or more hopeful--by their utterances. Believing that every earnest author's mind should prove a mint, where all valuable ores are collected from the rich veins of a universe -- are cautiously coined, and thence munificently circulated--she applied herself diligently to the task of gathering from various sources the data required for her projected work: a vindication of the unity of mythologies. The vastness of the cosmic field she was now compelled to traverse, the innumerable ramifications of polytheistic and monotheistic creeds, necessitated unwearied research, as she rent asunder the superstitious vails which various nations and successive epochs had woven before the shining features of truth. To-day peering into the golden Gardens of the Sun at Cuzco; to-morrow clambering over Thibet glaciers, to find the mystic lake of Yamuna; now delighted to recognize in Teoyamiqui (the wife of the Aztec God of War) the unmistakable features of Scandinavian Valkyrias; and now surprised to discover the Greek Fates sitting under the Norse tree Ygdrasil, deciding the destinies of mortals, and calling themselves Nornas; she spent her days in pilgrimages to mouldering shrines, and midnight often found her groping in the classic dust of extinct systems. Having once grappled with her theme, she wrestled as obstinately as Jacob for the blessing of a successful solution, and in order to popularize a subject bristling with recondite archaisms and philologic problems, she cast it in the mould of fiction.
(p. 167-169)

Augusta Jane Evans, ST. ELMO, New York, G. W. Carleton & Co., 1867, 571 pages.

The night wore on as she planned the work of coming years; but she still walked up and down the floor, with slow uncertain steps, like one who, peering at distant objects, sees nothing close at hand. Flush and tremor passed from her countenance, leaving the features pale and fixed; for the first gush of enthusiasm, like the jets of violet flame flickering over the simmering mass in alchemic crucibles, had vanished--the thought was a crystallized and consecrated purpose.         At last, when the feeble light admonished her that she would soon be in darkness, she retreated to her own room, and the first glimmer of day struggled in at her window as she knelt at her bedside praying:
        "Be pleased, O Lord! to make me a fit instrument for thy work; sanctify my heart; quicken and enlighten my mind; grant me patience and perseverance and unwavering faith; guide me into paths that lead to truth; enable me in all things to labor with an eye single to thy glory, caring less for the applause of the world than for the advancement of the cause of Christ. O my Father and my God! bless the work on which I am about to enter, crown it with success, accept me as an humble tool for the benefit of my race, and when the days of my earthly pilgrimage are ended, receive my soul into that eternal rest which thou hast prepared from the foundations of the world, for the sake of Jesus Christ."
(p. 134-135)

Augusta Jane Evans, ST. ELMO, New York, G. W. Carleton & Co., 1867, 571 pages.

 Two nights after the examination of the Targum, she was seated near the bookcase looking over the plates in that rare but very valuable volume, Spence's Polymetis, when the idea flashed across her mind that a rigid analysis and comparison of all the mythologies of the world would throw some light on the problem of ethnology, and in conjunction with philology settle the vexed question.         Pushing the Polymetis aside, she sprang up and paced the long room, and gradually her eyes kindled, her cheeks burned, as ambition pointed to a possible future, of which, till this hour, she had not dared to dream; and hope, o'erleaping all barriers, grasped a victory that would make her name imperishable.
(p. 133)

Augusta Jane Evans, ST. ELMO, New York, G. W. Carleton & Co., 1867, 571 pages.

"I think the child is as inveterate a book-worm as I ever knew; but for heaven's sake, Mr Hammond, do not make her a blue-stocking."
"Ellen, did you ever see a genuine blue-stocking?"
"I am happy to be able to say that I never was so unfortunate!"
"You consider yourself lucky, then, in not having known De Staël, Hannah More, Charlotte Brontë, and Mrs. Browning?"
"To be consistent of course I must answer yes; but you know we women are never supposed to understand that term, much less possess the jewel itself; and beside, sir, you take undue advantage of me, for the women you mention were truly great geniuses. I was not objecting to genius in women."
"Without those auxiliaries and adjuncts which you deprecate so earnestly, would their native genius ever have distinguished them, or charmed and benefited the world? Brilliant success makes blue-stockings autocratic, and the world flatters and crowns them; but unsuccessful aspirants are strangled with an offensive sobriquet, than which it were better that they had millstones tied about their necks. After all, Ellen, it is rather ludicrous, and seems very unfair that the whole class of literary ladies should be sneered at on account of the color of Stillingfleet's stockings eighty years ago."
"If you please, sir, I should like to know the meaning of 'blue-stocking'?" said Edna.
"You are in a fair way to understand it if you study Greek," answered Mrs. Murray, laughing at the puzzled expression of the child's countenance.
Mr. Hammond smiled, and replied: "A 'blue-stocking,' my dear, is generally supposed to be a lady, neither young, pleasant, nor pretty, (and in most instances unmarried;) who is unamiable, ungraceful, and untidy; ignorant of all domestic accomplishments and truly feminine acquirements, and ambitious of appearing very learned; a woman whose fingers are more frequently adorned with ink-spots than thimble; who holds housekeeping in detestation, and talks loudly about politics, science, and philosophy; who is ugly, and learned, and cross; whose hair is never smooth and whose ruffles are never fluted. Is that a correct likeness, Ellen?"
"As good as one of Brady's photographs. Take warning, Edna."
"The title of 'blue-stocking,'" continued the pastor, "originated in a jest, many, many years ago, when a circle of very brilliant, witty, and elegant ladies in London, met at the house of Mrs. Vesey, to listen to and take part in the conversation of some of the most gifted and learned men England has ever produced. One of those gentlemen, Stillingfleet, who always wore blue stockings, was so exceedingly agreeable and instructive, that when he chanced to be absent the company declared the party was a failure without 'the blue stockings,' as he was familiarly called. A Frenchman, who heard of the circumstance, gave to these conversational gatherings the name of 'bas bleu,' which means blue stocking; and hence, you see, that in popular acceptation, I mean in public opinion, the humorous title, which was given in compliment to a very charming gentleman, is now supposed to belong to very tiresome, pedantic, and disagreeable ladies. Do you understand the matter now?"
"I do not quite understand why ladies have not as good a right to be learned and wise as gentlemen."
"To satisfy you on that point would involve more historical discussion than we have time for this morning; some day we will look into the past and find a solution of the question. Meanwhile you may study as hard as you please, and remember, my dear, that where one woman is considered a blue-stocking, and tiresomely learned, twenty are more tiresome still because they know nothing. I will obtain all the books you need, and hereafter you must come to me every morning at nine o'clock. When the weather is good, you can easily walk over from Mrs. Murray's."
(p. 85-87)

Fanny Fern, RUTH HALL, New York, Mason Brothers, 1855, 400 pages.

“Well,” exclaimed Mr. Walter, as he walked down street, “of all mean meanness of which a man can be guilty, the meanest, in my estimation, is to rob a woman of her justly-earned literary fame, and I wish, for the credit of human nature, it were confined to persons of as limited mental endowments and influence as the one I have just left.”
(p. 393)

Fanny Fern, RUTH HALL, New York, Mason Brothers, 1855, 400 pages.

What a fool I was to get taken in so about that book. But how should I know it was hers? I should as soon have thought of her turning out Mrs. Bonaparte, as an authoress. Authoress! Humph! Wonder how the heels of her stockings look? S’pose she wears silk ones now, and French shoes; she was always as proud as Lucifer of her foot.
(p. 387)

Fanny Fern, RUTH HALL, New York, Mason Brothers, 1855, 400 pages.

“That is nice,” said Nettie, kissing her mother; “when I get to be a woman shall I write books, mamma?”
“God forbid,” murmured Ruth, kissing the child’s changeful cheek; “God forbid,” murmured she, musingly, as she turned over the leaves of her book; “no happy woman ever writes. From Harry’s grave sprang ‘Floy.’
(p. 333)

Fanny Fern, RUTH HALL, New York, Mason Brothers, 1855, 400 pages.

Publication day came at last. There was the book. Ruth’s book! Oh, how few of its readers, if it were fortunate enough to find readers, would know how much of her own heart’s history was there laid bare. Yes, there was the book. She could recall the circumstances under which each separate article was written. Little shoeless feet were covered with the proceeds of this; a little medicine, or a warmer shawl was bought with that. This was written, faint and fasting, late into the long night; that composed while walking wearily to or from the offices where she was employed. One was written with little Nettie sleeping in her lap; another still, a mirthful, merry piece, as an escape-valve for a wretched heartache. Each had its own little history. Each would serve, in after-days, for a land-mark to some thorny path of by-gone trouble. Oh, if the sun of prosperity, after all, should gild these rugged paths! Some virtues—many faults—the book had—but God speed it, for little Katy’s sake!
(p. 332)

Fanny Fern, RUTH HALL, New York, Mason Brothers, 1855, 400 pages.

"The truth is simply this; ‘Floy’ is a genius; her writings, wherever published, would have attracted attention, and stamped the writer as a person of extraordinary talent; hence her fame and success, the fruits of which you have principally reaped. As to ‘Floy’s’ being under any obligations to you, I repudiate the idea entirely; the ‘obligation’ is all on the other side. She has made ‘The Standard,’ instead of you making her reputation. Her genius has borne its name to England, Scotland, Ireland,—wherever the English language is spoken,—and raised it from an obscure provincial paper to a widely-known journal."
[Lettre de Mr. Walter à Mr. Lescom]
(p. 290-291)

Fanny Fern, RUTH HALL, New York, Mason Brothers, 1855, 400 pages.

“Who can she be?” exclaimed Mr. Walter, in a tone of blended interest and vexation; “who can she be?” Mr. Walter raised his head, uncrossed his legs, took up The Standard, and re-read ‘Floy’s’ last article slowly; often pausing to analyze the sentences, as though he would extort from them some hidden meaning, to serve as a clue to the identity of the author. After he had perused the article thus searchingly, he laid down The Standard, and again exclaimed, “Who can she be? she is a genius certainly, whoever she is,” continued he, soliloquizingly; “a bitter life experience she has had too; she did not draw upon her imagination for this article. Like the very first production of her pen that I read, it is a wail from her inmost soul; so are many of her pieces. A few dozen of them taken consecutively, would form a whole history of wrong, and suffering, and bitter sorrow. What a singular being she must be, if I have formed a correct opinion of her; what powers of endurance! What an elastic, strong, brave, loving, fiery, yet soft and winning nature! A bundle of contradictions! and how famously she has got on too! it is only a little more than a year since her first piece was published, and now her articles flood the whole country; I seldom take up an exchange, which does not contain one or more of them. That first piece of hers was a stroke of genius—a real gem, although not very smoothly polished; ever since I read it, I have been trying to find out the author’s name, and have watched her career with eager interest; her career, I say, for I suppose ‘Floy’ to be a woman, notwithstanding the rumors to the contrary. At any rate, my wife says so, and women have an instinct about such things.[”]
(p. 267-268)

Fanny Fern, RUTH HALL, New York, Mason Brothers, 1855, 400 pages.

“Well, well,” said Ruth, laughing, “that ’s a thought that never entered this busy head of mine, John Stokes. I publish a book? Why, John, are you aware that those articles were written for bread and butter, not fame; and tossed to the printer before the ink was dry, or I had time for a second reading? And yet, perhaps, there is more freshness about them than there would have been, had I leisure to have pruned and polished them—who knows? I ’ll put your suggestion on file, friend Stokes, to be turned over at my leisure. It strikes me, though, that it will keep awhile. Thank you, honest John. It is just such readers as you whom I like to secure. Well, what have we here?”
(p. 260)

Fanny Fern, RUTH HALL, New York, Mason Brothers, 1855, 400 pages.

Months passed away, while Ruth hoped and toiled, “Floy’s” fame as a writer increasing much faster than her remuneration. There was rent-room to pay, little shoes and stockings to buy, oil, paper, pens, and ink to find; and now autumn had come, she could not write with stiffened fingers, and wood and coal were ruinously high, so that even with this new addition to her labor, Ruth seemed to retrograde pecuniarily, instead of advancing; and Katy still away! She must work harder—harder. Good, brave little Katy; she, too, was bearing and hoping on—mamma had promised, if she would stay there, patiently, she would certainly take her away just as soon as she had earned money enough; and mamma never broke her promise—never; and Katy prayed to God ever night, with childish trust, to help her mother to earn money, that she might soon go home again. And so, while Ruth scribbled away in her garret, the public were busying themselves in conjecturing who “Floy” might be. Letters poured in upon Mr. Lescom, with inquiries, even bribing him with the offer to procure a certain number of subscribers, if he would divulge her real name; to all of which the old man, true to his promise to Ruth, to keep her secret inviolate, turned a deaf ear. All sorts of rumors became rife about “Floy,” some maintaining her to be a man, because she had the courage to call things by their right names, and the independence to express herself boldly on subjects which to the timid and clique-serving, were tabooed. Some said she was a disappointed old maid; some said she was a designing widow; some said she was a moon-struck girl; and all said she was a nondescript. Some tried to imitate her, and failing in this, abused and maligned her; the outwardly strait-laced and inwardly corrupt, puckered up their mouths and “blushed for her;” the hypocritical denounced the sacrilegious fingers which had dared to touch the Ark; the fashionist voted her a vulgar, plebeian thing; and the earnest and sorrowing, to whose burdened hearts she had given voice, cried God speed her. And still “Floy” scribbled on, thinking only of bread for her children, laughing and crying behind her mask,—laughing all the more when her heart was heaviest; but of this her readers knew little and would have cared less.
(p. 254-255)

Fanny Fern, RUTH HALL, New York, Mason Brothers, 1855, 400 pages.

“Can’t afford it, Tom; hang it! we are head over ears in debt now to that paper man; good articles though—deuced good—must have her if we dispense with some of our other contributors. We had better begin low though, as to terms, for she ’ll go up now like a rocket, and when she finds out her value we shall have to increase her pay, you know.”
(Thank you, gentlemen, thought Ruth, when the cards change hands, I ’ll take care to return the compliment.)
(p. 253)

Fanny Fern, RUTH HALL, New York, Mason Brothers, 1855, 400 pages.

“I have good news for you,” said Mr. Lescom to Ruth, at her next weekly visit; “your very first articles are copied, I see, into many of my exchanges, even into the ——, which seldom contains anything but politics. A good sign for you Mrs. Hall; a good test of your popularity.”
Ruth’s eyes sparkled, and her whole face glowed.
“Ladies like to be praised,” said Mr. Lescom, good-humoredly, with a mischievous smile.
“Oh, it is not that—not that, sir,” said Ruth, with a sudden moistening of the eye, “it is because it will be bread for my children.”
(p. 250)

Fanny Fern, RUTH HALL, New York, Mason Brothers, 1855, 400 pages.

Scratch—scratch—scratch, went Ruth’s pen; the dim lamp flickering in the night breeze, while the deep breathing of the little sleepers was the watchword, on! to her throbbing brow and weary fingers.  One  o’clock—two o’clock—three o’clock—the lamp burns low in the socket.  Ruth lays down her pen, and pushing back the hair from her forehead, leans faint and exhausted against the window-sill, that the cool night-air may fan her heated temples.  How impressive the stillness!  Ruth can almost hear her own heart beat.  She looks upward, and the watchful stars seem to her like the eyes of gentle friends.  No, God would not
forsake her!  A sweet peace steals into her troubled heart, and the overtasked lids droop heavily over the weary eyes.
Ruth sleeps.
(p. 241)

Fanny Fern, RUTH HALL, New York, Mason Brothers, 1855, 400 pages.

Ruth had found employment. Ruth’s MSS. had been accepted at the office of “The Standard.” Yes, an article of hers was to be published in the very next issue. The remuneration was not what Ruth had hoped, but it was at least a beginning, a stepping-stone. What a pity that Mr. Lescom’s (the editor’s) rule was, not to pay a contributor, even after a piece was accepted, until it was printed—and Ruth so short of funds. Could she hold out to work so hard, and fare so rigidly? for often there was only a crust left at night; but, God be thanked, she should now earn that crust! It was a pity that oil was so dear, too, because most of her writing must be done at night, when Nettie’s little prattling voice was hushed, and her innumerable little wants forgotten in sleep.
(p. 240)

Fanny Fern, RUTH HALL, New York, Mason Brothers, 1855, 400 pages.

“But they shall be heard of;” and Ruth leaped to her feet. “Sooner than he dreams of, too. I can do it, I feel it, I will do it,” and she closed her lips firmly; “but there will be a desperate struggle first,” and she clasped her hands over her heart as if it had already commenced; “there will be scant meals, and sleepless nights, and weary days, and a throbbing brow, and an aching heart; there will be the chilling tone, the rude repulse; there will be ten backward steps to one forward. Pride must sleep! but—” and Ruth glanced at her children—“it shall be done. They shall be proud of their mother. Hyacinth shall yet be proud to claim his sister.
(p. 222-223)

Fanny Fern, RUTH HALL, New York, Mason Brothers, 1855, 400 pages.

“I have looked over the pieces you sent me, Ruth. It is very evident that writing never can be your forte; you have no talent that way. You may possibly be employed by some inferior newspapers, but be assured your articles never will be heard of out of your own little provincial city. For myself I have plenty of contributors, nor do I know of any of my literary acquaintances who would employ you. I would advise you, therefore, to seek some unobtrusive employment. Your brother,
“Hyacinth Ellet”
(p. 221-222)

Fanny Fern, RUTH HALL, New York, Mason Brothers, 1855, 400 pages.

Just then a carrier passed on the other side of the street with the morning papers, and slipped one under the crack of the house door opposite.
A thought! why could not Ruth write for the papers? How very odd it had never occurred to her before? Yes, write for the papers—why not? She remembered that while at boarding-school, an editor of a paper in the same town used often to come in and take down her compositions in short-hand as she read them aloud, and transfer them to the columns of his paper. She certainly ought to write better now than she did when an inexperienced girl. She would begin that very night; but where where to make a beginning? who would publish her articles? how much would they pay her? to whom should she apply first? There was her brother Hyacinth, now the prosperous editor of the Irving Magazine; oh, if he would only employ her? Ruth was quite sure she could write as well as some of his correspondents, whom he had praised with no niggardly pen. She would prepare samples to send immediately, announcing her intention, and offering them for his acceptance. This means of support would be so congenial, so absorbing. At the needle one’s ming could still be brooding over sorrowful thoughts.
(p. 220)

Fanny Fern, RUTH HALL, New York, Mason Brothers, 1855, 400 pages.

“A summer house, hey!” said the old lady, as with stealthy, cat-like steps, she crossed a small piece of woods, between her house and Ruth’s; “a summer house! that ’s the way the money goes, is it?  What have we here? a book;” (picking up a volume which lay half hidden in the moss at her feet;) “poetry, I declare! the most frivolous of all reading; all pencil marked;—and here ’s something in Ruth’s own hand-writing—that’s poetry, too: worse and worse.”
“Well, we ’ll see how the kitchen of this poetess looks. I will go into the house the back way, and take them by surprise; that ’s the way to find people out.  None of your company faces for me.”
(p. 55)

Fanny Fern, RUTH HALL, New York, Mason Brothers, 1855, 400 pages.

“I hope,” continued the old lady, “that you don’t read novels and such trash.  I have a very select little library, when you feel
inclined to read, consisting of a treatise on ‘The Complaints of Women,’ an excellent sermon on Predestination, by our old minister, Dr. Diggs, and Seven Reasons why John Rogers, the martyr, must have had ten children instead of nine (as is generally supposed); any time that you stand in need of rational reading come to me;” and the old lady, smoothing a wrinkle in her black silk apron, took a dignified leave.
(p. 31)

mercredi 2 novembre 2011

John A. Williams, !CLICK SONG, Boston, Houghton Mifflin Co, 1982, 430 pages.

Like nearly everyone else in those days I was not immune to the idea that because I was a black writer there were forces naturally aligned against me. We all felt that. We all knew that at least one major publication had published an interview with Richard Wright before his death that in fact had never taken place. This was done with the specific aim of discrediting him. We knew that the authorities were harassing the Black Muslims, the Black Panthers and black people generally.
Some writers therefore turned up at readings, conferences and festivals with bodyguards. And I for one certainly felt better with my revolver than without it. We floated on turbulent seas filled with swift currents of rumor: the FBI, the Tactical Police Unit; government agents carrying HEW identification cards; the blacks were going to blow up New York this weekend; the Puerto Ricans would do it next weekend; the Weathermen were going to do it today; everyone complained of strange sounds on their telephones. Those white women giving up leg to black men were really agents, so zipper up yo dick. People wondered just whose list they were on, the Feds', the local's, the state's; no one believed that he or she was not on a list.
(p. 195)

John A. Williams, !CLICK SONG, Boston, Houghton Mifflin Co, 1982, 430 pages.

This was the first of many interviews I would have and they all would be similar.
The interviewers, with their pads, pens and desperately neutral glances, always asked about other black writers, as though they were the only writers you had ever met, read or studied. They ignored the fact that you must have had to study their writers, since books by nonwhite writers rarely, if ever, found their way into textbooks.
(We will for now forget those periods of the pre-Harlem Renaissance, the Renaissance itself, and Renaissance II, which are traceable to troubel on the plantation and later in the streets.)
The interviewers judged all writings without hesitation, suspending, however, literary judgment only in the case of nonwhite writers, because the interviewers (and critics and reviewers - often one and the same) [p. 179] were so innately positive that literary ingredients could not possibly be present.
They patronized, or tried to. They were snide, or tried to be. They were overtly disdainful of nearly every story you related because they were secretly surprised that you could hag a sentence together at all and compose narrative and dialogue. Like pecking birds, they tapped at the surface of things; beneath that surface, vast gaps were being closed to within percentage points, even according to their rules. So they insisted that the novel be written so they could understand it, the way they understand rock's emphasized beat, the way they could not understand the subtleties of a Thelonious Monk; they forgot, if the ever knew, that the novel is novel and therefore often requires decoding, which they do very well when the writers are white. They wrote for each other. The author under discussion was often secundary. The literary community, though powerful, was really small and quite incestuous. If then they wrote badly or viciously about an author who was black, they knew in advance that that author or his agent or publisher would not return to haunt them. For what real contacts did the author have? Whom did he or she know? Therefore they turned to nonwhite authors with a distinct sense of relief, for surely we were a people without leverage, familiar with few power brokers in the business who would be willing to go to the wall for us. These interviewers, critics and reviewers, by their acts and attitudes, acknowledged the war. They regarded almost every work by a nonwhite author as a political action. They were almost correct (because a few of those works could not by any unwinding of the imagination be so considered), but failed to understand the politics - or, conversely, understood them perfectly. They did seem to comprehend, along with some like-minded editors, that they were functionaries of the cultural mechanisms of the West, a gemot whose verdicts became, if not the law, the practice. How could they then allow certain other people into their ranks on other than a temporary / token basis? To be sure, they admired Latin writers - but those in Latin, not North, America; they admired black writers, but many of those were from Africa and, in the case of Afro-Americans, dead; from the Caribbean they much adored, observely, the minority rather than the majority writers, those who deplored, laughed at or debased the island societies of which they were part; they exulted when good works on the Indian experience appeared, though not those written by the Amer-Indian himself, and they preferred Asian female writers to all like John Okada. And because they were a club, they frequently relegated to our ranks a few of their own.
(p. 178-179) 

John A. Williams, !CLICK SONG, Boston, Houghton Mifflin Co, 1982, 430 pages.

We have to get up and get to doing things. I am pulling together some notes for a new book. And I have to straighten out the house. Company is coming, company of a sort. And Allis has to do some shopping for dinner. Nothing special, because the company is not all that special. The company is Maureen Gullian, and I'm not happy with her or Twentieth Century Forum Publishers, so the situation is tit for tat. Even before I adressed the sales meeting, they had expressed a distinct lack of interest for my work. That atmosphere seemed to have surrounded the work of nearly all black writers, though of course no editor or publisher would admit it. They want to score, bag a book that'll make beaucoup bread. But the times are tough. Even white writers are screaming with the pinch of things.
It is now recognized that the big change in the business has arrived, and it is that art comes after moneymaking, which is to say that art exists only as a commodity. We learn from our literature mainly how to entertain, be entertained and to escape the terrible truths that have slyly informed our lives.
Maureen Gullian is too young to understand. Maybe, though, she is young enough to understand it precisely.
(p. 159)

John A. Williams, !CLICK SONG, Boston, Houghton Mifflin Co, 1982, 430 pages.

Incredible, he murmurs. I smile. It seems that writers who hang around the movies or television all want to write novels. They want to do up the King, believing secretly that they will not really be writers until they publish a novel. (I have sometimes wondered if they are not right.) Earning a million bucks doing scripts or articles, nonfiction books, is not enough; by God, they must do that novel.
(p. 155)

John A. Williams, !CLICK SONG, Boston, Houghton Mifflin Co, 1982, 430 pages.

We talked about the new book, Clarissa, now close to the end, and about the publicity and advertising for the one ready to come out.
"Don't count on a lot of ads now. But you're going to be the best Negro writer in history. Dick Wright's out of the country; the glow will from Whittington [fictif]; Huysmans [fictif], while not quite a flash in the pan, always says the same thing. Himes has vanished... What's the matter?"
"You got to do better than that, Alex." He had already designed the ball park I was to play in.
"What?"
Did he really not know? Was it all so automatic that no one thought about it? "Nothing," I said. I was afraid to tell him he was a bigot. Ruin my career. Find another agent? Sure, but things were just beginning to click for me. Besides, how bad could it be, to be the best Negro writer in history? But the possibility of being - my wanting to be - far more kept me silent.
(p. 62)

John A. Williams, !CLICK SONG, Boston, Houghton Mifflin Co, 1982, 430 pages.

He was silent for a time and, still bent over, he seemed to be looking into an invisible glass ball, watching the pas. He sighed. "America is a strange place for a black man to write in. We always found it so, but I suppose only County put it so succinctly - " He swung toward me, almost glaring. "You know the poem I mean?"
I quoted the last two line"
"Yet do I marvel at this curious thing:
To make a poet black and bid him sing!"
Mr. Johnson's smile was warm and approving. "Ah, yes, Mr. Douglass, precisely. In America, even if you are writing about a thing as simple as feeling good on a bright, clear morning filled with fresh air - feeling as perhaps millions of others are, they will find it difficult, yes, white Americans will find that difficult to understand because the writer is black and they are white. A few whites will.
"On the other hand, should you write about their direct relationship to you, the only one they know, the correct, objective historical relationship, the one that needs improving on, they will understand. That is all they've been thaught to understand, the inherent, basically unchanged state of hostility."
(p. 42)

John A. Williams, !CLICK SONG, Boston, Houghton Mifflin Co, 1982, 430 pages.

"I feel that I need a change."
He leaned back and smiled. "Yes, New York can do that to people. What kind of change?"
"I don't know, but it'll come to me."
"Maybe I can get you some money on the next one - but I don't want to see it until it's finished."
"I don't need it. At least I don't think so."
Looking back, I now realize that that was the statement that made it work, our relationship. I wasn't then a real writer. I was honest. Most real writers refuse nothing with dollar signs on it; they can't afford to.
(p. 35)

John A. Williams, !CLICK SONG, Boston, Houghton Mifflin Co, 1982, 430 pages.

The months continued to ambush my time, dates and days bounding full-blown with meaning from my hasty scrawls on the calendar, and then one day I had finished my novel, almost without knowing it.
There simply was nothing more I wanted to write. I placed a period at the end of the last sentence. No lightning struck the building; there was not even a storm. Nor were there hallelujahs from Morningside Heights. There was only silence, except within myself. I was thankful. To whom? To what? I stared at that last, nigger-black period and felt a great upsurge, warm, good, thick. I never felt that way again when I finished a book.
(p. 33)

John A. Williams, !CLICK SONG, Boston, Houghton Mifflin Co, 1982, 430 pages.

"Say," he said, "what made you send your poems to WCW and not to someone like Langston Hughes?"
I said, "I went to see Hughes the last time I was in New York."
He sat upright in the booth where we were drinking beer. A distance seemed to grow in his eyes. "What'd he say?"
I told him what Mr. Hughes had told me about my work - exaggerating ever so slightly. (I didn't tell him what else Mr. Hughes said because I didn't want to believe it and I wouldn't forget it either: I would have to be ten times the writer a white man was and then it would be hell, which was not exactly an unusual experience. Agents would return manuscripts with rust marks from paper clips because they hadn't bothered to read the material. Agents and editors would tell you to forget race - but they rarely published anything by a Negro that wasn't about race. Still, they didn't want you to be too serious about anything, even if you were able. But if I just had to be a writer, all this and more wouldn't stop me, and that was good. And I certainly had to read Llewellyn Dodge Johnson's works if I hadn't already.)
(p. 17)

John A. Williams, !CLICK SONG, Boston, Houghton Mifflin Co, 1982, 430 pages.

Even so, the year I met Paul the world cracked open for me, revealing endless possibilities to be achieved with words. Something began to click within me. I could write! I choked on words, drwoned in them, constructed them into ideas; I wallowed in their shapes and sounds, their power to stroke or stun, sing or sorrow, accuse or acclaim. Living meant suddenly more than having a college education and being a husband and father. My life, then close to mounting twenty-two years, seemed presented to me once again. I exulted in the gift in quiet ways that I hoped would attract no one's attention.
(p. 14)

John A. Williams, !CLICK SONG, Boston, Houghton Mifflin Co, 1982, 430 pages.

Is that nigger doing it to Ms. Gullian? Just who is that nigger?
Yot, yot, yat, continues Maureen Gullian, She is my editor. We are lunching to discuss my novel Unmarked Graves, the fifth her company is to publish.
(p. 3)