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says Mrs Roy Devereux in her sufferings.” In the case of the grandiloquent way, and the world gifted people whose lives are dehas long since ceased to pour liba. picted in her book, she says that tions to the goddess. But the the “woman question caused an religion of the woman of the unnatural breach between the future will be the service of beauty needs of the intellect and the rethrough the medium of comely quirements of their womanly naapparel, and the gospel of the ture. Most of them succumbed authoress may be termed the Gos- in the struggle." pel of the Higher Chiffon. Her Of these deviations from the contention, as I understand, is feminine norm the most interestthat the adornment of the female ing, to my mind, is Sonia Kovaform is as legitimate an end of art levsky. Fru Hansson describes as sculpture or painting; and, after her as the greatest woman genius all, is not a man-milliner just as of the century. The story of her much an artist in his way as a
life is a mournful one. Born of a Royal Academician ?
rich and noble Russian family, her Another treatise, on the same marvellous talent for science and object, to which I should like to mathematics soon developed itself. • Modern Wa
readers of “Maga,' is Like so many ladies in fiction, Hansson. 1?n,' by Fru Marholm and not a few out of it
, she was consists of six possessed of "an immense undepsychological sk shes of famous fined thirst," which at first took
,” modern women of various m'inn. the form of a thirst for study. At alities. These sketches display synteen she made a formal marmuch insight, sympathetic yet dis- riage with a man who for seven criminating withal, into the charac- years was a husband to her in ters they portray; and there is a name only. During all this time level-headedness, if I may use the she worked feverishly and conword, about them which is some- tinuously, and after his death in what unusual in similar studies 1880 she was appointed lecturer of feminine psychology. Some of at the university at Stockholm. Fru Hansson's views will probably Here commenced her friendship be deemed old-fashioned by pion- with Fru Edgren-Leffler, the subeers of the “woman movement,” ject of the last sketch in the book, but she always writes kindly and and in collaboration with her Sonia sympathetically of her heroines, entered on her literary career. In even when their ideas are least 1888 she was awarded the Prix in harmony with her own. Her Bordin in the French Academy types are selected from some of of Science in the presence of the the ablest and most representative greatest French mathematicians, women of the day, who struck out but even this splendid triumph a line of their own in life. The failed to bring her happiness or results of their originality Fru contentment. Hansson does not consider to be The sad story of the closing satisfactory. She disapproves of years of her life is told with much the Ibsenite theory of female indi- pathos by Fru Hansson, and I vidualism, and asserts roundly that must leave her to draw her own “& woman who seeks freedom by moral therefrom. Sonia had grown means of the modern method of tired of mathematics, and wanted independence is generally one who to forget all about them. She desires to escape from a woman's also become tired of mysti
and too late “wanted to be a beauty, perfect breeding, and marwoman and possess a woman's vellous talent, she get made shipcharm."
Finally, after various wreck, like Sonia, of her life. She unfortunate experiences, she be developed her individuality, like came ill, worn out with nervous any Ibsenite neuropath, on the and mental exhaustion, and died most approved principles of the at the age of forty-one.
“ triumphant doctrine of the ego," Another Russian woman, less and fretted herself into the grave remarkable in many ways
than at the age of twenty-four. Her Sonia Kovalevsky, is probably self-absorption amounted to a much better known in England. disease, and outraged Nature exAmong all our modern literary acted the penalty remorselessly.
. ebullitions of feminine fretfulness Tedious as the whole thing is in a one stands out pre-eminent. It way, I know of few things sadder may safely be said that the pres- than her despairing soliloquies toent introspective craze with ref- wards the end of the volume. She erence to the soul of woman be- felt herself, to quote Fru Hansgan with the publication of Marie son's pathetic words, “ever alone Bashkirtseff's Journal. One well in the midst of an everlasting void, remembers the appearance of that hungering at the table of life, extraordinary book, so irritating spread for every one except herin some respects, and yet so touch- self, standing with hands outing in its utter abandonment of stretched as the days passed by self-revelation. It is the tragedy and gave her nothing: youth and of a young girl, hopelessly vain, health were fading fast, the grave self-centred, neurotic, and egotisti- was yawning, just a little chink, cal; for if ever there was a victim then wider and wider, and she of morbid ego-mania, as Max Nor- must go down without having dau has it, it was poor Marie had anything but work, constant Bashkirtseff. « As for me, I am work, trouble and striving, and always excited," she cries ; "I want the empty fame which gives a to live faster, faster, fast. . . . Yes, stone in the place of bread.” I love only myself”: it is all I, I, I, Besides the untimely fate of throughout the five hundred pages these two Russian ladies, Fru of the Journal. Her every action Hansson mentions three other was ordered for effect, and with a Northern authoresses of talent view to description in her diary who all committed suicide ; but the same evening. The book sold whether this was the result of too like wild-fire. “ All the tired and much psychologising or over selfdiscontented women of the time absorption does not appear. recognised themselves on every Concerning Mrs George Egerpage, and for many of them Marie ton, who is to my mind the ablest Bashkirtseff's Journal became a of our women writers of the neukind of secret Bible, in which they rotic school, Fru Hansson writes read a few sentences every morn- with critical yet sympathetic ining, or at night before going to sight. The authoress of Keysleep." Not a very satisfactory notes' ("Punch' profanely nickBible, to be sure, but the literature named it "She Notes') is esof hysteria is always sure of its sentially a womanly writer.
. Her public, and she was symptomatic gifts are intuitive rather than inof a restless and fretful age. With tellectual, and she owes nothing all the advantages of wealth, whatever to the reason
research of man. Her perceptions Barbey D'Aurévilly, and he, poor are of the nerves, for, like some fellow, was never understood. This of her favourite Swedish and Nor- seems to be the usual fate of people wegian authors, she personities with very complex natures in both our modern nervousness, and her sexes. They make a study of inbest characters are quivering bun- comprehensibility, and raise mystidles of nerves.
The reader can fication to the level of a fine art, hardly fail to recognise the auto- and then complain because they biographical character of her writ- are misunderstood. It is not quite ings, redolent, as they are, of the clear why this somewhat commonspirit of discontent and disillusion- place trait of wildness should be ment. Stories of the Keynotes' called an "abyss," except that all type, especially the more artistic terms denoting profundity and innones, are monologues, as it were. mensity are deemed appropriate The writers seem to be relating to the feminine soul, which postheir own mental experiences, like sesses many other fundamental Marie Bashkirtseff, without any characteristics besides that of attempt at concealment. The wildness. It is volcanic, for inmood varies in these books—some- stance, in its nature, as may be times tender, sometimes sorrowful, learned from the neurotic novelists, sometimes vicious, as though the and as some men, I am given to authoress would like to scratch understand, have occasion to know. or slap somebody; but they are I notice, by way of illustration, always purely subjective, or else that one young lady describes rapid generalisations from limi- herself as “a bundle of electric ted experience. Like all intro- currents bursting forth in all spective work of the kind, Mrs directions into chaos.” This, howEgerton's appeals to women far ever, strikes me as a somewhat more than to men, for her instinct daring metaphor. Personally, I enables her to perceive the funda- should be content to liken the mental traits of woman's nature. spirit of feminism to a river, now Of these traits the deepest and flowing tranquilly with every passmost ineradicable, it appears, is ing sentiment and impression mirher "eternal wildness, the un- rored on its placid surface, now tamed primitive savage tempera- surging tumultuously onwards ment that lurks in the mildest, but always prodigiously deep. best woman.” Mrs Roy Devereux Another characteristic, accordalso asserts that woman is at heart ing to Fru Marholm Hansson, is a barbarian, and her affinity in beginning to make itself felt, “and many respects to her remote an- that is an intense and morbid concestresses is insisted on by other sciousness of the ego in woman.” lady writers. Backwards across Mrs Egerton is, of course, a great the ages, remarks one of them, her believer in the Scandinavian docgaze flashes recognition to "the trine of the ego. Self-sacrifice is grand untamed eyes of the prim- out of fashion altogether in our eval woman," whose freedom from modern school of novelists, and the restraints of civilisation some self - development has taken its of our revoltées would seem to place. This consciousness of the envy. Only one
man, we self is of recent growth: it was told, “has had sufficient instinct unknown to mothers and to bring to light this abyss in grandmothers, who, says
Mrs woman's nature," a poet named Devereux, “knew as little about
their sensations a cabbage because she cannot exist alone, does about its growth.” I have being "spiritually and mentally an no knowledge of what it feels empty vessel, which must be relike to be conscious of your ego, plenished by man.” I try to so I must content myself with picture to myself what Mrs Sarah simply chronicling the phenomenon Grand's feelings must have been if without commenting upon it. It ever she read this sentence. One has always been understood that fears, too, lest the dissemination the best sign of all being right with of such views should have a bad a man's heart or liver is, that he effect upon man, and tend to make should not be conscious of possess the creature more insupportable ing such things; and to be con
Fru Hansson, howscious of your ego must be a much ever, is most emphatic on the more serious matter. I remember point, and asserts that those ladies that Max Nordau classes ego- who seek to exert their influence mania as among the leading stig- by main force, and “manifest a mata of degeneration, so doubtless desire to dispense with man altothis newly aroused consciousness gether," are acting most imprulies at the root of our modern in- dently. Far be it from me to trospectiveness, and accounts for express an opinion on this delicate many of the strange things that point, though one cannot help neurotic people do both in real life thinking that Eve without Adam, and in fiction.
or vice versâ, might after a while The last of these psychological find even Paradise a bore. Anysketches is that of the Woman's how, Fru Leffler seems to have Rights woman, Fru Edgren-Lefiler. grown to this opinion, for, though It strikes me as less interesting as a disciple of Ibsen she had than most of the others, perhaps raged against the unhappiness of because the authoress is less in married life, she fell violently in sympathy with the type of fem- love at the age of forty, and abaninism that it deals with. This doned her active championship of type is analogous in some respects the rights of feminism in order with those heroines in recent nov- to enjoy " liberty, love, and the els who are afire with the new South” in Italy. Unfortunately, altruism, and talk Poor Law like Sonia Kovalevsky, she died Reports and Parliamentary Blue- young, but her closing days were Books at great length to their unclouded by grief; for the wolovers. In her early days Fru man's rights woman sang a hymn Leffler was the champion of the to the mystery of love, and the Swedish Woman's Rights move- last short years of happiness, too ment, and interested herself in all soon interrupted by death, were a the “isms," such as socialism, contradiction to the long insipid
” anarchism, theosophy, positivism, period of literary production.' and atheism ; but late in life she There is another point on which seems to have learned that the the authoresses of the two books highest altruism, as well as the under consideration are at variance truest happiness, for women lies with the modern champions of their in performing the duties of wife sex. Mrs Grand, among others, and mother. Fru Hansson uses has maintained, with much insistthe story of her life to enforce her ence and great wealth of pathofavourite theory_namely, that in- logical detail, that a great deal of dividualism in woman is a mistake, the unhappiness and the ailments
of women are due to their want very sad, to judge from the books of occupation. There is much, no and plays that delight the public. doubt, to be said for this conten- Morbid pessimism, subdued or partion, though work regarded as a oxysmal, is the dominant note cure may be
than the alike of the “new” fiction and disease when, as so often is the the new psychological drama. It
overwork. Fru expresses itself in the worship of Hansson is evidently no great ugliness, the minute and almost believer in the “ weary path or exclusive delineation of what is study" for women; and certainly gloomy and squalid in life, and work brought neither health nor the strange affection exhibited by happiness to Sonia Kovalevsky or so many writers for the gutter and Marie Bashkirtseff, in spite of their those who lie therein. The Scandiintellectual triumphs. As for Mrs navian authors set the fashion, Devereux, she simply laughs at the with their wonderful talent for idea of any woman really loving “pathological hunting in the terra work as an end in itself.
incognita of the human soul,” but say
that she loves work better than they found plenty of imitators in liberty and leisure is a pathetic this country. The ideal writer in pretence.
Surely the fact the eyes of the neurotic school is that the New Woman is always a sort of literary mosquito, whose trying to persuade herself that " intellectual antennæ probe work is a blessing when she knows greater depths of agonised human in her heart of hearts it is a curse, nature than anybody else. He is one of the saddest of life's little
catches the suffering reader on the ironies.'" Who shall decide when
raw, so to speak, and makes him such emiment doctors disagree? skip. I have just been reading
Having thus in cursory fash- how a brutal Hyperborean, named ion reviewed the various mental Strindberg, is said to have probed phenomena exhibited in woman's so deeply into the recesses of the writings on herself, one is tempted feminine soul that his victims to ask, What is the purport or fairly shrieked with anguish and origin of all this super-subtlety vexation.
vexation. However, as we learn and microscopic self-examination from the 'Ascent of Woman,'
? Why should people take such in- "you cannot probe to the heart finite pains to make themselves of life without making a wound”; miserable? and why should woman, and these homocæa - like mental in particular, SO “persistently vivisectionists, with their faculty parade her scourged white of always "touching the spot, breast' »» for our inspection ? Is would much rather make the it simply a
symptom of the wound than not probe at all. fret and fever of modern life! Whenever a book or a play of this of the restlessness and discontent sort comes out, it sets all the dewhich seem to have got so deep a cadents chattering, and they call it hold of us all? We all love to be profoundly convincing and signifiparading our burdens and to say, cant; whereas, if they were not de
, “See what a heavy load I bear!” cadents, they would call it simply just like those old people who are dismal and disgusting. There are continually prating of their ail- two recent novels, very different ments. The world is very hollow in some respects, but both excesand empty, and we must all, es- sively morbid, which will serve to pecially the ladies amongst us, be illustrate my meaning : Mrs