English Women of Letters: Biographical Sketches. By Julia Kavanagh. London: Hurst and Blackett, 1863.  Edited and annotated by Jeremy DeVito.



The mere name of Lady Morgan is not one that can or will be readily forgotten. She was a brilliant woman of the world--she travelled and saw much--she wrote upwards of seventy volumes--she was original, witty, and fearless--she had vehement and cruel enemies and ardent friends--she braved sarcasm and slander, and kept good her stand against a host. Her very faults--and they were open--extended her celebrity. She talked admirably, and both talked and wrote a good deal about herself. Few of the women who have written have done more than Lady Morgan, by the very bent of her nature, to be remembered long. Her celebrity is two-fold; like that of Madame de Staël, it is personal and literary. [1] Her genius is not of that commanding order over which Time has no power; but even when her books are forgotten, or no longer read, her name will hold no contemptible position in the political and literary history of her times.

The grave has scarcely closed on Lady Morgan, and it is very early yet to write about her, but she belongs to a dead generation, and though she survived it--though some of the contests in which she was mingled have not lost their bitterness--it is possible to be dispassionate, and especially to judge calmly and impartially that portion of her writings which concerns these pages. [2] Of herself there is little known as yet, in comparison with her celebrity; that little, if it displays some failings of judgment and temper, proves a generous nature and many sterling qualities.

Sydney Owenson was born on the Irish Sea, in the year 1778, [3] and her parentage, like her birth, seemed to decree that she should belong to neither country; her father, Robert MacOwen, was an Irishman--her mother, Miss Hill, an Englishwoman; both were actors of some popularity in their day. The MacOwens were of Norman descent, and settled in Connaught under the reign of Queen Elizabeth. In the course of the last century Robert MacOwen was sub-agent and land steward to Sir John Browne, of Castle Margaret, County Mayo. He was a handsome man, with few agricultural tastes. Drawn towards the stage by an irresistible impulse, he gave up his agency, went to London, applied to his relative, Oliver Goldsmith, for assistance, was introduced by him to Garrick, [4] dropped his Irish name of MacOwen for its anglicized form of Owenson, and became a popular actor. He excelled in Irish parts, and sang Irish songs with taste and feeling. It was in the course of one of his English engagements that he met and married Miss Hill. Sydney was his first child, and he gave her that name in commemoration of Sir Henry Sydney, under whose rule the family from which he was descended had settled in Ireland. [5]

For some years Mr. Owenson pursued his theatrical career in Ireland, and his eldest daughter, Sydney, acted with him. In his interesting account of Lady Morgan, Mr. Fitzpatrick says,--

"For several years subsequently we find him performing alternately at Castlebar, Sligo, and Athlone, together with his diminutive but singularly precocious daughter, who, in 1788, was brought forward as 'An Infant Prodigy.'" "I well remember," writes the late Dr. Joseph Burke of the Rifle Brigade, in a letter before us--"I well remember the pleasure with which I saw Owenson personate Major O'Flaherty in Cumberland's then highly popular comedy of the 'West Indian,' and I also well remember that the long afterwards widely-famed Lady Morgan performed at the same time with her father, either in the 'West Indian,' or an afterpiece. This took place at Castlebar, before the merry, convivial Tyrawley, and the officers of the North Mayo Militia. Their reception was enthusiastic in the extreme." [6]

Mrs. Owenson died young, and was probably no more at this time. [7] Her widowed husband supplied her place towards her daughters, Sydney and Olivia, with the gentlest tenderness. Their health, their education, were faithfully attended to. Twice a day he took them out walking, one on either hand, into the country. Sydney, the elder by eight years, was educated at Miss Crowe's, North Earl Street, Dublin. This lady, a milliner and a schoolmistress, a not uncommon conjunction in those unpretending times, was considered a good teacher, and her seminary was even distinguished by the epithet of eminent. But the intercourse of her father, and her own ready, precocious wit, were the real instructors of Sydney Owenson. Something she was taught, but far more did she teach herself. She early fell into the youthful sin of poetry, and Miss Siddy was known for getting up at night, and raking up the kitchen fire, when the fit was on her. Her verses show much talent, and some poetic feeling. She had that amount of imagination and fancy which gives a new grace to prose, but is insufficient for verse. It was not till the year 1801, when she was twenty-three, that her father's straitened circumstances made Sydney Owenson a professed authoress. Collecting her juvenile performances in one small volume, she had it printed in Ireland, and published in London by Mr. Philips, of Saint Paul's Churchyard. [8] The Countess of Moira was amongst the subscribers, and her generous and zealous patronage helped to bring Miss Owenson and her poems into notice. The young poetess was courted by the fashionable society of Dublin, and soon displayed those gifts and attractions which secure success.

She was short, of the smallest size of woman, not pretty, though she had an expressive face and fine eyes. She was even slightly deformed, but with the mixture of Irish blood which flowed in the veins of the MacOwens, she had inherited exquisite musical taste; she played on the harp with spirit, and sang sweetly. Better still, matchless vivacity and much wit were her own; she possessed in its perfection the untaught art of conversation; she was eloquent and lively, somewhat satirical, a fault that increased with years and success, but, when she chose, irresistibly captivating. Thus began, in the first years of this century, the long literary career and the social triumphs of the future Lady Morgan.

Her first novel, "St. Clair, or the Heiress of Desmond," was published in 1802; two years later it was followed by the "Novice of St. Dominick." Both books were popular at the time, and added to the fame of their writer. But it was not till 1805, when she had reached the age of twenty-seven, that Sydney Owenson published her first genuine claim on lasting popularity: "The Wild Irish Girl." [9] Much of the charm of this story lies no doubt in its truth. The romantic scenery was that which she grew familiar with during a visit paid to her friend and relative, Sir Malby Crofton, of Longford House, Sligo, and the charming Glorvina herself, that graceful, fairy-like being, so much more genuine than any of her successors, derived her power of fascination from a delightful original. But the lively, fresh, and original tone of this story, its grace of detail, its power of description and passion, were Miss Owenson's own. Seven editions in two years proved its success, and the three hundred pounds which her English publisher gave her for it before publication, prove that of its two forgotten predecessors. The sums which Miss Owenson received for her subsequent works were still larger, and the rapidity with which she wrote rendered her labours doubly remunerative. "The Wild Irish Girl" was written in six weeks; "The Patriotic Sketches," which appeared in 1807, took their author but one; and "Woman, or Ida of Athens," a tale in four volumes, begun on the 20th of July, 1808, as Miss Owenson mentioned in her address to the public, [10] and finished on the 18th of October of the same year--written, too, in the midst of society--is a still more remarkable proof of her enviable facility. True, all these books were not good, but the author would not have improved them by labour. It was the nature of her mind to yield forth at once all its stores; she thus fell into many errors, but one great gain was also hers: vivacity and freshness. Besides these works, Miss Owenson produced an opera, "The First Attempt," in which her father appeared in 1807, and "The Lay of an Irish Harp, and Metrical Fragments;" [11] but her success was not such as to make her relinquish the department of literature in which she excelled--romantic fiction.

In 1811 she gave the world one of her worst and most imperfect books, "The Missionary"--an unworthy prelude to the incomplete though finely-conceived school of Irish fiction which opened with "O'Donnel." Strange to say, this "Missionary," almost the weakest of Lady Morgan's productions, was, to the last, a favourite with her. A short time before her death she remodelled, re-wrote, and revised it for the press, under the title of "Luxima." [12] With the tenacity of age she found it hard to believe that the tale which had fascinated the guests of Bentley Priory, [13] which had charmed the wearied statesmen of that polite and bygone world, could have lost all interest for modern readers. Was there, could there be, nothing in that story which Lord Castlereagh [14] --her admirer, though she was his political opponent--had found so delightful that, sending for the publisher, he had himself superintended in his study, used to other diplomacy, the agreement that secured her four hundred pounds for the labours of a few weeks.

Soon after the publication of this work, Miss Owenson married, and her marriage, and her great war with the critics, are the only two leading events in Lady Morgan's life. She met Mr. Morgan, an English surgeon, at the Marquis of Abercorn's seat, Baron's Court, Tyrone. He was a widower, an educated and amiable man, and he was soon much in love with the lively Miss Owenson. He followed her to Dublin, and the story of their marriage is more amusing than creditable to the depth of Miss Owenson's feelings. They were both invited to one of the Duke of Richmond's private balls, and the Viceroy jestingly asked the lady when he should have the gratification of congratulating her on her marriage. Her reply, if genuine, shows plenty of ambition and worldly prudence:

"The rumour respecting Mr. Morgan's devouement may or may not be true; but this I can at least, with all candour and sincerity, assure your Grace, that I shall remain to the last day of my life in single blessedness unless some more tempting inducement than the mere change from Miss Owenson to Mistress Morgan be offered me." [15]

On this hint the good-natured Duke knighted Mr. Morgan on the spot, and on the 20th of January, 1812, Sir C. T. Morgan was married to Sydney Owenson, at Baron's Court, Tyrone. Through whatever motives it was contracted, this union, though long and childless, was blessed with more than common happiness.

In the following month of May, Lady Morgan had the grief of losing the father to whom she owed so much. Robert Owenson, one of the best Irish scholars of his day--a man patriotic in his tastes as well as in his feelings--gave his daughter that Irish tone which is the charm and strength of her writings. Her early poems are full of him and of his teaching. In one she looks back over childhood's vanished years, and sees once more--

                        "The social group
    At closing eve, that circled round the fire;
Sweet hour, that fondly knits each human tie--
    Unites the children, mother, friend, and sire!

"Full oft the legendary tale went round,
    Historic truth, or Car'lan's heartfelt song;
For, though but little understood, I ween,
    We lov'd the music of our native tongue." [16]

She loved it, and under his paternal guidance she proved her love. Her graceful song of "Kate Kearney," set to a fine old Irish air, and twelve Irish melodies dedicated to her father, [17] and which she provided with English words, opened the way to that revival of Irish music to which Moore's exquisite poetry gave enduring fame and power. [18] When she forsook that path, the spirit which her childhood had caught from Robert MacOwen did not leave her, and the Celtic tone of her early writings--that passion for harps, bards, and Irish costume and antiquities which she kept so long--may be safely traced back to that ever fondly-loved father.

A year after her marriage, in 1813, Lady Morgan published "O'Donnel." Soon after the peace of 1814 she proceeded with her husband to France, and there she gathered materials for "France," a work which has lost its value now, but which then procured its author celebrity, enemies, and money. [19] The violence with which Lady Morgan was attacked was cruel as well as unjust. The most insulting coarseness was levelled against her. Her age, her personal appearance, her dress, her moral, religious, and political opinions, were commented upon in a tone which has fortunately passed away from literature. It was shameful, but it was not inexplicable. Lady Morgan was essentially an aggressive writer. There are few of her works which are not written in a tone of defiance. Her views were moderate enough, but she gave them forth to the world with revolutionary ardour. She courted attack in more ways than one. She was not satisfied with the calm earnestness of truth, she called in sarcasm to her aid, and sarcasm invites retaliation. She endured bravely what she had in some manner drawn on herself, and she returned with spirit and terrible effect the unmanly attacks of her countryman, John Wilson Croker. [20] This war of words, though cruel to her whilst it lasted, has lost its interest now; oblivion has settled on the old "Quarterly," and few care to know how it dealt with Lady Morgan; her works, with their merits and their defects, are before us, and we all think, now their first popularity is passed, that we can afford to judge for ourselves, without referring to bygone verdicts. Attack and revenge alike have lost their meaning; yet, if it be true that the Crawley of her "Florence Macarthy" [21] is the critic who gave her such just cause of complaint, it must be acknowledged that this pitiless sketch fully avenged Lady Morgan. The satirist, who spared none, is said to have winced under it--a just fate, for who should feel satire more keenly than he who deals it forth?

Some of the lengths to which her enemies went are surprising, however, by their meanness. It is hard to understand and believe that, if Lady Morgan had the weakness to attach much value to her slender title, her foes should have condescended to wish to deprive her of so moderate a dignity. The power of the Lord-Lieutenant to confer knighthood was disputed, with the object, it is said, of reducing Lady Morgan and her sister, Lady Clarke, to the level of the plain mistress. The attempt failed, but it was made, and was as contemptible as Croker's calling her Miss Owenson of the eighteenth century, on account of another weakness which Lady Morgan shared with many men and women--that of wishing to conceal her age.

This strange animosity, which extended beyond the limits of the "Quarterly," and pursued her even in the "Literary Gazette," was the means of raising one of the critical authorities of this day--the "Athenaeum." [22] Publishers were offended with a monopoly which injured their interests, and wounded them through the medium of celebrated but disliked authors, and a new voice was called forth to administer justice more impartial.

"Florence Macarthy" followed "France," and after this Irish novel came Lady Morgan's work on Italy. Colburn asked her to write it, and used the persuasive argument of two thousand pounds. [23] She accepted, and at once set off for Italy with her husband, who had long given up the practice of medicine for literature.

It was during this Italian journey that Moore met her, and was surprised at her success in society, which he describes as astonishing. According to his account, she was "queen" at the Countess of Albany's, the widow of the Pretender, and the wife of Alfieri. [24]

"Italy" appeared in 1821. Six years later, Lady Morgan published her last Irish novel, "The O'Briens and the O'Flahertys." Another work on France, in 1827, "The Princess," "The Dramatic Scenes from Real Life," [25] and "Woman and Her Master," in 1840, complete her literary career; it had lasted longer than many a lifetime, and, though not free from some storms, it had known no disasters.

Until the year 1834 Sir Charles and Lady Morgan resided in Dublin. They travelled, visited England, France, and Italy, but ever came back to their Irish home. Both were devoted to the cause of Catholic emancipation; Sir Charles gave his labours to the association; Lady Morgan gave the still more effectual aid of her popular and daring pen. "O'Donnel," "Florence Macarthy," "The O'Briens and the O'Flahertys," embody one great political thought and feeling. Lady Morgan was justly popular in her own land; she was cheered in the theatres, and publicly praised by O'Connell; [26] there was much to endear "dear dirty Dublin," as she called it, to her. [27] Her life in Kildare Street was social and pleasant. She was fond of society, and she knew how to draw and how to keep it around her. She had the best Ireland gave, and a list of her guests is one of the great Irish names of her day. Moore, Sheil, and Curran are standards of what she prized and succeeded in procuring. [28]

Another popularity Lady Morgan had, and had long enjoyed--that which made her name dear to her poorer countrymen. Even as Miss Owenson she was once appealed to in a way which showed very clearly the lofty conception her genius and fame had raised of her powers in simple and ignorant minds, with whom one sort of influence implies every other. A poor letter-carrier, tempted by sore distress, opened a letter, and abstracted a small sum of money which it contained. His character was good, his poverty was real; his wife, his children, his aged father, moved the pity of the whole court by their lamentations; but the law was positive, his crime was clear, and sentence of death was recorded against him. This offending letter-carrier had, perhaps, sung "Kate Kearney;" perhaps, he had even read the "Wild Irish Girl;" the fame of Sydney Owenson had at all events reached him, and to her, as to a last hope, he appealed from his prison. All the legal men whom she consulted told Miss Owenson that the case was hopeless, the man's guilt was certain, the law was inexorable, he must die. She applied to the judge, Baron Smith, and he directed her to apply to the foreman of the jury, promising to back their recommendation to mercy. The jury were assembled, a memorial to the Duke of Richmond was drawn up, and the sentence of death was commuted to one of perpetual banishment; a life was saved, and a penitent man enabled to redeem the past by a lifetime of industry. [29]

It was hard to leave the country where her literary merit had received such sanction, but Sir Charles Morgan wished to return to England, and Kildare Street, Dublin, was left for Hyde Park, soon after Lady Morgan had received the handsome pension of three hundred pounds, which she enjoyed till her death. In 1843 she lost her husband, who died suddenly, and she survived him sixteen uneventful years, saddened by a failure of sight, which, even more than her advanced age, precluded her from writing. Lively, amiable, and fond of society she remained to the last.

If few women were attacked with more virulence by those who did not know her, few, more than Lady Morgan, enjoyed the liking and approbation of those who did. Some found her satirical, some, like Prince Puckler Muskau, [30] thought her frivolous, but the charm of her amiable, winning manners was acknowledged; her ready wit, her power of repartee, her social skill in blending elements the most opposed, and adapting herself to her company, were recognized. Some of the impressions she produced were as curious as they were various.

"Hardly more than four feet high," says the account of one who saw her in Dublin, "with a slightly curved spine, uneven shoulders and eyes, Lady Morgan glided about in a close-cropped wig, bound by a fillet or solid band of gold, her face all animation, and with a witty word for everybody. I afterwards saw her in the dress circle at the theatre. She was cheered enthusiastically. Her dress was different from the former occasion, but not less original. A red Celtic cloak, formed exactly on the plan of Grenville's, fastened by a rich gold fibula, or Irish Tara brooch, imparted to her little ladyship a gorgeous and withal a picturesque appearance." [31]

Prince Puckler Muskau found her neither pretty nor ugly, and with really fine and expressive eyes, but he complained of her frivolity, of her English passion for fashionable acquaintance, and of that sarcastic turn which was her great fault; yet he too acknowledged the charm of her lively conversation. That charm remained to the end; even to the last days of her life Lady Morgan was attractive and fascinating.

"The last time we saw the wild Irish girl," says Mrs. Hall, [32] "she was seated on a couch in her bedroom, as pretty and picturesque a ruin of old-lady womankind as ever we looked upon; her black silk dressing-gown fell around her petite form, which seemed so fragile that we feared to see her move. We recalled to memory Maria Edgeworth, having believed her to be the smallest great woman in the world, but Lady Morgan seemed not half her size. Yet her head looked as noble as ever; the lines of her face had deepened, but her large, luminous eyes were bright and glistening, her voice was clear and firm, her manners subdued; she was not at all restless, but spoke with confidence of arranging her autobiography, of which she had sent forth a little portion as an avant-courrier."

This volume, entitled "Passages from my Autobiography," appeared a short time before her death, but only affords us a glimpse of her life in the years 1818 and 1819. "After some kind remarks, she gave voice" resumes Mrs. Hall, "to one or two little sarcasms, that showed her acuteness was undimmed; but the hour flew swiftly and harmoniously; we promised to come some evening soon, and rejoiced her maid by saying that, though her ladyship was changed, she looked much better than we expected. We heard, what we know to be the case, that Lady Morgan, during her illness, and indeed always to her servants, was the most patient and gentle of mistresses. An unamiable woman could not have been beloved as she was by all around her." [33]

On the 14th of April, 1859, Lady Morgan died almost suddenly. With her broke the last link of literature with the years that saw the glories of Byron, Scott, and Moore. [34] Like Madame de Genlis, like Madame D'Arblay, she had served to connect present and past generations; but unlike them, she was not in the end much more than a half-remembered name. [35] Lady Morgan, who wrote so forcibly of her Florence Macarthy, "drooping in that feeble and fertile society whose very atmosphere is fatal to the elevation of great minds, or the vivacity of lively and energetic ones," could not live without it. Society she should have, and it is not likely that this craving was always satisfied with the intellectual and the refined. Passion for society excludes selection. In a worldly atmosphere she lived and died--not without higher thoughts, though many passages in her works suggest weak belief; but we are often better, as we are often worse, than our writings: to be more religious, more amiable and refined, than the books she gave to the world, was Lady Morgan's privilege. In one respect, generous resentment of wrong, the woman and the authoress made but one.



Every now and then there breaks on the somewhat monotonous world of fiction some new book, fresh, romantic, improbable, and wild; the offspring of youth or inexperience, full of faults so glaring that the poorest critic can discern them, yet, with all that, lively, happy in subject, happier in manner as distinct from style, and which reaches popularity and retains it when far better written works--works, too, much beyond it in some of the most important qualifications of fiction--slowly toil their way to repute, or, worse still, never reach those fair and tempting heights. Such a work, we think, was Miss Owenson's novel of "The Wild Irish Girl." The incidents were not very probable, nor always well told; the sentiment was exaggerated, sometimes to absurdity; the style, though vivid, was not good; there was no great originality of conception in the story, no great art in the way in which it was conducted; yet, spite these deficiencies, it was a delightful book, and half a century has not exhausted its power to please.

Books, too, have their youth, like women and men--a youth which is always enchanting--and "The Wild Irish Girl" was a very young book. Miss Owenson took Mrs. Radcliffe's romantic castles without their terror or their gloom; [1] she gave Southern grace to the green valleys and the wild shores of Connaught, and sunshine bright and clear to the soft clouded skies of Ireland. She gathered the legends of fallen greatness still rife around her, and creating a being full of life, imagination, and feeling, she made her queen of a narrow though lovely world. Such day-dreams have haunted every young mind. Romantic ruins, the decay of ancient races, scenery soft and wild, the blooming face of a bright-haired girl, fresh and sweet as a wild flower, passion in comparative solitude, and the small things that make up the growth of love, are not novel in themselves: but they have been novel once to every one, and the mind that can seize on these delightful materials in their first freshness, and give them back again as they were received, can rarely fail to produce a book which many readers will love, for it will combine two things which make a work of fiction truly dear--fervour and sincerity.

These two qualities are very remarkable in "The Wild Irish Girl." If Miss Owenson had not the merit of being, in date and in ability, the first of Irish writers who have made their country the theme of their writings; if Miss Edgeworth came before her, and showed a higher power; [2] yet to none did she yield in ardour for the cause of Ireland, in enthusiasm and generous desire to serve it, or to avenge its unmerited obloquy.

To this zeal "The Wild Irish Girl" owes much of its power to please. The more national a tale is--and strangely enough--the better does it attract even strangers. There is always a fascination in strong local feeling, as opposed to cold cosmopolitan philosophy; and though Glorvina, the Prince, and Father John, all three talk more of national customs and antiquities than is desirable or artistic in a work of imagination, their naive desire to extend our knowledge, to convert us to their own views and feelings, has a charm which makes us forget the pedantry of the attempt. The mere story of "The Wild Irish Girl" is, in its main features, simple enough; it is told with much facility and liveliness in a series of letters addressed by the hero to a friend. There are a few antiquarian and learned digressions, but no episodes, and the interest never flags, so happily chosen are the slight though pleasing incidents of the tale.

The Honourable Horatio M----, younger son of the Earl of M----, is sent to his father's Irish estates in Connaught, as a sort of penance for his sins of dissipation. But law-books have few attractions for the young man, and instead of sitting down to "Coke upon Lyttleton," as his father desires him, Horatio goes wandering about the wild and romantic country which lies around the paternal mansion. His curiosity and his interest are wakened by the singular history of his neighbours--the Prince of Innismore and his daughter.

There is always something bordering on the pathetic and the ludicrous in the fate of fallen families. The contrast between great names and low estate, lofty pretension and mean realities, is painful, and yet it is often ridiculous. Generosity forbids ridicule indeed, but whether we like it or not, the thought of ridicule will intrude. Every country has its share of these vicissitudes; the once proud Italian nobles let furnished apartments to foreigners; some of the greatest names in France have sunk so low that we have heard of a Mademoiselle de Montmorency, a descendant of the first Christian Barons, as being servant-maid in a country inn; and not long ago the Duchess of Saint-Simon, the last lawful owner of that name which the haughty writer of the Memoirs has immortalized, [3] was glad to earn her living as a Parisian charwoman.

Even England, spite the carefully-guarded privileges of her aristocracy, has witnessed some of its strangest vicissitudes; but in no country has birth been exposed to falls so great as in Ireland. Conquest, confiscation, and penal laws have done their worst against the old aristocracy of the land. Here and there we see a column still standing tall and fair amidst the blackened ruins of the temple--some real descendant of the Milesian race still owning a share in the splendid wealth of his ancestors; [4] but around him what a multitude of the plundered, reviled, ignorant, and fallen possessors of noble names--poor in all save their pride of that weak human boast, old blood!

But poverty, and even the deepest social humiliation, have nothing to do with facts. The claims to ancient and noble descent of the great Irish families have received their true test in three of the most aristocratic countries of the Continent--Spain, Austria, and France. There we find that the O's and the Macs--so barren an inheritance in their own land--have done their owners good service. If the ancestor of the Duke of Magenta had not been received as a gentleman in the army of the French sovereign, what would his descendant be to-day? Scarcely a Marshal of France! [5] If all the O'Donnells had stayed at home, would one have married a member of the Royal Family?--would the other hold the destinies of Ireland in his hand? The fate of those who preferred home to the splendid chances of exile gives us the answer to this question. The senior representative of the O'Donnells, the Reverend Constantine O'Donnell, now holds a living in Yorkshire; in the junior branches we find a Henry O'Donnell, who married a cousin of the Empress Maria Theresa--and another who, under the name of Duke of Tetuan, now wields the destinies of Spain. [6]

The Prince of Innismore and his daughter have remained in their own land and accepted poverty and decay. Their ancestors were wealthy and powerful once, but wealth and power have long been gone. The Cromwellite General M---- killed the young chieftain of Innismore in the arms of his father, and obtained a grant of his property. This is the origin of the Irish estates of the Earl of M----, and the not unnatural reason of the unyielding hatred his name inspires in the heart of the descendant of the plundered and murdered chief. In vain Lord M----, a benevolent and amiable man, has made many advances towards conciliation. The Prince of Innismore, as he is still called, has rejected every friendly overture, and keeps aloof in his poverty and pride.

To know this romantic old Irishman, to see his daughter, who is said to be lovely, seems to the Honourable Horatio M---- a great deal more pleasant than to sit down and study law. He makes his way to the peninsula--all that is left to the chieftain of a once noble inheritance. In the most approved style of romantic description is his account of his visit to that wild and lonely refuge; and as the fates that preside over the adventures of novel heroes will it, it is on the anniversary of that crime that the descendant of the murderer enters the chapel of Innismore, where High Mass has been celebrated for the repose of the dead, and where Vespers are now going to be sung.

"Nearly one half of the chapel of Innismore has fallen into decay, and the ocean breeze, as it rushed through the fractured roof, wafted the torn banners of the family, which hung along its dismantled walls. The red beams of the sinking sun shone on the glittering tabernacle which stood on the altar, and touched with their golden light the sacerdotal vestments of the two officiating priests, who ascended its broken steps at the moment that the Prince and his family entered.

"The first of this most singular and interesting group was the venerable Father John, the chaplain. Religious enthusiasm never gave to the fancied form of the first of the patriarchs a countenance of more holy expression or divine resignation; a figure more touching by its dignified simplicity, or an air more beneficently mild--more meekly good. He was dressed in his pontificals, and, with his eyes bent to earth, his hands spread upon his breast, he joined his coadjutors.

"What a contrast to this saintly being now struck my view; a form, almost gigantic in stature, yet gently thrown forward by evident infirmity, limbs of Herculean mould, and a countenance rather furrowed by the inroads of vehement passions than the deep trace of years; eyes still emanating the ferocity of an unsubdued spirit, yet tempered by a strong trait of benevolence, which like a glory irradiated a broad, expansive brow; a mouth on which, even yet, the spirit of convivial enjoyment seemed to hover, though shaded by two large whiskers on the upper lip, that still preserved their ebon hue, while Time or grief had bleached the scattered hairs which hung their snows upon his manly temple. The drapery which covered this striking figure was singularly appropriate, and, as I have since been told, strictly conformable to the ancient costume of the Irish nobles."

The ancient chieftain comes in leaning on the arm of a veiled and slender girl, whose countenance the gaze of the Honourable Horatio cannot once discern during the religious service.

The description of the whole scene, and of the incidents that followed it, is in the boldest strain of romance. Bold, for a luxuriant imagination is one of the most dangerous qualities the writer of fiction can possess. Not without cause was Mrs. Radcliffe--the great creator of the style--so cold, so moderate, in all that did not relate to mere landscape and mere terror. But, unconscious of her peril, though she had not Mrs. Radcliffe's power, the author of "The Wild Irish Girl" indulged herself not only in wild and striking scenes and fine description--she did what her predecessor was too prudent to attempt--she invested her characters with far more romance than she gave to external scenery, or, to speak more correctly, she made the romance of nature dependent upon them. Take away Glorvina and her father, and the peninsula of Innismore becomes nothing. Now, Nature is inviolate. We may turn away from her in books, proclaim her unreal, it is impossible to pronounce her ridiculous; absurdity in description recoils on the writer. But when human beings are brought in, our charity vanishes. We laugh at both them and their foibles if we find food for laughter, and it is only the great sincerity with which "The Wild Irish Girl" was written that saved many of its passages from that woful consummation. A little more, and many of the high-flown scenes in which it abounds would have proved its bane. Experience had not taught the writer that simplicity is the only art to be used in such subjects as she chose. The loftier the sorrow, the keener the misfortune, the greater the worth and the beauty, and the simpler in tone and feeling the narrative should be. There is freshness and imagination--for such things had not yet grown common and worn--but there is not simplicity in the chapel scene and in what follows.

"The concluding strain of the Vesper Hymn died on the air as the sun's last beam faded on the casements of the chapel, when the Prince and his daughter, to avoid the intrusion of the crowd, withdrew through a private door, which communicated by a ruinous arcade with the castle.

"I was the first to leave the chapel, and followed them at a distance as they moved slowly along, their fine figures sometimes concealed behind a pillar, and again emerging from the transient shade, flushed with the deep suffusion of the crimsoned firmament.

"Once they paused, as if to admire the beautiful effect of the retreating light, as it faded on the ocean's swelling bosom; and once the Princess raised her hand and pointed to the evening star, which rose brilliantly on the deep cerulean blue of a cloudless atmosphere, and shed its fairy beams on the mossy summit of a mouldering turret.

"Such were the sublime objects which seemed to engage their attention, and added their sensible inspiration to the fervour of those more abstracted devotions in which they were so recently engaged. At last they reached the portals of the castle, and I lost sight of them. Yet still, spell-bound, I stood transfixed to the spot whence I had caught a last view of their receding figures……

"Slowly departing, I raised my eyes to the Castle of Innismore, sighed and almost wished I had been born the lord of these ruins, the prince of this isolated little territory, the adored chieftain of these affectionate and natural people. At that moment a strain of music stole by me, as if the breeze of midnight had expired in a murmur on the Aeolian lyre…..

"Directed by the witching strain, I approached an angle of the building whence it seemed to proceed; and, perceiving a light streaming through an open casement, I climbed, with some difficulty, the ruins of a parapet wall which encircled this wing of the castle, and which, rising immediately under the casement, gave me, when I stood on it, a perfect view of the interior of that apartment to which it belonged.

"Two tapers burned on a marble slab at the remotest extremity of this vast and gloomy chamber, and shed their dim blue light on the saintly countenance of Father John, who, with a large folio open before him, seemed wholly wrapped in studious meditation; while the Prince, reclining on an immense Gothic couch, with his robe thrown over the arm that supported his head, betrayed, by the expression of his countenance, those emotions which agitated his soul as he listened to those strains which at once spoke to the heart of the father, the patriot, and the man--breathed from the chords of his country's emblem--breathed in the pathos of his country's music--breathed from the lips of his apparently inspired daughter! The 'white rising of her hands upon the harp'--the half-drawn veil that imperfectly discovered the countenance of a seraph--the moonlight that played round her fine form, and partially touched her drapery with its silver beam--her attitude--her air!--but how cold, how inanimate, how imperfect this description! Oh! could I but seize the touching features, could I but realize the vivid tints of this enchanting picture, as they then glowed on my fancy."

The rapt gazer, however, misses his footing, and falls senseless to the earth. He awakes with a broken arm in the castle of Innismore, and sees the chieftain, the priest, and Glorvina around him. Mindful of the prejudices of his host, the son of Lord M---- calls himself Henry Mortimer, an English gentleman, whom inevitable misfortunes have compelled to embrace the profession of an artist; ascribes his visit to Innismore to a search for the picturesque, and his unlucky fall to the study of a fine effect of light and shade.

And now the rest of the story may be imagined by any one who has dreamed a day-dream. The ancient and hospitable chief is paternally kind to the young stranger thrown on his hospitality; the priest, a man of polished and liberal mind, entertains him with pleasant or antiquarian conversation; and Glorvina, the blue-eyed, golden-haired, wild Irish girl, more lovely than beautiful, more fascinating than either, a princess in her unconscious pride of birth, a learned lady by her classic education, a child in temper, gay, mirthful, patriotic, and impassioned, with all her innocence, is the very being to lure away a man's heart. Her fallen state appeals to generous pity, her beauty to passion, her openness and warmth to the very soul of love, her faults and imperfections to that fond indulgence of which love is often born. Indeed, ideally as she is drawn in many respects, Glorvina, even more than Miss Milner in "A Simple Story," [7] is the prototype of a favourite heroine of our own days--the bright, gifted, and joyous girl. But she has features which Miss Milner had not, features which she was the first, we believe, to introduce in romantic fiction. Glorvina is spirited and generous. She is patriotic and ardent too. She is no cold epitome of virtue, no mere embodiment of frivolous vanity. She is young, gay, and graceful, but she is also a noble woman. She has not the power of intellect of Corinne, but she is far more natural and fascinating. [8] There is a joyous freedom about her, of which contemporary readers must have been reminded when a few years later they found Ellen, in "The Lady of the Lake," and Diana Vernon, in "Rob Roy." [9] Even the high-souled Flora MacIvor is akin to Glorvina in her ardent and deeply-felt patriotism, and she fascinates Waverley by much the same charm which Glorvina exerts over Horatio. [10] Walter Scott indeed made these charming beings all his own--as he made his whatever he touched--by the power of unrivalled delineation; but though he cannot be charged with imitating it, we think that he found "The Wild Irish Girl" a suggestive book. "O'Donnel," which he admired and read twice, bears an unmistakable resemblance to "The Bride of Lammermoor," a much later production. [11]

It is honourable, but it is dangerous to have been found useful by writers of great genius and great fame. Little avails it to have been first, when to have been first is not to have been best. Glorvina has been more than equalled, she has been surpassed, and few who take up "The Wild Irish Girl," will care to know that this delightful being, so full of light and life, was one of the very first of her kind that appeared among us.

Many pleasing scenes, illustrative of national manners and feelings, slight and graceful sketches of character, make up the progress of love between the daughter of the conquered and the son of the conqueror. But obstacles, invisible though potent, come between him and "this child of genius and of passion," as he calls her in one of his solitary transports. There is a cloud at the Castle of Innismore, and Henry Mortimer feels that for some melancholy and secret cause he has outstayed his welcome. All love him--the chief, the priest, and Glorvina--yet all seem to wish him away. He parts from his mistress--for their love, though silent, is mutual, like their grief--with the knowledge that for some reason, which he cannot penetrate, she never must be his. He leaves that fair peninsula, where he has dreamed his youth's fairest dream, and returns to the realities of life, to his father who has provided him with a rich and handsome bride, to ambition and wealth, to all that is not love.

The marriage is to be celebrated at M---- House, within a few miles of his lost Eden. An accident, to which secret desire is united, leads the lover's steps to the abode of his mistress. The castle is dark, and silent, and deserted. Sorrow has fallen upon it and its inhabitants. Glorvina's father had added imprudence to poverty; he was a ruined man, and shortly after the young man's departure from the castle his arrest for debt had taken place. Forgetting his betrothed at M---- House, the lover hastily proceeds to the neighbouring town. He learns on reaching it that Mr. O'Melville, commonly called Prince of Innismore, had been released from prison through the interposition of a friend, and though in a dying state had been conveyed back to Innismore by a circuitous route. He learns too that after his departure from the castle Glorvina fell dangerously ill, and that in giving her hand to her father's liberator, as seems decided, she will sacrifice love to duty. The end now comes abruptly, and not very felicitously. Horatio M---- rides back to the castle, enters by the chapel as the readiest way, and finds Glorvina on the point of being married to a stranger of distinguished appearance, in whom he recognizes his own father. The recognition, the knowledge that in the youth whom he sheltered he must see the son of his enemy, and that enemy himself in the man to whom he was going to give Glorvina, and who has been in reality his tried and devoted friend for years, prove too much for the dying chieftain. He had been brought out to see his daughter receive the protection of a husband, and overpowered by his emotion, he expires in her embrace.

Lord M----'s motive in marrying the descendant of those whom his ancestors had deprived of every earthly good and honour, was a generous sense of atonement rarely found in the hearts of those whom oppression has enriched. He finds it easy, therefore, to resign his claims to his son, and as the young man's betrothed has luckily run away with some one else, there is no obstacle to the union of Horatio M---- and the Princess of Innismore.

And under this high-sounding title would the work have been designated, but for the interposition of Peter Pindar, who stood sponsor, and gave her the much more attractive title of "The Wild Irish Girl." [12] This tale had great and immediate success, and deserved it. It was Miss Owenson's third novel, and it far surpassed its two predecessors, "St. Clair" and "The Novice of Saint Dominick."

The latter work was a lively, fervent tale, an historical novel, too, with battles, troubadours, wandering ladies, and a mixture of love, passion, worldliness, debts, and philosophy, which showed the immature years and the perplexities of the writer. Some of the anachronisms mixed up with the assumption of knowledge must have amused Lady Morgan later. For we find Spinosa quoted before he was born, and Saint Theresa canonized before her death. [13] Some of these slips of the pen there are in "The Wild Irish Girl," and in all that Miss Owenson or Lady Morgan wrote we must regret the injudicious blending of philosophy and religion with matters foreign to both. "The Wild Irish Girl," however, is freest from those blemishes. It is most of a tale made to please and amuse, and perhaps for that very reason has it preserved its power to do both. To this agreeable tale Miss Owenson's next novel, "Woman, or Ida of Athens," was much inferior, charming though Mrs. Inchbald thought the title.

An unmerciful but deep thinker of the last age, the dogmatic, imperious, but far-sighted Joseph de Maistre, exclaimed impatiently, as he discussed some propositions of the detested French philosophers, "La Nature! qu'est-ce que c'est que cette femme-la?" [14] In "Woman, or Ida of Athens," we are tempted to put a similar question. Nature is called in to support feelings so artificial that the doubt arises, What is Nature, what did the writer understand by that word, and who is to say when nature begins and ends in modern man and woman, the offspring and inheritor of five thousand years of culture and civilization? Ida was intended to show us "the character of woman in the perfection of its natural state;" [15] --a daring attempt, on which was grafted the generous wish to plead the cause of a once glorious, and, when Miss Owenson wrote, a cruelly oppressed race. This is the great charm of Lady Morgan. She may boast with girlish vanity that she wrote books in six weeks, nay, in one, and never corrected her proofs--these are trifles for the carping to cavil at. None can deprive her of the honourable praise that wherever she saw an oppressed cause she did her best in its favour.

This tale opens in Athens in the last century. A voluptuous and world-worn Englishman, a sort of Childe Harold, [16] though the real Childe Harold had not yet begun his pilgrimage when Miss Owenson wrote, is sick of Athens, of her climate, and her ruins, and is meditating flight from this once hallowed region, when, in wandering near a villa, he is attracted by an open portico, which he enters. He sees a lovely Greek girl asleep, and he falls in love with her at once. This is Ida of Athens, whom the Englishman learns to know and admire, and whom he kindly contemplates making his mistress.

Ida does not love him, and to reject his insulting proposal, she takes the trouble of writing him a billet that begins thus, "There can be no individual happiness but that which harmonizes with the happiness of society--there may be virtue without felicity, but there can be no felicity without virtue," &c. Indeed this child of nature talks too much in this philosophical tone. She reflects very faithfully many of the theories that were rife when Miss Owenson wrote, and that Epicurean philosophy in which she, Ida, was reared by a wise uncle, who taught her a "decent respect for the popular religion of her country," and inculcated in her mind the doctrine that happiness is the end of life, and virtue the means of happiness. This teaching has not saved Ida from love and its sorrows--from jealousy and desertion. But her troubles end happily; though, with a want of artistic feeling, their close is in London, and their final end in Russia.

This novel was followed by a very fervent one--"The Missionary." During the ages when faith was strong, there were marvellous legends of the temptations of saints, of the struggles between human passion and religion; but these subjects inspired a holy and mysterious fear--they were not brought into the world of fiction. Later, this seducing theme became a favourite one with novelists. The story of "Theodosius and Constantia," in the "Spectator," is told with all the delicacy of Addison. [17] There is as much pathos, and far more passion, in Madame de Tencin's "Memoirs of Comminge." [18] In Addison's tale, Constantia confesses her sorrows to the monk who was once her lover--a pathetic scene, which Mrs. Radcliffe transferred to the pages of the "Sicilian Romance." [19] In "Comminge" Adelaide enters the convent where her lover has taken refuge from his sorrows, and she remains near him, unknown to him as to all. In both the sanctity of religious vows quells mortal love.

In the beginning of the nineteenth century Châteaubriand's "Atala" enacted this wonderful drama of religion and love on a new scene--the wilderness. Madame Cottin's "Mathilde" [20] and Miss Owenson's "Missionary" were the two most remarkable illustrations of the influence the powerful genius of the French writer exercised on minds he was especially destined to rule--the minds of women.

"The Missionary" is fervently conceived and eloquently told, but it is a rhapsody in three volumes. Passion is here as feverish as in "Delphine," though less gloomy; [21] it is the work of no ordinary mind, but it is not a good book in any sense of the word. The missionary, a Portuguese Franciscan of great sanctity, goes to India to convert the infidel. Luxima, a lovely Brahmin priestess of Cashmere, lives in a sacred and beautiful retreat near his hermitage. They meet and love, and the missionary learns to feel his weakness in her presence. On both sides the struggles are severe. The sanctity of his vows binds one--the prejudices of faith and caste fetter the other. Their meetings are discovered, and Luxima, pronounced an outcast, flies with the monk. So fled Atala and Chactas in the American savannahs, and Mathilde and Malek Adel in Arabian deserts. Dear has solitude always been to love and lovers, and there is nothing more beautiful than the picture of the first man and woman who ever loved, in their own Eden. But Eden is lost, and with it the peace and innocence of those enchanting bowers have departed. Châteaubriand's lovers meet beauty, danger, and death in their solitude, for love is too intense there not to end fatally. Madame Cottin's find theirs close with a convent and a grave, and not less tragic is the end of the missionary and the priestess. They are pursued and captured. They escape, but not before Luxima receives a mortal wound. She dies in the lonely cavern by the seashore to which Hilarion had conveyed her. She expires in his arms, loving him to the last, but to the last also faithful--in her heart, at least--to the gods of her country. This clinging to the worship of her youth is the only characteristic of this lovely but weak and fond woman. Hilarion is more nobly conceived. He never fairly yields to his passion; he struggles against it with all his might, and expiates it by a long life of penance in a remote solitude.

Lady Morgan's next novel was a very different and superior work. Forsaking romance, she entered what she called, in the preface to "O'Donnel," "the flat realities of life." Flat they were not under her pen. Sir Walter Scott, that shrewd though indulgent critic of fiction, wrote of "O'Donnel," more than ten years after its first appearance--

"March 14, 1826.--I have amused myself occasionally very pleasantly during the last few days by reading over Lady Morgan's novel of 'O'Donnel,' which has some striking and very beautiful passages of situation and description, and in the comic part is very rich and entertaining. I do not remember being so much pleased with it at first. There is a want of story always fatal to a book the first reading--and it is well if it gets a chance of a second. Alas, poor novel!" [22]

Lady Morgan's mind must have been a singular one--a mind of vivid light and deep shadow. We can scarcely overrate the merit of "O'Donnel," when we remember that it appeared before "Waverley"--before that new key to national and picturesque fiction had become world-known. Its successors, "Florence Macarthy," and "The O'Briens and the O'Flahertys," are conceived in the same spirit, but the latter has borrowed a good deal from Sir Walter Scott. [23] With all its faults, and they are many, "O'Donnel" is a fine, vigorous, and original conception. In that conception lies its great merit, for it is a noble thing to conceive a genuine romantic hero--a man of high birth, noble mind, and heavy sorrows; but it is very difficult to come up to that lofty ideal. Lady Morgan would have fulfilled it better in her youth than when she took up her pen at the age of thirty-four. She had lived much in the world; if her own feelings had kept their freshness, her standard of human excellence had sunk rather low. Glorvina, Ida, Luxima even, have generosity and loftiness, but what are Miss O'Hallaran, Florence Macarthy, and Beavoin O'Flaherty? [24] --clever, intriguing women.

In "O'Donnel" it is not really the story that fails, as Sir Walter Scott said, it is the hero who unworthily fills it. At first, indeed, he is drawn with a vigorous hand, but feebleness and inanity mark the last touches of the picture. The injured descendant of O'Donnel the Red, wandering around the melancholy shores of Northern Ireland, with his noble hound, Bran, or sullenly brooding over his wrongs in his mountain home, sinks into that least manly of all characters, a drawing-room gentleman, and ends by becoming the mere toy of a vain though fond woman. The ideal which Lady Morgan could boldly conceive, she unaccountably failed to fulfil.

But in those flat realities of life which she had not attempted before, Lady Morgan was, on the other hand, very successful. Lady Singleton is admirable. Lady Singleton has come to Ireland to improve that unfortunate country, and how zealously she sets about the task of total bouleversement! "I have done a little," she modestly says, in her letter to an Irish bishop; "that is, I have undone everything; but, for the present, I shall not have time to complete anything. My plans, most of which I have drawn out myself, have quite astonished Mr. Glentworth's Irish agent; but, as is usual among the semi-barbarous, improvement is resisted as innovation; and Mr. O'Grady has an obstacle to oppose to everything I have suggested, because the old muddling system must go on for ever in the same old muddling way. There is nothing so much wanted here as a canal from Ballynogue to Dublin: I have drawn out a plan upon the Newcastle system, and--but we will talk all these things over when we meet ….. By-the-bye, you have no idea what a sensation I create when I go into the town of Ballynogue, for I make it a rule to enter every house sans façon, as lady of the manor. It is a sort of feudal privilege, you know; and I go on examining, changing, correcting, and improving, according to exigencies."

This enterprising lady, her husband, her daughters, and their silent, sullen governess, Miss O'Hallaran, visit the fine scenery in the north of Ireland, with a party of idle fashionable people. What is there that Lady Singleton does not attempt or hope to improve, from a bridge to a canal, from road-mending to hotel-rooms, during her journey?

This utilitarian lady and her friends meet with a handsome young man, whom Lady Singleton rates as a negligent road-surveyor, and who proves to be the lineal and plundered descendant of O'Donnel the Red.

There is a certain romantic ideal in character, as well as in scenery, which it seduces most writers of fiction to attempt. There is scarcely a novel in ancient or modern times in which that ideal does not appear. Sometimes it is virtue in all her dignity, innocence in all her sweetness, crime in all its savage greatness, or sorrow nobly borne in all its endurance. Whatever it may be, it rarely fails to charm, if consistent. It never is a perfect deception, but pleasure does not depend on belief, or who would read a novel? It is better than that, it is a pleasure of mind and heart, making us repose in happy peace on something vaguely imagined, but never met with yet. Most men and women have had their heroes and heroines in youth, perfect or at least ideal beings; it is these we sometimes find in fiction; we believe no more in them than we did in our own, but we are tenderly drawn towards them, and spite of reason we love them.

Such a being Lady Morgan attempted in O'Donnel. Handsome, intellectual, and brave, nobly descended, gently nurtured, proud, courteous, sensitive, and poor she meant him to be. Something of it he is. We believe in his outward being and circumstances. His descent from the broken-hearted Princes of Tirconnel, who have sunk into obscurity in their own country, and learned abroad to lead armies and rule empires, we do not doubt; the wild and poverty-stricken dwelling in which his visitors surprise him is real too; yet something is wanted in the whole man; it is not that he has one weakness, that would be human, but a general weakness, which contradicts his splendid attributes. His language, when he speaks of the wrongs of his race, is not the language of a wronged man; we miss the prejudiced bitterness which only the highest Christian charity can eradicate from the hearts of the injured, or the lofty magnanimity which scorns useless lament. O'Donnel keeps his impetuosity for himself, and his personal quarrels; in all else he is calm enough. With none of the national humour, he is often on the verge of becoming foolish, and is only saved from the most lamentable catastrophe a romantic hero can encounter, by the interference of Miss O'Hallaran, or of the Duchess of Belmont.

Moreover, the tale turns around him, but he does nothing to help it on. Without penetration or tact, or at least with little of either, he allows himself to be made the plaything of two fashionable ladies: his good looks, his poverty, his courtesy, courage, and generosity, are all that remain in the end of the splendid promises with which the tale began. These are good, nay, excellent things, but a man need not bear an heroic name or be the victim of cruel oppression to possess these charming, gentleman-like qualities, which sit well on the hero, but never yet made one. The first romantic appearance of O'Donnel on the coasts of Antrim, his solitary home in the mountains, his faithful foster-brother, M'Rory, his noble hound, Bran, still bearing the collar of Tirconnel, were subtle but most delusive promises of some strange heroic story which ends in naught.

But, indeed, we ought to have known this O'Donnel to be no genuine hero, from his blindness concerning Miss O'Hallaran, the governess, as ambitious and as unsuccessful a character in her way as O'Donnel himself.

Miss O'Hallaran, having been pronounced incorrigibly stupid by Lady Singleton, justifies the kind assertion by her silence, vacant looks, and general dulness. Now and then she laughs most provokingly at the right place, and never does she allow a laugh to turn against herself, but otherwise Miss O'Hallaran is null. Yet this lady proves herself to be O'Donnel's friend. She gives him a timely warning on a delicate occasion. Having said her say she relapses into her sullen silence; O'Donnel, surprised at first, thinks no more about her--he does not even perceive her beauty. Of that he only becomes conscious when he meets her in England, the young, wealthy, and universally admired Dowager Duchess of Belmont, and then of course he falls in love with her. His test of character is the world's test, and a very vulgar one it is--success. The poor governess was slighted; the Duchess is adored, when they meet at Lady Llanberis's. Who does not know, who has not met a Lady Llanberis? A woman of fortune, wearying of her caprices before they are satisfied, yet ever eager in her schemes, which she pursued with an illusive and short-lived ardour.

This lady's caprices and folly help on the story, produce a duel between O'Donnel and an insulting Lord Charles, and cause a discovery of his feelings for the Duchess of Belmont to take place.

O'Donnel marries the Duchess, and as that lady's marriage made her mistress of the lands which the penal laws wrested from her lover, his union with her reinstates him, not, indeed, into the ancient inheritance of the O'Donnels, but into a still noble estate, the compensation granted for a principality.

The Irish part of this story has two aspects: the heroic with O'Donnel--by no means a successful attempt, though a fine suggestive conception--the comic with his foster-brother, M'Rory, a far more natural and amusing personage.

More is asked, in fiction at least, of the Irish peasant than of the peasant of any other country. His very enemies expect him to be always witty, humorous, and amusing. Proverbial as are his sorrows, his gaiety must never flag. He may drink, he may fight or make love, but witty he must always be. This is a great compliment to the intellectual qualities of the race, for wit is intellect, let them who have it not say what they please, but it is enough to daunt the boldest heart from sitting down to write novels of Irish life in which this peasant is to figure.

Lady Morgan's M'Rory, though excellent in his way, cannot come up to this formidable ideal. Yet he is sharp, shrewd, and sarcastic, and some of his answers have the pungency of true Irish wit, which is never of the merciful sort. Mr. Dexter, a sycophant of the first water, addresses him, "And so, Mr. M'Rory, you are really such a superstitious blockhead as to believe in purgatory, are you?" To which M'Rory replies, "I believe, sir, in what my people believed before me; and what more does your honour, and the likes of you, do nor that? But, in truth, in respect of purgatory, sir, myself is noways particular; only, bad as it is, sure you, your honour, may go farther and fare worse, for all that."

But M'Rory's blunders are better still than his wit, and in this respect Lady Morgan gives us far more of the mythical Irish peasant than Miss Edgeworth, whose delineations, though too cold, were, at least, clear and original. In a letter to his master, M'Rory thus relates the death of Mrs. Honor Kelly, "who died a great Christian, and left her curse on Corny Kelly, her thieving nephew, and her elegant gold cross to Father Murphy to bury her." In the same style is the allusion to the "brackit hen who roosts under the chimney of your honour's room, in the thatch, sir, and ould Mary says that the neighbours will never be persuaded, sir, but she's Mrs. Honor Kelly, in regard of flying in the face of Corny Kelly the first day he put his foot in it, which ould Mary will take her book oath of--och! but she's an uncommon bird."

There is not much difference in form or substance between "O'Donnel" and "Florence Macarthy." Lady Llanberis and Lady Singleton unite, and become Lady Dunore; the blindness of O'Donnel is transferred to General Fitzwalter, and Miss O'Hallaran's spirit of intrigue to Florence; but the incidents are different. The romantic adventures of "Florence Macarthy" make it the more amusing story of the two. James Annesley, in the last century, gave Lady Morgan the groundwork of her tale. [25] Like the son of Lord Altham, her hero is kidnapped as a boy, sold as a slave in America, and like him he returns a man to claim his title and estates. But the early part of the present century is the period chosen, and a branch of the great Desmonds acts the cruel part taken by Lord Anglesea. Lady Dunore, so frightened of everything Irish, then so fascinated by the delightful variety which the unsettled state of Ireland procures her, is very amusing. Her son, the Byronian Lord Adelm Fitz-Adelm, and the servile, grasping Crawleys, are keenly though satirically drawn. The hero and heroine are not without attraction; Florence is far more pleasing than Miss O'Hallaran, and her lover, if not so fine a conception as O'Donnel, is not disappointing like that fine unfinished type of manhood. The error of the tale lies in its want of simplicity. It was the fault of all Lady Morgan wrote, and it increased with years. We are pleased and entertained with her stories; we find wit, humour, vivacity, and imagination--rare gifts--but we miss repose and ingenuousness, gifts still more rare, and far more sweet than any she possessed. This deficiency is especially apparent where it is most unpleasant, in the characters of her heroines. They have many attractions--beauty, wit, generosity, and fervour--but a spirit of mischief and intrigue, an aversion to the straight ways of life, mark them all save Glorvina. It is indeed by these means that they make the fortunes or rule the hearts of their lovers, but they lose a charm no success can replace, the charm of all great and noble natures: truth.

The heroes are more ingenuous, but they are too blind, too easily deceived; disguise finds them obtuse, and assertion credulous, and unworthy arts an easy prey.

The heir of the Fitz-Adelms, the Commodore, as he chooses to call himself, lands in Dublin on a fine summer evening with a Mr. de Vere. They stop at the same hotel, and agree to proceed together to Munster. The commodore is the kidnapped heir of Dunore, who has become celebrated as General Fitzwalter in Southern America, and Mr. de Vere is Lord Adelm Fitz-Adelm, his first cousin. Both have good reasons for travelling incognito. General Fitzwalter is returning to claim his title and estates, and Mr. de Vere to escape being made a member of Parliament by his mother Lady Dunore and her agent, Mr. Crawley. The two cousins take a great liking to each other, perhaps because they are so very dissimilar. General Fitzwalter is abrupt, ardent, generous, and impassioned, a true soldier of fortune. Lord Adelm Fitz-Adelm is a dandy, a Byronian dreamer, a wearied man of the world, a worshipper of imaginary beauties, but a contemner of real flesh and blood women, a fastidious and capricious embodiment of fashionable ennui. He has inherited from his mother a love of excitement, which is surfeited by his frequent rencontres with an ancient lady of portentous ugliness and costume, Mrs. Molly Magillicuddy, commonly called Protestant Molly. Mrs. Magillicuddy is Florence Macarthy, and this grotesque disguise of youth and beauty, which began with Miss O'Hallaran, Lady Morgan further improved in Beavoin O'Flaherty and the Princess. To these sudden transformations, she added the monastic character; her favourite heroines are half lay, half nun, and seem to want some tie to break, some recognized standard of womanly decorum to violate. Florence Macarthy is the most pleasing. This impoverished descendant of the sovereigns of Munster, a peeress in her own right, lost her father in South America. He gave his life to save General Fitzwalter's, and the young man, in return, vowed to marry the unprotected orphan. The marriage ceremony was begun, but not completed, in the chapel of the convent which was Florence's home, when a battle called away the bridegroom. Romantic events and the chances of war prevent him from finding his lost bride, and whilst his image never left her, and made her recognize him at once in the hotel in Dublin, he had so far forgotten her as to fall in love with her when she appeared before him as Lady Clancare.

This fantastic lady, who now appears as Protestant Molly, now as the Bhan Tierna, the good genius of the oppressed peasants, now as an authoress and a lady of the world, lionized by the ardent Lady Dunore, does her best to serve and to win her lover. He seeks her in her poverty-stricken home, and the romance of the tale lies in these interviews between Fitzwalter and the woman who is all but his wife, and whom, unconscious of that fact, he loves all the more that he thinks his passion forbidden by honour. But both that romance and his passion are unrelieved by the charm of delicate tenderness. We must expect no heart-searchings from Lady Morgan. She had not the patience, the subtlety, or the refinement they require. Her love is vehement, ardent, and travels fast to its inevitable conclusion. Her school, moreover, was not that of inward development, her men and women, though not superficial, are external, and if we want to see her in all her excellence we must go to her Lady Dunores and her Crawleys.

Lady Dunore, especially, is admirable. Her discovery that the whole misery of Ireland arises out of "want of work, food, and things," the remedy she seeks in establishing a rush manufactory, her wonderful exclamation, "You have no idea how I hate to have people hanged," implying that some liked and enjoyed it, mingle in the most entertaining confusion. This versatile lady Lady Morgan made the instrument of her revenge on Crawley, her vigorous and pitiless embodiment of Crofton Croker. The intrigues of the Crawleys have procured a warrant against General Fitzwalter; he has no difficulty in proving his innocence, but bail is required. Lord Fitz-Adelm is one security, and Lady Dunore, charmed with this romantic stranger, wants to be the other. But female bail is worthless, upon which her ladyship exacts that Mr. Crawley shall be bail, and so he is, internally exclaiming in his amazement, "Well, this bates Banacher, any how."

This is but one of many defeats sustained by the Crawleys; they are crowned by the marriage of General Fitzwalter with his capricious mistress, and the lawsuit won, of course that establishes his claims.

The short-lived but brilliant school of fiction which Sir Walter Scott introduced, and in which he alone excelled, suggested the form Lady Morgan gave to her "O'Briens and O'Flahertys." In this tale she attempted to illustrate that epoch of Irish history which preceded the events that ended in the tragedy of '98. [26] We have here all the materials which Scott has made familiar to us--the lively and varied scenes, the wild and grand landscape, the singular and picturesque character, the sudden adventures, graphically told, and the events of a few days so related as to take up as much room as the history of a lifetime. We have them, but without the inimitable charm of the great Scotch novelist.

Nothing is more remarkable, in a critical point of view, than the consummate art Sir Walter Scott showed in his selection and his treatment of his heroes. He said of his own Waverley: "I am a bad man at depicting a hero properly so called," which was true enough; [27] but what was no less so was that the cast of his stories was admirably adapted to that imperfection. Sir Walter Scott's heroes are of the subservient cast which variety of scene and incident required. They interest, but are never so engrossing as to distract us from the bright pictures, the stern figures, or the grand historic scenes amidst which they lead us. They are lively youths, good-humoured and brave, never political men in the strong sense of the word. They take up no great principle, no mighty cause to make it a worship or a passion. Their part in politics, when they bear one, is either subordinate or accidental. Scott knew that to interest us great political characters must bear real names, and that to create more than incidental interest in men who have lived is not the work of fiction. He could paint a Cromwell, a Louis XI, a Mary Stuart, but he neither could nor would centre the interest of a tale in beings too grand or too splendid for anything but tragedy or history.

Lady Morgan does not seem to have felt this. She did not select great historical characters for her heroes, it is true, but she gave them all the dangerous charm of greatness. She chose heroes who to youth, beauty, and generosity added the ambition of statesmen and the passionate devotion of patriots. She gave them the noblest and most sublime aspirations after those of religion, and she forgot that such men must rule a novel as they would rule the world, that they must not be the sport of idle ladies or wandering nuns, participators in midnight brawls, the protégés of invisible benefactresses, and above all the slaves of sensual passion. The lives of Lord Edward Fitzgerald, of Robert Emmet, of the United Irishmen, the memoirs of Wolfe Tone, would make very different romances. [28] We see there the weaknesses and passions of men, but overruled by feelings and events that led to exile, death, and the scaffold. O'Donnel, O'Brien, are only enthusiasts about nationality, ambition, and politics. The events of fashionable life rule one, and lead him to a rich marriage. Poverty, love, pleasure, and accidents over which his will has little power, fashion the fate of Murrough O'Brien.

Pictures of old Irish society, lively scenes, some amusing, others dramatic, many improbable, make up the tale. The hero is the prey of circumstance, and the sport of a mysterious wandering nun who haunts him like a spirit, sometimes like a good angel, to whom he owes escape and life, and who finally, when he has sought and won distinction in a foreign land, marries him. His political ardour in Ireland she checks as useless and dangerous; and she uses her power over him to bid him leave a land he cannot serve.

"To be born an Irishman is a dark destiny at the best," she tells him; "the last that the wise would contend with, or the proud encounter. Here, indeed, as everywhere, mediocrity is safe; dulness is its own protection, and insensibility its own shield; but genius and feeling, the pride, the hope, the ambition of patriotism, the bitter indignation which spurns at oppression, the generous sympathy which ranges itself on the side of the oppressed--if there are lands where such virtues thrive and flourish, and force forward the cause of human happiness, Ireland is not one of them. . . Here genius is the object of suspicion to dull rulers, and of insult to petty underlings; and all that bends not--falls. Fly then, Lord Arranmore, for here none like you have ever lived and thriven."

And to point this bitter moral the tale seems to have been written. For we must by no means consider Lady Morgan as a mere novelist. She had an object in all she wrote, and it is honourable to her that to serve and vindicate her country was that she ever held most dear. She rarely swerved from it; hence her works acquired that political bias which won her so much enmity. The quiet, prudent Miss Edgeworth shunned Irish politics, but fearless Lady Morgan rushed into them, and into politics of every sort as well. She was proud of the wrath she had excited in foreign governments by her works on France and Italy; it was one of her boasts, written and spoken. In the novels we have noticed, in the dramatic scenes from real life, and the Princess, though inferior productions, Lady Morgan still clung to her free, vigorous, liberal, though often overbearing, political doctrines. In "Woman and Her Master" we find the same aggressive spirit, one that enabled Lady Morgan to make a determined and haughty stand, but one that often defeated her object. [29]

That spirit will survive with her name. Attack is the meaning of all she wrote. She knew not how to build. There is no calmness and no peace in any of her books. Restless, brilliant, good-humoured, very witty, and often eloquent, she dazzled and subdued more than she really won over her contemporaries. Was she loved as a writer? Did she make her way to hearts remote, and become a dear unknown friend? We doubt it. She was generous, but not high-minded; she had a keen sense of wrong, but a very easy enjoyment of worldliness. Even in her early novels, written before she had mixed much in society, we miss something: that serenity which is one of the finest attributes of a fine nature.

As a writer, she had far more vigour, and especially originality, than women usually show. This is her superiority. Her Irish novels are bold, energetic conceptions. In execution she was weak. That something which we miss in the tone of her writings failed her when she came to the fulfilment of what she had conceived. She had no control over her faculties; she did not appreciate what was excellent in them, and knew not how to conquer what was bad. They procured her great but passing celebrity, money, and popularity; but had she known how to rule and develope them, they would have secured her one of the very highest places ever held by woman in literature.

Were it not for the honour there is always in work done, it would matter little. Of the twenty women whose lives and whose labours we have surveyed, how many have left one book that will live? "The Princess of Clèves" is still a classic; [30] will it always be so? How much longer will the name of Madame de Staël be remembered than "Corinne" will be read? Miss Edgeworth's works have already undergone a selection; the name of Madame D'Arblay has sunk into the shade. Miss Austen alone enjoys no diminution of fame, as if, of all the attributes of woman, delicacy alone were matchless. [31]

But new schools have arisen since she wrote--are arising daily. Fiction is going on its wonderful career like Saturn, devouring its own children. The time when novels were few has gone by; we shall never see its return. It is the only branch of literature in which women have acquired genuine distinction and exercised undoubted influence. We have seen, through the most distinguished amongst them, what they have effected. That their own books should now be for the most part unread and forgotten matters little. We cannot open a novel of to-day on which these past and faded novelists have not left their trace. And whilst the human mind, its toils, its pleasures, are worth noting, that trace, however fine and often invisible, is worthy of attention and record.


Notes for Chapter X

1. Anne Louise Germaine de Staël (1766-1817), French-Swiss novelist and political writer. [back]

2. Kavanagh's Biographical Sketches were first published in 1862, three years after Lady Morgan's death on April 16, 1859.[back]

3. Morgan's date of birth is a matter of some uncertainty; biographers and scholars have suggested birthdates ranging from 1776 to 1783. Julia M. Wright, in her introduction to the Broadview edition of The Missionary, points to early sources and details about Morgan's education as supporting the later date (18).[back]

4. Oliver Goldsmith (1728-1774), writer best known for his novel, The Vicar of Wakefield (1766), and for his poem, "The Deserted Village" (1770); David Garrick (1717-1779), English actor and theatre manager. Both men were members of a Literary Club that included such notable figures as Samuel Johnson, Edmund Burke, and Joshua Reynolds.[back]

5. Sir Henry Sydney (1529-1586) was Lord Deputy of Ireland under Elizabeth I.[back]

6. This passage is taken from William John Fitzpatrick's 1859 book, The Friends, Foes, and Adventures of Lady Morgan (first published as "Lady Morgan" in the July 1859 edition of The Irish Quarterly Review).[back]

7. The year of death of Morgan's mother is uncertain; commonly suggested dates range from 1789 to 1793. As Wright points out (Introduction to The Missionary 18), details concerning Morgan's education, as well as Morgan's own accounts in William Hepworth Dixon's edition of Lady Morgan's Memoirs: Autobiography, Diaries and Correspondence (1862), seem to support the later date. [back]

8. Poems, Dedicated by Permission to the Countess of Moira (1801).[back]

9. Kavanagh's dates are incorrect. The actual publication dates are: St. Clair; or The Heiress of Desmond, 1803; The Novice of Saint Dominick, 1805; and The Wild Irish Girl: A National Tale, 1806.[back]

10. Morgan's note, preceding her preface to Woman, or Ida of Athens, outlining the conditions surrounding the production of her novels.[back]

11. The First Attempt and The Lay of an Irish Harp were both published in 1807. Robert Owenson's appearance in The First Attempt would be his last on the stage.[back]

12. Luxima the Prophetess, A Tale of India (1859) was published shortly following Morgan's death.[back]

13. Bentley Priory was a home of the Marquis and the Marchioness of Abercorn, with whom Morgan resided from 1809 until her marriage in 1812 (during which time she wrote and published The Missionary).[back]

14. Robert Stewart, Lord Castlereagh (1769-1822), politician instrumental in the promotion and passage of the Act of Union (1800).[back]

15. This quotation appears in Fitzpatrick.[back]

16. This passage is taken from Morgan's poem, "Retrospection" (Poems, 1801).[back]

17. Twelve Original Hibernian Melodies (1805).[back]

18. Irish author and singer, Thomas Moore (1779-1852), published 10 volumes of Irish Melodies between 1807 and 1834.[back]

19. France, published in 1817, met with resistance and scorn from Tory critics for its pro-Revolutionary slant.[back]

20. John Wilson Croker (1780-1857), Tory politician and essayist.[back]

21. Florence Macarthy (1818) features the title heroine as an Irish author and Conway Crawley as a villainous reviewer.[back]

22. The Quarterly Review, The London Literary Gazette and Journal of Belles Lettres, Arts, Sciences, Etc., and Athenaeum were among the numerous political and literary periodicals of the day; Athenaeum, to which Morgan was a frequent contributor, was the junior among the three magazines, getting its start in 1828.[back]

23. Henry Colburn (d. 1855), British publisher and originator of The New Monthly Magazine.[back]

24. This account is taken from Moore's diary entry of October 17th, 1819, published in Memoirs, Journal, and Correspondence of Thomas Moore (8 vols., 1853-56).[back]

25. France in 1829-30 was actually published in 1830, The Princess, Morgan's final novel, in 1835, and Dramatic Scenes from Real Life in 1833.[back]

26. Daniel O'Connell (1775-1847), an Irish nationalist leader instrumental in the passage of Catholic Emancipation. [back]

27. Although "dear dirty Dublin," a phrase later taken up by James Joyce, is often attributed to Morgan, the origin of the coinage seems to be untraced. Kavanagh may be using Fitzpatrick (who makes the same assertion) as her source here.[back]

28. Thomas Moore; Richard Lalor Sheil (1791-1851), politician and dramatist; John Philpot Curran (1750-1817), lawyer and renowned wit.[back]

29. This anecdote was previously published in an 1818 article from The New Monthly Magazine entitled "The Life and Writings of Lady Morgan," and again in Fitzpatrick.[back]

30. Prince Hermann von Puckler-Muskau (1785-1871), a German nobleman, was a garden designer and travel writer.[back]

31. This passage appears in Fitzpatrick.[back]

32. Author, Anna Maria Hall (1800-1881). [back]

33. This passage from Hall is also quoted in Fitzpatrick.[back]

34. Anglo-Scottish poet, George Gordon, Lord Byron (1788-1824); Scottish poet and novelist, Sir Walter Scott (1771-1832).[back]

35. French author, Madame de Genlis (1746-1830), and English author, Madame D'Arblay, better known as Fanny Burney (1752-1840).[back]


Notes for Chapter XI

1. English novelist Ann Radcliffe (1764-1823), author of such Gothic romances as The Mysteries of Udolpho (1794).[back]

2. Author Maria Edgeworth (1767-1849), best known for her novel, Castle Rackrent (1800).[back]

3. The Memoirs of Louis de Rouvroy, duc de Saint-Simon (1675-1755) give a firsthand account of the court of Versailles during and after the reign of Louis XIV.[back]

4. The Milesians are legendary ancient rulers of Ireland.[back]

5. A French-born military man of Irish descent, Marie Edme Patrick Maurice de MacMahon, Duke of Magenta (1808-1893), rose through the ranks of the French military to become, at the time of Kavanagh's writing, a powerful and well-respected field marshal.[back]

6. The O'Donnells were members of the ancient Irish nobility. Many of them emigrated from Ireland, settling in Spain, following the Battle of the Boyne (1690). Henry Joseph O'Donnell, Count of La Bisbal (1769-1834), was a general in the Spanish army in the early 19th century; his nephew, Leopoldo O'Donnell, Duke of Tetuan (1809-1867), was a Spanish marshal and politician who served as Prime Minister of Spain three separate times between 1856 and 1866.[back]

7. A Simple Story (1791) is a novel by popular English novelist and playwright, Elizabeth Inchbald (1753-1821).[back]

8. Corinne is the heroine of de Staël's novel, Corinne, Or Italy (1807).[back]

9. The Lady of the Lake (1810) and Rob Roy (1817) are both works by Walter Scott.[back]

10. Flora MacIvor is the sister of highland chieftain Fergus MacIvor and one of the love interests of the title character in Scott's historical novel, Waverley: or 'Tis Sixty Years Since (1814). [back]

11. Scott's novel, The Bride of Lammermoor, was published in 1819, five years after Morgan's O'Donnell. [back]

12. Peter Pindar is the pseudonym of English poet and satirist, John Wolcot (1738-1819).[back]

13. The Novice of Saint Dominick is set in the late 16th century; Dutch philosopher, Baruch Spinoza was born in 1632; Saint Teresa of Avila died in 1582 and was canonized in 1622.[back]

14. Joseph de Maistre (1753-1821) was a French-speaking philosopher and writer from Savoy (prior to Savoy becoming a part of France); the quotation, translated loosely, reads "Nature! What is this woman?"[back]

15. This passage is taken from Morgan's Preface to Woman, or Ida of Athens.[back]

16. The title character of Byron's Childe Harold's Pilgrimage (1812-1818).[back]

17. "Theodosius and Constantia," a short narrative by English author Joseph Addison (1672-1719), was published in September of 1711 in no. 164 of The Spectator.[back]

18. Claudine-Alexandrine Guérin de Tencin (1681-1749), Mémoires du Comte de Comminge (1735).[back]

19. Radcliffe, A Sicilian Romance (1790).[back]

20. François-René de Chateaubriand (1768-1848), Atala, ou les amours de deux sauvages dans le desert (1801); Madame (Sophie) Cottin (1770-1807), Mathilde, ou Mémoires tirés de l'histoire des croisades (1805).[back]

21. Delphine (1802) was de Staël's first full novel.[back]

22. This passage was published in Memoirs of the Life of Sir Walter Scott (1837), compiled by John Gibson Lockhart.[back]

23. Scott's Waverley and Morgan's O'Donnell both appeared in 1814, Florence Macarthy in 1818, and The O'Briens and the O'Flahertys in 1827.[back]

24. Glorvina, Ida, and Luxima are the heroines of The Wild Irish Girl, Ida of Athens, and The Missionary, respectively; Miss O'Halloran, Florence Macarthy, and Beavoin O'Flaherty are the respective heroines of O'Donnel, Florence Macarthy, and The O'Briens and the O'Flahertys.[back]

25. James Annesley (1715-1760) was the son of Arthur Annesley, Fourth Baron of Altham. When the Baron died in 1727, James Annesley having been reported dead as well, the title passed to his relative, Richard Annesley (1694-1761), who would succeed to the titles of Sixth Baron of Annesley and Sixth Earl of Anglesey ten years later. When James Annesley re-emerged shortly thereafter, claiming that Lord Altham had sold him into slavery and falsely reported his death in order to gain his titles and estates, a court battle ensued. In 1744 Richard Annesley was found guilty and James reclaimed his estates (although he left his titles in the hands of the Baron). Following the trial, details of the court proceedings were published in a book entitled The Trial at Bar between Campbell Craig, Lessee of James Annesley, Esq; Plaintiff, and the Right Honourable Richard Earl of Anglesey, Defendant (1744). [back]

26. United Irishmen Uprising (1798).[back]

27. This passage was published in Lockhart's Memoirs of the Life of Sir Walter Scott.[back]

28. The United Irishmen began as a nationalist political group seeking parliamentary reform before evolving into the more revolutionary organization that led the Irish Uprising of 1798. Lord Edward Fitzgerald and Wolfe Tone (both 1763-1798) were among the group's leadership and participated in the Uprising. Robert Emmet (1778-1803) was the leader of a short-lived nationalist uprising in 1803. [back]

29. Woman and Her Master (1839) is Morgan's critique of the role and position of women throughout antiquity.[back]

30. The Princess de Clèves is an early French novel written by Madame de Lafayette (1634-1693) first published anonymously in 1678.[back]

31. Jane Austen (1775-1817), English novelist best know for such works as Pride and Prejudice (1813).[back]