Page:Female Prose Writers of America.djvu/87

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69
MARIA J. McINTOSH.

Evelyn and Euston live for a summer on the Tiber, but not the faintest tinge of the golden light, or the lowest breath of Roman air enters within their villa.

Hubert Falconer builds a frontier cottage, but he never listens to the sighing pines, or treads the forest aisles.

Mind, with its wayward creeds, can alone be seen in the Imperial City. Feelings right and wrong, and promises faithfully performed are more to Hubert than earth, air, and water, and the glorious gifts of Nature.

Miss McIntosh still further restricts herself in the characters of her story, and selects only the common ones of practical life, as though anxious for the principle alone, and the fiction that would draw the reader off from the moral is discarded. In her quiet pages there never occurs the extreme either of character or passion. It is only the system of conscience—the rule of right—the law of God that is portrayed, and the more marked characters, or the more easily delineated beauties and feelings of life and nature are left with a rigid indifference to those whose design is to please more than to instruct.

Yet the reader, when the book is closed, and he has gone to his daily labour, or mingles in social life, finds lingering in his brain, and warming in his heart, a true principle of honour and love that is constantly contrasting itself with the hollow forms by which he is surrounded, and if he fails to bear himself up to that high ideal of principle which he feels to be true, he still walks a little nearer to his conscience and his God, and long after the volume is returned to the shelf and forgotten, a kindly benediction is given to the noble influence it incited.

And thus will it be with the author that lives in the hearts and not in the fancy of her readers. And long after she is returned to the great library of the unforgotten dead, a blessing wide as her language, and fervent as devotion, will descend on the delineator of those lofty principles that showed the nobleness of simplicity, and the holiness of truth.

The extract which follows is from “Woman in America.”


TWO PORTRAITS.

Permit us, in illustration of our subject, to place before you a sketch of an American woman of fashion as she is and as she might be—as she must be to accomplish the task we would appoint her. Examine with a careful eye “the counterfeit presentment” of these two widely differing characters, and choose the model on which you will form yourselves. And first, by a few strokes of this magic wand—the pen—we will conjure within the charmed circle of your vision, the woman of fashion as she is.