Page:Female Prose Writers of America.djvu/346

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her own but all other countries. George Sand and Fredrika Bremer stand at the head of two widely different classes of fictitious writing, each having other and higher objects than to amuse. Through the writings of both there is a deep and powerful undercurrent, to which the story is but the sparkle on the surface. Both discuss great questions of social reform, the laws of marriage, and the nature of love. Both enter the temple of humanity—but the one to overthrow its altars, and to shatter its cherished images—the other to render them more firm and steadfast—to burn incense on the shrines, and adorn them with garlands of immortal flowers. The genius of the one is the flaming torch of the incendiary, that carries destruction and desolation in its course—that of the other is the fragrant lamp, that illumines the darkness, and dispels, by its steady and benignant beams, the gathering and mysterious gloom. The course of the one has been like that of the furious tempest of the tropical regions, that uproots the old landmarks, floods the gentle streams till they overflow their channels, and sweep away banks, bridges, and barriers that oppose their course; that of the other, like the evening dews and the summer showers, that sink softly into the bosom of the earth, refreshing, gladdening, and fertilizing.

The institution of marriage, the root from which society springs, the groundwork upon which it stands, George Sand, with all the force of her genius and eloquence, seeks to degrade and to destroy; while Fredrika Bremer would ennoble, not the institution of marriage only, but she would exalt it into that deeper and holier spiritual union, of which the actual marriage is but the symbol. Love, that most divine of all our sentiments, the bloom and perfume of the tree of Life, the sun that lights and gladdens the night of existence, the one presents to us as burning with all the voluptuous ardour of the senses, the other, as glowing with the sacred fire of the impassioned soul.

It seems to be a law of Providence, that good and evil should ever co-exist, both in the outer and inner world; that wherever poisons abound, the antidotes are also to be found; and the contemporaneous appearance of the two leading minds we have been con-