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her conclusions than in man's more logical deductions, just as, by a similar process, she often shows finer and quicker tact in the discrimination of character. It has been justly remarked, that, with regard “to women of the highest intellectual endowments, we feel that we do them the utmost injustice in designating them by such terms as clever,' able,' learned,''intellectual : they never present themselves to our minds as such. There is a sweetness, or a truth, or a kindness--some grace, some charm, some distinguishing moral characteristic which keeps the intellect in due subordination, and brings them to our thoughts, temper, mind, affections, one harmonious whole.”
A woman's mind receiving true culture and preserving its fidelity to all womanly instincts, makes her, in our intercourse with literature, not only a companion, but a counsellor and a helpmate, fulfilling in this sphere the purposes of her creation. It is in letters as in life, and there (as has been well said) the woman “who praises and blames, persuades and resists, warns or exhorts upon occasion given, and carries her love through all with a strong heart, and not a weak fondness—she is the true helpmate."'*
Cowper, speaking of one of his female friends, writes, “She is a critic by nature and not by rule, and has a perception of what is good or bad in composition, that I never knew deceive her; insomuch that when two sorts of expressions have pleaded equally for the precedence in my own esteem, and I have referred, as in such cases I
* The Statesman, by Henry Taylor, p. 70.
always did, the decision of the point to her, I never knew her at a loss for a just one."*
His best biographer, Southey, alluding to himself, and to the influence exerted on Wordsworth's mind by the genius of the poet's sister, adds the comment, “ Were I to say that a poet finds his best advisers among his female friends, it would be speaking from my own experience, and the greatest poet of the age would confirm it by his. But never was any poet more indebted to such friends than Cowper. Had it not been for Mrs. Unwin, he would probably never have appeared in his own person as an author; had it not been for Lady Austin, he never would have been a popular one.”
The same principles which cause the influences thus salutary to authorship, will carry it into reading and study, so that by virtue of this companionship the logical processes in the man's mind shall be tempered with more of affection, subdued to less of wilfulness, and to a truer power of sympathy; and the woman's spirit shall lose none of its earnest, confiding apprehensiveness in gaining more of reasoning and reflection ; and so, by reciprocal influences, that vicious divorcement of our moral and intellectual natures shall be done away with, and the powers of thought and the powers of affection be brought into that harmony which is wisdom. The woman's mind must rise to a wiser activity, the man's to a wiser passiveness; each true to its nature, they may consort in such just companionship that strength of mind shall pass from each to each; and thus chastened and invigorated, the common humanity of the sexes rises higher than it
could be carried by either the powers peculiar to man or the powers peculiar to woman.
Now in proof of this, if we were to analyze the philosophy which Coleridge employed in his judgment on books, and by which he may be said to have made criticism a precious department of literature-raising it into a higher and purer region than was ever approached by the contracted and shallow dogmatism of the earlier schools of critics—it would, I think, be proved that he differed from them in nothing more than this, that he cast aside the wilfulness and self-assurance of the more reasoning faculties; his marvellous powers were wedded to a child-like humility and a womanly confidingness, and thus his spirit found an avenue, closed to feeble and less docile intellects, into the deep places of the souls of mighty poets: his genius as a critic rose to its majestic height, not only by its inborn manly strength, but because, with woman-like faith, it first bowed beneath the law of obedience and love.
It is a beautiful example of the companionship of the manly and womanly mind, that this great critic of whom I have been speaking proclaimed, by both principle and practice, that the sophistications which are apt to gather round the intellects of men, clouding their vision, are best cleared away by that spiritual condition more congenial to the souls of woman, the interpenetrating the reasoning powers with the affections.
Coleridge taught his daughter that there is a spirit of love to which the truth is not obscured; that there are natural partialities, moral sympathies, which clear rather than cloud the vision of the mind; that in our communion with books, as with mankind, it is not true that
" love is blind.” The daughter bas preserved the lesson in lines worthy of herself, her sire, and the precious truth embodied in them:
“Passion is blind, not love; her wondrous might
Informs with three-fold power man's inward sight;
Than they who fain would see it white as snow."* I have in this introductory lecture attempted nothing beyond the exposition of a few broad and simple principles of literature, the importance of which will perhaps best be seen in the practical application of them to the guidance and formation of our habits of reading. It
* Biographia Literaria, of S. T. C. Vol. i. Part. 1. p. clxxxiv. Ed. 1847. This daughter was Mrs. Sara Coleridge, who died in 1852. I do not know where I can more appositely note the fact, that, when after years of constant literary correspondence with different members of the Coleridge family, Mr. Reed visited England in 1854, the welcome he received from them was most cordial and affectionate. He was greeted as an old friend and taken home to their very hearts. Since his death, no more earnest and affectionate tributes to his memory, no more accurate appreciation of his character, have been paid than by this circle of his kind English friends. Especially I will venture to refer to Mr. Justice Coleridge and his kinsman, the Rev. Derwent Coleridge of St. Mark's College, Chelsea. W. B. R.
was my intention to have worked those principles out to their application, but I have already consumed more of your time than I desire to do during one evening. It seemed necessary to show, in the first place, that I appreciated the difficulties which are caused by the multiplicity of books; and then to set forth these essential principles of literature, as distinguished from mere books, that it is addressed to our universal human nature, and that it gives power not to the intellect alone, but to our whole spiritual being; and that if it be true to its high purpose, it gives power of wisdom and happiness. I felt it to be important also, with a view to some applications to be made in subsequent lectures—to consider the reciprocal relations of the manly and womanly mind.
I propose in the next lecture to consider the application of these principles to habits and causes of reading; reserving for the third lecture the subject of the English language, to which I am anxious to devote an entire lecture.