William Rounseville Alger.

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Produced by Edmund Dejowski





Entered according to Act of Congress, in the year 1867 by
In the Clerk's Office of the District Court
of the District of Massachusetts.




A STATEMENT of the facts in which this book began may gratify the
curiosity of some of its readers.

While gathering materials for a History of Friendship, I was often
struck both by the small number of recorded examples of the sentiment
among women, which were discovered in my researches, and by the
commonness of the expressed belief, that strong natural obstacles
make friendship a comparatively feeble and rare experience with them.
Spurred by further thought, as well as by many talks, I kept on
exploring the subject. At length, so much matter was mustered that I
determined to insert in my work a distinct chapter on the Friendships
of Women. Still the subject grew in interest for me, and the bulk of
historic illustration swelled beyond the size of a chapter. Then I
decided to make a little treatise of it by itself.

The principle and sentiment of friendship deserve a much larger share
of the attention given, alike in the life and the literature of our
time, to the passion of love. One would infer from most of the
popular writings of the day, that love is the only emotion worthy of
notice. But surely there are in human nature other feelings, which
demand far more culture than they generally receive, feelings which
really play an important part in human life, and which ought to play
a still more important part. Am I deceived in thinking, that, in
particular, the place of friendship in the Live; of women is a
subject which, if soundly discussed, and set forth with mastery and
sympathy, may give precious guidance, comfort, and inspiration to
thousands of embittered and languishing souls? Will not the large
number, who are denied the satisfactions of impassioned love, be
grateful for a book which shows them what rich and noble resources
they may find in his widely different, though closely kindred,
sentiment? Is not such a book especially needed at he present time?

In method of treatment, I have, without neglecting moral analysis or
reflective exposition, even greater prominence to biographic
narrative, living presentation of instances from which the reader may
draw the befitting lessons of the topic, and apply them for personal
profit. Poetry, it has been said, is balm on the wounds of non-
fulfilment in our lives. When our own experience and imagination are
wanting in that balm, we must borrow it from others. If we muse, with
open heart, on the enthusiastic dreams and fruitions of more richly
impassioned or more happily placed natures, the contagious glow of
their affections may enkindle ours. This is one of the highest uses
of art, a use which puts on artists the duty of setting before their
patrons sights of righteousness and bliss, trust and peace, rather
than sights of wretchedness, wrangling, doubt, and error.

In conjoined importance and interest, to those who have a taste for
it, no other study can compare with the study of human nature and
human experience, as illustrated in individual examples. If the
students are curious as to the secrets of greatness, and are emulous
of excellence, the attraction is enhanced when they deal with persons
of extraordinary powers and careers. It then becomes fascinating.
Beautiful and noble characters can find nothing so enchanting as a
beautiful and noble character. It was truly said by Vauvenargues,
"Sooner or later, we enjoy only souls." These pages will present
portrayals of a large number of charming souls, with accounts of
their happiest experiences. For our poor human heart, there will
always be a bewitchment about the memories of those persons who were
either remarkable for their power of drawing affection or were
signalized by their enjoyment of the boon. Many a rare character,
otherwise long ago consumed in the alembic of time, will long
continue to be fondly singled out and studied. So when the famous
Marchioness of Salisbury was accidentally burned to death, the
Skeleton was known as hers only by the jewels with which she had been

It may be dangerous to overlook ignorantly what is false and hateful
in society; but it is pernicious to pick out such objects for
exclusive or permanent scrutiny. The most wholesome results are
likely to be secured by the fastening of our attention prevailingly
on what is true and fair and blessed in our fellow-beings. Such a
choice will commend itself to the best spirits; for, while it is the
spontaneous movement of a mean nature to contract and swoop, a
generous nature prefers to expand and soar. The vulture pounces on
rottenness with a cry of obscene satisfaction; but the lark seeks the
sunrise with a song of worship. So let the ingenuous mind, studying
human character and life, bestow a shunning glance at evil, a fixed
gaze on good. So, should any one wish to write a history of the
enmities of women, for which, doubtless, the materials are ample, I
willingly yield him the task, appropriating only the privilege of
doing justice to their friendships.

In the present volume, my first and constant purpose has been boldly
to state the truth just as it is, to do justice to the facts of the
subject. My second purpose has been to be of use, to give help and
comfort. In whatever degree poetry and ideal sentiment may be
accompaniments, neither of them has in any sense been made an aim of
the work. While freely allowing his mind to shine into his pen, and
his heart to flow through it, the writer has adopted every precaution
to prevent or correct all those refractions of ignorance and
prejudice, and all that coloring of morbid sentimentality, which
would stand in the way of truth and use. In treating such a theme as
friendship, the worst dangers are hardness and levity on the one
extreme, exaggeration and mawkishness on the other, and cowardice and
squeamishness between. These faults, it is hoped, are not chargeable
on the following pages.

This book is a book of goodness. It is devoted to the nurture of
those benign virtues which it so plainly shows waiting on and winning
the best beauty and joy of the world. Small causes can bring about
great effects, when time and facts conspire to help them. A cocoanut,
tossed by the waves into a little sand on a rock amidst the ocean,
has been known to strike root, and to form the centre of a luxuriant
island of palms. Unable to look for any such striking result from the
influence of this work, I shall be happy, indeed, if the power of the
examples to which I have here given voice shall demonstrate the other
side of the deep thought penned by Shakespeare: One good deed, dying
tongueless, Slaughters a thousand waiting upon that.







Cornelia and the Gracchi.
Olympias and Alexander.
Monica and Augustine.
John Quincy Adams and His Mother.
Goethe and his Mother.
The Humboldts and their Mother.
Guizot and his Mother.


Tullia and Cicero.
Margaret Roper and Sir Thomas More.
Agnes and William Wirt.
Mary and John Evelyn.
Theodosia and Aaron Burr.
Maria and Richard Edgeworth.
Madame de Staël and Necker.
Letitia Landon and her Father.


Narcissus and his Reflection.
Electra and Orestes.
Antigone and Polynices.
Diana and Apollo.
Scholastica and Benedict.
Cornelia and Tasso.
Margaret and Francis.
Mary and Sir Philip Sidney.
Catherine and Robert Boyle.
Caroline and William Herschel.
Letitia and John Aikin.
Cornelia and Goethe.
Lena and Jacobi.
Lucile and Chateaubriand.
Charlotte and Schleiermacher.
Dorothy and Wordsworth.
Augusta and Byron.
Mary and Charles Lamb.
Fanny and Felix Mendelssohn.
Whittier and his Sister.
Eugénie and Maurice de Guérin.


Count and Countess del Verme.
Lady and Sir James Mackintosh.
Aspasia and Pericles.
Portia and Brutus.
Arria and Pertus.
Paulina and Seneca.
Calpurnia and Pliny.
Timoxena and Plutarch.
Castara and Habington.
Faustina and Zappi.
Jeanne and Roland.
Caroline and Herder.
Lucy and John Hutchinson.
Sarah and John Austin.
Elizabeth and Robert Browning.
Leopold Schefer and his Wife.
John Stuart Mill and his Wife.
Lady and Lord William Russell.
Artemisia and Mausolus.
Moomtaza and Jehan.


Relative Prevalence of Vice in our day.
Moral Influence of Friendships between Men and Women.
Analysis of Platonic Love.
Laura and Petrarch.
Beatrice and Dante.
Heloise and Abelard.
Danger and Safety of Platonic Love.
Countess Matilda and Hildebrand.
The "Woldemar" of Jacobi.
Influence of Chivalry in developing Friendships of Men and Women.
Causes of Prominent Social Position of Women in France.
Friendships in Catholic Church between Women and their Directors.
Olympias and Chrysostom.
Paula and Jerome.
Clara and Francis of Assissi.
Chantal and Francis of Sales.
Guion and Lacombe.
La Maisonfort and Fenelon.
Cornuau and Bossuet.
Theresa and John of the Cross.
The Friendship of Vittoria Colonna and Michael Angelo.
Mademoiselle de Scudéry and Pélisson.
Madame de Sévigné and Corbinelli.
Madame de la Fayette and Rochefoucauld.
Madame du Deffand and D'Alembert.
Mademoiselle Lespinasse and D'Alembert.
Madame de Staël and Montmorency.
Magdalen Herbert and Dr. Donne.
Lady Masham and John Locke.
Mary Unwin and Cowper.
Mrs. Clive and Garrick.
Hannah More and Langhorne.
Joanna Baillie and Sir Walter Scott.
Duchess of Devonshire and Fox.
Duchess of Gordon and Dr. Beattie.
Charlotte and Humboldt.
Bettine and Goethe.
Goethe's Treatment of Women in his Life and in his Works.
Princess of Homburg and Marchioness di Barolo and
Silvio Pellico.
Isabel Fenwick and Wordsworth.
Harriet Martineau and Channing.
Lucy Aikin and Channing.
Frances Power Cobbe and Theodore Parker.
Friendships of Women and their Tutors.
Zenobia and Longinus.
Countess of Pembroke and Daniel.
Princess Elizabeth and Descartes.
Caroline of Brunswick and Leibnitz.
Lady Jane Grey and Elmer.
Elizabeth Robinson and Middleton.
Hester Salusbury and Dr. Collier.
Blanche of Lancaster and Chaucer.
Venetia Digby and Ben Jonson.
Countess of Bedford and Ben Jonson.
Countess Ranelagh and Milton.
Duchess of Queensbury and Gay.
Relations with Women, of Sophocles, Virgil,
Frauenlob, Bernadin
St. Pierre, Rousseau, and Jean Paul Richter.
Rahel Levin and her Friendships with Men.
Madame Récamier and her Friendships with Men.
Elizabeth Barrett, Hugh Stuart Boyd, and John Kenyon.
Clotilde de Vaux and Auguste Comte.
Madame Swetchine and her Friendships with Men.


Madame de Sévigné and Madame de Grignan
Madame de Rambouillet and Julie d'Angenne
Mrs. Browne and Felicia Hemans.
Naomi and Ruth.


Dido and Anna.
Hannah and Martha More.
Mary and Agnes Berry.
Charlotte, Anne, and Emily Bronte.
Joanna and Agnes Baillie.


Treatment of Female Friendship in Literature.
School-girl Friendships.
Friendships in Conventual Life.
Jeanne Philippon and Angélique Boufflers.
Agnes Arnauld and Jacqueline Pascal.
Madame de Longueville and Angélique Arnauld.
Friendships between Queens and their Maids of Honor.
Sakoontali and Anastiya.
Marie de Medicis and Eleanora Galigäi.
Queen Philippa and Philippa Picard.
Lady Jane Beaufort and Catherine Douglas.
Mary Stuart and her Four Marys.
Queen Elizabeth and her Attendants.
Queen Anne and Sarah Jennings.
Marie Antoinette and the Princess de Lamballe.
Queen Hortense and Madame de Faverolles.


Beatrice Portinari and Giovanna.
Dorothea Sydney and Sophia Murray.
Katherine Phillips and Regina Collier.
Elizabeth Rowe and the Countess of Hertford.
Countess of Pomfret and Countess of Hertford.
Lady Harley and Mrs. Montague.
Hannah More and Mrs. Garrick.
Elizabeth Carter and Catherine Talbot.
Charlotte Smith and Lady O'Niel.
Anna Seward and Honora Sneyd.
The Countess of Northesk and Anna Seward.
Eleanor Butler and Sarah Ponsonby,
the Ladies of Llangollen.
Fanny Burney and Mrs. Thrale.
Günderode and Bettine Brentano.
Miss Benger and Lucy Aikin.
Lucy Aikin and Joanna Baillie.
Mrs. Hemans and Miss Jewshury.
Mary Mitford and Mrs. Browning.
Madame de Staid and Madame Récamier.
Madame Swetchine and the Countess Edling.
Countess D'Ossoli and the Marchioness Arconati.
The Duchess of Orleans and her Lady Companion.


Evils and Defects of Society and their Remedy.
The Ideal of Marriage.
Public Life versus Domestic Life.
Caste: Diminution of its Influence.
The Common Destiny, and the Peculiar Destiny, of Woman.
Life in the Harems of the East.
Right of Woman to every form of Education and Labor.
Grounds of the exclusion of Women from Public Life
The Right of Women to engage in Politics.
The Inexpediency of their doing so
Impartial Consideration of both sides of the Question.
Morality, eternal; Politics, temporary.
Gradual historic Emancipation of Woman.
Comparative Condition of Woman in the Oriental, the Classic,
the early Christian, and the Modern World.
Relation of Mohammed and of Jesus to Women.
Light thrown on the Condition of Women in Greece by the
History of Sappho.
Sentiment of Chivalry towards Woman.
Woman ennobled by sharing in great public Interests.
Decline of Letter-writing in our day.
Duty of Women to cultivate Conversation.
Duty of Women to cultivate the art of Manners.
Value of model Types of Women.
Disinterestedness, the Redemption of Man.
Woman as seen in Mythology.
Conclusion of the matter.
Friendship in the Future.



THE peculiar mission of woman, it has been said, is to be a wife and
mother. Is it not as truly the peculiar mission of man to be a
husband and father? If she is called to add to the happiness and
worth of her husband, he is called to add to the happiness and worth
of his wife. They are alike bound to protect and educate their
children. And the other duties, the private improvement of self and
the public improvement of society rest on them in common. The
assertion, then, that the distinctive Office of woman is to be the
helpmeet of man, does not imply that she ought to be legally or
morally any more subservient to him than he to her; for the supreme
duty of a woman, as of every other human being, is, through the
perfecting of her own nature as a child of God, to fulfil her
personal destiny in the universe. To love, to marry, to rear a
family, is by no means an entire statement of the obligations and
privileges of women: because no woman always has lover, husband, or
children; many fail to have all of them in succession; and a few
never have either of them.

In some of these cases the domestic appointment of woman is defeated;
but her personal destiny may still De achieved. The qualities of her
soul and the fruitions of her life, as a free individual, may be
perfected in spite of this relative mutilation in her lot. The
growing desire in our time for show and luxury, the increase of the
excitements of publicity, the sensational literature of fiction,
which is absorbing an ever-larger share of attention from the more
sensitive portion of the feminine public, these causes are
concentrating an undue interest on the passion of love. It is the
almost exclusive theme of plays, novels, poems. One consequence is an
exaggeration of the part that should be played by this sentiment in
the experience of the individual. It comes to be the engrossing
subject of regard. Life is considered a failure, unless it contains
love, followed by marriage; yet it must often be deprived of this
experience. In the most civilized countries, especially in their
brilliant capitals, a higher and higher ratio of women miss of happy
love and marriage.

There never were many morally baffled, uneasy, and complaining women
on the earth as now; because never before did the capacities of
intelligence and affection so greatly exceed their gratifications.
New perceptions are the scouts of fresh desires; fresh desires
precede their own fulfilment: a just reconciliation is a slow,
historic process. The lives of a multitude of women all around us
contain a large element of unsuccessful outward or inward ambitions,
vain attempts and prayers. This drives them back upon themselves,
into a deeper and sadder seclusion than that naturally imposed by
their housekeeping and their historic withdrawment from the bustling
businesses of the world. In that silent retirement, in thousands of
instances, a tragedy not less severe than unobtrusive is enacted, the
tragedy of the lonely and breaking heart. An obscure mist of sighs
exhales out of the solitude of women in the nineteenth century. The
proportionate number of examples of virtuous love, completing itself
in marriage, will probably diminish, and the relative examples of
defeated or of unlawful love increase, until we reach some new phase
of civilization, with better harmonized social arrangements,
arrangements both more economical and more truthful. In the mean
time, every thing which tends to inflame the exclusive passion of
love, to stimulate thought upon it, or to magnify its imagined
importance, contributes so much to enhance the misery of its
withholding or loss, and thus to augment an evil already lamentably
extensive and severe.

Now, the most healthful and effective antidote for the evils of an
extravagant passion is to call into action neutralizing or
supplementary passions; to balance the excess of one power by
stimulating weaker powers, and fixing attention on them; to assuage
disappointments in one direction by securing gratifications in
another. Accordingly, the offices of friendship in the lives of
women, lives often so secluded, impoverished, and self-devouring, is
a subject of emphatic timeliness; promising, if properly treated, to
yield lessons of no slight practical value. This vein of sentiment
has suffered unmerited neglect among us. No other vein of sentiment
in human nature, perhaps, has so much need to be cherished. In the
lives of women, friendship is, First, the guide to love; a
preliminary stage in the natural development of affection. Secondly,
it is the ally of love; the distributive tendrils and branches to the
root and trunk of affection. Thirdly, it is, in some cases, the
purified fulfilment and repose into which love subsides, or rises.
Fourthly, it is, in other cases, the comforting substitute for love.
A just display of these points, in the light of an accurate analysis,
aided by the appropriate learning, can hardly fail to repay the study
it will require. The insight into the nature and the working of the
affections, to be secured by a careful study of the subject, should
be a precious acquisition of knowledge easily convertible into power.
The activity of the sympathies enkindled by tracing the biographical
sketches of a large number of the richest and most winsome examples
of feminine friendship preserved for us in history, should bestow a
rare pleasure. And the plain directions to be deduced from the
discussion and the narratives should furnish a store of instruction
for the wiser guidance of personal experience.

The writer, as he is about to intrust his book upon that current of
literature which flows by the doors of all the intelligent, bearing
its offerings to their hands, is quite aware that the subject of the
rights and the wrongs, the joys and the griefs, the hopes and the
fears, the duties and the plans, belonging to the outer and inner
life of womankind in the present age, happens just now to be one of
the chief matters of popular interest and agitation. This, however,
has had no influence in leading him to treat the subject. It has long
been in his mind. He has been drawn to investigate it and write on it
simply by its intrinsic attractions for him. But the extent and
earnestness with which the public mind is preoccupied by the social
and political discussions of the theme, going on in all quarters,
much increase the difficulty of treating it, as is here proposed,
from the scholarly, moral, and experimental point of view, with
perfect candor and calmness, and with a careful avoidance of
prejudices, exaggerations, and declamatory appeals. Demagogues and
partisans, who seek personal notoriety or other ends of private
passion, naturally try to produce effect by the use of pungent
epigrams, overstrained trifles, extravagant views, and sophistical
arguments, fitted to play on the biases, piques, and ignorances of
those whose attention they can gain. All this obviously adds to the
hardness of the task imposed on him who would steer clear of every
extremity, and keep in the golden mean of truth and use.

Such a one is also least likely to secure popular praise. The extreme
conclusions, peppery rhetoric, and passionate declamation of the
leaders on both sides, who aim at sensation and victory, are surest
to awaken the enthusiasm of the extremists, who always direct the
admiring gaze of heir parasites to the favorite representatives of
their own party, their scorn to the favorite representatives of the
other party. But under such circumstances, by is much as the
moderation of impartiality and of a patient search for the exact
truth is hard to be kept, an unlikely to win popularity, it is the
more a duty, and the surer to bear good fruits of service to the
public. There is a fashionable habit of laughing or sneering at the
illusions of the young, a habit usually mistimed and injurious. For
an illusion is as real as a truth. Every phenomenon implies truth,
however incorrectly t may be understood. An illusion is, in fact, but
a reality misinterpreted. Harmless, joy-breeding illusions are the
magic coloring of our existence. They should be cultivated rather
than rudely driven away.

The dry critic who daily labors, and with success, to destroy them,
may be knowing; but he is not wise. Every seeming acquisition really
impoverishes him. The noble Mendelssohn once said, "Life without
illusions is only death." The illusions of high and guileless hearts
are the blessed hopes created by generous faiths fastening on the
better aspects of truth. They are to our experience what the
tremulous iridescence is to the neck of the dove. To allow, as we
grow old, a sinister gaze at the sterner aspects of truth to banish
these rich and kindly illusions, is a wretched folly, however much it
may dress itself as wisdom. There are lures and deceits, enchanting
at an early period, which, at a later one, ought to be outgrown, seen
through and left behind, but not with arid and scoffing conceit. The
way to escape sadness, when the light of one beautiful promise after
another goes out, is to kindle in place thereof the light of one
glorious reality after another. If the gathered experience we carry
at evening renders worthless many things we prized in the morning, it
should also give preciousness to many things unvalued then.

When the fallen torch of ambition has smouldered into blackness, we
ought to make the eternal star of religion our guide. To take
spiritual treasures away without replacing them by better ones is
robbery. The cynical authors who deal chiefly in ridicule and satire,
or in what they call solid facts, the alternate levity and bitterness
of whose writings tend to destroy all ingenuous faith and glowing
affection, all magnanimous sympathies and hopes, seem to me to be
engaged in as miserable a business as those African hunters who train
falcons to dart on gazelles, and pick out their beautiful eyes. The
illusiveness of life that results from teeming love and trust is as a
mist of gold sifted into the atmosphere, through which all the
objects of our regard loom, colossal and glittering. As we advance in
years, we should indeed learn to recognize, and make allowance for,
this refraction and these tints, but without ceasing to enjoy the
beautiful aggrandizement they bestow. When there is danger that a

Online LibraryWilliam Rounseville AlgerThe Friendships of Women → online text (page 1 of 26)