Miss J. M. Luyster’s Memoirs of Madame Recamier; Memoirs and Correspondence by Lenormant; Marquis of Salisbury’s Historical Sketches; Mrs. Thomson’s Queens of Society; Guizot’s sketch of Madame Recamier; Biographie Universelle; Dublin Review, 57-88; Christian Examiner, 82-299; Quarterly Review, 107-298; Edinburgh Review, 111-204; North British Review, 32; Bentley’s Magazine, 26-96; The Nation, 3, 4, 15; Fraser’s Magazine, 40-264.
MADAME DE STAEL,
* * * * *
A. D. 1766-1817.
WOMAN IN LITERATURE.
It was two hundred years after woman began to reign in the great cities of Europe as queen of society, before she astonished the world by brilliant literary successes. Some of the most famous women who adorned society recorded their observations and experiences for the benefit of posterity; but these productions were generally in the form of memoirs and letters, which neither added to nor detracted from the splendid position they occupied because of their high birth, wit, and social fascinations. These earlier favorites were not courted by the great because they could write, but because they could talk, and adorn courts, like Madame de Sevigne. But in the eighteenth century a class of women arose and gained great celebrity on account of their writings, like Hannah More, Miss Burney, Mrs. Macaulay, Madame Dacier, Madame de la Fayette,—women who proved that they could do something more than merely write letters, for which women ever have been distinguished from the time of Heloise.
At the head of all these women of genius Madame de Stael stands pre-eminent, not only over literary women, but also over most of the men of letters in her age and country. And it was only a great age which could have produced such a woman, for the eighteenth century was more fruitful in literary genius than is generally supposed. The greatest lights, indeed, no longer shone,—such men as Shakspeare, Bacon, Milton, Corneille, Racine, Boileau, Moliere,—but the age was fruitful in great critics, historians, philosophers, economists, poets, and novelists, who won immortal fame, like Pope, Goldsmith, Johnson, Addison, Gibbon, Bentley, Hume, Robertson, Priestley, Burke, Adam Smith, in England; Klopstock, Goethe, Herder, Schiller, Lessing, Handel, Schlegel, Kant, in Germany; and Voltaire, Rousseau, Diderot, Marmontel, D’Alembert, Montesquieu, Rollin, Buffon, Lavoisier, Raynal, Lavater, in France,—all of whom were remarkable