She was the first Washington correspondent of her sex, commencing in 1850 in a series of letters to a Philadelphia weekly; was for some years connected with the National Era, making her first tour in Europe as its correspondent, and has written much for The Hearth and Home, The Independent, Christian Inquirer, Congregationalist, Youth’s Companion; also contributing a good deal to English publications, as Household Words and All the Year Round.
She was the special correspondent from Washington of the New York Tribune, and later of the Times. Her letters were racy, full of wit, sentiment, and discriminating criticism, plenty of fun and a little sarcasm, but not so audaciously personal and aggressive as some letter-writers from the capital. They attracted attention and were widely copied, large extracts being made for the London Times.
She lectured continually to large audiences during the Civil War on war themes, and subjects in a lighter strain; was the first woman widely received as a lecturer by the colleges and lyceums. With a commanding presence, handsome face, an agreeable, permeating voice, a natural offhand manner, and something to say, she was at once a decided favourite, and travelled great distances to meet her engagements. She often quoted that ungallant speech from the Duke of Argyle: “Woman has no right on a platform—except to be hung; then it’s unavoidable”; and by her eloquence and wit proved its falsity and narrowness. Without the least imitation of masculine oratory, her best remembered lectures are, “The Heroic in Common Life,” and “Characteristics of Yankee Humour.” She always had the rare gift of telling a story capitally, with ease, brevity, and dramatic effect, certain of the point or climax. I cannot think of any other woman of this country who has caused so much hearty laughter by this enviable gift. She can compress a word-picture or character-sketch into a few lines, as when she said of the early Yankee: “No matter how large a man he was, he had a look of shrinking and collapse about him. It looked as if the Lord had made him and then pinched him.” And a woman who has done such good work in poetry, juvenile literature, journalism, on the platform, and in books of travel and biography, will not soon be forgotten. There is a list of eighteen volumes from her pen.
She never established a salon, but the widespread, influential daily paper and the lecture hall are the movable salon to the women of genius in this Republic.
This is just a memory. After all, we are but “Movie Pictures,” seen for a moment, and others take our place.
In and Near Boston—Edward Everett Hale—Thomas Wentworth Higginson—Julia Ward Howe—Mary A. Livermore—A Day at the Concord School—Harriet G. Hosmer—“Dora D’Istria,” our Illustrious Visitor.