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It is an oft-quoted proposition of Rousseau, that " the glory of woman lies in being unknown." If this be true, we shall deserve little credit for placing before the world these brief sketches of a few of the sex who have acquired celebrity among mankind. We are disposed to think, however, that the oracular words of the Genevan philosopher — though they may coincide with the despotism of the lords of creation, who would arrogate, not merely the sceptre of power, but the trump of fame, entirely to themselves—like most other oracles, are liable to many exceptions.
It may indeed be true that the happiness of women is generally to be found in the quiet of the domestic circle j but that all, without distinction, should be confined to it, and that whenever one of the sex departs from it, she departs from her allotted sphere, is no more true than a similar proposition would be of men. Elizabeth of England, though little to be esteemed as a woman, did as much credit to Aer sex as her father did to his; and while he enjoys the renown of having achieved the reformation in England, she is entitled to the credit of havirg leen not only his superior as a sovereign, but one of the greatest sovereigns that ever occupied a throne. Joan of Arc performed achievements for her country scarcely less than miraculous; and Hannah More afforded, by her pen, more efficient protection to the three kingdoms against the volcanic shock of the French revolution than the entire army and navy of Great Britain.
Will any one pretend that these persons would have better fulfilled their destiny, if confined to the quiet precincts of the fireside? If woman is only to be a housewife, why are gifts bestowei upon her, that make her often the rival, and sometimes the master, of the other sex, even ii
the higher walks of ambition? Was Sappho's harp, the mere echo of which has thrilled upon the ear of nearly thirty centuries, given only to be touched in the secluded harem of some Lesbian lord? Why had Sevigne such a magic pen, Roland so noble and dauntless a soul, the maid of Saragossa a patriotism so inspired and inspiring, if they were designed by their Creator only to preside over the nursery, the dairy, and the kitchen. If women are created but to attend to the comforts of the other sex at home, why are such spirits as those of the lovely and lamented Davidsons ever formed — spirits bursting with music and poetry, like the Eolian string, that gives forth its unbidden melody, only because God made it so? Was Mrs. Hemans designed but to serve her surly and unappreciating lord? Are Lady Montagu, Mrs. Barbauld, Madame de Stael, Miss Edgeworth, Miss Sedgwick, Hannah More, Mrs. Sigourney, —who must be regarded as among the most efficient civilizers of modern times, — to be set down as violators of a great law which should govern woman's destiny? In short, shall we, in Christian countries, who make it our boast that we have elevated woman to free companionship with man, still look backward, return to the selfish philosophy of the Turk, shut woman up in the harem, and gloss over our despotism by quotations from the Swiss Diogenes?
While we repeat that, in general, women consult their true dignity and happiness by seeking a quiet domestic career, we still maintain that such among them as have endowments suited to exert a happy influence upon mankind at large, are as traiy fulfilling their duty and their destiny, by giving them scope, as are the other sex in doing the same under the like circumstances. It is believed that the following pages, although they notice only a few of those women who have acquired a deserved celebrity wil furnish ample argument to sustain the ground we assume.
LUCRETIA AND MARGARET DAVIDSON.
"There stood on the banks of the Saranac a small, neat cottage, which peeped forth from the surrounding foliage — the image of rural quiet and contentment. An old-fashioned piazza extended along the front, shaded with vines and honeysuckles; the turf on the bank of the river was of the richest and brightest emerald; and the wild rose and sweetbrier, which twined over the neat enclosure, seemed to bloom with more delicate freshness and perfume within the bounds of this earthly paradise. The scenery around was wildly yet beautifully romantic; the clear blue river, glancing and sparkling at its feet, seemed only as a preparation for another and more magnificent view, when the stream, gliding on to the west, was buried in the broad, white bosom of Champlain, which stretched back, wave after wave, in the distance, until lost in faint blue mists that veiled the sides of its guardian mountains, seeming more lovely from their indistinctness."
Such is the description which the younger subject of these memoirs gives us of the home of her parents, Dr. Oliver and Margaret Davidson, in the village of Plattsburg, New York. Amidst scenery so well calculated to call forth and foster poetical talent, Lucretia Maria Davidson was born on the 27th September, 1808. Of her earliest childhood there is nothing recorded, except that she was physically feeble, and manifested extreme sensibility of disposition. She was sent to school when she was four years old, and there was taught to read and to imitate, in sand, the printed characters. Books now possessed for her a greater charm than childish sports. The writing paper began to disappear mysteriously from the table, and Lucretia was often observed with pen and ink, to the surprise of her parents, who knew that she had never been taught to write. The mystery remained unexplained until she was six years old, when her mother, in searching a closet rarely visited, found, behind piles of linen, a parcel of little books filled with hieroglyphics. These were at length deciphered by her parents, and proved to be metrical explanations of rudely-sketched pictures on the opposite page; the explanations being made in Roman letters, most unartistically formed and disposed. Not long after, Lucretia came running to her mother in great agitation, the tears trickling down her cheeks, and said, "O mamma! mamma! how could you treat me so? My little books — you have shown them to papa, — Anne, — Eliza! I know you have. O, what shall I do?" Her mother tried to soothe the child, and promised never to do so again. "O mamma," replied she, a gleam of sunshine illumining the drops," I am not afraid of that, for I have burned them all." "This reserve," says one whose kindred spirit could sympathize with that of