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Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 21.djvu/868

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THE POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY.

final quotation, which shows at once the power and the weakness of the writer, his clear vision and his depressing tone:

"For Art and Science are not of the world, though the world may corrupt them; they have the nature of religion. When, therefore, we see them shaking off the fetters of the reigning religion, we may he anxious, but we are not to call this an outbreak of secularity; it is the appearance of new forms of religion, which, if they threaten orthodoxy, threaten secularity quite as much. Now, secularity is the English vice, and we may rejoice to see it attacked. It ought to be the beginning of a new life for England that the heavy materialism which has so long weighed upon her is shaken at last. We have been, perhaps, little aware of it, as one is usually little aware of the atmosphere one has long breathed. We have been aware only of an energetic industrialism. We have been proud of our national 'self-help,' of our industry, and solvency, and have taken as but the due reward of these virtues our good fortune in politics-and colonization. We have even framed for ourselves a sort of Deuteronomic religion which is a great comfort to us; it teaches that because we are honest and peaceable and industrious, therefore our Jehovah gives us wealth in abundance, and our exports and imports swell, and our debt diminishes, and our emigrants people half the globe."

Ernestine. A Novel. By Wilhelmine von Hillern, author of "The Hour will Come," etc. From the German by S. Baring-Gould. In two vols. New York: William S. Gottsberger. Pp. 711. Price, $1.50.

Ernestine first appears before the reader as a little, much-abused, ill-tempered girl, about ten years old, who was neglected in everything except her schooling. When grown up, she thus describes herself: "From earliest childhood—at a time when most are rocked in the arms of love—are laid to sleep in the lap of love—I was trampled on, kicked about, almost tortured to death, because I was a girl. Every anguish-cry of my breast, every thought of my soul, every feeling of my young heart, was gathered into this one question, 'Why, why must I expiate what is no fault of mine that I am not a boy?' And, in every wound that was dealt me, the seed of revenge was strewn—the seed of revenge for my own wrongs and those of my sex—the seed of ambition to do all that can be achieved by that sex whose superiority was so insultingly, so brutally paraded before me. It ripened quickly in the glow of indignation I felt at the injustice my sex is forced to endure, the difficulties which were opposed to its endeavors to rise above vulgar routine. It grew with me; it became mighty; it ramified through my whole mental life, like the veins and nerves of my body." When her application to attend the lectures and to be admitted to the dissecting-tables of the university was rejected, she declared to the committee that "the great struggle for the emancipation of woman can only be fought out to a definite conclusion on the comparative anatomy of the brain. . . . If, in some less scrupulous university, I be admitted to the dissecting-tables, and allowed the necessary anatomical and physiological studies, my time and energies will be given up to the solution of this question." But unceasing study undermined her health, and after a painful and involved experience the anti-social feelings that had been fostered by her abnormal childhood and youth gave way, and she became an affectionate wife and mother.

As a novel the book is engrossing and satisfactory, and, as a German contribution to the discussion of "The woman question," it is very interesting. The implication would seem to be that the usual course of domestic and social life in Germany does not favor the discontent of woman with her woman's destiny. It is under most exceptional circumstances that Ernestine is developed, and whenever she comes in contact with German society she is rebuked on all sides. It is the impression produced upon a very high-minded and accomplished young savant by her wonderful spiritual beauty, her purity of purpose, and earnestness of character that leads to her disenchantment. She is, however, allowed a little more time for a radical change of character than is accorded in most novels. But, as the author is dealing with people who are deeply versed in medical science and all modern research, this much was not unreasonably to be expected.

If Miss Von Hillern had been writing of woman's position in a novel of American life, her problem would have been different. She would find her discontented, ambitious, over-intellectual girls everywhere; which, of course, implies a state of society that fosters their production. She would find them both welcomed and influential in society, and, if not considered the most eligible can-