- Project Runeberg -  America of the Fifties: Letters of Fredrika Bremer /
New York, Ninth Street, Thursday, November 15

(1924) [MARC] Author: Fredrika Bremer
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New York, Ninth Street, Thursday, November 15. On Wednesday I was conducted to a ladies’
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academy, called Rutgers Institute from the name of the founder, and here I saw four hundred and sixty young girls, and some excellent arrangements for their instruction and cultivation. I also heard and read several compositions by the young girls, both in prose and verse; and I could not but admire the perspicuity of thought, the perfection of the language, and, above all, the living and beautiful feeling for life which these productions displayed. Genius, properly so called, I did not find in them; and I question the wisdom of that publicity which is given to such youthful efforts. I fear that it may awaken ambition and an inclination to overrate literary activity, which befools many young minds, while so few are possessed of the divine gift of genius which alone makes literature, as well as authors, good for anything. These young girls have hardly lived, thought, or known enough to write of their own experience, their own faith and conviction. They write, as people sing, by ear. It is good, nay excellent, that they should learn early to disentangle their thoughts, to express themselves well and clearly, and for this purpose these trials of authorship are commendable. But the publicity, the printing, the trumpeting abroad, and the rewarding of them—can that also be good for the young, for any one, or for anything? True genius will in its own way and its
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own time make for itself a path to praise and renown.

This evening Miss Lynch was going to have a large party, where I was to be introduced to people, and people were to be introduced to me, and I drove therefore to the house to act the parrot in a large crowd till toward midnight. These introductions are very wearisome; a hundred times I must reply to the same questions, and these for the most part of an unmeaning, trivial character, just as people would put to a parrot, whose answers are known beforehand; for example: Had you a good passage from England? How do you like New York? How do you like America? How long have you been here? How long do you expect to remain? Where are you going from here? and such like.

Such fêtes as these are one’s ruin! And, in the meantime, I am taken up with visits, letters, notes, invitations, and autographs, so that I have no time for myself. This morning I had a charming visit from a little lady doctor, that is to say, a lady who practices the healing art, a Miss Hunt, "female physician," as she calls herself, from Boston, who invited me to her home, insisted that I must come, would not let me escape until I had promised, and was all the time so full of animation and so irresistibly merry that we, she and I and the whole
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company, burst into one peal of laughter after another. There was besides so much that was excellent and really sensible in what she said, and I felt that there was so much heart in the zealous little creature, that I could not help liking her, and gave her the promise she wished for. With her was another lady, as quiet as she was active, a female professor of phrenology, who wished to get hold of my head. But my poor head has now enough to do to hold itself up in the whirl of society life.


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