We see with pleasure that an article under this head in last Wednesday’s Tribune is to become the means of instruction to the public, through the columns of the Courier & Enquirer, as to the precise meaning attached by the writers who were the subject of that article to their favorite stigma of ‘infidelity.’ The public will, in future, know exactly what they mean by the use of the term, and if excited to horror and aversion toward those to whom it is applied, it will not be in ignorance or mistake. A series of articles is to be published which may easily be read, as in length they will generally ‘not exceed a column.’ There is a promise of clear and straightforward statements, such as may be met in a ‘chivalrous’ spirit; this is all that can be desired.
Suitable opponents are challenged, and, indeed, are no longer to be permitted “to skulk behind a female, who, however personal and abusive she might be, could not, especially on such questions as these, be treated as a proper and legitimate adversary.”
We were not aware that the Bible, or the welfare of human beings were subjects improper for the consideration of ‘females,’ whether ‘fair’ or otherwise. We had also supposed that, in the field of literature, the meeting was not between man and woman, but between mind and mind. Personal allusions to private life should, indeed, be excluded from this field, whether man meets man, or man meets woman. On occasions where the theme is purely intellectual we had supposed that, in all civilized communities, the question was, Is the mode of treating the subject noble, the statement commanding, the thought just? or the reverse? and that, in either case, it mattered not whether the mind from which such statement originated was placed here on earth, as man or as woman. Even among the Hebrews—the only sufficient authority, we believe, with T. L.—we find numerous instances in which all such considerations were set aside as not to the purpose on such an occasion. Though, however, we are now informed that there are minds so penetrated with the spirit of chivalry that they cannot regard a woman as an adversary, we should not advise the band of “heroic philanthropists” censured in the Courier & Enquirer for seeking to protect themselves behind the veil and parasol of this mistaken Clorinda, to regard them as secure panoply, the impossibility of assailing a female writer being expressed in the following passage:
“Of course, no reply will be made to that very modest lady who so foolishly, and with so much vanity, suffered herself to be thrust forward in an argument for which she herself admits, ‘she has neither skill nor patience.’ Indeed, although this most amiable representative of the school of ‘love and philanthropy’ and of the ‘spiritual insight’ seems quite at home in such very common language as ‘monstrous,’ ‘detestable,’ ‘horrible,’ ‘demoniac,’ ‘diabolic,’ &c. yet she should know that the proper discussion of the question so rashly ventured upon, requires something more than this; and that it is indeed quite a different matter from doing up the slop literature of The Tribune, or writing unmeaning rhapsodies on the unutterable ideas of Ole Bull, or repeating the cant and drivel of the Harbinger about Dante and Beethoven, or praising the chaste ‘creations’ of that most chaste and ‘spiritual’ creature, George Sand.”
Here we find our old acquaintance, the word “drivel” in no less impressive connection than when the “drivelings of depravity in malefactors” were denounced.
We await with interest the future developments of T. L. as to the nature and precise limits of infidelity. The tax of reading will no longer be too much for our “patience” as the articles are not to exceed a column in length, and, if feminine incapacity prevent some readers from doing justice to the thoughts, we trust they will still be able to appreciate the dignity and temper with which thy may be expressed, and to transfer a portion of the value received into “slop literature” addressed to the use of the common reader.*
“‘Darkness Visible’,” New-York Daily Tribune, 10 March 1846, p. 1.