There are few women, we suppose, who have not seen something of children under five years of age, yet in “Compensation,” a recent novel of the mind-and-millinery species, which calls itself a “story of real life,” we have a child of four and a half years old talking in this Ossianic fashion: “‘Oh, I am so happy, dear grand mamma;—I have seen—I have seen such a delightful person; he is like everything beautiful—like the smell of sweet flowers, and the view from Ben Lemond;—or no, better than that—he is like what I think of and see when I am very, very happy; and he is really like mamma, too, when she sings; and his forehead is like that distant sea,’ she continued, pointing to the blue Mediterranean; ‘there seems no end—no end; or like the clusters of stars I like best to look at on a warm fine night. . . . Don’t look so . . . your forehead is like Loch Lomond, when the wind is blowing and the sun is gone in; I like the sunshine best when the lake is smooth. . . . So now—I like it better than ever . . . It is more beautiful still from the dark cloud that has gone over it, when the sun suddenly lights up all the colors of the forests and shining purple rocks, and it is all reflected in the waters below.’”
Silly Novels by Lady Novelists are a genus with many species, determined by the particular quality of silliness that predominates in them—the frothy, the prosy, the pious, or the pedantic. But it is a mixture of all these—a composite order of feminine fatuity—that produces the largest class of such novels, which we shall distinguish as the mind-and-millinery species.
Writers of the mind-and-millinery school are remarkably unanimous in their choice of diction.
Of course, genius and morality must be backed by eligible offers, or they would seem rather a dull affair; and piety, like other things, in order to be comme il faut, must be in “society,” and have admittance to the best circles. “Rank and Beauty” is a more frothy and less religious variety of the mind-and-millinery species.
Angry young gentlemen exclaim, “’Tis ever thus, methinks;” and in the half hour before dinner a young lady informs her next neighbor that the first day she read Shakespeare she “stole away into the park, and beneath the shadow of the greenwood tree, devoured with rapture the inspired page of the great magician.” But the most remarkable efforts of the mind-and-millinery writers lie in their philosophic reflections.