Jennie Juneiana: Talks on Women's Topics

By JENNIE JUNE. Boston: Lee & Shepard. 12mo. pp. 240.
GREAT are the resources of human invention, and the tiresome passion for alliterative titles may possibly have culminated in some name yet more foolish than that of this little green and gold volume. If so, the rival has proved too much for the trump of Fame to carry, and has dropped unnoticed. In the present case, the title does perhaps some injustice to the book, which is not a silly one, though it contains very silly things. It seems to be written from the point of view afforded by a second-rate New-York boarding-house, and by a person who has never come in contact with any refined or well-bred people. With this allowance, it is written in the interest of good manners and good morals, and with enough of natural tact to keep the writer from getting far beyond her depth, although she does talk of “ Goethe’s Mignion ” and “ Miss Werner,”—whoever these personages may be,—and of ” the substantial fame achieved by the unknown author of ‘ Rutledge.’” It is written in the prevalent American newspaper-style, — a style which is apt to be graphic, piquant, and dashing, accompanied by a flavor, slight or more than slight, of flippancy and slang, — a style such as reaches high-tide in certain “popular” native authors, male and female, and in ebbing strands us on “Jennie June.”
Of course, writing from the windows of Mrs. Todgers, “ Jennie ” manifests the usual superfluous anxiety of her kind not to be called strong-minded. She is prettily indignant at the thought of female physicians : there is nothing improper in having diseases, but to cure them would be indelicacy indeed. Girls out of work, who wish for places in shops, are only “patriotic young ladies who desire to till all the lucrative situations at present occupied by young men.” She would even banish Bridget from the kitchen and substitute unlimited Patricks, which will interest housekeepers as being the only conceivable remedy worse than the disease. Of course, a female lecturer is an abomination : “Jennie” proves, first, that a “strongminded woman ” must be either unmarried or unhappy in marriage, and then turns, with rather illogical wrath, upon Lucy Stone and Antoinette Brown, for being too domestic to make speeches since their marriage. To follow the court phraseology, “This reminds us of a little anecdote.” When the fashion of long, flowing wigs was just vanishing in Boston, somebody wore one from that town down to Salem, where they were entirely extinct. All the street-boys ran after him all the morning, to ask him why he wore a wig. He, wishing to avoid offence, left it in the house at dinner-time; and was pursued all the afternoon by the same hoys, with the inquiry why he did not wear a wig. These eloquent women find it equally hard to please their little critic by silence or by speech. The simple truth probably is, that they hold precisely the same views which they always held,and will live to trouble her yet, when the epoch of the nursery is over. The majority of women’s-rights advocates have always been wives and mothers, and, for aught we know, excellent ones, since that dear, motherly old Quakeress, Lucretia Mott, first broached the matter ; and the great change in our legislation on all the property-rights of that sex is just as directly traceable to their labors as is the repeal of the English corn-laws to the efforts of the “ League.” If, however, “Jennie” consoles herself with the reflection that the points made in this controversy by the authors of “ Hannah Thurston ” and “ Miss Gilbert’s Career ” are not much stronger than her own, she must remember her favorite theory, that all foolishness sounds more respectable when uttered from masculine lips.