The Queens of American Society

by MRS. ELLET. New York : Scribner & Co.
UNLESS we are influenced by the fact that this is not a very amusing kind of book, we really think it a useful one in some ways. There is a good deal of national and local history to be learnt out of social records extending from the time of Mrs. George Washington to the time of Mrs. Auguste belmont, and celebrating beauty, style, and worth in every part of the country, from Maine to California, from Missouri to South Carolina,—and there is much more collateral reading suggested by them. We trust the young ladies, the heirs of social sovereignty, who peruse Mrs. Ellet’s pages with the hope of one day appearing themselves in such a work, will note that the queens there mentioned are distinguished to a very surprising degree for culture as well as beauty and fashion; and that they will not only be curious to know more than she tells of the times in which Mrs. Jay and Mrs. Hancock lived, but will also be provoked by the sketch of Mrs. Frémont to learn something of the anti-slavery excitement, and the causes of our recent war. These topics Mrs. Ellet can only allude to in the most shadowy manner, for she must consult the feelings of many of her queens w:ho were born south of Mason and Dixon’s line, and who inspired the hosts that fought against the liegemen of her Northern queens. In fact she has so many difficulties of this nature to encounter, that, if we might apply the phrase to such a genteel subject, we should call parts of her book up-hill work. In other respects her task is by no means lightened by the fact that there is no welldefined American social type or standard, But it is pleasant to reflect that the most generous social feeling exists along with our social diversity ; that Boston, New York, and Philadelphia socially approve one another, and are not shocked by Washington and Richmond society, or displeased with Cincinnati, Louisville, or Chicago society; and that all will be charmed by Mrs. Ellet’s distribution of social honors upon the geographical basis adopted in the selection of our public officers.