Thursday, March 04, 2010

A previously unsuspected Austen fan

It is a matter of great satisfaction to me to find another Judge, who, though not as old as myself, thinks justly of the fair sex, and commits his sentiments to print. I was a little mortified, however, to find that you had not admitted the name of Miss Austen into your list of favorites. I had just finished reading her novels when I received your discourse, and was so much pleased with them that I looked in it for her name, and was rather disappointed at not finding it. ... I count on your making some apology for this omission.
--Chief Justice John Marshall to Justice Joseph Story, in a letter (Nov. 26, 1826), quoted in Jean Edward Smith, John Marshall: Definer of a Nation at 497.

... Story had given a Phi Beta Kappa speech on the "Literary Condition of the Age," and his friend Marshall was chaffing him. Marshall's parents educated sons and daughters alike (not common in pre-Revolutionary Virginia), and Marshall seems to've been something of a Federalist feminist, for his time. Harriet Martineau was impressed by his views, and he gave her a letter of introduction to use during her American tour.

No comments:

Post a Comment