“Englishman” Replies to gretchen Review – March 1901

(A letter to The Scottish Farmer). March.

I beg to thank Gretchen for all courtesy, devoting her valuable time and experience to “An English Woman’s Love Letters.” As the book has won such very general acceptance over all the English-speaking world — in America it is a common place and in Australia set all readers amok many months ago — I venture to ask permission to say a few words in order to try to set the real spirit of the volume (as I read it ) before Scotchmen and Scotchwomen. An Englishman may be allowed to stand up for an English woman.

Just two minor points first. The letters may or may not be genuine but the use of cultured phraseology is no proof that they are not. Cultured phraseology is only a question of education and environment. I imagine that a woman need not change her literary style even if she be in love.

Again I submit that no person who has carefully read these letters could seriously bring a charge of immodesty in connection with the writer’s expression of attachment to her sweetheart. The letters breathe a spirit of self abandonment that is not incompatible with purity and innocence of soul. Immodesty is one thing; the spontaneous expression of ardent affection quite another…

“Grechen’s” sketch of the book is the coldest outline of a work of genius ever penned. It omits the one salient characteristic that marks the letters from start to finish — the fire of genius that illuminates them.  The warmth , the spontaneity, the sensibility, the vivacity of thought and expression of these letters none of these things does she write down. Really it is immaterial whether the letters are fact or fiction . If they were real, all the better; if but romance, the charm for the reader is still there.

Literature need not concern itself fortunately with darning stockings and prosy politics. The world is too full of humdrum conventions and such a book as an English Woman’s Love Letters refreshes the mind jaded with pettifogging details of life’s dull round. Yours etc., Englishman, Richmond, Surrey.

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2 Responses to “Englishman” Replies to gretchen Review – March 1901

  1. Well, Gretchen certainly got on the wrong side of “Absolutely Furious, Richmond”.

    • dacj40 says:

      It’s an interesting fuss about nothing. As it turns out the book was written by a man. Gretchen was mostly right in her view, but the quick look that I have taken at the book, by today’s standards really isn’t that controversial, they are just so innocuous. That it caused such a fuss at the time just shows how much has changed.

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