Harper's New Monthly Magazine,  11 (1885–86), 327–30.

Editor's Drawer



Regular Feature, Anecdote, Drollery


Gender, Natural Law, Discovery, Political Economy, Methodology, Sociology, Anti-Scientism, Error, Imagination

    In discussing the inconsistency and unpredictability of women in fiction, observes that 'If the female mind had a law of uniformity, and the novelist were to discover it, he would simply kill the goose that lays the golden eggs of literature'. Contends that 'We have a conceit in these days that if we can get together a sufficient number of facts on any subject, we can evolve a certain general rule. We hope by-and-by to make a science of political economy out of our observations. We do, in fact, set up a machinery of this sort based upon facts, and are surprised that it does not work, forgetting that we have left out of the calculation such imponderables as imagination, need of sympathy, and other elusive mental and moral conditions'. (327) However, 'woman, with her divinely ordered variableness and obedience to the higher laws of being which we conceitedly call illogical, stands fortunately in the way of a cast-iron sociology, or science of it, by which we are all expected to become parts of a piece of machinery moving with clock-like precision' (327–28).

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