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And on her, from the wainscot old,
Ancestral faces frown,
And this has worn the soldier's sword,
And that the judge's gown.

But strong of will and proud as they,
She walks the gallery floor
As if she trod her sailor's deck
In stormy Labrador.

What a fascinating thing, after all, is strength in a woman! With what delight all readers turned from the weak or wicked heroine of Thackeray's earlier novels to his superb young Ethel Newcome, “strong of will and proud as they” who would have domineered over her. Scott, with his love of chivalry, always flung some attribute of courage about the women whom he meant to win our hearts-or he failed if he did not. Even his graceful Ellen Douglas is incapable of actual cowardice.

I think with anguish, or, if e'er
A Douglas knew the word, with fear.

So, in the Scottish ballads, it takes something more than a weakling to spring up behind young Lochinvar in the saddle, or to be “owre the Border and awaa” with Jock oa Hazeldean. Shakespeare does not love to paint characterless heroines:

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