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[113] their being more frankly emotional, and even excitable. “Now there is not in tie world,” he says, “so certain a guarantee for pure idiomatic diction, without trick or affectation, as a case of genuine excitement. Real situations are always pledges of a real natural language. It is in counterfeit passion, in the minical situations of novels, or in poems that are efforts of ingenuity,” that women write badly. These same women, if they labored under a formal responsibility “might write ill and affectedly,” he thinks; but their letters are composed “under the benefit of their natural advantages,” De Quincey holds. Yet he must remember that women, like men, or more than men, are influenced by current fashion; and letters, as well as anything else, may be conventional and over-elaborate. Miss Austen and Miss Anna Seward died within a few years of each other; but Miss Austen's novels are simple, direct, and graphic, while Miss Seward's letters, so filled with wit and anecdote that they are good reading to this day, almost always rise into something inflated ere they close. Thus, after a delightful epistle to the then famous poet Hayley, sloe must needs close with this apology for too long a letter: “But be still, thou repining heart of mine; stifle thy selfish regrets, and with a sincere benediction on thy favorite bard, that health, peace, and fame may long be his, arrest the pen thou art so ”

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Anna Seward (2)
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