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[180] sneer at old women; the novelists neglect — them: Howells hardly recognizes their existence; Thackeray makes them worldly and wicked, like old Lady Kew, or a little oversentimental, like Madame de Florae; Aliss Edgeworth's Lady Davenant in “Helen” is perhaps the best example of the class. In pictorial art I know of no more impressive representation of feminine old age, of the more commanding sort, than an etching in Mrs. Jameson's “Commonplace book” from a German artist, Steinle. Eve, in her banishment, prematurely old with care, sits leaning with stately poise against a tree and stretches one strong right arm to uphold Cain, a lovely naked child, upon a low branch. He carelessly drops an apple into her lap, thus unconsciously recalling the sin that forfeited Paradise. Her drooping locks are white, but her noble eyes are undimmed, and seem to look beyond his sin, or hers, into some world where all isolated transgressions are merged in eternal life and disappear. In her other hand she holds a spindle, as if ready to weave the destinies of that world unseen. It is a group that William Blake might have drawn-and one in whose presence it seems a glory to be old.

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W. M. Thackeray (1)
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