There are really but two grounds of permanence in literature — that won by positive genius and that won by labor.
Where both are united, a book may stand by itself, like Gibbon
's “Roman Empire
,” and prove solid and indestructible as the Pyramids-nay, earthquake — proof, which they are not. But, even short of this, it is possible for an author who takes a good subject and does his work well to secure a tolerably permanent place, even without great genius.
When will our women's colleges turn out a race of graduates who will devote themselves to literature even as faithfully as many men now do, making it an object for life to do thoughtful and serious work?
I am told by editors that you may almost count on the fingers of one hand the women in America
to whom you can assign a subject for a magazine paper, requiring scholarly effort and labor, and have the work well done.
This is the gap that needs to be filled by literary women at present.
The supply of second-grade fiction-and by this is meant all fiction inferior in grade to George Eliot
's --is now tolerably well secured.
But the demand for general literary work of a solid and thoughtful nature, demanding both scholarship and a trained power of expression — this is never very well supplied among men, and is, with few exceptions, unsupplied among American women.
To meet this demand we may fairly look to our colleges.