The life and letters of Madame Swetchine.
The writings of Madame Swetchine.Edited by Count De Falloux. 1 vol. 16mo. Price $1.25.
by Lucy Larcom.A well-written history of an excellent and gifted woman, like the ‘Life and Letters of Madame Swetchine,’ by Count de Falloux, will naturally meet with a welcome among people of the truest culture. Madame Swetchine was not a woman who courted publicity; but the thread of her life was so interwoven with the political and religious movements of her time, it was impossible for her to escape notice. And it brightens that dark period of strife between France and Russia, with which the present century opened, to follow the life-track of this Russian lady, who seemed to have been equally at home in both countries. She was intimately acquainted with the noblest men and women of that remarkable period, and there is not one of them upon whom her friendship does not cast a beautiful glow. She was one of those rare beings who seem to have been created to draw out what is best in others, by the power of sympathy and self-forgetfulness. She was a woman of uncommon intellect, and of wide reading; and every thing she read was brought to the standard of a judgment remarkably clear and penetrative; indeed, her conversion to the Roman Catholic faith seems to have been mostly a matter of the head,—a choice between the Greek and the Roman ecelesiasticism. Long before her decision was made, her life shows her to have been a humble and earnest Christian; and, as such, as one whose sympathies took wing higher and wider than the opinions in which she had caged herself, her history has a rare value. One wonders at the amount of good accomplished by her, always a weak invalid. In order to understand how she lived, and what she did, the book must be read through; but some extracts might give a hint of it:—
She rarely gave what is called advice,—an absolute solution of a given problem: her humility made her shrink from direct responsibilities. She did not lecture you. She did not set herself up as a model or guide. She did not say. “Walk thus;” but sweetly. “Let us walk together;” and so, without making the slightest pretensions, she often guided those she seemed to follow. Young and old acknowledged her sway. She never evoked a sentiment of rivalry, because no one ever detected in her a temptation to win admiration at the expense of others, or to eclipse any person whatever. Her disinterestedness won pardon fur her superiority. Sick and erring hearts came and revealed themselves to Madame Swetchine In all sincerity; and she shed upon them, sweetly and gradually, light and truth and life. In her turn she drew from this intimate intercourse, added to her own exquisite penetration, a knowledge of the human heart which amounted almost to divination. She knew the science of the soul as physicians know that of the body. Her charity was not a careless and mechanical practice. She consecrated to it all her strength and all her skill. Almsgiving was not, with her, the mere fulfilment of a duty. She liked to give pleasure besides doing good, and her heart always added something to what her hand gave.Madame Swetchine lived a little beyond the boundaries of threescore and ten It is only ten years since she died. Heaven does not ask to what communion she belonged, neither will posterity. The memory of her saintliness is a possession to the church universal, in the present and in the future. Such a record as here be an inspiration to all who read; such an example, the most imperative ‘Ge thou and do likewise’ Sold by all booksellers. Mailed, postpaid, by the publisher. Roberts Brothers, Boston,