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away from her like a rillet down a slope. She would give beyond prudence and reason, and gladly acquiesce in her own resultant leanness. She demanded as little of that complexity of cunningly ornamented indulgence which is luxury as her own saints, and although she could not, without a distress deadening to her legitimate activities, fight with any efficacy the battle of keeping the world a house of ordered rooms, she made brave thrusts at it. Appointed to the post-office at Auburndale, and later to a position in the Boston Public Library, she briskly clapped harness on her horses of the sun and was anxiously intent on doing well. But the only road for her was still the path of escape to the open, to the free fields of thought and the fellowship of the written word.
Hers was a youth of picturesque loyalties, one of them to the lost cause of the Stuarts, a confessed congenital bias. The Irish Jacobities, of whom there were many, had “claimed the Stuarts as of the Milesian line, fondly deducing them from Fergus." Born into that direct succession of race loyalty, she
was in addition, (and this seems to be the true argument) incalculably beguiled by the sheer fascination of that luckless house. Her Inquirendo into the Wit and Other Good Parts of His Late Majesty King Charles the Second ties you a pretty nosegay of the oak twig and the white rose. How should she not have loved Charles II., if only that he was, in her own words, “a choice wag?” "Charles might have confessed with Elia, 'How I like to be liked, and what don't I do to be liked!'" Certainly His ill-starred Majesty could have desired no liking more whole-hearted, albeit discriminating, more merrily tolerant than hers. He had cast his magnetic spell upon her pen and it turned to some good-natured vindicating of his varied parts. Perhaps she never took her adherence very seriously, off the printed page. She was beguiled by picturesqueness, not so much concerned with lineal rights; perhaps, also, it tickled an impish fancy to repudiate the “dull Georgian farce.” But Charles never had a more humorous apologist, one
who gave him full value as an apostle of good taste and of a "wheedling charm."
The sum of her appraisement is of a captivating genius who had found himself “in the king business” and got addled and spoiled. And who knows how she must have loved him for his adaptability to portraiture of a pen like hers, and for the rush and glow of the Restoration, the very circumstances that inspired her Hazlitt to his glorious inventory of rustling silks and waving plumes, of gems and people! The time and the gay immortalities of it go to her head.
“There was an astonishing dearth of dull people; the bad and bright were in full blossom, and the good and stupid were pruned away.”
She adores the sworded poets of the Civil Wars, with their scarcely exerted aptitude for the fine arts, whose names leave a sort of star-dust along the pages of the anthologies.” And it was, this star-dust of the period, immediate to one of her own dreams, a labor she delighted in: the making of a
perfect anthology of the seventeenth century.
Her first book was Songs at the Start (1884) and the first collected essays GooseQuill Papers (1885). The essays, despite a wilful archaism, an armored stiffness of light attack learned out of library shelves, are astonishingly mature for a pen so young—if by youth or age we mean the mere cumulative sum of time passed. Indeed, the author thought well enough of the scintillant little papers to include two of them, An Open Letter to the Moon, and On Teaching One's Grandmother to Suck Eggs, in her later Patrins. You have but to love Louise Guiney to find Goose-Quill Papers a jovial self-betraying little book to recur to when you long for her whimsical face again or the cascading gamut of her laugh. It is spiced with playfulness, a learned playfulness, it must be owned, and yet, if you know her, you know also how much learning was waiting in her teeming mind, eager to get into the book and cram it, cover to cover, and you are grateful for the sense of just values that let
you off so gently. For she had one of those fructifying minds which absorb like a sponge; everything they draw in breeds something else, and the two, fact and mother wit, breed again until you are swept along on a stream of rushing lineage. And over her happy selection of topics quaint and gay, her own illuminating humor plays like a thread of gold in tapestry moved lightly by a wind. We may not, of course, actually assume, so objective is she even then, that her whimsies of the first person are literally self-betraying; but they do sometimes open a window upon her as we know her, the gay relish of life that was hers, the ardor for the great game of chasing a happy fancy to its born destiny of an ultimate end, and stroking it into the gentle complaisance of the willing captive; the healthy, untrammeled revolt against bugaboos "nature itself cannot endure"notably mathematics when she “roars you" like any lion (albeit smiling behind his whiskers as begging to remind you he has no idea of resorting to the argument of claws). When she has mounted her gaily caparis