15 MAY 1886, Page 22


• Flying Leaves from East and West. By Emily Pfeiffer. Second edition. (Field and Teen) —There is something of picturesque con- trast in the subjects of Mrs. Pfeiffer's Flying Leaves.. The earlier of them come from the seats of ancient civilisation, from Asia Minor and Greece ; the later, from the Far West, where the newest develop- ments of Anglo-Saxon activity are displaying themselves. In both scenes, the writer shows the same habit of quickly apprehensive observation, and the same power of sympathy. We have, for instance, an instructive contrast in her accounts of her interview with the wives of Midhat Pasha and of her observations of life in Utah. Mrs. Pfeiffer asked the Pasha's principal wife whether the Turkish women did not desire some change in the condition of their lives. The lady understood the question of the oonfinement in which she and her fellow-wife were kept during Midhat's disgrace, and was positively unable to comprehend the wider scope of the inquiry as bearing on woman's position in society. In Utah, on the other hand, the religious enthusiasm of women seems to support them in enduring a humiliating bondage against which their spirits rebel. The two aspects of polygamy are curiously different. On the Mormon question Mrs. Pfeiffer speaks both wisely and sympathetically. It is a guiding axiom with her that " there is something in every honestly inspired human heart better than its opinions ; " this keeps alive her charity to individuals, but it does not hinder her from judging principles with clearness and energy. Unhappiness in the women, moral degradation in the men, are, in her opinion, the outcome of the Mormon polity ; and it is an opinion which, a priori, we are inclined to trust abso- lately. On other important questions touching life in the States Mrs. Pfeiffer has something to say that is worth considering. She criticises, for instance, both justly and acutely the pretentious saying, "The aristocracy of merit is the only one known to America," and has some very sound observations on the American dislike to domestic service, a dislike which really increases rather than diminishes the chasm of division between classes. Among detailed observations, we may quote her expression of surprise at the very little help given to travelling women in the States. Those who have men-kind with them exact attention to the very utmost ; those who have not are left to themselves. This is as great a surprise to ns as it seems to have been to the traveller. Besides observations of social life and manner, there are descriptions of scenery, often, as becomes the pen of a poetess, touched with an uncommon grace and beauty of language.