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Or Woman's Trials and Triumphs

Laura Curtis Bullard, Edited and with an introduction by Denise M. Kohn

Publication Year: 2010

When Laura Curtis Bullard wrote the novel Christine in 1856, she created one of antebellum America’s most radical heroines: a woman’s rights leader. Addressing the major social, political, and cultural issues surrounding women from within an unusually overt feminist framework for its time, Christine openly challenges a social and legal system that denies women full and equal rights. Christine defies her family, rejects marriage, and leaves a job as a teacher to embark on her career, rewriting the script for a successful nineteenth-century heroine. Along the way, she recreates domesticity on her own terms, helping other young women gain economic independence so that they, too, have the autonomy to make their own choices in love and life. One of the triumphs of the novel is the author’s ability to create a sympathetic heroine and a fast-paced plot that intertwines vivid scenes of suicide, destitution, and an insane asylum with theoretical and political discussions—so skillfully that the novel successfully appealed to otherwise hesitant middle-class readers.

Published by: University of Nebraska Press

Title Page

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Copyright Page

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Table of Contents

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pp. vii-viii

I am grateful to the many people who have been supportive of my work on Laura Curtis Bullard over the years. Sharon Harris and Karen Dandurand have provided invaluable feedback on the introduction, and without their support or patience it would not have been possible for Christine to be republished. ...

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pp. ix-xlv

When Laura Curtis Bullard wrote Christine: Or Woman’s Trials and Triumphs she created one of antebellum America’s most radical heroines: a woman’s rights leader. Through the creation of her unconventional title character, Curtis Bullard gave voice to her own support for female suffrage, careers, and economic ...

Christine or Woman's Trials and Triumphs

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1. The Farmhouse

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pp. 1-11

The hands of the wooden clock pointed to half-past five. Mrs. Elliot bustled about her kitchen getting supper ready for the “men-folks,” who were out haying. The table was already set, and the whole room presented a picture of neatness and comfort. The floor was uncarpeted, but very white, for Mrs. Elliot was one of the most notable of housewives. A turned-up bed, neatly curtained by a blue and white woven quilt, occupied one corner of the room; a pine table stood between the ...

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2. The Village

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pp. 12-35

Mrs. Elliot stood in an attitude of deep reflection, in the centre of the floor, broom in hand. She was looking intently on the bright row of milk-pans, which were resting on a bench outside of the door, for the purpose of drying in the warm sun; but she was not thinking of them. ...

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3. The Exhibition

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pp. 36-42

The workmen had long before finished their breakfasts and gone to the hay-field, when Mrs. Frothingham entered the kitchen, which also served as dining-room; for Mrs. Elliot, well knowing that her usual breakfast hour would seem unreasonably early to her guest, had allowed her to sleep quietly on, and now had prepared a second meal. ...

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4. Woodland Vale

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pp. 43-50

It was at the close of a pleasant day that Christine and her aunt reached Woodland Vale, where was situated Mrs. Frothingham’s school.8 It was not a large town, and she seemed to be well known as a personage of distinction, by the crowd of loiterers around the depot. They made way for her respectfully, as she entered her carriage, leaving her servant to attend to ...

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5. School-Life

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pp. 51-58

... With what stately grace she welcomed them; it was more like the reception of a queen than an interview between teacher and pupil. Many a fair girl envied her the graceful inclination of the head, and the quiet elegance of her manners, and not even the haughtiest scion of a haughty family ventured to assume any airs in her presence. ...

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6. Tried and Sentenced

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pp. 59-67

A year had passed, and rapidly to Christine, who plunged into her studies with a zeal and earnestness that bid fair to place her in the front rank of the pupils, and to outstrip all competitors, notwithstanding her former disadvantages. She had, for a long time, continued the private dancing lessons, under Annie Murray’s tuition; and her teacher’s cheerful, merry ways, and constant kindness, had quite won her heart. Aside from ...

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7. Expiation

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pp. 68-72

Cut off thus from all intercourse with those around her, looked upon with scornful, wondering, or pitying eyes, as the case might be — for her guilt was only vaguely guessed at, as it was Mrs. Frothingham’s policy to keep secret the faults committed at her school — Christine had nothing left her but to toil on in her studies; and into these she threw her whole soul. In these she forgot, for a while, her own sorrows, and this she was glad to do, for she knew that she was growing bitter and sour ...

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8. The Parvenu’s Daughter

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pp. 73-80

... It looked very cheerful now, for the sun shone in brightly, adding even fresher tints to the rainbow-hued carpet, and lending a warmer glow to the faces of the young girls, who were assembled in the apartment. It had a very home-like and comfortable look, with its piano strewn with music, its table heaped with books and pamphlets, and the groups of girls, some sitting in a cluster, talking earnestly, and others lying on sofas, while one or two were seated near a table, work-baskets by ...

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9. The Confession

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pp. 81-87

On her way to her room, Helen glanced in at the half-open door of Christine’s apartment. Her pitying eye rested on the thin, sharp features of the girl, who sat there, leaning wearily back in her chair, pressing her hand to her head, apparently unconscious of all around her. ...

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10. Theory and Practice

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pp. 88-93

Again Christine was free to mingle, in the hours of recreation, with her schoolmates, to join their walks, and to listen to their merry chat, and to express her sentiments in return. At first, all this was very amusing, but gradually she wearied of the recurrence of the same themes, more particularly since she was unable to bear any part in the discussion of them. She cared nothing for dress, knew nothing of the society of which they ...

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11. New Acquaintances

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pp. 94-104

Examination day was drawing near, and all was bustle and excitement in preparation for it. It was a great day, not only for Mrs. Frothingham, but for the towns in the vicinity. The good people of the village were, at this time, always favored with visitors who came to attend it, and the friends and parents of the pupils were always present in great numbers, not only at the examination, which might more properly have been called ...

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12. The Aunt’s Caution

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pp. 105-109

... Christine was an early riser, and was already dressed and at her window; she was not a little surprised to see her aunt at this hour, and waited with some impatience, to hear what had brought her there; but this was not Julia’s manner. She talked of the party, the music, and a thousand similar nothings, to all of which Christine listened uneasily, waiting for the main subject. At last it came. ...

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13. Philip

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pp. 110-115

... She went steadily on, her eyes a little downcast, and her brain busy in shaping into form a string of rhymes, as she called it, the ideas of which had been vaguely floating through her mind for several days; and it was frequently the case that, in her walks, these wandering thoughts received shape and dress. She had just completed the last verse to her satisfaction, when suddenly a quick footstep was heard behind her, and, in a moment, Philip Armstrong was at her side. ...

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14. The Seed Sown

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pp. 116-123

.. “Poor fellow!” she said, “His is a noble nature, but he has been thrown under unfortunate influences. He is an orphan, and his is not one of those half-way characters that are neither good nor bad. He has had no restraining hand to check him in his mad career, to point out his follies, and to guide him gently back. ...

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15. The Betrothal

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pp. 124-132

... Mrs. Frothingham read this in her face, and judged it best to place her upon her honor with regard to the acquaintance which she saw she could no longer prevent, except by strict commands, to which, with Christine’s temperament, she thought it unwise to resort. ...

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16. The Old Homestead

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pp. 133-139

... Wide plains of snow, interspersed here and there by clumps of evergreens, lay outspread before her; further on, her eye rested on the distant hills, on whose bold summits fell the first beams of the sun, which laboriously worked its way up from grey clouds that looked as if they were heavy with fresh snows; the farmhouse, with its low wall, surrounded, as by a rampart, with banks of snow, its yard, where, close to the orchard- fence, stood the heavy wood-sled; while a little further ...

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17. Grace

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pp. 140-146

It was before the time that she had appointed, but it was very pleasant to sit under the tall trees that waved their leafy branches near that beautiful sheet of water, to look into its crystal depths, and see the same beautiful picture reflected there, only in softer tints, that lay around her; the fleecy clouds, the waving trees, were mirrored below her, and she could almost imagine that she had a glimpse into the dwellings of the Naiads.29 ...

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18. Heart Struggles

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pp. 147-153

As Philip Armstrong grew calmer, he despised himself for the harshness and cruelty of his words to Grace, though he could not clearly remember all he had said. He resolved to see her, and to do all in his power to atone for it; and, with vague plans for sending her far away, where her pale, suffering face should haunt him no longer, supplying her bodily wants, as if money ...

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19. Consecration

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pp. 154-159

... “Let me tell you,” she went on, “that you have thrown away what many a girl, vastly your superior, would have thought herself only too happy in securing, and if you think that such matches are to be had every day, you are grandly mistaken. You are not so beautiful and so bewitching that you may expect to obtain perfection, even if perfect people were common. Philip, bad as you think him, is as good, if not better, than the majority of ...

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20. The Field Is the World

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pp. 160-165

The next morning, as she thought of her last evening’s vow, she almost shuddered. What had she done? The glow of enthusiasm had faded away; she saw now that she had committed herself to a cause which was ridiculed by many and supported by but few. What could she do, a weak woman, single-handed and alone? “No, not alone,” she exclaimed. “God will be with me.” ...

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21. Disowned

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pp. 166-182

As Christine, dressed simply in black silk, stood before that audience, her cheeks and lips deathly pale, Mrs. Warner trembled for her; but though her first few words were indistinct, and her voice faltered in the commencement of her address, she gained courage as she grew accustomed to her own tones; her color returned, and, forgetting all but her subject, she went on with an enthusiasm and resistless eloquence, which enchained ...

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22. Annie Murray

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pp. 183-189

Bright lights gleamed from Mr. Murray’s splendid mansion in Fifth Avenue; carriages rattled over the pavements, and deposited loads of ladies and gentlemen there, and bursts of music, that greeted the new-comers, as the doors flew open to admit them, involuntarily quickened the pace of the ladies as they hurried on to the dressing-room. ...

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23. Joined Not United

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pp. 190-197

Mr. and Mrs. Howard were seated at the breakfast table. A frown contracted his brow as he tried one dish after another, and pushed each away in turn as unpalatable. “This coffee is execrable, Mrs. Howard,” he said, stirring the muddy beverage as he spoke, “and, in fact, there is nothing fit to be eaten on the table. The rolls are raw, the beefsteak dried to a cinder, the eggs hard as so many bullets. ...

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24. Helen and Her Husband

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pp. 198-212

More than two years had passed, during which the name of Christine Elliot had become known far and wide. She had toiled on unshrinkingly, undaunted by the obstacles that she encountered, and they were not few, sustained through all discouragements by the high hopes which she cherished of accomplishing her darling object, of seeing her sex placed, in all respects, on an equality with her brother man. ...

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25. The Insane Asylum

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pp. 213-223

The evening was bright and beautiful on which Christine was to address the people of Boston on her usual subject. The stars shone brightly, and the moon’s pale light fell softly on the leafstrewn walks of that pride of the Bostonians, the spacious Common, as Christine, accompanied by Mr. Linton and his wife, crossed it, on her way to the Melodeon, where she was to deliver her lecture.62 ...

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26. Sweet Home

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pp. 224-228

Nothing could have surprised and shocked Helen Linton more than the tale her husband related to her on her return. She read Christine’s farewell note again and again, she reviewed all her conduct and remembered the opposition which she had encountered from her friends — as she thought of all this she grew indignant, and exclaimed: ...

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27. On the Rack

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pp. 229-237

Mrs. Frothingham stood alone in her spacious parlors. She was looking out of the window, but, apparently quite oblivious of the landscape before her; she heeded not the budding beauty of the spring, the delicate verdure of the lawn, or the opening foliage upon the trees that, in clusters or separately, stood about her dwelling. Her eyes were fixed upon the distant hills that skirted the horizon, but she was hardly conscious that ...

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28. Suspicions Awakened

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pp. 238-244

“It’s the finest kind of a day for a ride,” said Helen Linton, as she stood before her mirror, in her chamber, smoothing her hair. “The air is so cool and refreshing, and everything in the country must look so beautiful. It would do you good, Will, to go out.” ...

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29. Elder Wiggins’s Plot

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pp. 245-257

Christine was sitting in the listless attitude that had become habitual with her, when she was roused by a summons to the parlor to see a friend. She had long since given up all hopes of seeing those she really considered her friends, and languidly entered the parlor. ...

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30. Gilded Misery

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pp. 258-267

Annie Howard sat in an attitude of deep dejection on a lounge in the library; her head was bowed down, and her hands pressed tightly over her brow; she sat silent and motionless — her eyes were tearless, but dark shadows were beneath them, and around her mouth an expression of hopeless grief had settled. That slight figure and youthful face, so expressive of melancholy, cast a gloom over the otherwise cheerful room. ...

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31. The Flight and Its Consequences

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pp. 268-277

“Where is my wife, sir?” exclaimed Mr. Howard, entering the private office of Mr. Elliston, where that gentleman was seated alone. His face was pale with anger, and his voice choked with passion. Mr. Elliston turned round in the arm-chair, in which he was sitting, and looked at him in silent astonishment. This only exasperated Mr. Howard still more. ...

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32. The Convention

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pp. 278-284

A bright and beautiful morning ushered in the day on which the Woman’s Rights Convention, which had been for some time announced in the papers as to take place in New York, was to hold its session. From different parts of the country the leaders of the movement had come, and assembled in the Tabernacle, to take counsel together, and to cheer each other with reports of progress in their respective sections, as well as to set forth ...

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33. The Midnight Summons

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pp. 285-297

The afternoon and evening sessions of the Convention passed off quietly, to the evident satisfaction of all of its friends. In the evening, particularly, the audience was more than ordinarily large and brilliant, and the speakers were unusually eloquent. Christine had designed saying nothing, but at last, in answer to loud and repeated calls from the crowd, she rose, and addressed them very briefly, but so happily, that shouts of laughter greeted her sallies of wit, as she again resumed her seat. ...

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34. Christine’s Home

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pp. 298-307

Seven years had rolled away. Ah! how much of human joy and sorrow is summed up in that brief sentence? What revolutions do the rolling years make in this world of change? What records of great deeds may moulder away in the ponderous tomes of the historian? and what lessons on the emptiness of most of the aims for which the men of the past have struggled, lived, and ...

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35. Coals of Fire

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pp. 308-317

... She herself was adorned with flowers; a small bouquet served her instead of a pin to fasten her collar, and a few gracefully drooping blossoms were entwined with the knot of curls, which, in her own simple, yet fantastic manner, she wore looped up behind, while here and there a golden curl escaped from its confinement to fall on her fair neck. “Here is the very prettiest rose in the garden,” said the girl; “I gathered it for you.” ...

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36. Dr. Russell

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pp. 318-336

The room was darkened, the bell was muffled, and doors were opened and shut gently, for Christine was lying very ill at her residence. For weeks Rosa had watched over her untiringly, noting every change in her symptoms, anticipating her every want, with all a daughter’s devotion; she herself had grown haggard and pale from her constant attendance on the invalid, for though there had been no lack of offers from various members of the family to share her labors, and many had insisted on relieving her watch, yet she could not tear herself from that ...

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37. All’s Well That Ends Well

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pp. 337-347

It was evening — all day long had Eugene Russell felt an irresistible impulse to visit the Home, to see Rosa once more.81 “We can be friends,” he said to himself, “if nothing more; and the sudden cessation of my visits might, perhaps, betray my secret”; so endeavoring to excuse himself, in this way, for the call he was about to make, he threw aside the London Lancet,82 which he had held in his hand for some time, but in which he ...

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38. Life-Plans Thwarted

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pp. 348-357

Very pleasant dreams haunted Rosa’s pillow that night, and when she awoke in the morning it was with the blissful consciousness that her dreams were only shadows of a still pleasanter reality. With a light heart she set about the tasks which the day before had been so distasteful to her, and she carolled scraps of merry songs as she flitted about the house and garden. She longed for, yet dreaded, her aunt’s return, but not even the ...

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39. The Wedding

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pp. 358-363

It seemed as if the evening would never come, but come at last it did, and at the appointed time Eugene was seated alone with Christine in the study. “I have received your letter,” began Christine, in a firm voice, “and though I tell you frankly that you are not the one I should have chosen for my child, had I wished her to marry, yet,” she paused; the well-worded and dignified speech which she had prepared remained for ever unspoken; her voice trembled. ...

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40. Shadow and Sunshine

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pp. 364-378

She glanced at the address; it was in a handwriting entirely unknown to her, but as her eyes rested on the feeble and uncertain characters within the sheet, she trembled and turned pale; it needed not the signature to assure her from whom it came, and tears rushed in her eyes as she read the words, “Christine, I am dying. By the memory of our old love, I ...


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pp. 379-382

E-ISBN-13: 9780803233942
E-ISBN-10: 0803233949
Print-ISBN-13: 9780803213609
Print-ISBN-10: 0803213603

Page Count: 432
Publication Year: 2010