Helen Harlow's Vow

She told him what he might expect from weak or thoughtless minds, and also from malicious ones. "And here," said she, "from the spirit in which you meet this difficulty, shall I found my hopes of your future. IF YOU CAN CONQUER HERE, YOU CAN CONQUER EVERY THING."


Humanity has not yet learned the half of its powers; and "can not" ought not to belong to the vocabulary of a progressive people.


"Well, well," said the judge: "you Northerners have very utopian ideas, I must say. I expect you will be setting up some woman for president yet."

"And, if elected, if she could not do better in that capacity than some of the men who have held—I will not say filled—that office, I should advise her not to try it the second time," retorted Helen.

Once again I turn to the incomparable Lois Waisbrooker for a real treat. It is indicative of her opinion of this novel that she dedicated more advertising space to it in Foundation Principles Volumes 4 and 5 than to any other of her works. And rightfully so: Helen Harlow's Vow is arguably the best of her nearly-forgotten novels that I have transcribed thus far.

Despite a few unfortunate moments depicting caricatures of Irish and "darkey" servants, overall the novel is bold, clever, well-written, and thoroughly entertaining. The subject matter—overcoming, through personal strength, the stigma of a societal double-standard regarding unmarried motherhood—may seem dated today. But is it, really? And even if it is, given the trending erosion of human rights, cannot one think of comparable contemporary situations which would be equally applicable?

The text is from this scan of the 1870 edition, backed up by this scan. I corrected any obvious typographical errors, while standardizing some inconsistencies in spelling, such as worshipped vs. worshiped.

So here it is: the master HTML version, the home-brew Kindle version, and the actual Amazon publication.

As Col. Hazen says, "Don't be in a hurry, major: stop and take a glass of wine with an old chap like myself."

July 11, 2023



Here's my transcription of a nice, neat, no-nonsense autobiographical sketch ["Catherine" was emended to "Catharine," and "Tiuga" to "Tioga."]:

"Lois Waisbrooker"
by Lois Waisbrooker
from Workers in the Vineyard, by Julia Schlesinger [1896], pp. 173-175.

And while I'm at it, here are a couple of citations of more recent scholars:

"Power through Print: Lois Waisbrooker and Grassroots Feminism"
by Joanne E. Passet
from Women in Print: Essays on the Print Culture of American Women from the Nineteenth and Twentieth Centuries, by James P. Danky and Wayne A. Wiegand [2006], pp. 229-250.
[NAU Cline Library catalog entry.]

"The Rhetorical Reputation of Forgotten Feminist Lois Waisbrooker"
by Wendy Hayden
from Remembering Women Differently: Refiguring Rhetorical Work, by Lynée Lewis Gaillet and Helen Gaillet Bailey [2019], pp. 189-205.
[NAU Cline Library catalog entry.]

ffred's nearly-forgotten treasures