Let Her Speak for Herself: Nineteenth-Century Women Writing on the Women of Genesis

By Marion Ann Taylor; Heather E. Weir | Go to book overview

§8 E. C. C. Baillie
(fl. 1853–1873)

E. C. C. Baillie was a well-educated British Christian writer, thinker, poet, and world traveler. In the series of essays she published as The Protoplast (1853), Baillie explored a number of religious and philosophical subjects united by the theme of "firsts." This book was followed by seven others: Snatches of Sacred Song (1854); Our Infirmities (1858), which dealt with such issues as sin and conduct of life; The Way of the Wilderness, and Other Poems (1862); a devotional book called Hours of Rest, or, Sabbath-thoughts for Sabbath-days (1867); A Memoir of General Latter (1870); and a journal of her travels to Turkey, A Sail to Smyrna: or, An Englishwoman's Journal; Including Impressions of Constantinople, a Visit to a Turkish Harem, and a Railway Journey to Ephesus (1873). A letter to a Miss Philpot suggests that she lived with her husband in the Wyvenhoe Rectory, Colchester, circa 1879.23

Like Putnam, Baillie upheld a very traditional view of women and men. Baillie saw Eve as a type or model for all women, but she did not spiritualize the text to the extent Putnam did. Baillie and Putnam articulated the traditional interpretation of the Genesis texts that Grimké and Weld argued against. Like Copley, Baillie argued that women were not given to men for their amusement; women were to be a helpmeet for men, not a plaything. In contrast to this portrait of the ideal submissive woman, Baillie's self-portrait in her published travel journal presented a woman who was powerful, independent, and self-assured. Further, her vocation as a writer, especially as the author of a volume of weighty theological essays, did not fit with the ideal for women she espoused in the essays.

Baillie argued that Eve's submissive role as Adam's helpmeet was part of the created order, and so permanent. As Eve was to be Adam's helper, the fact

23 Source: John R. Yamamoto-Wilson, "Victorian Women," http://rarebooksinjapan.com/
Victorian/ (accessed November 12, 2004).

-58-

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