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´╗┐Title: Complete Project Gutenberg Oliver Wendell Holmes, Sr. Works
Author: Holmes, Oliver Wendell, 1809-1894
Language: English
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By Oliver Wendell Holmes Sr.


The Autocrat of the Breakfast-table
The Professor at the Breakfast-table
The Poet at the Breakfast Table
Over the Teacups
Elsie Venner
The Guardian Angel
A Mortal Antipathy
Pages from an Old Volume of Life
     Bread and the Newspaper
     My Hunt after "The Captain"
     The Inevitable Trial
     Cinders from Ashes
     The Pulpit and the Pew
Medical Essays
     Homeopathy and its Kindred Delusions
     The Contagiousness of Puerperal Fever
     Currents and Counter-currents in Medical Science
     Border Lines of Knowledge in Some Provinces of Medical Science
     Scholastic and Bedside Teaching
     The Medical Profession in Massachusetts
     The Young Practitioner
     Medical Libraries
     Some of My Early Teachers
A Memoir of John Lothrop Motley
A Memoir of Ralph Waldo Emerson
Our Hundred Days in Europe



The interruption referred to in the first sentence of the first of
these papers was just a quarter of a century in duration.

Two articles entitled "The Autocrat of the Breakfast-Table" will be
found in the "New England Magazine," formerly published in Boston
by J. T. and E. Buckingham.  The date of the first of these
articles is November 1831, and that of the second February 1832.
When "The Atlantic Monthly" was begun, twenty-five years
afterwards, and the author was asked to write for it, the
recollection of these crude products of his uncombed literary
boyhood suggested the thought that it would be a curious experiment
to shake the same bough again, and see if the ripe fruit were
better or worse than the early windfalls.

So began this series of papers, which naturally brings those
earlier attempts to my own notice and that of some few friends who
were idle enough to read them at the time of their publication.
The man is father to the boy that was, and I am my own son, as it
seems to me, in those papers of the New England Magazine.  If I
find it hard to pardon the boy's faults, others would find it
harder.  They will not, therefore, be reprinted here, nor as I
hope, anywhere.

But a sentence or two from them will perhaps bear reproducing, and
with these I trust the gentle reader, if that kind being still
breathes, will be contented.

--"It is a capital plan to carry a tablet with you, and, when you
find yourself felicitous, take notes of your own conversation."--

--"When I feel inclined to read poetry I take down my Dictionary.
The poetry of words is quite as beautiful as that of sentences.
The author may arrange the gems effectively, but their fhape and
luftre have been given by the attrition of ages.  Bring me the
fineft fimile from the whole range of imaginative writing, and I
will fhow you a fingle word which conveys a more profound, a more
accurate, and a more eloquent analogy."--

--"Once on a time, a notion was ftarted, that if all the people in
the world would fhout at once, it might be heard in the moon.  So
the projectors agreed it fhould be done in juft ten years.  Some
thousand fhip-loads of chronometers were diftributed to the
selectmen and other great folks of all the different nations.  For
a year beforehand, nothing else was talked about but the awful
noise that was to be made on the great occafion.  When the time
came, everybody had their ears so wide open, to hear the universal
ejaculation of BOO,--the word agreed upon,--that nobody spoke
except a deaf man in one of the Fejee Islands, and a woman in
Pekin, so that the world was never so ftill fince the creation."--

There was nothing better than these things and there was not a
little that was much worse.  A young fellow of two or three and
twenty has as good a right to spoil a magazine-full of essays in
learning how to write, as an oculist like Wenzel had to spoil his
hat-full of eyes in learning how to operate for cataract, or an
ELEGANT like Brummel to point to an armful of failures in the
attempt to achieve a perfect tie.  This son of mine, whom I have
not seen for these twenty-five years, generously counted, was a
self-willed youth, always too ready to utter his unchastised
fancies.  He, like too many American young people, got the spur
when he should have had the rein.  He therefore helped to fill the
market with that unripe fruit which his father says in one of these
papers abounds in the marts of his native country.  All these
by-gone shortcomings he would hope are forgiven, did he not feel sure
that very few of his readers know anything about them.  In taking
the old name for the new papers, he felt bound to say that he had
uttered unwise things under that title, and if it shall appear that
his unwisdom has not diminished by at least half while his years
have doubled, he promises not to repeat the experiment if he should
live to double them again and become his own grandfather.

BOSTON.  Nov. 1st 1858.


I was just going to say, when I was interrupted, that one of the
many ways of classifying minds is under the heads of arithmetical
and algebraical intellects.  All economical and practical wisdom is
an extension or variation of the following arithmetical formula:
2+2=4.  Every philosophical proposition has the more general
character of the expression a+b=c.  We are mere operatives,
empirics, and egotists, until we learn to think in letters instead
of figures.

They all stared.  There is a divinity student lately come among us
to whom I commonly address remarks like the above, allowing him to
take a certain share in the conversation, so far as assent or
pertinent questions are involved.  He abused his liberty on this
occasion by presuming to say that Leibnitz had the same
observation.--No, sir, I replied, he has not.  But he said a mighty
good thing about mathematics, that sounds something like it, and
you found it, NOT IN THE ORIGINAL, but quoted by Dr. Thomas Reid.
I will tell the company what he did say, one of these days.

--If I belong to a Society of Mutual Admiration?--I blush to say
that I do not at this present moment.  I once did, however.  It was
the first association to which I ever heard the term applied; a
body of scientific young men in a great foreign city who admired
their teacher, and to some extent each other.  Many of them
deserved it; they have become famous since.  It amuses me to hear
the talk of one of those beings described by Thackeray--

"Letters four do form his name"--

about a social development which belongs to the very noblest stage
of civilization.  All generous companies of artists, authors,
philanthropists, men of science, are, or ought to be, Societies of
Mutual Admiration.  A man of genius, or any kind of superiority, is
not debarred from admiring the same quality in another, nor the
other from returning his admiration.  They may even associate
together and continue to think highly of each other.  And so of a
dozen such men, if any one place is fortunate enough to hold so
many.  The being referred to above assumes several false premises.
First, that men of talent necessarily hate each other.  Secondly,
that intimate knowledge or habitual association destroys our
admiration of persons whom we esteemed highly at a distance.
Thirdly, that a circle of clever fellows, who meet together to dine
and have a good time, have signed a constitutional compact to
glorify themselves and to put down him and the fraction of the
human race not belonging to their number.  Fourthly, that it is an
outrage that he is not asked to join them.

Here the company laughed a good deal, and the old gentleman who
sits opposite said, "That's it! that's it!"

I continued, for I was in the talking vein.  As to clever people's
hating each other, I think a LITTLE extra talent does sometimes
make people jealous.  They become irritated by perpetual attempts
and failures, and it hurts their tempers and dispositions.
Unpretending mediocrity is good, and genius is glorious; but a weak
flavor of genius in an essentially common person is detestable.  It
spoils the grand neutrality of a commonplace character, as the
rinsings of an unwashed wineglass spoil a draught of fair water.
No wonder the poor fellow we spoke of, who always belongs to this
class of slightly flavored mediocrities, is puzzled and vexed by
the strange sight of a dozen men of capacity working and playing
together in harmony.  He and his fellows are always fighting.  With
them familiarity naturally breeds contempt.  If they ever praise
each other's bad drawings, or broken-winded novels, or spavined
verses, nobody ever supposed it was from admiration; it was simply
a contract between themselves and a publisher or dealer.

If the Mutuals have really nothing among them worth admiring, that
alters the question.  But if they are men with noble powers and
qualities, let me tell you, that, next to youthful love and family
affections, there is no human sentiment better than that which
unites the Societies of Mutual Admiration.  And what would
literature or art be without such associations?  Who can tell what
we owe to the Mutual Admiration Society of which Shakspeare, and
Ben Jonson, and Beaumont and Fletcher were members?  Or to that of
which Addison and Steele formed the centre, and which gave us the
Spectator?  Or to that where Johnson, and Goldsmith, and Burke, and
Reynolds, and Beauclerk, and Boswell, most admiring among all
admirers, met together?  Was there any great harm in the fact that
the Irvings and Paulding wrote in company? or any unpardonable
cabal in the literary union of Verplanck and Bryant and Sands, and
as many more as they chose to associate with them?

The poor creature does not know what he is talking about, when he
abuses this noblest of institutions.  Let him inspect its mysteries
through the knot-hole he has secured, but not use that orifice as a
medium for his popgun.  Such a society is the crown of a literary
metropolis; if a town has not material for it, and spirit and good
feeling enough to organize it, it is a mere caravansary, fit for a
man of genius to lodge in, but not to live in.  Foolish people hate
and dread and envy such an association of men of varied powers and
influence, because it is lofty, serene, impregnable, and, by the
necessity of the case, exclusive.  Wise ones are prouder of the
title M. S. M. A. than of all their other honors put together.

--All generous minds have a horror of what are commonly called
"facts."  They are the brute beasts of the intellectual domain.
Who does not know fellows that always have an ill-conditioned fact
or two which they lead after them into decent company like so many
bull-dogs, ready to let them slip at every ingenious suggestion, or
convenient generalization, or pleasant fancy?  I allow no "facts"
at this table.  What!  Because bread is good and wholesome and
necessary and nourishing, shall you thrust a crumb into my windpipe
while I am talking?  Do not these muscles of mine represent a
hundred loaves of bread? and is not my thought the abstract of ten
thousand of these crumbs of truth with which you would choke off my

[The above remark must be conditioned and qualified for the vulgar
mind.  The reader will of course understand the precise amount of
seasoning which must be added to it before he adopts it as one of
the axioms of his life.  The speaker disclaims all responsibility
for its abuse in incompetent hands.]

This business of conversation is a very serious matter.  There are
men that it weakens one to talk with an hour more than a day's
fasting would do.  Mark this that I am going to say, for it is as
good as a working professional man's advice, and costs you nothing:
It is better to lose a pint of blood from your veins than to have a
nerve tapped.  Nobody measures your nervous force as it runs away,
nor bandages your brain and marrow after the operation.

There are men of esprit who are excessively exhausting to some
people.  They are the talkers who have what may be called JERKY
minds.  Their thoughts do not run in the natural order of sequence.
They say bright things on all possible subjects, but their zigzags
rack you to death.  After a jolting half-hour with one of these
jerky companions, talking with a dull friend affords great relief.
It is like taking the cat in your lap after holding a squirrel.

What a comfort a dull but kindly person is, to be sure, at times!
A ground-glass shade over a gas-lamp does not bring more solace to
our dazzled eyes than such a one to our minds.

"Do not dull people bore you?" said one of the lady-boarders,--the
same that sent me her autograph-book last week with a request for a
few original stanzas, not remembering that "The Pactolian" pays me
five dollars a line for every thing I write in its columns.

"Madam," said I, (she and the century were in their teens
together,) "all men are bores, except when we want them.  There
never was but one man whom I would trust with my latch-key."

"Who might that favored person be?"


--The men of genius that I fancy most have erectile heads like the
cobra-di-capello.  You remember what they tell of William Pinkney,
the great pleader; how in his eloquent paroxysms the veins of his
neck would swell and his face flush and his eyes glitter, until he
seemed on the verge of apoplexy.  The hydraulic arrangements for
supplying the brain with blood are only second in importance to its
own organization.  The bulbous-headed fellows that steam well when
they are at work are the men that draw big audiences and give us
marrowy books and pictures.  It is a good sign to have one's feet
grow cold when he is writing.  A great writer and speaker once told
me that he often wrote with his feet in hot water; but for this,
ALL his blood would have run into his head, as the mercury
sometimes withdraws into the ball of a thermometer.

--You don't suppose that my remarks made at this table are like so
many postage-stamps, do you,--each to be only once uttered?  If you
do, you are mistaken.  He must be a poor creature that does not
often repeat himself.  Imagine the author of the excellent piece of
advice, "Know thyself," never alluding to that sentiment again
during the course of a protracted existence!  Why, the truths a man
carries about with him are his tools; and do you think a carpenter
is bound to use the same plane but once to smooth a knotty board
with, or to hang up his hammer after it has driven its first nail?
I shall never repeat a conversation, but an idea often.  I shall
use the same types when I like, but not commonly the same
stereotypes.  A thought is often original, though you have uttered
it a hundred times.  It has come to you over a new route, by a new
and express train of associations.

Sometimes, but rarely, one may be caught making the same speech
twice over, and yet be held blameless.  Thus, a certain lecturer,
after performing in an inland city, where dwells a Litteratrice of
note, was invited to meet her and others over the social teacup.
She pleasantly referred to his many wanderings in his new
occupation.  "Yes," he replied, "I am like the Huma, the bird that
never lights, being always in the cars, as he is always on the
wing."--Years elapsed.  The lecturer visited the same place once
more for the same purpose.  Another social cup after the lecture,
and a second meeting with the distinguished lady.  "You are
constantly going from place to place," she said.--"Yes," he
answered, "I am like the Huma,"--and finished the sentence as

What horrors, when it flashed over him that he had made this fine
speech, word for word, twice over!  Yet it was not true, as the
lady might perhaps have fairly inferred, that he had embellished
his conversation with the Huma daily during that whole interval of
years.  On the contrary, he had never once thought of the odious
fowl until the recurrence of precisely the same circumstances
brought up precisely the same idea.  He ought to have been proud of
the accuracy of his mental adjustments.  Given certain factors, and
a sound brain should always evolve the same fixed product with the
certainty of Babbage's calculating machine.

--What a satire, by the way, is that machine on the mere
mathematician!  A Frankenstein-monster, a thing without brains and
without heart, too stupid to make a blunder; that turns out results
like a corn-sheller, and never grows any wiser or better, though it
grind a thousand bushels of them!

I have an immense respect for a man of talents PLUS "the
mathematics."  But the calculating power alone should seem to be
the least human of qualities, and to have the smallest amount of
reason in it; since a machine can be made to do the work of three
or four calculators, and better than any one of them.  Sometimes I
have been troubled that I had not a deeper intuitive apprehension
of the relations of numbers.  But the triumph of the ciphering
hand-organ has consoled me.  I always fancy I can hear the wheels
clicking in a calculator's brain.  The power of dealing with
numbers is a kind of "detached lever" arrangement, which may be put
into a mighty poor watch--I suppose it is about as common as the
power of moving the ears voluntarily, which is a moderately rare

--Little localized powers, and little narrow streaks of specialized
knowledge, are things men are very apt to be conceited about.
Nature is very wise; but for this encouraging principle how many
small talents and little accomplishments would be neglected!  Talk
about conceit as much as you like, it is to human character what
salt is to the ocean; it keeps it sweet, and renders it endurable.
Say rather it is like the natural unguent of the sea-fowl's
plumage, which enables him to shed the rain that falls on him and
the wave in which he dips.  When one has had ALL his conceit taken
out of him, when he has lost ALL his illusions, his feathers will
soon soak through, and he will fly no more.

"So you admire conceited people, do you?" said the young lady who
has come to the city to be finished off for--the duties of life.

I am afraid you do not study logic at your school, my dear.  It
does not follow that I wish to be pickled in brine because I like a
salt-water plunge at Nahant.  I say that conceit is just as
natural a thing to human minds as a centre is to a circle.  But
little-minded people's thoughts move in such small circles that five
minutes' conversation gives you an arc long enough to determine
their whole curve.  An arc in the movement of a large intellect
does not sensibly differ from a straight line.  Even if it have the
third vowel as its centre, it does not soon betray it.  The highest
thought, that is, is the most seemingly impersonal; it does not
obviously imply any individual centre.

Audacious self-esteem, with good ground for it, is always imposing.
What resplendent beauty that must have been which could have
authorized Phryne to "peel" in the way she did!  What fine speeches
are those two:  "Non omnis mortar," and "I have taken all knowledge
to be my province"!  Even in common people, conceit has the virtue
of making them cheerful; the man who thinks his wife, his baby, his
house, his horse, his dog, and himself severally unequalled, is
almost sure to be a good-humored person, though liable to be
tedious at times.

--What are the great faults of conversation?  Want of ideas, want
of words, want of manners, are the principal ones, I suppose you
think.  I don't doubt it, but I will tell you what I have found
spoil more good talks than anything else;--long arguments on
special points between people who differ on the fundamental
principles upon which these points depend.  No men can have
satisfactory relations with each other until they have agreed on
certain ultimata of belief not to be disturbed in ordinary
conversation, and unless they have sense enough to trace the
secondary questions depending upon these ultimate beliefs to their
source.  In short, just as a written constitution is essential to
the best social order, so a code of finalities is a necessary
condition of profitable talk between two persons.  Talking is like
playing on the harp; there is as much in laying the hand on the
strings to stop their vibrations as in twanging them to bring out
their music.

--Do you mean to say the pun-question is not clearly settled in
your minds?  Let me lay down the law upon the subject.  Life and
language are alike sacred.  Homicide and verbicide--that is,
violent treatment of a word with fatal results to its legitimate
meaning, which is its life--are alike forbidden.  Manslaughter,
which is the meaning of the one, is the same as man's laughter,
which is the end of the other.  A pun is prima facie an insult to
the person you are talking with.  It implies utter indifference to
or sublime contempt for his remarks, no matter how serious.  I
speak of total depravity, and one says all that is written on the
subject is deep raving.  I have committed my self-respect by
talking with such a person.  I should like to commit him, but
cannot, because he is a nuisance.  Or I speak of geological
convulsions, and he asks me what was the cosine of Noah's ark;
also, whether the Deluge was not a deal huger than any modern

A pun does not commonly justify a blow in return.  But if a blow
were given for such cause, and death ensued, the jury would be
judges both of the facts and of the pun, and might, if the latter
were of an aggravated character, return a verdict of justifiable
homicide.  Thus, in a case lately decided before Miller, J., Doe
presented Roe a subscription paper, and urged the claims of
suffering humanity.  Roe replied by asking, When charity was like a
top?  It was in evidence that Doe preserved a dignified silence.
Roe then said, "When it begins to hum."  Doe then--and not till
then--struck Roe, and his head happening to hit a bound volume of
the Monthly Rag-bag and Stolen Miscellany, intense mortification
ensued, with a fatal result.  The chief laid down his notions of
the law to his brother justices, who unanimously replied, "Jest
so."  The chief rejoined, that no man should jest so without being
punished for it, and charged for the prisoner, who was acquitted,
and the pun ordered to be burned by the sheriff.  The bound volume
was forfeited as a deodand, but not claimed.

People that make puns are like wanton boys that put coppers on the
railroad tracks.  They amuse themselves and other children, but
their little trick may upset a freight train of conversation for
the sake of a battered witticism.

I will thank you, B. F., to bring down two books, of which I will
mark the places on this slip of paper.  (While he is gone, I may
say that this boy, our land-lady's youngest, is called BENJAMIN
FRANKLIN, after the celebrated philosopher of that name.  A highly
merited compliment.)

I wished to refer to two eminent authorities.  Now be so good as to
listen.  The great moralist says:  "To trifle with the vocabulary
which is the vehicle of social intercourse is to tamper with the
currency of human intelligence.  He who would violate the
sanctities of his mother tongue would invade the recesses of the
paternal till without remorse, and repeat the banquet of Saturn
without an indigestion."

And, once more, listen to the historian.  "The Puritans hated puns.
The Bishops were notoriously addicted to them.  The Lords Temporal
carried them to the verge of license.  Majesty itself must have its
Royal quibble.  'Ye be burly, my Lord of Burleigh,' said Queen
Elizabeth, 'but ye shall make less stir in our realm than my Lord
of Leicester.'  The gravest wisdom and the highest breeding lent
their sanction to the practice.  Lord Bacon playfully declared
himself a descendant of 'Og, the King of Bashan.  Sir Philip
Sidney, with his last breath, reproached the soldier who brought
him water, for wasting a casque full upon a dying man.  A courtier,
who saw Othello performed at the Globe Theatre, remarked, that the
blackamoor was a brute, and not a man.  'Thou hast reason,' replied
a great Lord, 'according to Plato his saying; for this be a
two-legged animal WITH feathers.'  The fatal habit became universal.
The language was corrupted.  The infection spread to the national
conscience.  Political double-dealings naturally grew out of verbal
double meanings.  The teeth of the new dragon were sown by the
Cadmus who introduced the alphabet of equivocation.  What was
levity in the time of the Tudors grew to regicide and revolution in
the age of the Stuarts."

Who was that boarder that just whispered something about the
Macaulay-flowers of literature?--There was a dead silence.--I said
calmly, I shall henceforth consider any interruption by a pun as a
hint to change my boarding-house.  Do not plead my example.  If _I_
have used any such, it has been only as a Spartan father would show
up a drunken helot.  We have done with them.

--If a logical mind ever found out anything with its logic?--I
should say that its most frequent work was to build a pons asinorum
over chasms which shrewd people can bestride without such a
structure.  You can hire logic, in the shape of a lawyer, to prove
anything that you want to prove.  You can buy treatises to show
that Napoleon never lived, and that no battle of Bunker-hill was
ever fought.  The great minds are those with a wide span, which
couple truths related to, but far removed from, each other.
Logicians carry the surveyor's chain over the track of which these
are the true explorers.  I value a man mainly for his primary
relations with truth, as I understand truth,--not for any secondary
artifice in handling his ideas.  Some of the sharpest men in
argument are notoriously unsound in judgment.  I should not trust
the counsel of a smart debater, any more than that of a good
chess-player.  Either may of course advise wisely, but not
necessarily because he wrangles or plays well.

The old gentleman who sits opposite got his hand up, as a pointer
lifts his forefoot, at the expression, "his relations with truth,
as I understand truth," and when I had done, sniffed audibly, and
said I talked like a transcendentalist.  For his part, common sense
was good enough for him.

Precisely so, my dear sir, I replied; common sense, AS YOU
UNDERSTAND IT.  We all have to assume a standard of judgment in our
own minds, either of things or persons.  A man who is willing to
take another's opinion has to exercise his judgment in the choice
of whom to follow, which is often as nice a matter as to judge of
things for one's self.  On the whole, I had rather judge men's
minds by comparing their thoughts with my own, than judge of
thoughts by knowing who utter them.  I must do one or the other.
It does not follow, of course, that I may not recognize another
man's thoughts as broader and deeper than my own; but that does not
necessarily change my opinion, otherwise this would be at the mercy
of every superior mind that held a different one.  How many of our
most cherished beliefs are like those drinking-glasses of the
ancient pattern, that serve us well so long as we keep them in our
hand, but spill all if we attempt to set them down!  I have
sometimes compared conversation to the Italian game of mora, in
which one player lifts his hand with so many fingers extended, and
the other gives the number if he can.  I show my thought, another
his; if they agree, well; if they differ, we find the largest
common factor, if we can, but at any rate avoid disputing about
remainders and fractions, which is to real talk what tuning an
instrument is to playing on it.

--What if, instead of talking this morning, I should read you a
copy of verses, with critical remarks by the author?  Any of the
company can retire that like.


When Eve had led her lord away,
And Cain had killed his brother,
The stars and flowers, the poets say,
Agreed with one another

To cheat the cunning tempter's art,
And teach the race its duty,
By keeping on its wicked heart
Their eyes of light and beauty.

A million sleepless lids, they say,
Will be at least a warning;
And so the flowers would watch by day,
The stars from eve to morning.

On hill and prairie, field and lawn,
Their dewy eyes upturning,
The flowers still watch from reddening dawn
Till western skies are burning.

Alas! each hour of daylight tells
A tale of shame so crushing,
That some turn white as sea-bleached shells,
And some are always blushing.

But when the patient stars look down
On all their light discovers,
The traitor's smile, the murderer's frown,
The lips of lying lovers,

They try to shut their saddening eyes,
And in the vain endeavour
We see them twinkling in the skies,
And so they wink forever.

What do YOU think of these verses my friends?--Is that piece an
impromptu? said my landlady's daughter.  (Aet. 19 +.  Tender-eyed
blonde.  Long ringlets.  Cameo pin.  Gold pencil-case on a chain.
Locket.  Bracelet.  Album.  Autograph book.  Accordeon.  Reads
Byron, Tupper, and Sylvanus Cobb, junior, while her mother makes
the puddings.  Says "Yes?" when you tell her anything.)--Oui et
non, ma petite,--Yes and no, my child.  Five of the seven verses
were written off-hand; the other two took a week,--that is, were
hanging round the desk in a ragged, forlorn, unrhymed condition as
long as that.  All poets will tell you just such stories.  C'est le
DERNIER pas qui coute.  Don't you know how hard it is for some
people to get out of a room after their visit is really over?  They
want to be off, and you want to have them off, but they don't know
how to manage it.  One would think they had been built in your
parlour or study, and were waiting to be launched.  I have
contrived a sort of ceremonial inclined plane for such visitors,
which being lubricated with certain smooth phrases, I back them
down, metaphorically speaking, stern-foremost, into their "native
element," the great ocean of out-doors.  Well, now, there are poems
as hard to get rid of as these rural visitors.  They come in
glibly, use up all the serviceable rhymes, DAY, RAY, BEAUTY, DUTY,
so they go on until you think it is time for the wind-up, and the
wind-up won't come on any terms.  So they lie about until you get
sick of the sight of them, and end by thrusting some cold scrap of
a final couplet upon them, and turning them out of doors.  I
suspect a good many "impromptus" could tell just such a story as
the above.--Here turning to our landlady, I used an illustration
which pleased the company much at the time, and has since been
highly commanded.  "Madam," I said, "you can pour three gills and
three quarters of honey from that pint jug, if it is full, in less
than one minute; but, Madam, you could not empty that last quarter
of a gill, though you were turned into a marble Hebe, and held the
vessel upside down for a thousand years.

One gets tired to death of the old, old rhymes, such as you see in
that copy of verses,--which I don't mean to abuse, or to praise
either.  I always feel as if I were a cobbler, putting new
top-leathers to an old pair of boot-soles and bodies, when I am
fitting sentiments to these venerable jingles.

     .    .    .    .    youth
.    .    .    .    .    morning
.    .    .    .    .    truth
.    .    .    .    .    warning

Nine tenths of the "Juvenile Poems" written spring out of the above
musical and suggestive coincidences.

"Yes?" said our landlady's daughter.

I did not address the following remark to her, and I trust, from
her limited range of reading, she will never see it; I said it
softly to my next neighbour.

When a young female wears a flat circular side--curl, gummed on
each temple,--when she walks with a male, not arm in arm, but his
arm against the back of hers,--and when she says "Yes?" with the
note of interrogation, you are generally safe in asking her what
wages she gets, and who the "feller" was you saw her with.

"What were you whispering?" said the daughter of the house,
moistening her lips, as she spoke, in a very engaging manner.

"I was only laying down a principle of social diagnosis."


--It is curious to see how the same wants and tastes find the same
implements and modes of expression in all times and places.  The
young ladies of Otaheite, as you may see in Cook's Voyages, had a
sort of crinoline arrangement fully equal in radius to the largest
spread of our own lady-baskets.  When I fling a Bay-State shawl
over my shoulders, I am only taking a lesson from the climate that
the Indian had learned before me.  A BLANKET-shawl we call it, and
not a plaid; and we wear it like the aborigines, and not like the

--We are the Romans of the modern world,--the great assimilating
people.  Conflicts and conquests are of course necessary accidents
with us, as with our prototypes.  And so we come to their style of
weapon.  Our army sword is the short, stiff, pointed gladius of the
Romans; and the American bowie-knife is the same tool, modified to
meet the daily wants of civil society.  I announce at this table an
axiom not to be found in Montesquieu or the journals of Congress:-

The race that shortens its weapons lengthens its boundaries.

Corollary.  It was the Polish LANCE that left Poland at last with
nothing of her own to bound.

"Dropped from her nerveless grasp the SHATTERED SPEAR!"

What business had Sarmatia to be fighting for liberty with a
fifteen-foot pole between her and the breasts of her enemies?  If
she had but clutched the old Roman and young American weapon, and
come to close quarters, there might have been a chance for her; but
it would have spoiled the best passage in "The Pleasures of Hope."

--Self-made men?--Well, yes.  Of course everybody likes and
respects self-made men.  It is a great deal better to be made in
that way than not to be made at all.  Are any of you younger people
old enough to remember that Irishman's house on the marsh at
Cambridgeport, which house he built from drain to chimney-top with
his own hands?  It took him a good many years to build it, and one
could see that it was a little out of plumb, and a little wavy in
outline, and a little queer and uncertain in general aspect.  A
regular hand could certainly have built a better house; but it was
a very good house for a "self-made" carpenter's house, and people
praised it, and said how remarkably well the Irishman had
succeeded.  They never thought of praising the fine blocks of
houses a little farther on.

Your self-made man, whittled into shape with his own jack-knife,
deserves more credit, if that is all, than the regular
engine-turned article, shaped by the most approved pattern, and
French-polished by society and travel.  But as to saying that one is
every way the equal of the other, that is another matter.  The right
of strict social discrimination of all things and persons, according
to their merits, native or acquired, is one of the most precious
republican privileges.  I take the liberty to exercise it, when I say,
that, OTHER THINGS BEING EQUAL, in most relations of life I prefer a
man of family.

What do I mean by a man of family?--O, I'll give you a general idea
of what I mean.  Let us give him a first-rate fit out; it costs us

Four or five generations of gentlemen and gentlewomen; among them a
member of his Majesty's Council for the Province, a Governor or so,
one or two Doctors of Divinity, a member of Congress, not later
than the time of top-boots with tassels.

Family portraits.  The member of the Council, by Smibert.  The
great merchant-uncle, by Copley, full length, sitting in his
arm-chair, in a velvet cap and flowered robe, with a globe by him,
to show the range of his commercial transactions, and letters with
large red seals lying round, one directed conspicuously to The
Honourable etc. etc.  Great-grandmother, by the same artist; brown
satin, lace very fine, hands superlative; grand old lady, stiffish,
but imposing.  Her mother, artist unknown; flat, angular, hanging
sleeves; parrot on fist.  A pair of Stuarts, viz., 1.  A superb
full-blown, mediaeval gentleman, with a fiery dash of Tory blood in
his veins, tempered down with that of a fine old rebel grandmother,
and warmed up with the best of old India Madeira; his face is one
flame of ruddy sunshine; his ruffled shirt rushes out of his bosom
with an impetuous generosity, as if it would drag his heart after
it; and his smile is good for twenty thousand dollars to the
Hospital, besides ample bequests to all relatives and dependants.
2.  Lady of the same; remarkable cap; high waist, as in time of
Empire; bust a la Josephine; wisps of curls, like celery-tips, at
sides of forehead; complexion clear and warm, like rose-cordial.
As for the miniatures by Malbone, we don't count them in the

Books, too, with the names of old college-students in them,--family
names;--you will find them at the head of their respective classes
in the days when students took rank on the catalogue from their
parents' condition.  Elzevirs, with the Latinized appellations of
youthful progenitors, and Hic liber est meus on the title-page.  A
set of Hogarth's original plates.  Pope, original edition, 15
volumes, London, 1717.  Barrow on the lower shelves, in folio.
Tillotson on the upper, in a little dark platoon of octo-decimos.

Some family silver; a string of wedding and funeral rings; the arms
of the family curiously blazoned; the same in worsted, by a maiden

If the man of family has an old place to keep these things in,
furnished with claw-footed chairs and black mahogany tables, and
tall bevel-edged mirrors, and stately upright cabinets, his outfit
is complete.

No, my friends, I go (always, other things being equal) for the man
who inherits family traditions and the cumulative humanities of at
least four or five generations.  Above all things, as a child, he
should have tumbled about in a library.  All men are afraid of
books, who have not handled them from infancy.  Do you suppose our
dear didascalos over there ever read Poli Synopsis, or consulted
Castelli Lexicon, while he was growing up to their stature?  Not
he; but virtue passed through the hem of their parchment and
leather garments whenever he touched them, as the precious drugs
sweated through the bat's handle in the Arabian story.  I tell you
he is at home wherever he smells the invigorating fragrance of
Russia leather.  No self-made man feels so.  One may, it is true,
have all the antecedents I have spoken of, and yet be a boor or a
shabby fellow.  One may have none of them, and yet be fit for
councils and courts.  Then let them change places.  Our social
arrangement has this great beauty, that its strata shift up and
down as they change specific gravity, without being clogged by
layers of prescription.  But I still insist on my democratic
liberty of choice, and I go for the man with the gallery of family
portraits against the one with the twenty-five-cent daguerreotype,
unless I find out that the last is the better of the two.

--I should have felt more nervous about the late comet, if I had
thought the world was ripe.  But it is very green yet, if I am not
mistaken; and besides, there is a great deal of coal to use up,
which I cannot bring myself to think was made for nothing.  If
certain things, which seem to me essential to a millennium, had
come to pass, I should have been frightened; but they haven't.
Perhaps you would like to hear my


When legislators keep the law,
When banks dispense with bolts and locks,
When berries, whortle--rasp--and straw--
Grow bigger DOWNWARDS through the box,--

When he that selleth house or land
Shows leak in roof or flaw in right,--
When haberdashers choose the stand
Whose window hath the broadest light,--

When preachers tell us all they think,
And party leaders all they mean,--
When what we pay for, that we drink,
From real grape and coffee-bean,--

When lawyers take what they would give,
And doctors give what they would take,--
When city fathers eat to live,
Save when they fast for conscience' sake,--

When one that hath a horse on sale
Shall bring his merit to the proof,
Without a lie for every nail
That holds the iron on the hoof,--

When in the usual place for rips
Our gloves are stitched with special care,
And guarded well the whalebone tips
Where first umbrellas need repair,--

When Cuba's weeds have quite forgot
The power of suction to resist,
And claret-bottles harber not
Such dimples as would hold your fist,--

When publishers no longer steal,
And pay for what they stole before,--
When the first locomotive's wheel
Rolls through the Hoosac tunnel's bore;--

TILL then let Cumming a blaze away,
And Miller's saints blow up the globe;
But when you see that blessed day,
THEN order your ascension robe!

The company seemed to like the verses, and I promised them to read
others occasionally, if they had a mind to hear them.  Of course
they would not expect it every morning.  Neither must the reader
suppose that all these things I have reported were said at any one
breakfast-time.  I have not taken the trouble to date them, as
Raspail, pere, used to date every proof he sent to the printer; but
they were scattered over several breakfasts; and I have said a good
many more things since, which I shall very possibly print some time
or other, if I am urged to do it by judicious friends.

I finished off with reading some verses of my friend the Professor,
of whom you may perhaps hear more by and by.  The Professor read
them, he told me, at a farewell meeting, where the youngest of our
great Historians met a few of his many friends at their invitation.

Yes, we knew we must lose him,--though friendship may claim
To blend her green leaves with the laurels of fame;
Though fondly, at parting, we call him our own,
'Tis the whisper of love when the bugle has blown.

As the rider that rests with the spur on his heel,--
As the guardsman that sleeps in his corselet of steel,--
As the archer that stands with his shaft on the string,
He stoops from his toil to the garland we bring.

What pictures yet slumber unborn in his loom
Till their warriors shall breathe and their beauties shall bloom,
While the tapestry lengthens the life-glowing dyes
That caught from our sunsets the stain of their skies!

In the alcoves of death, in the charnels of time,
Where flit the gaunt spectres of passion and crime,
There are triumphs untold, there are martyrs unsung,
There are heroes yet silent to speak with his tongue!

Let us hear the proud story which time has bequeathed
From lips that are warm with the freedom they breathed!
Let him summon its tyrants, and tell us their doom,
Though he sweep the black past like Van Tromp with his broom!

* * * * *

The dream flashes by, for the west-winds awake
On pampas, on prairie, o'er mountain and lake,
To bathe the swift bark, like a sea-girdled shrine,
With incense they stole from the rose and the pine.

So fill a bright cup with the sunlight that gushed
When the dead summer's jewels were trampled and crushed:
THE TRUE KNIGHT OF LEARNING,--the world holds him dear,--
Love bless him, Joy crown him, God speed his career!


I really believe some people save their bright thoughts, as being
too precious for conversation.  What do you think an admiring
friend said the other day to one that was talking good things,
--good enough to print?   "Why," said he, "you are wasting
mechantable literature, a cash article, at the rate, as nearly as I
can tell, of fifty dollars an hour."  The talker took him to the
window and asked him to look out and tell what he saw.

"Nothing but a very dusty street," he said, "and a man driving a
sprinkling-machine through it."

"Why don't you tell the man he is wasting that water?  What would
be the state of the highways of life, if we did not drive our
THOUGHT-SPRINKLERS through them with the valves open, sometimes?

"Besides, there is another thing about this talking, which you
forget.  It shapes our thoughts for us;--the waves of conversation
roll them as the surf rolls the pebbles on the shore.  Let me
modify the image a little.  I rough out my thoughts in talk as an
artist models in clay.  Spoken language is so plastic,--you can pat
and coax, and spread and shave, and rub out, and fill up, and stick
on so easily when you work that soft material, that there is
nothing like it for modelling.  Out of it come the shapes which you
turn into marble or bronze in your immortal books, if you happen to
write such.  Or, to use another illustration, writing or printing
is like shooting with a rifle; you may hit your reader's mind, or
miss it;--but talking is like playing at a mark with the pipe of an
engine; if it is within reach, and you have time enough, you can't
help hitting it."

The company agreed that this last illustration was of superior
excellence, or, in the phrase used by them, "Fust-rate."  I
acknowledged the compliment, but gently rebuked the expression.
"Fust-rate," "prime," "a prime article," "a superior piece of
goods," "a handsome garment," "a gent in a flowered vest,"--all
such expressions are final.  They blast the lineage of him or her
who utters them, for generations up and down.  There is one other
phrase which will soon come to be decisive of a man's social
STATUS, if it is not already:   "That tells the whole story."  It
is an expression which vulgar and conceited people particularly
affect, and which well-meaning ones, who know better, catch from
them.  It is intended to stop all debate, like the previous
question in the General Court.  Only it doesn't; simply because
"that" does not usually tell the whole, nor one half of the whole

--It is an odd idea, that almost all our people have had a
professional education.  To become a doctor a man must study some
three years and hear a thousand lectures, more or less.  Just how
much study it takes to make a lawyer I cannot say, but probably not
more than this.  Now most decent people hear one hundred lectures
or sermons (discourses) on theology every year,--and this, twenty,
thirty, fifty years together.  They read a great many religious
books besides.  The clergy, however, rarely hear any sermons except
what they preach themselves.  A dull preacher might be conceived,
therefore, to lapse into a state of quasi heathenism, simply for
want of religious instruction.  And on the other hand, an attentive
and intelligent hearer, listening to a succession of wise teachers,
might become actually better educated in theology than any one of
them.  We are all theological students, and more of us qualified as
doctors of divinity than have received degrees at any of the

It is not strange, therefore, that very good people should often
find it difficult, if not impossible, to keep their attention fixed
upon a sermon treating feebly a subject which they have thought
vigorously about for years, and heard able men discuss scores of
times.  I have often noticed, however, that a hopelessly dull
discourse acts INDUCTIVELY, as electricians would say, in
developing strong mental currents.  I am ashamed to think with what
accompaniments and variations and fioriture I have sometimes
followed the droning of a heavy speaker,--not willingly,--for my
habit is reverential,--but as a necessary result of a slight
continuous impression on the senses and the mind, which kept both
in action without furnishing the food they required to work upon.
If you ever saw a crow with a king-bird after him, you will get an
image of a dull speaker and a lively listener.  The bird in sable
plumage flaps heavily along his straight-forward course, while the
other sails round him, over him, under him, leaves him, comes back
again, tweaks out a black feather, shoots away once more, never
losing sight of him, and finally reaches the crow's perch at the
same time the crow does, having cut a perfect labyrinth of loops
and knots and spirals while the slow fowl was painfully working
from one end of his straight line to the other.

[I think these remarks were received rather coolly.  A temporary
boarder from the country, consisting of a somewhat more than
middle-aged female, with a parchment forehead and a dry little
"frisette" shingling it, a sallow neck with a necklace of gold
beads, a black dress too rusty for recent grief and contours in
basso-rilievo, left the table prematurely, and was reported to have
been very virulent about what I said.  So I went to my good old
minister, and repeated the remarks, as nearly as I could remember
them, to him.  He laughed good-naturedly, and said there was
considerable truth in them.  He thought he could tell when people's
minds were wandering, by their looks.  In the earlier years of his
ministry he had sometimes noticed this, when he was preaching;
--very little of late years.  Sometimes, when his colleague was
preaching, he observed this kind of inattention; but after all, it
was not so very unnatural.  I will say, by the way, that it is a
rule I have long followed, to tell my worst thoughts to my
minister, and my best thoughts to the young people I talk with.]

--I want to make a literary confession now, which I believe nobody
has made before me.  You know very well that I write verses
sometimes, because I have read some of them at this table.  (The
company assented,--two or three of them in a resigned sort of way,
as I thought, as if they supposed I had an epic in my pocket, and
was going to read half a dozen books or so for their benefit.)--I
continued.  Of course I write some lines or passages which are
better than others; some which, compared with the others, might be
called relatively excellent.  It is in the nature of things that I
should consider these relatively excellent lines or passages as
absolutely good.  So much must be pardoned to humanity.  Now I
never wrote a "good" line in my life, but the moment after it was
written it seemed a hundred years old.  Very commonly I had a
sudden conviction that I had seen it somewhere.  Possibly I may
have sometimes unconsciously stolen it, but I do not remember that
I ever once detected any historical truth in these sudden
convictions of the antiquity of my new thought or phrase.  I have
learned utterly to distrust them, and never allow them to bully me
out of a thought or line.

This is the philosophy of it.  (Here the number of the company was
diminished by a small secession.)  Any new formula which suddenly
emerges in our consciousness has its roots in long trains of
thought; it is virtually old when it first makes its appearance
among the recognized growths of our intellect.  Any crystalline
group of musical words has had a long and still period to form in.
Here is one theory.

But there is a larger law which perhaps comprehends these facts.
It is this.  The rapidity with which ideas grow old in our memories
is in a direct ratio to the squares of their importance.  Their
apparent age runs up miraculously, like the value of diamonds, as
they increase in magnitude.  A great calamity, for instance, is as
old as the trilobites an hour after it has happened.  It stains
backward through all the leaves we have turned over in the book of
life, before its blot of tears or of blood is dry on the page we
are turning.  For this we seem to have lived; it was foreshadowed
in dreams that we leaped out of in the cold sweat of terror; in the
"dissolving views" of dark day-visions; all omens pointed to it;
all paths led to it.  After the tossing half-forgetfulness of the
first sleep that follows such an event, it comes upon us afresh, as
a surprise, at waking; in a few moments it is old again,--old as

[I wish I had not said all this then and there.  I might have known
better.  The pale schoolmistress, in her mourning dress, was
looking at me, as I noticed, with a wild sort of expression.  All
at once the blood dropped out of her cheeks as the mercury drops
from a broken barometer-tube, and she melted away from her seat
like an image of snow; a slung-shot could not have brought her down
better.  God forgive me!

After this little episode, I continued, to some few that remained
balancing teaspoons on the edges of cups, twirling knives, or
tilting upon the hind legs of their chairs until their heads
reached the wall, where they left gratuitous advertisements of
various popular cosmetics.]

When a person is suddenly thrust into any strange, new position of
trial, he finds the place fits him as if he had been measured for
it.  He has committed a great crime, for instance, and is sent to
the State Prison.  The traditions, prescriptions, limitations,
privileges, all the sharp conditions of his new life, stamp
themselves upon his consciousness as the signet on soft wax;--a
single pressure is enough.  Let me strengthen the image a little.
Did you ever happen to see that most soft-spoken and velvet-handed
steam-engine at the Mint?  The smooth piston slides backward and
forward as a lady might slip her delicate finger in and out of a
ring.  The engine lays one of ITS fingers calmly, but firmly, upon
a bit of metal; it is a coin now, and will remember that touch, and
tell a new race about it, when the date upon it is crusted over
with twenty centuries.  So it is that a great silent-moving misery
puts a new stamp on us in an hour or a moment,--as sharp an
impression as if it had taken half a lifetime to engrave it.

It is awful to be in the hands of the wholesale professional
dealers in misfortune; undertakers and jailers magnetize you in a
moment, and you pass out of the individual life you were living
into the rhythmical movements of their horrible machinery.  Do the
worst thing you can, or suffer the worst that can be thought of,
you find yourself in a category of humanity that stretches back as
far as Cain, and with an expert at your elbow who has studied your
case all out beforehand, and is waiting for you with his implements
of hemp or mahogany.  I believe, if a man were to be burned in any
of our cities tomorrow for heresy, there would be found a master of
ceremonies that knew just how many fagots were necessary, and the
best way of arranging the whole matter.

--So we have not won the Goodwood cup; au contraire, we were a "bad
fifth," if not worse than that; and trying it again, and the third
time, has not yet bettered the matter.  Now I am as patriotic as
any of my fellow-citizens,--too patriotic in fact, for I have got
into hot water by loving too much of my country; in short, if any
man, whose fighting weight is not more than eight stone four
pounds, disputes it, I am ready to discuss the point with him.  I
should have gloried to see the stars and stripes in front at the
finish.  I love my country, and I love horses.  Stubbs's old
mezzotint of Eclipse hangs over my desk, and Herring's portrait of
Plenipotentiary,--whom I saw run at Epsom,--over my fireplace.  Did
I not elope from school to see Revenge, and Prospect, and Little
John, and Peacemaker run over the race-course where now yon
suburban village flourishes, in the year eighteen hundred and
ever-so-few?  Though I never owned a horse, have I not been the
proprietor of six equine females, of which one was the prettiest
little "Morgin" that ever stepped?  Listen, then, to an opinion I
have often expressed long before this venture of ours in England.
Horse-RACING is not a republican institution; horse-TROTTING is.
Only very rich persons can keep race-horses, and everybody knows
they are kept mainly as gambling implements.  All that matter about
blood and speed we won't discuss; we understand all that; useful,
very,--OF course,--great obligations to the Godolphin "Arabian,"
and the rest.  I say racing horses are essentially gambling
implements, as much as roulette tables.  Now I am not preaching at
this moment; I may read you one of my sermons some other morning;
but I maintain that gambling, on the great scale, is not
republican.  It belongs to two phases of society,--a cankered
over-civilization, such as exists in rich aristocracies, and the
reckless life of borderers and adventurers, or the semi-barbarism
of a civilization resolved into its primitive elements.  Real
Republicanism is stern and severe; its essence is not in forms of
government, but in the omnipotence of public opinion which grows
out of it.  This public opinion cannot prevent gambling with dice
or stocks, but it can and does compel it to keep comparatively
quiet.  But horse-racing is the most public way of gambling, and
with all its immense attractions to the sense and the feelings,--to
which I plead very susceptible,--the disguise is too thin that
covers it, and everybody knows what it means.  Its supporters are
the Southern gentry,--fine fellows, no doubt, but not republicans
exactly, as we understand the term,--a few Northern millionnaires
more or less thoroughly millioned, who do not represent the real
people, and the mob of sporting men, the best of whom are commonly
idlers, and the worst very bad neighbors to have near one in a
crowd, or to meet in a dark alley.  In England, on the other hand,
with its aristocratic institutions, racing is a natural growth
enough; the passion for it spreads downwards through all classes,
from the Queen to the costermonger.  London is like a shelled
corn-cob on the Derby day, and there is not a clerk who could raise
the money to hire a saddle with an old hack under it that can sit down
on his office-stool the next day without wincing.

Now just compare the racer with the trotter for a moment.  The
racer is incidentally useful, but essentially something to bet
upon, as much as the thimble-rigger's "little joker."  The trotter
is essentially and daily useful, and only incidentally a tool for
sporting men.

What better reason do you want for the fact that the racer is most
cultivated and reaches his greatest perfection in England, and that
the trotting horses of America beat the world?  And why should we
have expected that the pick--if it was the pick--of our few and
far-between racing stables should beat the pick of England and
France?  Throw over the fallacious time-test, and there was nothing
to show for it but a natural kind of patriotic feeling, which we
all have, with a thoroughly provincial conceit, which some of us
must plead guilty to.

We may beat yet.  As an American, I hope we shall.  As a moralist
and occasional sermonizer, I am not so anxious about it.  Wherever
the trotting horse goes, he carries in his train brisk omnibuses,
lively bakers' carts, and therefore hot rolls, the jolly butcher's
wagon, the cheerful gig, the wholesome afternoon drive with wife
and child,--all the forms of moral excellence, except truth, which
does not agree with any kind of horse-flesh.  The racer brings with
him gambling, cursing, swearing, drinking, the eating of oysters,
and a distaste for mob-caps and the middle-aged virtues.

And by the way, let me beg you not to call a TROTTING MATCH a RACE,
and not to speak of a "thoroughbred" as a "BLOODED" horse, unless
he has been recently phlebotomized.  I consent to your saying
"blood horse," if you like.  Also, if, next year, we send out
Posterior and Posterioress, the winners of the great national
four-mile race in 7 18.5, and they happen to get beaten, pay your
bets, and behave like men and gentlemen about it, if you know how.

[I felt a great deal better after blowing off the ill-temper
condensed in the above paragraph.  To brag little,--to show well,
--to crow gently, if in luck,--to pay up, to own up, and to shut up,
if beaten, are the virtues of a sporting man, and I can't say that
I think we have shown them in any great perfection of late.]

--Apropos of horses.  Do you know how important good jockeying is
to authors?  Judicious management; letting the public see your
animal just enough, and not too much; holding him up hard when the
market is too full of him; letting him out at just the right buying
intervals; always gently feeling his mouth; never slacking and
never jerking the rein;--this is what I mean by jockeying.

--When an author has a number of books out a cunning hand will keep
them all spinning, as Signor Blitz does his dinner-plates; fetching
each one up, as it begins to "wabble," by an advertisement, a puff,
or a quotation.

--Whenever the extracts from a living writer begin to multiply fast
in the papers, without obvious reason, there is a new book or a new
edition coming.  The extracts are GROUND-BAIT.

--Literary life is fun of curious phenomena.  I don't know that
there is anything more noticeable than what we may call
CONVENTIONAL REPUTATIONS.  There is a tacit understanding in every
community of men of letters that they will not disturb the popular
fallacy respecting this or that electro-gilded celebrity.  There
are various reasons for this forbearance:  one is old; one is rich;
one is good-natured; one is such a favorite with the pit that it
would not be safe to hiss him from the manager's box.  The
venerable augurs of the literary or scientific temple may smile
faintly when one of the tribe is mentioned; but the farce is in
general kept up as well as the Chinese comic scene of entreating
and imploring a man to stay with you with the implied compact
between you that he shall by no means think of doing it.  A poor
wretch he must be who would wantonly sit down on one of these
bandbox reputations.  A Prince-Rupert's-drop, which is a tear of
unannealed glass, lasts indefinitely, if you keep it from meddling
hands; but break its tail off, and it explodes and resolves itself
into powder.  These celebrities I speak of are the Prince-Rupert's
drops of the learned and polite world.  See how the papers treat
them!  What an array of pleasant kaleidoscopic phrases, which can
be arranged in ever so many charming patterns, is at their service!
How kind the "Critical Notices"--where small authorship comes to
pick up chips of praise, fragrant, sugary, and sappy--always are to
them!  Well, life would be nothing without paper-credit and other
fictions; so let them pass current.  Don't steal their chips; don't
puncture their swimming-bladders; don't come down on their
pasteboard boxes; don't break the ends of their brittle and
unstable reputations, you fellows who all feel sure that your names
will be household words a thousand years from now.

"A thousand years is a good while," said the old gentleman who sits
opposite, thoughtfully.

--Where have I been for the last three or four days?  Down at the
Island, deer-shooting.--How many did I bag?  I brought home one
buck shot.--The Island is where?  No matter.  It is the most
splendid domain that any man looks upon in these latitudes.  Blue
sea around it, and running up into its heart, so that the little
boat slumbers like a baby in lap, while the tall ships are
stripping naked to fight the hurricane outside, and storm-stay-
sails banging and flying in ribbons.  Trees, in stretches of miles;
beeches, oaks, most numerous;--many of them hung with moss, looking
like bearded Druids; some coiled in the clasp of huge, dark-stemmed
grape-vines.  Open patches where the sun gets in and goes to sleep,
and the winds come so finely sifted that they are as soft as
swan's down.  Rocks scattered about,--Stonehenge-like monoliths.
Fresh-water lakes; one of them, Mary's lake, crystal-clear, full of
flashing pickerel lying under the lily-pads like tigers in the
jungle.  Six pounds of ditto killed one morning for breakfast.
EGO fecit.

The divinity-student looked as if he would like to question my
Latin.  No, sir, I said,--you need not trouble yourself.  There is
a higher law in grammar, not to be put down by Andrews and
Stoddard.  Then I went on.

Such hospitality as that island has seen there has not been the
like of in these our New England sovereignties.  There is nothing
in the shape of kindness and courtesy that can make life beautiful,
which has not found its home in that ocean-principality.  It has
welcomed all who were worthy of welcome, from the pale clergyman
who came to breathe the sea-air with its medicinal salt and iodine,
to the great statesman who turned his back on the affairs of
empire, and smoothed his Olympian forehead, and flashed his white
teeth in merriment over the long table, where his wit was the
keenest and his story the best.

[I don't believe any man ever talked like that in this world.  I
don't believe _I_ talked just so; but the fact is, in reporting
one's conversation, one cannot help BLAIR-ing it up more or less,
ironing out crumpled paragraphs, starching limp ones, and crimping
and plaiting a little sometimes; it is as natural as prinking at
the looking-glass.]

--How can a man help writing poetry in such a place?  Everybody
does write poetry that goes there.  In the state archives, kept in
the library of the Lord of the Isle, are whole volumes of
unpublished verse,--some by well-known hands, and others quite as
good, by the last people you would think of as versifiers,--men who
could pension off all the genuine poets in the country, and buy ten
acres of Boston common, if it was for sale, with what they had
left.  Of course I had to write my little copy of verses with the
rest; here it is, if you will hear me read it.  When the sun is in
the west, vessels sailing in an easterly direction look bright or
dark to one who observes them from the north or south, according to
the tack they are sailing upon.  Watching them from one of the
windows of the great mansion, I saw these perpetual changes, and
moralized thus:-


As I look from the isle, o'er its billows of green,
To the billows of foam-crested blue,
Yon bark, that afar in the distance is seen,
Half dreaming, my eyes will pursue:
Now dark in the shadow, she scatters the spray
As the chaff in the stroke of the flail;
Now white as the sea-gull, she flies on her way,
The sun gleaming bright on her sail.

Yet her pilot is thinking of dangers to shun,--
Of breakers that whiten and roar;
How little he cares, if in shadow or sun
They see him that gaze from the shore!
He looks to the beacon that looms from the reef,
To the rock that is under his lee,
As he drifts on the blast, like a wind-wafted leaf,
O'er the gulfs of the desolate sea.

Thus drifting afar to the dim-vaulted caves
Where life and its ventures are laid,
The dreamers who gaze while we battle the waves
May see us in sunshine or shade;
Yet true to our course, though our shadow grow dark,
We'll trim our broad sail as before,
And stand by the rudder that governs the bark,
Nor ask how we look from the shore!

--Insanity is often the logic of an accurate mind overtasked.  Good
mental machinery ought to break its own wheels and levers, if
anything is thrust among them suddenly which tends to stop them or
reverse their motion.  A weak mind does not accumulate force enough
to hurt itself; stupidity often saves a man from going mad.  We
frequently see persons in insane hospitals, sent there in
consequence of what are called RELIGIOUS mental disturbances.  I
confess that I think better of them than of many who hold the same
notions, and keep their wits and appear to enjoy life very well,
outside of the asylums.  Any decent person ought to go mad, if he
really holds such or such opinions.  It is very much to his
discredit in every point of view, if he does not.  What is the use
of my saying what some of these opinions are?  Perhaps more than
one of you hold such as I should think ought to send you straight
over to Somerville, if you have any logic in your heads or any
human feeling in your hearts.  Anything that is brutal, cruel,
heathenish, that makes life hopeless for the most of mankind and
perhaps for entire races,--anything that assumes the necessity of
the extermination of instincts which were given to be regulated,
--no matter by what name you call it,--no matter whether a fakir, or
a monk, or a deacon believes it,--if received, ought to produce
insanity in every well-regulated mind.  That condition becomes a
normal one, under the circumstances.  I am very much ashamed of
some people for retaining their reason, when they know perfectly
well that if they were not the most stupid or the most selfish of
human beings, they would become non-compotes at once.

[Nobody understood this but the theological student and the
schoolmistress.  They looked intelligently at each other; but
whether they were thinking about my paradox or not, I am not
clear.--It would be natural enough.  Stranger things have happened.
Love and Death enter boarding-houses without asking the price of
board, or whether there is room for them.  Alas, these young people
are poor and pallid!  Love SHOULD be both rich and rosy, but MUST
be either rich or rosy.  Talk about military duty!  What is that to
the warfare of a married maid-of-all-work, with the title of
mistress, and an American female constitution, which collapses just
in the middle third of life, and comes out vulcanized India-rubber,
if it happen to live through the period when health and strength
are most wanted?]

--Have I ever acted in private theatricals?  Often.  I have played
the part of the "Poor Gentleman," before a great many audiences,
--more, I trust, than I shall ever face again.  I did not wear a
stage-costume, nor a wig, nor moustaches of burnt cork; but I was
placarded and announced as a public performer, and at the proper
hour I came forward with the ballet-dancer's smile upon my
countenance, and made my bow and acted my part.  I have seen my
name stuck up in letters so big that I was ashamed to show myself
in the place by daylight.  I have gone to a town with a sober
literary essay in my pocket, and seen myself everywhere announced
as the most desperate of buffos,--one who was obliged to restrain
himself in the full exercise of his powers, from prudential
considerations.  I have been through as many hardships as Ulysses,
in the pursuit of my histrionic vocation.  I have travelled in cars
until the conductors all knew me like a brother.  I have run off
the rails, and stuck all night in snow-drifts, and sat behind
females that would have the window open when one could not wink
without his eyelids freezing together.  Perhaps I shall give you
some of my experiences one of these days;--I will not now, for I
have something else for you.

Private theatricals, as I have figured in them in country
lyceum-halls, are one thing,--and private theatricals, as they may be
seen in certain gilded and frescoed saloons of our metropolis, are
another.  Yes, it is pleasant to see real gentlemen and ladies, who do
not think it necessary to mouth, and rant, and stride, like most of
our stage heroes and heroines, in the characters which show off their
graces and talents; most of all to see a fresh, unrouged, unspoiled,
high bred young maiden, with a lithe figure, and a pleasant voice,
acting in those love-dramas which make us young again to look upon,
when real youth and beauty will play them for us.

--Of course I wrote the prologue I was asked to write.  I did not
see the play, though.  I knew there was a young lady in it, and
that somebody was in love with her, and she was in love with him,
and somebody (an old tutor, I believe) wanted to interfere, and,
very naturally, the young lady was too sharp for him.  The play of
course ends charmingly; there is a general reconciliation, and all
concerned form a line and take each others' hands, as people always
do after they have made up their quarrels,--and then the curtain
falls,--if it does not stick, as it commonly does at private
theatrical exhibitions, in which case a boy is detailed to pull it
down, which he does, blushing violently.

Now, then, for my prologue.  I am not going to change my caesuras
and cadences for anybody; so if you do not like the heroic, or
iambic trimeter brachy-catalectic, you had better not wait to hear


A Prologue?  Well, of course the ladies know;--
I have my doubts.  No matter,--here we go!
What is a Prologue?  Let our Tutor teach:
Pro means beforehand; logos stands for speech.
'Tis like the harper's prelude on the strings,
The prima donna's courtesy ere she sings;--
Prologues in metre are to other pros
As worsted stockings are to engine-hose.

"The world's a stage," as Shakspeare said, one day;
The stage a world--was what he meant to say.
The outside world's a blunder, that is clear;
The real world that Nature meant is here.
Here every foundling finds its lost mamma;
Each rogue, repentant, melts his stern papa;
Misers relent, the spendthrift's debts are paid,
The cheats are taken in the traps they laid;
One after one the troubles all are past
Till the fifth act comes right side up at last,
When the young couple, old folks, rogues, and all,
Join hands, SO happy at the curtain's fall.
--Here suffering virtue ever finds relief,
And black-browed ruffians always come to grief,
--When the lorn damsel, with a frantic screech,
And cheeks as hueless as a brandy-peach,
Cries, "Help, kyind Heaven!" and drops upon her knees
On the green--baize,--beneath the (canvas) trees,--
See to her side avenging Valor fly:-
"Ha! Villain!  Draw!  Now, Terraitorr, yield or die!"
--When the poor hero flounders in despair,
Some dear lost uncle turns up millionnaire,--
Clasps the young scapegrace with paternal joy,
Sobs on his neck, "MY BOY!  MY BOY!!  MY BOY!!!"

Ours, then, sweet friends, the real world to-night.
Of love that conquers in disaster's spite.
Ladies, attend!  While woful cares and doubt
Wrong the soft passion in the world without,
Though fortune scowl, though prudence interfere,
One thing is certain:  Love will triumph here!

Lords of creation, whom your ladies rule,--
The world's great masters, when you're out of school,--
Learn the brief moral of our evening's play:
Man has his will,--but woman has her way!
While man's dull spirit toils in smoke and fire,
Woman's swift instinct threads the electric wire,--
The magic bracelet stretched beneath the waves
Beats the black giant with his score of slaves.
All earthly powers confess your sovereign art
But that one rebel,--woman's wilful heart.
All foes you master; but a woman's wit
Lets daylight through you ere you know you're hit.
So, just to picture what her art can do,
Hear an old story made as good as new.

Rudolph, professor of the headsman's trade,
Alike was famous for his arm and blade.
One day a prisoner Justice had to kill
Knelt at the block to test the artist's skill.
Bare-armed, swart-visaged, gaunt, and shaggy-browed,
Rudolph the headsman rose above the crowd.
His falchion lightened with a sudden gleam,
As the pike's armor flashes in the stream.
He sheathed his blade; he turned as if to go;
The victim knelt, still waiting for the blow.
"Why strikest not?  Perform thy murderous act,"
The prisoner said.  (His voice was slightly cracked.)
"Friend I HAVE struck," the artist straight replied;
"Wait but one moment, and yourself decide."

He held his snuff-box,--"Now then, if you please!"
The prisoner sniffed, and, with a crashing sneeze,
Off his head tumbled,--bowled along the floor,--
Bounced down the steps;--the prisoner said no more!

Woman! thy falchion is a glittering eye;
If death lurks in it, oh, how sweet to die!
Thou takest hearts as Rudolph took the head;
We die with love, and never dream we're dead!

The prologue went off very well, as I hear.  No alterations were
suggested by the lady to whom it was sent, so far as I know.
Sometimes people criticize the poems one sends them, and suggest
all sorts of improvements.  Who was that silly body that wanted
Burns to alter "Scots wha hae," so as to lengthen the last line,

"EDWARD!" Chains and slavery!

Here is a little poem I sent a short time since to a committee for
a certain celebration.  I understood that it was to be a festive
and convivial occasion, and ordered myself accordingly.  It seems
the president of the day was what is called a "teetotaller."  I
received a note from him in the following words, containing the
copy subjoined, with the emendations annexed to it.

"Dear Sir,--your poem gives good satisfaction to the committee.
The sentiments expressed with reference to liquor are not, however,
those generally entertained by this community.  I have therefore
consulted the clergyman of this place, who has made come slight
changes, which he thinks will remove all objections, and keep the
valuable portions of the poem.  Please to inform me of your charge
for said poem.  Our means are limited, etc., etc., etc.

Yours with respect,"


Come! fill a fresh bumper,--for why should we go
While the [nectar] [logwood] still reddens our cups as they flow?
Pour out the [rich juices] [decoction] still bright with the sun,
Till o'er the brimmed crystal the [rubies] [dye-stuff] shall run.

The [purple glebed clusters] [half-ripened apples] their life-dews
have bled;
How sweet is the [breath] [taste] of the [fragrance they shed]
[sugar of lead]!
For summer's [last roses] [rank poisons] lie hid in the [wines]
That were garnered by [maidens who laughed through the vines.]
[stable-boys smoking long-nines.]

Then a [smile] [scowl], and a [glass] [howl], and a [toast]
[scoff], and a [cheer] [sneer],
For all [the good wine, and we've some of it here] [strychnine and
whiskey, and ratsbane and beer]
In cellar, in pantry, in attic, in hall,
[Long live the gay servant that laughs for us all!] [Down, down,
with the tyrant that masters us all!]

The company said I had been shabbily treated, and advised me to
charge the committee double,--which I did.  But as I never got my
pay, I don't know that it made much difference.  I am a very
particular person about having all I write printed as I write it.
I require to see a proof, a revise, a re-revise, and a double
re-revise, or fourth-proof rectified impression of all my productions,
especially verse.  A misprint kills a sensitive author.  An
intentional change of his text murders him.  No wonder so many poets
die young!

I have nothing more to report at this time, except two pieces of
advice I gave to the young women at table.  One relates to a
vulgarism of language, which I grieve to say is sometimes heard
even from female lips.  The other is of more serious purport, and
applies to such as contemplate a change of condition,--matrimony,
in fact.

--The woman who "calculates" is lost.

--Put not your trust in money, but put your money in trust.


[The "Atlantic" obeys the moon, and its LUNIVERSARY has come round
again.  I have gathered up some hasty notes of my remarks made
since the last high tides, which I respectfully submit.  Please to
remember this is TALK; just as easy and just as formal as I choose
to make it.]

--I never saw an author in my life--saving, perhaps, one--that did
not purr as audibly as a full-grown domestic cat, (Felis Catus,
LINN.,) on having his fur smoothed in the right way by a skilful

But let me give you a caution.  Be very careful how you tell an
author he is DROLL.  Ten to one he will hate you; and if he does,
be sure he can do you a mischief, and very probably will.  Say you
CRIED over his romance or his verses, and he will love you and send
you a copy.  You can laugh over that as much as you like--in

--Wonder why authors and actors are ashamed of being funny?--Why,
there are obvious reasons, and deep philosophical ones.  The clown
knows very well that the women are not in love with him, but with
Hamlet, the fellow in the black cloak and plumed hat.  Passion
never laughs.  The wit knows that his place is at the tail of a

If you want the deep underlying reason, I must take more time to
tell it.  There is a perfect consciousness in every form of wit
--using that term in its general sense--that its essence consists in
a partial and incomplete view of whatever it touches.  It throws a
single ray, separated from the rest,--red, yellow, blue, or any
intermediate shade,--upon an object; never white light; that is the
province of wisdom.  We get beautiful effects from wit,--all the
prismatic colors,--but never the object as it is in fair daylight.
A pun, which is a kind if wit, is a different and much shallower
trick in mental optics throwing the SHADOWS of two objects so that
one overlies the other.  Poetry uses the rainbow tints for special
effects, but always keeps its essential object in the purest white
light of truth.--Will you allow me to pursue this subject a little

[They didn't allow me at that time, for somebody happened to scrape
the floor with his chair just then; which accidental sound, as all
must have noticed, has the instantaneous effect that the cutting of
the yellow hair by Iris had upon infelix Dido.  It broke the charm,
and that breakfast was over.]

--Don't flatter yourselves that friendship authorizes you to say
disagreeable things to your intimates.  On the contrary, the nearer
you come into relation with a person, the more necessary do tact
and courtesy become.  Except in cases of necessity, which are rare,
leave your friend to learn unpleasant truths from his enemies; they
are ready enough to tell them.  Good-breeding NEVER forgets that
amour-propre is universal.  When you read the story of the
Archbishop and Gil Blas, you may laugh, if you will, at the poor
old man's delusion; but don't forget that the youth was the greater
fool of the two, and that his master served such a booby rightly in
turning him out of doors.

--You need not get up a rebellion against what I say, if you find
everything in my sayings is not exactly new.  You can't possibly
mistake a man who means to be honest for a literary pickpocket.  I
once read an introductory lecture that looked to me too learned for
its latitude.  On examination, I found all its erudition was taken
ready-made from D'Israeli.  If I had been ill-natured, I should
have shown up the little great man, who had once belabored me in
his feeble way.  But one can generally tell these wholesale thieves
easily enough, and they are not worth the trouble of putting them
in the pillory.  I doubt the entire novelty of my remarks just made
on telling unpleasant truths, yet I am not conscious of any

Neither make too much of flaws and occasional overstatements.  Some
persons seem to think that absolute truth, in the form of rigidly
stated propositions, is all that conversation admits.  This is
precisely as if a musician should insist on having nothing but
perfect chords and simple melodies,--no diminished fifths, no flat
sevenths, no flourishes, on any account.  Now it is fair to say,
that, just as music must have all these, so conversation must have
its partial truths, its embellished truths, its exaggerated truths.
It is in its higher forms an artistic product, and admits the ideal
element as much as pictures or statues.  One man who is a little
too literal can spoil the talk of a whole tableful of men of
esprit.--"Yes," you say, "but who wants to hear fanciful people's
nonsense?  Put the facts to it, and then see where it is!"
--Certainly, if a man is too fond of paradox,--if he is flighty and
empty,--if, instead of striking those fifths and sevenths, those
harmonious discords, often so much better than the twinned octaves,
in the music of thought,--if, instead of striking these, he jangles
the chords, stick a fact into him like a stiletto.  But remember
that talking is one of the fine arts,--the noblest, the most
important, and the most difficult,--and that its fluent harmonies
may be spoiled by the intrusion of a single harsh note.  Therefore
conversation which is suggestive rather than argumentative, which
lets out the most of each talker's results of thought, is commonly
the pleasantest and the most profitable.  It is not easy, at the
best, for two persons talking together to make the most of each
other's thoughts, there are so many of them.

[The company looked as if they wanted an explanation.]

When John and Thomas, for instance, are talking together, it is
natural enough that among the six there should be more or less
confusion and misapprehension.

[Our landlady turned pale;--no doubt she thought there was a screw
loose in my intellects,--and that involved the probable loss of a
boarder.  A severe-looking person, who wears a Spanish cloak and a
sad cheek, fluted by the passions of the melodrama, whom I
understand to be the professional ruffian of the neighboring
theatre, alluded, with a certain lifting of the brow, drawing down
of the corners of the mouth, and somewhat rasping voce di petto, to
Falstaff's nine men in buckram.  Everybody looked up.  I believe
the old gentleman opposite was afraid I should seize the
carving-knife; at any rate, he slid it to one side, as it were

I think, I said, I can make it plain to Benjamin Franklin here,
that there are at least six personalities distinctly to be
recognized as taking part in that dialogue between John and Thomas.

Three Johns.

1.  The real John; known only to his Maker.
2.  John's ideal John; never the real one, and often very unlike
3.  Thomas's ideal John; never the real John, nor John's John, but
often very unlike either.

Three Thomas.

1.  The real Thomas.
2.  Thomas's ideal Thomas.
3.  John's ideal Thomas.

Only one of the three Johns is taxed; only one can be weighed on a
platform-balance; but the other two are just as important in the
conversation.  Let us suppose the real John to be old, dull, and
ill-looking.  But as the Higher Powers have not conferred on men
the gift of seeing themselves in the true light, John very possibly
conceives himself to be youthful, witty, and fascinating, and talks
from the point of view of this ideal.  Thomas, again, believes him
to be an artful rogue, we will say; therefore he is, so far as
Thomas's attitude in the conversation is concerned, an artful
rogue, though really simple and stupid.  The same conditions apply
to the three Thomases.  It follows, that, until a man can be found
who knows himself as his Maker knows him, or who sees himself as
others see him, there must be at least six persons engaged in every
dialogue between two.  Of these, the least important,
philosophically speaking, is the one that we have called the real
person.  No wonder two disputants often get angry, when there are
six of them talking and listening all at the same time.

[A very unphilosophical application of the above remarks was made
by a young fellow, answering to the name of John, who sits near me
at table.  A certain basket of peaches, a rare vegetable, little
known to boarding-houses, was on its way to me via this unlettered
Johannes.  He appropriated the three that remained in the basket,
remarking that there was just one apiece for him.  I convinced him
that his practical inference was hasty and illogical, but in the
mean time he had eaten the peaches.]

--The opinions of relatives as to a man's powers are very commonly
of little value; not merely because they sometimes overrate their
own flesh and blood, as some may suppose; on the contrary, they are
quite as likely to underrate those whom they have grown into the
habit of considering like themselves.  The advent of genius is like
what florists style the BREAKING of a seedling tulip into what we
may call high-caste colors,--ten thousand dingy flowers, then one
with the divine streak; or, if you prefer it, like the coming up in
old Jacob's garden of that most gentlemanly little fruit, the
seckel pear, which I have sometimes seen in shop-windows.  It is a
surprise,--there is nothing to account for it.  All at once we find
that twice two make FIVE.  Nature is fond of what are called
"gift-enterprises."  This little book of life which she has given into
the hands of its joint possessors is commonly one of the old
story-books bound over again.  Only once in a great while there is a
stately poem in it, or its leaves are illuminated with the glories of
art, or they enfold a draft for untold values signed by the
million-fold millionnaire old mother herself.  But strangers are
commonly the first to find the "gift" that came with the little book.

It may be questioned whether anything can be conscious of its own
flavor.  Whether the musk-deer, or the civet-cat, or even a still
more eloquently silent animal that might be mentioned, is aware of
any personal peculiarity, may well be doubted.  No man knows his
own voice; many men do not know their own profiles.  Every one
remembers Carlyle's famous "Characteristics" article; allow for
exaggerations, and there is a great deal in his doctrine of the
self-unconsciousness of genius.  It comes under the great law just
stated.  This incapacity of knowing its own traits is often found
in the family as well as in the individual.  So never mind what
your cousins, brothers, sisters, uncles, aunts, and the rest, say
about that fine poem you have written, but send it (postage-paid)
to the editors, if there are any, of the "Atlantic,"--which, by the
way, is not so called because it is A NOTION, as some dull wits
wish they had said, but are too late.

--Scientific knowledge, even in the most modest persons, has
mingled with it a something which partakes of insolence.  Absolute,
peremptory facts are bullies, and those who keep company with them
are apt to get a bullying habit of mind;--not of manners, perhaps;
they may be soft and smooth, but the smile they carry has a quiet
assertion in it, such as the Champion of the Heavy Weights,
commonly the best-natured, but not the most diffident of men, wears
upon what he very inelegantly calls his "mug."  Take the man, for
instance, who deals in the mathematical sciences.  There is no
elasticity in a mathematical fact; if you bring up against it, it
never yields a hair's breadth; everything must go to pieces that
comes in collision with it.  What the mathematician knows being
absolute, unconditional, incapable of suffering question, it should
tend, in the nature of things, to breed a despotic way of thinking.
So of those who deal with the palpable and often unmistakable facts
of external nature; only in a less degree.  Every probability--and
most of our common, working beliefs are probabilities--is provided
with BUFFERS at both ends, which break the force of opposite
opinions clashing against it; but scientific certainty has no
spring in it, no courtesy, no possibility of yielding.  All this
must react on the minds which handle these forms of truth.

--Oh, you need net tell me that Messrs. A. and B. are the most
gracious, unassuming people in the world, and yet preeminent in the
ranges of science I am referring to.  I know that as well as you.
But mark this which I am going to say once for all:  If I had not
force enough to project a principle full in the face of the half
dozen most obvious facts which seem to contradict it, I would think
only in single file from this day forward.  A rash man, once
visiting a certain noted institution at South Boston, ventured to
express the sentiment, that man is a rational being.  An old woman
who was an attendant in the Idiot School contradicted the
statement, and appealed to the facts before the speaker to disprove
it.  The rash man stuck to his hasty generalization,

[--It is my desire to be useful to those with whom I am associated
in my daily relations.  I not unfrequently practise the divine art
of music in company with our landlady's daughter, who, as I
mentioned before, is the owner of an accordion.  Having myself a
well-marked barytone voice of more than half an octave in compass,
I sometimes add my vocal powers to her execution of

"Thou, thou reign'st in this bosom."

not, however, unless her mother or some other discreet female is
present, to prevent misinterpretation or remark.  I have also taken
a good deal of interest in Benjamin Franklin, before referred to,
sometimes called B. F., or more frequently Frank, in imitation of
that felicitous abbreviation, combining dignity and convenience,
adopted by some of his betters.  My acquaintance with the French
language is very imperfect, I having never studied it anywhere but
in Paris, which is awkward, as B. F. devotes himself to it with the
peculiar advantage of an Alsacian teacher.  The boy, I think, is
doing well, between us, notwithstanding.  The following is an
UNCORRECTED French exercise, written by this young gentleman.  His
mother thinks it very creditable to his abilities; though, being
unacquainted with the French language, her judgment cannot be
considered final.


Ce rat ci est un animal fort singulier.  Il a deux pattes de
derriere sur lesquelles il marche, et deux pattes de devant dont il
fait usage pour tenir les journaux.  Cet animal a la peau noire
pour le plupart, et porte un cerele blanchatre autour de son cou.
On le trouve tous les jours aux dits salons, on il demeure, digere,
s'il y a do quoi dans son interieur, respire, tousse, eternue,
dort, et renfle quelquefois, ayant toujours le semblant de lire.
On ne sait pas s'il a une autre gite que cela.  Il a l'air d'une
bete tres stupide, mais il est d'une sagacite et d'une vitesse
extraordinaire quand il s'agit de saisir un journal nouveau.  On ne
sait pas pourquoi il lit, parcequ'il ne parait pas avoir des idees.
Il vocalise rarement, mais en revanche, il fait des bruits nasaux
divers.  Il porte un crayon dans une de ses poches pectorales, avec
lequel il fait des marques sur les bords des journaux et des
livres, semblable aux suivans:  !!!--Bah!  Pooh!  Il ne faut pas
cependant les prendre pour des signes d'intelligence.  Il ne vole
pas, ordinairement; il fait rarement meme des echanges de
parapluie, et jamais de chapeau, parceque son chapeau a toujours un
caractere specifique.  On ne sait pas au juste ce dont il se
nourrit.  Feu Cuvier etait d'avis que c'etait de l'odeur du cuir
des reliures; ce qu'on dit d'etre une nourriture animale fort
saine, et peu chere.  Il vit bien longtems.  Enfin il meure, en
laissant a ses heritiers une carte du Salon a Lecture on il avait
existe pendant sa vie.  On pretend qu'il revient toutes les nuits,
apres la mort, visiter le Salon.  On peut le voir, dit on, a
minuit, dans sa place habituelle, tenant le journal du soir, et
ayant a sa main un crayon de charbon.  Le lendemain on trouve des
caracteres inconnus sur les bords du journal.  Ce qui prouve que le
spiritualisme est vrai, et que Messieurs les Professeurs de
Cambridge sont des imbeciles qui ne savent rien du tout, du tout.

I think this exercise, which I have not corrected, or allowed to be
touched in any way, is not discreditable to B. F.  You observe that
he is acquiring a knowledge of zoology at the same time that he is
learning French.  Fathers of families in moderate circumstances
will find it profitable to their children, and an economical mode
of instruction, to set them to revising and amending this boy's
exercise.  The passage was originally taken from the "Histoire
Naturelle des Betes Ruminans et Rongeurs, Bipedes et Autres,"
lately published in Paris.  This was translated into English and
published in London.  It was republished at Great Pedlington, with
notes and additions by the American editor.  The notes consist of
an interrogation-mark on page 53d, and a reference (p. 127th) to
another book "edited" by the same hand.  The additions consist of
the editor's name on the title-page and back, with a complete and
authentic list of said editor's honorary titles in the first of
these localities.  Our boy translated the translation back into
French.  This may be compared with the original, to be found on
Shelf 13, Division X, of the Public Library of this metropolis.]

--Some of you boarders ask me from time to time why I don't write a
story, or a novel, or something of that kind.  Instead of answering
each one of you separately, I will thank you to step up into the
wholesale department for a few moments, where I deal in answers by
the piece and by the bale.

That every articulately-speaking human being has in him stuff for
ONE novel in three volumes duodecimo has long been with me a
cherished belief.  It has been maintained, on the other hand, that
many persons cannot write more than one novel,--that all after that
are likely to be failures.--Life is so much more tremendous a thing
in its heights and depths than any transcript of it can be, that
all records of human experience are as so many bound herbaria to
the innumerable glowing, glistening, rustling, breathing,
fragrance-laden, poison-sucking, life-giving, death-distilling
leaves and flowers of the forest and the prairies.  All we can do
with books of human experience is to make them alive again with
something borrowed from our own lives.  We can make a book alive
for us just in proportion to its resemblance in essence or in form
to our own experience.  Now an author's first novel is naturally
drawn, to a great extent, from his personal experiences; that is,
is a literal copy of nature under various slight disguises.  But
the moment the author gets out of his personality, he must have the
creative power, as well as the narrative art and the sentiment, in
order to tell a living story; and this is rare.

Besides, there is great danger that a man's first life-story shall
clean him out, so to speak, of his best thoughts.  Most lives,
though their stream is loaded with sand and turbid with alluvial
waste, drop a few golden grains of wisdom as they flow along.
Oftentimes a single CRADLING gets them all, and after that the poor
man's labor is only rewarded by mud and worn pebbles.  All which
proves that I, as an individual of the human family, could write
one novel or story at any rate, if I would.

--Why don't I, then?--Well, there are several reasons against it.
In the first place, I should tell all my secrets, and I maintain
that verse is the proper medium for such revelations.  Rhythm and
rhyme and the harmonies of musical language, the play of fancy, the
fire of imagination, the flashes of passion, so hide the nakedness
of a heart laid open, that hardly any confession, transfigured in
the luminous halo of poetry, is reproached as self-exposure.  A
beauty shows herself under the chandeliers, protected by the
glitter of her diamonds, with such a broad snowdrift of white arms
and shoulders laid bare, that, were she unadorned and in plain
calico, she would be unendurable--in the opinion of the ladies.

Again, I am terribly afraid I should show up all my friends.  I
should like to know if all story-tellers do not do this?  Now I am
afraid all my friends would not bear showing up very well; for they
have an average share of the common weakness of humanity, which I
am pretty certain would come out.  Of all that have told stories
among us there is hardly one I can recall who has not drawn too
faithfully some living portrait that might better have been spared.

Once more, I have sometimes thought it possible I might be too dull
to write such a story as I should wish to write.

And finally, I think it very likely I SHALL write a story one of
these days.  Don't be surprised at any time, if you see me coming
out with "The Schoolmistress," or "The Old Gentleman Opposite."
[OUR schoolmistress and OUR old gentleman that sits opposite had
left the table before I said this.]  I want my glory for writing
the same discounted now, on the spot, if you please.  I will write
when I get ready.  How many people live on the reputation of the
reputation they might have made!

--I saw you smiled when I spoke about the possibility of my being
too dull to write a good story.  I don't pretend to know what you
meant by it, but I take occasion to make a remark which may
hereafter prove of value to some among you.--When one of us who has
been led by native vanity or senseless flattery to think himself or
herself possessed of talent arrives at the full and final
conclusion that he or she is really dull, it is one of the
most tranquillizing and blessed convictions that can enter a
mortal's mind.  All our failures, our shortcomings, our strange
disappointments in the effect of our efforts are lifted from our
bruised shoulders, and fall, like Christian's pack, at the feet of
that Omnipotence which has seen fit to deny us the pleasant gift of
high intelligence,--with which one look may overflow us in some
wider sphere of being.

--How sweetly and honestly one said to me the other day, "I hate
books!"  A gentleman,--singularly free from affectations,--not
learned, of course, but of perfect breeding, which is often so much
better than learning,--by no means dull, in the sense of knowledge
of the world and society, but certainly not clever either in the
arts or sciences,--his company is pleasing to all who know him.  I
did not recognize in him inferiority of literary taste half so
distinctly as I did simplicity of character and fearless
acknowledgment of his inaptitude for scholarship.  In fact, I think
there are a great many gentlemen and others, who read with a mark
to keep their place, that really "hate books," but never had the
wit to find it out, or the manliness to own it.  [Entre nous, I
always read with a mark.]

We get into a way of thinking as if what we call an "intellectual
man" was, as a matter of course, made up of nine-tenths, or
thereabouts, of book-learning, and one-tenth himself.  But even if
he is actually so compounded, he need not read much.  Society is a
strong solution of books.  It draws the virtue out of what is best
worth reading, as hot water draws the strength of tea-leaves.  If
_I_ were a prince, I would hire or buy a private literary tea-pot,
in which I would steep all the leaves of new books that promised
well.  The infusion would do for me without the vegetable fibre.
You understand me; I would have a person whose sole business should
be to read day and night, and talk to me whenever I wanted him to.
I know the man I would have:  a quick-witted, out-spoken, incisive
fellow; knows history, or at any rate has a shelf full of books
about it, which he can use handily, and the same of all useful arts
and sciences; knows all the common plots of plays and novels, and
the stock company of characters that are continually coming on in
new costume; can give you a criticism of an octavo in an epithet
and a wink, and you can depend on it; cares for nobody except for
the virtue there is in what he says; delights in taking off big
wigs and professional gowns, and in the disembalming and
unbandaging of all literary mummies.  Yet he is as tender and
reverential to all that bears the mark of genius,--that is, of a
new influx of truth or beauty,--as a nun over her missal.  In
short, he is one of those men that know everything except how to
make a living.  Him would I keep on the square next my own royal
compartment on life's chessboard.  To him I would push up another
pawn, in the shape of a comely and wise young woman, whom he would
of course take--to wife.  For all contingencies I would liberally
provide.  In a word, I would, in the plebeian, but expressive
phrase, "put him through" all the material part of life; see him
sheltered, warmed, fed, button-mended, and all that, just to be
able to lay on his talk when I liked,--with the privilege of
shutting it off at will.

A Club is the next best thing to this, strung like a harp, with
about a dozen ringing intelligences, each answering to some chord
of the macrocosm.  They do well to dine together once in a while.
A dinner-party made up of such elements is the last triumph of
civilization over barbarism.  Nature and art combine to charm the
senses; the equatorial zone of the system is soothed by
well-studied artifices; the faculties are off duty, and fall into
their natural attitudes; you see wisdom in slippers and science in a
short jacket.

The whole force of conversation depends on how much you can take
for granted.  Vulgar chess-players have to play their game out;
nothing short of the brutality of an actual checkmate satisfies
their dull apprehensions.  But look at two masters of that noble
game!  White stands well enough, so far as you can see; but Red
says, Mate in six moves;--White looks,--nods;--the game is over.
Just so in talking with first-rate men; especially when they are
good-natured and expansive, as they are apt to be at table.  That
blessed clairvoyance which sees into things without opening them,
--that glorious license, which, having shut the door and driven the
reporter from its key-hole, calls upon Truth, majestic virgin! to
get off from her pedestal and drop her academic poses, and take a
festive garland and the vacant place on the medius lectus,--that
carnival-shower of questions and replies and comments, large axioms
bowled over the mahogany like bomb-shells from professional
mortars, and explosive wit dropping its trains of many-colored
fire, and the mischief-making rain of bon-bons pelting everybody
that shows himself,--the picture of a truly intellectual banquet is
one which the old Divinities might well have attempted to reproduce
in their--

--"Oh, oh, oh!" cried the young fellow whom they call John,--"that
is from one of your lectures!"

I know it, I replied,--I concede it, I confess it, I proclaim it.

"The trail of the serpent is over them all!"

All lecturers, all professors, all schoolmasters, have ruts and
grooves in their minds into which their conversation is perpetually
sliding.  Did you never, in riding through the woods of a still
June evening, suddenly feel that you had passed into a warm stratum
of air, and in a minute or two strike the chill layer of atmosphere
beyond?  Did you never, in cleaving the green waters of the Back
Bay,--where the Provincial blue-noses are in the habit of beating
the "Metropolitan" boat-clubs,--find yourself in a tepid streak, a
narrow, local gulf-stream, a gratuitous warm-bath a little
underdone, through which your glistening shoulders soon flashed, to
bring you back to the cold realities of full-sea temperature?  Just
so, in talking with any of the characters above referred to, one
not unfrequently finds a sudden change in the style of the
conversation.  The lack-lustre eye rayless as a Beacon-Street
door-plate in August, all at once fills with light; the face flings
itself wide open like the church-portals when the bride and
bridegroom enter; the little man grows in stature before your eyes,
like the small prisoner with hair on end, beloved yet dreaded of
early childhood; you were talking with a dwarf and an imbecile,
--you have a giant and a trumpet-tongued angel before you!--Nothing
but a streak out of a fifty-dollar lecture.--As when, at some
unlooked-for moment, the mighty fountain-column springs into the
air before the astonished passer-by,--silver-footed, diamond-
crowned, rainbow-scarfed,--from the bosom of that fair sheet,
sacred to the hymns of quiet batrachians at home, and the epigrams
of a less amiable and less elevated order of reptilia in other

--Who was that person that was so abused some time since for saying
that in the conflict of two races our sympathies naturally go with
the higher?  No matter who he was.  Now look at what is going on in
India,--a white, superior "Caucasian" race, against a dark-skinned,
inferior, but still "Caucasian" race,--and where are English and
American sympathies?  We can't stop to settle all the doubtful
questions; all we know is, that the brute nature is sure to come
out most strongly in the lower race, and it is the general law that
the human side of humanity should treat the brutal side as it does
the same nature in the inferior animals,--tame it or crush it.  The
India mail brings stories of women and children outraged and
murdered; the royal stronghold is in the hands of the babe-killers.
England takes down the Map of the World, which she has girdled with
empire, and makes a correction thus:  [DELPHI] Dele.  The civilized
world says, Amen.

--Do not think, because I talk to you of many subjects briefly,
that I should not find it much lazier work to take each one of them
and dilute it down to an essay.  Borrow some of my old college
themes and water my remarks to suit yourselves, as the Homeric
heroes did with their melas oinos,--that black sweet, syrupy wine
(?) which they used to alloy with three parts or more of the
flowing stream.  [Could it have been melasses, as Webster and his
provincials spell it,--or Molossa's, as dear old smattering,
chattering, would-be-College-President, Cotton Mather, has it in
the "Magnalia"?  Ponder thereon, ye small antiquaries who make
barn-door-fowl flights of learning in "Notes and Queries!"--ye
Historical Societies, in one of whose venerable triremes I, too,
ascend the stream of time, while other hands tug at the oars!--ye
Amines of parasitical literature, who pick up your grains of
native-grown food with a bodkin, having gorged upon less honest
fare, until, like the great minds Goethe speaks of, you have "made
a Golgotha" of your pages!--ponder thereon!]

--Before you go, this morning, I want to read you a copy of verses.
You will understand by the title that they are written in an
imaginary character.  I don't doubt they will fit some family-man
well enough.  I send it forth as "Oak Hall" projects a coat, on a
priori grounds of conviction that it will suit somebody.  There is
no loftier illustration of faith than this.  It believes that a
soul has been clad in flesh; that tender parents have fed and
nurtured it; that its mysterious compages or frame-work has
survived its myriad exposures and reached the stature of maturity;
that the Man, now self-determining, has given in his adhesion to
the traditions and habits of the race in favor of artificial
clothing; that he will, having all the world to choose from, select
the very locality where this audacious generalization has been
acted upon.  It builds a garment cut to the pattern of an Idea, and
trusts that Nature will model a material shape to fit it.  There is
a prophecy in every seam, and its pockets are full of inspiration.
--Now hear the verses.


O for one hour of youthful joy!
Give back my twentieth spring!
I'd rather laugh a bright-haired boy
Than reign a gray-beard king!

Off with the wrinkled spoils of age!
Away with learning's crown!
Tear out life's wisdom-written page,
And dash its trophies down!

One moment let my life-blood stream
From boyhood's fount of flame!
Give me one giddy, reeling dream
Of life all love and fame!

--My listening angel heard the prayer,
And calmly smiling, said,
"If I but touch thy silvered hair,
Thy hasty wish hath sped.

"But is there nothing in thy track
To bid thee fondly stay,
While the swift seasons hurry back
To find the wished-for day?"

--Ah, truest soul of womankind!
Without thee, what were life?
One bliss I cannot leave behind:
I'll take--my--precious wife!

--The angel took a sapphire pen
And wrote in rainbow dew,
"The man would be a boy again,
And be a husband too!"

--"And is there nothing yet unsaid
Before the change appears?
Remember, all their gifts have fled
With those dissolving years!"

Why, yes; for memory would recall
My fond paternal joys;
I could not bear to leave them all;
I'll take--my--girl--and--boys!

The smiling angel dropped his pen,--
"Why this will never do;
The man would be a boy again,
And be a father too!"

And so I laughed,--my laughter woke
The household with its noise,--
And wrote my dream, when morning broke,
To please the gray-haired boys.


[I am so well pleased with my boarding-house that I intend to
remain there, perhaps for years.  Of course I shall have a great
many conversations to report, and they will necessarily be of
different tone and on different subjects.  The talks are like the
breakfasts,--sometimes dipped toast, and sometimes dry.  You must
take them as they come.  How can I do what all these letters ask me
to?  No. 1. want serious and earnest thought.  No. 2. (letter
smells of bad cigars) must have more jokes; wants me to tell a
"good storey" which he has copied out for me.  (I suppose two
letters before the word "good" refer to some Doctor of Divinity who
told the story.)  No. 3. (in female hand)--more poetry.  No. 4.
wants something that would be of use to a practical man.
(Prahctical mahn he probably pronounces it.)  No. 5. (gilt-edged,
sweet-scented)--"more sentiment,"--"heart's outpourings."--

My dear friends, one and all, I can do nothing but report such
remarks as I happen to have made at our breakfast-table.  Their
character will depend on many accidents,--a good deal on the
particular persons in the company to whom they were addressed.  It
so happens that those which follow were mainly intended for the
divinity-student and the school-mistress; though others, whom I
need not mention, saw to interfere, with more or less propriety, in
the conversation.  This is one of my privileges as a talker; and of
course, if I was not talking for our whole company, I don't expect
all the readers of this periodical to be interested in my notes of
what was said.  Still, I think there may be a few that will rather
like this vein,--possibly prefer it to a livelier one,--serious
young men, and young women generally, in life's roseate parenthesis
from--years of age to--inclusive.

Another privilege of talking is to misquote.--Of course it wasn't
Proserpina that actually cut the yellow hair,--but Iris.  (As I
have since told you) it was the former lady's regular business, but
Dido had used herself ungenteelly, and Madame d'Enfer stood firm on
the point of etiquette.  So the bathycolpian Here--Juno, in Latin
--sent down Iris instead.  But I was mightily pleased to see that one
of the gentlemen that do the heavy articles for the celebrated
"Oceanic Miscellany" misquoted Campbell's line without any excuse.
"Waft us HOME the MESSAGE" of course it ought to be.  Will he be
duly grateful for the correction?]

--The more we study the body and the mind, the more we find both to
be governed, not by, but ACCORDING TO laws, such as we observe in
the larger universe.--You think you know all about WALKING,--don't
you, now?  Well, how do you suppose your lower limbs are held to
your body?  They are sucked up by two cupping vessels, ("cotyloid"
--cup-like--cavities,) and held there as long as you live, and
longer.  At any rate, you think you move them backward and forward
at such a rate as your will determines, don't you?--On the
contrary, they swing just as any other pendulums swing, at a fixed
rate, determined by their length.  You can alter this by muscular
power, as you can take hold of the pendulum of a clock and make it
move faster or slower; but your ordinary gait is timed by the same
mechanism as the movements of the solar system.

[My friend, the Professor, told me all this, referring me to
certain German physiologists by the name of Weber for proof of the
facts, which, however, he said he had often verified.  I
appropriated it to my own use; what can one do better than this,
when one has a friend that tells him anything worth remembering?

The Professor seems to think that man and the general powers of the
universe are in partnership.  Some one was saying that it had cost
nearly half a million to move the Leviathan only so far as they had
got it already.--Why,--said the Professor,--they might have hired
an EARTHQUAKE for less money!]

Just as we find a mathematical rule at the bottom of many of the
bodily movements, just so thought may be supposed to have its
regular cycles.  Such or such a thought comes round periodically,
in its turn.  Accidental suggestions, however, so far interfere
with the regular cycles, that we may find them practically beyond
our power of recognition.  Take all this for what it is worth, but
at any rate you will agree that there are certain particular
thoughts that do not come up once a day, nor once a week, but that
a year would hardly go round without your having them pass through
your mind.  Here is one which comes up at intervals in this way.
Some one speaks of it, and there is an instant and eager smile of
assent in the listener or listeners.  Yes, indeed; they have often
been struck by it.


O, dear, yes!--said one of the company,--everybody has had that

The landlady didn't know anything about such notions; it was an
idee in folks' heads, she expected.

The schoolmistress said, in a hesitating sort of way, that she knew
the feeling well, and didn't like to experience it; it made her
think she was a ghost, sometimes.

The young fellow whom they call John said he knew all about it; he
had just lighted a cheroot the other day, when a tremendous
conviction all at once came over him that he had done just that
same thing ever so many times before.  I looked severely at him,
and his countenance immediately fell--ON THE SIDE TOWARD ME; I
cannot answer for the other, for he can wink and laugh with either
half of his face without the other half's knowing it.

--I have noticed--I went on to say--the following circumstances
connected with these sudden impressions.  First, that the condition
which seems to be the duplicate of a former one is often very
trivial,--one that might have presented itself a hundred times.
Secondly, that the impression is very evanescent, and that it is
rarely, if ever, recalled by any voluntary effort, at least after
any time has elapsed.  Thirdly, that there is a disinclination to
record the circumstances, and a sense of incapacity to reproduce
the state of mind in words.  Fourthly, I have often felt that the
duplicate condition had not only occurred once before, but that it
was familiar and, as it seemed, habitual.  Lastly, I have had the
same convictions in my dreams.

How do I account for it?--Why, there are several ways that I can
mention, and you may take your choice.  The first is that which the
young lady hinted at;--that these flashes are sudden recollections
of a previous existence.  I don't believe that; for I remember a
poor student I used to know told me he had such a conviction one
day when he was blacking his boots, and I can't think he had ever
lived in another world where they use Day and Martin.

Some think that Dr. Wigan's doctrine of the brain's being a double
organ, its hemispheres working together like the two eyes, accounts
for it.  One of the hemispheres hangs fire, they suppose, and the
small interval between the perceptions of the nimble and the
sluggish half seems an indefinitely long period, and therefore the
second perception appears to be the copy of another, ever so old.
But even allowing the centre of perception to be double, I can see
no good reason for supposing this indefinite lengthening of the
time, nor any analogy that bears it out.  It seems to me most
likely that the coincidence of circumstances is very partial, but
that we take this partial resemblance for identity, as we
occasionally do resemblances of persons.  A momentary posture of
circumstances is so far like some preceding one that we accept it
as exactly the same, just as we accost a stranger occasionally,
mistaking him for a friend.  The apparent similarity may be owing
perhaps, quite as much to the mental state at the time, as to the
outward circumstances.

--Here is another of these curiously recurring remarks.  I have
said it, and heard it many times, and occasionally met with
something like it in books,--somewhere in Bulwer's novels, I think,
and in one of the works of Mr. Olmsted, I know.


Of course the particular odors which act upon each person's
susceptibilities differ.--O, yes!  I will tell you some of mine.
The smell of PHOSPHORUS is one of them.  During a year or two of
adolescence I used to be dabbling in chemistry a good deal, and as
about that time I had my little aspirations and passions like
another, some of these things got mixed up with each other:
orange-colored fumes of nitrous acid, and visions as bright and
transient; reddening litmus-paper, and blushing cheeks;--eheu!

"Soles occidere et redire possunt,"

but there is no reagent that will redden the faded roses of
eighteen hundred and--spare them!  But, as I was saying, phosphorus
fires this train of associations in an instant; its luminous vapors
with their penetrating odor throw me into a trance; it comes to me
in a double sense "trailing clouds of glory."  Only the confounded
Vienna matches, ohne phosphor-geruch, have worn my sensibilities a

Then there is the MARIGOLD.  When I was of smallest dimensions, and
wont to ride impacted between the knees of fond parental pair, we
would sometimes cross the bridge to the next village-town and stop
opposite a low, brown, "gambrel-roofed" cottage.  Out of it would
come one Sally, sister of its swarthy tenant, swarthy herself,
shady-lipped, sad-voiced, and, bending over her flower-bed, would
gather a "posy," as she called it, for the little boy.  Sally lies
in the churchyard with a slab of blue slate at her head, lichen-
crusted, and leaning a little within the last few years.  Cottage,
garden-beds, posies, grenadier-like rows of seedling onions,
--stateliest of vegetables,--all are gone, but the breath of a
marigold brings them all back to me.

Perhaps the herb EVERLASTING, the fragrant immortelle of our autumn
fields, has the most suggestive odor to me of all those that set me
dreaming.  I can hardly describe the strange thoughts and emotions
that come to me as I inhale the aroma of its pale, dry, rustling
flowers.  A something it has of sepulchral spicery, as if it had
been brought from the core of some great pyramid, where it had lain
on the breast of a mummied Pharaoh.  Something, too, of immortality
in the sad, faint sweetness lingering so long in its lifeless
petals.  Yet this does not tell why it fills my eyes with tears and
carries me in blissful thought to the banks of asphodel that border
the River of Life.

--I should not have talked so much about these personal
susceptibilities, if I had not a remark to make about them which I
believe is a new one.  It is this.  There may be a physical reason
for the strange connection between the sense of smell and the mind.
The olfactory nerve--so my friend, the Professor, tells me--is the
only one directly connected with the hemispheres of the brain, the
parts in which, as we have every reason to believe, the
intellectual processes are performed.  To speak more truly the
olfactory "nerve" is not a nerve at all, he says, but a part of the
brain, in intimate connection with its anterior lobes.  Whether
this anatomical arrangement is at the bottom of the facts I have
mentioned, I will not decide, but it is curious enough to be worth
remembering.  Contrast the sense of taste, as a source of
suggestive impressions, with that of smell.  Now the Professor
assures me that you will find the nerve of taste has no immediate
connection with the brain proper, but only with the prolongation of
the spinal cord.

[The old gentleman opposite did not pay much attention, I think, to
this hypothesis of mine.  But while I was speaking about the sense
of smell he nestled about in his seat, and presently succeeded in
getting out a large red bandanna handkerchief.  Then he lurched a
little to the other side, and after much tribulation at last
extricated an ample round snuff-box.  I looked as he opened it and
felt for the wonted pugil.  Moist rappee, and a Tonka-bean lying
therein.  I made the manual sign understood of all mankind that use
the precious dust, and presently my brain, too, responded to the
long unused stimulus--O boys,--that were,--actual papas and
possible grandpapas,--some of you with crowns like billiard-balls,
--some in locks of sable silvered, and some of silver sabled,--do
you remember, as you doze over this, those after-dinners at the
Trois Freres when the Scotch-plaided snuff-box went round, and the
dry Lundy-Foot tickled its way along into our happy sensoria?  Then
it was that the Chambertin or the Clos Vougeot came in, slumbering
in its straw cradle.  And one among you,--do you remember how he
would have a bit of ice always in his Burgundy, and sit tinkling it
against the sides of the bubble-like glass, saying that he
was hearing the cow-bells as he used to hear them, when the
deep-breathing kine came home at twilight from the huckleberry
pasture, in the old home a thousand leagues towards the sunset?]

Ah me! what strains and strophes of unwritten verse pulsate through
my soul when I open a certain closet in the ancient house where I
was born!  On its shelves used to lie bundles of sweet-marjoram and
pennyroyal and lavender and mint and catnip; there apples were
stored until their seeds should grow black, which happy period
there were sharp little milk-teeth always ready to anticipate;
there peaches lay in the dark, thinking of the sunshine they had
lost, until, like the hearts of saints that dream of heaven in
their sorrow, they grew fragrant as the breath of angels.  The
odorous echo of a score of dead summers lingers yet in those dim

--Do I remember Byron's line about "striking the electric chain"?
--To be sure I do.  I sometimes think the less the hint that stirs
the automatic machinery of association, the more easily this moves
us.  What can be more trivial than that old story of opening the
folio Shakspeare that used to lie in some ancient English hall and
finding the flakes of Christmas pastry between its leaves, shut up
in them perhaps a hundred years ago?  And, lo! as one looks on
these poor relics of a bygone generation, the universe changes in
the twinkling of an eye; old George the Second is back again, and
the elder Pitt is coming into power, and General Wolfe is a fine,
promising young man, and over the Channel they are pulling the
Sieur Damiens to pieces with wild horses, and across the Atlantic
the Indians are tomahawking Hirams and Jonathans and Jonases at
Fort William Henry; all the dead people who have been in the dust
so long--even to the stout-armed cook that made the pastry--are
alive again; the planet unwinds a hundred of its luminous coils,
and the precession of the equinoxes is retraced on the dial of
heaven!  And all this for a bit of pie-crust!

--I will thank you for that pie,--said the provoking young fellow
whom I have named repeatedly.  He looked at it for a moment, and
put his hands to his eyes as if moved.--I was thinking,--he said

--How?  What is't?--said our landlady.

--I was thinking--said he--who was king of England when this old
pie was baked,--and it made me feel bad to think how long he must
have been dead.

[Our landlady is a decent body, poor, and a widow, of course; cela
va sans dire.  She told me her story once; it was as if a grain of
corn that had been ground and bolted had tried to individualize
itself by a special narrative.  There was the wooing and the
wedding,--the start in life,--the disappointments,--the children
she had buried,--the struggle against fate,--the dismantling of
life, first of its small luxuries, and then of its comforts,--the
broken spirits,--the altered character of the one on whom she
leaned,--and at last the death that came and drew the black curtain
between her and all her earthly hopes.

I never laughed at my landlady after she had told me her story, but
I often cried,--not those pattering tears that run off the eaves
upon our neighbors' grounds, the stillicidium of self-conscious
sentiment, but those which steal noiselessly through their conduits
until they reach the cisterns lying round about the heart; those
tears that we weep inwardly with unchanging features;--such I did
shed for her often when the imps of the boarding-house Inferno
tugged at her soul with their red-hot pincers.]

Young man,--I said,--the pasty you speak lightly of is not old, but
courtesy to those who labor to serve us, especially if they are of
the weaker sex, is very old, and yet well worth retaining.  May I
recommend to you the following caution, as a guide, whenever you
are dealing with a woman, or an artist, or a poet--if you are
handling an editor or politician, it is superfluous advice.  I take
it from the back of one of those little French toys which contain
pasteboard figures moved by a small running stream of fine sand;
Benjamin Franklin will translate it for you:  "Quoiqu'elle soit
tres solidement montee, il faut ne pas BRUTALISER la machine."--I
will thank you for the pie, if you please.

[I took more of it than was good for me--as much as 85 degrees, I
should think,--and had an indigestion in consequence.  While I was
suffering from it, I wrote some sadly desponding poems, and a
theological essay which took a very melancholy view of creation.
When I got better I labelled them all "Pie-crust," and laid them by
as scarecrows and solemn warnings.  I have a number of books on my
shelves that I should like to label with some such title; but, as
they have great names on their title-pages,--Doctors of Divinity,
some of them,--it wouldn't do.]

--My friend, the Professor, whom I have mentioned to you once or
twice, told me yesterday that somebody had been abusing him in some
of the journals of his calling.  I told him that I didn't doubt he
deserved it; that I hoped he did deserve a little abuse
occasionally, and would for a number of years to come; that nobody
could do anything to make his neighbors wiser or better without
being liable to abuse for it; especially that people hated to have
their little mistakes made fun of, and perhaps he had been doing
something of the kind.--The Professor smiled.--Now, said I, hear
what I am going to say.  It will not take many years to bring you
to the period of life when men, at least the majority of writing
and talking men, do nothing but praise.  Men, like peaches and
pears, grow sweet a little while before they begin to decay.  I
don't know what it is,--whether a spontaneous change, mental or
bodily, or whether it is thorough experience of the thanklessness
of critical honesty,--but it is a fact, that most writers, except
sour and unsuccessful ones, get tired of finding fault at about the
time when they are beginning to grow old.  As a general thing, I
would not give a great deal for the fair words of a critic, if he
is himself an author, over fifty years of age.  At thirty we are
all trying to cut our names in big letters upon the walls of this
tenement of life; twenty years later we have carved it, or shut up
our jack-knives.  Then we are ready to help others, and care less
to hinder any, because nobody's elbows are in our way.  So I am
glad you have a little life left; you will be saccharine enough in
a few years.

--Some of the softening effects of advancing age have struck me
very much in what I have heard or seen here and elsewhere.  I just
now spoke of the sweetening process that authors undergo.  Do you
know that in the gradual passage from maturity to helplessness the
harshest characters sometimes have a period in which they are
gentle and placid as young children?  I have heard it said, but I
cannot be sponsor for its truth, that the famous chieftain,
Lochiel, was rocked in a cradle like a baby, in his old age.  An
old man, whose studies had been of the severest scholastic kind,
used to love to hear little nursery-stories read over and over to
him.  One who saw the Duke of Wellington in his last years
describes him as very gentle in his aspect and demeanor.  I
remember a person of singularly stern and lofty bearing who became
remarkably gracious and easy in all his ways in the later period of
his life.

And that leads me to say that men often remind me of pears in their
way of coming to maturity.  Some are ripe at twenty, like human
Jargonelles, and must be made the most of, for their day is soon
over.  Some come into their perfect condition late, like the autumn
kinds, and they last better than the summer fruit.  And some, that,
like the Winter-Nelis, have been hard and uninviting until all the
rest have had their season, get their glow and perfume long after
the frost and snow have done their worst with the orchards.  Beware
of rash criticisms; the rough and stringent fruit you condemn may
be an autumn or a winter pear, and that which you picked up beneath
the same bough in August may have been only its worm-eaten
windfalls.  Milton was a Saint-Germain with a graft of the roseate
Early-Catherine.  Rich, juicy, lively, fragrant, russet skinned old
Chaucer was an Easter-Beurre; the buds of a new summer were
swelling when he ripened.

--There is no power I envy so much--said the divinity-student--as
that of seeing analogies and making comparisons.  I don't
understand how it is that some minds are continually coupling
thoughts or objects that seem not in the least related to each
other, until all at once they are put in a certain light, and you
wonder that you did not always see that they were as like as a pair
of twins.  It appears to me a sort of miraculous gift.

[He is rather a nice young man, and I think has an appreciation of
the higher mental qualities remarkable for one of his years and
training.  I try his head occasionally as housewives try eggs,
--give it an intellectual shake and hold it up to the light, so to
speak, to see if it has life in it, actual or potential, or only
contains lifeless albumen.]

You call it MIRACULOUS,--I replied,--tossing the expression with my
facial eminence, a little smartly, I fear.--Two men are walking by
the polyphloesboean ocean, one of them having a small tin cup with
which he can scoop up a gill of sea-water when he will, and the
other nothing but his hands, which will hardly hold water at all,
--and you call the tin cup a miraculous possession!  It is the ocean
that is the miracle, my infant apostle!  Nothing is clearer than
that all things are in all things, and that just according to the
intensity and extension of our mental being we shall see the many
in the one and the one in the many.  Did Sir Isaac think what he
was saying when he made HIS speech about the ocean,--the child and
the pebbles, you know?  Did he mean to speak slightingly of a
pebble?  Of a spherical solid which stood sentinel over its
compartment of space before the stone that became the pyramids had
grown solid, and has watched it until now!  A body which knows all
the currents of force that traverse the globe; which holds by
invisible threads to the ring of Saturn and the belt of Orion!  A
body from the contemplation of which an archangel could infer the
entire inorganic universe as the simplest of corollaries!  A throne
of the all-pervading Deity, who has guided its every atom since the
rosary of heaven was strung with beaded stars!

So,--to return to OUR walk by the ocean,--if all that poetry has
dreamed, all that insanity has raved, all that maddening narcotics
have driven through the brains of men, or smothered passion nursed
in the fancies of women,--if the dreams of colleges and convents
and boarding-schools,--if every human feeling that sighs, or
smiles, or curses, or shrieks, or groans, should bring all their
innumerable images, such as come with every hurried heart-beat,
--the epic which held them all, though its letters filled the zodiac,
would be but a cupful from the infinite ocean of similitudes and
analogies that rolls through the universe.

[The divinity-student honored himself by the way in which he
received this.  He did not swallow it at once, neither did he
reject it; but he took it as a pickerel takes the bait, and carried
it off with him to his hole (in the fourth story) to deal with at
his leisure.]

--Here is another remark made for his especial benefit.--There is a
natural tendency in many persons to run their adjectives together
in TRIADS, as I have heard them called,--thus:  He was honorable,
courteous, and brave; she was graceful, pleasing, and virtuous.
Dr. Johnson is famous for this; I think it was Bulwer who said you
could separate a paper in the "Rambler" into three distinct essays.
Many of our writers show the same tendency,--my friend, the
Professor, especially.  Some think it is in humble imitation of
Johnson,--some that it is for the sake of the stately sound only.
I don't think they get to the bottom of it.  It is, I suspect, an
instinctive and involuntary effort of the mind to present a thought
or image with the THREE DIMENSIONS that belong to every solid,--an
unconscious handling of an idea as if it had length, breadth, and
thickness.  It is a great deal easier to say this than to prove it,
and a great deal easier to dispute it than to disprove it.  But
mind this:  the more we observe and study, the wider we find the
range of the automatic and instinctive principles in body, mind,
and morals, and the narrower the limits of the self-determining
conscious movement.

--I have often seen piano-forte players and singers make such
strange motions over their instruments or song-books that I wanted
to laugh at them.  "Where did our friends pick up all these fine
ecstatic airs?" I would say to myself.  Then I would remember My
Lady in "Marriage a la Mode," and amuse myself with thinking how
affectation was the same thing in Hogarth's time and in our own.
But one day I bought me a Canary-bird and hung him up in a cage at
my window.  By-and-by he found himself at home, and began to pipe
his little tunes; and there he was, sure enough, swimming and
waving about, with all the droopings and liftings and languishing
side-turnings of the head that I had laughed at.  And now I should
like to ask, WHO taught him all this?--and me, through him, that
the foolish head was not the one swinging itself from side to side
and bowing and nodding over the music, but that other which was
passing its shallow and self-satisfied judgment on a creature made
of finer clay than the frame which carried that same head upon its

--Do you want an image of the human will, or the self-determining
principle, as compared with its prearranged and impassable
restrictions?  A drop of water, imprisoned in a crystal; you may
see such a one in any mineralogical collection.  One little fluid
particle in the crystalline prism of the solid universe!

--Weaken moral obligations?--No, not weaken, but define them.  When
I preach that sermon I spoke of the other day, I shall have to lay
down some principles not fully recognized in some of your

I should have to begin with one most formidable preliminary.  You
saw an article the other day in one of the journals, perhaps, in
which some old Doctor or other said quietly that patients were very
apt to be fools and cowards.  But a great many of the clergyman's
patients are not only fools and cowards, but also liars.

[Immense sensation at the table.--Sudden retirement of the angular
female in oxydated bombazine.  Movement of adhesion--as they say in
the Chamber of Deputies--on the part of the young fellow they call
John.  Falling of the old-gentleman-opposite's lower jaw
--(gravitation is beginning to get the better of him.)  Our landlady
to Benjamin Franklin, briskly,--Go to school right off, there's a
good boy!  Schoolmistress curious,--takes a quick glance at
divinity-student.  Divinity-student slightly flushed draws his
shoulders back a little, as if a big falsehood--or truth--had hit
him in the forehead.  Myself calm.]

--I should not make such a speech as that, you know, without having
pretty substantial indorsers to fall back upon, in case my credit
should be disputed.  Will you run up stairs, Benjamin Franklin,
(for B. F. had NOT gone right off, of course,) and bring down a
small volume from the left upper corner of the right-hand shelves?

[Look at the precious little black, ribbed backed, clean-typed,
vellum-papered 32mo.  "DESIDERII ERASMI COLLOQUIA.  Amstelodami.
Typis Ludovici Elzevirii.  1650."  Various names written on
title-page.  Most conspicuous this:  Gul. Cookeson E. Coll. Omn.
Anim. 1725.  Oxon.

--O William Cookeson, of All-Souls College, Oxford,--then writing
as I now write,--now in the dust, where I shall lie,--is this line
all that remains to thee of earthly remembrance?  Thy name is at
least once more spoken by living men;--is it a pleasure to thee?
Thou shalt share with me my little draught of immortality,--its
week, its month, its year,--whatever it may be,--and then we will
go together into the solemn archives of Oblivion's Uncatalogued

--If you think I have used rather strong language, I shall have to
read something to you out of the book of this keen and witty
scholar,--the great Erasmus,--who "laid the egg of the Reformation
which Luther hatched."  Oh, you never read his Naufragium, or
"Shipwreck," did you?  Of course not; for, if you had, I don't
think you would have given me credit--or discredit--for entire
originality in that speech of mine.  That men are cowards in the
contemplation of futurity he illustrates by the extraordinary
antics of many on board the sinking vessel; that they are fools, by
their praying to the sea, and making promises to bits of wood from
the true cross, and all manner of similar nonsense; that they are
fools, cowards, and liars all at once, by this story:  I will put
it into rough English for you.--"I couldn't help laughing to hear
one fellow bawling out, so that he might be sure to be heard, a
promise to Saint Christopher of Paris--the monstrous statue in the
great church there--that he would give him a wax taper as big as
himself.  'Mind what you promise!' said an acquaintance that stood
near him, poking him with his elbow; 'you couldn't pay for it, if
you sold all your things at auction.'  'Hold your tongue, you
donkey!' said the fellow,--but softly, so that Saint Christopher
should not hear him,--'do you think I'm in earnest?  If I once get
my foot on dry ground, catch me giving him so much as a tallow

Now, therefore, remembering that those who have been loudest in
their talk about the great subject of which we were speaking have
not necessarily been wise, brave, and true men, but, on the
contrary, have very often been wanting in one or two or all of the
qualities these words imply, I should expect to find a good many
doctrines current in the schools which I should be obliged to call
foolish, cowardly, and false.

--So you would abuse other people's beliefs, Sir, and yet not tell
us your own creed!--said the divinity-student, coloring up with a
spirit for which I liked him all the better.

--I have a creed,--I replied;--none better, and none shorter.  It
is told in two words,--the two first of the Paternoster.  And when
I say these words I mean them.  And when I compared the human will
to a drop in a crystal, and said I meant to DEFINE moral
obligations, and not weaken them, this was what I intended to
express:  that the fluent, self-determining power of human beings
is a very strictly limited agency in the universe.  The chief
planes of its enclosing solid are, of course, organization,
education, condition.  Organization may reduce the power of the
will to nothing, as in some idiots; and from this zero the scale
mounts upwards by slight gradations.  Education is only second to
nature.  Imagine all the infants born this year in Boston and
Timbuctoo to change places!  Condition does less, but "Give me
neither poverty nor riches" was the prayer of Agur, and with good
reason.  If there is any improvement in modern theology, it is in
getting out of the region of pure abstractions and taking these
every-day working forces into account.  The great theological
question now heaving and throbbing in the minds of Christian men is

No, I wont talk about these things now.  My remarks might be
repeated, and it would give my friends pain to see with what
personal incivilities I should be visited.  Besides, what business
has a mere boarder to be talking about such things at a breakfast-
table?  Let him make puns.  To be sure, he was brought up among the
Christian fathers, and learned his alphabet out of a quarto
"Concilium Tridentinum."  He has also heard many thousand
theological lectures by men of various denominations; and it is not
at all to the credit of these teachers, if he is not fit by this
time to express an opinion on theological matters.

I know well enough that there are some of you who had a great deal
rather see me stand on my head than use it for any purpose of
thought.  Does not my friend, the Professor, receive at least two
letters a week, requesting him to. . . . ,--on the strength of some
youthful antic of his, which, no doubt, authorizes the intelligent
constituency of autograph-hunters to address him as a harlequin?

--Well, I can't be savage with you for wanting to laugh, and I like
to make you laugh, well enough, when I can.  But then observe this:
if the sense of the ridiculous is one side of an impressible
nature, it is very well; but if that is all there is in a man, he
had better have been an ape at once, and so have stood at the head
of his profession.  Laughter and tears are meant to turn the wheels
of the same machinery of sensibility; one is wind-power, and the
other water-power; that is all.  I have often heard the Professor
talk about hysterics as being Nature's cleverest illustration of
the reciprocal convertibility of the two states of which these acts
are the manifestations; But you may see it every day in children;
and if you want to choke with stifled tears at sight of the
transition, as it shows itself in older years, go and see Mr. Blake

It is a very dangerous thing for a literary man to indulge his love
for the ridiculous.  People laugh WITH him just so long as he
amuses them; but if he attempts to be serious, they must still have
their laugh, and so they laugh AT him.  There is in addition,
however, a deeper reason for this than would at first appear.  Do
you know that you feel a little superior to every man who makes you
laugh, whether by making faces or verses?  Are you aware that you
have a pleasant sense of patronizing him, when you condescend so
far as to let him turn somersets, literal or literary, for your
royal delight?  Now if a man can only be allowed to stand on a
dais, or raised platform, and look down on his neighbor who is
exerting his talent for him, oh, it is all right!--first-rate
performance!--and all the rest of the fine phrases.  But if all at
once the performer asks the gentleman to come upon the floor, and,
stepping upon the platform, begins to talk down at him,--ah, that
wasn't in the programme!

I have never forgotten what happened when Sydney Smith--who, as
everybody knows, was an exceedingly sensible man, and a gentleman,
every inch of him--ventured to preach a sermon on the Duties of
Royalty.  The "Quarterly," "so savage and tartarly," came down upon
him in the most contemptuous style, as "a joker of jokes," a
"diner-out of the first water," in one of his own phrases; sneering
at him, insulting him, as nothing but a toady of a court, sneaking
behind the anonymous, would ever have been mean enough to do to a
man of his position and genius, or to any decent person even.--If I
were giving advice to a young fellow of talent, with two or three
facets to his mind, I would tell him by all means to keep his wit
in the background until after he had made a reputation by his more
solid qualities.  And so to an actor:  Hamlet first, and Bob Logic
afterwards, if you like; but don't think, as they say poor Liston
used to, that people will be ready to allow that you can do
anything great with Macbeth's dagger after flourishing about with
Paul Pry's umbrella.  Do you know, too, that the majority of men
look upon all who challenge their attention,--for a while, at
least,--as beggars, and nuisances?  They always try to get off as
cheaply as they can; and the cheapest of all things they can give a
literary man--pardon the forlorn pleasantry!--is the FUNNY-bone.
That is all very well so far as it goes, but satisfies no man, and
makes a good many angry, as I told you on a former occasion.

--Oh, indeed, no!--I am not ashamed to make you laugh,
occasionally.  I think I could read you something I have in my desk
which would probably make you smile.  Perhaps I will read it one of
these days, if you are patient with me when I am sentimental and
reflective; not just now.  The ludicrous has its place in the
universe; it is not a human invention, but one of the Divine ideas,
illustrated in the practical jokes of kittens and monkeys long
before Aristophanes or Shakspeare.  How curious it is that we
always consider solemnity and the absence of all gay surprises and
encounter of wits as essential to the idea of the future life of
those whom we thus deprive of half their faculties and then call
BLESSED!  There are not a few who, even in this life, seem to be
preparing themselves for that smileless eternity to which they look
forward, by banishing all gayety from their hearts and all
joyousness from their countenances.  I meet one such in the street
not unfrequently, a person of intelligence and education, but who
gives me (and all that he passes) such a rayless and chilling look
of recognition,--something as if he were one of Heaven's assessors,
come down to "doom" every acquaintance he met,--that I have
sometimes begun to sneeze on the spot, and gone home with a violent
cold, dating from that instant.  I don't doubt he would cut his
kitten's tail off, if he caught her playing with it.  Please tell
me, who taught her to play with it?

No, no!--give me a chance to talk to you, my fellow-boarders, and
you need not be afraid that I shall have any scruples about
entertaining you, if I can do it, as well as giving you some of my
serious thoughts, and perhaps my sadder fancies.  I know nothing in
English or any other literature more admirable than that sentiment

I find the great thing in this world is not so much where we stand,
as in what direction we are moving:  To reach the port of heaven,
we must sail sometimes with the wind and sometimes against it,--but
we must sail, and not drift, nor lie at anchor.  There is one very
sad thing in old friendships, to every mind that is really moving
onward.  It is this:  that one cannot help using his early friends
as the seaman uses the log, to mark his progress.  Every now and
then we throw an old schoolmate over the stern with a string of
thought tied to him, and look--I am afraid with a kind of luxurious
and sanctimonious compassion--to see the rate at which the string
reels off, while he lies there bobbing up and down, poor fellow!
and we are dashing along with the white foam and bright sparkle at
our bows;--the ruffled bosom of prosperity and progress, with a
sprig of diamonds stuck in it!  But this is only the sentimental
side of the matter; for grow we must, if we outgrow all that we

Don't misunderstand that metaphor of heaving the log, I beg you.
It is merely a smart way of saying that we cannot avoid measuring
our rate of movement by those with whom we have long been in the
habit of comparing ourselves; and when they once become stationary,
we can get our reckoning from them with painful accuracy.  We see
just what we were when they were our peers, and can strike the
balance between that and whatever we may feel ourselves to be now.
No doubt we may sometimes be mistaken.  If we change our last
simile to that very old and familiar one of a fleet leaving the
harbor and sailing in company for some distant region, we can get
what we want out of it.  There is one of our companions;--her
streamers were torn into rags before she had got into the open sea,
then by and by her sails blew out of the ropes one after another,
the waves swept her deck, and as night came on we left her a
seeming wreck, as we flew under our pyramid of canvas.  But lo! at
dawn she is still in sight,--it may be in advance of us.  Some deep
ocean-current has been moving her on, strong, but silent,--yes,
stronger than these noisy winds that puff our sails until they are
swollen as the cheeks of jubilant cherubim.  And when at last the
black steam-tug with the skeleton arms, which comes out of the mist
sooner or later and takes us all in tow, grapples her and goes off
panting and groaning with her, it is to that harbor where all
wrecks are refitted, and where, alas! we, towering in our pride,
may never come.

So you will not think I mean to speak lightly of old friendships,
because we cannot help instituting comparisons between our present
and former selves by the aid of those who were what we were, but
are not what we are.  Nothing strikes one more, in the race of
life, than to see how many give out in the first half of the
course.  "Commencement day" always reminds me of the start for the
"Derby," when the beautiful high-bred three-year olds of the season
are brought up for trial.  That day is the start, and life is the
race.  Here we are at Cambridge, and a class is just "graduating."
Poor Harry! he was to have been there too, but he has paid forfeit;
step out here into the grass back of the church; ah! there it is:-


But this is the start, and here they are,--coats bright as silk,
and manes as smooth as eau lustrale can make them.  Some of the
best of the colts are pranced round, a few minutes each, to show
their paces.  What is that old gentleman crying about? and the old
lady by him, and the three girls, what are they all covering their
eyes for?  Oh, that is THEIR colt which has just been trotted up on
the stage.  Do they really think those little thin legs can do
anything in such a slashing sweepstakes as is coming off in these
next forty years?  Oh, this terrible gift of second-sight that
comes to some of us when we begin to look through the silvered
rings of the arcus senilis!

TEN YEARS GONE.  First turn in the race.  A few broken down; two or
three bolted.  Several show in advance of the ruck.  CASSOCK, a
black colt, seems to be ahead of the rest; those black colts
commonly get the start, I have noticed, of the others, in the first
quarter.  METEOR has pulled up.

TWENTY YEARS.  Second corner turned.  CASSOCK has dropped from the
front, and JUDEX, an iron-gray, has the lead.  But look! how they
have thinned out!  Down flat,--five,--six,--how many?  They lie
still enough! they will not get up again in this race, be very
sure!  And the rest of them, what a "tailing off"!  Anybody can see
who is going to win,--perhaps.

THIRTY YEARS.  Third corner turned.  DIVES, bright sorrel, ridden
by the fellow in a yellow jacket, begins to make play fast; is
getting to be the favourite with many.  But who is that other one
that has been lengthening his stride from the first, and now shows
close up to the front?  Don't you remember the quiet brown colt
ASTEROID, with the star in his forehead?  That is he; he is one of
the sort that lasts; look out for him!  The black "colt," as we
used to call him, is in the background, taking it easily in a
gentle trot.  There is one they used to call THE FILLY, on account
of a certain feminine air he had; well up, you see; the Filly is
not to be despised my boy!

FORTY YEARS.  More dropping off,--but places much as before.

FIFTY YEARS.  Race over.  All that are on the course are coming in
at a walk; no more running.  Who is ahead?  Ahead?  What! and the
winning-post a slab of white or gray stone standing out from that
turf where there is no more jockeying or straining for victory!
Well, the world marks their places in its betting-book; but be sure
that these matter very little, if they have run as well as they
knew how!

--Did I not say to you a little while ago that the universe swam in
an ocean of similitudes and analogies?  I will not quote Cowley, or
Burns, or Wordsworth, just now, to show you what thoughts were
suggested to them by the simplest natural objects, such as a flower
or a leaf; but I will read you a few lines, if you do not object,
suggested by looking at a section of one of those chambered shells
to which is given the name of Pearly Nautilus.  We need not trouble
ourselves about the distinction between this and the Paper
Nautilus, the Argonauta of the ancients.  The name applied to both
shows that each has long been compared to a ship, as you may see
more fully in Webster's Dictionary, or the "Encyclopedia," to which
he refers.  If you will look into Roget's Bridgewater Treatise, you
will find a figure of one of these shells, and a section of it.
The last will show you the series of enlarging compartments
successively dwelt in by the animal that inhabits the shell, which
is built in a widening spiral.  Can you find no lesson in this?


This is the ship of pearl, which, poets feign,
Sails the unshadowed main,--
The venturous bark that flings
On the sweet summer wind its purpled wings
In gulfs enchanted, where the siren sings,
And coral reefs lie bare,
Where the cold sea-maids rise to sun their streaming hair

Its webs of living gauze no more unfurl;
Wrecked is the ship of pearl!
And every clambered cell,
Where its dim dreaming life was wont to dwell,
As the frail tenant shaped his growing shell,
Before thee lies revealed,--
Its irised ceiling rent, its sunless crypt unsealed!

Year after year beheld the silent toil
That spread his lustrous coil;
Still, as the spiral grew,
He left the past year's dwelling for the new,
Stole with soft step its shining archway through,
Built up its idle door,
Stretched in his last-found home, and knew the old no more.

Thanks for the heavenly message brought by thee,
Child of the wandering sea,
Cast from her lap forlorn!
From thy dead lips a clearer note is born
Than ever Triton blew from wreathed horn!
While on mine ear it rings,
Through the deep caves of thought I hear a voice that sings:-

Build thee more stately mansions, O my soul,
As the swift seasons roll!
Leave thy low-vaulted past!
Let each new temple, nobler than the last,
Shut thee from heaven with a dome more vast,
Till thou at length art free,
Leaving thine outgrown shell by life's unresting sea!


A lyric conception--my friend, the Poet, said--hits me like a
bullet in the forehead.  I have often had the blood drop from my
cheeks when it struck, and felt that I turned as white as death.
Then comes a creeping as of centipedes running down the spine,
--then a gasp and a great jump of the heart,--then a sudden flush and
a beating in the vessels of the head,--then a long sigh,--and the
poem is written.

It is an impromptu, I suppose, then, if you write it so suddenly,
--I replied.

No,--said he,--far from it.  I said written, but I did not say
COPIED.  Every such poem has a soul and a body, and it is the body
of it, or the copy, that men read and publishers pay for.  The soul
of it is born in an instant in the poet's soul.  It comes to him a
thought, tangled in the meshes of a few sweet words,--words that
have loved each other from the cradle of the language, but have
never been wedded until now.  Whether it will ever fully embody
itself in a bridal train of a dozen stanzas or not is uncertain;
but it exists potentially from the instant that the poet turns pale
with it.  It is enough to stun and scare anybody, to have a hot
thought come crashing into his brain, and ploughing up those
parallel ruts where the wagon trains of common ideas were jogging
along in their regular sequences of association.  No wonder the
ancients made the poetical impulse wholly external.  [Greek text
which cannot be reproduced].  Goddess,--Muse,--divine afflatus,
--something outside always.  _I_ never wrote any verses worth
reading.  I can't.  I am too stupid.  If I ever copied any that
were worth reading, I was only a medium.

[I was talking all this time to our boarders, you understand,
--telling them what this poet told me.  The company listened rather
attentively, I thought, considering the literary character of the

The old gentleman opposite all at once asked me if I ever read
anything better than Pope's "Essay on Man"?  Had I ever perused
McFingal?  He was fond of poetry when he was a boy,--his mother
taught him to say many little pieces,--he remembered one beautiful
hymn;--and the old gentleman began, in a clear, loud voice, for his

"The spacious firmament on high,
With all the blue ethereal sky,
And spangled heavens,"--

He stopped, as if startled by our silence, and a faint flush ran up
beneath the thin white hairs that fell upon his cheek.  As I looked
round, I was reminded of a show I once saw at the Museum,--the
Sleeping Beauty, I think they called it.  The old man's sudden
breaking out in this way turned every face towards him, and each
kept his posture as if changed to stone.  Our Celtic Bridget, or
Biddy, is not a foolish fat scullion to burst out crying for a
sentiment.  She is of the serviceable, red-handed, broad-and-high-
shouldered type; one of those imported female servants who are
known in public by their amorphous style of person, their stoop
forwards, and a headlong and as it were precipitous walk,--the
waist plunging downwards into the rocking pelvis at every heavy
footfall.  Bridget, constituted for action, not for emotion, was
about to deposit a plate heaped with something upon the table, when
I saw the coarse arm stretched by my shoulder arrested,--motionless
as the arm of a terra-cotta caryatid; she couldn't set the plate
down while the old gentleman was speaking!

He was quite silent after this, still wearing the slight flush on
his cheek.  Don't ever think the poetry is dead in an old man
because his forehead is wrinkled, or that his manhood has left him
when his hand trembles!  If they ever WERE there, they ARE there

By and by we got talking again.--Does a poet love the verses
written through him, do you think, Sir?--said the divinity-student.

So long as they are warm from his mind, carry any of his animal
heat about them, _I_ KNOW he loves them,--I answered.  When they
have had time to cool, he is more indifferent.

A good deal as it is with buckwheat cakes,--said the young fellow
whom they call John.

The last words, only, reached the ear of the economically organized
female in black bombazine .--Buckwheat is skerce and high,--she
remarked.  [Must be a poor relation sponging on our landlady,--pays
nothing,--so she must stand by the guns and be ready to repel

I liked the turn the conversation had taken, for I had some things
I wanted to say, and so, after waiting a minute, I began again.--I
don't think the poems I read you sometimes can be fairly
appreciated, given to you as they are in the green state.

--You don't know what I mean by the GREEN STATE?  Well, then, I
will tell you.  Certain things are good for nothing until they have
been kept a long while; and some are good for nothing until they
have been long kept and USED.  Of the first, wine is the
illustrious and immortal example.  Of those which must be kept and
used I will name three,--meerschaum pipes, violins, and poems.  The
meerschaum is but a poor affair until it has burned a thousand
offerings to the cloud-compelling deities.  It comes to us without
complexion or flavor,--born of the sea-foam, like Aphrodite, but
colorless as pallida Mors herself.  The fire is lighted in its
central shrine, and gradually the juices which the broad leaves of
the Great Vegetable had sucked up from an acre and curdled into a
drachm are diffused through its thirsting pores.  First a
discoloration, then a stain, and at last a rich, glowing, umber
tint spreading over the whole surface.  Nature true to her old
brown autumnal hue, you see,--as true in the fire of the meerschaum
as in the sunshine of October!  And then the cumulative wealth of
its fragrant reminiscences! he who inhales its vapors takes a
thousand whiffs in a single breath; and one cannot touch it without
awakening the old joys that hang around it as the smell of flowers
clings to the dresses of the daughters of the house of Farina!

[Don't think I use a meerschaum myself, for _I_ DO NOT, though I
have owned a calumet since my childhood, which from a naked Pict
(of the Mohawk species) my grandsire won, together with a tomahawk
and beaded knife-sheath; paying for the lot with a bullet-mark on
his right check.  On the maternal side I inherit the loveliest
silver-mounted tobacco-stopper you ever saw.  It is a little
box-wood Triton, carved with charming liveliness and truth; I have
often compared it to a figure in Raphael's "Triumph of Galatea."
It came to me in an ancient shagreen case,--how old it is I do not
know,--but it must have been made since Sir Walter Raleigh's time.
If you are curious, you shall see it any day.  Neither will I
pretend that I am so unused to the more perishable smoking
contrivance that a few whiffs would make me feel as if I lay in a
ground-swell on the Bay of Biscay.  I am not unacquainted with that
fusiform, spiral-wound bundle of chopped stems and miscellaneous
incombustibles, the CIGAR, so called, of the shops,--which to
"draw" asks the suction-power of a nursling infant Hercules, and to
relish, the leathery palate of an old Silenus.  I do not advise
you, young man, even if my illustration strike your fancy, to
consecrate the flower of your life to painting the bowl of a pipe,
for, let me assure you, the stain of a reverie-breeding narcotic
may strike deeper than you think for.  I have seen the green leaf
of early promise grow brown before its time under such Nicotian
regimen, and thought the umbered meerschaum was dearly bought at
the cost of a brain enfeebled and a will enslaved.]

Violins, too,--the sweet old Amati!--the divine Stradivarius!
Played on by ancient maestros until the bow-hand lost its power and
the flying fingers stiffened.  Bequeathed to the passionate, young
enthusiast, who made it whisper his hidden love, and cry his
inarticulate longings, and scream his untold agonies, and wail his
monotonous despair.  Passed from his dying hand to the cold
virtuoso, who let it slumber in its case for a generation, till,
when his hoard was broken up, it came forth once more and rode the
stormy symphonies of royal orchestras, beneath the rushing bow of
their lord and leader.  Into lonely prisons with improvident
artists; into convents from which arose, day and night, the holy
hymns with which its tones were blended; and back again to orgies
in which it learned to howl and laugh as if a legion of devils were
shut up in it; then again to the gentle dilettante who calmed it
down with easy melodies until it answered him softly as in the days
of the old maestros.  And so given into our hands, its pores all
full of music; stained, like the meerschaum, through and through,
with the concentrated hue and sweetness of all the harmonies which
have kindled and faded on its strings.

Now I tell you a poem must be kept AND USED, like a meerschaum, or
a violin.  A poem is just as porous as the meerschaum;--the more
porous it is, the better.  I mean to say that a genuine poem is
capable of absorbing an indefinite amount of the essence of our own
humanity,--its tenderness, its heroism, its regrets, its
aspirations, so as to be gradually stained through with a divine
secondary color derived from ourselves.  So you see it must take
time to bring the sentiment of a poem into harmony with our nature,
by staining ourselves through every thought and image our being can

Then again as to the mere music of a new poem; why, who can expect
anything more from that than from the music of a violin fresh from
the maker's hands?  Now you know very well that there are no less
than fifty-eight different pieces in a violin.  These pieces are
strangers to each other, and it takes a century, more or less, to
make them thoroughly acquainted.  At last they learn to vibrate in
harmony, and the instrument becomes an organic whole, as if it were
a great seed-capsule which had grown from a garden-bed in Cremona,
or elsewhere.  Besides, the wood is juicy and full of sap for fifty
years or so, but at the end of fifty or a hundred more gets
tolerably dry and comparatively resonant.

Don't you see that all this is just as true of a poem?  Counting
each word as a piece, there are more pieces in an average copy of
verses than in a violin.  The poet has forced all these words
together, and fastened them, and they don't understand it at first.
But let the poem be repeated aloud and murmured over in the mind's
muffled whisper often enough, and at length the parts become knit
together in such absolute solidarity that you could not change a
syllable without the whole world's crying out against you for
meddling with the harmonious fabric.  Observe, too, how the drying
process takes place in the stuff of a poem just as in that of a
violin.  Here is a Tyrolese fiddle that is just coming to its
hundredth birthday,--(Pedro Klauss, Tyroli, fecit, 1760,)--the sap
is pretty well out of it.  And here is the song of an old poet whom
Neaera cheated.--

"Nox erat, et coelo fulgebat Luna sereno
Inter minora sidera,
Cum tu magnorum numen laesura deorum
In verba jurabas mea."

Don't you perceive the sonorousness of these old dead Latin
phrases?  Now I tell you that, every word fresh from the dictionary
brings with it a certain succulence; and though I cannot expect the
sheets of the "Pactolian," in which, as I told you, I sometimes
print my verses, to get so dry as the crisp papyrus that held those
words of Horatius Flaccus, yet you may be sure, that, while the
sheets are damp, and while the lines hold their sap, you can't
fairly judge of my performances, and that, if made of the true
stuff, they will ring better after a while.

[There was silence for a brief space, after my somewhat elaborate
exposition of these self-evident analogies.  Presently A PERSON
turned towards me--I do not choose to designate the individual--and
said that he rather expected my pieces had given pretty good
"sahtisfahction."--I had, up to this moment, considered this
complimentary phrase as sacred to the use of secretaries of
lyceums, and, as it has been usually accompanied by a small
pecuniary testimonial, have acquired a certain relish for this
moderately tepid and unstimulating expression of enthusiasm.  But
as a reward for gratuitous services, I confess I thought it a
little below that blood-heat standard which a man's breath ought to
have, whether silent, or vocal and articulate.  I waited for a
favorable opportunity, however, before making the remarks which

--There are single expressions, as I have told you already, that
fix a man's position for you before you have done shaking hands
with him.  Allow me to expand a little.  There are several things,
very slight in themselves, yet implying other things not so
unimportant.  Thus, your French servant has devalise your premises
and got caught.  Excusez, says the sergent-de-ville, as he politely
relieves him of his upper garments and displays his bust in the
full daylight.  Good shoulders enough,--a little marked,--traces of
smallpox, perhaps,--but white. . . . . Crac! from the sergent-de-
ville's broad palm on the white shoulder!  Now look!  Vogue la
galere!  Out comes the big red V--mark of the hot iron;--he had
blistered it out pretty nearly,--hadn't he?--the old rascal VOLEUR,
branded in the galleys at Marseilles!  [Don't!  What if he has got
something like this?--nobody supposes I INVENTED such a story.]

My man John, who used to drive two of those six equine females
which I told you I had owned,--for, look you, my friends, simple
though I stand here, I am one that has been driven in his
"kerridge,"--not using that term, as liberal shepherds do, for any
battered old shabby-genteel go-cart which has more than one wheel,
but meaning thereby a four-wheeled vehicle WITH A POLE,--my man
John, I say, was a retired soldier.  He retired unostentatiously,
as many of Her Majesty's modest servants have done before and
since.  John told me, that when an officer thinks he recognizes one
of these retiring heroes, and would know if he has really been in
the service, that he may restore him, if possible, to a grateful
country, he comes suddenly upon him, and says, sharply, "Strap!"
If he has ever worn the shoulder-strap, he has learned the
reprimand for its ill adjustment.  The old word of command flashes
through his muscles, and his hand goes up in an instant to the
place where the strap used to be.

[I was all the time preparing for my grand coup, you understand;
but I saw they were not quite ready for it, and so continued,
--always in illustration of the general principle I had laid down.]

Yes, odd things come out in ways that nobody thinks of.  There was
a legend, that, when the Danish pirates made descents upon the
English coast, they caught a few Tartars occasionally, in the shape
of Saxons, who would not let them go,--on the contrary, insisted on
their staying, and, to make sure of it, treated them as Apollo
treated Marsyas, or an Bartholinus has treated a fellow-creature in
his title-page, and, having divested them of the one essential and
perfectly fitting garment, indispensable in the mildest climates,
nailed the same on the church-door as we do the banns of marriage,
in terrorem.

[There was a laugh at this among some of the young folks; but as I
looked at our landlady, I saw that "the water stood in her eyes,"
as it did in Christiana's when the interpreter asked her about the
spider, and I fancied, but wasn't quite sure that the
schoolmistress blushed, as Mercy did in the same conversation, as
you remember.]

That sounds like a cock-and-bull-story,--said the young fellow whom
they call John.  I abstained from making Hamlet's remark to
Horatio, and continued.

Not long since, the church-wardens were repairing and beautifying
an old Saxon church in a certain English village, and among other
things thought the doors should be attended to.  One of them
particularly, the front-door, looked very badly, crusted, as it
were, and as if it would be all the better for scraping.  There
happened to be a microscopist in the village who had heard the old
pirate story, and he took it into his head to examine the crust on
this door.  There was no mistake about it; it was a genuine
historical document, of the Ziska drum-head pattern,--a real cutis
humana, stripped from some old Scandinavian filibuster, and the
legend was true.

My friend, the Professor, settled an important historical and
financial question once by the aid of an exceedingly minute
fragment of a similar document.  Behind the pane of plate-glass
which bore his name and title burned a modest lamp, signifying to
the passers-by that at all hours of the night the slightest favors
(or fevers) were welcome.  A youth who had freely partaken of the
cup which cheers and likewise inebriates, following a moth-like
impulse very natural under the circumstances, dashed his fist at
the light and quenched the meek luminary,--breaking through the
plate-glass, of course, to reach it.  Now I don't want to go into
minutiae at table, you know, but a naked hand can no more go
through a pane of thick glass without leaving some of its cuticle,
to say the least, behind it, than a butterfly can go through a
sausage-machine without looking the worse for it.  The Professor
gathered up the fragments of glass, and with them certain very
minute but entirely satisfactory documents which would have
identified and hanged any rogue in Christendom who had parted with
them.--The historical question, WHO DID IT? and the financial
question, WHO PAID FOR IT? were both settled before the new lamp
was lighted the next evening.

You see, my friends, what immense conclusions, touching our lives,
our fortunes, and our sacred honor, may be reached by means of very
insignificant premises.  This is eminently true of manners and
forms of speech; a movement or a phrase often tells you all you
want to know about a person.  Thus, "How's your health?" (commonly
pronounced haalth)--instead of, How do you do? or, How are you?
Or calling your little dark entry a "hall," and your old rickety
one-horse wagon a "kerridge."  Or telling a person who has been trying
to please you that he has given you pretty good "sahtisfahction."
Or saying that you "remember of" such a thing, or that you have
been "stoppin"' at Deacon Somebody's,--and other such expressions.
One of my friends had a little marble statuette of Cupid in the
parlor of his country-house,--bow, arrows, wings, and all complete.
A visitor, indigenous to the region, looking pensively at the
figure, asked the lady of the house "if that was a statoo of her
deceased infant?"  What a delicious, though somewhat voluminous
biography, social, educational, and aesthetic in that brief

[Please observe with what Machiavellian astuteness I smuggled in
the particular offence which it was my object to hold up to my
fellow-boarders, without too personal an attack on the individual
at whose door it lay.]

That was an exceedingly dull person who made the remark, Ex pede
Herculem.  He might as well have said, "From a peck of apples you
may judge of the barrel."  Ex PEDE, to be sure!  Read, instead, Ex
ungue minimi digiti pedis, Herculem, ejusque patrem, matrem, avos
et proavos, filios, nepotes et pronepotes!  Talk to me about your
[Greek text which cannot be reproduced]!  Tell me about Cuvier's
getting up a megatherium from a tooth, or Agassiz's drawing a
portrait of an undiscovered fish from a single scale!  As the "O"
revealed Giotto,--as the one word "moi" betrayed the Stratford
atte-Bowe-taught Anglais,--so all a man's antecedents and
possibilities are summed up in a single utterance which gives at
once the gauge of his education and his mental organization.

Possibilities, Sir?--said the divinity-student; can't a man who
says Haow? arrive at distinction?

Sir,--I replied,--in a republic all things are possible.  But the
man WITH A FUTURE has almost of necessity sense enough to see that
any odious trick of speech or manners must be got rid of.  Doesn't
Sydney Smith say that a public man in England never gets over a
false quantity uttered in early life?  OUR public men are in little
danger of this fatal misstep, as few of them are in the habit of
introducing Latin into their speeches,--for good and sufficient
reasons.  But they are bound to speak decent English,--unless,
indeed, they are rough old campaigners, like General Jackson or
General Taylor; in which case, a few scars on Priscian's head are
pardoned to old fellows who have quite as many on their own, and a
constituency of thirty empires is not at all particular, provided
they do not swear in their Presidential Messages.

However, it is not for me to talk.  I have made mistakes enough in
conversation and print.  I never find them out until they are
stereotyped, and then I think they rarely escape me.  I have no
doubt I shall make half a dozen slips before this breakfast is
over, and remember them all before another.  How one does tremble
with rage at his own intense momentary stupidity about things he
knows perfectly well, and to think how he lays himself open to the
impertinences of the captatores verborum, those useful but humble
scavengers of the language, whose business it is to pick up what
might offend or injure, and remove it, hugging and feeding on it as
they go!  I don't want to speak too slightingly of these verbal
critics;--how can I, who am so fond of talking about errors and
vulgarisms of speech?  Only there is a difference between those
clerical blunders which almost every man commits, knowing better,
and that habitual grossness or meanness of speech which is
unendurable to educated persons, from anybody that wears silk or

[I write down the above remarks this morning, January 26th, making
this record of the date that nobody may think it was written in
wrath, on account of any particular grievance suffered from the
invasion of any individual scarabaeus grammaticus.]

--I wonder if anybody ever finds fault with anything I say at this
table when it is repeated?  I hope they do, I am sure.  I should be
very certain that I had said nothing of much significance, if they
did not.

Did you never, in walking in the fields, come across a large flat
stone, which had lain, nobody knows how long, just where you found
it, with the grass forming a little hedge, as it were, all round
it, close to its edges,--and have you not, in obedience to a kind
of feeling that told you it had been lying there long enough,
insinuated your stick or your foot or your fingers under its edge
and turned it over as a housewife turns a cake, when she says to
herself, "It's done brown enough by this time"?  What an odd
revelation, and what an unforeseen and unpleasant surprise to a
small community, the very existence of which you had not suspected,
until the sudden dismay and scattering among its members produced
by your turning the old stone over!  Blades of grass flattened
down, colorless, matted together, as if they had been bleached and
ironed; hideous crawling creatures, some of them coleopterous or
horny-shelled,--turtle-bugs one wants to call them; some of them
softer, but cunningly spread out and compressed like Lepine
watches; (Nature never loses a crack or a crevice, mind you, or a
joint in a tavern bedstead, but she always has one of her
flat-pattern five timekeepers to slide into it;) black, glossy
crickets, with their long filaments sticking out like the whips of
four-horse stage-coaches; motionless, slug-like creatures, young
larvae, perhaps more horrible in their pulpy stillness than even in
the infernal wriggle of maturity!  But no sooner is the stone turned
and the wholesome light of day let upon this compressed and blinded
community of creeping things, than all of them which enjoy the luxury
of legs--and some of them have a good many--rush round wildly,
butting each other and everything in their way, and end in a general
stampede for underground retreats from the region poisoned by
sunshine.  NEXT YEAR you will find the grass growing tall and green
where the stone lay; the ground-bird builds her nest where the beetle
had his hole; the dandelion and the buttercup are growing there, and
the broad fans of insect-angels open and shut over their golden
disks, as the rhythmic waves of blissful consciousness pulsate
through their glorified being.

--The young fellow whom they call John saw fit to say, in his very
familiar way,--at which I do not choose to take offence, but which
I sometimes think it necessary to repress,--that I was coming it
rather strong on the butterflies.

No, I replied; there is meaning in each of those images,--the
butterfly as well as the others.  The stone is ancient error.  The
grass is human nature borne down and bleached of all its colour by
it.  The shapes which are found beneath are the crafty beings that
thrive in darkness, and the weaker organisms kept helpless by it.
He who turns the stone over is whosoever puts the staff of truth to
the old lying incubus, no matter whether he do it with a serious
face or a laughing one.  The next year stands for the coming time.
Then shall the nature which had lain blanched and broken rise in
its full stature and native hues in the sunshine.  Then shall God's
minstrels build their nests in the hearts of a new-born humanity.
Then shall beauty--Divinity taking outlines and color--light upon
the souls of men as the butterfly, image of the beatified spirit
rising from the dust, soars from the shell that held a poor grub,
which would never have found wings, had not the stone been lifted.

You never need think you can turn over any old falsehood without a
terrible squirming and scattering of the horrid little population
that dwells under it.

--Every real thought on every real subject knocks the wind out of
somebody or other.  As soon as his breath comes back, he very
probably begins to expend it in hard words.  These are the best
evidence a man can have that he has said something it was time to
say.  Dr. Johnson was disappointed in the effect of one of his
pamphlets.  "I think I have not been attacked enough for it," he
said;--"attack is the reaction; I never think I have hit hard
unless it rebounds."

--If a fellow attacked my opinions in print would I reply?  Not I.
Do you think I don't understand what my friend, the Professor, long

Don't know what that means?--Well, I will tell you.  You know,
that, if you had a bent tube, one arm of which was of the size of a
pipe-stem, and the other big enough to hold the ocean, water would
stand at the same height in one as in the other.  Controversy
equalizes fools and wise men in the same way,--AND THE FOOLS KNOW

--No, but I often read what they say about other people.  There are
about a dozen phrases which all come tumbling along together, like
the tongs, and the shovel, and the poker, and the brush, and the
bellows, in one of those domestic avalanches that everybody knows.
If you get one, you get the whole lot.

What are they?--Oh, that depends a good deal on latitude and
longitude.  Epithets follow the isothermal lines pretty accurately.
Grouping them in two families, one finds himself a clever, genial,
witty, wise, brilliant, sparkling, thoughtful, distinguished,
celebrated, illustrious scholar and perfect gentleman, and first
writer of the age; or a dull, foolish, wicked, pert, shallow,
ignorant, insolent, traitorous, black-hearted outcast, and disgrace
to civilization.

What do I think determines the set of phrases a man gets?--Well, I
should say a set of influences something like these:---1st.
Relationships, political, religious, social, domestic.  2d.
Oyster, in the form of suppers given to gentlemen connected with
criticism.  I believe in the school, the college, and the clergy;
but my sovereign logic, for regulating public opinion--which means
commonly the opinion of half a dozen of the critical gentry--is the
following MAJOR PROPOSITION.  Oysters au naturel.  Minor
proposition.  The same "scalloped."  Conclusion.  That--(here
insert entertainer's name) is clever, witty, wise, brilliant,--and
the rest.

--No, it isn't exactly bribery.  One man has oysters, and another
epithets.  It is an exchange of hospitalities; one gives a "spread"
on linen, and the other on paper,--that is all.  Don't you think
you and I should be apt to do just so, if we were in the critical
line?  I am sure I couldn't resist the softening influences of
hospitality.  I don't like to dine out, you know,--I dine so well
at our own table, [our landlady looked radiant,] and the company is
so pleasant [a rustling movement of satisfaction among the
boarders]; but if I did partake of a man's salt, with such
additions as that article of food requires to make it palatable, I
could never abuse him, and if I had to speak of him, I suppose I
should hang my set of jingling epithets round him like a string of
sleigh-bells.  Good feeling helps society to make liars of most of
us,--not absolute liars, but such careless handlers of truth that
its sharp corners get terribly rounded.  I love truth as chiefest
among the virtues; I trust it runs in my blood; but I would never
be a critic, because I know I could not always tell it.  I might
write a criticism of a book that happened to please me; that is
another matter.

--Listen, Benjamin Franklin!  This is for you, and such others of
tender age as you may tell it to.

When we are as yet small children, long before the time when those
two grown ladies offer us the choice of Hercules, there comes up to
us a youthful angel, holding in his right hand cubes like dice, and
in his left spheres like marbles.  The cubes are of stainless
ivory, and on each is written in letters of gold--TRUTH.  The
spheres are veined and streaked and spotted beneath, with a dark
crimson flush above, where the light falls on them, and in a
certain aspect you can make out upon every one of them the three
letters L, I, E.  The child to whom they are offered very probably
clutches at both.  The spheres are the most convenient things in
the world; they roll with the least possible impulse just where the
child would have them.  The cubes will not roll at all; they have a
great talent for standing still, and always keep right side up.
But very soon the young philosopher finds that things which roll so
easily are very apt to roll into the wrong corner, and to get out
of his way when he most wants them, while he always knows where to
find the others, which stay where they are left.  Thus he learns
--thus we learn--to drop the streaked and speckled globes of
falsehood and to hold fast the white angular blocks of truth.  But
then comes Timidity, and after her Good-nature, and last of all
Polite-behavior, all insisting that truth must ROLL, or nobody can
do anything with it; and so the first with her coarse rasp, and the
second with her broad file, and the third with her silken sleeve,
do so round off and smooth and polish the snow-white cubes of
truth, that, when they have got a little dingy by use, it becomes
hard to tell them from the rolling spheres of falsehood.

The schoolmistress was polite enough to say that she was pleased
with this, and that she would read it to her little flock the next
day.  But she should tell the children, she said, that there were
better reasons for truth than could be found in mere experience of
its convenience and the inconvenience of lying.

Yes,--I said,--but education always begins through the senses, and
works up to the idea of absolute right and wrong.  The first thing
the child has to learn about this matter is, that lying is
unprofitable,--afterwards, that it is against the peace and dignity
of the universe.

--Do I think that the particular form of lying often seen in
newspapers, under the title, "From our Foreign Correspondent," does
any harm?--Why, no,--I don't know that it does.  I suppose it
doesn't really deceive people any more than the "Arabian Nights" or
"Gulliver's Travels" do.  Sometimes the writers compile TOO
carelessly, though, and mix up facts out of geographies, and
stories out of the penny papers, so as to mislead those who are
desirous of information.  I cut a piece out of one of the papers,
the other day, which contains a number of improbabilities, and, I
suspect, misstatements.  I will send up and get it for you, if you
would like to hear it.--Ah, this is it; it is headed


"This island is now the property of the Stamford family,--having
been won, it is said, in a raffle, by Sir--Stamford, during the
stock-gambling mania of the South-Sea Scheme.  The history of this
gentleman may be found in an interesting series of questions
(unfortunately not yet answered) contained in the 'Notes and
Queries.'  This island is entirely surrounded by the ocean, which
here contains a large amount of saline substance, crystallizing in
cubes remarkable for their symmetry, and frequently displays on its
surface, during calm weather, the rainbow tints of the celebrated
South-Sea bubbles.  The summers are oppressively hot, and the
winters very probably cold; but this fact cannot be ascertained
precisely, as, for some peculiar reason, the mercury in these
latitudes never shrinks, as in more northern regions, and thus the
thermometer is rendered useless in winter.

"The principal vegetable productions of the island are the pepper
tree and the bread-fruit tree.  Pepper being very abundantly
produced, a benevolent society was organized in London during the
last century for supplying the natives with vinegar and oysters, as
an addition to that delightful condiment.  [Note received from Dr.
D. P.]  It is said, however, that, as the oysters were of the kind
called NATIVES in England, the natives of Sumatra, in obedience to
a natural instinct, refused to touch them, and confined themselves
entirely to the crew of the vessel in which they were brought over.
This information was received from one of the oldest inhabitants, a
native himself, and exceedingly fond of missionaries.  He is said
also to be very skilful in the CUISINE peculiar to the island.

"During the season of gathering the pepper, the persons employed
are subject to various incommodities, the chief of which is violent
and long-continued sternutation, or sneezing.  Such is the
vehemence of these attacks, that the unfortunate subjects of them
are often driven backwards for great distances at immense speed, on
the well-known principle of the aeolipile.  Not being able to see
where they are going, these poor creatures dash themselves to
pieces against the rocks or are precipitated over the cliffs and
thus many valuable lives are lost annually.  As, during the whole
pepper-harvest, they feed exclusively on this stimulant, they
become exceedingly irritable.  The smallest injury is resented with
ungovernable rage.  A young man suffering from the PEPPER-FEVER as
it is called, cudgelled another most severely for appropriating a
superannuated relative of trifling value, and was only pacified by
having a present made him of a pig of that peculiar species of
swine called the Peccavi by the Catholic Jews, who, it is well
known, abstain from swine's flesh in imitation of the Mahometan

"The bread-tree grows abundantly.  Its branches are well known to
Europe and America under the familiar name of maccaroni.  The
smaller twigs are called vermicelli.  They have a decided animal
flavor, as may be observed in the soups containing them.
Maccaroni, being tubular, is the favorite habitat of a very
dangerous insect, which is rendered peculiarly ferocious by being
boiled.  The government of the island, therefore, never allows a
stick of it to be exported without being accompanied by a piston
with which its cavity may at any time be thoroughly swept out.
These are commonly lost or stolen before the maccaroni arrives
among us.  It therefore always contains many of these insects,
which, however, generally die of old age in the shops, so that
accidents from this source are comparatively rare.

"The fruit of the bread-tree consists principally of hot rolls.
The buttered-muffin variety is supposed to be a hybrid with the
cocoa-nut palm, the cream found on the milk of the cocoa-nut
exuding from the hybrid in the shape of butter, just as the ripe
fruit is splitting, so as to fit it for the tea-table, where it is
commonly served up with cold"--

--There,--I don't want to read any more of it.  You see that many
of these statements are highly improbable.--No, I shall not mention
the paper.--No, neither of them wrote it, though it reminds me of
the style of these popular writers.  I think the fellow who wrote
it must have been reading some of their stories, and got them mixed
up with his history and geography.  I don't suppose HE lies;--he
sells it to the editor, who knows how many squares off "Sumatra"
is.  The editor, who sells it to the public--By the way, the papers
have been very civil haven't they?--to the--the what d'ye call it?
--"Northern Magazine,"--isn't it?--got up by some of those
Come-outers, down East, as an organ for their local peculiarities.

--The Professor has been to see me.  Came in, glorious, at about
twelve o'clock, last night.  Said he had been with "the boys."  On
inquiry, found that "the boys," were certain baldish and grayish
old gentlemen that one sees or hears of in various important
stations of society.  The Professor is one of the same set, but he
always talks as if he had been out of college about ten years,
whereas. . .  [Each of these dots was a little nod, which the
company understood, as the reader will, no doubt.]  He calls them
sometimes "the boys," and sometimes "the old fellows."  Call him by
the latter title, and see how he likes it.--Well, he came in last
night glorious, as I was saying.  Of course I don't mean vinously
exalted; he drinks little wine on such occasions, and is well known
to all the Peters and Patricks as the gentleman who always has
indefinite quantities of black tea to kill any extra glass of red
claret he may have swallowed.  But the Professor says he always
gets tipsy on old memories at these gatherings.  He was, I forget
how many years old when he went to the meeting; just turned of
twenty now,--he said.  He made various youthful proposals to me,
including a duet under the landlady's daughter's window.  He had
just learned a trick, he said, of one of "the boys," of getting a
splendid bass out of a door-panel by rubbing it with the palm of
his hand.  Offered to sing "The sky is bright," accompanying
himself on the front-door, if I would go down and help in the
chorus.  Said there never was such a set of fellows as the old boys
of the set he has been with.  Judges, mayors, Congress-men, Mr.
Speakers, leaders in science, clergymen better than famous, and
famous too, poets by the half-dozen, singers with voices like
angels, financiers, wits, three of the best laughers in the
Commonwealth, engineers, agriculturists,--all forms of talent and
knowledge he pretended were represented in that meeting.  Then he
began to quote Byron about Santa Croce, and maintained that he
could "furnish out creation" in all its details from that set of
his.  He would like to have the whole boodle of them, (I
remonstrated against this word, but the Professor said it was a
diabolish good word, and he would have no other,) with their wives
and children, shipwrecked on a remote island, just to see how
splendidly they would reorganize society.  They could build a
city,--they have done it; make constitutions and laws; establish
churches and lyceums; teach and practise the healing art; instruct
in every department; found observatories; create commerce and
manufactures; write songs and hymns, and sing 'em, and make
instruments to accompany the songs with; lastly, publish a
journal almost as good as the "Northern Magazine," edited by the
Come-outers.  There was nothing they were not up to, from a
christening to a hanging; the last, to be sure, could never be called
for, unless some stranger got in among them.

--I let the Professor talk as long as he liked; it didn't make much
difference to me whether it was all truth, or partly made up of
pale Sherry and similar elements.  All at once he jumped up and

Don't you want to hear what I just read to the boys?

I have had questions of a similar character asked me before,
occasionally.  A man of iron mould might perhaps say, No!  I am not
a man of iron mould, and said that I should be delighted.

The Professor then read--with that slightly sing-song cadence which
is observed to be common in poets reading their own verses--the
following stanzas; holding them at a focal distance of about two
feet and a half, with an occasional movement back or forward for
better adjustment, the appearance of which has been likened by some
impertinent young folks to that of the act of playing on the
trombone.  His eyesight was never better; I have his word for it.


Flash out a stream of blood-red wine!--
For I would drink to other days;
And brighter shall their memory shine,
Seen flaming through its crimson blaze.
The roses die, the summers fade;
But every ghost of boyhood's dream
By Nature's magic power is laid
To sleep beneath this blood-red stream.

It filled the purple grapes that lay
And drank the splendors of the sun
Where the long summer's cloudless day
Is mirrored in the broad Garonne;
It pictures still the bacchant shapes
That saw their hoarded sunlight shed,--
The maidens dancing on the grapes,--
Their milk-white ankles splashed with red.

Beneath these waves of crimson lie,
In rosy fetters prisoned fast,
Those flitting shapes that never die,
The swift-winged visions of the past.
Kiss but the crystal's mystic rim,
Each shadow rends its flowery chain,
Springs in a bubble from its brim
And walks the chambers of the brain.

Poor Beauty! time and fortune's wrong
No form nor feature may withstand,--
Thy wrecks are scattered all along,
Like emptied sea-shells on the sand;--
Yet, sprinkled with this blushing rain,
The dust restores each blooming girl,
As if the sea-shells moved again
Their glistening lips of pink and pearl.

Here lies the home of school-boy life,
With creaking stair and wind-swept hall,
And, scarred by many a truant knife,
Our old initials on the wall;
Here rest--their keen vibrations mute--
The shout of voices known so well,
The ringing laugh, the wailing flute,
The chiding of the sharp-tongued bell.

Here, clad in burning robes, are laid
Life's blossomed joys, untimely shed;
And here those cherished forms have strayed
We miss awhile, and call them dead.
What wizard fills the maddening glass
What soil the enchanted clusters grew?
That buried passions wake and pass
In beaded drops of fiery dew?

Nay, take the cup of blood-red wine,--
Our hearts can boast a warmer grow,
Filled from a vantage more divine,--
Calmed, but not chilled by winter's snow!
To-night the palest wave we sip
Rich as the priceless draught shall be
That wet the bride of Cana's lip,--
The wedding wine of Galilee!


Sin has many tools, but a lie is the handle which fits them all.

--I think, Sir,--said the divinity-student,--you must intend that
for one of the sayings of the Seven Wise Men of Boston you were
speaking of the other day.

I thank you, my young friend,--was my reply,--but I must say
something better than that, before I could pretend to fill out the

--The schoolmistress wanted to know how many of these sayings there
were on record, and what, and by whom said.

--Why, let us see,--there is that one of Benjamin Franklin, "the
great Bostonian," after whom this lad was named.  To be sure, he
said a great many wise things,--and I don't feel sure he didn't
borrow this,--he speaks as if it were old.  But then he applied it
so neatly!--

"He that has once done you a kindness will be more ready to do you
another than he whom you yourself have obliged."

Then there is that glorious Epicurean paradox, uttered by my
friend, the Historian, in one of his flashing moments:-

"Give us the luxuries of life, and we will dispense with its

To these must certainly be added that other saying of one of the
wittiest of men:-

"Good Americans, when they die, go to Paris."--

The divinity-student looked grave at this, but said nothing.

The schoolmistress spoke out, and said she didn't think the wit
meant any irreverence.  It was only another way of saying, Paris is
a heavenly place after New York or Boston.

A jaunty-looking person, who had come in with the young fellow they
call John,--evidently a stranger,--said there was one more wise
man's saying that he had heard; it was about our place, but he
didn't know who said it.--A civil curiosity was manifested by the
company to hear the fourth wise saying.  I heard him distinctly
whispering to the young fellow who brought him to dinner, SHALL I
TELL IT?  To which the answer was, GO AHEAD!--Well,--he said,--this
was what I heard:-

"Boston State-House is the hub of the solar system.  You couldn't
pry that out of a Boston man if you had the tire of all creation
straightened out for a crowbar."

Sir,--said I,--I am gratified with your remark.  It expresses with
pleasing vivacity that which I have sometimes heard uttered with
malignant dulness.  The satire of the remark is essentially true of
Boston,--and of all other considerable--and inconsiderable--places
with which I have had the privilege of being acquainted.  Cockneys
think London is the only place in the world.  Frenchmen--you
remember the line about Paris, the Court, the World, etc.---I
recollect well, by the way, a sign in that city which ran thus:
"Hotel l'Univers et des Etats Unis"; and as Paris IS the universe
to a Frenchman, of course the United States are outside of it.
--"See Naples and then die."--It is quite as bad with smaller places.
I have been about, lecturing, you know, and have found the
following propositions to hold true of all of them.

1.  The axis of the earth sticks out visibly through the centre of
each and every town or city.

2.  If more than fifty years have passed since its foundation, it
is affectionately styled by the inhabitants the "GOOD OLD town of"
--(whatever its name may happen to be.)

3.  Every collection of its inhabitants that comes together to
listen to a stranger is invariably declared to be a "remarkably
intelligent audience."

4.  The climate of the place is particularly favorable to

5.  It contains several persons of vast talent little known to the
world.  (One or two of them, you may perhaps chance to remember,
sent short pieces to the "Pactolian" some time since, which were
"respectfully declined.")

Boston is just like other places of its size;--only perhaps,
considering its excellent fish-market, paid fire-department,
superior monthly publications, and correct habit of spelling the
English language, it has some right to look down on the mob of
cities.  I'll tell you, though, if you want to know it, what is the
real offence of Boston.  It drains a large water-shed of its
intellect, and will not itself be drained.  If it would only send
away its first-rate men, instead of its second-rate ones, (no
offence to the well-known exceptions, of which we are always
proud,) we should be spared such epigrammatic remarks as that which
the gentleman has quoted.  There can never be a real metropolis in
this country, until the biggest centre can drain the lesser ones of
their talent and wealth.--I have observed, by the way, that the
people who really live in two great cities are by no means so
jealous of each other, as are those of smaller cities situated
within the intellectual basin, or suction-range, of one large one,
of the pretensions of any other.  Don't you see why?  Because their
promising young author and rising lawyer and large capitalist have
been drained off to the neighboring big city,--their prettiest girl
has been exported to the same market; all their ambition points
there, and all their thin gilding of glory comes from there.  I
hate little toad-eating cities.

--Would I be so good as to specify any particular example?--Oh,--an
example?  Did you ever see a bear-trap?  Never?  Well, shouldn't
you like to see me put my foot into one?  With sentiments of the
highest consideration I must beg leave to be excused.

Besides, some of the smaller cities are charming.  If they have an
old church or two, a few stately mansions of former grandees, here
and there an old dwelling with the second story projecting, (for
the convenience of shooting the Indians knocking at the front-door
with their tomahawks,)--if they have, scattered about, those mighty
square houses built something more than half a century ago, and
standing like architectural boulders dropped by the former diluvium
of wealth, whose refluent wave has left them as its monument,--if
they have gardens with elbowed apple-trees that push their branches
over the high board-fence and drop their fruit on the side-walk,
--if they have a little grass in the side-streets, enough to betoken
quiet without proclaiming decay,--I think I could go to pieces,
after my life's work were done, in one of those tranquil places, as
sweetly as in any cradle that an old man may be rocked to sleep in.
I visit such spots always with infinite delight.  My friend, the
Poet, says, that rapidly growing towns are most unfavorable to the
imaginative and reflective faculties.  Let a man live in one of
these old quiet places, he says, and the wine of his soul, which is
kept thick and turbid by the rattle of busy streets, settles, and,
as you hold it up, you may see the sun through it by day and the
stars by night.

--Do I think that the little villages have the conceit of the great
towns?--I don't believe there is much difference.  You know how
they read Pope's line in the smallest town in our State of
Massachusetts?--Well, they read it

"All are but parts of one stupendous HULL!"

--Every person's feelings have a front-door and a side-door by
which they may be entered.  The front-door is on the street.  Some
keep it always open; some keep it latched; some, locked; some,
bolted,--with a chain that will let you peep in, but not get in;
and some nail it up, so that nothing can pass its threshold.  This
front-door leads into a passage which opens into an ante-room, and
this into the inferior apartments.  The side-door opens at once
into the sacred chambers.

There is almost always at least one key to this side-door.  This is
carried for years hidden in a mother's bosom.  Fathers, brothers,
sisters, and friends, often, but by no means so universally, have
duplicates of it.  The wedding-ring conveys a right to one; alas,
if none is given with it!

If nature or accident has put one of these keys into the hands of a
person who has the torturing instinct, I can only solemnly
pronounce the words that Justice utters over its doomed victim,
--THE LORD HAVE MERCY ON YOUR SOUL!  You will probably go mad within
a reasonable time,--or, if you are a man, run off and die with your
head on a curb-stone, in Melbourne or San Francisco,--or, if you
are a woman, quarrel and break your heart, or turn into a pale,
jointed petrifaction that moves about as if it were alive, or play
some real life-tragedy or other.

Be very careful to whom you trust one of these keys of the
side-door.  The fact of possessing one renders those even who are
dear to you very terrible at times.  You can keep the world out from
your front-door, or receive visitors only when you are ready for
them; but those of your own flesh and blood, or of certain grades of
intimacy, can come in at the side-door, if they will, at any hour and
in any mood.  Some of them have a scale of your whole nervous system,
and can play all the gamut of your sensibilities in semitones,
--touching the naked nerve-pulps as a pianist strikes the keys of his
instrument.  I am satisfied that there are as great masters of this
nerve-playing as Vieuxtemps or Thalberg in their lines of
performance.  Married life is the school in which the most
accomplished artists in this department are found.  A delicate woman
is the best instrument; she has such a magnificent compass of
sensibilities!  From the deep inward moan which follows pressure on
the great nerves of right, to the sharp cry as the filaments of taste
are struck with a crashing sweep, is a range which no other
instrument possesses.  A few exercises on it daily at home fit a man
wonderfully for his habitual labors, and refresh him immensely as he
returns from them.  No stranger can get a great many notes of torture
out of a human soul; it takes one that knows it well,--parent,
child, brother, sister, intimate.  Be very careful to whom you give a
side-door key; too many have them already.

--You remember the old story of the tender-hearted man, who placed
a frozen viper in his bosom, and was stung by it when it became
thawed?  If we take a cold-blooded creature into our bosom, better
that it should sting us and we should die than that its chill
should slowly steal into our hearts; warm it we never can!  I have
seen faces of women that were fair to look upon, yet one could see
that the icicles were forming round these women's hearts.  I knew
what freezing image lay on the white breasts beneath the laces!

A very simple INTELLECTUAL mechanism answers the necessities of
friendship, and even of the most intimate relations of life.  If a
watch tells us the hour and the minute, we can be content to carry
it about with us for a life-time, though it has no second-hand and
is not a repeater, nor a musical watch,--though it is not enamelled
nor jewelled,--in short, though it has little beyond the wheels
required for a trustworthy instrument, added to a good face and a
pair of useful hands.  The more wheels there are in a watch or a
brain, the more trouble they are to take care of.  The movements of
exaltation which belong to genius are egotistic by their very
nature.  A calm, clear mind, not subject to the spasms and crises
which are so often met with in creative or intensely perceptive
natures, is the best basis for love or friendship.--Observe, I am
talking about MINDS.  I won't say, the more intellect, the less
capacity for loving; for that would do wrong to the understanding
and reason;--but, on the other hand, that the brain often runs away
with the heart's best blood, which gives the world a few pages of
wisdom or sentiment or poetry, instead of making one other heart
happy, I have no question.

If one's intimate in love or friendship cannot or does not share
all one's intellectual tastes or pursuits, that is a small matter.
Intellectual companions can be found easily in men and books.
After all, if we think of it, most of the world's loves and
friendships have been between people that could not read nor spell.

But to radiate the heat of the affections into a clod which absorbs
all that is poured into it, but never warms beneath the sunshine of
smiles or the pressure of hand or lip,--this is the great martyrdom
of sensitive beings,--most of all in that perpetual auto da fe
where young womanhood is the sacrifice.

--You noticed, perhaps, what I just said about the loves and
friendships of illiterate persons,--that is, of the human race,
with a few exceptions here and there.  I like books,--I was born
and bred among them, and have the easy feeling, when I get into
their presence, that a stable-boy has among horses.  I don't think
I undervalue them either as companions or as instructors.  But I
can't help remembering that the world's great men have not commonly
been great scholars, nor its great scholars great men.  The Hebrew
patriarchs had small libraries, I think, if any; yet they represent
to our imaginations a very complete idea of manhood, and, I think,
if we could ask in Abraham to dine with us men of letters next
Saturday, we should feel honored by his company.

What I wanted to say about books is this:  that there are times in
which every active mind feels itself above any and all human books.

--I think a man must have a good opinion of himself, Sir,--said the
divinity-student,--who should feel himself above Shakspeare at any

My young friend,--I replied,--the man who is never conscious of a
state of feeling or of intellectual effort entirely beyond
expression by any form of words whatsoever is a mere creature of
language.  I can hardly believe there are any such men.  Why, think
for a moment of the power of music.  The nerves that make us alive
to it spread out (so the Professor tells me) in the most sensitive
region of the marrow just where it is widening to run upwards into
the hemispheres.  It has its seat in the region of sense rather
than of thought.  Yet it produces a continuous and, as it were,
logical sequence of emotional and intellectual changes; but how
different from trains of thought proper! how entirely beyond the
reach of symbols!--Think of human passions as compared with all
phrases!  Did you ever hear of a man's growing lean by the reading
of "Romeo and Juliet," or blowing his brains out because Desdemona
was maligned?  There are a good many symbols, even, that are more
expressive than words.  I remember a young wife who had to part
with her husband for a time.  She did not write a mournful poem;
indeed, she was a silent person, and perhaps hardly said a word
about it; but she quietly turned of a deep orange color with
jaundice.  A great many people in this world have but one form of
rhetoric for their profoundest experiences,--namely, to waste away
and die.  When a man can READ, his paroxysm of feeling is passing.
When he can READ, his thought has slackened its hold.--You talk
about reading Shakspeare, using him as an expression for the
highest intellect, and you wonder that any common person should be
so presumptuous as to suppose his thought can rise above the text
which lies before him.  But think a moment.  A child's reading of
Shakspeare is one thing, and Coleridge's or Schlegel's reading of
him is another.  The saturation-point of each mind differs from
that of every other.  But I think it is as true for the small mind
which can only take up a little as for the great one which takes up
much, that the suggested trains of thought and feeling ought always
to rise above--not the author, but the reader's mental version of
the author, whoever he may be.

I think most readers of Shakspeare sometimes find themselves thrown
into exalted mental conditions like those produced by music.  Then
they may drop the book, to pass at once into the region of thought
without words.  We may happen to be very dull folks, you and I, and
probably are, unless there is some particular reason to suppose the
contrary.  But we get glimpses now and then of a sphere of
spiritual possibilities, where we, dull as we are now, may sail in
vast circles round the largest compass of earthly intelligences.

--I confess there are times when I feel like the friend I mentioned
to you some time ago,--I hate the very sight of a book.  Sometimes
it becomes almost a physical necessity to talk out what is in the
mind, before putting anything else into it.  It is very bad to have
thoughts and feelings, which were meant to come out in talk, STRIKE
IN, as they say of some complaints that ought to show outwardly.

I always believed in life rather than in books.  I suppose every
day of earth, with its hundred thousand deaths and something more
of births,--with its loves and hates, its triumphs and defeats, its
pangs and blisses, has more of humanity in it than all the books
that were ever written, put together.  I believe the flowers
growing at this moment send up more fragrance to heaven than was
ever exhaled from all the essences ever distilled.

--Don't I read up various matters to talk about at this table or
elsewhere?--No, that is the last thing I would do.  I will tell you
my rule.  Talk about those subjects you have had long in your mind,
and listen to what others say about subjects you have studied but
recently.  Knowledge and timber shouldn't be much used, till they
are seasoned.

--Physiologists and metaphysicians have had their attention turned
a good deal of late to the automatic and involuntary actions of the
mind.  Put an idea into your intelligence and leave it there an
hour, a day, a year, without ever having occasion to refer to it.
When, at last, you return to it, you do not find it as it was when
acquired.  It has domiciliated itself, so to speak,--become at
home,--entered into relations with your other thoughts, and
integrated itself with the whole fabric of the mind.--Or take a
simple and familiar example; Dr. Carpenter has adduced it.  You
forget a name, in conversation,--go on talking, without making any
effort to recall it,--and presently the mind evolves it by its own
involuntary and unconscious action, while you were pursuing another
train of thought, and the name rises of itself to your lips.

There are some curious observations I should like to make about the
mental machinery, but I think we are getting rather didactic.

--I should be gratified, if Benjamin Franklin would let me know
something of his progress in the French language.  I rather liked
that exercise he read us the other day, though I must confess I
should hardly dare to translate it, for fear some people in a
remote city where I once lived might think I was drawing their

--Yes, Paris is a famous place for societies.  I don't know whether
the piece I mentioned from the French author was intended simply as
Natural History, or whether there was not a little malice in his
description.  At any rate, when I gave my translation to B. F. to
turn back again into French, one reason was that I thought it would
sound a little bald in English, and some people might think it was
meant to have some local bearing or other,--which the author, of
course, didn't mean, inasmuch as he could not be acquainted with
anything on this side of the water.

 [The above remarks were addressed to the school-mistress, to whom
I handed the paper after looking it over.  The divinity-student
came and read over her shoulder,--very curious, apparently, but his
eyes wandered, I thought.  Fancying that her breathing was somewhat
hurried and high, or thoracic, as my friend, the Professor, calls
it, I watched her a little more closely.--It is none of my
business.--After all, it is the imponderables that move the world,
--heat, electricity, love.  Habet?]

This is the piece that Benjamin Franklin made into boarding-school
French, such as you see here; don't expect too much;--the mistakes
give a relish to it, I think.


Ces Societes la sont une Institution pour suppleer aux besoins
d'esprit et de coeur de ces individus qui ont survecu a leurs
emotions a l'egard du beau sexe, et qui n'ont pas la distraction de
l'habitude de boire.

Pour devenir membre d'une de ces Societes, on doit avoir le moins
de cheveux possible.  S'il y en reste plusieurs qui resistent aux
depilatoires naturelles et autres, on doit avoir quelques
connaissances, n'importe dans quel genre.  Des le moment qu'on
ouvre la porte de la Societe, on a un grand interet dans toutes les
choses dont on ne sait rien.  Ainsi, un microscopiste demontre un
nouveau FLEXOR du TARSE d'un MELOLONTHA VULGARIS.  Douze savans
improvises, portans des besicles, et qui ne connaissent rien des
insectes, si ce n'est les morsures du CULEX, se precipitent sur
l'instrument, et voient--une grande bulle d'air, dont ils
s'emerveillent avec effusion.  Ce qui est un spectacle plein
d'instruction--pour ceux qui ne sont pas de ladite Societe.  Tous
les membres regardent les chimistes en particulier avec un air
d'intelligence parfaite pendant qu'ils prouvent dans un discours
d'une demiheure que O6 N3 H5 C6 etc. font quelque chose qui n'est
bonne a rien, mais qui probablement a une odeur tres desagreable,
selon l'habitude des produits chimiques.  Apres cela vient un
mathematicien qui vous bourre avec des a+b et vous rapporte enfin
un x+y, dont vous n'avex pas besoin et qui ne change nullement vos
relations avec la vie.  Un naturaliste vous parle des formations
speciales des animaux excessivement inconnus, dont vous n'avez
jamais soupconne l'existence.  Ainsi il vous decrit les FOLLICULES
de L'APPENDIX VERMIFORMIS d'un DZIGGUETAI.  Vous ne savez pas ce
que c'est qu'un FOLLICULE.  Vous ne savez pas ce que c'est qu'un
APPENDIX UERMIFORMIS.  Vous n'avez jamais entendu parler du
DZIGGUETAI.  Ainsi vous gagnez toutes ces connaisances a la fois,
qui s'attachent a votre esprit comme l'eau adhere aux plumes d'un
canard.  On connait toutes les langues EX OFFICIO en devenant
membre d'une de ces Societes.  Ainsi quand on entend lire un Essai
sur les dialectes Tchutchiens, on comprend tout cela de suite, et
s'instruit enormement.

Il y a deux especes d'individus qu'on trouve toujours a ces
Societes:  1 (degree) Le membre a questions; 2 (degree) Le membre a

La QUESTION est une specialite.  Celui qui en fait metier ne fait
jamais des reponses.  La question est une maniere tres commode de
dire les choses suivantes:  "Me voila!  Je ne suis pas fossil,
moi,--je respire encore!  J'ai des idees,--voyez mon intelligence!
Vous ne croyiez pas, vous autres, que je savais quelque chose de
cela!  Ah, nous avons un peu de sagacite, voyez vous!  Nous ne
sommes nullement la bete qu'on pense!"--LE FAISEUR DE QUESTIONS

Le membre a "Bylaws" est le bouchon de toutes les emotions
mousseuses et genereuses qui se montrent dans la Societe.  C'est un
empereur manque,--un tyran a la troiseme trituration.  C'est un
esprit dur, borne, exact, grand dans les petitesses, petit dans les
grandeurs, selon le mot du grand Jefferson.  On ne l'aime pas dans
la Societe, mais on le respecte et on le craint.  Il n'y a qu'un
mot pour ce membre audessus de "Bylaws."  Ce mot est pour lui ce
que l'Om est aux Hundous.  C'est sa religion; il n'y a rien audela.
Ce mot la c'est la CONSTITUTION!

Lesdites Societes publient des feuilletons de tems en tems.  On les
trouve abandonnes a sa porte, nus comme des enfans nouveaunes,
faute de membrane cutanee, ou meme papyracee.  Si on aime la
botanique, on y trouve une memoire sur les coquilles; si on fait
des etudes zoologiques, on square trouve un grand tas de q' [square
root of minus one], ce qui doit etre infiniment plus commode que
les encyclopedies.  Ainsi il est clair comme la metaphysique qu'on
doit devenir membre d'une Societe telle que nous decrivons.

Recette pour le Depilatoire Physiophilosophique
Chaux vive lb. ss.  Eau bouillante Oj.
Depilez avec.  Polissez ensuite.

I told the boy that his translation into French was creditable to
him; and some of the company wishing to hear what there was in the
piece that made me smile, I turned it into English for them, as
well as I could, on the spot.

The landlady's daughter seemed to be much amused by the idea that a
depilatory could take the place of literary and scientific
accomplishments; she wanted me to print the piece, so that she
might send a copy of it to her cousin in Mizzourah; she didn't
think he'd have to do anything to the outside of his head to get
into any of the societies; he had to wear a wig once, when he
played a part in a tabullo.

No,--said I,--I shouldn't think of printing that in English.  I'll
tell you why.  As soon as you get a few thousand people together in
a town, there is somebody that every sharp thing you say is sure to
hit.  What if a thing was written in Paris or in Pekin?--that makes
no difference.  Everybody in those cities, or almost everybody, has
his counterpart here, and in all large places.--You never studied
AVERAGES as I have had occasion to.

I'll tell you how I came to know so much about averages.  There was
one season when I was lecturing, commonly, five evenings in the
week, through most of the lecturing period.  I soon found, as most
speakers do, that it was pleasanter to work one lecture than to
keep several in hand.

--Don't you get sick to death of one lecture?--said the landlady's
daughter,--who had a new dress on that day, and was in spirits for

I was going to talk about averages,--I said,--but I have no
objection to telling you about lectures, to begin with.

A new lecture always has a certain excitement connected with its
delivery.  One thinks well of it, as of most things fresh from his
mind.  After a few deliveries of it, one gets tired and then
disgusted with its repetition.  Go on delivering it, and the
disgust passes off, until, after one has repeated it a hundred or a
hundred and fifty times, he rather enjoys the hundred and first or
hundred and fifty-first time, before a new audience.  But this is
on one condition,--that he never lays the lecture down and lets it
cool.  If he does, there comes on a loathing for it which is
intense, so that the sight of the old battered manuscript is as bad
as sea-sickness.

A new lecture is just like any other new tool.  We use it for a
while with pleasure.  Then it blisters our hands, and we hate to
touch it.  By-and-by our hands get callous, and then we have no
longer any sensitiveness about it.  But if we give it up, the
calluses disappear; and if we meddle with it again, we miss the
novelty and get the blisters.--The story is often quoted of
Whitefield, that he said a sermon was good for nothing until it had
been preached forty times.  A lecture doesn't begin to be old until
it has passed its hundredth delivery; and some, I think, have
doubled, if not quadrupled, that number.  These old lectures are a
man's best, commonly; they improve by age, also,--like the pipes,
fiddles, and poems I told you of the other day.  One learns to make
the most of their strong points and to carry off their weak ones,
--to take out the really good things which don't tell on the
audience, and put in cheaper things that do.  All this degrades
him, of course, but it improves the lecture for general delivery.
A thoroughly popular lecture ought to have nothing in it which five
hundred people cannot all take in a flash, just as it is uttered.

--No, indeed,--I should be very sorry to say anything disrespectful
of audiences.  I have been kindly treated by a great many, and may
occasionally face one hereafter.  But I tell you the AVERAGE
intellect of five hundred persons, taken as they come, is not very
high.  It may be sound and safe, so far as it goes, but it is not
very rapid or profound.  A lecture ought to be something which all
can understand, about something which interests everybody.  I
think, that, if any experienced lecturer gives you a different
account from this, it will probably be one of those eloquent or
forcible speakers who hold an audience by the charm of their
manner, whatever they talk about,--even when they don't talk very

But an AVERAGE, which was what I meant to speak about, is one of
the most extraordinary subjects of observation and study.  It is
awful in its uniformity, in its automatic necessity of action.  Two
communities of ants or bees are exactly alike in all their actions,
so far as we can see.  Two lyceum assemblies, of five hundred each,
are so nearly alike, that they are absolutely undistinguishable in
many cases by any definite mark, and there is nothing but the place
and time by which one can tell the "remarkably intelligent
audience" of a town in New York or Ohio from one in any New England
town of similar size.  Of course, if any principle of selection has
come in, as in those special associations of young men which are
common in cities, it deranges the uniformity of the assemblage.
But let there be no such interfering circumstances, and one knows
pretty well even the look the audience will have, before he goes
in.  Front seats:  a few old folk,--shiny-headed,--slant up best
ear towards the speaker,--drop off asleep after a while, when the
air begins to get a little narcotic with carbonic acid.  Bright
women's faces, young and middle-aged, a little behind these, but
toward the front--(pick out the best, and lecture mainly to that.)
Here and there a countenance, sharp and scholarlike, and a dozen
pretty female ones sprinkled about.  An indefinite number of pairs
of young people,--happy, but not always very attentive.  Boys, in
the background, more or less quiet.  Dull faces here, there,--in
how many places!  I don't say dull PEOPLE, but faces without a ray
of sympathy or a movement of expression.  They are what kill the
lecturer.  These negative faces with their vacuous eyes and stony
lineaments pump and suck the warm soul out of him;--that is the
chief reason why lecturers grow so pale before the season is over.
They render LATENT any amount of vital caloric; they act on our
minds as those cold-blooded creatures I was talking about act on
our hearts.

Out of all these inevitable elements the audience is generated,--a
great compound vertebrate, as much like fifty others you have seen
as any two mammals of the same species are like each other.  Each
audience laughs, and each cries, in just the same places of your
lecture; that is, if you make one laugh or cry, you make all.  Even
those little indescribable movements which a lecturer takes
cognizance of, just as a driver notices his horse's cocking his
ears, are sure to come in exactly the same place of your lecture
always.  I declare to you, that as the monk said about the picture
in the convent,--that he sometimes thought the living tenants were
the shadows, and the painted figures the realities,--I have
sometimes felt as if I were a wandering spirit, and this great
unchanging multivertebrate which I faced night after night was one
ever-listening animal, which writhed along after me wherever I
fled, and coiled at my feet every evening, turning up to me the
same sleepless eyes which I thought I had closed with my last
drowsy incantation!

--Oh, yes!  A thousand kindly and courteous acts,--a thousand faces
that melted individually out of my recollection as the April snow
melts, but only to steal away and find the beds of flowers whose
roots are memory, but which blossom in poetry and dreams.  I am not
ungrateful, nor unconscious of all the good feeling and
intelligence everywhere to be met with through the vast parish to
which the lecturer ministers.  But when I set forth, leading a
string of my mind's daughters to market, as the country-folk fetch
in their strings of horses--Pardon me, that was a coarse fellow who
sneered at the sympathy wasted on an unhappy lecturer, as if,
because he was decently paid for his services, he had therefore
sold his sensibilities.--Family men get dreadfully homesick.  In
the remote and bleak village the heart returns to the red blaze of
the logs in one's fireplace at home.

"There are his young barbarians all at play,"--

if he owns any youthful savages.--No, the world has a million
roosts for a man, but only one nest.

--It is a fine thing to be an oracle to which an appeal is always
made in all discussions.  The men of facts wait their turn in grim
silence, with that slight tension about the nostrils which the
consciousness of carrying a "settler" in the form of a fact or a
revolver gives the individual thus armed.  When a person is really
full of information, and does not abuse it to crush conversation,
his part is to that of the real talkers what the instrumental
accompaniment is in a trio or quartette of vocalists.

--What do I mean by the real talkers?--Why, the people with fresh
ideas, of course, and plenty of good warm words to dress them in.
Facts always yield the place of honor, in conversation, to thoughts
about facts; but if a false note is uttered, down comes the finger
on the key and the man of facts asserts his true dignity.  I have
known three of these men of facts, at least, who were always
formidable,--and one of them was tyrannical.

--Yes, a man sometimes makes a grand appearance on a particular
occasion; but these men knew something about almost everything, and
never made mistakes.--He?  Veneers in first-rate style.  The
mahogany scales off now and then in spots, and then you see the
cheap light stuff--I found--very fine in conversational
information, the other day when we were in company.  The talk ran
upon mountains.  He was wonderfully well acquainted with the
leading facts about the Andes, the Apennines, and the Appalachians;
he had nothing in particular to say about Ararat, Ben Nevis, and
various other mountains that were mentioned.  By and by some
Revolutionary anecdote came up, and he showed singular familiarity
with the lives of the Adamses, and gave many details relating to
Major Andre.  A point of Natural History being suggested, he gave
an excellent account of the air-bladder of fishes.  He was very
full upon the subject of agriculture, but retired from the
conversation when horticulture was introduced in the discussion.
So he seemed well acquainted with the geology of anthracite, but
did not pretend to know anything of other kinds of coal.  There was
something so odd about the extent and limitations of his knowledge,
that I suspected all at once what might be the meaning of it, and
waited till I got an opportunity.--Have you seen the "New American
Cyclopaedia?" said I.--I have, he replied; I received an early
copy.--How far does it go?--He turned red, and answered,--To
Araguay.--Oh, said I to myself,--not quite so far as Ararat;--that
is the reason he knew nothing about it; but he must have read all
the rest straight through, and, if he can remember what is in this
volume until he has read all those that are to come, he will know
more than I ever thought he would.

Since I had this experience, I hear that somebody else has related
a similar story.  I didn't borrow it, for all that.--I made a
comparison at table some time since, which has often been quoted
and received many compliments.  It was that of the mind of a bigot
to the pupil of the eye; the more light you pour on it, the more it
contracts.  The simile is a very obvious, and, I suppose I may now
say, a happy one; for it has just been shown me that it occurs in a
Preface to certain Political Poems of Thomas Moore's published long
before my remark was repeated.  When a person of fair character for
literary honesty uses an image, such as another has employed before
him, the presumption is, that he has struck upon it independently,
or unconsciously recalled it, supposing it his own.

It is impossible to tell, in a great many cases, whether a
comparison which suddenly suggests itself is a new conception or a
recollection.  I told you the other day that I never wrote a line
of verse that seemed to me comparatively good, but it appeared old
at once, and often as if it had been borrowed.  But I confess I
never suspected the above comparison of being old, except from the
fact of its obviousness.  It is proper, however, that I proceed by
a formal instrument to relinquish all claim to any property in an
idea given to the world at about the time when I had just joined
the class in which Master Thomas Moore was then a somewhat advanced

I, therefore, in full possession of my native honesty, but knowing
the liability of all men to be elected to public office, and for
that reason feeling uncertain how soon I may be in danger of losing
it, do hereby renounce all claim to being considered the FIRST
person who gave utterance to a certain simile or comparison
referred to in the accompanying documents, and relating to the
pupil of the eye on the one part and the mind of the bigot on the
other.  I hereby relinquish all glory and profit, and especially
all claims to letters from autograph collectors, founded upon my
supposed property in the above comparison,--knowing well, that,
according to the laws of literature, they who speak first hold the
fee of the thing said.  I do also agree that all Editors of
Cyclopedias and Biographical Dictionaries, all Publishers of
Reviews and Papers, and all Critics writing therein, shall be at
liberty to retract or qualify any opinion predicated on the
supposition that I was the sole and undisputed author of the above
comparison.  But, inasmuch as I do affirm that the comparison
aforesaid was uttered by me in the firm belief that it was new and
wholly my own, and as I have good reason to think that I had never
seen or heard it when first expressed by me, and as it is well
known that different persons may independently utter the same
idea,--as is evinced by that familiar line from Donatus,--

"Pereant illi qui ante nos nostra dixerunt,"--

now, therefore, I do request by this instrument that all
well-disposed persons will abstain from asserting or implying that I
am open to any accusation whatsoever touching the said comparison,
and, if they have so asserted or implied, that they will have the
manliness forthwith to retract the same assertion or insinuation.

I think few persons have a greater disgust for plagiarism than
myself.  If I had even suspected that the idea in question was
borrowed, I should have disclaimed originality, or mentioned the
coincidence, as I once did in a case where I had happened to hit on
an idea of Swift's.--But what shall I do about these verses I was
going to read you?  I am afraid that half mankind would accuse me
of stealing their thoughts, if I printed them.  I am convinced that
several of you, especially if you are getting a little on in life,
will recognize some of these sentiments as having passed through
your consciousness at some time.  I can't help it,--it is too late
now.  The verses are written, and you must have them.  Listen,
then, and you shall hear


That age was older once than now,
In spite of locks untimely shed,
Or silvered on the youthful brow;
That babes make love and children wed.

That sunshine had a heavenly glow,
Which faded with those "good old days,"
When winters came with deeper snow,
And autumns with a softer haze.

That--mother, sister, wife, or child--
The "best of women" each has known.
Were schoolboys ever half so wild?
How young the grandpapas have grown,

That BUT FOR THIS our souls were free,
And BUT FOR THAT our lives were blest;
That in some season yet to be
Our cares will leave us time to rest.

Whene'er we groan with ache or pain,
Some common ailment of the race,--
Though doctors think the matter plain,--
That ours is "a peculiar case."

That when like babes with fingers burned
We count one bitter maxim more,
Our lesson all the world has learned,
And men are wiser than before.

That when we sob o'er fancied woes,
The angels hovering overhead
Count every pitying drop that flows
And love us for the tears we shed.

That when we stand with tearless eye
And turn the beggar from our door,
They still approve us when we sigh,
"Ah, had I but ONE THOUSAND MORE!"

That weakness smoothed the path of sin,
In half the slips our youth has known;
And whatsoe'er its blame has been,
That Mercy flowers on faults outgrown.

Though temples crowd the crumbled brink
O'erhanging truth's eternal flow,
Their tablets bold with WHAT WE THINK,
Their echoes dumb to WHAT WE KNOW;

That one unquestioned text we read,
All doubt beyond, all fear above,
Nor crackling pile nor cursing creed
Can burn or blot it:  GOD IS LOVE!


[This particular record is noteworthy principally for containing a
paper by my friend, the Professor, with a poem or two annexed or
intercalated.  I would suggest to young persons that they should
pass over it for the present, and read, instead of it, that story
about the young man who was in love with the young lady, and in
great trouble for something like nine pages, but happily married on
the tenth page or thereabouts, which, I take it for granted, will
be contained in the periodical where this is found, unless it
differ from all other publications of the kind.  Perhaps, if such
young people will lay the number aside, and take it up ten years,
or a little more, from the present time, they may find something in
it for their advantage.  They can't possibly understand it all

My friend, the Professor, began talking with me one day in a dreary
sort of way.  I couldn't get at the difficulty for a good while,
but at last it turned out that somebody had been calling him an old
man.--He didn't mind his students calling him THE old man, he said.
That was a technical expression, and he thought that he remembered
hearing it applied to himself when he was about twenty-five.  It
may be considered as a familiar and sometimes endearing
appellation.  An Irishwoman calls her husband "the old man," and he
returns the caressing expression by speaking of her as "the old
woman."  But now, said he, just suppose a case like one of these.
A young stranger is overheard talking of you as a very nice old
gentleman.  A friendly and genial critic speaks of your green old
age as illustrating the truth of some axiom you had uttered with
reference to that period of life.  What _I_ call an old man is a
person with a smooth, shining crown and a fringe of scattered white
hairs, seen in the streets on sunshiny days, stooping as he walks,
bearing a cane, moving cautiously and slowly; telling old stories,
smiling at present follies, living in a narrow world of dry habits;
one that remains waking when others have dropped asleep, and keeps
a little night-lamp-flame of life burning year after year, if the
lamp is not upset, and there is only a careful hand held round it
to prevent the puffs of wind from blowing the flame out.  That's
what I call an old man.

Now, said the Professor, you don't mean to tell me that I have got
to that yet?  Why, bless you, I am several years short of the time
when--[I knew what was coming, and could hardly keep from laughing;
twenty years ago he used to quote it as one of those absurd
speeches men of genius will make, and now he is going to argue from
it]--several years short of the time when Balzac says that men are
--most--you know--dangerous to--the hearts of--in short, most to be
dreaded by duennas that have charge of susceptible females.--What
age is that? said I, statistically.--Fifty-two years, answered the
Professor.--Balzac ought to know, said I, if it is true that Goethe
said of him that each of his stories must have been dug out of a
woman's heart.  But fifty-two is a high figure.

Stand in the light of the window, Professor, said I.---The
Professor took up the desired position.--You have white hairs, I
said.--Had 'em any time these twenty years, said the Professor.
--And the crow's-foot,--pes anserinus, rather.--The Professor smiled,
as I wanted him to, and the folds radiated like the ridges of a
half-opened fan, from the outer corner of the eyes to the temples.
--And the calipers said I.--What are the calipers? he asked,
curiously.--Why, the parenthesis, said I.--Parenthesis? said the
Professor; what's that?--Why, look in the glass when you are
disposed to laugh, and see if your mouth isn't framed in a couple
of crescent lines,--so, my boy ( ).--It's all nonsense, said the
Professor; just look at my BICEPS;--and he began pulling off his
coat to show me his arm.  Be careful, said I; you can't bear
exposure to the air, at your time of life, as you could once.--I
will box with you, said the Professor, row with you, walk with you,
ride with you, swim with you, or sit at table with you, for fifty
dollars a side.--Pluck survives stamina, I answered.

The Professor went off a little out of humor.  A few weeks
afterwards he came in, looking very good-natured, and brought me a
paper, which I have here, and from which I shall read you some
portions, if you don't object.  He had been thinking the matter
over, he said,--had read Cicero "De Senectute," and made up his
mind to meet old age half way.  These were some of his reflections
that he had written down; so here you have.


There is no doubt when old age begins.  The human body is a furnace
which keeps in blast three-score years and ten, more or less.  It
burns about three hundred pounds of carbon a year, (besides other
fuel,) when in fair working order, according to a great chemist's
estimate.  When the fire slackens, life declines; when it goes out,
we are dead.

It has been shown by some noted French experimenters, that the
amount of combustion increases up to about the thirtieth year,
remains stationary to about forty-five, and then diminishes.  This
last is the point where old age starts from.  The great fact of
physical life is the perpetual commerce with the elements, and the
fire is the measure of it.

About this time of life, if food is plenty where you live,--for
that, you know, regulates matrimony,--you may be expecting to find
yourself a grandfather some fine morning; a kind of domestic
felicity that gives one a cool shiver of delight to think of, as
among the not remotely possible events.

I don't mind much those slipshod lines Dr. Johnson wrote to Thrale,
telling her about life's declining from THIRTY-FIVE; the furnace is
in full blast for ten years longer, as I have said.  The Romans
came very near the mark; their age of enlistment reached from
seventeen to forty-six years.

What is the use of fighting against the seasons, or the tides, or
the movements of the planetary bodies, or this ebb in the wave of
life that flows through us?  We are old fellows from the moment the
fire begins to go out.  Let us always behave like gentlemen when we
are introduced to new acquaintance.

Incipit Allegoria Senectutis.

Old Age, this is Mr. Professor; Mr. Professor, this is Old Age.

Old Age.--Mr. Professor, I hope to see you well.  I have known you
for some time, though I think you did not know me.  Shall we walk
down the street together?

Professor (drawing back a little).--We can talk more quietly,
perhaps, in my study.  Will you tell me how it is you seem to be
acquainted with everybody you are introduced to, though he
evidently considers you an entire stranger?

Old Age.--I make it a rule never to force myself upon a person's
recognition until I have known him at least FIVE YEARS.

Professor.--Do you mean to say that you have known me so long as

Old Age.  I do.  I left my card on you longer ago than that, but I
am afraid you never read it; yet I see you have it with you.


Old Age.--There, between your eyebrows,--three straight lines
running up and down; all the probate courts know that token,--"Old
Age, his mark."  Put your forefinger on the inner end of one
eyebrow, and your middle finger on the inner end of the other
eyebrow; now separate the fingers, and you will smooth out my
sign-manual; that's the way you used to look before I left my card
on you.

Professor.--What message do people generally send back when you
first call on them?

Old Age.--Not at home.  Then I leave a card and go.  Next year I
call; get the same answer; leave another card.  So for five or
six,--sometimes ten years or more.  At last, if they don't let me
in, I break in through the front door or the windows.

We talked together in this way some time.  Then Old Age said
again,--Come, let us walk down the street together,--and offered me
a cane, an eyeglass, a tippet, and a pair of over-shoes.--No, much
obliged to you, said I.  I don't want those things, and I had a
little rather talk with you here, privately, in my study.  So I
dressed myself up in a jaunty way and walked out alone;--got a
fall, caught a cold, was laid up with a lumbago, and had time to
think over this whole matter.

Explicit Allegoria Senectutis.

We have settled when old age begins.  Like all Nature's processes,
it is gentle and gradual in its approaches, strewed with illusions,
and all its little griefs soothed by natural sedatives.  But the
iron hand is not less irresistible because it wears the velvet
glove.  The button-wood throws off its bark in large flakes, which
one may find lying at its foot, pushed out, and at last pushed off,
by that tranquil movement from beneath, which is too slow to be
seen, but too powerful to be arrested.  One finds them always, but
one rarely sees them fall.  So it is our youth drops from us,
--scales off, sapless and lifeless, and lays bare the tender and
immature fresh growth of old age.  Looked at collectively, the
changes of old age appear as a series of personal insults and
indignities, terminating at last in death, which Sir Thomas Browne
has called "the very disgrace and ignominy of our nature."

My lady's cheek can boast no more
The cranberry white and pink it wore;
And where her shining locks divide,
The parting line is all too wide--

No, no,--this will never do.  Talk about men, if you will, but
spare the poor women.

We have a brief description of seven stages of life by a remarkably
good observer.  It is very presumptuous to attempt to add to it,
yet I have been struck with the fact that life admits of a natural
analysis into no less than fifteen distinct periods.  Taking the
five primary divisions, infancy, childhood, youth, manhood, old
age, each of these has its own three periods of immaturity,
complete development, and decline.  I recognize on OLD baby at
once,--with its "pipe and mug," (a stick of candy and a
porringer,)--so does everybody; and an old child shedding its
milk-teeth is only a little prototype of the old man shedding his
permanent ones.  Fifty or thereabouts is only the childhood, as it
were, of old age; the graybeard youngster must be weaned from his
late suppers now.  So you will see that you have to make fifteen
stages at any rate, and that it would not be hard to make
twenty-five; five primary, each with five secondary divisions.

The infancy and childhood of commencing old age have the same
ingenuous simplicity and delightful unconsciousness about them as
the first stage of the earlier periods of life shows.  The great
delusion of mankind is in supposing that to be individual and
exceptional which is universal and according to law.  A person is
always startled when he hears himself seriously called an old man
for the first time.

Nature gets us out of youth into manhood, as sailors are hurried on
board of vessels,--in a state of intoxication.  We are hustled into
maturity reeling with our passions and imaginations, and we have
drifted far away from port before we awake out of our illusions.
But to carry us out of maturity into old age, without our knowing
where we are going, she drugs us with strong opiates, and so we
stagger along with wide open eyes that see nothing until snow
enough has fallen on our heads to rouse our comatose brains out of
their stupid trances.

There is one mark of age that strikes me more than any of the
physical ones;--I mean the formation of Habits.  An old man who
shrinks into himself falls into ways that become as positive and as
much beyond the reach of outside influences as if they were
governed by clock-work.  The ANIMAL functions, as the physiologists
call them, in distinction from the ORGANIC, tend, in the process of
deterioration to which age and neglect united gradually lead them,
to assume the periodical or rhythmical type of movement.  Every
man's HEART (this organ belongs, you know, to the organic system)
has a regular mode of action; but I know a great many men whose
BRAINS, and all their voluntary existence flowing from their
brains, have a systole and diastole as regular as that of the heart
itself.  Habit is the approximation of the animal system to the
organic.  It is a confession of failure in the highest function of
being, which involves a perpetual self-determination, in full view
of all existing circumstances.  But habit, you see, is an action in
present circumstances from past motives.  It is substituting a vis
a tergo for the evolution of living force.

When a man, instead of burning up three hundred pounds of carbon a
year, has got down to two hundred and fifty, it is plain enough he
must economize force somewhere.  Now habit is a labor-saving
invention which enables a man to get along with less fuel,--that is
all; for fuel is force, you know, just as much in the page I am
writing for you as in the locomotive or the legs that carry it to
you.  Carbon is the same thing, whether you call it wood, or coal,
or bread and cheese.  A reverend gentleman demurred to this
statement,--as if, because combustion is asserted to be the sine
qua non of thought, therefore thought is alleged to be a purely
chemical process.  Facts of chemistry are one thing, I told him,
and facts of consciousness another.  It can be proved to him, by a
very simple analysis of some of his spare elements, that every
Sunday, when he does his duty faithfully, he uses up more
phosphorus out of his brain and nerves than on ordinary days.  But
then he had his choice whether to do his duty, or to neglect it,
and save his phosphorus and other combustibles.

It follows from all this that THE FORMATION OF HABITS ought
naturally to be, as it is, the special characteristic of age.  As
for the muscular powers, they pass their maximum long before the
time when the true decline of life begins, if we may judge by the
experience of the ring.  A man is "stale," I think, in their
language, soon after thirty,--often, no doubt, much earlier, as
gentlemen of the pugilistic profession are exceedingly apt to keep
their vital fire burning WITH THE BLOWER UP.

--So far without Tully.  But in the mean time I have been reading
the treatise, "De Senectute."  It is not long, but a leisurely
performance.  The old gentleman was sixty-three years of age when
he addressed it to his friend T. Pomponius Atticus, Eq., a person
of distinction, some two or three years older.  We read it when we
are schoolboys, forget all about it for thirty years, and then take
it up again by a natural instinct,--provided always that we read
Latin as we drink water, without stopping to taste it, as all of us
who ever learned it at school or college ought to do.

Cato is the chief speaker in the dialogue.  A good deal of it is
what would be called in vulgar phrase "slow."  It unpacks and
unfolds incidental illustrations which a modern writer would look
at the back of, and toss each to its pigeon-hole.  I think ancient
classics and ancient people are alike in the tendency to this kind
of expansion.

An old doctor came to me once (this is literal fact) with some
contrivance or other for people with broken kneepans.  As the
patient would be confined for a good while, he might find it dull
work to sit with his hands in his lap.  Reading, the ingenious
inventor suggested, would be an agreeable mode of passing the time.
He mentioned, in his written account of his contrivance, various
works that might amuse the weary hour.  I remember only three,--Don
Quixote, Tom Jones, and WATTS ON THE MIND.

It is not generally understood that Cicero's essay was delivered as
a lyceum lecture, (concio popularis,) at the Temple of Mercury.
The journals (papyri) of the day ("Tempora Quotidiana,"--"Tribuinus
Quirinalis,"--"Praeco Romanus," and the rest) gave abstracts of it,
one of which I have translated and modernized, as being a
substitute for the analysis I intended to make.

IV.  Kal.  Mart. . . . .

The lecture at the Temple of Mercury, last evening, was well
attended by the elite of our great city.  Two hundred thousand
sestertia were thought to have been represented in the house.  The
doors were besieged by a mob of shabby fellows, (illotum vulgus,)
who were at length quieted after two or three had been somewhat
roughly handled (gladio jugulati).  The speaker was the well-known
Mark Tully, Eq.,--the subject Old Age.  Mr. T. has a lean and
scraggy person, with a very unpleasant excrescence upon his nasal
feature, from which his nickname of CHICK-PEA (Cicero) is said by
some to be derived.  As a lecturer is public property, we may
remark, that his outer garment (toga) was of cheap stuff and
somewhat worn, and that his general style and appearance of dress
and manner (habitus, vestitusque) were somewhat provincial.

The lecture consisted of an imaginary dialogue between Cato and
Laelius.  We found the first portion rather heavy, and retired a
few moments for refreshment (pocula quaedam vini).--All want to
reach old age, says Cato, and grumble when they get it; therefore
they are donkeys.--The lecturer will allow us to say that he is the
donkey; we know we shall grumble at old age, but we want to live
through youth and manhood, IN SPITE of the troubles we shall groan
over.--There was considerable prosing as to what old age can do and
can't.--True, but not new.  Certainly, old folks can't jump,--break
the necks of their thigh-bones, (femorum cervices,) if they do;
can't crack nuts with their teeth; can't climb a greased pole
(malum inunctum scandere non possunt); but they can tell old
stories and give you good advice; if they know what you have made
up your mind to do when you ask them.--All this is well enough, but
won't set the Tiber on fire (Tiberim accendere nequaquam potest.)

There were some clever things enough, (dicta hand inepta,) a few of
which are worth reporting.--Old people are accused of being
forgetful; but they never forget where they have put their money.
--Nobody is so old he doesn't think he can live a year.--The lecturer
quoted an ancient maxim,--Grow old early, if you would be old
long,--but disputed it.--Authority, he thought, was the chief
privilege of age.--It is not great to have money, but fine to
govern those that have it.--Old age begins at FORTY-SIX years,
according to the common opinion.--It is not every kind of old age
or of wine that grows sour with time.--Some excellent remarks were
made on immortality, but mainly borrowed from and credited to
Plato.--Several pleasing anecdotes were told.--Old Milo, champion
of the heavy weights in his day, looked at his arms and whimpered,
"They are dead."  Not so dead as you, you old fool,--says Cato;
--you never were good for anything but for your shoulders and
flanks.--Pisistratus asked Solon what made him dare to be so
obstinate.  Old age, said Solon.

The lecture was on the whole acceptable, and a credit to our
culture and civilization.--The reporter goes on to state that there
will be no lecture next week, on account of the expected combat
between the bear and the barbarian.  Betting (sponsio) two to one
(duo ad unum) on the bear.

--After all, the most encouraging things I find in the treatise,
"De Senectute," are the stories of men who have found new
occupations when growing old, or kept up their common pursuits in
the extreme period of life.  Cato learned Greek when he was old,
and speaks of wishing to learn the fiddle, or some such instrument,
(fidibus,) after the example of Socrates.  Solon learned something
new, every day, in his old age, as he gloried to proclaim.  Cyrus
pointed out with pride and pleasure the trees he had planted with
his own hand.  [I remember a pillar on the Duke of Northumberland's
estate at Alnwick, with an inscription in similar words, if not the
same.  That, like other country pleasures, never wears out.  None
is too rich, none too poor, none too young, none too old to enjoy
it.]  There is a New England story I have heard more to the point,
however, than any of Cicero's.  A young farmer was urged to set out
some apple-trees.--No, said he, they are too long growing, and I
don't want to plant for other people.  The young farmer's father
was spoken to about it, but he, with better reason, alleged that
apple-trees were slow and life was fleeting.  At last some one
mentioned it to the old grandfather of the young farmer.  He had
nothing else to do,--so he stuck in some trees.  He lived long
enough to drink barrels of cider made from the apples that grew on
those trees.

As for myself, after visiting a friend lately,--[Do remember all
the time that this is the Professor's paper.]--I satisfied myself
that I had better concede the fact that--my contemporaries are not
so young as they have been,--and that,--awkward as it is,--science
and history agree in telling me that I can claim the immunities and
must own the humiliations of the early stage of senility.  Ah! but
we have all gone down the hill together.  The dandies of my time
have split their waistbands and taken to high-low shoes.  The
beauties of my recollections--where are they?  They have run the
gantlet of the years as well as I.  First the years pelted them
with red roses till their cheeks were all on fire.  By and by they
began throwing white roses, and that morning flush passed away.  At
last one of the years threw a snow-ball, and after that no year let
the poor girls pass without throwing snow-balls.  And then came
rougher missiles,--ice and stones; and from time to time an arrow
whistled, and down went one of the poor girls.  So there are but
few left; and we don't call those few GIRLS, but--

Ah, me!  Here am I groaning just as the old Greek sighed Ai, ai!
and the old Roman, Eheu!  I have no doubt we should die of shame
and grief at the indignities offered us by age, if it were not that
we see so many others as badly or worse off than ourselves.  We
always compare ourselves with our contemporaries.

[I was interrupted in my reading just here.  Before I began at the
next breakfast, I read them these verses;--I hope you will like
them, and get a useful lesson from them.]


Though young no more, we still would dream
Of beauty's dear deluding wiles;
The leagues of life to graybeards seem
Shorter than boyhood's lingering miles.

Who knows a woman's wild caprice?
It played with Goethe's silvered hair,
And many a Holy Father's "niece"
Has softly smoothed the papal chair.

When sixty bids us sigh in vain
To melt the heart of sweet sixteen,
We think upon those ladies twain
Who loved so well the tough old Dean.

We see the Patriarch's wintry face,
The maid of Egypt's dusky glow,
And dream that Youth and Age embrace,
As April violets fill with snow.

Tranced in her Lord's Olympian smile
His lotus-loving Memphian lies,--
The musky daughter of the Nile
With plaited hair and almond eyes.

Might we but share one wild caress
Ere life's autumnal blossoms fall,
And Earth's brown, clinging lips impress
The long cold kiss that waits us all!

My bosom heaves, remembering yet
The morning of that blissful day
When Rose, the flower of spring, I met,
And gave my raptured soul away.

Flung from her eyes of purest blue,
A lasso, with its leaping chain
Light as a loop of larkspurs, flew
O'er sense and spirit, heart and brain.

Thou com'st to cheer my waning age,
Sweet vision, waited for so long!
Dove that would seek the poet's cage
Lured by the magic breath of song!

She blushes!  Ah, reluctant maid,
Love's drapeau rouge the truth has told!
O'er girlhood's yielding barricade
Floats the great Leveller's crimson fold!

Come to my arms!--love heeds not years
No frost the bud of passion knows.--
Ha! what is this my frenzy hears?
A voice behind me uttered,--Rose!

Sweet was her smile,--but not for me;
Alas, when woman looks TOO kind,
Just turn your foolish head and see,--
Some youth is walking close behind!

As to GIVING UP because the almanac or the Family-Bible says that
it is about time to do it, I have no intention of doing any such
thing.  I grant you that I burn less carbon than some years ago.  I
see people of my standing really good for nothing, decrepit,
effete, la levre inferieure deja pendante, with what little life
they have left mainly concentrated in their epigastrium.  But as
the disease of old age is epidemic, endemic, and sporadic, and
everybody that lives long enough is sure to catch it, I am going to
say, for the encouragement of such as need it, how I treat the
malady in my own case.

First.  As I feel, that, when I have anything to do, there is less
time for it than when I was younger, I find that I give my
attention more thoroughly, and use my time more economically than
ever before; so that I can learn anything twice as easily as in my
earlier days.  I am not, therefore, afraid to attack a new study.
I took up a difficult language a very few years ago with good
success, and think of mathematics and metaphysics by-and-by.

Secondly.  I have opened my eyes to a good many neglected
privileges and pleasures within my reach, and requiring only a
little courage to enjoy them.  You may well suppose it pleased me
to find that old Cato was thinking of learning to play the fiddle,
when I had deliberately taken it up in my old age, and satisfied
myself that I could get much comfort, if not much music, out of it.

Thirdly.  I have found that some of those active exercises, which
are commonly thought to belong to young folks only, may be enjoyed
at a much later period.

A young friend has lately written an admirable article in one of
the journals, entitled, "Saints and their Bodies."  Approving of
his general doctrines, and grateful for his records of personal
experience, I cannot refuse to add my own experimental confirmation
of his eulogy of one particular form of active exercise and
amusement, namely, BOATING.  For the past nine years, I have rowed
about, during a good part of the summer, on fresh or salt water.
My present fleet on the river Charles consists of three row-boats.
1. A small flat-bottomed skiff of the shape of a flat-iron, kept
mainly to lend to boys.  2. A fancy "dory" for two pairs of sculls,
in which I sometimes go out with my young folks.  3. My own
particular water-sulky, a "skeleton" or "shell" race-boat,
twenty-two feet long, with huge outriggers, which boat I pull with
ten-foot sculls,--alone, of course, as it holds but one, and tips him
out, if he doesn't mind what he is about.  In this I glide around
the Back Bay, down the stream, up the Charles to Cambridge and
Watertown, up the Mystic, round the wharves, in the wake of
steamboats which leave a swell after them delightful to rock upon;
I linger under the bridges,--those "caterpillar bridges," as my
brother professor so happily called them; rub against the black
sides of old wood-schooners; cool down under the overhanging stern
of some tall Indiaman; stretch across to the Navy-Yard, where the
sentinel warns me off from the Ohio,--just as if I should hurt her
by lying in her shadow; then strike out into the harbor, where the
water gets clear and the air smells of the ocean,--till all at once
I remember, that, if a west wind blows up of a sudden, I shall
drift along past the islands, out of sight of the dear old
State-house,--plate, tumbler, knife and fork all waiting at home,
but no chair drawn up at the table,--all the dear people waiting,
waiting, waiting, while the boat is sliding, sliding, sliding into
the great desert, where there is no tree and no fountain.  As I don't
want my wreck to be washed up on one of the beaches in company with
devil's-aprons, bladder-weeds, dead horse-shoes, and bleached
crab-shells, I turn about and flap my long narrow wings for home.
When the tide is running out swiftly, I have a splendid fight to get
through the bridges, but always make it a rule to beat,--though I
have been jammed up into pretty tight places at times, and was caught
once between a vessel swinging round and the pier, until our bones
(the boat's, that is) cracked as if we had been in the jaws of
Behemoth.  Then back to my moorings at the foot of the Common, off
with the rowing-dress, dash under the green translucent wave, return
to the garb of civilization, walk through my Garden, take a look at
my elms on the Common, and, reaching my habitat, in consideration of
my advanced period of life, indulge in the Elysian abandonment of a
huge recumbent chair.

When I have established a pair of well-pronounced feathering-
calluses on my thumbs, when I am in training so that I can do my
fifteen miles at a stretch without coming to grief in any way, when
I can perform my mile in eight minutes or a little less, then I
feel as if I had old Time's head in chancery, and could give it to
him at my leisure.

I do not deny the attraction of walking.  I have bored this ancient
city through and through in my daily travels, until I know it as an
old inhabitant of a Cheshire knows his cheese.  Why, it was I who,
in the course of these rambles, discovered that remarkable avenue
called Myrtle Street, stretching in one long line from east of the
Reservoir to a precipitous and rudely paved cliff which looks down
on the grim abode of Science, and beyond it to the far hills; a
promenade so delicious in its repose, so cheerfully varied with
glimpses down the northern slope into busy Cambridge Street with
its iron river of the horse-railroad, and wheeled barges gliding
back and forward over it,--so delightfully closing at its western
extremity in sunny courts and passages where I know peace, and
beauty, and virtue, and serene old age must be perpetual tenants,
--so alluring to all who desire to take their daily stroll, in the
words of Dr. Watts,--

"Alike unknowing and unknown,"--

that nothing but a sense of duty would have prompted me to reveal
the secret of its existence.  I concede, therefore, that walking is
an immeasurably fine invention, of which old age ought constantly
to avail itself.

Saddle-leather is in some respects even preferable to sole-leather.
The principal objection to it is of a financial character.  But you
may be sure that Bacon and Sydenham did not recommend it for
nothing.  One's hepar, or, in vulgar language, liver,--a ponderous
organ, weighing some three or four pounds,--goes up and down like
the dasher of a churn in the midst of the other vital arrangements,
at every step of a trotting horse.  The brains also are shaken up
like coppers in a money-box.  Riding is good, for those that are
born with a silver-mounted bridle in their hand, and can ride as
much and as often as they like, without thinking all the time they
hear that steady grinding sound as the horse's jaws triturate with
calm lateral movement the bank-bills and promises to pay upon which
it is notorious that the profligate animal in question feeds day
and night.

Instead, however, of considering these kinds of exercise in this
empirical way, I will devote a brief space to an examination of
them in a more scientific form.

The pleasure of exercise is due first to a purely physical
impression, and secondly to a sense of power in action.  The first
source of pleasure varies of course with our condition and the
state of the surrounding circumstances; the second with the amount
and kind of power, and the extent and kind of action.  In all forms
of active exercise there are three powers simultaneously in
action,--the will, the muscles, and the intellect.  Each of these
predominates in different kinds of exercise.  In walking, the will
and muscles are so accustomed to work together and perform their
task with so little expenditure of force, that the intellect is
left comparatively free.  The mental pleasure in walking, as such,
is in the sense of power over all our moving machinery.  But in
riding, I have the additional pleasure of governing another will,
and my muscles extend to the tips of the animal's ears and to his
four hoofs, instead of stopping at my hands and feet.  Now in this
extension of my volition and my physical frame into another animal,
my tyrannical instincts and my desire for heroic strength are at
once gratified.  When the horse ceases to have a will of his own
and his muscles require no special attention on your part, then you
may live on horseback as Wesley did, and write sermons or take
naps, as you like.  But you will observe, that, in riding on
horseback, you always have a feeling, that, after all, it is not
you that do the work, but the animal, and this prevents the
satisfaction from being complete.

Now let us look at the conditions of rowing.  I won't suppose you
to be disgracing yourself in one of those miserable tubs, tugging
in which is to rowing the true boat what riding a cow is to
bestriding an Arab.  You know the Esquimaux kayak, (if that is the
name of it,) don't you?  Look at that model of one over my door.
Sharp, rather?--On the contrary, it is a lubber to the one you and
I must have; a Dutch fish-wife to Psyche, contrasted with what I
will tell you about.--Our boat, then, is something of the shape of
a pickerel, as you look down upon his back, he lying in the
sunshine just where the sharp edge of the water cuts in among the
lily-pads.  It is a kind of a giant pod, as one may say,--tight
everywhere, except in a little place in the middle, where you sit.
Its length is from seven to ten yards, and as it is only from
sixteen to thirty inches wide in its widest part, you understand
why you want those "outriggers," or projecting iron frames with the
rowlocks in which the oars play.  My rowlocks are five feet apart;
double the greatest width of the boat.

Here you are, then, afloat with a body a rod and a half long, with
arms, or wings, as you may choose to call them, stretching more
than twenty feet from tip to tip; every volition of yours extending
as perfectly into them as if your spinal cord ran down the centre
strip of your boat, and the nerves of your arms tingled as far as
the broad blades of your oars,--oars of spruce, balanced,
leathered, and ringed under your own special direction.  This, in
sober earnest, is the nearest approach to flying that man has ever
made or perhaps ever will make.  As the hawk sails without flapping
his pinions, so you drift with the tide when you will, in the most
luxurious form of locomotion indulged to an embodied spirit.  But
if your blood wants rousing, turn round that stake in the river,
which you see a mile from here; and when you come in in sixteen
minutes, (if you do, for we are old boys, and not champion
scullers, you remember,) then say if you begin to feel a little
warmed up or not!  You can row easily and gently all day, and you
can row yourself blind and black in the face in ten minutes, just
as you like.  It has been long agreed that there is no way in which
a man can accomplish so much labor with his muscles as in rowing.
It is in the boat, then, that man finds the largest extension of
his volitional and muscular existence; and yet he may tax both of
them so slightly, in that most delicious of exercises, that he
shall mentally write his sermon, or his poem, or recall the remarks
he has made in company and put them in form for the public, as well
as in his easy-chair.

I dare not publicly name the rare joys, the infinite delights, that
intoxicate me on some sweet June morning, when the river and bay
are smooth as a sheet of beryl-green silk, and I run along ripping
it up with my knife-edged shell of a boat, the rent closing after
me like those wounds of angels which Milton tells of, but the seam
still shining for many a long rood behind me.  To lie still over
the Flats, where the waters are shallow, and see the crabs crawling
and the sculpins gliding busily and silently beneath the boat,--to
rustle in through the long harsh grass that leads up some tranquil
creek,--to take shelter from the sunbeams under one of the
thousand-footed bridges, and look down its interminable colonnades,
crusted with green and oozy growths, studded with minute barnacles,
and belted with rings of dark muscles, while overhead streams and
thunders that other river whose every wave is a human soul flowing
to eternity as the river below flows to the ocean,--lying there
moored unseen, in loneliness so profound that the columns of Tadmor
in the Desert could not seem more remote from life,--the cool
breeze on one's forehead, the stream whispering against the
half-sunken pillars,--why should I tell of these things, that I
should live to see my beloved haunts invaded and the waves blackened
with boats as with a swarm of water-beetles?  What a city of idiots
we must be not to have covered this glorious bay with gondolas and
wherries, as we have just learned to cover the ice in winter with

I am satisfied that such a set of black-coated, stiff-jointed,
soft-muscled, paste-complexioned youth as we can boast in our
Atlantic cities never before sprang from loins of Anglo-Saxon
lineage.  Of the females that are the mates of these males I do not
here speak.  I preached my sermon from the lay-pulpit on this
matter a good while ago.  Of course, if you heard it, you know my
belief is that the total climatic influences here are getting up a
number of new patterns of humanity, some of which are not an
improvement on the old model.  Clipper-built, sharp in the bows,
long in the spars, slender to look at, and fast to go, the ship,
which is the great organ of our national life of relation, is but a
reproduction of the typical form which the elements impress upon
its builder.  All this we cannot help; but we can make the best of
these influences, such as they are.  We have a few good boatmen,
--no good horsemen that I hear of,--I cannot speak for cricketing,
--but as for any great athletic feat performed by a gentleman in
these latitudes, society would drop a man who should run round the
Common in five minutes.  Some of our amateur fencers, single-stick
players, and boxers, we have no reason to be ashamed of.  Boxing is
rough play, but not too rough for a hearty young fellow.  Anything
is better than this white-blooded degeneration to which we all

I dropped into a gentlemen's sparring exhibition only last evening.
It did my heart good to see that there were a few young and
youngish youths left who could take care of their own heads in case
of emergency.  It is a fine sight, that of a gentleman resolving
himself into the primitive constituents of his humanity.  Here is a
delicate young man now, with an intellectual countenance, a slight
figure, a sub-pallid complexion, a most unassuming deportment, a
mild adolescent in fact, that any Hiram or Jonathan from between
the ploughtails would of course expect to handle with perfect ease.
Oh, he is taking off his gold-bowed spectacles!  Ah, he is
divesting himself of his cravat!  Why, he is stripping off his
coat!  Well, here he is, sure enough, in a tight silk shirt, and
with two things that look like batter puddings in the place of his
fists.  Now see that other fellow with another pair of batter
puddings,--the big one with the broad shoulders; he will certainly
knock the little man's head off, if he strikes him.  Feinting,
dodging, stopping, hitting, countering,--little man's head not off
yet.  You might as well try to jump upon your own shadow as to hit
the little man's intellectual features.  He needn't have taken off
the gold-bowed spectacles at all.  Quick, cautious, shifty, nimble,
cool, he catches all the fierce lunges or gets out of their reach,
till his turn comes, and then, whack goes one of the batter
puddings against the big one's ribs, and bang goes the other into
the big one's face, and, staggering, shuffling, slipping, tripping,
collapsing, sprawling, down goes the big one in a miscellaneous
bundle.--If my young friend, whose excellent article I have
referred to, could only introduce the manly art of self-defence
among the clergy, I am satisfied that we should have better sermons
and an infinitely less quarrelsome church-militant.  A bout with
the gloves would let off the ill-nature, and cure the indigestion,
which, united, have embroiled their subject in a bitter
controversy.  We should then often hear that a point of difference
between an infallible and a heretic, instead of being vehemently
discussed in a series of newspaper articles, had been settled by a
friendly contest in several rounds, at the close of which the
parties shook hands and appeared cordially reconciled.

But boxing you and I are too old for, I am afraid.  I was for a
moment tempted, by the contagion of muscular electricity last
evening, to try the gloves with the Benicia Boy, who looked in as a
friend to the noble art; but remembering that he had twice my
weight and half my age, besides the advantage of his training, I
sat still and said nothing.

There is one other delicate point I wish to speak of with reference
to old age.  I refer to the use of dioptric media which correct the
diminished refracting power of the humors of the eye,--in other
words, spectacles.  I don't use them.  All I ask is a large, fair
type, a strong daylight or gas-light, and one yard of focal
distance, and my eyes are as good as ever.  But if YOUR eyes fail,
I can tell you something encouraging.  There is now living in New
York State an old gentleman who, perceiving his sight to fail,
immediately took to exercising it on the finest print, and in this
way fairly bullied Nature out of her foolish habit of taking
liberties at five-and-forty, or thereabout.  And now this old
gentleman performs the most extraordinary feats with his pen,
showing that his eyes must be a pair of microscopes.  I should be
afraid to say to you how much he writes in the compass of a
half-dime,--whether the Psalms or the Gospels, or the Psalms
AND the Gospels, I won't be positive.

But now let rue tell you this.  If the time comes when you must lay
down the fiddle and the bow, because your fingers are too stiff,
and drop the ten-foot sculls, because your arms are too weak, and,
after dallying awhile with eye-glasses, come at last to the
undisguised reality of spectacles,--if the time comes when that
fire of life we spoke of has burned so low that where its flames
reverberated there is only the sombre stain of regret, and where
its coals glowed, only the white ashes that cover the embers of
memory,--don't let your heart grow cold, and you may carry
cheerfulness and love with you into the teens of your second
century, if you can last so long.  As our friend, the Poet, once
said, in some of those old-fashioned heroics of his which he keeps
for his private reading,--

Call him not old, whose visionary brain
Holds o'er the past its undivided reign.
For him in vain the envious seasons roll
Who bears eternal summer in his soul.
If yet the minstrel's song, the poet's lay,
Spring with her birds, or children with their play,
Or maiden's smile, or heavenly dream of art
Stir the few life-drops creeping round his heart,--
Turn to the record where his years are told,--
Count his gray hairs,--they cannot make him old!

End of the Professor's paper.

[The above essay was not read at one time, but in several
instalments, and accompanied by various comments from different
persons at the table.  The company were in the main attentive, with
the exception of a little somnolence on the part of the old
gentleman opposite at times, and a few sly, malicious questions
about the "old boys" on the part of that forward young fellow who
has figured occasionally, not always to his advantage, in these

On Sunday mornings, in obedience to a feeling I am not ashamed of,
I have always tried to give a more appropriate character to our
conversation.  I have never read them my sermon yet, and I don't
know that I shall, as some of them might take my convictions as a
personal indignity to themselves.  But having read our company so
much of the Professor's talk about age and other subjects connected
with physical life, I took the next Sunday morning to repeat to
them the following poem of his, which I have had by me some time.
He calls it--I suppose, for his professional friends--THE
ANATOMIST'S HYMN, but I shall name it--]


Not in the world of light alone,
Where God has built his blazing throne,
Nor yet alone in earth below,
With belted seas that come and go,
And endless isles of sunlit green,
Is all thy Maker's glory seen:
Look in upon thy wondrous frame,--
Eternal wisdom still the same!

The smooth, soft air with pulse-like waves
Flows murmuring through its hidden caves
Whose streams of brightening purple rush
Fired with a new and livelier blush,
While all their burden of decay
The ebbing current steals away,
And red with Nature's flame they start
From the warm fountains of the heart.

No rest that throbbing slave may ask,
Forever quivering o'er his task,
While far and wide a crimson jet
Leaps forth to fill the woven net
Which in unnumbered crossing tides
The flood of burning life divides,
Then kindling each decaying part
Creeps back to find the throbbing heart.

But warmed with that uchanging flame
Behold the outward moving frame,
Its living marbles jointed strong
With glistening band and silvery thong,
And linked to reason's guiding reins
By myriad rings in trembling chains,
Each graven with the threaded zone
Which claims it as the master's own.

See how yon beam of seeming white
Is braided out of seven-hued light,
Yet in those lucid globes no ray
By any chance shall break astray.
Hark how the rolling surge of sound,
Arches and spirals circling round,
Wakes the hushed spirit through thine ear
With music it is heaven to hear.

Then mark the cloven sphere that holds
All thought in its mysterious folds,
That feels sensation's faintest thrill
And flashes forth the sovereign will;
Think on the stormy world that dwells
Locked in its dim and clustering cells!
The lightning gleams of power it sheds
Along its hollow glassy threads!

O Father! grant thy love divine
To make these mystic temples thine!
When wasting age and wearying strife
Have sapped the leaning walls of life,
When darkness gathers over all,
And the last tottering pillars fall,
Take the poor dust thy mercy warms
And mould it into heavenly forms!


[Spring has come.  You will find some verses to that effect at the
end of these notes.  If you are an impatient reader, skip to them
at once.  In reading aloud, omit, if you please, the sixth and
seventh verses.  These are parenthetical and digressive, and,
unless your audience is of superior intelligence, will confuse
them.  Many people can ride on horseback who find it hard to get on
and to get off without assistance.  One has to dismount from an
idea, and get into the saddle again, at every parenthesis.]

--The old gentleman who sits opposite, finding that spring had
fairly come, mounted a white hat one day, and walked into the
street.  It seems to have been a premature or otherwise
exceptionable exhibition, not unlike that commemorated by the late
Mr. Bayly.  When the old gentleman came home, he looked very red in
the face, and complained that he had been "made sport of."  By
sympathizing questions, I learned from him that a boy had called
him "old daddy," and asked him when he had his hat whitewashed.

This incident led me to make some observations at table the next
morning, which I here repeat for the benefit of the readers of this

--The hat is the vulnerable point of the artificial integument.  I
learned this in early boyhood.  I was once equipped in a hat of
Leghorn straw, having a brim of much wider dimensions than were
usual at that time, and sent to school in that portion of my native
town which lies nearest to this metropolis.  On my way I was met by
a "Port-chuck," as we used to call the young gentlemen of that
locality, and the following dialogue ensued.

The Port-chuck.  Hullo, You-sir, joo know th' wuz gon-to be a race

Myself.  No.  Who's gon-to run, 'n' wher's't gon-to be?

The Port-chuck.  Squire Mico 'n' Doctor Wiliams, round the brim o'
your hat.

These two much-respected gentlemen being the oldest inhabitants at
that time, and the alleged race-course being out of the question,
the Port-chuck also winking and thrusting his tongue into his
cheek, I perceived that I had been trifled with, and the effect has
been to make me sensitive and observant respecting this article of
dress ever since.  Here is an axiom or two relating to it.

A hat which has been POPPED, or exploded by being sat down upon, is
never itself again afterwards.

It is a favorite illusion of sanguine natures to believe the

Shabby gentility has nothing so characteristic as its hat.  There
is always an unnatural calmness about its nap, and an unwholesome
gloss, suggestive of a wet brush.

The last effort of decayed fortune is expended in smoothing its
dilapidated castor.  The hat is the ULTIMUM MORIENS of

--The old gentleman took all these remarks and maxims very
pleasantly, saying, however, that he had forgotten most of his
French except the word for potatoes,--pummies de tare.---Ultimum
moriens, I told him, is old Italian, and signifies LAST THING TO
DIE.  With this explanation he was well contented, and looked quite
calm when I saw him afterwards in the entry with a black hat on his
head and the white one in his hand.

--I think myself fortunate in having the Poet and the Professor for
my intimates.  We are so much together, that we no doubt think and
talk a good deal alike; yet our points of view are in many respects
individual and peculiar.  You know me well enough by this time.  I
have not talked with you so long for nothing and therefore I don't
think it necessary to draw my own portrait.  But let me say a word
or two about my friends.

The Professor considers himself, and I consider him, a very useful
and worthy kind of drudge.  I think he has a pride in his small
technicalities.  I know that he has a great idea of fidelity; and
though I suspect he laughs a little inwardly at times at the grand
airs "Science" puts on, as she stands marking time, but not getting
on, while the trumpets are blowing and the big drums beating,--yet
I am sure he has a liking for his specially, and a respect for its

But I'll tell you what the Professor said to the Poet the other
day.--My boy, said he, I can work a great deal cheaper than you,
because I keep all my goods in the lower story.  You have to hoist
yours into the upper chambers of the brain, and let them down again
to your customers.  I take mine in at the level of the ground, and
send them off from my doorstep almost without lifting.  I tell you,
the higher a man has to carry the raw material of thought before he
works it up, the more it costs him in blood, nerve, and muscle.
Coleridge knew all this very well when he advised every literary
man to have a profession.

--Sometimes I like to talk with one of them, and sometimes with the
other.  After a while I get tired of both.  When a fit of
intellectual disgust comes over me, I will tell you what I have
found admirable as a diversion, in addition to boating and other
amusements which I have spoken of,--that is, working at my
carpenter's-bench.  Some mechanical employment is the greatest
possible relief, after the purely intellectual faculties begin to
tire.  When I was quarantined once at Marseilles, I got to work
immediately at carving a wooden wonder of loose rings on a stick,
and got so interested in it, that when we were set loose, I
"regained my freedom with a sigh," because my toy was unfinished.

There are long seasons when I talk only with the Professor, and
others when I give myself wholly up to the Poet.  Now that my
winter's work is over and spring is with us, I feel naturally drawn
to the Poet's company.  I don't know anybody more alive to life
than he is.  The passion of poetry seizes on him every spring, he
says,--yet oftentimes he complains, that, when he feels most, he
can sing least.

Then a fit of despondency comes over him.--I feel ashamed,
sometimes,--said he, the other day,--to think how far my worst
songs fall below my best.  It sometimes seems to me, as I know it
does to others who have told me so, that they ought to be ALL
BEST,--if not in actual execution, at least in plan and motive.  I
am grateful--he continued--for all such criticisms.  A man is
always pleased to have his most serious efforts praised, and the
highest aspect of his nature get the most sunshine.

Yet I am sure, that, in the nature of things, many minds must
change their key now and then, on penalty of getting out of tune or
losing their voices.  You know, I suppose,--he said,--what is meant
by complementary colors?  You know the effect, too, which the
prolonged impression of any one color has on the retina.  If you
close your eyes after looking steadily at a RED object, you see a
GREEN image.

It is so with many minds,--I will not say with all.  After looking
at one aspect of external nature, or of any form of beauty or
truth, when they turn away, the COMPLEMENTARY aspect of the same
object stamps itself irresistibly and automatically upon the mind.
Shall they give expression to this secondary mental state, or not?

When I contemplate--said my friend, the Poet--the infinite
largeness of comprehension belonging to the Central Intelligence,
how remote the creative conception is from all scholastic and
ethical formulae, I am led to think that a healthy mind ought to
change its mood from time to time, and come down from its noblest
condition,--never, of course, to degrade itself by dwelling upon
what is itself debasing, but to let its lower faculties have a
chance to air and exercise themselves.  After the first and second
floor have been out in the bright street dressed in all their
splendors, shall not our humble friends in the basement have their
holiday, and the cotton velvet and the thin-skinned jewelry--simple
adornments, but befitting the station of those who wear them--show
themselves to the crowd, who think them beautiful, as they ought
to, though the people up stairs know that they are cheap and

--I don't know that I may not bring the Poet here, some day or
other, and let him speak for himself.  Still I think I can tell you
what he says quite as well as he could do it.--Oh,--he said to me,
one day,--I am but a hand-organ man,--say rather, a hand-organ.
Life turns the winch, and fancy or accident pulls out the stops.  I
come under your windows, some fine spring morning, and play you one
of my adagio movements, and some of you say,--This is good,--play
us so always.  But, dear friends, if I did not change the stop
sometimes, the machine would wear out in one part and rust in
another.  How easily this or that tune flows!--you say,--there must
be no end of just such melodies in him.--I will open the poor
machine for you one moment, and you shall look.--Ah!  Every note
marks where a spur of steel has been driven in.  It is easy to
grind out the song, but to plant these bristling points which make
it was the painful task of time.

I don't like to say it,--he continued,--but poets commonly have no
larger stock of tunes than hand-organs; and when you hear them
piping up under your window, you know pretty well what to expect.
The more stops, the better.  Do let them all be pulled out in their

So spoke my friend, the Poet, and read me one of his stateliest
songs, and after it a gay chanson, and then a string of epigrams.
All true,--he said,--all flowers of his soul; only one with the
corolla spread, and another with its disk half opened, and the
third with the heart-leaves covered up and only a petal or two
showing its tip through the calyx.  The water-lily is the type of
the poet's soul,--he told me.

--What do you think, Sir,--said the divinity-student,--opens the
souls of poets most fully?

Why, there must be the internal force and the external stimulus.
Neither is enough by itself.  A rose will not flower in the dark,
and a fern will not flower anywhere.

What do I think is the true sunshine that opens the poet's
corolla?--I don't like to say.  They spoil a good many, I am
afraid; or at least they shine on a good many that never come to

Who are THEY?--said the schoolmistress.

Women.  Their love first inspires the poet, and their praise is his
best reward.

The schoolmistress reddened a little, but looked pleased.--Did I
really think so?--I do think so; I never feel safe until I have
pleased them; I don't think they are the first to see one's
defects, but they are the first to catch the color and fragrance of
a true poem.  Fit the same intellect to a man and it is a
bow-string,--to a woman and it is a harp-string.  She is vibratile and
resonant all over, so she stirs with slighter musical tremblings of
the air about her.--Ah, me!--said my friend, the Poet, to me, the
other day,--what color would it not have given to my thoughts, and
what thrice-washed whiteness to my words, had I been fed on women's
praises!  I should have grown like Marvell's fawn,--

"Lilies without; roses within!"

But then,--he added,--we all think, IF so and so, we should have
been this or that, as you were saying the other day, in those
rhymes of yours.

--I don't think there are many poets in the sense of creators; but
of those sensitive natures which reflect themselves naturally in
soft and melodious words, pleading for sympathy with their joys and
sorrows, every literature is full.  Nature carves with her own
hands the brain which holds the creative imagination, but she casts
the over-sensitive creatures in scores from the same mould.

There are two kinds of poets, just as there are two kinds of
blondes.  [Movement of curiosity among our ladies at table.--Please
to tell us about those blondes, said the schoolmistress.]  Why,
there are blondes who are such simply by deficiency of coloring
matter,--NEGATIVE or WASHED blondes, arrested by Nature on the way
to become albinesses.  There are others that are shot through with
golden light, with tawny or fulvous tinges in various degree,
--POSITIVE or STAINED blondes, dipped in yellow sunbeams, and as
unlike in their mode of being to the others as an orange is unlike
a snowball.  The albino-style carries with it a wide pupil and a
sensitive retina.  The other, or the leonine blonde, has an opaline
fire in her clear eye, which the brunette can hardly match with her
quick glittering glances.

Just so we have the great sun-kindled, constructive imaginations,
and a far more numerous class of poets who have a certain kind of
moonlight-genius given them to compensate for their imperfection of
nature.  Their want of mental coloring-matter makes them sensitive
to those impressions which stronger minds neglect or never feel at
all.  Many of them die young, and all of them are tinged with
melancholy.  There is no more beautiful illustration of the
principle of compensation which marks the Divine benevolence than
the fact that some of the holiest lives and some of the sweetest
songs are the growth of the infirmity which unfits its subject for
the rougher duties of life.  When one reads the life of Cowper, or
of Keats, or of Lucretia and Margaret Davidson,--of so many gentle,
sweet natures, born to weakness, and mostly dying before their
time,--one cannot help thinking that the human race dies out
singing, like the swan in the old story.  The French poet, Gilbert,
who died at the Hotel Dieu, at the age of twenty-nine,--(killed by
a key in his throat, which he had swallowed when delirious in
consequence of a fall,)--this poor fellow was a very good example
of the poet by excess of sensibility.  I found, the other day, that
some of my literary friends had never heard of him, though I
suppose few educated Frenchmen do not know the lines which he
wrote, a week before his death, upon a mean bed in the great
hospital of Paris.

"Au banquet de la vie, infortune convive,
J'apparus un jour, et je meurs;
Je meurs, et sur ma tombe, ou lentement j'arrive,
Nul ne viendra verser des pleurs."

At life's gay banquet placed, a poor unhappy guest,
One day I pass, then disappear;
I die, and on the tomb where I at length shall rest
No friend shall come to shed a tear.

You remember the same thing in other words some where in Kirke
White's poems.  It is the burden of the plaintive songs of all
these sweet albino-poets.  "I shall die and be forgotten, and the
world will go on just as if I had never been;--and yet how I have
loved! how I have longed! how I have aspired!"  And so singing,
their eyes grow brighter and brighter, and their features thinner
and thinner, until at last the veil of flesh is threadbare, and,
still singing, they drop it and pass onward.

--Our brains are seventy-year clocks.  The Angel of Life winds them
up once for all, then closes the case, and gives the key into the
hand of the Angel of the Resurrection.

Tic-tac! tic-tac! go the wheels of thought; our will cannot stop
them; they cannot stop themselves, sleep cannot still them; madness
only makes them go faster; death alone can break into the case,
and, seizing the ever-swinging pendulum, which we call the heart,
silence at last the clicking of the terrible escapement we have
carried so long beneath our wrinkled foreheads.

If we could only get at them, as we lie on our pillows and count
the dead beats of thought after thought and image after image
jarring through the overtired organ!  Will nobody block those
wheels, uncouple that pinion, cut the string that holds those
weights, blow up the infernal machine with gunpowder?  What a
passion comes over us sometimes for silence and rest!--that this
dreadful mechanism, unwinding the endless tapestry of time,
embroidered with spectral figures of life and death, could have but
one brief holiday!  Who can wonder that men swing themselves off
from beams in hempen lassos?--that they jump off from parapets into
the swift and gurgling waters beneath?--that they take counsel of
the grim friend who has but to utter his one peremptory
monosyllable and the restless machine is shivered as a vase that is
dashed upon a marble floor?  Under that building which we pass
every day there are strong dungeons, where neither hook, nor bar,
nor bed-cord, nor drinking-vessel from which a sharp fragment may
be shattered, shall by any chance be seen.  There is nothing for
it, when the brain is on fire with the whirling of its wheels, but
to spring against the stone wall and silence them with one crash.
Ah, they remembered that,--the kind city fathers,--and the walls
are nicely padded, so that one can take such exercise as he likes
without damaging himself on the very plain and serviceable
upholstery.  If anybody would only contrive some kind of a lever
that one could thrust in among the works of this horrid automaton
and check them, or alter their rate of going, what would the world
give for the discovery?

--From half a dime to a dime, according to the style of the place
and the quality of the liquor,--said the young fellow whom they
call John.

You speak trivially, but not unwisely,--I said.  Unless the will
maintain a certain control over these movements, which it cannot
stop, but can to some extent regulate, men are very apt to try to
get at the machine by some indirect system of leverage or other.
They clap on the brakes by means of opium; they change the
maddening monotony of the rhythm by means of fermented liquors.  It
is because the brain is locked up and we cannot touch its movement
directly, that we thrust these coarse tools in through any crevice,
by which they may reach the interior, and so alter its rate of
going for a while, and at last spoil the machine.

Men who exercise chiefly those faculties of the mind which work
independently of the will,--poets and artists, for instance, who
follow their imagination in their creative moments, instead of
keeping it in hand as your logicians and practical men do with
their reasoning faculty,--such men are too apt to call in the
mechanical appliances to help them govern their intellects.

--He means they get drunk,--said the young fellow already alluded
to by name.

Do you think men of true genius are apt to indulge in the use of
inebriating fluids? said the divinity-student.

If you think you are strong enough to bear what I am going to say,
--I replied,--I will talk to you about this.  But mind, now, these
are the things that some foolish people call DANGEROUS subjects,
--as if these vices which burrow into people's souls, as the
Guinea-worm burrows into the naked feet of West-Indian slaves, would
be more mischievous when seen than out of sight.  Now the true way to
deal with those obstinate animals, which are a dozen feet long, some
of them, and no bigger than a horse hair, is to get a piece of silk
round their HEADS, and pull them out very cautiously.  If you only
break them off, they grow worse than ever, and sometimes kill the
person who has the misfortune to harbor one of them.  Whence it is
plain that the first thing to do is to find out where the head lies.

Just so of all the vices, and particularly of this vice of
intemperance.  What is the head of it, and where does it lie?  For
you may depend upon it, there is not one of these vices that has
not a head of its own,--an intelligence,--a meaning,--a certain
virtue, I was going to say,--but that might, perhaps, sound
paradoxical.  I have heard an immense number of moral physicians
lay down the treatment of moral Guinea-worms, and the vast majority
of them would always insist that the creature had no head at all,
but was all body and tail.  So I have found a very common result of
their method to be that the string slipped, or that a piece only of
the creature was broken off, and the worm soon grew again, as bad
as ever.  The truth is, if the Devil could only appear in church by
attorney, and make the best statement that the facts would bear him
out in doing on behalf of his special virtues, (what we commonly
call vices,) the influence of good teachers would be much greater
than it is.  For the arguments by which the Devil prevails are
precisely the ones that the Devil-queller most rarely answers.  The
way to argue down a vice is not to tell lies about it,--to say that
it has no attractions, when everybody knows that it has,--but
rather to let it make out its case just as it certainly will in the
moment of temptation, and then meet it with the weapons furnished
by the Divine armory.  Ithuriel did not spit the toad on his spear,
you remember, but touched him with it, and the blasted angel took
the sad glories of his true shape.  If he had shown fight then, the
fair spirits would have known how to deal with him.

That all spasmodic cerebral action is an evil is not perfectly
clear.  Men get fairly intoxicated with music, with poetry, with
religious excitement, oftenest with love.  Ninon de l'Enclos said
she was so easily excited that her soup intoxicated her, and
convalescents have been made tipsy by a beef-steak.

There are forms and stages of alcoholic exaltation which, in
themselves, and without regard to their consequences, might be
considered as positive improvements of the persons affected.  When
the sluggish intellect is roused, the slow speech quickened, the
cold nature warmed, the latent sympathy developed, the flagging
spirit kindled,--before the trains of thought become confused or
the will perverted, or the muscles relaxed,--just at the moment
when the whole human zoophyte flowers out like a full-blown rose,
and is ripe for the subscription-paper or the contribution-box,--it
would be hard to say that a man was, at that very time, worse, or
less to be loved, than when driving a hard bargain with all his
meaner wits about him.  The difficulty is, that the alcoholic
virtues don't wash; but until the water takes their colors out, the
tints are very much like those of the true celestial stuff.

[Here I was interrupted by a question which I am very unwilling to
report, but have confidence enough in those friends who examine
these records to commit to their candor.

A PERSON at table asked me whether I "went in for rum as a steady
drink?"--His manner made the question highly offensive, but I
restrained myself, and answered thus:-]

Rum I take to be the name which unwashed moralists apply alike to
the product distilled from molasses and the noblest juices of the
vineyard.  Burgundy "in all its sunset glow" is rum.  Champagne,
"the foaming wine of Eastern France," in rum.  Hock, which our
friend, the Poet, speaks of as

"The Rhine's breastmilk, gushing cold and bright,
Pale as the moon, and maddening as her light,"

is rum.  Sir, I repudiate the loathsome vulgarism as an insult to
the first miracle wrought by the Founder of our religion!  I
address myself to the company.--I believe in temperance, nay,
almost in abstinence, as a rule for healthy people.  I trust that I
practice both.  But let me tell you, there are companies of men of
genius into which I sometimes go, where the atmosphere of intellect
and sentiment is so much more stimulating than alcohol, that, if I
thought fit to take wine, it would be to keep me sober.

Among the gentlemen that I have known, few, if any, were ruined by
drinking.  My few drunken acquaintances were generally ruined
before they became drunkards.  The habit of drinking is often a
vice, no doubt,--sometimes a misfortune,--as when an almost
irresistible hereditary propensity exists to indulge in it,--but
oftenest of all a PUNISHMENT.

Empty heads,--heads without ideas in wholesome variety and
sufficient number to furnish food for the mental clockwork,
--ill-regulated heads, where the faculties are not under the control
of the will,--these are the ones that hold the brains which their
owners are so apt to tamper with, by introducing the appliances we
have been talking about.  Now, when a gentleman's brain is empty or
ill-regulated, it is, to a great extent, his own fault; and so it
is simple retribution, that, while he lies slothfully sleeping or
aimlessly dreaming, the fatal habit settles on him like a vampyre,
and sucks his blood, fanning him all the while with its hot wings
into deeper slumber or idler dreams!  I am not such a hard-souled
being as to apply this to the neglected poor, who have had no
chance to fill their heads with wholesome ideas, and to be taught
the lesson of self-government.  I trust the tariff of Heaven has an
ad valorem scale for them--and all of us.

But to come back to poets and artists;--if they really are more
prone to the abuse of stimulants,--and I fear that this is true,
--the reason of it is only too clear.  A man abandons himself to a
fine frenzy, and the power which flows through him, as I once
explained to you, makes him the medium of a great poem or a great
picture.  The creative action is not voluntary at all, but
automatic; we can only put the mind into the proper attitude, and
wait for the wind, that blows where it listeth, to breathe over it.
Thus the true state of creative genius is allied to reverie, or
dreaming.  If mind and body were both healthy and had food enough
and fair play, I doubt whether any men would be more temperate than
the imaginative classes.  But body and mind often flag,--perhaps
they are ill-made to begin with, underfed with bread or ideas,
overworked, or abused in some way.  The automatic action, by which
genius wrought its wonders, fails.  There is only one thing which
can rouse the machine; not will,--that cannot reach it; nothing but
a ruinous agent, which hurries the wheels awhile and soon eats out
the heart of the mechanism.  The dreaming faculties are always the
dangerous ones, because their mode of action can be imitated by
artificial excitement; the reasoning ones are safe, because they
imply continued voluntary effort.

I think you will find it true, that, before any vice can fasten on
a man, body, mind, or moral nature must be debilitated.  The mosses
and fungi gather on sickly trees, not thriving ones; and the odious
parasites which fasten on the human frame choose that which is
already enfeebled.  Mr. Walker, the hygeian humorist, declared that
he had such a healthy skin it was impossible for any impurity to
stick to it, and maintained that it was an absurdity to wash a face
which was of necessity always clean.  I don't know how much fancy
there was in this; but there is no fancy in saying that the
lassitude of tired-out operatives, and the languor of imaginative
natures in their periods of collapse, and the vacuity of minds
untrained to labor and discipline, fit the soul and body for the
germination of the seeds of intemperance.

Whenever the wandering demon of Drunkenness finds a ship adrift,
--no steady wind in its sails, no thoughtful pilot directing its
course,--he steps on board, takes the helm, and steers straight for
the maelstrom.

--I wonder if you know the TERRIBLE SMILE?  [The young fellow whom
they call John winked very hard, and made a jocular remark, the
sense of which seemed to depend on some double meaning of the word
SMILE.  The company was curious to know what I meant.]

There are persons--I said--who no sooner come within sight of you
than they begin to smile, with an uncertain movement of the mouth,
which conveys the idea that they are thinking about themselves, and
thinking, too, that you are thinking they are thinking about
themselves,--and so look at you with a wretched mixture of
self-consciousness, awkwardness, and attempts to carry off both,
which are betrayed by the cowardly behaviour of the eye and the
tell-tale weakness of the lips that characterize these unfortunate

--Why do you call them unfortunate, Sir?--asked the divinity-

Because it is evident that the consciousness of some imbecility or
other is at the bottom of this extraordinary expression.  I don't
think, however, that these persons are commonly fools.  I have
known a number, and all of them were intelligent.  I think nothing
conveys the idea of UNDERBREEDING more than this self-betraying
smile.  Yet I think this peculiar habit as well as that of
MEANINGLESS BLUSHING may be fallen into by very good people who met
often, or sit opposite each other at table.  A true gentleman's
face is infinitely removed from all such paltriness,--calm-eyed,
firm-mouthed.  I think Titian understood the look of a gentleman as
well as anybody that ever lived.  The portrait of a young man
holding a glove in his hand, in the Gallery of the Louvre, if any
of you have seen that collection, will remind you of what I mean.

--Do I think these people know the peculiar look they have?--I
cannot say; I hope not; I am afraid they would never forgive me, if
they did.  The worst of it is, the trick is catching; when one
meets one of these fellows, he feels a tendency to the same
manifestation.  The Professor tells me there is a muscular slip, a
dependence of the platysma myoides, which is called the risorius

--Say that once more,--exclaimed the young fellow mentioned above.

The Professor says there is a little fleshy slip called Santorini's
laughing muscle.  I would have it cut out of my face, if I were
born with one of those constitutional grins upon it.  Perhaps I am
uncharitable in my judgment of those sour-looking people I told you
of the other day, and of these smiling folks.  It may be that they
are born with these looks, as other people are with more generally
recognized deformities.  Both are bad enough, but I had rather meet
three of the scowlers than one of the smilers.

--There is another unfortunate way of looking, which is peculiar to
that amiable sex we do not like to find fault with.  There are some
very pretty, but, unhappily, very ill-bred women, who don't
understand the law of the road with regard to handsome faces.
Nature and custom would, no doubt, agree in conceding to all males
the right of at least two distinct looks at every comely female
countenance, without any infraction of the rules of courtesy or the
sentiment of respect.  The first look is necessary to define the
person of the individual one meets so as to avoid it in passing.
Any unusual attraction detected in a first glance is a sufficient
apology for a second,--not a prolonged and impertinent stare, but
an appreciating homage of the eyes, such as a stranger may
inoffensively yield to a passing image.  It is astonishing how
morbidly sensitive some vulgar beauties are to the slightest
demonstration of this kind.  When a lady walks the streets, she
leaves her virtuous-indignation countenance at home; she knows well
enough that the street is a picture-gallery, where pretty faces
framed in pretty bonnets are meant to be seen, and everybody has a
right to see them.

--When we observe how the same features and style of person and
character descend from generation to generation, we can believe
that some inherited weakness may account for these peculiarities.
Little snapping-turtles snap--so the great naturalist tells us
--before they are out of the egg-shell.  I am satisfied, that, much
higher up in the scale of life, character is distinctly shown at
the age of--2 or--3 months.

--My friend, the Professor, has been full of eggs lately.  [This
remark excited a burst of hilarity which I did not allow to
interrupt the course of my observations.]  He has been reading the
great book where he found the fact about the little snapping-
turtles mentioned above.  Some of the things he has told me have
suggested several odd analogies enough.

There are half a dozen men, or so, who carry in their brains the
OVARIAN EGGS of the next generation's or century's civilization.
These eggs are not ready to be laid in the form of books as yet;
some of them are hardly ready to be put into the form of talk.  But
as rudimentary ideas or inchoate tendencies, there they are; and
these are what must form the future.  A man's general notions are
not good for much, unless he has a crop of these intellectual
ovarian eggs in his own brain, or knows them as they exist in the
minds of others.  One must be in the HABIT of talking with such
persons to get at these rudimentary germs of thought; for their
development is necessarily imperfect, and they are moulded on new
patterns, which must be long and closely studied.  But these are
the men to talk with.  No fresh truth ever gets into a book.

--A good many fresh lies get in, anyhow,--said one of the company.

I proceeded in spite of the interruption.--All uttered thought, my
friend, the Professor, says, is of the nature of an excretion.  Its
materials have been taken in, and have acted upon the system, and
been reacted on by it; it has circulated and done its office in one
mind before it is given out for the benefit of others.  It may be
milk or venom to other minds; but, in either case, it is something
which the producer has had the use of and can part with.  A man
instinctively tries to get rid of his thought in conversation or in
print so soon as it is matured; but it is hard to get at it as it
lies imbedded, a mere potentiality, the germ of a germ, in his

--Where are the brains that are fullest of these ovarian eggs of
thought?--I decline mentioning individuals.  The producers of
thought, who are few, the "jobbers" of thought, who are many, and
the retailers of thought, who are numberless, are so mixed up in
the popular apprehension, that it would be hopeless to try to
separate them before opinion has had time to settle.  Follow the
course of opinion on the great subjects of human interest for a few
generations or centuries, get its parallax, map out a small arc of
its movement, see where it tends, and then see who is in advance of
it or even with it; the world calls him hard names, probably; but
if you would find the ova of the future, you must look into the
folds of his cerebral convolutions.

[The divinity-student looked a little puzzled at this suggestion,
as if he did not see exactly where he was to come out, if he
computed his arc too nicely.  I think it possible it might cut off
a few corners of his present belief, as it has cut off martyr-
burning and witch-hanging;--but time will show,--time will show, as
the old gentleman opposite says.]

--Oh,--here is that copy of verses I told you about.


Intra Muros.

The sunbeams, lost for half a year,
Slant through my pane their morning rays
For dry Northwesters cold and clear,
The East blows in its thin blue haze.

And first the snowdrop's bells are seen,
Then close against the sheltering wall
The tulip's horn of dusky green,
The peony's dark unfolding ball.

The golden-chaliced crocus burns;
The long narcissus-blades appear;
The cone-beaked hyacinth returns,
And lights her blue-flamed chandelier.

The willow's whistling lashes, wrung
By the wild winds of gusty March,
With sallow leaflets lightly strung,
Are swaying by the tufted larch.

The elms have robed their slender spray
With full-blown flower and embryo leaf;
Wide o'er the clasping arch of day
Soars like a cloud their hoary chief.

--[See the proud tulip's flaunting cup,
That flames in glory for an hour,--
Behold it withering,--then look up,--
How meek the forest-monarch's flower!--

When wake the violets, Winter dies;
When sprout the elm-buds, Spring is near;
When lilacs blossom, Summer cries,
"Bud, little roses!  Spring is here!"]

The windows blush with fresh bouquets,
Cut with the May-dew on their lips;
The radish all its bloom displays,
Pink as Aurora's finger-tips.

Nor less the flood of light that showers
On beauty's changed corolla-shades,--
The walks are gay as bridal bowers
With rows of many-petalled maids.

The scarlet shell-fish click and clash
In the blue barrow where they slide;
The horseman, proud of streak and splash,
Creeps homeward from his morning ride.

Here comes the dealer's awkward string,
With neck in rope and tail in knot,--
Rough colts, with careless country-swing,
In lazy walk or slouching trot.

--Wild filly from the mountain-side,
Doomed to the close and chafing thills,
Lend me thy long, untiring stride
To seek with thee thy western hills!

I hear the whispering voice of Spring,
The thrush's trill, the cat-bird's cry,
Like some poor bird with prisoned wing
That sits and sings, but longs to fly.

Oh for one spot of living green,--
One little spot where leaves can grow,--
To love unblamed, to walk unseen,
To dream above, to sleep below!


[Aqui esta encerrada el alma del licenciado Pedro Garcias.

If I should ever make a little book out of these papers, which I
hope you are not getting tired of, I suppose I ought to save the
above sentence for a motto on the title-page.  But I want it now,
and must use it.  I need not say to you that the words are Spanish,
nor that they are to be found in the short Introduction to "Gil
Blas," nor that they mean, "Here lies buried the soul of the
licentiate Pedro Garcias."

I warned all young people off the premises when I began my notes
referring to old age.  I must be equally fair with old people now.
They are earnestly requested to leave this paper to young persons
from the age of twelve to that of fourscore years and ten, at which
latter period of life I am sure that I shall have at least one
youthful reader.  You know well enough what I mean by youth and
age;--something in the soul, which has no more to do with the color
of the hair than the vein of gold in a rock has to do with the
grass a thousand feet above it.

I am growing bolder as I write.  I think it requires not only
youth, but genius, to read this paper.  I don't mean to imply that
it required any whatsoever to talk what I have here written down.
It did demand a certain amount of memory, and such command of the
English tongue as is given by a common school education.  So much I
do claim.  But here I have related, at length, a string of
trivialities.  You must have the imagination of a poet to
transfigure them.  These little colored patches are stains upon the
windows of a human soul; stand on the outside, they are but dull
and meaningless spots of color; seen from within, they are
glorified shapes with empurpled wings and sunbright aureoles.

My hand trembles when I offer you this.  Many times I have come
bearing flowers such as my garden grew; but now I offer you this
poor, brown, homely growth, you may cast it away as worthless.
And yet--and yet--it is something better than flowers; it is a
SEED-CAPSULE.  Many a gardener will cut you a bouquet of his choicest
blossoms for small fee, but he does not love to let the seeds of
his rarest varieties go out of his own hands.

It is by little things that we know ourselves; a soul would very
probably mistake itself for another, when once disembodied, were it
not for individual experiences which differ from those of others
only in details seemingly trifling.  All of us have been thirsty
thousands of times, and felt, with Pindar, that water was the best
of things.  I alone, as I think, of all mankind, remember one
particular pailful of water, flavored with the white-pine of which
the pail was made, and the brown mug out of which one Edmund, a
red-faced and curly-haired boy, was averred to have bitten a
fragment in his haste to drink; it being then high summer, and
little full-blooded boys feeling very warm and porous in the
low-"studded" school-room where Dame Prentiss, dead and gone, ruled
over young children, many of whom are old ghosts now, and have
known Abraham for twenty or thirty years of our mortal time.

Thirst belongs to humanity, everywhere, in all ages; but that
white-pine pail, and that brown mug belong to me in particular; and
just so of my special relationships with other things and with my
rice.  One could never remember himself in eternity by the mere
fact of having loved or hated any more than by that of having
thirsted; love and hate have no more individuality in them than
single waves in the ocean;--but the accidents or trivial marks
which distinguished those whom we loved or hated make their memory
our own forever, and with it that of our own personality also.

Therefore, my aged friend of five-and-twenty, or thereabouts, pause
at the threshold of this particular record, and ask yourself
seriously whether you are fit to read such revelations as are to
follow.  For observe, you have here no splendid array of petals
such as poets offer you,--nothing but a dry shell, containing, if
you will get out what is in it, a few small seeds of poems.  You
may laugh at them, if you like.  I shall never tell you what I
think of you for so doing.  But if you can read into the heart of
these things, in the light of other memories as slight, yet as dear
to your soul, then you are neither more nor less than a POET, and
can afford to write no more verses during the rest of your natural
life,--which abstinence I take to be one of the surest marks of
your meriting the divine name I have just bestowed upon you.

May I beg of you who have begun this paper nobly trusting to your
own imagination and sensibilities to give it the significance which
it does not lay claim to without your kind assistance,--may I beg
of you, I say, to pay particular attention to the BRACKETS which
enclose certain paragraphs?  I want my "asides," you see, to
whisper loud to you who read my notes, and sometimes I talk a page
or two to you without pretending that I said a word of it to our
boarders.  You will find a very long "aside" to you almost as soon
as you begin to read.  And so, dear young friend, fall to at once,
taking such things as I have provided for you; and if you turn
them, by the aid of your powerful imagination, into a fair banquet,
why, then, peace be with you, and a summer by the still waters of
some quiet river, or by some yellow beach, where, as my friend the
Professor, says, you can sit with Nature's wrist in your hand and
count her ocean-pulses.]

I should like to make a few intimate revelations relating
especially to my early life, if I thought you would like to hear

[The schoolmistress turned a little in her chair, and sat with her
face directed partly towards me.--Half-mourning now;--purple
ribbon.  That breastpin she wears has GRAY hair in it; her
mother's, no doubt;--I remember our landlady's daughter telling me,
soon after the schoolmistress came to board with us, that she had
lately "buried a payrent."  That's what made her look so pale,
--kept the poor dying thing alive with her own blood.  Ah! long
illness is the real vampyrism; think of living a year or two after
one is dead, by sucking the life-blood out of a frail young
creature at one's bedside!  Well, souls grow white, as well as
cheeks, in these holy duties one that goes in a nurse may come out
an angel.--God bless all good women!--to their soft hands and
pitying hearts we must all come at last!--The schoolmistress has a
better color than when she came.--Too late!  "It might have been."
--Amen!--How many thoughts go to a dozen heart-beats, sometimes!
There was no long pause after my remark addressed to the company,
but in that time I had the train of ideas and feelings I have just
given flash through my consciousness sudden and sharp as the
crooked red streak that springs out of its black sheath like the
creese of a Malay in his death-race, and stabs the earth right and
left in its blind rage.

I don't deny that there was a pang in it,--yes, a stab; but there
was a prayer, too,--the "Amen" belonged to that.--Also, a vision of
a four-story brick house, nicely furnished,--I actually saw many
specific articles,--curtains, sofas, tables, and others, and could
draw the patterns of them at this moment,--a brick house, I say,
looking out on the water, with a fair parlor, and books and busts
and pots of flowers and bird-cages, all complete; and at the
window, looking on the water, two of us.--"Male and female created
He them."--These two were standing at the window, when a smaller
shape that was playing near them looked up at me with such a look
that I----poured out a glass of water, drank it all down, and then

I said I should like to tell you some things, such as people
commonly never tell, about my early recollections.  Should you like
to hear them?

Should we LIKE to hear them?--said the schoolmistress;--no, but we
should love to.

[The voice was a sweet one, naturally, and had something very
pleasant in its tone, just then.--The four-story brick house, which
had gone out like a transparency when the light behind it is
quenched, glimmered again for a moment; parlor, books, busts,
flower-pots, bird-cages, all complete,--and the figures as before.]

We are waiting with eagerness, Sir,--said the divinity-student.

[The transparency went out as if a flash of black lightning had
struck it.]

If you want to hear my confessions, the next thing--I said--is to
know whether I can trust you with them.  It is only fair to say
that there are a great many people in the world that laugh at such
things.  _I_ think they are fools, but perhaps you don't all agree
with me.

Here are children of tender age talked to as if they were capable
of understanding Calvin's "Institutes," and nobody has honesty or
sense enough to tell the plain truth about the little wretches:
that they are as superstitious as naked savages, and such miserable
spiritual cowards--that is, if they have any imagination--that they
will believe anything which is taught them, and a great deal more
which they teach themselves.

I was born and bred, as I have told you twenty times, among books
and those who knew what was in books.  I was carefully instructed
in things temporal and spiritual.  But up to a considerable
maturity of childhood I believed Raphael and Michael Angelo to have
been superhuman beings.  The central doctrine of the prevalent
religious faith of Christendom was utterly confused and neutralized
in my mind for years by one of those too common stories of actual
life, which I overheard repeated in a whisper.--Why did I not ask?
you will say.--You don't remember the rosy pudency of sensitive
children.  The first instinctive movement of the little creatures
is to make a cache, and bury in it beliefs, doubts, dreams, hopes,
and terrors.  I am uncovering one of these CACHES.  Do you think I
was necessarily a greater fool and coward than another?

I was afraid of ships.  Why, I could never tell.  The masts looked
frightfully tall,--but they were not so tall as the steeple of our
old yellow meeting-house.  At any rate I used to hide my eyes from
the sloops and schooners that were wont to lie at the end of the
bridge, and I confess that traces of this undefined terror lasted
very long.--One other source of alarm had a still more fearful
significance.  There was a great wooden HAND,--a glove-maker's
sign, which used to swing and creak in the blast, as it hung from a
pillar before a certain shop a mile or two outside of the city.
Oh, the dreadful hand!  Always hanging there ready to catch up a
little boy, who would come home to supper no more, nor yet to bed,
--whose porringer would be laid away empty thenceforth, and his
half-worn shoes wait until his small brother grew to fit them.

As for all manner of superstitious observances, I used once to
think I must have been peculiar in having such a list of them, but
I now believe that half the children of the same age go through the
same experiences.  No Roman soothsayer ever had such a catalogue of
OMENS as I found in the Sibylline leaves of my childhood.  That
trick of throwing a stone at a tree and attaching some mighty issue
to hitting or missing, which you will find mentioned in one or more
biographies, I well remember.  Stepping on or over certain
particular things or spots--Dr. Johnson's especial weakness I got
the habit of at a very early age.--I won't swear that I have not
some tendency to these not wise practices even at this present
date.  [How many of you that read these notes can say the same

With these follies mingled sweet delusions, which I loved so well I
would not outgrow them, even when it required a voluntary effort to
put a momentary trust in them.  Here is one which I cannot help
telling you.

The firing of the great guns at the Navy-yard is easily heard at
the place where I was born and lived.  "There is a ship of war come
in," they used to say, when they heard them.  Of course, I supposed
that such vessels came in unexpectedly, after indefinite years of
absence,--suddenly as falling stones; and that the great guns
roared in their astonishment and delight at the sight of the old
war-ship splitting the bay with her cutwater.  Now, the sloop-of-
war the Wasp, Captain Blakely, after gloriously capturing the
Reindeer and the Avon, had disappeared from the face of the ocean,
and was supposed to be lost.  But there was no proof of it, and, of
course, for a time, hopes were entertained that she might be heard
from.  Long after the last real chance had utterly vanished, I
pleased myself with the fond illusion that somewhere on the waste
of waters she was still floating, and there were YEARS during which
I never heard the sound of the great guns booming inland from the
Navy-yard without saying to myself, "The Wasp has come!" and almost
thinking I could see her, as she rolled in, crumpling the water
before her, weather-beaten, barnacled, with shattered spars and
threadbare canvas, welcomed by the shouts and tears of thousands.
This was one of those dreams that I nursed and never told.  Let me
make a clean breast of it now, and say, that, so late as to have
outgrown childhood, perhaps to have got far on towards manhood,
when the roar of the cannon has struck suddenly on my ear, I have
started with a thrill of vague expectation and tremulous delight,
and the long-unspoken words have articulated themselves in the
mind's dumb whisper, THE WASP HAS COME!

--Yes, children believe plenty of queer things.  I suppose all of
you have had the pocket-book fever when you were little?--What do I
mean?  Why, ripping up old pocket-books in the firm belief that
bank-bills to an immense amount were hidden in them.--So, too, you
must all remember some splendid unfulfilled promise of somebody or
other, which fed you with hopes perhaps for years, and which left a
blank in your life which nothing has ever filled up.--O. T. quitted
our household carrying with him the passionate regrets of the more
youthful members.  He was an ingenious youngster; wrote wonderful
copies, and carved the two initials given above with great skill on
all available surfaces.  I thought, by the way, they were all gone;
but the other day I found them on a certain door which I will show
you some time.  How it surprised me to find them so near the
ground!  I had thought the boy of no trivial dimensions.  Well, O.
T., when he went, made a solemn promise to two of us.  I was to
have a ship, and the other a marTIN-house (last syllable pronounced
as in the word TIN).  Neither ever came; but, oh, how many and many
a time I have stolen to the corner,--the cars pass close by it at
this time,--and looked up that long avenue, thinking that he must
be coming now, almost sure, as I turned to look northward, that
there he would be, trudging toward me, the ship in one hand and the
marTIN-house in the other!

[You must not suppose that all I am going to say, as well as all I
have said, was told to the whole company.  The young fellow whom
they call John was in the yard, sitting on a barrel and smoking a
cheroot, the fumes of which came in, not ungrateful, through the
open window.  The divinity-student disappeared in the midst of our
talk.  The poor relation in black bombazine, who looked and moved
as if all her articulations were elbow-joints, had gone off to her
chamber, after waiting with a look of soul-subduing decorum at the
foot of the stairs until one of the male sort had passed her and
ascended into the upper regions.  This is a famous point of
etiquette in our boarding-house; in fact, between ourselves, they
make such an awful fuss about it, that I, for one, had a great deal
rather have them simple enough not to think of such matters at all.
Our landlady's daughter said, the other evening, that she was going
to "retire"; whereupon the young fellow called John took up a lamp
and insisted on lighting her to the foot of the staircase.  Nothing
would induce her to pass by him, until the schoolmistress, saying
in good plain English that it was her bed-time, walked straight by
them both, not seeming to trouble herself about either of them.

I have been led away from what I meant the portion included in
these brackets to inform my readers about.  I say, then, most of
the boarders had left the table about the time when I began telling
some of these secrets of mine,--all of them, in fact, but the old
gentleman opposite and the schoolmistress.  I understand why a
young woman should like to hear these simple but genuine
experiences of early life, which are, as I have said, the little
brown seeds of what may yet grow to be poems with leaves of azure
and gold; but when the old gentleman pushed up his chair nearer to
me, and slanted round his best ear, and once, when I was speaking
of some trifling, tender reminiscence, drew a long breath, with
such a tremor in it that a little more and it would have been a
sob, why, then I felt there must be something of nature in them
which redeemed their seeming insignificance.  Tell me, man or woman
with whom I am whispering, have you not a small store of
recollections, such as these I am uncovering, buried beneath the
dead leaves of many summers, perhaps under the unmelting snows of
fast-returning winters,--a few such recollections, which, if you
should write them all out, would be swept into some careless
editor's drawer, and might cost a scanty half-hour's lazy reading
to his subscribers,--and yet, if Death should cheat you of them,
you would not know yourself in eternity?]

--I made three acquaintances at a very early period of life, my
introduction to whom was never forgotten.  The first unequivocal
act of wrong that has left its trace in my memory was this:
refusing a small favor asked of me,--nothing more than telling what
had happened at school one morning.  No matter who asked it; but
there were circumstances which saddened and awed me.  I had no
heart to speak;--I faltered some miserable, perhaps petulant
excuse, stole away, and the first battle of life was lost.  What
remorse followed I need not tell.  Then and there, to the best of
my knowledge, I first consciously took Sin by the hand and turned
my back on Duty.  Time has led me to look upon my offence more
leniently; I do not believe it or any other childish wrong is
infinite, as some have pretended, but infinitely finite.  Yet, oh
if I had but won that battle!

The great Destroyer, whose awful shadow it was that had silenced
me, came near me,--but never, so as to be distinctly seen and
remembered, during my tender years.  There flits dimly before me
the image of a little girl, whose name even I have forgotten, a
schoolmate, whom we missed one day, and were told that she had
died.  But what death was I never had any very distinct idea, until
one day I climbed the low stone wall of the old burial-ground and
mingled with a group that were looking into a very deep, long,
narrow hole, dug down through the green sod, down through the brown
loam, down through the yellow gravel, and there at the bottom was
an oblong red box, and a still, sharp, white face of a young man
seen through an opening at one end of it.  When the lid was closed,
and the gravel and stones rattled down pell-mell, and the woman in
black, who was crying and wringing her hands, went off with the
other mourners, and left him, then I felt that I had seen Death,
and should never forget him.

One other acquaintance I made at an earlier period of life than the
habit of romancers authorizes.--Love, of course.--She was a famous
beauty afterwards.--I am satisfied that many children rehearse
their parts in the drama of life before they have shed all their
milk-teeth.--I think I won't tell the story of the golden blonde.
--I suppose everybody has had his childish fancies; but sometimes
they are passionate impulses, which anticipate all the tremulous
emotions belonging to a later period.  Most children remember
seeing and adoring an angel before they were a dozen years old.

[The old gentleman had left his chair opposite and taken a seat by
the schoolmistress and myself, a little way from the table.--It's
true, it's true,--said the old gentleman.--He took hold of a steel
watch-chain, which carried a large, square gold key at one end and
was supposed to have some kind of time-keeper at the other.  With
some trouble he dragged up an ancient-looking, thick, silver,
bull's-eye watch.  He looked at it for a moment,--hesitated,
--touched the inner corner of his right eye with the pulp of his
middle finger,--looked at the face of the watch,--said it was
getting into the forenoon,--then opened the watch and handed me the
loose outside case without a word.--The watch-paper had been pink
once, and had a faint tinge still, as if all its tender life had
not yet quite faded out.  Two little birds, a flower, and, in small
school-girl letters, a date,--17 . .--no matter.--Before I was
thirteen years old,--said the old gentleman.--I don't know what was
in that young schoolmistress's head, nor why she should have done
it; but she took out the watch-paper and put it softly to her lips,
as if she were kissing the poor thing that made it so long ago.
The old gentleman took the watch-paper carefully from her, replaced
it, turned away and walked out, holding the watch in his hand.  I
saw him pass the window a moment after with that foolish white hat
on his head; he couldn't have been thinking what he was about when
he put it on.  So the schoolmistress and I were left alone.  I drew
my chair a shade nearer to her, and continued.]

And since I am talking of early recollections, I don't know why I
shouldn't mention some others that still cling to me,--not that you
will attach any very particular meaning to these same images so
full of significance to me, but that you will find something
parallel to them in your own memory.  You remember, perhaps, what I
said one day about smells.  There were certain SOUNDS also which
had a mysterious suggestiveness to me,--not so intense, perhaps, as
that connected with the other sense, but yet peculiar, and never to
be forgotten.

The first was the creaking of the wood-sleds, bringing their loads
of oak and walnut from the country, as the slow-swinging oxen
trailed them along over the complaining snow, in the cold, brown
light of early morning.  Lying in bed and listening to their dreary
music had a pleasure in it akin to the Lucretian luxury, or that
which Byron speaks of as to be enjoyed in looking on at a battle by
one "who hath no friend, no brother there."

There was another sound, in itself so sweet, and so connected with
one of those simple and curious superstitions of childhood of which
I have spoken, that I can never cease to cherish a sad sort of love
for it.--Let me tell the superstitious fancy first.  The Puritan
"Sabbath," as everybody knows, began at "sundown" on Saturday
evening.  To such observance of it I was born and bred.  As the
large, round disk of day declined, a stillness, a solemnity, a
somewhat melancholy hush came over us all.  It was time for work to
cease, and for playthings to be put away.  The world of active life
passed into the shadow of an eclipse, not to emerge until the sun
should sink again beneath the horizon.

It was in this stillness of the world without and of the soul
within that the pulsating lullaby of the evening crickets used to
make itself most distinctly heard,--so that I well remember I used
to think that the purring of these little creatures, which mingled
with the batrachian hymns from the neighboring swamp, WAS PECULIAR
TO SATURDAY EVENINGS.  I don't know that anything could give a
clearer idea of the quieting and subduing effect of the old habit
of observance of what was considered holy time, than this strange,
childish fancy.

Yes, and there was still another sound which mingled its solemn
cadences with the waking and sleeping dreams of my boyhood.  It was
heard only at times,--a deep, muffled roar, which rose and fell,
not loud, but vast,--a whistling boy would have drowned it for his
next neighbor, but it must have been heard over the space of a
hundred square miles.  I used to wonder what this might be.  Could
it be the roar of the thousand wheels and the ten thousand
footsteps jarring and trampling along the stones of the neighboring
city?  That would be continuous; but this, as I have said, rose and
fell in regular rhythm.  I remember being told, and I suppose this
to have been the true solution, that it was the sound of the waves,
after a high wind, breaking on the long beaches many miles distant.
I should really like to know whether any observing people living
ten miles, more or less, inland from long beaches,--in such a town,
for instance, as Cantabridge, in the eastern part of the Territory
of the Massachusetts,--have ever observed any such sound, and
whether it was rightly accounted for as above.

Mingling with these inarticulate sounds in the low murmur of
memory, are the echoes of certain voices I have heard at rare
intervals.  I grieve to say it, but our people, I think, have not
generally agreeable voices.  The marrowy organisms, with skins that
shed water like the backs of ducks, with smooth surfaces neatly
padded beneath, and velvet linings to their singing-pipes, are not
so common among us as that other pattern of humanity with angular
outlines and plane surfaces, and integuments, hair like the fibrous
covering of a cocoa-nut in gloss and suppleness as well as color,
and voices at once thin and strenuous,--acidulous enough to produce
effervescence with alkalis, and stridulous enough to sing duets
with the katydids.  I think our conversational soprano, as
sometimes overheard in the cars, arising from a group of young
persons, who may have taken the train at one of our great
industrial centres, for instance,--young persons of the female sex,
we will say, who have bustled in full-dressed, engaged in loud
strident speech, and who, after free discussion, have fixed on two
or more double seats, which having secured, they proceed to eat
apples and hand round daguerreotypes,--I say, I think the
conversational soprano, heard under these circumstances, would not
be among the allurements the old Enemy would put in requisition,
were he getting up a new temptation of St. Anthony.

There are sweet voices among us, we all know, and voices not
musical, it may be, to those who hear them for the first time, yet
sweeter to us than any we shall hear until we listen to some
warbling angel in the overture to that eternity of blissful
harmonies we hope to enjoy.--But why should I tell lies?  If my
friends love me, it is because I try to tell the truth.  I never
heard but two voices in my life that frightened me by their

--Frightened you?--said the schoolmistress.--Yes, frightened me.
They made me feel as if there might be constituted a creature with
such a chord in her voice to some string in another's soul, that,
if she but spoke, he would leave all and follow her, though it were
into the jaws of Erebus.  Our only chance to keep our wits is, that
there are so few natural chords between others' voices and this
string in our souls, and that those which at first may have jarred
a little by and by come into harmony with it.--But I tell you this
is no fiction.  You may call the story of Ulysses and the Sirens a
fable, but what will you say to Mario and the poor lady who
followed him?

--Whose were those two voices that bewitches me so?--They both
belonged to German women.  One was a chambermaid, not otherwise
fascinating.  The key of my room at a certain great hotel was
missing, and this Teutonic maiden was summoned to give information
respecting it.  The simple soul was evidently not long from her
mother-land, and spoke with sweet uncertainty of dialect.  But to
hear her wonder and lament and suggest, with soft, liquid
inflexions, and low, sad murmurs, in tones as full of serious
tenderness for the fate of the lost key as if it had been a child
that had strayed from its mother, was so winning, that, had her
features and figure been as delicious as her accents,--if she had
looked like the marble Clytie, for instance,--why, all can say is--

[The schoolmistress opened her eyes so wide, that I stopped short.]

I was only going to say that I should have drowned myself.  For
Lake Erie was close by, and it is so much better to accept
asphyxia, which takes only three minutes by the watch, than a
mesalliance, that lasts fifty years to begin with, and then passes
along down the line of descent, (breaking out in all manner of
boorish manifestations of feature and manner, which, if men were
only as short-lived as horses, could be readily traced back through
the square-roots and the cube-roots of the family stem on which you
have hung the armorial bearings of the De Champignons or the De la
Morues, until one came to beings that ate with knives and said
"Haow?") that no person of right feeling could have hesitated for a
single moment.

The second of the ravishing voices I have heard was, as I have
said, that of another German woman.--I suppose I shall ruin myself
by saying that such a voice could not have come from any
Americanized human being.

--What was there in it?--said the schoolmistress,--and, upon my
word, her tones were so very musical, that I almost wished I had
said three voices instead of two, and not made the unpatriotic
remark above reported.--Oh, I said, it had so much WOMAN in it,
--MULIEBRITY, as well as FEMINEITY;--no self-assertion, such as free
suffrage introduces into every word and movement; large, vigorous
nature, running back to those huge-limbed Germans of Tacitus, but
subdued by the reverential training and tuned by the kindly culture
of fifty generations.  Sharp business habits, a lean soil,
independence, enterprise, and east winds, are not the best things
for the larynx.  Still, you hear noble voices among us,--I have
known families famous for them,--but ask the first person you meet
a question, and ten to one there is a hard, sharp, metallic,
matter-of-business clink in the accents of the answer, that
produces the effect of one of those bells which small trades-people
connect with their shop-doors, and which spring upon your ear with
such vivacity, as you enter, that your first impulse is to retire
at once from the precincts.

--Ah, but I must not forget that dear little child I saw and heard
in a French hospital.  Between two and three years old.  Fell out
of her chair and snapped both thigh-bones.  Lying in bed, patient,
gentle.  Rough students round her, some in white aprons, looking
fearfully business-like; but the child placid, perfectly still.  I
spoke to her, and the blessed little creature answered me in a
voice of such heavenly sweetness, with that reedy thrill in it
which you have heard in the thrush's even-song, that I hear it at
this moment, while I am writing, so many, many years afterwards.
--C'est tout comme un serin, said the French student at my side.

These are the voices which struck the key-note of my conceptions as
to what the sounds we are to hear in heaven will be, if we shall
enter through one of the twelve gates of pearl.  There must be
other things besides aerolites that wander from their own spheres
to ours; and when we speak of celestial sweetness or beauty, we may
be nearer the literal truth than we dream.  If mankind generally
are the shipwrecked survivors of some pre-Adamitic cataclysm, set
adrift in these little open boats of humanity to make one more
trial to reach the shore,--as some grave theologians have
maintained,--if, in plain English, men are the ghosts of dead
devils who have "died into life," (to borrow an expression from
Keats,) and walk the earth in a suit of living rags which lasts
three or four score summers,--why, there must have been a few good
spirits sent to keep them company, and these sweet voices I speak
of must belong to them.

--I wish you could once hear my sister's voice,--said the

If it is like yours, it must be a pleasant one,--said I.

I never thought mine was anything,--said the schoolmistress.

How should you know?--said I.--People never hear their own voices,
--any more than they see their own faces.  There is not even a
looking-glass for the voice.  Of course, there is something audible
to us when we speak; but that something is not our own voice as it
is known to all our acquaintances.  I think, if an image spoke to
us in our own tones, we should not know them in the least.--How
pleasant it would be, if in another state of being we could have
shapes like our former selves for playthings,--we standing outside
or inside of them, as we liked, and they being to us just what we
used to be to others!

--I wonder if there will be nothing like what we call "play," after
our earthly toys are broken,--said the schoolmistress.

Hush,--said I,--what will the divinity-student say?

[I thought she was hit, that time;--but the shot must have gone
over her, or on one side of her; she did not flinch.]

Oh,--said the schoolmistress,--he must look out for my sister's
heresies; I am afraid he will be too busy with them to take care of

Do you mean to say,--said I,--that it is YOUR SISTER whom that

[The young fellow commonly known as John, who had been sitting on
the barrel, smoking, jumped off just then, kicked over the barrel,
gave it a push with his foot that set it rolling, and stuck his
saucy-looking face in at the window so as to cut my question off in
the middle; and the schoolmistress leaving the room a few minutes
afterwards, I did not have a chance to finish it.

The young fellow came in and sat down in a chair, putting his heels
on the top of another.

Pooty girl,--said he.

A fine young lady,--I replied.

Keeps a first-rate school, according to accounts,--said he,
--teaches all sorts of things,--Latin and Italian and music.  Folks
rich once,--smashed up.  She went right ahead as smart as if she'd
been born to work.  That's the kind o' girl I go for.  I'd marry
her, only two or three other girls would drown themselves, if I

I think the above is the longest speech of this young fellow's
which I have put on record.  I do not like to change his peculiar
expressions, for this is one of those cases in which the style is
the man, as M. de Buffon says.  The fact is, the young fellow is a
good-hearted creature enough, only too fond of his jokes,--and if
it were not for those heat-lightning winks on one side of his face,
I should not mind his fun much.]

[Some days after this, when the company were together again, I
talked a little.]

--I don't think I have a genuine hatred for anybody.  I am well
aware that I differ herein from the sturdy English moralist and the
stout American tragedian.  I don't deny that I hate THE SIGHT of
certain people; but the qualities which make me tend to hate the
man himself are such as I am so much disposed to pity, that, except
under immediate aggravation, I feel kindly enough to the worst of
them.  It is such a sad thing to be born a sneaking fellow, so much
worse than to inherit a hump-back or a couple of club-feet, that I
sometimes feel as if we ought to love the crippled souls, if I may
use this expression, with a certain tenderness which we need not
waste on noble natures.  One who is born with such congenital
incapacity that nothing can make a gentleman of him is entitled,
not to our wrath, but to our profoundest sympathy.  But as we
cannot help hating the sight of these people, just as we do that of
physical deformities, we gradually eliminate them from our
society,--we love them, but open the window and let them go.  By
the time decent people reach middle age they have weeded their
circle pretty well of these unfortunates, unless they have a taste
for such animals; in which case, no matter what their position may
be, there is something, you may be sure, in their natures akin to
that of their wretched parasites.

--The divinity-student wished to know what I thought of affinities,
as well as of antipathies; did I believe in love at first sight?

Sir,--said I,--all men love all women.  That is the prima-facie
aspect of the case.  The Court of Nature assumes the law to be,
that all men do so; and the individual man is bound to show cause
why he does not love any particular woman.  A man, says one of my
old black-letter law-books, may show divers good reasons, as thus:
He hath not seen the person named in the indictment; she is of
tender age, or the reverse of that; she hath certain personal
disqualifications,--as, for instance, she is a blackamoor, or hath
an ill-favored countenance; or, his capacity of loving being
limited, his affections are engrossed by a previous comer; and so
of other conditions.  Not the less is it true that he is bound by
duty and inclined by nature to love each and every woman.
Therefore it is that each woman virtually summons every man to show
cause why he doth not love her.  This is not by written document,
or direct speech, for the most part, but by certain signs of silk,
gold, and other materials, which say to all men,--Look on me and
love, as in duty bound.  Then the man pleadeth his special
incapacity, whatsoever that may be,--as, for instance,
impecuniosity, or that he hath one or many wives in his household,
or that he is of mean figure, or small capacity; of which reasons
it may be noted, that the first is, according to late decisions, of
chiefest authority.--So far the old law-book.  But there is a note
from an older authority, saying that every woman doth also love
each and every man, except there be some good reason to the
contrary; and a very observing friend of mine, a young unmarried
clergyman, tells me, that, so far as his experience goes, he has
reason to think the ancient author had fact to justify his

I'll tell you how it is with the pictures of women we fall in love
with at first sight.

--We a'n't talking about pictures,--said the landlady's daughter,
--we're talking about women.

I understood that we were speaking of love at sight,--I remarked,
mildly.--Now, as all a man knows about a woman whom he looks at is
just what a picture as big as a copper, or a "nickel," rather, at
the bottom of his eye can teach him, I think I am right in saying
we are talking about the pictures of women.--Well, now, the reason
why a man is not desperately in love with ten thousand women at
once is just that which prevents all our portraits being distinctly
seen upon that wall.  They all ARE painted there by reflection from
our faces, but because ALL of them are painted on each spot, and
each on the same surface, and many other objects at the same time,
no one is seen as a picture.  But darken a chamber and let a single
pencil of rays in through a key-hole, then you have a picture on
the wall.  We never fall in love with a woman in distinction from
women, until we can get an image of her through a pin-hole; and
then we can see nothing else, and nobody but ourselves can see the
image in our mental camera-obscura.

--My friend, the Poet, tells me he has to leave town whenever the
anniversaries come round.

What's the difficulty?--Why, they all want him to get up and make
speeches, or songs, or toasts; which is just the very thing he
doesn't want to do.  He is an old story, he says, and hates to show
on these occasions.  But they tease him, and coax him, and can't do
without him, and feel all over his poor weak head until they get
their fingers on the fontanelle, (the Professor will tell you what
this means,--he says the one at the top of the head always remains
open in poets,) until, by gentle pressure on that soft pulsating
spot, they stupefy him to the point of acquiescence.

There are times, though, he says, when it is a pleasure, before
going to some agreeable meeting, to rush out into one's garden and
clutch up a handful of what grows there,--weeds and violets
together,--not cutting them off, but pulling them up by the roots
with the brown earth they grow in sticking to them.  That's his
idea of a post-prandial performance.  Look here, now.  These verses
I am going to read you, he tells me, were pulled up by the roots
just in that way, the other day.--Beautiful entertainment,--names
there on the plates that flow from all English-speaking tongues as
familiarly as AND or THE; entertainers known wherever good poetry
and fair title-pages are held in esteem; guest a kind-hearted,
modest, genial, hopeful poet, who sings to the hearts of his
countrymen, the British people, the songs of good cheer which the
better days to come, as all honest souls trust and believe, will
turn into the prose of common life.  My friend, the Poet, says you
must not read such a string of verses too literally.  If he trimmed
it nicely below, you wouldn't see the roots, he says, and he likes
to keep them, and a little of the soil clinging to them.

This is the farewell my friend, the Poet, read to his and our
friend, the Poet:-


Brave singer of the coming time,
Sweet minstrel of the joyous present,
Crowned with the noblest wreath of rhyme,
The holly-leaf of Ayrshire's peasant,
Good-bye!  Good-bye!--Our hearts and hands,
Our lips in honest Saxon phrases,
Cry, God be with him, till he stands
His feet among the English daisies!

'Tis here we part;--for other eyes
The busy deck, the flattering streamer,
The dripping arms that plunge and rise,
The waves in foam, the ship in tremor,
The kerchiefs waving from the pier,
The cloudy pillar gliding o'er him,
The deep blue desert, lone and drear,
With heaven above and home before him!

His home!--the Western giant smiles,
And twirls the spotty globe to find it;--
This little speck the British Isles?
'Tis but a freckle,--never mind it!--
He laughs, and all his prairies roll,
Each gurgling cataract roars and chuckles,
And ridges stretched from pole to pole
Heave till they crack their iron knuckles!

But memory blushes at the sneer,
And Honor turns with frown defiant,
And Freedom, leaning on her spear,
Laughs louder than the laughing giant:-
"An islet is a world," she said,
"When glory with its dust has blended,
And Britain kept her noble dead
Till earth and seas and skies are rended!"

Beneath each swinging forest-bough
Some arm as stout in death reposes,--
From wave-washed foot to heaven-kissed brow
Her valor's life-blood runs in roses;
Nay, let our brothers of the West
Write smiling in their florid pages,
One-half her soil has walked the rest
In poets, heroes, martyrs, sages!

Hugged in the clinging billow's clasp,
From sea-weed fringe to mountain heather,
The British oak with rooted grasp
Her slender handful holds together;--
With cliffs of white and bowers of green,
And Ocean narrowing to caress her,
And hills and threaded streams between,--
Our little mother isle, God bless her!

In earth's broad temple where we stand,
Fanned by the eastern gales that brought us,
We hold the missal in our hand,
Bright with the lines our Mother taught us;
Where'er its blazoned page betrays
The glistening links of gilded fetters,
Behold, the half-turned leaf displays
Her rubric stained in crimson letters!

Enough!  To speed a parting friend
'Tis vain alike to speak and listen;--
Yet stay,--these feeble accents blend
With rays of light from eyes that glisten.
Good-bye! once more,--and kindly tell
In words of peace the young world's story,--
And say, besides,--we love too well
Our mother's soil, our father's glory!

When my friend, the Professor, found that my friend, the Poet, had
been coming out in this full-blown style, he got a little excited,
as you may have seen a canary, sometimes, when another strikes up.
The Professor says he knows he can lecture, and thinks he can write
verses.  At any rate, he has often tried, and now he was determined
to try again.  So when some professional friends of his called him
up, one day, after a feast of reason and a regular "freshet" of
soul which had lasted two or three hours, he read them these
verses.  He introduced them with a few remarks, he told me, of
which the only one he remembered was this:  that he had rather
write a single line which one among them should think worth
remembering than set them all laughing with a string of epigrams.
It was all right, I don't doubt; at any rate, that was his fancy
then, and perhaps another time he may be obstinately hilarious;
however, it may be that he is growing graver, for time is a fact so
long as clocks and watches continue to go, and a cat can't be a
kitten always, as the old gentleman opposite said the other day.

You must listen to this seriously, for I think the Professor was
very much in earnest when he wrote it.


As Life's unending column pours,
Two marshalled hosts are seen,--
Two armies on the trampled shores
That Death flows black between.

One marches to the drum-beat's roll,
The wide-mouthed clarion's bray,
And bears upon a crimson scroll,
"Our glory is to slay."

One moves in silence by the stream,
With sad, yet watchful eyes,
Calm as the patient planet's gleam
That walks the clouded skies.

Along its front no sabres shine,
No blood-red pennons wave;
Its banner bears the single line,
"Our duty is to save."

For those no death-bed's lingering shade;
At Honor's trumpet-call,
With knitted brow and lifted blade
In Glory's arms they fall.

For these no clashing falchions bright,
No stirring battle-cry;
The bloodless stabber calls by night,--
Each answers, "Here am I!"

For those the sculptor's laurelled bust,
The builder's marble piles,
The anthems pealing o'er their dust
Through long cathedral aisles.

For these the blossom-sprinkled turf
That floods the lonely graves,
When Spring rolls in her sea-green surf
In flowery-foaming waves.

Two paths lead upward from below,
And angels wait above,
Who count each burning life-drop's flow,
Each falling tear of Love.

Though from the Hero's bleeding breast
Her pulses Freedom drew,
Though the white lilies in her crest
Sprang from that scarlet dew,--

While Valor's haughty champions wait
Till all their scars are shown,
Love walks unchallenged through the gate,
To sit beside the Throne!


[The schoolmistress came down with a rose in her hair,--a fresh
June rose.  She has been walking early; she has brought back two
others,--one on each cheek.

I told her so, in some such pretty phrase as I could muster for the
occasion.  Those two blush-roses I just spoke of turned into a
couple of damasks.  I suppose all this went through my mind, for
this was what I went on to say:-]

I love the damask rose best of all.  The flowers our mothers and
sisters used to love and cherish, those which grow beneath our
eaves and by our doorstep, are the ones we always love best.  If
the Houyhnhnms should ever catch me, and, finding me particularly
vicious and unmanageable, send a man-tamer to Rareyfy me, I'll tell
you what drugs he would have to take and how he would have to use
them.  Imagine yourself reading a number of the Houyhnhnm Gazette,
giving an account of such an experiment.


"THE soft-hoofed semi-quadruped recently captured was subjected to
the art of our distinguished man-tamer in presence of a numerous
assembly.  The animal was led in by two stout ponies, closely
confined by straps to prevent his sudden and dangerous tricks of
shoulder-hitting and foot-striking.  His countenance expressed the
utmost degree of ferocity and cunning.

"The operator took a handful of BUDDING LILAC-LEAVES, and crushing
them slightly between his hoofs, so as to bring out their peculiar
fragrance, fastened them to the end of a long pole and held them
towards the creature.  Its expression changed in an instant,--it
drew in their fragrance eagerly, and attempted to seize them with
its soft split hoofs.  Having thus quieted his suspicious subject,
the operator proceeded to tie a BLUE HYACINTH to the end of the
pole and held it out towards the wild animal.  The effect was
magical.  Its eyes filled as if with raindrops, and its lips
trembled as it pressed them to the flower.  After this it was
perfectly quiet, and brought a measure of corn to the man-tamer,
without showing the least disposition to strike with the feet or
hit from the shoulder."

That will do for the Houyhnhnm Gazette.--Do you ever wonder why
poets talk so much about flowers?  Did you ever hear of a poet who
did not talk about them?  Don't you think a poem, which, for the
sake of being original, should leave them out, would be like those
verses where the letter A or E or some other is omitted?  No,--they
will bloom over and over again in poems as in the summer fields, to
the end of time, always old and always new.  Why should we be more
shy of repeating ourselves than the spring be tired of blossoms or
the night of stars?  Look at Nature.  She never wearies of saying
over her floral pater-noster.  In the crevices of Cyclopean walls,
--in the dust where men lie, dust also,--on the mounds that bury
huge cities, the wreck of Nineveh and the Babel-heap,--still that
same sweet prayer and benediction.  The Amen! of Nature is always a

Are you tired of my trivial personalities,--those splashes and
streaks of sentiment, sometimes perhaps of sentimentality, which
you may see when I show you my heart's corolla as if it were a
tulip?  Pray, do not give yourself the trouble to fancy me an idiot
whose conceit it is to treat himself as an exceptional being.  It
is because you are just like me that I talk and know that you will
listen.  We are all splashed and streaked with sentiments,--not
with precisely the same tints, or in exactly the same patterns, but
by the same hand and from the same palette.

I don't believe any of you happen to have just the same passion for
the blue hyacinth which I have,--very certainly not for the crushed
lilac-leaf-buds; many of you do not know how sweet they are.  You
love the smell of the sweet-fern and the bayberry-leaves, I don't
doubt; but I hardly think that the last bewitches you with young
memories as it does me.  For the same reason I come back to damask
roses, after having raised a good many of the rarer varieties.  I
like to go to operas and concerts, but there are queer little old
homely sounds that are better than music to me.  However, I suppose
it's foolish to tell such things.

--It is pleasant to be foolish at the right time,--said the
divinity-student;--saying it, however, in one of the dead
languages, which I think are unpopular for summer-reading, and
therefore do not bear quotation as such.

Well, now,--said I,--suppose a good, clean, wholesome-looking
countryman's cart stops opposite my door.--Do I want any
huckleberries?--If I do not, there are those that do.  Thereupon my
soft-voiced handmaid bears out a large tin pan, and then the
wholesome countryman, heaping the peck-measure, spreads his broad
hands around its lower arc to confine the wild and frisky berries,
and so they run nimbly along the narrowing channel until they
tumble rustling down in a black cascade and tinkle on the
resounding metal beneath.--I won't say that this rushing
huckleberry hail-storm has not more music for me than the "Anvil

--I wonder how my great trees are coming on this summer.

--Where are your great trees, Sir?--said the divinity-student.

Oh, all round about New England.  I call all trees mine that I have
put my wedding-ring on, and I have as many tree-wives as Brigham
Young has human ones.

--One set's as green as the other,--exclaimed a boarder, who has
never been identified.

They're all Bloomers,--said the young fellow called John.

[I should have rebuked this trifling with language, if our
landlady's daughter had not asked me just then what I meant by
putting my wedding-ring on a tree.]

Why, measuring it with my thirty-foot tape, my dear,--said I,--I
have worn a tape almost out on the rough barks of our old New
England elms and other big trees.--Don't you want to hear me talk
trees a little now?  That is one of my specialities.

[So they all agreed that they should like to hear me talk about

I want you to understand, in the first place, that I have a most
intense, passionate fondness for trees in general, and have had
several romantic attachments to certain trees in particular.  Now,
if you expect me to hold forth in a "scientific" way about my
tree-loves,--to talk, for instance, of the Ulmus Americana, and
describe the ciliated edges of its samara, and all that,--you are an
anserine individual, and I must refer you to a dull friend who will
discourse to you of such matters.  What should you think of a lover
who should describe the idol of his heart in the language of
science, thus:  Class, Mammalia; Order, Primates; Genus, Homo;
Species, Europeus; Variety, Brown; Individual, Ann Eliza; Dental

 2-2 1-1 2-2 3-3
 2-2 1-1 2-2 3-3'

and so on?

No, my friends, I shall speak of trees as we see them, love them,
adore them in the fields, where they are alive, holding their green
sun-shades over our heads, talking to us with their hundred
thousand whispering tongues, looking down on us with that sweet
meekness which belongs to huge, but limited organisms,--which one
sees in the brown eyes of oxen, but most in the patient posture,
the outstretched arms, and the heavy-drooping robes of these vast
beings endowed with life, but not with soul,--which outgrow us and
outlive us, but stand helpless,--poor things!--while Nature dresses
and undresses them, like so many full-sized, but under-witted

Did you ever read old Daddy Gilpin?  Slowest of men, even of
English men; yet delicious in his slowness, as is the light of a
sleepy eye in woman.  I always supposed "Dr. Syntax" was written to
make fun of him.  I have a whole set of his works, and am very
proud of it, with its gray paper, and open type, and long ff, and
orange-juice landscapes.  The Pere Gilpin had the kind of science I
like in the study of Nature,--a little less observation than White
of Selborne, but a little more poetry.--Just think of applying the
Linnaean system to an elm!  Who cares how many stamens or pistils
that little brown flower, which comes out before the leaf, may have
to classify it by?  What we want is the meaning, the character, the
expression of a tree, as a kind and as an individual.

There is a mother-idea in each particular kind of tree, which, if
well marked, is probably embodied in the poetry of every language.
Take the oak, for instance, and we find it always standing as a
type of strength and endurance.  I wonder if you ever thought of
the single mark of supremacy which distinguishes this tree from all
our other forest-trees?  All the rest of them shirk the work of
resisting gravity; the oak alone defies it.  It chooses the
horizontal direction for its limbs, so that their whole weight may
tell,--and then stretches them out fifty or sixty feet, so that the
strain may be mighty enough to be worth resisting.  You will find,
that, in passing from the extreme downward droop of the branches of
the weeping-willow to the extreme upward inclination of those of
the poplar, they sweep nearly half a circle.  At 90 degrees the oak
stops short; to slant upward another degree would mark infirmity of
purpose; to bend downwards, weakness of organization.  The American
elm betrays something of both; yet sometimes, as we shall see, puts
on a certain resemblance to its sturdier neighbor.

It won't do to be exclusive in our taste about trees.  There is
hardly one of them which has not peculiar beauties in some fitting
place for it.  I remember a tall poplar of monumental proportions
and aspect, a vast pillar of glossy green, placed on the summit of
a lofty hill, and a beacon to all the country round.  A native of
that region saw fit to build his house very near it, and, having a
fancy that it might blow down some time or other, and exterminate
himself and any incidental relatives who might be "stopping" or
"tarrying" with him,--also laboring under the delusion that human
life is under all circumstances to be preferred to vegetable
existence,--had the great poplar cut down.  It is so easy to say,
"It is only a poplar!" and so much harder to replace its living
cone than to build a granite obelisk!

I must tell you about some of my tree-wives.  I was at one period
of my life much devoted to the young lady-population of Rhode
Island, a small, but delightful State in the neighborhood of
Pawtucket.  The number of inhabitants being not very large, I had
leisure, during my visits to the Providence Plantations, to inspect
the face of the country in the intervals of more fascinating
studies of physiognomy.  I heard some talk of a great elm a short
distance from the locality just mentioned.  "Let us see the great
elm,"--I said, and proceeded to find it,--knowing that it was on a
certain farm in a place called Johnston, if I remember rightly.  I
shall never forget my ride and my introduction to the great
Johnston elm.

I always tremble for a celebrated tree when I approach it for the
first time.  Provincialism has no SCALE of excellence in man or
vegetable; it never knows a first-rate article of either kind when
it has it, and is constantly taking second and third rate ones for
Nature's best.  I have often fancied the tree was afraid of me, and
that a sort of shiver came over it as over a betrothed maiden when
she first stands before the unknown to whom she has been plighted.
Before the measuring-tape the proudest tree of them all quails and
shrinks into itself.  All those stories of four or five men
stretching their arms around it and not touching each other's
fingers, if one's pacing the shadow at noon and making it so many
hundred feet, die upon its leafy lips in the presence of the awful
ribbon which has strangled so many false pretensions.

As I rode along the pleasant way, watching eagerly for the object
of my journey, the rounded tops of the elms rose from time to time
at the road-side.  Wherever one looked taller and fuller than the
rest, I asked myself,--"Is this it?"  But as I drew nearer, they
grew smaller,--or it proved, perhaps, that two standing in a line
had looked like one, and so deceived me.  At last, all at once,
when I was not thinking of it,--I declare to you it makes my flesh
creep when I think of it now,--all at once I saw a great, green
cloud swelling in the horizon, so vast, so symmetrical, of such
Olympian majesty and imperial supremacy among the lesser
forest-growths, that my heart stopped short, then jumped at my ribs
as a hunter springs at a five-barred gate, and I felt all through me,
without need of uttering the words,--"This is it!"

You will find this tree described, with many others, in the
excellent Report upon the Trees and Shrubs of Massachusetts.  The
author has given my friend the Professor credit for some of his
measurements, but measured this tree himself, carefully.  It is a
grand elm for size of trunk, spread of limbs, and muscular
development,--one of the first, perhaps the first, of the first
class of New England elms.

The largest actual girth I have ever found at five feet from the
ground is in the great elm lying a stone's throw or two north of
the main road (if my points of compass are right) in Springfield.
But this has much the appearance of having been formed by the union
of two trunks growing side by side.

The West-Springfield elm and one upon Northampton meadows, belong
also to the first class of trees.

There is a noble old wreck of an elm at Hatfield, which used to
spread its claws out over a circumference of thirty-five feet or
more before they covered the foot of its bole up with earth.  This
is the American elm most like an oak of any I have ever seen.

The Sheffield elm is equally remarkable for size and perfection of
form.  I have seen nothing that comes near it in Berkshire County,
and few to compare with it anywhere.  I am not sure that I remember
any other first-class elms in New England, but there may be many.

--What makes a first-class elm?--Why, size, in the first place, and
chiefly.  Anything over twenty feet of clear girth, five feet above
the ground, and with a spread of branches a hundred feet across,
may claim that title, according to my scale.  All of them, with the
questionable exception of the Springfield tree above referred to,
stop, so far as my experience goes, at about twenty-two or
twenty-three feet of girth and a hundred and twenty of spread.

Elms of the second class, generally ranging from fourteen to
eighteen feet, are comparatively common.  The queen of them all is
that glorious tree near one of the churches in Springfield.
Beautiful and stately she is beyond all praise.  The "great tree"
on Boston Common comes in the second rank, as does the one at
Cohasset, which used to have, and probably has still, a head as
round as an apple-tree, and that at Newburyport, with scores of
others which might be mentioned.  These last two have perhaps been
over-celebrated.  Both, however, are pleasing vegetables.  The poor
old Pittsfield elm lives on its past reputation.  A wig of false
leaves is indispensable to make it presentable.

[I don't doubt there may be some monster-elm or other, vegetating
green, but inglorious, in some remote New England village, which
only wants a sacred singer to make it celebrated.  Send us your
measurements,--(certified by the postmaster, to avoid possible
imposition,)--circumference five feet from soil, length of line
from bough-end to bough-end, and we will see what can be done for

--I wish somebody would get us up the following work:-


Photographs of New England Elms and other Trees, taken upon the
Same Scale of Magnitude.  With Letter-Press Descriptions, by a
Distinguished Literary Gentleman.  Boston & Co. 185..

The same camera should be used,--so far as possible,--at a fixed
distance.  Our friend, who has given us so many interesting figures
in his "Trees of America," must not think this Prospectus invades
his province; a dozen portraits, with lively descriptions, would be
a pretty complement to his large work, which, so far as published,
I find excellent.  If my plan were carried out, and another series
of a dozen English trees photographed on the same scale the
comparison would be charming.

It has always been a favorite idea of mine to bring the life of the
Old and the New World face to face, by an accurate comparison of
their various types of organization.  We should begin with man, of
course; institute a large and exact comparison between the
development of la pianta umana, as Alfieri called it, in different
sections of each country, in the different callings, at different
ages, estimating height, weigh, force by the dynamometer and the
spirometer, and finishing off with a series of typical photographs,
giving the principal national physiognomies.  Mr. Hutchinson has
given us some excellent English data to begin with.

Then I would follow this up by contrasting the various parallel
forms of life in the two continents.  Our naturalists have often
referred to this incidentally or expressly; but the animus of
Nature in the two half globes of the planet is so momentous a point
of interest to our race, that it should be made a subject of
express and elaborate study.  Go out with me into that walk which
we call THE MALL, and look at the English and American elms.  The
American elm is tall, graceful, slender-sprayed, and drooping as if
from languor.  The English elm is compact, robust, holds its
branches up, and carries its leaves for weeks longer than our own
native tree.

Is this typical of the creative force on the two sides of the
ocean, or not?  Nothing but a careful comparison through the whole
realm of life can answer this question.

There is a parallelism without identity in the animal and vegetable
life of the two continents, which favors the task of comparison in
an extraordinary manner.  Just as we have two trees alike in many
ways, yet not the same, both elms, yet easily distinguishable, just
so we have a complete flora and a fauna, which, parting from the
same ideal, embody it with various modifications.  Inventive power
is the only quality of which the Creative Intelligence seems to be
economical; just as with our largest human minds, that is the
divinest of faculties, and the one that most exhausts the mind
which exercises it.  As the same patterns have very commonly been
followed, we can see which is worked out in the largest spirit, and
determine the exact limitations under which the Creator places the
movement of life in all its manifestations in either locality.  We
should find ourselves in a very false position, if it should prove
that Anglo-Saxons can't live here, but die out, if not kept up by
fresh supplies, as Dr. Knox and other more or less wise persons
have maintained.  It may turn out the other way, as I have heard
one of our literary celebrities argue,--and though I took the other
side, I liked his best,--that the American is the Englishman

--Will you walk out and look at those elms with me after
breakfast?--I said to the schoolmistress.

[I am not going to tell lies about it, and say that she blushed,
--as I suppose she ought to have done, at such a tremendous piece of
gallantry as that was for our boarding-house.  On the contrary, she
turned a little pale,--but smiled brightly and said,--Yes, with
pleasure, but she must walk towards her school.--She went for her
bonnet.--The old gentleman opposite followed her with his eyes, and
said he wished he was a young fellow.  Presently she came down,
looking very pretty in her half-mourning bonnet, and carrying a
school-book in her hand.]


This is the shortest way,--she said, as we came to a corner.--Then
we won't take it,--said I.--The schoolmistress laughed a little,
and said she was ten minutes early, so she could go round.

We walked under Mr. Paddock's row of English elms.  The gray
squirrels were out looking for their breakfasts, and one of them
came toward us in light, soft, intermittent leaps, until he was
close to the rail of the burial-ground.  He was on a grave with a
broad blue-slate-stone at its head, and a shrub growing on it.  The
stone said this was the grave of a young man who was the son of an
Honorable gentleman, and who died a hundred years ago and more.
--Oh, yes, DIED,--with a small triangular mark in one breast, and
another smaller opposite, in his back, where another young man's
rapier had slid through his body; and so he lay down out there on
the Common, and was found cold the next morning, with the
night-dews and the death-dews mingled on his forehead.

Let us have one look at poor Benjamin's grave,--said I.--His bones
lie where his body was laid so long ago, and where the stone says
they lie,--which is more than can be said of most of the tenants of
this and several other burial-grounds.

[The most accursed act of Vandalism ever committed within my
knowledge was the uprooting of the ancient gravestones in three at
least of our city burialgrounds, and one at least just outside the
city, and planting them in rows to suit the taste for symmetry of
the perpetrators.  Many years ago, when this disgraceful process
was going on under my eyes, I addressed an indignant remonstrance
to a leading journal.  I suppose it was deficient in literary
elegance, or too warm in its language; for no notice was taken of
it, and the hyena-horror was allowed to complete itself in the face
of daylight.  I have never got over it.  The bones of my own
ancestors, being entombed, lie beneath their own tablet; but the
upright stones have been shuffled about like chessmen, and nothing
short of the Day of Judgment will tell whose dust lies beneath any
of those records, meant by affection to mark one small spot as
sacred to some cherished memory.  Shame! shame! shame!--that is all
I can say.  It was on public thoroughfares, under the eye of
authority, that this infamy was enacted.  The red Indians would
have known better; the selectmen of an African kraal-village would
have had more respect for their ancestors.  I should like to see
the gravestones which have been disturbed all removed, and the
ground levelled, leaving the flat tombstones; epitaphs were never
famous for truth, but the old reproach of "Here LIES" never had
such a wholesale illustration as in these outraged burial-places,
where the stone does lie above, and the bones do not lie beneath.]

Stop before we turn away, and breathe a woman's sigh over poor
Benjamin's dust.  Love killed him, I think.  Twenty years old, and
out there fighting another young fellow on the Common, in the cool
of that old July evening;--yes, there must have been love at the
bottom of it.

The schoolmistress dropped a rosebud she had in her hand, through
the rails, upon the grave of Benjamin Woodbridge.  That was all her
comment upon what I told her.--How women love Love! said I;--but
she did not speak.

We came opposite the head of a place or court running eastward from
the main street.--Look down there,--I said,--My friend the
Professor lived in that house at the left hand, next the further
corner, for years and years.  He died out of it, the other day.
--Died?--said the schoolmistress.--Certainly,--said I.--We die out of
houses, just as we die out of our bodies.  A commercial smash kills
a hundred men's houses for them, as a railroad crash kills their
mortal frames and drives out the immortal tenants.  Men sicken of
houses until at last they quit them, as the soul leaves its body
when it is tired of its infirmities.  The body has been called "the
house we live in"; the house is quite as much the body we live in.
Shall I tell you some things the Professor said the other day?
--Do!--said the schoolmistress.

A man's body,--said the Professor,--is whatever is occupied by his
will and his sensibility.  The small room down there, where I wrote
those papers you remember reading, was much more a portion of my
body than a paralytic's senseless and motionless arm or leg is of

The soul of a man has a series of concentric envelopes round it,
like the core of an onion, or the innermost of a nest of boxes.
First, he has his natural garment of flesh and blood.  Then, his
artificial integuments, with their true skin of solid stuffs, their
cuticle of lighter tissues, and their variously-tinted pigments.
Thirdly, his domicile, be it a single chamber or a stately mansion.
And then, the whole visible world, in which Time buttons him up as
in a loose outside wrapper.

You shall observe,--the Professor said,--for, like Mr. John Hunter
and other great men, he brings in that SHALL with great effect
sometimes,--you shall observe that a man's clothing or series of
envelopes does after a certain time mould itself upon his
individual nature.  We know this of our hats, and are always
reminded of it when we happen to put them on wrong side foremost.
We soon find that the beaver is a hollow cast of the skull, with
all its irregular bumps and depressions.  Just so all that clothes
a man, even to the blue sky which caps his head,--a little
loosely,--shapes itself to fit each particular being beneath it.
Farmers, sailors, astronomers, poets, lovers, condemned criminals,
all find it different, according to the eyes with which they
severally look.

But our houses shape themselves palpably on our inner and outer
natures.  See a householder breaking up and you will be sure of it.
There is a shell-fish which builds all manner of smaller shells
into the walls of its own.  A house is never a home until we have
crusted it with the spoils of a hundred lives besides those of our
own past.  See what these are and you can tell what the occupant

I had no idea,--said the Professor,--until I pulled up my domestic
establishment the other day, what an enormous quantity of roots I
had been making during the years I was planted there.  Why, there
wasn't a nook or a corner that some fibre had not worked its way
into; and when I gave the last wrench, each of them seemed to
shriek like a mandrake, as it broke its hold and came away.

There is nothing that happens, you know, which must not inevitably,
and which does not actually, photograph itself in every conceivable
aspect and in all dimensions.  The infinite galleries of the Past
await but one brief process and all their pictures will be called
out and fixed forever.  We had a curious illustration of the great
fact on a very humble scale.  When a certain bookcase, long
standing in one place, for which it was built, was removed, there
was the exact image on the wall of the whole, and of many of its
portions.  But in the midst of this picture was another,--the
precise outline of a map which had hung on the wall before the
bookcase was built.  We had all forgotten everything about the map
until we saw its photograph on the wall.  Then we remembered it, as
some day or other we may remember a sin which has been built over
and covered up, when this lower universe is pulled away from before
the wall of Infinity, where the wrong-doing stands self-recorded.

The Professor lived in that house a long time,--not twenty years,
but pretty near it.  When he entered that door, two shadows glided
over the threshold; five lingered in the doorway when he passed
through it for the last time,--and one of the shadows was claimed
by its owner to be longer than his own.  What changes he saw in
that quiet place!  Death rained through every roof but his;
children came into life, grew to maturity, wedded, faded away,
threw themselves away; the whole drama of life was played in that
stock-company's theatre of a dozen houses, one of which was his,
and no deep sorrow or severe calamity ever entered his dwelling.
Peace be to those walls, forever,--the Professor said,--for the
many pleasant years he has passed within them!

The Professor has a friend, now living at a distance, who has been
with him in many of his changes of place, and who follows him in
imagination with tender interest wherever he goes.--In that little
court, where he lived in gay loneliness so long,--

--in his autumnal sojourn by the Connecticut, where it comes
loitering down from its mountain fastnesses like a great lord,
swallowing up the small proprietary rivulets very quietly as it
goes, until it gets proud and swollen and wantons in huge luxurious
oxbows about the fair Northampton meadows, and at last overflows
the oldest inhabitant's memory in profligate freshets at Hartford
and all along its lower shores,--up in that caravansary on the
banks of the stream where Ledyard launched his log canoe, and the
jovial old Colonel used to lead the Commencement processions,
--where blue Ascutney looked down from the far distance, and the
hills of Beulah, as the Professor always called them, rolled up the
opposite horizon in soft climbing masses, so suggestive of the
Pilgrim's Heavenward Path that he used to look through his old
"Dollond" to see if the Shining Ones were not within range of
sight,--sweet visions, sweetest in those Sunday walks which carried
them by the peaceful common, through the solemn village lying in
cataleptic stillness under the shadow of the rod of Moses, to the
terminus of their harmless stroll,--the patulous fage, in the
Professor's classic dialect,--the spreading beech, in more familiar
phrase,--[stop and breathe here a moment, for the sentence is not
done yet, and we have another long journey before us,]--

--and again once more up among those other hills that shut in the
amber-flowing Housatonic,--dark stream, but clear, like the lucid
orbs that shine beneath the lids of auburn-haired, sherry-wine-eyed
demi-blondes,--in the home overlooking the winding stream and the
smooth, flat meadow; looked down upon by wild hills, where the
tracks of bears and catamounts may yet sometimes be seen upon the
winter snow; facing the twin summits which rise in the far North,
the highest waves of the great land-storm in all this billowy
region,--suggestive to mad fancies of the breasts of a half-buried
Titaness, stretched out by a stray thunderbolt, and hastily hidden
away beneath the leaves of the forest,--in that home where seven
blessed summers were passed, which stand in memory like the seven
golden candlesticks in the beatific vision of the holy dreamer,--

--in that modest dwelling we were just looking at, not glorious,
yet not unlovely in the youth of its drab and mahogany,--full of
great and little boys' playthings from top to bottom,--in all these
summer or winter nests he was always at home and always welcome.

This long articulated sigh of reminiscences,--this calenture which
shows me the maple-shadowed plains of Berkshire and the mountain-
circled green of Grafton beneath the salt waves which come feeling
their way along the wall at my feet, restless and soft-touching as
blind men's busy fingers,--is for that friend of mine who looks
into the waters of the Patapsco and sees beneath them the same
visions which paint themselves for me in the green depths of the

--Did I talk all this off to the schoolmistress?--Why, no,--of
course not.  I have been talking with you, the reader, for the last
ten minutes.  You don't think I should expect any woman to listen
to such a sentence as that long one, without giving her a chance to
put in a word?

--What did I say to the schoolmistress?--Permit me one moment.  I
don't doubt your delicacy and good-breeding; but in this particular
case, as I was allowed the privilege of walking alone with a very
interesting young woman, you must allow me to remark, in the
classic version of a familiar phrase, used by our Master Benjamin
Franklin, it is nullum tui negotii.

When the schoolmistress and I reached the school-room door, the
damask roses I spoke of were so much heightened in color by
exercise that I felt sure it would be useful to her to take a
stroll like this every morning, and made up my mind I would ask her
to let me join her again.

(To be burned unread.)

I am afraid I have been a fool; for I have told as much of myself
to this young person as if she were of that ripe and discreet age
which invites confidence and expansive utterance.  I have been
low-spirited and listless, lately,--it is coffee, I think,
--(I observe that which is bought READY-GROUND never affects the
head,)--and I notice that I tell my secrets too easily when I am

There are inscriptions on our hearts, which, like that on Dighton
Rock, are never to be seen except at dead-low tide.

There is a woman's footstep on the sand at the side of my deepest
ocean-buried inscription!

--Oh, no, no, no! a thousand times, no!--Yet what is this which has
been shaping itself in my soul?--Is it a thought?--is it a dream?
--is it a PASSION?--Then I know what comes next.

--The Asylum stands on a bright and breezy hill; those glazed
corridors are pleasant to walk in, in bad weather.  But there are
iron bars to all the windows.  When it is fair, some of us can
stroll outside that very high fence.  But I never see much life in
those groups I sometimes meet;--and then the careful man watches
them so closely!  How I remember that sad company I used to pass on
fine mornings, when I was a schoolboy!--B., with his arms full of
yellow weeds,--ore from the gold mines which he discovered long
before we heard of California,--Y., born to millions, crazed by too
much plum-cake, (the boys said,) dogged, explosive,--made a
Polyphemus of my weak-eyed schoolmaster, by a vicious flirt with a
stick,--(the multi-millonnaires sent him a trifle, it was said, to
buy another eye with; but boys are jealous of rich folks, and I
don't doubt the good people made him easy for life,)--how I
remember them all!

I recollect, as all do, the story of the Hall of Eblis, in
"Vathek," and how each shape, as it lifted its hand from its
breast, showed its heart,--a burning coal.  The real Hall of Eblis
stands on yonder summit.  Go there on the next visiting-day, and
ask that figure crouched in the corner, huddled up like those
Indian mummies and skeletons found buried in the sitting posture,
to lift its hand,--look upon its heart, and behold, not fire, but
ashes.--No, I must not think of such an ending!  Dying would be a
much more gentlemanly way of meeting the difficulty.  Make a will
and leave her a house or two and some stocks, and other little
financial conveniences, to take away her necessity for keeping
school.--I wonder what nice young man's feet would be in my French
slippers before six months were over!  Well, what then?  If a man
really loves a woman, of course he wouldn't marry her for the
world, if he were not quite sure that he was the best person she
could by any possibility marry.

--It is odd enough to read over what I have just been writing.--It
is the merest fancy that ever was in the world.  I shall never be
married.  She will; and if she is as pleasant as she has been so
far, I will give her a silver tea-set, and go and take tea with her
and her husband, sometimes.  No coffee, I hope, though,--it
depresses me sadly.  I feel very miserably;--they must have been
grinding it at home.--Another morning walk will be good for me, and
I don't doubt the schoolmistress will be glad of a little fresh air
before school.

--The throbbing flushes of the poetical intermittent have been
coming over me from time to time of late.  Did you ever see that
electrical experiment which consists in passing a flash through
letters of gold-leaf in a darkened room, whereupon some name or
legend springs out of the darkness in characters of fire?

There are songs all written out in my soul, which I could read, if
the flash might pass through them,--but the fire must come down
from heaven.  Ah! but what if the stormy nimbus of youthful passion
has blown by, and one asks for lightning from the ragged cirrus of
dissolving aspirations, or the silvered cumulus of sluggish
satiety?  I will call on her whom the dead poets believed in, whom
living ones no longer worship,--the immortal maid, who, name her
what you will,--Goddess, Muse, Spirit of Beauty,--sits by the
pillow of every youthful poet, and bends over his pale forehead
until her tresses lie upon his cheek and rain their gold into his


O my lost Beauty!--hast thou folded quite
Thy wings of morning light
Beyond those iron gates
Where Life crowds hurrying to the haggard Fates,
And Age upon his mound of ashes waits
To chill our fiery dreams,
Hot from the heart of youth plunged in his icy streams?

Leave me not fading in these weeds of care,
Whose flowers are silvered hair!--
Have I not loved thee long,
Though my young lips have often done thee wrong
And vexed thy heaven-tuned ear with careless song?
Ah, wilt thou yet return,
Bearing thy rose-hued torch, and bid thine altar burn?

Come to me!--I will flood thy silent shine
With my soul's sacred wine,
And heap thy marble floors
As the wild spice-trees waste their fragrant stores
In leafy islands walled with madrepores
And lapped in Orient seas,
When all their feathery palm toss, plume-like, in the breeze.

Come to me!--thou shalt feed on honied words,
Sweeter than song of birds;--
No wailing bulbul's throat,
No melting dulcimer's melodious note,
When o'er the midnight wave its murmurs float,
Thy ravished sense might soothe
With flow so liquid-soft, with strain so velvet-smooth.

Thou shalt be decked with jewels, like a queen,
Sought in those bowers of green
Where loop the clustered vines
And the close-clinging dulcamara twines,--
Pure pearls of Maydew where the moonlight shines,
And Summer's fruited gems,
And coral pendants shorn from Autumn's berried stems.

Sit by me drifting on the sleepy waves,--
Or stretched by grass-grown graves,
Whose gray, high-shouldered stones,
Carved with old names Life's time-worn roll disowns,
Lean, lichen-spotted, o'er the crumbled bones
Still slumbering where they lay
While the sad Pilgrim watched to scare the wolf away.

Spread o'er my couch thy visionary wing!
Still let me dream and sing,--
Dream of that winding shore
Where scarlet cardinals bloom,--for me no more,--
The stream with heaven beneath its liquid floor,
And clustering nenuphars
Sprinkling its mirrored blue like golden-chaliced stars!

Come while their balms the linden-blossoms shed!--
Come while the rose is red,--
While blue-eyed Summer smiles
On the green ripples round you sunken piles
Washed by the moon-wave warm from Indian isles,
And on the sultry air
The chestnuts spread their palms like holy men in prayer!

Oh, for thy burning lips to fire my brain
With thrills of wild sweet pain!--
On life's autumnal blast,
Like shrivelled leaves, youth's, passion-flowers are cast,--
Once loving thee, we love thee to the last!--
Behold thy new-decked shrine,
And hear once more the voice that breathed "Forever thine!"


[The company looked a little flustered one morning when I came in,
--so much so, that I inquired of my neighbor, the divinity-student,)
what had been going on.  It appears that the young fellow whom they
call John had taken advantage of my being a little late (I having
been rather longer than usual dressing that morning) to circulate
several questions involving a quibble or play upon words,--in
short, containing that indignity to the human understanding,
condemned in the passages from the distinguished moralist of the
last century and the illustrious historian of the present, which I
cited on a former occasion, and known as a PUN.  After breakfast,
one of the boarders handed me a small roll of paper containing some
of the questions and their answers.  I subjoin two or three of
them, to show what a tendency there is to frivolity and meaningless
talk in young persons of a certain sort, when not restrained by the
presence of more reflective natures.--It was asked, "Why tertian
and quartan fevers were like certain short-lived insects."  Some
interesting physiological relation would be naturally suggested.
The inquirer blushes to find that the answer is in the paltry
equivocation, that they SKIP a day or two.--"Why an Englishman must
go to the Continent to weaken his grog or punch."  The answer
proves to have no relation whatever to the temperance-movement, as
no better reason is given than that island--(or, as it is absurdly
written, ILE AND) water won't mix.--But when I came to the next
question and its answer, I felt that patience ceased to be a
virtue.  "Why an onion is like a piano" is a query that a person of
sensibility would be slow to propose; but that in an educated
community an individual could be found to answer it in these
words,--"Because it smell odious," quasi, it's melodious,--is not
credible, but too true.  I can show you the paper.

Dear reader, I beg your pardon for repeating such things.  I know
most conversations reported in books are altogether above such
trivial details, but folly will come up at every table as surely as
purslain and chickweed and sorrel will come up in gardens.  This
young fellow ought to have talked philosophy, I know perfectly
well; but he didn't,--he made jokes.]

I am willing,--I said,--to exercise your ingenuity in a rational
and contemplative manner.--No, I do not proscribe certain forms of
philosophical speculation which involve an approach to the absurd
or the ludicrous, such as you may find, for example, in the folio
of the Reverend Father Thomas Sanchez, in his famous Disputations,
"De Sancto Matrimonio."  I will therefore turn this levity of yours
to profit by reading you a rhymed problem, wrought out by my friend
the Professor.


Have you heard of the wonderful one-shay,
That was built in such a logical way
It ran a hundred years to a day,
And then, of a sudden, it--ah, but stay,
I'll tell you what happened without delay,
Scaring the parson into fits,
Frightening people out of their wits,--
Have you ever heard of that, I say?

Seventeen hundred and fifty-five.
Georgius Secundus was then alive,--
Snuffy old drone from the German hive.
That was the year when Lisbon-town
Saw the earth open and gulp her down,
And Braddock's army was done so brown,
Left without a scalp to its crown.
It was on the terrible Earthquake-day
That the Deacon finished the one-hoss-shay.

Now in building of chaises, I tell you what,
There is always SOMEWHERE a weakest spot,--
In hub, tire, felloe, in spring or thill,
In panel, or crossbar, or floor, or sill,
In screw, bolt, thoroughbrace,--lurking still
Find it somewhere you must and will,--
Above or below, or within or without,--
And that's the reason, beyond a doubt,
A chaise BREASTS DOWN, but doesn't WEAR OUT.

But the Deacon swore (as Deacons do,
With an "I dew vum," or an "I tell YEOU,")
He would build one shay to beat the taown
'n' the keounty 'n' all the kentry raoun';
It should be so built that it COULDN' break daown--
--"Fur," said the Deacon, "'t's mighty plain
Thut the weakes' place mus' stan the strain;
'n' the way t' fix it, uz I maintain,
Is only jest
T' make that place uz strong uz the rest."

So the Deacon inquired of the village folk
Where he could find the strongest oak,
That couldn't be split nor bent nor broke,--
That was for spokes and floor and sills;
He sent for lancewood to make the thills;
The crossbars were ash, from the straightest trees;
The panels of white-wood, that cuts like cheese,
But lasts like iron for things like these;
The hubs of logs from the "Settler's ellum,"--
Last of its timber,--they couldn't sell 'em,
Never an axe had seen their chips,
And the wedges flew from between their lips,
Their blunt ends frizzled like celery-tips;
Step and prop-iron, bolt and screw,
Spring, tire, axle, and linchpin too,
Steel of the finest, bright and blue;
Thoroughbrace bison-skin, thick and wide;
Boot, top, dasher, from tough old hide
Found in the pit when the tanner died.
That was the way he "put her through."--
"There!" said the Deacon, "naow she'll dew."

Do!  I tell you, I father guess
She was a wonder, and nothing less!
Colts grew horses, beards turned gray,
Deacon and deaconess dropped away,
Children and grand-children--where were they?
But there stood the stout old one-hoss-shay
As fresh as on Lisbon-earthquake-day!

EIGHTEEN HUNDRED;--it came and found
The Deacon's Masterpiece strong and sound.
Eighteen hundred increased by ten;--
"Hahnsum kerridge" they called it then.
Eighteen hundred and twenty came;--
Running as usual; much the same.
Thirty and forty at last arrive,
And then come fifty, and FIFTY-FIVE.

Little of all we value here
Wakes on the morn of its hundredth year
Without both feeling and looking queer.
In fact, there's nothing that keeps its youth,
So far as I know, but a tree and truth.
(This is a moral that runs at large;
Take it.--You're welcome.--No extra charge.)

FIRST OF NOVEMBER,--the Earthquake-day.--
There are traces of age in the one-hoss-shay.
A general flavor of mild decay,
But nothing local, as one may say.
There couldn't be,--for the Deacon's art
Had made it so like in every part
That there wasn't a chance for one to start.
For the wheels were just as strong as the thills,
And the floor was just as strong as the sills,
And the panels just as strong as the floor,
And the whippletree neither less nor more,
And the back-crossbar as strong as the fore,
And spring and axle and hub encore.
And yet, AS A WHOLE, it is past a doubt
In another hour it will be WORN OUT!

First of November, 'Fifty-five!
This morning the parson takes a drive.
Now, small boys, get out of the way!
Here comes the wonderful one-horse-shay,
Drawn by a rat-tailed, ewe-necked bay.
"Huddup!" said the parson.--Off went they.

The parson was working his Sunday's text,--
Had got to FIFTHLY, and stopped perplexed
At what the--Moses--was coming next.
All at once the horse stood still,
Close by the meet'n-house on the hill.
--First a shiver, and then a thrill,
Then something decidedly like a spill,--
And the parson was sitting upon a rock,
At half-past nine by the meet'n-house clock,--
Just the hour of the Earthquake shock!
--What do you think the parson found,
When he got up and stared around?
The poor old chaise in a heap or mound,
As if it had been to the mill and ground!
You see, of course, if you're not a dunce,
How it went to pieces all at once,--
All at once, and nothing first,--
Just as bubbles do when they burst.

End of the wonderful one-hoss-shay.
Logic is logic.  That's all I say.

--I think there is one habit,--I said to our company a day or two
afterwards--worse than that of punning.  It is the gradual
substitution of cant or flash terms for words which truly
characterize their objects.  I have known several very genteel
idiots whose whole vocabulary had deliquesced into some half dozen
expressions.  All things fell into one of two great categories,
--FAST or SLOW.  Man's chief end was to be a BRICK.  When the great
calamities of life overtook their friends, these last were spoken
of as being a GOOD DEAL CUT UP.  Nine-tenths of human existence
were summed up in the single word, BORE.  These expressions come to
be the algebraic symbols of minds which have grown too weak or
indolent to discriminate.  They are the blank checks of
intellectual bankruptcy;--you may fill them up with what idea you
like; it makes no difference, for there are no funds in the
treasury upon which they are drawn.  Colleges and good-for-nothing
smoking-clubs are the places where these conversational fungi
spring up most luxuriantly.  Don't think I undervalue the proper
use and application of a cant word or phrase.  It adds piquancy to
conversation, as a mushroom does to a sauce.  But it is no better
than a toadstool, odious to the sense and poisonous to the
intellect, when it spawns itself all over the talk of men and
youths capable of talking, as it sometimes does.  As we hear flash
phraseology, it is commonly the dishwater from the washings of
English dandyism, school-boy or full-grown, wrung out of a
three-volume novel which had sopped it up, or decanted from the
pictured urn of Mr. Verdant Green, and diluted to suit the provincial

--The young fellow called John spoke up sharply and said, it was
"rum" to hear me "pitchin' into fellers" for "goin' it in the slang
line," when I used all the flash words myself just when I pleased.

--I replied with my usual forbearance.--Certainly, to give up the
algebraic symbol, because A or B is often a cover for ideal
nihility, would be unwise.  I have heard a child laboring to
express a certain condition, involving a hitherto undescribed
sensation (as it supposed,) all of which could have been
sufficiently explained by the participle--BORED.  I have seen a
country-clergyman, with a one-story intellect and a one-horse
vocabulary, who has consumed his valuable time (and mine) freely,
in developing an opinion of a brother-minister's discourse which
would have been abundantly characterized by a peach-down-lipped
sophomore in the one word--SLOW.  Let us discriminate, and be shy
of absolute proscription.  I am omniverbivorous by nature and
training.  Passing by such words as are poisonous, I can swallow
most others, and chew such as I cannot swallow.

Dandies are not good for much, but they are good for something.
They invent or keep in circulation those conversational blank
checks or counters just spoken of, which intellectual capitalists
may sometimes find it worth their while to borrow of them.  They
are useful, too, in keeping up the standard of dress, which, but
for them, would deteriorate, and become, what some old fools would
have it, a matter of convenience, and not of taste and art.  Yes, I
like dandies well enough,--on one condition.

--What is that, Sir?--said the divinity-student.

--That they have pluck.  I find that lies at the bottom of all true
dandyism.  A little boy dressed up very fine, who puts his finger
in his mouth and takes to crying, if other boys make fun of him,
looks very silly.  But if he turns red in the face and knotty in
the fists, and makes an example of the biggest of his assailants,
throwing off his fine Leghorn and his thickly-buttoned jacket, if
necessary, to consummate the act of justice, his small toggery
takes on the splendors of the crested helmet that frightened
Astyanax.  You remember that the Duke said his dandy officers were
his best officers.  The "Sunday blood," the super-superb sartorial
equestrian of our annual Fast-day, is not imposing or dangerous.
But such fellows as Brummel and D'Orsay and Byron are not to be
snubbed quite so easily.  Look out for "la main de fer sous le gant
de velours," (which I printed in English the other day without
quotation-marks, thinking whether any scarabaeus criticus would add
this to his globe and roll in glory with it into the newspapers,
--which he didn't do it, in the charming pleonasm of the London
language, and therefore I claim the sole merit of exposing the
same.)  A good many powerful and dangerous people have had a
decided dash of dandyism about them.  There was Alcibiades, the
"curled son of Clinias," an accomplished young man, but what would
be called a "swell" in these days.  There was Aristoteles, a very
distinguished writer, of whom you have heard,--a philosopher, in
short, whom it took centuries to learn, centuries to unlearn, and
is now going to take a generation or more to learn over again.
Regular dandy, he was.  So was Marcus Antonius; and though he lost
his game, he played for big stakes, and it wasn't his dandyism that
spoiled his chance.  Petrarca was not to be despised as a scholar
or a poet, but he was one of the same sort.  So was Sir Humphrey
Davy; so was Lord Palmerston, formerly, if I am not forgetful.
Yes,--a dandy is good for something as such; and dandies such as I
was just speaking of have rocked this planet like a cradle,--aye,
and left it swinging to this day.--Still, if I were you, I wouldn't
go to the tailor's, on the strength of these remarks, and run up a
long bill which will render pockets a superfluity in your next
suit.  Elegans "nascitur, non fit."  A man is born a dandy, as he
is born a poet.  There are heads that can't wear hats; there are
necks that can't fit cravats; there are jaws that can't fill out
collars--(Willis touched this last point in one of his earlier
ambrotypes, if I remember rightly); there are tournures nothing can
humanize, and movements nothing can subdue to the gracious suavity
or elegant languor or stately serenity which belong to different
styles of dandyism.

We are forming an aristocracy, as you may observe, in this
country,--not a gratia-Dei, nor a juredivino one,--but a de-facto
upper stratum of being, which floats over the turbid waves of
common life like the iridescent film you may have seen spreading
over the water about our wharves,--very splendid, though its origin
may have been tar, tallow, train-oil, or other such unctuous
commodities.  I say, then, we are forming an aristocracy; and,
transitory as its individual life often is, it maintains itself
tolerably, as a whole.  Of course, money is its corner-stone.  But
now observe this.  Money kept for two or three generations
transforms a race,--I don't mean merely in manners and hereditary
culture, but in blood and bone.  Money buys air and sunshine, in
which children grow up more kindly, of course, than in close, back
streets; it buys country-places to give them happy and healthy
summers, good nursing, good doctoring, and the best cuts of beef
and mutton.  When the spring-chickens come to market--I beg your
pardon,--that is not what I was going to speak of.  As the young
females of each successive season come on, the finest specimens
among them, other things being equal, are apt to attract those who
can afford the expensive luxury of beauty.  The physical character
of the next generation rises in consequence.  It is plain that
certain families have in this way acquired an elevated type of face
and figure, and that in a small circle of city-connections one may
sometimes find models of both sexes which one of the rural counties
would find it hard to match from all its townships put together.
Because there is a good deal of running down, of degeneration and
waste of life, among the richer classes, you must not overlook the
equally obvious fact I have just spoken of,--which in one or two
generations more will be, I think, much more patent than just now.

The weak point in our chryso-aristocracy is the same I have alluded
to in connection with cheap dandyism.  Its thorough manhood, its
high-caste gallantry, are not so manifest as the plate-glass of
its windows and the more or less legitimate heraldry of its
coach-panels.  It is very curious to observe of how small account
military folks are held among our Northern people.  Our young men
must gild their spurs, but they need not win them.  The equal
division of property keeps the younger sons of rich people above
the necessity of military service.  Thus the army loses an element
of refinement, and the moneyed upper class forgets what it is to
count heroism among its virtues.  Still I don't believe in any
aristocracy without pluck as its backbone.  Ours may show it when
the time comes, if it ever does come.

--These United States furnish the greatest market for intellectual
GREEN FRUIT of all the places in the world.  I think so, at any
rate.  The demand for intellectual labor is so enormous and the
market so far from nice, that young talent is apt to fare like
unripe gooseberries,--get plucked to make a fool of.  Think of a
country which buys eighty thousand copies of the "Proverbial
Philosophy," while the author's admiring countrymen have been
buying twelve thousand!  How can one let his fruit hang in the sun
until it gets fully ripe, while there are eighty thousand such
hungry mouths ready to swallow it and proclaim its praises?
Consequently, there never was such a collection of crude pippins
and half-grown windfalls as our native literature displays among
its fruits.  There are literary green-groceries at every corner,
which will buy anything, from a button-pear to a pine-apple.  It
takes a long apprenticeship to train a whole people to reading and
writing.  The temptation of money and fame is too great for young
people.  Do I not remember that glorious moment when the late Mr.----
we won't say who,--editor of the--we won't say what, offered me the
sum of fifty cents per double-columned quarto page for shaking my
young boughs over his foolscap apron?  Was it not an intoxicating
vision of gold and glory?  I should doubtless have revelled in its
wealth and splendor, but for learning that the FIFTY CENTS was to
be considered a rhetorical embellishment, and by no means a literal
expression of past fact or present intention.

--Beware of making your moral staple consist of the negative
virtues.  It is good to abstain, and teach others to abstain, from
all that is sinful or hurtful.  But making a business of it leads
to emaciation of character, unless one feeds largely also on the
more nutritious diet of active sympathetic benevolence.

--I don't believe one word of what you are saying,--spoke up the
angular female in black bombazine.

I am sorry you disbelieve it, Madam,--I said, and added softly to
my next neighbor,--but you prove it.

The young fellow sitting near me winked; and the divinity-student
said, in an undertone,--Optime dictum.

Your talking Latin,--said I,--reminds me of an odd trick of one of
my old tutors.  He read so much of that language, that his English
half turned into it.  He got caught in town, one hot summer, in
pretty close quarters, and wrote, or began to write, a series of
city pastorals.  Eclogues he called them, and meant to have
published them by subscription.  I remember some of his verses, if
you want to hear them.--You, Sir, (addressing myself to the
divinity-student,) and all such as have been through college, or,
what is the same thing, received an honorary degree, will
understand them without a dictionary.  The old man had a great deal
to say about "aestivation," as he called it, in opposition, as one
might say, to hibernation.  Intramural aestivation, or town-life in
summer, he would say, is a peculiar form of suspended existence, or
semi-asphyxia.  One wakes up from it about the beginning of the
last week in September.  This is what I remember of his poem:-


An Unpublished Poem, by my late Latin Tutor

In candent ire the solar splendor flames;
The foles, languescent, pend from arid rames;
His humid front the cive, anheling, wipes,
And dreams of erring on ventiferous ripes.

How dulce to vive occult to mortal eyes,
Dorm on the herb with none to supervise,
Carp the suave berries from the crescent vine,
And bibe the flow from longicaudate kine!

To me, alas! no verdurous visions come,
Save yon exiguous pool's conferva-scum,--
No concave vast repeats the tender hue
That laves my milk-jug with celestial blue!

Me wretched!  Let me curr to quercine shades
Effund your albid hausts, lactiferous maids!
Oh, might I vole to some umbrageous clump,--
Depart,--be off,--excede,--evade,--erump!

--I have lived by the sea-shore and by the mountains.--No, I am not
going to say which is best.  The one where your place is is the
best for you.  But this difference there is:  you can domesticate
mountains, but the sea is ferae naturae.  You may have a hut, or
know the owner of one, on the mountain-side; you see a light
half-way up its ascent in the evening, and you know there is a home,
and you might share it.  You have noted certain trees, perhaps; you
know the particular zone where the hemlocks look so black in
October, when the maples and beeches have faded.  All its reliefs
and intaglios have electrotyped themselves in the medallions that
hang round the walls of your memory's chamber.--The sea remembers
nothing.  It is feline.  It licks your feet,--its huge flanks purr
very pleasantly for you; but it will crack your bones and eat you,
for all that, and wipe the crimsoned foam from its jaws as if
nothing had happened.  The mountains give their lost children
berries and water; the sea mocks their thirst and lets them die.
The mountains have a grand, stupid, lovable tranquillity; the sea
has a fascinating, treacherous intelligence.  The mountains lie
about like huge ruminants, their broad backs awful to look upon,
but safe to handle.  The sea smooths its silver scales until you
cannot see their joints,--but their shining is that of a snake's
belly, after all.--In deeper suggestiveness I find as great a
difference.  The mountains dwarf mankind and foreshorten the
procession of its long generations.  The sea drowns out humanity
and time; it has no sympathy with either; for it belongs to
eternity, and of that it sings its monotonous song forever and

Yet I should love to have a little box by the seashore.  I should
love to gaze out on the wild feline element from a front window of
my own, just as I should love to look on a caged panther, and see
it, stretch its shining length, and then curl over and lap its
smooth sides, and by-and-by begin to lash itself into rage and show
its white teeth and spring at its bars, and howl the cry of its
mad, but, to me, harmless fury.--And then,--to look at it with that
inward eye,--who does not love to shuffle off time and its
concerns, at intervals,--to forget who is President and who is
Governor, what race he belongs to, what language he speaks, which
golden-headed nail of the firmament his particular planetary system
is hung upon, and listen to the great liquid metronome as it beats
its solemn measure, steadily swinging when the solo or duet of
human life began, and to swing just as steadily after the human
chorus has died out and man is a fossil on its shores?

--What should decide one, in choosing a summer residence?
--Constitution, first of all.  How much snow could you melt in an
hour, if you were planted in a hogshead of it?  Comfort is
essential to enjoyment.  All sensitive people should remember that
persons in easy circumstances suffer much more cold in summer--that
is, the warm half of the year--than in winter, or the other half.
You must cut your climate to your constitution, as much as your
clothing to your shape.  After this, consult your taste and
convenient.  But if you would be happy in Berkshire, you must carry
mountains in your brain; and if you would enjoy Nahant, you must
have an ocean in your soul.  Nature plays at dominos with you; you
must match her piece, or she will never give it up to you.

--The schoolmistress said, in a rather mischievous way, that she
was afraid some minds or souls would be a little crowded, if they
took in the Rocky Mountains or the Atlantic.

Have you ever read the little book called "The Stars and the
Earth?"--said I.--Have you seen the Declaration of Independence
photographed in a surface that a fly's foot would cover?  The forms
or conditions of Time and Space, as Kant will tell you, are nothing
in themselves,--only our way of looking at things.  You are right,
I think, however, in recognizing the category of Space as being
quite as applicable to minds as to the outer world.  Every man of
reflection is vaguely conscious of an imperfectly-defined circle
which is drawn about his intellect.  He has a perfectly clear sense
that the fragments of his intellectual circle include the curves of
many other minds of which he is cognizant.  He often recognizes
these as manifestly concentric with his own, but of less radius.
On the other hand, when we find a portion of an are on the outside
of our own, we say it INTERSECTS ours, but are very slow to confess
or to see that it CIRCUMSCRIBES it.  Every now and then a man's
mind is stretched by a new idea or sensation, and never shrinks
back to its former dimensions.  After looking at the Alps, I felt
that my mind had been stretched beyond the limits of its
elasticity, and fitted so loosely on my old ideas of space that I
had to spread these to fit it.

--If I thought I should ever see the Alps!--said the

Perhaps you will, some time or other,--I said.

It is not very likely,--she answered.--I have had one or two
opportunities, but I had rather be anything than governess in a
rich family.

[Proud, too, you little soft-voiced woman!  Well, I can't say I
like you any the worse for it.  How long will school-keeping take
to kill you?  Is it possible the poor thing works with her needle,
too?  I don't like those marks on the side of her forefinger.

Tableau.  Chamouni.  Mont Blanc in full view.  Figures in the
foreground; two of them standing apart; one of them a gentleman
of--oh,--ah,--yes! the other a lady in a white cashmere, leaning on
his shoulder.--The ingenuous reader will understand that this was
an internal, private, personal, subjective diorama, seen for one
instant on the background of my own consciousness, and abolished
into black nonentity by the first question which recalled me to
actual life, as suddenly as if one of those iron shop-blinds (which
I always pass at dusk with a shiver, expecting to stumble over some
poor but honest shop-boy's head, just taken off by its sudden and
unexpected descent, and left outside upon the sidewalk) had come
down in front of it "by the run."]

--Should you like to hear what moderate wishes life brings one to
at last?  I used to be very ambitious,--wasteful, extravagant, and
luxurious in all my fancies.  Read too much in the "Arabian
Nights."  Must have the lamp,--couldn't do without the ring.
Exercise every morning on the brazen horse.  Plump down into
castles as full of little milk-white princesses as a nest is of
young sparrows.  All love me dearly at once.--Charming idea of
life, but too high-colored for the reality.  I have outgrown all
this; my tastes have become exceedingly primitive,--almost,
perhaps, ascetic.  We carry happiness into our condition, but must
not hope to find it there.  I think you will be willing to hear
some lines which embody the subdued and limited desires of my


"Man wants but little here below."

Little I ask, my wants are few;
I only wish a hut of stone,
(A VERY PLAIN brown stone will do,)
That I may call my own;--
And close at hand is such a one,
In yonder street that fronts the sun.

Plain food is quite enough for me;
Three courses are as good as ten;--
If Nature can subsist on three,
Thank heaven for three.  Amen!
I always thought cold victual nice;--
My CHOICE would be vanilla-ice.

I care not much for gold or land;--
Give me a mortgage here and there,--
Some good bank-stock,--some note of hand,
Or trifling railroad share;--
I only ask that Fortune send
A LITTLE more than I shall spend.

Honors are silly toys, I know,
And titles are but empty names;--
I would, PERHAPS, be Plenipo,--
But only near St. James;--
I'm very sure I should not care
To fill our Gubernator's chair.

Jewels are baubles; 'tis a sin
To care for such unfruitful things;--
One good-sized diamond in a pin,--
Some, NOT SO LARGE, in rings,--
A ruby and a pearl, or so,
Will do for me;--I laugh at show.

My dame should dress in cheap attire;
(Good, heavy silks are never dear;)--
I own perhaps I MIGHT desire
Some shawls of true cashmere,--
Some marrowy crapes of China silk,
Like wrinkled skins on scalded milk.

I would not have the horse I drive
So fast that folks must stop and stare
An easy gait--two, forty-five--
Suits me; I do not care;--
Perhaps, for just a SINGLE SPURT,
Some seconds less would do no hurt.

Of pictures, I should like to own
Titians and Raphaels three or four,--
I love so much their style and tone,--
One Turner, and no more,--
(A landscape,--foreground golden dirt
The sunshine painted with a squirt.)

Of books but few,--some fifty score
For daily use, and bound for wear;
The rest upon an upper floor;--
Some LITTLE luxury THERE
Of red morocco's gilded gleam,
And vellum rich as country cream.

Busts, cameos, gems,--such things as these,
Which others often show for pride,
_I_ value for their power to please,
And selfish churls deride;--
ONE Stradivarius, I confess,
TWO Meerschaums, I would fain possess.

Wealth's wasteful tricks I will not learn,
Nor ape the glittering upstart fool;--
Shall not carved tables serve my turn,
But ALL must be of buhl?
Give grasping pomp its double share,--
I ask but ONE recumbent chair.

Thus humble let me live and die,
Nor long for Midas' golden touch,
If Heaven more generous gifts deny,
I shall not miss them MUCH,--
Too grateful for the blessing lent
Of simple tastes and mind content!

(A Parenthesis.)

I can't say just how many walks she and I had taken together before
this one.  I found the effect of going out every morning was
decidedly favorable on her health.  Two pleasing dimples, the
places for which were just marked when she came, played, shadowy,
in her freshening cheeks when she smiled and nodded good-morning to
me from the school-house-steps.

I am afraid I did the greater part of the talking.  At any rate, if
I should try to report all that I said during the first half-dozen
walks we took together, I fear that I might receive a gentle hint
from my friends the publishers, that a separate volume, at my own
risk and expense, would be the proper method of bringing them
before the public.

--I would have a woman as true as Death.  At the first real lie
which works from the heart outward, she should be tenderly
chloroformed into a better world, where she can have an angel for a
governess, and feed on strange fruits which will make her all over
again, even to her bones and marrow.--Whether gifted with the
accident of beauty or not, she should have been moulded in the
rose-red clay of Love, before the breath of life made a moving
mortal of her.  Love-capacity is a congenital endowment; and I
think, after a while, one gets to know the warm-hued natures it
belongs to from the pretty pipe-clay counterfeits of them.--Proud
she may be, in the sense of respecting herself; but pride in the
sense of contemning others less gifted than herself, deserves the
two lowest circles of a vulgar woman's Inferno, where the
punishments are Smallpox and Bankruptcy.--She who nips off the end
of a brittle courtesy, as one breaks the tip of an icicle, to
bestow upon those whom she ought cordially and kindly to recognize,
proclaims the fact that she comes not merely of low blood, but of
bad blood.  Consciousness of unquestioned position makes people
gracious in proper measure to all; but if a woman puts on airs with
her real equals, she has something about herself or her family she
is ashamed of, or ought to be.  Middle, and more than middle-aged
people, who know family histories, generally see through it.  An
official of standing was rude to me once.  Oh, that is the maternal
grandfather,--said a wise old friend to me,--he was a boor.--Better
too few words, from the woman we love, than too many:  while she is
silent, Nature is working for her; while she talks, she is working
for herself.--Love is sparingly soluble in the words of men;
therefore they speak much of it; but one syllable of woman's speech
can dissolve more of it than a man's heart can hold.

--Whether I said any or all of these things to the schoolmistress,
or not,--whether I stole them out of Lord Bacon,--whether I cribbed
them from Balzac,--whether I dipped them from the ocean of
Tupperian wisdom,--or whether I have just found them in my head,
laid there by that solemn fowl, Experience, (who, according to my
observation, cackles oftener than she drops real live eggs,) I
cannot say.  Wise men have said more foolish things,--and foolish
men, I don't doubt, have said as wise things.  Anyhow, the
schoolmistress and I had pleasant walks and long talks, all of
which I do not feel bound to report.

--You are a stranger to me, Ma'am.--I don't doubt you would like to
know all I said to the schoolmistress.--I sha'n't do it;--I had
rather get the publishers to return the money you have invested in
this.  Besides, I have forgotten a good deal of it.  I shall tell
only what I like of what I remember.

--My idea was, in the first place, to search out the picturesque
spots which the city affords a sight of, to those who have eyes.  I
know a good many, and it was a pleasure to look at them in company
with my young friend.  There were the shrubs and flowers in the
Franklin-Place front-yards or borders; Commerce is just putting his
granite foot upon them.  Then there are certain small seraglio-
gardens, into which one can get a peep through the crevices of high
fences,--one in Myrtle Street, or backing on it,--here and there
one at the North and South Ends.  Then the great elms in Essex
Street.  Then the stately horse-chestnuts in that vacant lot in
Chambers Street, which hold their outspread hands over your head,
(as I said in my poem the other day,) and look as if they were
whispering, "May grace, mercy, and peace be with you!"--and the
rest of that benediction.  Nay, there are certain patches of
ground, which, having lain neglected for a time, Nature, who always
has her pockets full of seeds, and holes in all her pockets, has
covered with hungry plebeian growths, which fight for life with
each other, until some of them get broad-leaved and succulent, and
you have a coarse vegetable tapestry which Raphael would not have
disdained to spread over the foreground of his masterpiece.  The
Professor pretends that he found such a one in Charles Street,
which, in its dare-devil impudence of rough-and-tumble vegetation,
beat the pretty-behaved flower-beds of the Public Garden as
ignominiously as a group of young tatterdemalions playing
pitch-and-toss beats a row of Sunday-school-boys with their
teacher at their head.

But then the Professor has one of his burrows in that region, and
puts everything in high colors relating to it.  That is his way
about everything.  I hold any man cheap,--he said,--of whom nothing
stronger can be uttered than that all his geese are swans.--How is
that, Professor?--said I;--I should have set you down for one of
that sort.--Sir,--said he,--I am proud to say, that Nature has so
far enriched me, that I cannot own so much as a duck without seeing
in it as pretty a swan as ever swam the basin in the garden of the
Luxembourg.  And the Professor showed the whites of his eyes
devoutly, like one returning thanks after a dinner of many courses.

I don't know anything sweeter than this leaking in of Nature
through all the cracks in the walls and floors of cities.  You heap
up a million tons of hewn rocks on a square mile or two of earth
which was green once.  The trees look down from the hill-sides and
ask each other, as they stand on tiptoe,--"What are these people
about?"  And the small herbs at their feet look up and whisper
back,--"We will go and see."  So the small herbs pack themselves up
in the least possible bundles, and wait until the wind steals to
them at night and whispers, "Come with me."  Then they go softly
with it into the great city,--one to a cleft in the pavement, one
to a spout on the roof, one to a seam in the marbles over a rich
gentleman's bones, and one to the grave without a stone where
nothing but a man is buried,--and there they grow, looking down on
the generations of men from mouldy roofs, looking up from between
the less-trodden pavements, looking out through iron cemetery-
railings.  Listen to them, when there is only a light breath
stirring, and you will hear them saying to each other,--"Wait
awhile!"  The words run along the telegraph of those narrow green
lines that border the roads leading from the city, until they reach
the slope of the hills, and the trees repeat in low murmurs to each
other,--"Wait awhile!"  By-and-by the flow of life in the streets
ebbs, and the old leafy inhabitants--the smaller tribes always in
front--saunter in, one by one, very careless seemingly, but very
tenacious, until they swarm so that the great stones gape from each
other with the crowding of their roots, and the feldspar begins to
be picked out of the granite to find them food.  At last the trees
take up their solemn line of march, and never rest until they have
encamped in the market-place.  Wait long enough and you will find
an old doting oak hugging a huge worn block in its yellow
underground arms; that was the cornerstone of the State-House.  Oh,
so patient she is, this imperturbable Nature!

--Let us cry!--

But all this has nothing to do with my walks and talks with the
schoolmistress.  I did not say that I would not tell you something
about them.  Let me alone, and I shall talk to you more than I
ought to, probably.  We never tell our secrets to people that pump
for them.

Books we talked about, and education.  It was her duty to know
something of these, and of course she did.  Perhaps I was somewhat
more learned than she, but I found that the difference between her
reading and mine was like that of a man's and a woman's dusting a
library.  The man flaps about with a bunch of feathers; the woman
goes to work softly with a cloth.  She does not raise half the
dust, nor fill her own eyes and mouth with it,--but she goes into
all the corners, and attends to the leaves as much as the covers.
--Books are the NEGATIVE pictures of thought, and the more sensitive
the mind that receives their images, the more nicely the finest
lines are reproduced.  A woman, (of the right kind,) reading after
a man, follows him as Ruth followed the reapers of Boaz, and her
gleanings are often the finest of the wheat.

But it was in talking of Life that we came most clearly together.
I thought I knew something about that,--that I could speak or write
about it somewhat to the purpose.

To take up this fluid earthly being of ours as a sponge sucks up
water,--to be steeped and soaked in its realities as a hide fills
its pores lying seven years in a tan-pit,--to have winnowed every
wave of it as a mill-wheel works up the stream that runs through
the flume upon its float-boards,--to have curled up in the keenest
spasms and flattened out in the laxest languors of this breathing-
sickness, which keeps certain parcels of matter uneasy for three or
four score years,--to have fought all the devils and clasped all
the angels of its delirium,--and then, just at the point when the
white-hot passions have cooled down to cherry-red, plunge our
experience into the ice-cold stream of some human language or
other, one might think would end in a rhapsody with something of
spring and temper in it.  All this I thought my power and province.

The schoolmistress had tried life, too.  Once in a while one meets
with a single soul greater than all the living pageant which passes
before it.  As the pale astronomer sits in his study with sunken
eyes and thin fingers, and weighs Uranus or Neptune as in a
balance, so there are meek, slight women who have weighed all which
this planetary life can offer, and hold it like a bauble in the
palm of their slender hands.  This was one of them.  Fortune had
left her, sorrow had baptized her; the routine of labor and the
loneliness of almost friendless city-life were before her.  Yet, as
I looked upon her tranquil face, gradually regaining a cheerfulness
which was often sprightly, as she became interested in the various
matters we talked about and places we visited, I saw that eye and
lip and every shifting lineament were made for love,--unconscious
of their sweet office as yet, and meeting the cold aspect of Duty
with the natural graces which were meant for the reward of nothing
less than the Great Passion.

--I never addressed one word of love to the schoolmistress in the
course of these pleasant walks.  It seemed to me that we talked of
everything but love on that particular morning.  There was,
perhaps, a little more timidity and hesitancy on my part than I
have commonly shown among our people at the boarding-house.  In
fact, I considered myself the master at the breakfast-table; but,
somehow, I could not command myself just then so well as usual.
The truth is, I had secured a passage to Liverpool in the steamer
which was to leave at noon,--with the condition, however, of being
released in case circumstances occurred to detain me.  The
schoolmistress knew nothing about all this, of course, as yet.

It was on the Common that we were walking.  The MALL, or boulevard
of our Common, you know, has various branches leading from it in
different directions.  One of these runs down from opposite Joy
Street southward across the whole length of the Common to Boylston
Street.  We called it the long path, and were fond of it.

I felt very weak indeed (though of a tolerably robust habit) as we
came opposite the head of this path on that morning.  I think I
tried to speak twice without making myself distinctly audible.  At
last I got out the question,--Will you take the long path with me?
--Certainly,--said the schoolmistress,--with much pleasure.--Think,
--I said,--before you answer; if you take the long path with
me now, I shall interpret it that we are to part no more!--The
schoolmistress stepped back with a sudden movement, as if an arrow
had struck her.

One of the long granite blocks used as seats was hard by,--the one
you may still see close by the Gingko-tree.--Pray, sit down,--I
said.--No, no, she answered, softly,--I will walk the LONG PATH
with you!

--The old gentleman who sits opposite met us walking, arm in arm,
about the middle of the long path, and said, very charmingly,
--"Good morning, my dears!"


[I did not think it probable that I should have a great many more
talks with our company, and therefore I was anxious to get as much
as I could into every conversation.  That is the reason why you
will find some odd, miscellaneous facts here, which I wished to
tell at least once, as I should not have a chance to tell them
habitually at our breakfast-table.--We're very free and easy, you
know; we don't read what we don't like.  Our parish is so large,
one can't pretend to preach to all the pews at once.  One can't be
all the time trying to do the best of one's best if a company works
a steam fire-engine, the firemen needn't be straining themselves
all day to squirt over the top of the flagstaff.  Let them wash
some of those lower-story windows a little.  Besides, there is no
use in our quarrelling now, as you will find out when you get
through this paper.]

--Travel, according to my experience, does not exactly correspond
to the idea one gets of it out of most books of travels.  I am
thinking of travel as it was when I made the Grand Tour, especially
in Italy.  Memory is a net; one finds it full of fish when he takes
it from the brook; but a dozen miles of water have run through it
without sticking.  I can prove some facts about travelling by a
story or two.  There are certain principles to be assumed,--such
as these:--He who is carried by horses must deal with rogues.
--To-day's dinner subtends a larger visual angle than yesterday's
revolution.  A mote in my eye is bigger to me than the biggest of
Dr. Gould's private planets.--Every traveller is a self-taught
entomologist.--Old jokes are dynamometers of mental tension; an old
joke tells better among friends travelling than at home,--which
shows that their minds are in a state of diminished, rather than
increased vitality.  There was a story about "strahps to your
pahnts," which was vastly funny to us fellows--on the road from
Milan to Venice.--Caelum, non animum,--travellers change their
guineas, but not their characters.  The bore is the same, eating
dates under the cedars of Lebanon, as over a plate of baked beans
in Beacon Street.--Parties of travellers have a morbid instinct for
"establishing raws" upon each other.--A man shall sit down with his
friend at the foot of the Great Pyramid and they will take up the
question they had been talking about under "the great elm," and
forget all about Egypt.  When I was crossing the Po, we were all
fighting about the propriety of one fellow's telling another that
his argument was absurd; one maintaining it to be a perfectly
admissible logical term, as proved by the phrase "reductio ad
absurdum;" the rest badgering him as a conversational bully.
Mighty little we troubled ourselves for Padus, the Po, "a river
broader and more rapid than the Rhone," and the times when Hannibal
led his grim Africans to its banks, and his elephants thrust their
trunks into the yellow waters over which that pendulum ferry-boat
was swinging back and forward every ten minutes!

--Here are some of those reminiscences, with morals prefixed, or
annexed, or implied.

Lively emotions very commonly do not strike us full in front, but
obliquely from the side; a scene or incident in UNDRESS often
affects us more than one in full costume.

"Is this the mighty ocean?--is this all?"

says the Princess in Gebir.  The rush that should have flooded my
soul in the Coliseum did not come.  But walking one day in the
fields about the city, I stumbled over a fragment of broken
masonry, and lo! the World's Mistress in her stone girdle--alta
maenia Romae--rose before me and whitened my cheek with her pale
shadow as never before or since.

I used very often, when coming home from my morning's work at one
of the public institutions of Paris, to stop in at the dear old
church of St. Etienne du Mont.  The tomb of St. Genevieve,
surrounded by burning candles and votive tablets, was there; the
mural tablet of Jacobus Benignus Winslow was there; there was a
noble organ with carved figures; the pulpit was borne on the oaken
shoulders of a stooping Samson; and there was a marvellous
staircase like a coil of lace.  These things I mention from memory,
but not all of them together impressed me so much as an inscription
on a small slab of marble fixed in one of the walls.  It told how
this church of St. Stephen was repaired and beautified in the year
16**, and how, during the celebration of its reopening, two girls
of the parish (filles de la paroisse) fell from the gallery,
carrying a part of the balustrade with them, to the pavement, but
by a miracle escaped uninjured.  Two young girls, nameless, but
real presences to my imagination, as much as when they came
fluttering down on the tiles with a cry that outscreamed the
sharpest treble in the Te Deum.  (Look at Carlyle's article on
Boswell, and see how he speaks of the poor young woman Johnson
talked with in the streets one evening.)  All the crowd gone but
these two "filles de la paroisse,"--gone as utterly as the dresses
they wore, as the shoes that were on their feet, as the bread and
meat that were in the market on that day.

Not the great historical events, but the personal incidents that
call up single sharp pictures of some human being in its pang or
struggle, reach us most nearly.  I remember the platform at Berne,
over the parapet of which Theobald Weinzapfli's restive horse
sprung with him and landed him more than a hundred feet beneath in
the lower town, not dead, but sorely broken, and no longer a wild
youth, but God's servant from that day forward.  I have forgotten
the famous bears, and all else.--I remember the Percy lion on the
bridge over the little river at Alnwick,--the leaden lion with his
tail stretched out straight like a pump-handle,--and why?  Because
of the story of the village boy who must fain bestride the leaden
tail, standing out over the water,--which breaking, he dropped into
the stream far below, and was taken out an idiot for the rest of
his life.

Arrow-heads must be brought to a sharp point, and the guillotine-
axe must have a slanting edge.  Something intensely human, narrow,
and definate pierces to the seat of our sensibilities more readily
than huge occurrences and catastrophes.  A nail will pick a lock
that defies hatchet and hammer.  "The Royal George" went down with
all her crew, and Cowper wrote an exquisitely simple poem about it;
but the leaf which holds it is smooth, while that which bears the
lines on his mother's portrait is blistered with tears.

My telling these recollections sets me thinking of others of the
same kind which strike the imagination, especially when one is
still young.  You remember the monument in Devizes market to the
woman struck dead with a lie in her mouth.  I never saw that, but
it is in the books.  Here is one I never heard mentioned;--if any
of the "Note and Query" tribe can tell the story, I hope they will.
Where is this monument?  I was riding on an English stage-coach
when we passed a handsome marble column (as I remember it) of
considerable size and pretensions.--What is that?--I said.--That,
--answered the coachman,--is THE HANGMAN'S PILLAR.  Then he told me
how a man went out one night, many years ago, to steal sheep.  He
caught one, tied its legs together, passed the rope over his head,
and started for home.  In climbing a fence, the rope slipped,
caught him by the neck, and strangled him.  Next morning he was
found hanging dead on one side of the fence and the sheep on the
other; in memory whereof the lord of the manor caused this monument
to be erected as a warning to all who love mutton better than
virtue.  I will send a copy of this record to him or her who shall
first set me right about this column and its locality.

And telling over these old stories reminds me that I have something
which may interest architects and perhaps some other persons.  I
once ascended the spire of Strasburg Cathedral, which is the
highest, I think, in Europe.  It is a shaft of stone filigree-work,
frightfully open, so that the guide puts his arms behind you to
keep you from falling.  To climb it is a noonday nightmare, and to
think of having climbed it crisps all the fifty-six joints of one's
twenty digits.  While I was on it, "pinnacled dim in the intense
inane," a strong wind was blowing, and I felt sure that the spire
was rocking.  It swayed back and forward like a stalk of rye or a
cat-o'nine-tails (bulrush) with a bobolink on it.  I mentioned it
to the guide, and he said that the spire did really swing back and
forward,--I think he said some feet.

Keep any line of knowledge ten years and some other line will
intersect it.  Long afterwards I was hunting out a paper of
Dumeril's in an old journal,--the "Magazin Encyclopedique" for l'an
troisieme, (1795,) when I stumbled upon a brief article on the
vibrations of the spire of Strasburg Cathedral.  A man can shake it
so that the movement shall be shown in a vessel of water nearly
seventy feet below the summit, and higher up the vibration is like
that of an earthquake.  I have seen one of those wretched wooden
spires with which we very shabbily finish some of our stone
churches (thinking that the lidless blue eye of heaven cannot tell
the counterfeit we try to pass on it,) swinging like a reed, in a
wind, but one would hardly think of such a thing's happening in a
stone spire.  Does the Bunker-Hill Monument bend in the blast like
a blade of grass?  I suppose so.

You see, of course, that I am talking in a cheap way;--perhaps we
will have some philosophy by and by;--let me work out this thin
mechanical vein.--I have something more to say about trees.  I have
brought down this slice of hemlock to show you.  Tree blew down in
my woods (that were) in 1852.  Twelve feet and a half round, fair
girth;--nine feet, where I got my section, higher up.  This is a
wedge, going to the centre, of the general shape of a slice of
apple-pie in a large and not opulent family.  Length, about
eighteen inches.  I have studied the growth of this tree by its
rings, and it is curious.  Three hundred and forty-two rings.
Started, therefore, about 1510.  The thickness of the rings tells
the rate at which it grew.  For five or six years the rate was
slow,--then rapid for twenty years.  A little before the year 1550
it began to grow very slowly, and so continued for about seventy
years.  In 1620 it took a new start and grew fast until 1714 then
for the most part slowly until 1786, when it started again and grew
pretty well and uniformly until within the last dozen years, when
it seems to have got on sluggishly.

Look here.  Here are some human lives laid down against the periods
of its growth, to which they corresponded.  This is Shakspeare's.
The tree was seven inches in diameter when he was born; ten inches
when he died.  A little less than ten inches when Milton was born;
seventeen when he died.  Then comes a long interval, and this
thread marks out Johnson's life, during which the tree increased
from twenty-two to twenty-nine inches in diameter.  Here is the
span of Napoleon's career;--the tree doesn't seem to have minded

I never saw the man yet who was not startled at looking on this
section.  I have seen many wooden preachers,--never one like this.
How much more striking would be the calendar counted on the rings
of one of those awful trees which were standing when Christ was on
earth, and where that brief mortal life is chronicled with the
stolid apathy of vegetable being, which remembers all human history
as a thing of yesterday in its own dateless existence!

I have something more to say about elms.  A relative tells me there
is one of great glory in Andover, near Bradford.  I have some
recollections of the former place, pleasant and other.  [I wonder
if the old Seminary clock strikes as slowly as it used to.  My
room-mate thought, when he first came, it was the bell tolling
deaths, and people's ages, as they do in the country.  He swore
--(ministers' sons get so familiar with good words that they are apt
to handle them carelessly)--that the children were dying by the
dozen, of all ages, from one to twelve, and ran off next day in
recess, when it began to strike eleven, but was caught before the
clock got through striking.]  At the foot of "the hill," down in
town, is, or was, a tidy old elm, which was said to have been
hooped with iron to protect it from Indian tomahawks, (Credat
Hahnemannus,) and to have grown round its hoops and buried them in
its wood.  Of course, this is not the tree my relative means.

Also, I have a very pretty letter from Norwich, in Connecticut,
telling me of two noble elms which are to be seen in that town.
One hundred and twenty-seven feet from bough-end to bough-end!
What do you say to that?  And gentle ladies beneath it, that love
it and celebrate its praises!  And that in a town of such supreme,
audacious, Alpine loveliness as Norwich!--Only the dear people
there must learn to call it Norridge, and not be misled by the mere
accident of spelling.


What a sad picture of our civilization!

I did not speak to you of the great tree on what used to be the
Colman farm, in Deerfield, simply because I had not seen it for
many years, and did not like to trust my recollection.  But I had
it in memory, and even noted down, as one of the finest trees in
symmetry and beauty I had ever seen.  I have received a document,
signed by two citizens of a neighboring town, certified by the
postmaster and a selectman, and these again corroborated,
reinforced, and sworn to by a member of that extraordinary
college-class to which it is the good fortune of my friend the
Professor to belong, who, though he has FORMERLY been a member of
Congress, is, I believe, fully worthy of confidence.  The tree
"girts" eighteen and a half feet, and spreads over a hundred, and is
a real beauty. I hope to meet my friend under its branches yet; if we
don't have "youth at the prow," we will have "pleasure at the 'elm."

And just now, again, I have got a letter about some grand willows
in Maine, and another about an elm in Wayland, but too late for
anything but thanks.

[And this leads me to say, that I have received a great many
communications, in prose and verse since I began printing these
notes.  The last came this very morning, in the shape of a neat and
brief poem, from New Orleans.  I could not make any of them public,
though sometimes requested to do so.  Some of them have given me
great pleasure, and encouraged me to believe I had friends whose
faces I had never seen.  If you are pleased with anything a writer
says, and doubt whether to tell him of it, do not hesitate; a
pleasant word is a cordial to one, who perhaps thinks he is tiring
you, and so becomes tired himself.  I purr very loud over a good,
honest letter that says pretty things to me.]

--Sometimes very young persons send communications which they want
forwarded to editors; and these young persons do not always seem to
have right conceptions of these same editors, and of the public,
and of themselves.  Here is a letter I wrote to one of these young
folks, but, on the whole, thought it best not to send.  It is not
fair to single out one for such sharp advice, where there are
hundreds that are in need of it.

Dear Sir,--You seem to be somewhat, but not a great deal, wiser
than I was at your age.  I don't wish to be understood as saying
too much, for I think, without committing myself to any opinion on
my present state, that I was not a Solomon at that stage of

You long to "leap at a single bound into celebrity."  Nothing is so
common-place as to wish to be remarkable.  Fame usually comes to
those who are thinking about something else,--very rarely to those
who say to themselves, "Go to, now, let us be a celebrated
individual!"  The struggle for fame, as such, commonly ends in
notoriety;--that ladder is easy to climb, but it leads to the
pillory which is crowded with fools who could not hold their
tongues and rogues who could not hide their tricks.

If you have the consciousness of genius, do something to show it.
The world is pretty quick, nowadays, to catch the flavor of true
originality; if you write anything remarkable, the magazines and
newspapers will find you out, as the school-boys find out where the
ripe apples and pears are.  Produce anything really good, and an
intelligent editor will jump at it.  Don't flatter yourself that
any article of yours is rejected because you are unknown to fame.
Nothing pleases an editor more than to get anything worth having
from a new hand.  There is always a dearth of really fine articles
for a first-rate journal; for, of a hundred pieces received, ninety
are at or below the sea-level; some have water enough, but no head;
some head enough, but no water; only two or three are from full
reservoirs, high up that hill which is so hard to climb.

You may have genius.  The contrary is of course probable, but it is
not demonstrated.  If you have, the world wants you more than you
want it.  It has not only a desire, but a passion, for every spark
of genius that shows itself among us; there is not a bull-calf in
our national pasture that can bleat a rhyme but it is ten to one,
among his friends, and no takers, that he is the real, genuine,
no-mistake Osiris.

Qu'est ce qu'il a fait?  What has he done?  That was Napoleon's
test.  What have you done?  Turn up the faces of your picture-
cards, my boy!  You need not make mouths at the public because it
has not accepted you at your own fancy-valuation.  Do the prettiest
thing you can and wait your time.

For the verses you send me, I will not say they are hopeless, and I
dare not affirm that they show promise.  I am not an editor, but I
know the standard of some editors.  You must not expect to "leap
with a single bound" into the society of those whom it is not
flattery to call your betters.  When "The Pactolian" has paid you
for a copy of verses,--(I can furnish you a list of alliterative
signatures, beginning with Annie Aureole and ending with Zoe
Zenith,)--when "The Rag-bag" has stolen your piece, after carefully
scratching your name out,--when "The Nut-cracker" has thought you
worth shelling, and strung the kernel of your cleverest poem,
--then, and not till then, you may consider the presumption against
you, from the fact of your rhyming tendency, as called in question,
and let our friends hear from you, if you think it worth while.
You may possibly think me too candid, and even accuse me of
incivility; but let me assure you that I am not half so
plain-spoken as Nature, nor half so rude as Time.  If you prefer the
long jolting of public opinion to the gentle touch of friendship, try
it like a man.  Only remember this,--that, if a bushel of potatoes is
shaken in a market-cart without springs to it, the small potatoes
always get to the bottom.  Believe me, etc., etc.

I always think of verse-writers, when I am in this vein; for these
are by far the most exacting, eager, self-weighing, restless,
querulous, unreasonable literary persons one is like to meet with.
Is a young man in the habit of writing verses?  Then the
presumption is that he is an inferior person.  For, look you, there
are at least nine chances in ten that he writes POOR verses.  Now
the habit of chewing on rhymes without sense and soul to match them
is, like that of using any other narcotic, at once a proof of
feebleness and a debilitating agent.  A young man can get rid of
the presumption against him afforded by his writing verses only by
convincing us that they are verses worth writing.

All this sounds hard and rough, but, observe, it is not addressed
to any individual, and of course does not refer to any reader of
these pages.  I would always treat any given young person passing
through the meteoric showers which rain down on the brief period of
adolescence with great tenderness.  God forgive us if we ever speak
harshly to young creatures on the strength of these ugly truths,
and so sooner or later, smite some tender-souled poet or poetess on
the lips who might have sung the world into sweet trances, had we
not silenced the matin-song in its first low breathings!  Just as
my heart yearns over the unloved, just so it sorrows for
the ungifted who are doomed to the pangs of an undeceived
self-estimate.  I have always tried to be gentle with the most
hopeless cases.  My experience, however, has not been encouraging.

--X. Y., aet. 18, a cheaply-got-up youth, with narrow jaws, and
broad, bony, cold, red hands, having been laughed at by the girls
in his village, and "got the mitten" (pronounced mittIn) two or
three times, falls to souling and controlling, and youthing and
truthing, in the newspapers.  Sends me some strings of verses,
candidates for the Orthopedic Infirmary, all of them, in which I
learn for the millionth time one of the following facts:  either
that something about a chime is sublime, or that something about
time is sublime, or that something about a chime is concerned with
time, or that something about a rhyme is sublime or concerned with
time or with a chime.  Wishes my opinion of the same, with advice
as to his future course.

What shall I do about it?  Tell him the whole truth, and send him a
ticket of admission to the Institution for Idiots and Feeble-minded
Youth?  One doesn't like to be cruel,--and yet one hates to lie.
Therefore one softens down the ugly central fact of donkeyism,
--recommends study of good models,--that writing verse should be an
incidental occupation only, not interfering with the hoe, the
needle, the lapstone, or the ledger,--and, above all that there
should be no hurry in printing what is written.  Not the least use
in all this.  The poetaster who has tasted type is done for.  He is
like the man who has once been a candidate for the Presidency.  He
feeds on the madder of his delusion all his days, and his very
bones grow red with the glow of his foolish fancy.  One of these
young brains is like a bunch of India crackers; once touch fire to
it and it is best to keep hands off until it has done popping,--if
it ever stops.  I have two letters on file; one is a pattern of
adulation, the other of impertinence.  My reply to the first,
containing the best advice I could give, conveyed in courteous
language, had brought out the second.  There was some sport in
this, but Dulness is not commonly a game fish, and only sulks after
he is struck.  You may set it down as a truth which admits of few
exceptions, that those who ask your OPINION really want your
PRAISE, and will be contented with nothing less.

There is another kind of application to which editors, or those
supposed to have access to them, are liable, and which often proves
trying and painful.  One is appealed to in behalf of some person in
needy circumstances who wishes to make a living by the pen.  A
manuscript accompanying the letter is offered for publication.  It
is not commonly brilliant, too often lamentably deficient.  If
Rachel's saying is true, that "fortune is the measure of
intelligence," then poverty is evidence of limited capacity which
it too frequently proves to be, notwithstanding a noble exception
here and there.  Now an editor is a person under a contract with
the public to furnish them with the best things he can afford for
his money.  Charity shown by the publication of an inferior article
would be like the generosity of Claude Duval and the other
gentlemen highwaymen, who pitied the poor so much they robbed the
rich to have the means of relieving them.

Though I am not and never was an editor, I know something of the
trials to which they are submitted.  They have nothing to do but to
develope enormous calluses at every point of contact with
authorship.  Their business is not a matter of sympathy, but of
intellect.  They must reject the unfit productions of those whom
they long to befriend, because it would be a profligate charity to
accept them.  One cannot burn his house down to warm the hands even
of the fatherless and the widow.


--You haven't heard about my friend the Professor's first
experiment in the use of anaesthetics, have you?

He was mightily pleased with the reception of that poem of his
about the chaise.  He spoke to me once or twice about another poem
of similar character he wanted to read me, which I told him I would
listen to and criticize.

One day, after dinner, he came in with his face tied up, looking
very red in the cheeks and heavy about the eyes.--Hy'r'ye?--he
said, and made for an arm-chair, in which he placed first his hat
and then his person, going smack through the crown of the former as
neatly as they do the trick at the circus.  The Professor jumped at
the explosion as if he had sat down on one of those small CALTHROPS
our grandfathers used to sow round in the grass when there were
Indians about,--iron stars, each ray a rusty thorn an inch and a
half long,--stick through moccasins into feet,--cripple 'em on the
spot, and give 'em lockjaw in a day or two.

At the same time he let off one of those big words which lie at the
bottom of the best man's vocabulary, but perhaps never turn up in
his life,--just as every man's hair MAY stand on end, but in most
men it never does.

After he had got calm, he pulled out a sheet or two of manuscript,
together with a smaller scrap, on which, as he said, he had just
been writing an introduction or prelude to the main performance.  A
certain suspicion had come into my mind that the Professor was not
quite right, which was confirmed by the way he talked; but I let
him begin.  This is the way he read it:-


I'm the fellah that tole one day
The tale of the won'erful one-hoss-shay.
Wan' to hear another?  Say.
--Funny, wasn'it?  Made ME laugh,--
I'm too modest, I am, by half,--
Made me laugh'S THOUGH I SH'D SPLIT,--
Cahn' a fellah like fellah's own wit?--
--Fellahs keep sayin',--"Well, now that's nice;
Did it once, but cahn' do it twice."--
Don' you b'lieve the'z no more fat;
Lots in the kitch'n 'z good 'z that.
Fus'-rate throw, 'n' no mistake,--
Han' us the props for another shake;--
Know I'll try, 'n' guess I'll win;
Here sh' goes for hit 'm ag'in!

Here I thought it necessary to interpose.--Professor,--I said,--you
are inebriated.  The style of what you call your "Prelude" shows
that it was written under cerebral excitement.  Your articulation
is confused.  You have told me three times in succession, in
exactly the same words, that I was the only true friend you had in
the world that you would unbutton your heart to.  You smell
distinctly and decidedly of spirits.--I spoke, and paused; tender,
but firm.

Two large tears orbed themselves beneath the Professor's lids,--in
obedience to the principle of gravitation celebrated in that
delicious bit of bladdery bathos, "The very law that moulds a
tear," with which the "Edinburgh Review" attempted to put down
Master George Gordon when that young man was foolishly trying to
make himself conspicuous.

One of these tears peeped over the edge of the lid until it lost
its balance,--slid an inch and waited for reinforcements,--swelled
again,--rolled down a little further,--stopped,--moved on,--and at
last fell on the back of the Professor's hand.  He held it up for
me to look at, and lifted his eyes, brimful, till they met mine.

I couldn't stand it,--I always break down when folks cry in my
face,--so I hugged him, and said he was a dear old boy, and asked
him kindly what was the matter with him, and what made him smell so
dreadfully strong of spirits.

Upset his alcohol lamp,--he said,--and spilt the alcohol on his
legs.  That was it.--But what had he been doing to get his head
into such a state?--had he really committed an excess?  What was
the matter?--Then it came out that he had been taking chloroform to
have a tooth out, which had left him in a very queer state, in
which he had written the "Prelude" given above, and under the
influence of which he evidently was still.

I took the manuscript from his hands and read the following
continuation of the lines he had begun to read me, while he made up
for two or three nights' lost sleep as he best might.


Facts respecting an old arm-chair.
At Cambridge.  Is kept in the College there.
Seems but little the worse for wear.
That's remarkable when I say
It was old in President Holyoke's day.
(One of his boys, perhaps you know,
Died, AT ONE HUNDRED, years ago.)
HE took lodging for rain or shine
Under green bed-clothes in '69.

Know old Cambridge?  Hope you do.--
Born there?  Don't say so!  I was, too.
(Born in a house with a gambrel-roof,--
Standing still, if you must have proof.--
"Gambrel?--Gambrel?"--Let me beg
You'll look at a horse's hinder leg,--
First great angle above the hoof,--
That's the gambrel; hence gambrel-roof.)
--Nicest place that ever was seen,--
Colleges red and Common green,
Sidewalks brownish with trees between.
Sweetest spot beneath the skies
When the canker-worms don't rise,--
When the dust, that sometimes flies
Into your mouth and ears and eyes.
In a quiet slumber lies,
NOT in the shape of unbaked pies
Such as barefoot children prize.

A kind of harber it seems to be,
Facing the flow of a boundless sea.
Rows of gray old Tutors stand
Ranged like rocks above the sand;
Rolling beneath them, soft and green,
Breaks the tide of bright sixteen,--
One wave, two waves, three waves, four,
Sliding up the sparkling floor;
Then it ebbs to flow no more,
Wandering off from shore to shore
With its freight of golden ore!
--Pleasant place for boys to play;--
Better keep your girls away;
Hearts get rolled as pebbles do
Which countless fingering waves pursue,
And every classic beach is strown
With heart-shaped pebbles of blood-red stone.

But this is neither here nor there;--
I'm talking about an old arm-chair.
You've heard, no doubt, of PARSON TURELL?
Over at Medford he used to dwell;
Married one of the Mathers' folk;
Got with his wife a chair of oak,--
Funny old chair, with seat like wedge,
Sharp behind and broad front edge,--
One of the oddest of human things,
Turned all over with knobs and rings,--
But heavy, and wide, and deep, and grand,--
Fit for the worthies of the land,--
Chief-Justice Sewall a cause to try in,
Or Cotton Mather to sit--and lie--in.
--Parson Turell bequeathed the same
To a certain student,--SMITH by name;
These were the terms, as we are told:
"Saide Smith saide Chaire to have and holde;
When he doth graduate, then to passe
To ye oldest Youth in ye Senior Classe.
On Payment of"--(naming a certain sum)--
"By him to whom ye Chaire shall come;
He to ye oldest Senior next,
And soe forever,"--(thus runs the text,)--
"But one Crown lesse then he gave to claime,
That being his Debte for use of same."

SMITH transferred it to one of the BROWNS,
And took his money,--five silver crowns.
BROWN delivered it up to MOORE,
Who paid, it is plain, not five, but four.
MOORE made over the chair to LEE,
Who gave him crowns of silver three.
LEE conveyed it unto DREW,
And now the payment, of course, was two.
DREW gave up the chair to DUNN,--
All he got, as you see, was one.
DUNN released the chair to HALL,
And got by the bargain no crown at all.
--And now it passed to a second BROWN,
Who took it, and likewise CLAIMED A CROWN.
When BROWN conveyed it unto WARE,
Having had one crown, to make it fair,
He paid him two crowns to take the chair;
And WARE, being honest, (as all Wares be,)
He paid one POTTER, who took it, three.
Four got ROBINSON; five got DIX;
JOHNSON primus demanded six;
And so the sum kept gathering still
Till after the battle of Bunker's Hill
--When paper money became so cheap,
Folks wouldn't count it, but said "a heap,"

A certain RICHARDS, the books declare,
(A. M. in '90?  I've looked with care
Through the Triennial,--NAME NOT THERE.)
This person, Richards, was offered then
Eight score pounds, but would have ten;
Nine, I think, was the sum he took,--
Not quite certain,--but see the book.
--By and by the wars were still,
But nothing had altered the Parson's will.
The old arm-chair was solid yet,
But saddled with such a monstrous debt!
Things grew quite too bad to bear,
Paying such sums to get rid of the chair!
But dead men's fingers hold awful tight,
And there was the will in black and white,
Plain enough for a child to spell.
What should be done no man could tell,
For the chair was a kind of nightmare curse,
And every season but made it worse.

As a last resort, to clear the doubt,
They got old GOVERNOR HANCOCK out.
The Governor came, with his Light-horse Troop
And his mounted truckmen, all cock-a-hoop;
Halberds glittered and colors flew,
French horns whinnied and trumpets blew,
The yellow fifes whistled between their teeth
And the bumble-bee bass-drums boomed beneath;
So he rode with all his band,
Till the President met him, cap in hand.
--The Governor "hefted" the crowns, and said,--
"A will is a will, and the Parson's dead."
The Governor hefted the crowns.  Said he,--
"There is your p'int.  And here's my fee.
These are the terms you must fulfil,--
On such conditions I BREAK THE WILL!"
The Governor mentioned what these should be.
(Just wait a minute and then you'll see.)
The President prayed.  Then all was still,
And the Governor rose and BROKE THE WILL!
--"About those conditions?"  Well, now you go
And do as I tell you, and then you'll know.
Once a year, on Commencement-day,
If you'll only take the pains to stay,
You'll see the President in the CHAIR,
Likewise the Governor sitting there.
The President rises; both old and young
May hear his speech in a foreign tongue,
The meaning whereof, as lawyers swear,
Is this:  Can I keep this old arm-chair?
And then his Excellency bows,
As much as to say that he allows.
The Vice-Gub. next is called by name;
He bows like t'other, which means the same.
And all the officers round 'em bow,
As much as to say that THEY allow.
And a lot of parchments about the chair
Are handed to witnesses then and there,
And then the lawyers hold it clear
That the chair is safe for another year.

God bless you, Gentlemen!  Learn to give
Money to colleges while you live.
Don't be silly and think you'll try
To bother the colleges, when you die,
With codicil this, and codicil that,
That Knowledge may starve while Law grows fat;
For there never was pitcher that wouldn't spill,
And there's always a flaw in a donkey's will!

--Hospitality is a good deal a matter of latitude, I suspect.  The
shade of a palm-tree serves an African for a hut; his dwelling is
all door and no walls; everybody can come in.  To make a morning
call on an Esquimaux acquaintance, one must creep through a long
tunnel; his house is all walls and no door, except such a one as an
apple with a worm-hole has.  One might, very probably, trace a
regular gradation between these two extremes.  In cities where the
evenings are generally hot, the people have porches at their doors,
where they sit, and this is, of course, a provocative to the
interchange of civilities.  A good deal, which in colder regions is
ascribed to mean dispositions, belongs really to mean temperature.

Once in a while, even in our Northern cities, at noon, in a very
hot summer's day, one may realize, by a sudden extension in his
sphere of consciousness, how closely he is shut up for the most
part.--Do you not remember something like this?  July, between 1
and 2, P. M., Fahrenheit 96 degrees, or thereabout.  Windows all
gaping, like the mouths of panting dogs.  Long, stinging cry of a
locust comes in from a tree, half a mile off; had forgotten there
was such a tree.  Baby's screams from a house several blocks
distant;--never knew there were any babies in the neighborhood
before.  Tinman pounding something that clatters dreadfully,--very
distinct, but don't remember any tinman's shop near by.  Horses
stamping on pavement to get off flies.  When you hear these four
sounds, you may set it down as a warm day.  Then it is that one
would like to imitate the mode of life of the native at Sierra
Leone, as somebody has described it:  stroll into the market in
natural costume,--buy a water-melon for a halfpenny,--split it, and
scoop out the middle,--sit down in one half of the empty rind, clap
the other on one's head, and feast upon the pulp.

--I see some of the London journals have been attacking some of
their literary people for lecturing, on the ground of its being a
public exhibition of themselves for money.  A popular author can
print his lecture; if he deliver it, it is a case of quaestum
corpore, or making profit of his person.  None but "snobs" do that.
Ergo, etc.  To this I reply,--Negatur minor.  Her Most Gracious
Majesty, the Queen, exhibits herself to the public as a part of the
service for which she is paid.  We do not consider it low-bred in
her to pronounce her own speech, and should prefer it so to hearing
it from any other person, or reading it.  His Grace and his
Lordship exhibit themselves very often for popularity, and their
houses every day for money.--No, if a man shows himself other than
he is, if he belittles himself before an audience for hire, then he
acts unworthily.  But a true word, fresh from the lips of a true
man, is worth paying for, at the rate of eight dollars a day, or
even of fifty dollars a lecture.  The taunt must be an outbreak of
jealousy against the renowned authors who have the audacity to be
also orators.  The sub-lieutenants (of the press) stick a too
popular writer and speaker with an epithet in England, instead of
with a rapier, as in France.--Poh!  All England is one great
menagerie, and, all at once, the jackal, who admires the gilded
cage of the royal beast, must protest against the vulgarity of the
talking-bird's and the nightingale's being willing to become a part
of the exhibition!

(Last of the Parentheses.)

Yes, that was my last walk with the SCHOOLMISTRESS.  It happened to
be the end of a term; and before the next began, a very nice young
woman, who had been her assistant, was announced as her successor,
and she was provided for elsewhere.  So it was no longer the
schoolmistress that I walked with, but--Let us not be in unseemly
haste.  I shall call her the schoolmistress still; some of you love
her under that name.

When it became known among the boarders that two of their number
had joined hands to walk down the long path of life side by side,
there was, as you may suppose, no small sensation.  I confess I
pitied our landlady.  It took her all of a suddin,--she said.  Had
not known that we was keepin company, and never mistrusted anything
particular.  Ma'am was right to better herself.  Didn't look very
rugged to take care of a femily, but could get hired haalp, she
calc'lated.--The great maternal instinct came crowding up in her
soul just then, and her eyes wandered until they settled on her

--No, poor, dear woman,--that could not have been.  But I am
dropping one of my internal tears for you, with this pleasant smile
on my face all the time.

The great mystery of God's providence is the permitted crushing out
of flowering instincts.  Life is maintained by the respiration of
oxygen and of sentiments.  In the long catalogue of scientific
cruelties there is hardly anything quite so painful to think of as
that experiment of putting an animal under the bell of an air-pump
and exhausting the air from it.  [I never saw the accursed trick
performed.  Laus Deo!]  There comes a time when the souls of human
beings, women, perhaps, more even than men, begin to faint for the
atmosphere of the affections they were made to breathe.  Then it is
that Society places its transparent bell-glass over the young woman
who is to be the subject of one of its fatal experiments.  The
element by which only the heart lives is sucked out of her
crystalline prison.  Watch her through its transparent walls;--her
bosom is heaving; but it is in a vacuum.  Death is no riddle,
compared to this.  I remember a poor girl's story in the "Book of
Martyrs."  The "dry-pan and the gradual fire" were the images that
frightened her most.  How many have withered and wasted under as
slow a torment in the walls of that larger Inquisition which we
call Civilization!

Yes, my surface-thought laughs at you, you foolish, plain,
overdressed, mincing, cheaply-organized, self-saturated young
person, whoever you may be, now reading this,--little thinking you
are what I describe, and in blissful unconsciousness that you are
destined to the lingering asphyxia of soul which is the lot of such
multitudes worthier than yourself.  But it is only my surface-
thought which laughs.  For that great procession of the UNLOVED,
who not only wear the crown of thorns, but must hide it under the
locks of brown or gray,--under the snowy cap, under the chilling
turban,--hide it even from themselves,--perhaps never know they
wear it, though it kills them,--there is no depth of tenderness in
my nature that Pity has not sounded.  Somewhere,--somewhere,--love
is in store for them,--the universe must not be allowed to
fool them so cruelly.  What infinite pathos in the small,
half-unconscious artifices by which unattractive young persons seek
to recommend themselves to the favor of those towards whom our dear
sisters, the unloved, like the rest, are impelled by their God-given

Read what the singing-women--one to ten thousand of the suffering
women--tell us, and think of the griefs that die unspoken!  Nature
is in earnest when she makes a woman; and there are women enough
lying in the next churchyard with very commonplace blue
slate-stones at their head and feet, for whom it was just as true
that "all sounds of life assumed one tone of love," as for Letitia
Landon, of whom Elizabeth Browning said it; but she could give words
to her grief, and they could not.--Will you hear a few stanzas of


We count the broken lyres that rest
Where the sweet wailing singers slumber,--
But o'er their silent sister's breast
The wild flowers who will stoop to number?
A few can touch the magic string,
And noisy Fame is proud to win them;--
Alas for those that never sing,
But die with all their music in them!

Nay, grieve not for the dead alone
Whose song has told their hearts' sad story,--
Weep for the voiceless, who have known
The cross without the crown of glory!
Not where Leucadian breezes sweep
O'er Sappho's memory-haunted billow,
But where the glistening night-dews weep
On nameless sorrow's churchyard pillow.

O hearts that break and give no sign
Save whitening lip and fading tresses,
Till Death pours out his cordial wine
Slow-dropped from Misery's crushing presses,--
If singing breath or echoing chord
To every hidden pang were given,
What endless melodies were poured,
As sad as earth, as sweet as heaven!

I hope that our landlady's daughter is not so badly off, after all.
That young man from another city who made the remark which you
remember about Boston State-house and Boston folks, has appeared at
our table repeatedly of late, and has seemed to me rather attentive
to this young lady.  Only last evening I saw him leaning over her
while she was playing the accordion,--indeed, I undertook to join
them in a song, and got as far as "Come rest in this boo-oo," when,
my voice getting tremulous, I turned off, as one steps out of a
procession, and left the basso and soprano to finish it.  I see no
reason why this young woman should not be a very proper match for a
man that laughs about Boston State-house.  He can't be very

The young fellow whom I have so often mentioned was a little free
in his remarks, but very good-natured.--Sorry to have you go,--he
said.--School-ma'am made a mistake not to wait for me.  Haven't
taken anything but mournin' fruit at breakfast since I heard of
it.--MOURNING fruit,--said I,--what's that?--Huckleberries and
blackberries,--said he;--couldn't eat in colors, raspberries,
currants, and such, after a solemn thing like this happening.--The
conceit seemed to please the young fellow.  If you will believe it,
when we came down to breakfast the next morning, he had carried it
out as follows.  You know those odious little "saas-plates" that
figure so largely at boarding-houses, and especially at taverns,
into which a strenuous attendant female trowels little dabs, sombre
of tint and heterogeneous of composition, which it makes you feel
homesick to look at, and into which you poke the elastic coppery
tea-spoon with the air of a cat dipping her foot into a wash-tub,
--(not that I mean to say anything against them, for, when they are
of tinted porcelain or starry many-faceted crystal, and hold clean
bright berries, or pale virgin honey, or "lucent syrups tinct
with cinnamon," and the teaspoon is of white silver, with the
Tower-stamp, solid, but not brutally heavy,--as people in the green
stage of millionism will have them,--I can dally with their amber
semi-fluids or glossy spherules without a shiver,)--you know these
small, deep dishes, I say.  When we came down the next morning, each
of these (two only excepted) was covered with a broad leaf. On
lifting this, each boarder found a small heap of solemn black
huckleberries.  But one of those plates held red currants, and was
covered with a red rose; the other held white currants, and was
covered with a white rose.  There was a laugh at this at first, and
then a short silence, and I noticed that her lip trembled, and the
old gentleman opposite was in trouble to get at his bandanna

--"What was the use in waiting?  We should be too late for
Switzerland, that season, if we waited much longer."--The hand I
held trembled in mine, and the eyes fell meekly, as Esther bowed
herself before the feet of Ahasuerus.--She had been reading that
chapter, for she looked up,--if there was a film of moisture over
her eyes there was also the faintest shadow of a distant smile
skirting her lips, but not enough to accent the dimples,--and said,
in her pretty, still way,--"If it please the king, and if I have
found favor in his sight, and the thing seem right before the king,
and I be pleasing in his eyes"--

I don't remember what King Ahasuerus did or said when Esther got
just to that point of her soft, humble words,--but I know what I
did.  That quotation from Scripture was cut short, anyhow.  We came
to a compromise on the great question, and the time was settled for
the last day of summer.

In the mean time, I talked on with our boarders, much as usual, as
you may see by what I have reported.  I must say, I was pleased
with a certain tenderness they all showed toward us, after the
first excitement of the news was over.  It came out in trivial
matters,--but each one, in his or her way, manifested kindness.
Our landlady, for instance, when we had chickens, sent the LIVER
instead of the GIZZARD, with the wing, for the schoolmistress.
This was not an accident; the two are never mistaken, though some
landladies APPEAR as if they did not know the difference.  The
whole of the company were even more respectfully attentive to my
remarks than usual.  There was no idle punning, and very little
winking on the part of that lively young gentleman who, as the
reader may remember, occasionally interposed some playful question
or remark, which could hardly be considered relevant,--except when
the least allusion was made to matrimony, when he would look at the
landlady's daughter, and wink with both sides of his face, until
she would ask what he was pokin' his fun at her for, and if he
wasn't ashamed of himself.  In fact, they all behaved very
handsomely, so that I really felt sorry at the thought of leaving
my boarding-house.

I suppose you think, that, because I lived at a plain widow-woman's
plain table, I was of course more or less infirm in point of
worldly fortune.  You may not be sorry to learn, that, though not
what GREAT MERCHANTS call very rich, I was comfortable,
--comfortable,--so that most of those moderate luxuries I described
in my verses on CONTENTMENT--MOST of them, I say--were within our
reach, if we chose to have them.  But I found out that the
schoolmistress had a vein of charity about her, which had hitherto
been worked on a small silver and copper basis, which made her
think less, perhaps, of luxuries than even I did,--modestly as I
have expressed my wishes.

It is a rather pleasant thing to tell a poor young woman, whom one
has contrived to win without showing his rent-roll, that she has
found what the world values so highly, in following the lead of her
affections.  That was an enjoyment I was now ready for.

I began abruptly:--Do you know that you are a rich young person?

I know that I am very rich,--she said.--Heaven has given me more
than I ever asked; for I had not thought love was ever meant for

It was a woman's confession, and her voice fell to a whisper as it
threaded the last words.

I don't mean that,--I said,--you blessed little saint and seraph!
--if there's an angel missing in the New Jerusalem, inquire for her
at this boarding house!--I don't mean that!  I mean that I--that
is, you--am--are--confound it!--I mean that you'll be what most
people call a lady of fortune.  And I looked full in her eyes for
the effect of the announcement.

There wasn't any.  She said she was thankful that I had what would
save me from drudgery, and that some other time I should tell her
about it.--I never made a greater failure in an attempt to produce
a sensation.

So the last day of summer came.  It was our choice to go to the
church, but we had a kind of reception at the boarding-house.  The
presents were all arranged, and among them none gave more pleasure
than the modest tributes of our fellow-boarders,--for there was not
one, I believe, who did not send something.  The landlady would
insist on making an elegant bride-cake, with her own hands; to
which Master Benjamin Franklin wished to add certain embellishments
out of his private funds,--namely, a Cupid in a mouse-trap, done in
white sugar, and two miniature flags with the stars and stripes,
which had a very pleasing effect, I assure you.  The landlady's
daughter sent a richly bound copy of Tupper's Poems.  On a blank
leaf was the following, written in a very delicate and careful

Presented to . . . by . . .
On the eve ere her union in holy matrimony.
May sunshine ever beam o'er her!

Even the poor relative thought she must do something, and sent a
copy of "The Whole Duty of Man," bound in very attractive
variegated sheepskin, the edges nicely marbled.  From the
divinity-student came the loveliest English edition of "Keble's
Christian Year."  I opened it, when it came, to the FOURTH SUNDAY
IN LENT, and read that angelic poem, sweeter than anything I can
remember since Xavier's "My God, I love thee."--I am not a
Churchman,--I don't believe in planting oaks in flower-pots,--but
such a poem as "The Rosebud" makes one's heart a proselyte to the
culture it grows from.  Talk about it as much as you like,--one's
breeding shows itself nowhere more than in his religion.  A man
should be a gentleman in his hymns and prayers; the fondness for
"scenes," among vulgar saints, contrasts so meanly with that--

"God only and good angels look
Behind the blissful scene,"-

and that other,--

"He could not trust his melting soul
But in his Maker's sight,"--

that I hope some of them will see this, and read the poem, and
profit by it.

My laughing and winking young friend undertook to procure and
arrange the flowers for the table, and did it with immense zeal.  I
never saw him look happier than when he came in, his hat saucily on
one side, and a cheroot in his mouth, with a huge bunch of
tea-roses, which he said were for "Madam."

One of the last things that came was an old square box, smelling of
camphor, tied and sealed.  It bore, in faded ink, the marks,
"Calcutta, 1805."  On opening it, we found a white Cashmere shawl
with a very brief note from the dear old gentleman opposite, saying
that he had kept this some years, thinking he might want it, and
many more, not knowing what to do with it,--that he had never seen
it unfolded since he was a young supercargo,--and now, if she would
spread it on her shoulders, it would make him feel young to look at

Poor Bridget, or Biddy, our red-armed maid of all work!  What must
she do but buy a small copper breast-pin and put it under
"Schoolma'am's" plate that morning, at breakfast?  And Schoolma'am
would wear it,--though I made her cover it, as well as I could,
with a tea-rose.

It was my last breakfast as a boarder, and I could not leave them
in utter silence.

Good-by,--I said,--my dear friends, one and all of you!  I have
been long with you, and I find it hard parting.  I have to thank
you for a thousand courtesies, and above all for the patience and
indulgence with which you have listened to me when I have tried to
instruct or amuse you.  My friend the Professor (who, as well as my
friend the Poet, is unavoidably absent on this interesting
occasion) has given me reason to suppose that he would occupy my
empty chair about the first of January next.  If he comes among
you, be kind to him, as you have been to me.  May the Lord bless
you all!--And we shook hands all round the table.

Half an hour afterwards the breakfast things and the cloth were
gone.  I looked up and down the length of the bare boards over
which I had so often uttered my sentiments and experiences--and
--Yes, I am a man, like another.

All sadness vanished, as, in the midst of these old friends of
mine, whom you know, and others a little more up in the world,
perhaps, to whom I have not introduced you, I took the
schoolmistress before the altar from the hands of the old gentleman
who used to sit opposite, and who would insist on giving her away.

And now we two are walking the long path in peace together.  The
"schoolmistress" finds her skill in teaching called for again,
without going abroad to seek little scholars.  Those visions of
mine have all come true.

I hope you all love me none the less for anything I have told you.


by Oliver Wendell Holmes, Sr.


The reader of to-day will not forget, I trust, that it is nearly a
quarter of a century since these papers were written.  Statements which
were true then are not necessarily true now.  Thus, the speed of the
trotting horse has been so much developed that the record of the year
when the fastest time to that date was given must be very considerably
altered, as may be seen by referring to a note on page 49 of the
"Autocrat."  No doubt many other statements and opinions might be more or
less modified if I were writing today instead of having written before
the war, when the world and I were both more than a score of years

These papers followed close upon the track of the "Autocrat."  They had
to endure the trial to which all second comers are subjected, which is a
formidable ordeal for the least as well as the greatest. Paradise
Regained and the Second Part of Faust are examples which are enough to
warn every one who has made a jingle fair hit with his arrow of the
danger of missing when he looses "his fellow of the selfsame flight."

There is good reason why it should be so.  The first juice that runs of
itself from the grapes comes from the heart of the fruit, and tastes of
the pulp only; when the grapes are squeezed in the press the flow betrays
the flavor of the skin.  If there is any freshness in the original idea
of the work, if there is any individuality in the method or style of a
new author, or of an old author on a new track, it will have lost much of
its first effect when repeated. Still, there have not been wanting
readers who have preferred this second series of papers to the first.
The new papers were more aggressive than the earlier ones, and for that
reason found a heartier welcome in some quarters, and met with a sharper
antagonism in others.  It amuses me to look back on some of the attacks
they called forth.  Opinions which do not excite the faintest show of
temper at this time from those who do not accept them were treated as if
they were the utterances of a nihilist incendiary.  It required the
exercise of some forbearance not to recriminate.

How a stray sentence, a popular saying, the maxim of some wise man, a
line accidentally fallen upon and remembered, will sometimes help one
when he is all ready to be vexed or indignant!  One day, in the time when
I was young or youngish, I happened to open a small copy of "Tom Jones,"
and glance at the title-page.  There was one of those little engravings
opposite, which bore the familiar name of "T. Uwins," as I remember it,
and under it the words "Mr. Partridge bore all this patiently."  How many
times, when, after rough usage from ill-mannered critics, my own
vocabulary of vituperation was simmering in such a lively way that it
threatened to boil and lift its lid and so boil over, those words have
calmed the small internal effervescence!  There is very little in them
and very little of them; and so there is not much in a linchpin
considered by itself, but it often keeps a wheel from coming off and
prevents what might be a catastrophe.  The chief trouble in offering such
papers as these to the readers of to-day is that their heresies have
become so familiar among intelligent people that they have too
commonplace an aspect. All the lighthouses and land-marks of belief bear
so differently from the way in which they presented themselves when these
papers were written that it is hard to recognize that we and our
fellow-passengers are still in the same old vessel sailing the same
unfathomable sea and bound to the same as yet unseen harbor.

But after all, there is not enough theology, good or bad, in these papers
to cause them to be inscribed on the Protestant Index Expurgatorius; and
if they are medicated with a few questionable dogmas or antidogmas, the
public has become used to so much rougher treatments, that what was once
an irritant may now act as an anodyne, and the reader may nod over pages
which, when they were first written, would have waked him into a paroxysm
of protest and denunciation.

November, 1882.


This book is one of those which, if it lives for a number of decades, and
if it requires any Preface at all, wants a new one every ten years.  The
first Preface to a book is apt to be explanatory, perhaps apologetic, in
the expectation of attacks from various quarters.  If the book is in some
points in advance of public opinion, it is natural that the writer should
try to smooth the way to the reception of his more or less aggressive
ideas.  He wishes to convince, not to offend,--to obtain a hearing for
his thought, not to stir up angry opposition in those who do not accept
it.  There is commonly an anxious look about a first Preface.  The author
thinks he shall be misapprehended about this or that matter, that his
well-meant expressions will probably be invidiously interpreted by those
whom he looks upon as prejudiced critics, and if he deals with living
questions that he will be attacked as a destructive by the conservatives
and reproached for his timidity by the noisier radicals.  The first
Preface, therefore, is likely to be the weakest part of a work containing
the thoughts of an honest writer.

After a time the writer has cooled down from his excitement,--has got
over his apprehensions, is pleased to find that his book is still read,
and that he must write a new Preface.  He comes smiling to his task.  How
many things have explained themselves in the ten or twenty or thirty
years since he came before his untried public in those almost plaintive
paragraphs in which he introduced himself to his readers,--for the
Preface writer, no matter how fierce a combatant he may prove, comes on
to the stage with his shield on his right arm and his sword in his left

The Professor at the Breakfast-Table came out in the "Atlantic Monthly"
and introduced itself without any formal Preface.  A quarter of a century
later the Preface of 1882, which the reader has just had laid before him,
was written.  There is no mark of worry, I think, in that.  Old opponents
had come up and shaken hands with the author they had attacked or
denounced.  Newspapers which had warned their subscribers against him
were glad to get him as a contributor to their columns.  A great change
had come over the community with reference to their beliefs.  Christian
believers were united as never before in the feeling that, after all,
their common object was to elevate the moral and religious standard of
humanity.  But within the special compartments of the great Christian
fold the marks of division have pronounced themselves in the most
unmistakable manner. As an example we may take the lines of cleavage
which have shown themselves in the two great churches, the Congregational
and the Presbyterian, and the very distinct fissure which is manifest in
the transplanted Anglican church of this country.  Recent circumstances
have brought out the fact of the great change in the dogmatic communities
which has been going on silently but surely.  The licensing of a
missionary, the transfer of a Professor from one department to another,
the election of a Bishop,--each of these movements furnishes evidence
that there is no such thing as an air-tight reservoir of doctrinal

The folding-doors are wide open to every Protestant to enter all the
privileged precincts and private apartments of the various exclusive
religious organizations.  We may demand the credentials of every creed
and catechise all the catechisms.  So we may discuss the gravest
questions unblamed over our morning coffee-cups or our evening tea-cups.
There is no rest for the Protestant until he gives up his legendary
anthropology and all its dogmatic dependencies.

It is only incidentally, however, that the Professor at the
Breakfast-Table handles matters which are the subjects of religious
controversy.  The reader who is sensitive about having his fixed beliefs
dealt with as if they were open to question had better skip the pages
which look as if they would disturb his complacency. "Faith" is the most
precious of possessions, and it dislikes being meddled with.  It means,
of course, self-trust,--that is, a belief in the value of our, own
opinion of a doctrine, of a church, of a religion, of a Being, a belief
quite independent of any evidence that we can bring to convince a jury of
our fellow beings.  Its roots are thus inextricably entangled with those
of self-love and bleed as mandrakes were said to, when pulled up as
weeds.  Some persons may even at this late day take offence at a few
opinions expressed in the following pages, but most of these passages
will be read without loss of temper by those who disagree with them, and
by-and-by they may be found too timid and conservative for intelligent
readers, if they are still read by any.

BEVERLY FARM, MASS., June 18, 1891.
O.  W.  H.

                        THE PROFESSOR

                           AT THE

          What he said, what he heard, and what he saw.


I intended to have signalized my first appearance by a certain large
statement, which I flatter myself is the nearest approach to a universal
formula, of life yet promulgated at this breakfast-table. It would have
had a grand effect.  For this purpose I fixed my eyes on a certain
divinity-student, with the intention of exchanging a few phrases, and
then forcing my court-card, namely, The great end of being.--I will thank
you for the sugar,--I said.--Man is a dependent creature.

It is a small favor to ask,--said the divinity-student,--and passed the
sugar to me.

--Life is a great bundle of little things,--I said.

The divinity-student smiled, as if that were the concluding epigram of
the sugar question.

You smile,--I said.--Perhaps life seems to you a little bundle of great

The divinity-student started a laugh, but suddenly reined it back with a
pull, as one throws a horse on his haunches.--Life is a great bundle of
great things,--he said.

(NOW, THEN!)  The great end of being, after all, is....

Hold on!--said my neighbor, a young fellow whose name seems to be John,
and nothing else,--for that is what they all call him,--hold on! the
Sculpin is go'n' to say somethin'.

Now the Sculpin (Cottus Virginianus) is a little water-beast which
pretends to consider itself a fish, and, under that pretext, hangs about
the piles upon which West-Boston Bridge is built, swallowing the bait and
hook intended for flounders.  On being drawn from the water, it exposes
an immense head, a diminutive bony carcass, and a surface so full of
spines, ridges, ruffles, and frills, that the naturalists have not been
able to count them without quarrelling about the number, and that the
colored youth, whose sport they spoil, do not like to touch them, and
especially to tread on them, unless they happen to have shoes on, to
cover the thick white soles of their broad black feet.

When, therefore, I heard the young fellow's exclamation, I looked round
the table with curiosity to see what it meant.  At the further end of it
I saw a head, and a--a small portion of a little deformed body, mounted
on a high chair, which brought the occupant up to a fair level enough for
him to get at his food.  His whole appearance was so grotesque, I felt
for a minute as if there was a showman behind him who would pull him down
presently and put up Judy, or the hangman, or the Devil, or some other
wooden personage of the famous spectacle.  I contrived to lose the first
of his sentence, but what I heard began so:

--by the Frog-Pond, when there were frogs in and the folks used to come
down from the tents on section and Independence days with their pails to
get water to make egg-pop with.  Born in Boston; went to school in Boston
as long as the boys would let me.--The little man groaned, turned, as if
to look around, and went on.--Ran away from school one day to see
Phillips hung for killing Denegri with a logger-head.  That was in flip
days, when there were always two three loggerheads in the fire.  I'm a
Boston boy, I tell you,--born at North End, and mean to be buried on
Copp's Hill, with the good old underground people,--the Worthylakes, and
the rest of 'em.  Yes,--up on the old hill, where they buried Captain
Daniel Malcolm in a stone grave, ten feet deep, to keep him safe from the
red-coats, in those old times when the world was frozen up tight and
there was n't but one spot open, and that was right over Faneuil
all,--and black enough it looked, I tell you!  There 's where my bones
shall lie, Sir, and rattle away when the big guns go off at the Navy Yard
opposite!  You can't make me ashamed of the old place!  Full crooked
little streets;--I was born and used to run round in one of 'em--

--I should think so,--said that young man whom I hear them call
"John,"--softly, not meaning to be heard, nor to be cruel, but thinking
in a half-whisper, evidently.--I should think so; and got kinked up,
turnin' so many corners.--The little man did not hear what was said, but
went on,--

--full of crooked little streets; but I tell you Boston has opened, and
kept open, more turnpikes that lead straight to free thought and free
speech and free deeds than any other city of live men or dead men,--I
don't care how broad their streets are, nor how high their steeples!

--How high is Bosting meet'n'-house?--said a person with black whiskers
and imperial, a velvet waistcoat, a guard-chain rather too massive, and a
diamond pin so very large that the most trusting nature might confess an
inward suggestion,--of course, nothing amounting to a suspicion.  For
this is a gentleman from a great city, and sits next to the landlady's
daughter, who evidently believes in him, and is the object of his
especial attention.

How high?--said the little man.--As high as the first step of the stairs
that lead to the New Jerusalem.  Is n't that high enough?

It is,--I said.--The great end of being is to harmonize man with the
order of things, and the church has been a good pitch-pipe, and may be so
still.  But who shall tune the pitch-pipe?  Quis cus-(On the whole, as
this quotation was not entirely new, and, being in a foreign language,
might not be familiar to all the boarders, I thought I would not finish

--Go to the Bible!--said a sharp voice from a sharp-faced, sharp-eyed,
sharp-elbowed, strenuous-looking woman in a black dress, appearing as if
it began as a piece of mourning and perpetuated itself as a bit of

You speak well, Madam,--I said;--yet there is room for a gloss or
commentary on what you say.  "He who would bring back the wealth of the
Indies must carry out the wealth of the Indies."  What you bring away
from the Bible depends to some extent on what you carry to it.--Benjamin
Franklin!  Be so good as to step up to my chamber and bring me down the
small uncovered pamphlet of twenty pages which you will find lying under
the "Cruden's Concordance." [The boy took a large bite, which left a very
perfect crescent in the slice of bread-and-butter he held, and departed
on his errand, with the portable fraction of his breakfast to sustain him
on the way.]

--Here it is.  "Go to the Bible.  A Dissertation, etc., etc.  By J. J.
Flournoy.  Athens, Georgia, 1858."

Mr. Flournoy, Madam, has obeyed the precept which you have judiciously
delivered.  You may be interested, Madam, to know what are the
conclusions at which Mr. J. J. Flournoy of Athens, Georgia, has arrived.
You shall hear, Madam.  He has gone to the Bible, and he has come back
from the Bible, bringing a remedy for existing social evils, which, if it
is the real specific, as it professes to be, is of great interest to
humanity, and to the female part of humanity in particular.  It is what
he calls TRIGAMY, Madam, or the marrying of three wives, so that "good
old men" may be solaced at once by the companionship of the wisdom of
maturity, and of those less perfected but hardly less engaging qualities
which are found at an earlier period of life.  He has followed your
precept, Madam; I hope you accept his conclusions.

The female boarder in black attire looked so puzzled, and, in fact, "all
abroad," after the delivery of this "counter" of mine, that I left her to
recover her wits, and went on with the conversation, which I was
beginning to get pretty well in hand.

But in the mean time I kept my eye on the female boarder to see what
effect I had produced.  First, she was a little stunned at having her
argument knocked over.  Secondly, she was a little shocked at the
tremendous character of the triple matrimonial suggestion.  Thirdly.--I
don't like to say what I thought.  Something seemed to have pleased her
fancy.  Whether it was, that, if trigamy should come into fashion, there
would be three times as many chances to enjoy the luxury of saying, "No!"
is more than I, can tell you.  I may as well mention that B. F. came to
me after breakfast to borrow the pamphlet for "a lady,"--one of the
boarders, he said,--looking as if he had a secret he wished to be
relieved of.

--I continued.--If a human soul is necessarily to be trained up in the
faith of those from whom it inherits its body, why, there is the end of
all reason.  If, sooner or later, every soul is to look for truth with
its own eyes, the first thing is to recognize that no presumption in
favor of any particular belief arises from the fact of our inheriting it.
Otherwise you would not give the Mahometan a fair chance to become a
convert to a better religion.

The second thing would be to depolarize every fixed religious idea in the
mind by changing the word which stands for it.

--I don't know what you mean by "depolarizing" an idea,--said the

I will tell you,--I said.---When a given symbol which represents a
thought has lain for a certain length of time in the mind, it undergoes a
change like that which rest in a certain position gives to iron.  It
becomes magnetic in its relations,--it is traversed by strange forces
which did not belong to it.  The word, and consequently the idea it
represents, is polarized.

The religious currency of mankind, in thought, in speech, and in print,
consists entirely of polarized words.  Borrow one of these from another
language and religion, and you will find it leaves all its magnetism
behind it.  Take that famous word, O'm, of the Hindoo mythology.  Even a
priest cannot pronounce it without sin; and a holy Pundit would shut his
ears and run away from you in horror, if you should say it aloud.  What
do you care for O'm?  If you wanted to get the Pundit to look at his
religion fairly, you must first depolarize this and all similar words for
him.  The argument for and against new translations of the Bible really
turns on this.  Skepticism is afraid to trust its truths in depolarized
words, and so cries out against a new translation.  I think, myself, if
every idea our Book contains could be shelled out of its old symbol and
put into a new, clean, unmagnetic word, we should have some chance of
reading it as philosophers, or wisdom-lovers, ought to read it,--which we
do not and cannot now any more than a Hindoo can read the "Gayatri" as a
fair man and lover of truth should do.  When society has once fairly
dissolved the New Testament, which it never has done yet, it will perhaps
crystallize it over again in new forms of language.

I did n't know you was a settled minister over this parish,--said the
young fellow near me.

A sermon by a lay-preacher may be worth listening--I replied, calmly.
--It gives the parallax of thought and feeling as they appear to the
observers from two very different points of view.  If you wish to get the
distance of a heavenly body, you know that you must take two observations
from remote points of the earth's orbit,--in midsummer and midwinter, for
instance.  To get the parallax of heavenly truths, you must take an
observation from the position of the laity as well as of the clergy.
Teachers and students of theology get a certain look, certain
conventional tones of voice, a clerical gait, a professional neckcloth,
and habits of mind as professional as their externals.  They are
scholarly men and read Bacon, and know well enough what the "idols of the
tribe" are.  Of course they have their false gods, as all men that follow
one exclusive calling are prone to do.--The clergy have played the part
of the flywheel in our modern civilization.  They have never suffered it
to stop.  They have often carried on its movement, when other moving
powers failed, by the momentum stored in their vast body.  Sometimes,
too, they have kept it back by their vis inertia, when its wheels were
like to grind the bones of some old canonized error into fertilizers for
the soil that yields the bread of life.  But the mainspring of the
world's onward religious movement is not in them, nor in any one body of
men, let me tell you.  It is the people that makes the clergy, and not
the clergy that makes the people.  Of course, the profession reacts on
its source with variable energy.--But there never was a guild of dealers
or a company of craftsmen that did not need sharp looking after.

Our old friend, Dr. Holyoke, whom we gave the dinner to some time since,
must have known many people that saw the great bonfire in Harvard College

--Bonfire?--shrieked the little man.--The bonfire when Robert Calef's
book was burned?

The same,--I said,--when Robert Calef the Boston merchant's book was
burned in the yard of Harvard College, by order of Increase Mather,
President of the College and Minister of the Gospel.  You remember the
old witchcraft revival of '92, and how stout Master Robert Calef, trader
of Boston, had the pluck to tell the ministers and judges what a set of
fools and worse than fools they were--

Remember it?--said the little man.--I don't think I shall forget it, as
long as I can stretch this forefinger to point with, and see what it
wears.  There was a ring on it.

May I look at it?--I said.

Where it is,--said the little man;--it will never come off, till it falls
off from the bone in the darkness and in the dust.

He pushed the high chair on which he sat slightly back from the table,
and dropped himself, standing, to the floor,--his head being only a
little above the level of the table, as he stood.  With pain and labor,
lifting one foot over the other, as a drummer handles his sticks, he took
a few steps from his place,--his motions and the deadbeat of the
misshapen boots announcing to my practised eye and ear the malformation
which is called in learned language talipes varus, or inverted club-foot.

Stop! stop!--I said,--let me come to you.

The little man hobbled back, and lifted himself by the left arm, with an
ease approaching to grace which surprised me, into his high chair. I
walked to his side, and he stretched out the forefinger of his right
hand, with the ring upon it.  The ring had been put on long ago, and
could not pass the misshapen joint.  It was one of those funeral rings
which used to be given to relatives and friends after the decease of
persons of any note or importance.  Beneath a round fit of glass was a
death's head.  Engraved on one side of this, "L. B.  AEt.  22,"--on the
other, "Ob. 1692"

My grandmother's grandmother,--said the little man.--Hanged for a witch.
It does n't seem a great while ago.  I knew my grandmother, and loved
her.  Her mother was daughter to the witch that Chief Justice Sewall
hanged and Cotton Mather delivered over to the Devil.--That was Salem,
though, and not Boston.  No, not Boston.  Robert Calef, the Boston
merchant, it was that blew them all to--

Never mind where he blew them to,--I said; for the little man was getting
red in the face, and I did n't know what might come next.

This episode broke me up, as the jockeys say, out of my square
conversational trot; but I settled down to it again.

--A man that knows men, in the street, at their work, human nature in its
shirt-sleeves, who makes bargains with deacons, instead of talking over
texts with them, a man who has found out that there are plenty of praying
rogues and swearing saints in the world,--above all, who has found out,
by living into the pith and core of life, that all of the Deity which can
be folded up between the sheets of any human book is to the Deity of the
firmament, of the strata, of the hot aortic flood of throbbing human
life, of this infinite, instantaneous consciousness in which the soul's
being consists,--an incandescent point in the filament connecting the
negative pole of a past eternity with the positive pole of an eternity
that is to come,--that all of the Deity which any human book can hold is
to this larger Deity of the working battery of the universe only as the
films in a book of gold-leaf are to the broad seams and curdled lumps of
ore that lie in unsunned mines and virgin placers,--Oh!--I was saying
that a man who lives out-of-doors, among live people, gets some things
into his head he might not find in the index of his "Body of Divinity."

I tell you what,--the idea of the professions' digging a moat round their
close corporations, like that Japanese one at Jeddo, on the bottom of
which, if travellers do not lie, you could put Park Street Church and
look over the vane from its side, and try to stretch another such spire
across it without spanning the chasm,--that idea, I say, is pretty nearly
worn out.  Now when a civilization or a civilized custom falls into
senile dementia, there is commonly a judgment ripe for it, and it comes
as plagues come, from a breath,--as fires come, from a spark.

Here, look at medicine.  Big wigs, gold-headed canes, Latin
prescriptions, shops full of abominations, recipes a yard long, "curing"
patients by drugging as sailors bring a wind by whistling, selling lies
at a guinea apiece,--a routine, in short, of giving unfortunate sick
people a mess of things either too odious to swallow or too acrid to
hold, or, if that were possible, both at once.

--You don't know what I mean, indignant and not unintelligent
country-practitioner?  Then you don't know the history of medicine,--and
that is not my fault.  But don't expose yourself in any outbreak of
eloquence; for, by the mortar in which Anaxarchus was pounded!  I did not
bring home Schenckius and Forestus and Hildanus, and all the old folios
in calf and vellum I will show you, to be bullied by the proprietor, of a
"Wood and Bache," and a shelf of peppered sheepskin reprints by
Philadelphia Editors.  Besides, many of the profession and I know a
little something of each other, and you don't think I am such a simpleton
as to lose their good opinion by saying what the better heads among them
would condemn as unfair and untrue?  Now mark how the great plague came
on the generation of drugging doctors, and in what form it fell.

A scheming drug-vender, (inventive genius,) an utterly untrustworthy and
incompetent observer, (profound searcher of Nature,) a shallow dabbler in
erudition, (sagacious scholar,) started the monstrous fiction (founded
the immortal system) of Homoeopathy.  I am very fair, you see,---you can
help yourself to either of these sets of phrases.

All the reason in the world would not have had so rapid and general an
effect on the public mind to disabuse it of the idea that a drug is a
good thing in itself, instead of being, as it is, a bad thing, as was
produced by the trick (system) of this German charlatan (theorist).  Not
that the wiser part of the profession needed him to teach them; but the
routinists and their employers, the "general practitioners," who lived by
selling pills and mixtures, and their drug-consuming customers, had to
recognize that people could get well, unpoisoned.  These dumb cattle
would not learn it of themselves, and so the murrain of Homoeopathy fell
on them.

--You don't know what plague has fallen on the practitioners of theology?
I will tell you, then.  It is Spiritualism.  While some are crying out
against it as a delusion of the Devil, and some are laughing at it as an
hysteric folly, and some are getting angry with it as a mere trick of
interested or mischievous persons, Spiritualism is quietly undermining
the traditional ideas of the future state which have been and are still
accepted,--not merely in those who believe in it, but in the general
sentiment of the community, to a larger extent than most good people seem
to be aware of.  It need n't be true, to do this, any more than
Homoeopathy need, to do its work. The Spiritualists have some pretty
strong instincts to pry over, which no doubt have been roughly handled by
theologians at different times.  And the Nemesis of the pulpit comes, in
a shape it little thought of, beginning with the snap of a toe-joint, and
ending with such a crack of old beliefs that the roar of it is heard in
all the ministers' studies of Christendom?  Sir, you cannot have people
of cultivation, of pure character, sensible enough in common things,
large-hearted women, grave judges, shrewd business-men, men of science,
professing to be in communication with the spiritual world and keeping up
constant intercourse with it, without its gradually reacting on the whole
conception of that other life.  It is the folly of the world, constantly,
which confounds its wisdom.  Not only out of the mouths of babes and
sucklings, but out of the mouths of fools and cheats, we may often get
our truest lessons.  For the fool's judgment is a dog-vane that turns
with a breath, and the cheat watches the clouds and sets his weathercock
by them,--so that one shall often see by their pointing which way the
winds of heaven are blowing, when the slow-wheeling arrows and feathers
of what we call the Temples of Wisdom are turning to all points of the

--Amen!--said the young fellow called John--Ten minutes by the watch.
Those that are unanimous will please to signify by holding up their left

I looked this young man steadily in the face for about thirty seconds.
His countenance was as calm as that of a reposing infant. I think it was
simplicity, rather than mischief, with perhaps a youthful playfulness,
that led him to this outbreak.  I have often noticed that even quiet
horses, on a sharp November morning, when their coats are beginning to
get the winter roughness, will give little sportive demi-kicks, with
slight sudden elevation of the subsequent region of the body, and a sharp
short whinny,--by no means intending to put their heels through the
dasher, or to address the driver rudely, but feeling, to use a familiar
word, frisky.  This, I think, is the physiological condition of the young
person, John.  I noticed, however, what I should call a palpebral spasm,
affecting the eyelid and muscles of one side, which, if it were intended
for the facial gesture called a wink, might lead me to suspect a
disposition to be satirical on his part.

--Resuming the conversation, I remarked,--I am, ex officio, as a
Professor, a conservative.  For I don't know any fruit that clings to its
tree so faithfully, not even a "froze-'n'-thaw" winter-apple, as a
Professor to the bough of which his chair is made.  You can't shake him
off, and it is as much as you can do to pull him off.  Hence, by a chain
of induction I need not unwind, he tends to conservatism generally.

But then, you know, if you are sailing the Atlantic, and all at once find
yourself in a current, and the sea covered with weeds, and drop your
Fahrenheit over the side and find it eight or ten degrees higher than in
the ocean generally, there is no use in flying in the face of facts and
swearing there is no such thing as a Gulf-Stream, when you are in it.

You can't keep gas in a bladder, and you can't keep knowledge tight in a
profession.  Hydrogen will leak out, and air will leak in, through
India-rubber; and special knowledge will leak out, and general knowledge
will leak in, though a profession were covered with twenty thicknesses of
sheepskin diplomas.

By Jove, Sir, till common sense is well mixed up with medicine, and
common manhood with theology, and common honesty with law, We the people,
Sir, some of us with nut-crackers, and some of us with trip-hammers, and
some of us with pile-drivers, and some of us coming with a whish! like
air-stones out of a lunar volcano, will crash down on the lumps of
nonsense in all of them till we have made powder of them--like Aaron's

If to be a conservative is to let all the drains of thought choke up and
keep all the soul's windows down,--to shut out the sun from the east and
the wind from the west,--to let the rats run free in the cellar, and the
moths feed their fill in the chambers, and the spiders weave their lace
before the mirrors, till the soul's typhus is bred out of our neglect,
and we begin to snore in its coma or rave in its delirium,--I, Sir, am a
bonnet-rouge, a red cap of the barricades, my friends, rather than a

--Were you born in Boston, Sir?--said the little man,--looking eager and

I was not,--I replied.

It's a pity,--it's a pity,--said the little man;--it 's the place to be
born in.  But if you can't fix it so as to be born here, you can come and
live here.  Old Ben Franklin, the father of American science and the
American Union, was n't ashamed to be born here.  Jim Otis, the father of
American Independence, bothered about in the Cape Cod marshes awhile, but
he came to Boston as soon as he got big enough. Joe Warren, the first
bloody ruffed-shirt of the Revolution, was as good as born here.  Parson
Charming strolled along this way from Newport, and stayed here.  Pity old
Sam Hopkins hadn't come, too;--we'd have made a man of him,--poor, dear,
good old Christian heathen! There he lies, as peaceful as a young baby,
in the old burying-ground!  I've stood on the slab many a time.  Meant
well,--meant well.  Juggernaut.  Parson Charming put a little oil on one
linchpin, and slipped it out so softly, the first thing they knew about
it was the wheel of that side was down.  T' other fellow's at work now,
but he makes more noise about it.  When the linchpin comes out on his
side, there'll be a jerk, I tell you!  Some think it will spoil the old
cart, and they pretend to say that there are valuable things in it which
may get hurt.  Hope not,--hope not.  But this is the great Macadamizing
place,--always cracking up something.

Cracking up Boston folks,--said the gentleman with the diamond-pin, whom,
for convenience' sake, I shall hereafter call the Koh-i-noor.

The little man turned round mechanically towards him, as Maelzel's Turk
used to turn, carrying his head slowly and horizontally, as if it went by
cogwheels.--Cracking up all sorts of things,--native and foreign vermin
included,--said the little man.

This remark was thought by some of us to have a hidden personal
application, and to afford a fair opening for a lively rejoinder, if the
Koh-i-noor had been so disposed.  The little man uttered it with the
distinct wooden calmness with which the ingenious Turk used to exclaim,
E-chec! so that it must have been heard.  The party supposed to be
interested in the remark was, however, carrying a large knife-bladeful of
something to his mouth just then, which, no doubt, interfered with the
reply he would have made.

--My friend who used to board here was accustomed sometimes, in a
pleasant way, to call himself the Autocrat of the table,--meaning, I
suppose, that he had it all his own way among the boarders.  I think our
small boarder here is like to prove a refractory subject, if I undertake
to use the sceptre my friend meant to bequeath me, too magisterially.  I
won't deny that sometimes, on rare occasions, when I have been in company
with gentlemen who preferred listening, I have been guilty of the same
kind of usurpation which my friend openly justified.  But I maintain,
that I, the Professor, am a good listener.  If a man can tell me a fact
which subtends an appreciable angle in the horizon of thought, I am as
receptive as the contribution-box in a congregation of colored brethren.
If, when I am exposing my intellectual dry-goods, a man will begin a good
story, I will have them all in, and my shutters up, before he has got to
the fifth "says he," and listen like a three-years' child, as the author
of the "Old Sailor" says.  I had rather hear one of those grand elemental
laughs from either of our two Georges, (fictitious names, Sir or Madam,)
glisten to one of those old playbills of our College days, in which "Tom
and Jerry" ("Thomas and Jeremiah," as the old Greek Professor was said to
call it) was announced to be brought on the stage with whole force of the
Faculty, read by our Frederick, (no such person, of course,) than say the
best things I might by any chance find myself capable of saying.  Of
course, if I come across a real thinker, a suggestive, acute,
illuminating, informing talker, I enjoy the luxury of sitting still for a
while as much as another.

Nobody talks much that does n't say unwise things,--things he did not
mean to say; as no person plays much without striking a false note
sometimes.  Talk, to me, is only spading up the ground for crops of
thought.  I can't answer for what will turn up.  If I could, it would n't
be talking, but "speaking my piece."  Better, I think, the hearty
abandonment of one's self to the suggestions of the moment at the risk of
an occasional slip of the tongue, perceived the instant it escapes, but
just one syllable too late, than the royal reputation of never saying a
foolish thing.

--What shall I do with this little man?--There is only one thing to
do,--and that is to let him talk when he will.  The day of the
"Autocrat's" monologues is over.

--My friend,--said I to the young fellow whom, as I have said, the
boarders call "John,"--My friend,--I said, one morning, after
breakfast,--can you give me any information respecting the deformed
person who sits at the other end of the table?

What! the Sculpin?--said the young fellow.

The diminutive person, with angular curvature of the spine,--I said,
--and double talipes varus,--I beg your pardon,--with two club-feet.

Is that long word what you call it when a fellah walks so?--said the
young man, making his fists revolve round an imaginary axis, as you may
have seen youth of tender age and limited pugilistic knowledge, when they
show how they would punish an adversary, themselves protected by this
rotating guard,--the middle knuckle, meantime, thumb-supported, fiercely
prominent, death-threatening.

It is,--said I.--But would you have the kindness to tell me if you know
anything about this deformed person?

About the Sculpin?--said the young fellow.

My good friend,--said I,--I am sure, by your countenance, you would not
hurt the feelings of one who has been hardly enough treated by Nature to
be spared by his fellows.  Even in speaking of him to others, I could
wish that you might not employ a term which implies contempt for what
should inspire only pity.

A fellah 's no business to be so crooked,--said the young man called

Yes, yes,--I said, thoughtfully,--the strong hate the weak.  It's all
right.  The arrangement has reference to the race, and not to the
individual.  Infirmity must be kicked out, or the stock run down.
Wholesale moral arrangements are so different from retail!--I understand
the instinct, my friend,--it is cosmic,--it is planetary,--it is a
conservative principle in creation.

The young fellow's face gradually lost its expression as I was speaking,
until it became as blank of vivid significance as the countenance of a
gingerbread rabbit with two currants in the place of eyes.  He had not
taken my meaning.

Presently the intelligence came back with a snap that made him wink, as
he answered,--Jest so.  All right.  A 1.  Put her through.  That's the
way to talk.  Did you speak to me, Sir?--Here the young man struck up
that well-known song which I think they used to sing at Masonic
festivals, beginning, "Aldiborontiphoscophornio, Where left you

I beg your pardon,--I said;--all I meant was, that men, as temporary
occupants of a permanent abode called human life, which is improved or
injured by occupancy, according to the style of tenant, have a natural
dislike to those who, if they live the life of the race as well as of the
individual, will leave lasting injurious effects upon the abode spoken
of, which is to be occupied by countless future generations.  This is the
final cause of the underlying brute instinct which we have in common with
the herds.

--The gingerbread-rabbit expression was coming on so fast, that I thought
I must try again.--It's a pity that families are kept up, where there are
such hereditary infirmities.  Still, let us treat this poor man fairly,
and not call him names.  Do you know what his name is?

I know what the rest of 'em call him,--said the young fellow.--They call
him Little Boston.  There's no harm in that, is there?

It is an honorable term,--I replied.--But why Little Boston, in a place
where most are Bostonians?

Because nobody else is quite so Boston all over as he is,--said the young

"L. B.  Ob. 1692."--Little Boston let him be, when we talk about him. The
ring he wears labels him well enough.  There is stuff in the little man,
or he would n't stick so manfully by this crooked, crotchety old town.
Give him a chance.--You will drop the Sculpin, won't you?--I said to the
young fellow.

Drop him?--he answered,--I ha'n't took him up yet.

No, no,--the term,--I said,--the term.  Don't call him so any more, if
you please.  Call him Little Boston, if you like.

All right,--said the young fellow.--I would n't be hard on the poor

The word he used was objectionable in point of significance and of
grammar.  It was a frequent termination of certain adjectives among the
Romans,--as of those designating a person following the sea, or given to
rural pursuits.  It is classed by custom among the profane words; why, it
is hard to say,--but it is largely used in the street by those who speak
of their fellows in pity or in wrath.

I never heard the young fellow apply the name of the odious pretended
fish to the little man from that day forward.

--Here we are, then, at our boarding--house.  First, myself, the
Professor, a little way from the head of the table, on the right, looking
down, where the "Autocrat" used to sit.  At the further end sits the
Landlady.  At the head of the table, just now, the Koh-i-noor, or the
gentleman with the diamond.  Opposite me is a Venerable Gentleman with a
bland countenance, who as yet has spoken little. The Divinity Student is
my neighbor on the right,--and further down, that Young Fellow of whom I
have repeatedly spoken.  The Landlady's Daughter sits near the
Koh-i-noor, as I said.  The Poor Relation near the Landlady.  At the
right upper corner is a fresh-looking youth of whose name and history I
have as yet learned nothing.  Next the further left-hand corner, near the
lower end of the table, sits the deformed person.  The chair at his side,
occupying that corner, is empty.  I need not specially mention the other
boarders, with the exception of Benjamin Franklin, the landlady's son,
who sits near his mother.  We are a tolerably assorted set,--difference
enough and likeness enough; but still it seems to me there is something
wanting. The Landlady's Daughter is the prima donna in the way of
feminine attractions.  I am not quite satisfied with this young lady.
She wears more "jewelry," as certain young ladies call their trinkets,
than I care to see on a person in her position.  Her voice is strident,
her laugh too much like a giggle, and she has that foolish way of dancing
and bobbing like a quill-float with a "minnum" biting the hook below it,
which one sees and weeps over sometimes in persons of more pretensions.
I can't help hoping we shall put something into that empty chair yet
which will add the missing string to our social harp.  I hear talk of a
rare Miss who is expected.  Something in the schoolgirl way, I believe.
We shall see.

--My friend who calls himself The Autocrat has given me a caution which I
am going to repeat, with my comment upon it, for the benefit of all

Professor,--said he, one day,--don't you think your brain will run dry
before a year's out, if you don't get the pump to help the cow? Let me
tell you what happened to me once.  I put a little money into a bank, and
bought a check-book, so that I might draw it as I wanted, in sums to
suit.  Things went on nicely for a time; scratching with a pen was as
easy as rubbing Aladdin's Lamp; and my blank check-book seemed to be a
dictionary of possibilities, in which I could find all the synonymes of
happiness, and realize any one of them on the spot. A check came back to
me at last with these two words on it,--NO FUNDS.  My check-book was a
volume of waste-paper.

Now, Professor,--said he,--I have drawn something out of your bank, you
know; and just so sure as you keep drawing out your soul's currency
without making new deposits, the next thing will be, NO FUNDS,--and then
where will you be, my boy?  These little bits of paper mean your gold and
your silver and your copper, Professor; and you will certainly break up
and go to pieces, if you don't hold on to your metallic basis.

There is something in that,--said I.--Only I rather think life can coin
thought somewhat faster than I can count it off in words.  What if one
shall go round and dry up with soft napkins all the dew that falls of a
June evening on the leaves of his garden?  Shall there be no more dew on
those leaves thereafter?  Marry, yea,--many drops, large and round and
full of moonlight as those thou shalt have absterged!

Here am I, the Professor,--a man who has lived long enough to have
plucked the flowers of life and come to the berries,--which are not
always sad-colored, but sometimes golden-hued as the crocus of April, or
rosy-cheeked as the damask of June; a man who staggered against books as
a baby, and will totter against them, if he lives to decrepitude; with a
brain full of tingling thoughts, such as they are, as a limb which we
call "asleep," because it is so particularly awake, is of pricking points;
presenting a key-board of nerve-pulps, not as yet tanned or ossified, to
finger-touch of all outward agencies; knowing nothing of the filmy
threads of this web of life in which we insects buzz awhile, waiting for
the gray old spider to come along; contented enough with daily realities,
but twirling on his finger the key of a private Bedlam of ideals; in
knowledge feeding with the fox oftener than with the stork,--loving
better the breadth of a fertilizing inundation than the depth of narrow
artesian well; finding nothing too small for his contemplation in the
markings of the grammatophora subtilissima, and nothing too large in the
movement of the solar system towards the star Lambda of the constellation
Hercules;--and the question is, whether there is anything left for me,
the Professor, to suck out of creation, after my lively friend has had
his straw in the bung-hole of the Universe!

A man's mental reactions with the atmosphere of life must go on, whether
he will or no, as between his blood and the air he breathes. As to
catching the residuum of the process, or what we call thought,--the
gaseous ashes of burned-out thinking,--the excretion of mental
respiration,--that will depend on many things, as, on having a favorable
intellectual temperature about one, and a fitting receptacle.--I sow more
thought-seeds in twenty-four hours' travel over the desert-sand along
which my lonely consciousness paces day and night, than I shall throw
into soil where it will germinate, in a year.  All sorts of bodily and
mental perturbations come between us and the due projection of our
thought.  The pulse-like "fits of easy and difficult transmission" seem
to reach even the transparent medium through which our souls are seen.
We know our humanity by its often intercepted rays, as we tell a
revolving light from a star or meteor by its constantly recurring

An illustrious scholar once told me, that, in the first lecture he ever
delivered, he spoke but half his allotted time, and felt as if he had
told all he knew.  Braham came forward once to sing one of his most
famous and familiar songs, and for his life could not recall the first
line of it;--he told his mishap to the audience, and they screamed it at
him in a chorus of a thousand voices.  Milton could not write to suit
himself, except from the autumnal to the vernal equinox.  One in the
clothing-business, who, there is reason to suspect, may have inherited,
by descent, the great poet's impressible temperament, let a customer slip
through his fingers one day without fitting him with a new garment.
"Ah!" said he to a friend of mine, who was standing by, "if it hadn't
been for that confounded headache of mine this morning, I'd have had a
coat on that man, in spite of himself, before he left-the store."  A
passing throb, only,--but it deranged the nice mechanism required to
persuade the accidental human being, X, into a given piece of broadcloth,

We must take care not to confound this frequent difficulty of
transmission of our ideas with want of ideas.  I suppose that a man's
mind does in time form a neutral salt with the elements in the universe
for which it has special elective affinities.  In fact, I look upon a
library as a kind of mental chemist's shop filled with the crystals of
all forms and hues which have come from the union of individual thought
with local circumstances or universal principles.

When a man has worked out his special affinities in this way, there is an
end of his genius as a real solvent.  No more effervescence and hissing
tumult--as he pours his sharp thought on the world's biting alkaline
unbeliefs!  No more corrosion of the old monumental tablets covered with
lies!  No more taking up of dull earths, and turning them, first into
clear solutions, and then into lustrous prisms!

I, the Professor, am very much like other men: I shall not find out when
I have used up my affinities.  What a blessed thing it is, that Nature,
when she invented, manufactured, and patented her authors, contrived to
make critics out of the chips that were left!  Painful as the task is,
they never fail to warn the author, in the most impressive manner, of the
probabilities of failure in what he has undertaken.  Sad as the necessity
is to their delicate sensibilities, they never hesitate to advertise him
of the decline of his powers, and to press upon him the propriety of
retiring before he sinks into imbecility.  Trusting to their kind
offices, I shall endeavor to fulfil--

--Bridget enters and begins clearing the table.

--The following poem is my (The Professor's) only contribution to the
great department of Ocean-Cable literature.  As all the poets of this
country will be engaged for the next six weeks in writing for the premium
offered by the Crystal-Palace Company for the Burns Centenary, (so
called, according to our Benjamin Franklin, because there will be nary a
cent for any of us,) poetry will be very scarce and dear.  Consumers may,
consequently, be glad to take the present article, which, by the aid of a
Latin tutor--and a Professor of Chemistry, will be found intelligible to
the educated classes.

                       DE SAUTY


              Professor.       Blue-Nose.


     Tell me, O Provincial! speak, Ceruleo-Nasal!
     Lives there one De Sauty extant now among you,
     Whispering Boanerges, son of silent thunder,
     Holding talk with nations?

     Is there a De Sauty, ambulant on Tellus,
     Bifid-cleft like mortals, dormient in night-cap,
     Having sight, smell, hearing, food-receiving feature
     Three times daily patent?

     Breathes there such a being, O Ceruleo-Nasal?
     Or is he a mythus,--ancient word for "humbug,"
     --Such as Livy told about the wolf that wet-nursed
     Romulus and Remus?

     Was he born of woman, this alleged De Sauty?
     Or a living product of galvanic action,
     Like the status bred in Crosses flint-solution?
     Speak, thou Cyano-Rhinal!


     Many things thou askest, jackknife-bearing stranger,
     Much-conjecturing mortal, pork-and-treacle-waster!
     Pretermit thy whittling, wheel thine ear-flap toward me,
     Thou shalt hear them answered.

     When the charge galvanic tingled through the cable,
     At the polar focus of the wire electric
     Suddenly appeared a white-faced man among us
     Called himself "DE SAUTY."

     As the small opossum held in pouch maternal
     Grasps the nutrient organ whence the term mammalia,
     So the unknown stranger held the wire electric,
     Sucking in the current.

     When the current strengthened, bloomed the pale-faced stranger,
     Took no drink nor victual, yet grew fat and rosy,
     And from time to time, in sharp articulation,
     Said, "All right!  DE SAUTY."

     From the lonely station passed the utterance, spreading
     Through the pines and hemlocks to the groves of steeples
     Till the land was filled with loud reverberations
     Of "All right!  DE SAUTY."

     When the current slackened, drooped the mystic stranger,
     Faded, faded, faded, as the stream grew weaker,
     Wasted to a shadow, with a hartshorn odor
     Of disintegration.

     Drops of deliquescence glistened on his forehead,
     Whitened round his feet the dust of efflorescence,
     Till one Monday morning, when the flow suspended,
     There was no De Sauty.

     Nothing but a cloud of elements organic,
     C. O. H. N. Ferrum, Chor.  Flu.  Sil.  Potassa,
     Calc.  Sod.  Phosph.  Mag.  Sulphur, Mang.(?) Alumin.(?) Cuprum,(?)
     Such as man is made of.

     Born of stream galvanic, with it he had perished!
     There is no De Sauty now there is no current!
     Give us a new cable, then again we'll hear him
     Cry, "All right!  DE SAUTY."


Back again!--A turtle--which means a tortoise--is fond of his shell; but
if you put a live coal on his back, he crawls out of it.  So the boys

It is a libel on the turtle.  He grows to his shell, and his shell is in
his body as much as his body is in his shell.--I don't think there is one
of our boarders quite so testudineous as I am.  Nothing but a combination
of motives, more peremptory than the coal on the turtle's back, could
have got me to leave the shelter of my carapace; and after memorable
interviews, and kindest hospitalities, and grand sights, and huge influx
of patriotic pride,--for every American owns all America,--

          "Creation's heir,--the world, the world is"

his, if anybody's,--I come back with the feeling which a boned turkey
might experience, if, retaining his consciousness, he were allowed to
resume his skeleton.

Welcome, O Fighting Gladiator, and Recumbent Cleopatra, and Dying
Warrior, whose classic outlines (reproduced in the calcined mineral of
Lutetia) crown my loaded shelves!  Welcome, ye triumphs of pictorial art
(repeated by the magic graver) that look down upon me from the walls of
my sacred cell!  Vesalius, as Titian drew him, high-fronted, still-eyed,
thick-bearded, with signet-ring, as beseems a gentleman, with book and
carelessly-held eyeglass, marking him a scholar; thou, too, Jan Kuyper,
commonly called Jan Praktiseer, old man of a century and seven years
besides, father of twenty sons and two daughters, cut in copper by
Houbraken, bought from a portfolio on one of the Paris quais; and ye
Three Trees of Rembrandt, black in shadow against the blaze of light; and
thou Rosy Cottager of Sir Joshua, roses hinted by the peppery burin of
Bartolozzi; ye, too, of lower grades in nature, yet not unlovely for
unrenowned, Young Bull of Paulus Potter, and sleeping Cat of Cornelius
Visscher; welcome once more to my eyes!  The old books look out from the
shelves, and I seem to read on their backs something asides their
titles,--a kind of solemn greeting.  The crimson carpet flushes warm
under my feet.  The arm-chair hugs me; the swivel-chair spins round with
me, as if it were giddy with pleasure; the vast recumbent fauteuil
stretches itself out under my weight, as one joyous with food and wine
stretches in after-dinner laughter.

The boarders were pleased to say that they were glad to get me back. One
of them ventured a compliment, namely,--that I talked as if I believed
what I said.--This was apparently considered something unusual, by its
being mentioned.

One who means to talk with entire sincerity,--I said,--always feels
himself in danger of two things, namely,--an affectation of bluntness,
like that of which Cornwall accuses Kent in "Lear," and actual rudeness.
What a man wants to do, in talking with a stranger, is to get and to give
as much of the best and most real life that belongs to the two talkers as
the time will let him.  Life is short, and conversation apt to run to
mere words.  Mr. Hue I think it is, who tells us some very good stories
about the way in which two Chinese gentlemen contrive to keep up a long
talk without saying a word which has any meaning in it.  Something like
this is occasionally heard on this side of the Great Wall.  The best
Chinese talkers I know are some pretty women whom I meet from time to
time. Pleasant, airy, complimentary, the little flakes of flattery
glimmering in their talk like the bits of gold-leaf in eau-de-vie de
Dantzic; their accents flowing on in a soft ripple,--never a wave, and
never a calm; words nicely fitted, but never a colored phrase or a
highly-flavored epithet; they turn air into syllables so gracefully, that
we find meaning for the music they make as we find faces in the coals and
fairy palaces in the clouds.  There is something very odd, though, about
this mechanical talk.

You have sometimes been in a train on the railroad when the engine was
detached a long way from the station you were approaching?  Well, you
have noticed how quietly and rapidly the cars kept on, just as if the
locomotive were drawing them?  Indeed, you would not have suspected that
you were travelling on the strength of a dead fact, if you had not seen
the engine running away from you on a side-track. Upon my conscience, I
believe some of these pretty women detach their minds entirely,
sometimes, from their talk,--and, what is more, that we never know the
difference.  Their lips let off the fluty syllables just as their fingers
would sprinkle the music-drops from their pianos; unconscious habit turns
the phrase of thought into words just as it does that of music into
notes.--Well, they govern the world for all that, these sweet-lipped
women,--because beauty is the index of a larger fact than wisdom.

--The Bombazine wanted an explanation.

Madam,--said I,--wisdom is the abstract of the past, but beauty is the
promise of the future.

--All this, however, is not what I was going to say.  Here am I, suppose,
seated--we will say at a dinner-table--alongside of an intelligent
Englishman.  We look in each other's faces,--we exchange a dozen words.
One thing is settled: we mean not to offend each other,--to be perfectly
courteous,--more than courteous; for we are the entertainer and the
entertained, and cherish particularly amiable feelings, to each other.
The claret is good; and if our blood reddens a little with its warm
crimson, we are none the less kind for it.

I don't think people that talk over their victuals are like to say
anything very great, especially if they get their heads muddled with
strong drink before they begin jabberin'.

The Bombazine uttered this with a sugary sourness, as if the words had
been steeped in a solution of acetate of lead.--The boys of my time used
to call a hit like this a "side-winder."

--I must finish this woman.--

Madam,--I said,--the Great Teacher seems to have been fond of talking as
he sat at meat.  Because this was a good while ago, in a far-off place,
you forget what the true fact of it was,--that those were real dinners,
where people were hungry and thirsty, and where you met a very
miscellaneous company.  Probably there was a great deal of loose talk
among the guests; at any rate, there was always wine, we may believe.

Whatever may be the hygienic advantages or disadvantages of wine,--and I
for one, except for certain particular ends, believe in water, and, I
blush to say it, in black tea,--there is no doubt about its being the
grand specific against dull dinners.  A score of people come together in
all moods of mind and body.  The problem is, in the space of one hour,
more or less, to bring them all into the same condition of slightly
exalted life.  Food alone is enough for one person, perhaps,--talk,
alone, for another; but the grand equalizer and fraternizer, which works
up the radiators to their maximum radiation, and the absorbents to their
maximum receptivity, is now just where it was when

          The conscious water saw its Lord and blushed,

--when six great vessels containing water, the whole amounting to more
than a hogshead-full, were changed into the best of wine.  I once wrote a
song about wine, in which I spoke so warmly of it, that I was afraid some
would think it was written inter pocula; whereas it was composed in the
bosom of my family, under the most tranquillizing domestic influences.

--The divinity-student turned towards me, looking mischievous.--Can you
tell me,--he said,--who wrote a song for a temperance celebration once,
of which the following is a verse?

     Alas for the loved one, too gentle and fair
     The joys of the banquet to chasten and share!
     Her eye lost its light that his goblet might shine,
     And the rose of her cheek was dissolved in his wine!

I did,--I answered.--What are you going to do about it?--I will tell you
another line I wrote long ago:--

     Don't be "consistent,"--but be simply true.

The longer I live, the more I am satisfied of two things: first, that the
truest lives are those that are cut rose-diamond-fashion, with many
facets answering to the many-planed aspects of the world about them;
secondly, that society is always trying in some way or other to grind us
down to a single flat surface.  It is hard work to resist this
grinding-down action.--Now give me a chance.  Better eternal and
universal abstinence than the brutalities of those days that made wives
and mothers and daughters and sisters blush for those whom they should
have honored, as they came reeling home from their debauches! Yet better
even excess than lying and hypocrisy; and if wine is upon all our tables,
let us praise it for its color and fragrance and social tendency, so far
as it deserves, and not hug a bottle in the closet and pretend not to
know the use of a wine-glass at a public dinner!  I think you will find
that people who honestly mean to be true really contradict themselves
much more rarely than those who try to be "consistent."  But a great many
things we say can be made to appear contradictory, simply because they
are partial views of a truth, and may often look unlike at first, as a
front view of a face and its profile often do.

Here is a distinguished divine, for whom I have great respect, for I owe
him a charming hour at one of our literary anniversaries, and he has
often spoken noble words; but he holds up a remark of my friend the
"Autocrat,"--which I grieve to say he twice misquotes, by omitting the
very word which gives it its significance,--the word fluid, intended to
typify the mobility of the restricted will,--holds it up, I say, as if it
attacked the reality of the self-determining principle, instead of
illustrating its limitations by an image.  Now I will not explain any
farther, still less defend, and least of all attack, but simply quote a
few lines from one of my friend's poems, printed more than ten years ago,
and ask the distinguished gentleman where he has ever asserted more
strongly or absolutely the independent will of the "subcreative centre,"
as my heretical friend has elsewhere called man.

   --Thought, conscience, will, to make them all thy own
     He rent a pillar from the eternal throne!
   --Made in His image, thou must nobly dare
     The thorny crown of sovereignty to share.
   --Think not too meanly of thy low estate;
     Thou hast a choice; to choose is to create!

If he will look a little closely, he will see that the profile and the
full-face views of the will are both true and perfectly consistent!

Now let us come back, after this long digression, to the conversation
with the intelligent Englishman.  We begin skirmishing with a few light
ideas,--testing for thoughts,--as our electro-chemical friend, De Sauty,
if there were such a person, would test for his current; trying a little
litmus-paper for acids, and then a slip of turmeric-paper for alkalies,
as chemists do with unknown compounds; flinging the lead, and looking at
the shells and sands it brings up to find out whether we are like to keep
in shallow water, or shall have to drop the deep-sea line;--in short,
seeing what we have to deal with. If the Englishman gets his H's pretty
well placed, he comes from one of the higher grades of the British social
order, and we shall find him a good companion.

But, after all, here is a great fact between us.  We belong to two
different civilizations, and, until we recognize what separates us, we
are talking like Pyramus and Thisbe, without any hole in the wall to talk
through.  Therefore, on the whole, if he were a superior fellow,
incapable of mistaking it for personal conceit, I think I would let out
the fact of the real American feeling about Old-World folks.  They are
children to us in certain points of view.  They are playing with toys we
have done with for whole-generations.

The more I have observed and reflected, the more limited seems to me the
field of action of the human will. Every act of choice involves a special
relation between the ego and the conditions before it.  But no man knows
what forces are at work in the determination of his ego. The bias which
decides his choice between two or more motives may come from some
unsuspected ancestral source, of which he knows nothing at all.  He is
automatic in virtue of that hidden spring of reflex action, all the time
having the feeling that he is self-determining.  The Story of Elsie
Yenner, written-soon after this book was published, illustrates the
direction in which my thought was moving.  'The imaginary subject of the
story obeyed her will, but her will Obeyed the mysterious antenatal
poisoning influence.

That silly little drum they are always beating on, and the trumpet and
the feather they make so much noise and cut such a figure with, we have
not quite outgrown, but play with much less seriously and constantly than
they do.  Then there is a whole museum of wigs, and masks, and
lace-coats, and gold-sticks, and grimaces, and phrases, which we laugh at
honestly, without affectation, that are still used in the Old-World
puppet-shows.  I don't think we on our part ever understand the
Englishman's concentrated loyalty and specialized reverence.  But then we
do think more of a man, as such, (barring some little difficulties about
race and complexion which the Englishman will touch us on presently,)
than any people that ever lived did think of him.  Our reverence is a
great deal wider, if it is less intense.  We have caste among us, to some
extent; it is true; but there is never a collar on the American wolf-dog
such as you often see on the English mastiff, notwithstanding his robust,
hearty individuality.

This confronting of two civilizations is always a grand sensation to me;
it is like cutting through the isthmus and letting the two oceans swim
into each other's laps.  The trouble is, it is so difficult to let out
the whole American nature without its self-assertion seeming to take a
personal character.  But I never enjoy the Englishman so much as when he
talks of church and king like Manco Capac among the Peruvians.  Then you
get the real British flavor, which the cosmopolite Englishman loses.

How much better this thorough interpenetration of ideas than a barren
interchange of courtesies, or a bush-fighting argument, in which each man
tries to cover as much of himself and expose as much of his opponent as
the tangled thicket of the disputed ground will let him!

---My thoughts flow in layers or strata, at least three deep.  I follow a
slow person's talk, and keep a perfectly clear under-current of my own
beneath it.  Under both runs obscurely a consciousness belonging to a
third train of reflections, independent of the two others.  I will try to
write out a Mental movement in three parts.

A.---First voice, or Mental Soprano,--thought follows a woman talking.

B.--Second voice, or Mental Barytone,--my running accompaniment.

C.--Third voice, or Mental Basso,--low grumble of importunate
self-repeating idea.

A.--White lace, three skirts, looped with flowers, wreath of
apple-blossoms, gold bracelets, diamond pin and ear-rings, the most
delicious berthe you ever saw, white satin slippers--

B.--Deuse take her!  What a fool she is!  Hear her chatter!  (Look out of
window just here.--Two pages and a half of description, if it were all
written out, in one tenth of a second.)--Go ahead, old lady! (Eye catches
picture over fireplace.) There's that infernal family nose!  Came over in
the "Mayflower" on the first old fool's face. Why don't they wear a ring
in it?

C.--You 'll be late at lecture,--late at lecture,--late,--late--

I observe that a deep layer of thought sometimes makes itself felt
through the superincumbent strata, thus:--The usual single or double
currents shall flow on, but there shall be an influence blending with
them, disturbing them in an obscure way, until all at once I say,--Oh,
there!  I knew there was something troubling me,--and the thought which
had been working through comes up to the surface clear, definite, and
articulates itself,--a disagreeable duty, perhaps, or an unpleasant

The inner world of thought and the outer world of events are alike in
this, that they are both brimful.  There is no space between consecutive
thoughts, or between the never-ending series of actions. All pack tight,
and mould their surfaces against each other, so that in the long run
there is a wonderful average uniformity in the forms of both thoughts and
actions, just as you find that cylinders crowded all become hexagonal
prisms, and spheres pressed together are formed into regular polyhedra.

Every event that a man would master must be mounted on the run, and no
man ever caught the reins of a thought except as it galloped by him.  So,
to carry out, with another comparison, my remark about the layers of
thought, we may consider the mind as it moves among thoughts or events,
like a circus-rider whirling round with a great troop of horses.  He can
mount a fact or an idea, and guide it more or less completely, but he
cannot stop it.  So, as I said in another way at the beginning, he can
stride two or three thoughts at once, but not break their steady walk,
trot, or gallop.  He can only take his foot from the saddle of one
thought and put it on that of another.

--What is the saddle of a thought?  Why, a word, of course.--Twenty years
after you have dismissed a thought, it suddenly wedges up to you through
the press, as if it had been steadily galloping round and round all that
time without a rider.

The will does not act in the interspaces of thought, for there are no
such interspaces, but simply steps from the back of one moving thought
upon that of another.

--I should like to ask,--said the divinity-student,--since we are getting
into metaphysics, how you can admit space, if all things are in contact,
and how you can admit time, if it is always now to something?

--I thought it best not to hear this question.

--I wonder if you know this class of philosophers in books or elsewhere.
One of them makes his bow to the public, and exhibits an unfortunate
truth bandaged up so that it cannot stir hand or foot,--as helpless,
apparently, and unable to take care of itself, as an Egyptian mummy.  He
then proceeds, with the air and method of a master, to take off the
bandages.  Nothing can be neater than the way in which he does it.  But
as he takes off layer after layer, the truth seems to grow smaller and
smaller, and some of its outlines begin to look like something we have
seen before.  At last, when he has got them all off, and the truth struts
out naked, we recognize it as a diminutive and familiar acquaintance whom
we have known in the streets all our lives.  The fact is, the philosopher
has coaxed the truth into his study and put all those bandages on; or
course it is not very hard for him to take them off.  Still, a great many
people like to watch the process,--he does it so neatly!

Dear! dear!  I am ashamed to write and talk, sometimes, when I see how
those functions of the large-brained, thumb-opposing plantigrade are
abused by my fellow-vertebrates,--perhaps by myself.  How they spar for
wind, instead of hitting from the shoulder!

--The young fellow called John arose and placed himself in a neat
fighting attitude.--Fetch on the fellah that makes them long words!--he
said,--and planted a straight hit with the right fist in the concave palm
of the left hand with a click like a cup and ball.--You small boy there,
hurry up that "Webster's Unabridged!"

The little gentleman with the malformation, before described, shocked the
propriety of the breakfast-table by a loud utterance of three words, of
which the two last were "Webster's Unabridged," and the first was an
emphatic monosyllable.--Beg pardon,--he added,--forgot myself.  But let
us have an English dictionary, if we are to have any.  I don't believe in
clipping the coin of the realm, Sir!  If I put a weathercock on my house,
Sir, I want it to tell which way the wind blows up aloft,--off from the
prairies to the ocean, or off from the ocean to the prairies, or any way
it wants to blow!  I don't want a weathercock with a winch in an old
gentleman's study that he can take hold of and turn, so that the vane
shall point west when the great wind overhead is blowing east with all
its might, Sir!  Wait till we give you a dictionary; Sir!  It takes
Boston to do that thing, Sir!

--Some folks think water can't run down-hill anywhere out of Boston,
--remarked the Koh-i-noor.

I don't know what some folks think so well as I know what some fools
say,--rejoined the Little Gentleman.--If importing most dry goods made
the best scholars, I dare say you would know where to look for 'em.--Mr.
Webster could n't spell, Sir, or would n't spell, Sir,--at any rate, he
did n't spell; and the end of it was a fight between the owners of some
copyrights and the dignity of this noble language which we have inherited
from our English fathers.  Language!--the blood of the soul, Sir! into
which our thoughts run and out of which they grow!  We know what a word
is worth here in Boston.  Young Sam Adams got up on the stage at
Commencement, out at Cambridge there, with his gown on, the Governor and
Council looking on in the name of his Majesty, King George the Second,
and the girls looking down out of the galleries, and taught people how to
spell a word that was n't in the Colonial dictionaries!  R-e, re, s-i-s,
sis, t-a-n-c-e, tance, Resistance!  That was in '43, and it was a good
many years before the Boston boys began spelling it with their
muskets;--but when they did begin, they spelt it so loud that the old
bedridden women in the English almshouses heard every syllable!  Yes,
yes, yes,--it was a good while before those other two Boston boys got the
class so far along that it could spell those two hard words, Independence
and Union!  I tell you what, Sir, there are a thousand lives, aye,
sometimes a million, go to get a new word into a language that is worth
speaking.  We know what language means too well here in Boston to play
tricks with it.  We never make a new word til we have made a new thing or
a new thought, Sir! then we shaped the new mould of this continent, we
had to make a few.  When, by God's permission, we abrogated the primal
curse of maternity, we had to make a word or two.  The cutwater of this
great Leviathan clipper, the OCCIDENTAL,--this thirty-wasted
wind-and-steam wave-crusher,--must throw a little spray over the human
vocabulary as it splits the waters of a new world's destiny!

He rose as he spoke, until his stature seemed to swell into the fair
human proportions.  His feet must have been on the upper round of his
high chair; that was the only way I could account for it.

Puts her through fast-rate,--said the young fellow whom the boarders call

The venerable and kind-looking old gentleman who sits opposite said he
remembered Sam Adams as Governor.  An old man in a brown coat. Saw him
take the Chair on Boston Common.  Was a boy then, and remembers sitting
on the fence in front of the old Hancock house. Recollects he had a
glazed 'lectionbun, and sat eating it and looking down on to the Common.
Lalocks flowered late that year, and he got a great bunch off from the
bushes in the Hancock front-yard.

Them 'lection-buns are no go,--said the young man John, so called.--I
know the trick.  Give a fellah a fo'penny bun in the mornin', an' he
downs the whole of it.  In about an hour it swells up in his stomach as
big as a football, and his feedin' 's spilt for that day. That's the way
to stop off a young one from eatin' up all the 'lection dinner.

Salem!  Salem! not Boston,--shouted the little man.

But the Koh-i-noor laughed a great rasping laugh, and the boy Benjamin
Franklin looked sharp at his mother, as if he remembered the
bun-experiment as a part of his past personal history.

The Little Gentleman was holding a fork in his left hand.  He stabbed a
boulder of home-made bread with it, mechanically, and looked at it as if
it ought to shriek.  It did not,--but he sat as if watching it.

--Language is a solemn thing,--I said.--It grows out of life,--out of its
agonies and ecstasies, its wants and its weariness.  Every language is a
temple, in which the soul of those who speak it is enshrined.  Because
time softens its outlines and rounds the sharp angles of its cornices,
shall a fellow take a pickaxe to help time? Let me tell you what comes of
meddling with things that can take care of themselves.--A friend of mine
had a watch given him, when he was a boy,--a "bull's eye," with a loose
silver case that came off like an oyster-shell from its contents; you
know them,--the cases that you hang on your thumb, while the core, or the
real watch, lies in your hand as naked as a peeled apple.  Well, he began
with taking off the case, and so on from one liberty to another, until he
got it fairly open, and there were the works, as good as if they were
alive,--crown-wheel, balance-wheel, and all the rest.  All right except
one thing,--there was a confounded little hair had got tangled round the
balance-wheel.  So my young Solomon got a pair of tweezers, and caught
hold of the hair very nicely, and pulled it right out, without touching
any of the wheels,--when,--buzzzZZZ! and the watch had done up
twenty-four hours in double magnetic-telegraph time!--The English
language was wound up to run some thousands of years, I trust; but if
everybody is to be pulling at everything he thinks is a hair, our
grandchildren will have to make the discovery that it is a hair-spring,
and the old Anglo-Norman soul's-timekeeper will run down, as so many
other dialects have done before it.  I can't stand this meddling any
better than you, Sir.  But we have a great deal to be proud of in the
lifelong labors of that old lexicographer, and we must n't be ungrateful.
Besides, don't let us deceive ourselves,--the war of the dictionaries is
only a disguised rivalry of cities, colleges, and especially of
publishers.  After all, it is likely that the language will shape itself
by larger forces than phonography and dictionary-making.  You may spade
up the ocean as much as you like, and harrow it afterwards, if you
can,--but the moon will still lead the tides, and the winds will form
their surface.

--Do you know Richardson's Dictionary?--I said to my neighbor the

Haow?--said the divinity-student.--He colored, as he noticed on my face a
twitch in one of the muscles which tuck up the corner of the mouth,
(zygomaticus major,) and which I could not hold back from making a little
movement on its own account.

It was too late.--A country-boy, lassoed when he was a half-grown colt.
Just as good as a city-boy, and in some ways, perhaps, better,--but
caught a little too old not to carry some marks of his earlier ways of
life.  Foreigners, who have talked a strange tongue half their lives,
return to the language of their childhood in their dying hours.
Gentlemen in fine linen, and scholars in large libraries, taken by
surprise, or in a careless moment, will sometimes let slip a word they
knew as boys in homespun and have not spoken since that time,--but it lay
there under all their culture.  That is one way you may know the
country-boys after they have grown rich or celebrated; another is by the
odd old family names, particularly those of the Hebrew prophets, which
the good old people have saddled them with.

--Boston has enough of England about it to make a good English
dictionary,--said that fresh-looking youth whom I have mentioned as
sitting at the right upper corner of the table.

I turned and looked him full in the face,--for the pure, manly
intonations arrested me.  The voice was youthful, but full of
character.--I suppose some persons have a peculiar susceptibility in the
matter of voice.--Hear this.

Not long after the American Revolution, a young lady was sitting in her
father's chaise in a street of this town of Boston.  She overheard a
little girl talking or singing, and was mightily taken with the tones of
her voice.  Nothing would satisfy her but she must have that little girl
come and live in her father's house.  So the child came, being then nine
years old.  Until her marriage she remained under the same roof with the
young lady.  Her children became successively inmates of the lady's
dwelling; and now, seventy years, or thereabouts, since the young lady
heard the child singing, one of that child's children and one of her
grandchildren are with her in that home, where she, no longer young,
except in heart, passes her peaceful days.--Three generations linked
together by so light a breath of accident!

I liked--the sound of this youth's voice, I said, and his look when I
came to observe him a little more closely.  His complexion had something
better than the bloom and freshness which had first attracted me;--it had
that diffused tone which is a sure index of wholesome, lusty life.  A
fine liberal style of nature seemed to be: hair crisped, moustache
springing thick and dark, head firmly planted, lips finished, as is
commonly sees them in gentlemen's families, a pupil well contracted, and
a mouth that opened frankly with a white flash of teeth that looked as if
they could serve him as they say Ethan Allen's used to serve their
owner,--to draw nails with.  This is the kind of fellow to walk a
frigate's deck and bowl his broadsides into the "Gadlant Thudnder-bomb,"
or any forty-port-holed adventurer who would like to exchange a few tons
of iron compliments.--I don't know what put this into my head, for it was
not till some time afterward I learned the young fellow had been in the
naval school at Annapolis.  Something had happened to change his plan of
life, and he was now studying engineering and architecture in Boston.

When the youth made the short remark which drew my attention to him, the
little deformed gentleman turned round and took a long look at him.

Good for the Boston boy!--he said.

I am not a Boston boy,--said the youth, smiling,--I am a Marylander.

I don't care where you come from,--we'll make a Boston man of you,--said
the little gentleman.  Pray, what part of Maryland did you come from, and
how shall I call you?

The poor youth had to speak pretty loud, as he was at the right upper
corner of the table, and the little gentleman next the lower left-hand
corner.  His face flushed a little, but he answered pleasantly, telling
who he was, as if the little man's infirmity gave him a right to ask any
questions he wanted to.

Here is the place for you to sit,--said the little gentleman, pointing to
the vacant chair next his own, at the corner.

You're go'n' to have a young lady next you, if you wait till
to-morrow,--said the landlady to him.

He did not reply, but I had a fancy that he changed color.  It can't be
that he has susceptibilities with reference to a contingent young lady!
It can't be that he has had experiences which make him sensitive!  Nature
could not be quite so cruel as to set a heart throbbing in that poor
little cage of ribs!  There is no use in wasting notes of admiration.  I
must ask the landlady about him.

These are some of the facts she furnished.--Has not been long with her.
Brought a sight of furniture,--could n't hardly get some of it upstairs.
Has n't seemed particularly attentive to the ladies.  The Bombazine (whom
she calls Cousin something or other) has tried to enter into conversation
with him, but retired with the impression that he was indifferent to
ladies' society.  Paid his bill the other day without saying a word about
it.  Paid it in gold,--had a great heap of twenty-dollar pieces.  Hires
her best room.  Thinks he is a very nice little man, but lives dreadful
lonely up in his chamber. Wants the care of some capable nuss.  Never
pitied anybody more in her life--never see a more interestin' person.

--My intention was, when I began making these notes, to let them consist
principally of conversations between myself and the other boarders.  So
they will, very probably; but my curiosity is excited about this little
boarder of ours, and my reader must not be disappointed, if I sometimes
interrupt a discussion to give an account of whatever fact or traits I
may discover about him.  It so happens that his room is next to mine, and
I have the opportunity of observing many of his ways without any active
movements of curiosity. That his room contains heavy furniture, that he
is a restless little body and is apt to be up late, that he talks to
himself, and keeps mainly to himself, is nearly all I have yet found out.

One curious circumstance happened lately which I mention without drawing
an absolute inference.  Being at the studio of a sculptor with whom I am
acquainted, the other day, I saw a remarkable cast of a left arm.  On my
asking where the model came from, he said it was taken direct from the
arm of a deformed person, who had employed one of the Italian moulders to
make the cast.  It was a curious case, it should seem, of one beautiful
limb upon a frame otherwise singularly imperfect--I have repeatedly
noticed this little gentleman's use of his left arm.  Can he have
furnished the model I saw at the sculptor's?

--So we are to have a new boarder to-morrow.  I hope there will be
something pretty and pleasing about her.  A woman with a creamy voice,
and finished in alto rilievo, would be a variety in the
boarding-house,--a little more marrow and a little less sinew than our
landlady and her daughter and the bombazine-clad female, all of whom are
of the turkey-drumstick style of organization.  I don't mean that these
are our only female companions; but the rest being conversational
non-combatants, mostly still, sad feeders, who take in their food as
locomotives take in wood and water, and then wither away from the table
like blossoms that never came to fruit, I have not yet referred to them
as individuals.

I wonder what kind of young person we shall see in that empty chair

--I read this song to the boarders after breakfast the other morning. It
was written for our fellows;--you know who they are, of course.

                         THE BOYS.

     Has there any old fellow got mixed with the boys?
     If there has, take him out, without making a noise!
     Hang the Almanac's cheat and the Catalogue's spite!
     Old Time is a liar!  We're twenty to-night!

     We're twenty!  We're twenty!  Who says we are more?
     He's tipsy,--young jackanapes!--show him the door!
     --"Gray temples at twenty?"--Yes! white, if we please;
     Where the snow-flakes fall thickest there's nothing can freeze!

     Was it snowing I spoke of?  Excuse the mistake!
     Look close,--you will see not a sign of a flake;
     We want some new garlands for those we have shed,
     And these are white roses in place of the red!

     We've a trick, we young fellows, you may have been told.
     Of talking (in public) as if we were old;
     That boy we call Doctor, (1) and this we call Judge (2)
     --It's a neat little fiction,--of course it's all fudge.

     That fellow's the Speaker, (3)--the one on the right;
     Mr. Mayor, (4) my young one, how are you to-night?
     That's our "Member of Congress,"(5) we say when we chaff;
     There's the "Reverend" (6) What's his name?--don't make me laugh!

     That boy with the grave mathematical look(7)
     Made believe he had written a wonderful book,
     And the ROYAL SOCIETY thought it was true!
     So they chose him right in; a good joke it was, too.

     There's a boy,--we pretend,--with a three-decker-brain
     That could harness a team with a logical chain:
     When he spoke for our manhood in syllabled fire,
     We called him "The Justice,"--but now he's "The Squire."(1)

     And there's a nice youngster of excellent pith,(2)
     Fate tried to conceal him by naming him Smith,
     But he shouted a song for the brave and the free,
     --Just read on his medal,--"My country,--of thee!"

     You hear that boy laughing?--you think he's all fun,
     But the angels laugh, too, at the good he has done;
     The children laugh loud as they troop to his call,
     And the poor man that knows him laughs loudest of all!(3)

     Yes, we're boys,--always playing with tongue or with pen,
     --And I sometimes have asked,--Shall we ever be men?
     Shall we always be youthful and laughing and gay,
     Till the last dear companion drops smiling away?

     Then here's to our boyhood, its gold and its gray!
     The stars of its Winter, the dews of its May!
     And when we have done with our life-lasting toys,
     Dear Father, take care of thy children, the Boys!

     1 Francis Thomas.
     2 George Tyler Bigelow.
     3 Francis Boardman Crowninshield.
     4 G. W. Richardson.
     5 George Thomas Davis.
     6 James Freeman Clarke.
     7 Benjamin Peirce.


[The Professor talks with the Reader.  He tells a Young Girl's Story.]

When the elements that went to the making of the first man, father of
mankind, had been withdrawn from the world of unconscious matter, the
balance of creation was disturbed.  The materials that go to the making
of one woman were set free by the abstraction from inanimate nature of
one man's-worth of masculine constituents.  These combined to make our
first mother, by a logical necessity involved in the previous creation of
our common father.  All this, mythically, illustratively, and by no means
doctrinally or polemically.

The man implies the woman, you will understand.  The excellent gentleman
whom I had the pleasure of setting right in a trifling matter a few weeks
ago believes in the frequent occurrence of miracles at the present day.
So do I.  I believe, if you could find an uninhabited coral-reef island,
in the middle of the Pacific Ocean, with plenty of cocoa-palms and
bread-fruit on it, and put a handsome young fellow, like our Marylander,
ashore upon it, if you touched there a year afterwards, you would find
him walking under the palm-trees arm in arm with a pretty woman.

Where would she come from?

Oh, that 's the miracle!

--I was just as certain, when I saw that fine, high-colored youth at the
upper right-hand corner of our table, that there would appear some
fitting feminine counterpart to him, as if I had been a clairvoyant,
seeing it all beforehand.

--I have a fancy that those Marylanders are just about near enough to the
sun to ripen well.--How some of us fellows remember Joe and Harry,
Baltimoreans, both!  Joe, with his cheeks like lady-apples, and his eyes
like black-heart cherries, and his teeth like the whiteness of the flesh
of cocoanuts, and his laugh that set the chandelier-drops rattling
overhead, as we sat at our sparkling banquets in those gay times!  Harry,
champion, by acclamation, of the college heavy-weights, broad-shouldered,
bull-necked, square-jawed, six feet and trimmings, a little science, lots
of pluck, good-natured as a steer in peace, formidable as a red-eyed
bison in the crack of hand-to-hand battle!  Who forgets the great
muster-day, and the collision of the classic with the democratic forces?
The huge butcher, fifteen stone,--two hundred and ten pounds,--good
weight,--steps out like Telamonian Ajax, defiant.  No words from Harry,
the Baltimorean,--one of the quiet sort, who strike first; and do the
talking, if there is any, afterwards.  No words, but, in the place
thereof, a clean, straight, hard hit, which took effect with a spank like
the explosion of a percussion-cap, knocking the slayer of beeves down a
sand-bank,--followed, alas! by the too impetuous youth, so that both
rolled down together, and the conflict terminated in one of those
inglorious and inevitable Yankee clinches, followed by a general melee,
which make our native fistic encounters so different from such
admirably-ordered contests as that which I once saw at an English fair,
where everything was done decently and in order; and the fight began and
ended with such grave propriety, that a sporting parson need hardly have
hesitated to open it with a devout petition, and, after it was over,
dismiss the ring with a benediction.

I can't help telling one more story about this great field-day, though it
is the most wanton and irrelevant digression.  But all of us have a
little speck of fight underneath our peace and good-will to men, just a
speck, for revolutions and great emergencies, you know,--so that we
should not submit to be trodden quite flat by the first heavy-heeled
aggressor that came along.  You can tell a portrait from an ideal head, I
suppose, and a true story from one spun out of the writer's invention.
See whether this sounds true or not.

Admiral Sir Isaac Coffin sent out two fine blood-horses, Barefoot and
Serab by name, to Massachusetts, something before the time I am talking
of.  With them came a Yorkshire groom, a stocky little fellow, in velvet
breeches, who made that mysterious hissing noise, traditionary in English
stables, when he rubbed down the silken-skinned racers, in great
perfection.  After the soldiers had come from the muster-field, and some
of the companies were on the village-common, there was still some
skirmishing between a few individuals who had not had the fight taken out
of them.  The little Yorkshire groom thought he must serve out somebody.
So he threw himself into an approved scientific attitude, and, in brief,
emphatic language, expressed his urgent anxiety to accommodate any
classical young gentleman who chose to consider himself a candidate for
his attentions.  I don't suppose there were many of the college boys that
would have been a match for him in the art which Englishmen know so much
more of than Americans, for the most part.  However, one of the
Sophomores, a very quiet, peaceable fellow, just stepped out of the
crowd, and, running straight at the groom, as he stood there, sparring
away, struck him with the sole of his foot, a straight blow, as if it had
been with his fist, and knocked him heels over head and senseless, so
that he had to be carried off from the field.  This ugly way of hitting
is the great trick of the French gavate, which is not commonly thought
able to stand its ground against English pugilistic science.  These are
old recollections, with not much to recommend them, except, perhaps, a
dash of life, which may be worth a little something.

The young Marylander brought them all up, you may remember.  He recalled
to my mind those two splendid pieces of vitality I told you of.  Both
have been long dead. How often we see these great red-flaring flambeaux
of life blown out, as it were, by a puff of wind,--and the little,
single-wicked night-lamp of being, which some white-faced and attenuated
invalid shades with trembling fingers, flickering on while they go out
one after another, until its glimmer is all that is left to us of the
generation to which it belonged!

I told you that I was perfectly sure, beforehand, we should find some
pleasing girlish or womanly shape to fill the blank at our table and
match the dark-haired youth at the upper corner.

There she sits, at the very opposite corner, just as far off as accident
could put her from this handsome fellow, by whose side she ought, of
course, to be sitting.  One of the "positive" blondes, as my friend, you
may remember, used to call them.  Tawny-haired, amber-eyed,
full-throated, skin as white as a blanched almond.  Looks dreamy to me,
not self-conscious, though a black ribbon round her neck sets it off as a
Marie-Antoinette's diamond-necklace could not do.  So in her dress, there
is a harmony of tints that looks as if an artist had run his eye over her
and given a hint or two like the finishing touch to a picture.  I can't
help being struck with her, for she is at once rounded and fine in
feature, looks calm, as blondes are apt to, and as if she might run wild,
if she were trifled with.  It is just as I knew it would be,--and anybody
can see that our young Marylander will be dead in love with her in a

Then if that little man would only turn out immensely rich and have the
good-nature to die and leave them all his money, it would be as nice as a
three-volume novel.

The Little Gentleman is in a flurry, I suspect, with the excitement of
having such a charming neighbor next him.  I judge so mainly by his
silence and by a certain rapt and serious look on his face, as if he were
thinking of something that had happened, or that might happen, or that
ought to happen,--or how beautiful her young life looked, or how hardly
Nature had dealt with him, or something which struck him silent, at any
rate.  I made several conversational openings for him, but he did not
fire up as he often does.  I even went so far as to indulge in, a fling
at the State House, which, as we all know, is in truth a very imposing
structure, covering less ground than St. Peter's, but of similar general
effect.  The little man looked up, but did not reply to my taunt.  He
said to the young lady, however, that the State House was the Parthenon
of our Acropolis, which seemed to please her, for she smiled, and he
reddened a little,--so I thought.  I don't think it right to watch
persons who are the subjects of special infirmity,--but we all do it.

I see that they have crowded the chairs a little at that end of the
table, to make room for another newcomer of the lady sort.  A
well-mounted, middle-aged preparation, wearing her hair without a cap,
--pretty wide in the parting, though,--contours vaguely hinted,
--features very quiet,--says little as yet, but seems to keep her eye on
the young lady, as if having some responsibility for her My record is a
blank for some days after this.  In the mean time I have contrived to
make out the person and the story of our young lady, who, according to
appearances, ought to furnish us a heroine for a boarding-house romance
before a year is out.  It is very curious that she should prove connected
with a person many of us have heard of.  Yet, curious as it is, I have
been a hundred times struck with the circumstance that the most remote
facts are constantly striking each other; just as vessels starting from
ports thousands of miles apart pass close to each other in the naked
breadth of the ocean, nay, sometimes even touch, in the dark, with a
crack of timbers, a gurgling of water, a cry of startled sleepers,--a cry
mysteriously echoed in warning dreams, as the wife of some Gloucester
fisherman, some coasting skipper, wakes with a shriek, calls the name of
her husband, and sinks back to uneasy slumbers upon her lonely pillow,--a

Oh, these mysterious meetings!  Leaving all the vague, waste, endless
spaces of the washing desert, the ocean-steamer and the fishing-smack
sail straight towards each other as if they ran in grooves ploughed for
them in the waters from the beginning of creation!  Not only things and
events, but our own thoughts, are so full of these surprises, that, if
there were a reader in my parish who did not recognize the familiar
occurrence of what I am now going to mention, I should think it a case
for the missionaries of the Society for the Propagation of Intelligence
among the Comfortable Classes. There are about as many twins in the
births of thought as of children.  For the first time in your lives you
learn some fact or come across some idea.  Within an hour, a day, a week,
that same fact or idea strikes you from another quarter.  It seems as if
it had passed into space and bounded back upon you as an echo from the
blank wall that shuts in the world of thought.  Yet no possible
connection exists between the two channels by which the thought or the
fact arrived.  Let me give an infinitesimal illustration.

One of the Boys mentioned, the other evening, in the course of a very
pleasant poem he read us, a little trick of the Commons-table boarders,
which I, nourished at the parental board, had never heard of.  Young
fellows being always hungry--Allow me to stop dead-short, in order to
utter an aphorism which has been forming itself in one of the blank
interior spaces of my intelligence, like a crystal in the cavity of a

               Aphorism by the Professor.

In order to know whether a human being is young or old, offer it food of
different kinds at short intervals.  If young, it will eat anything at
any hour of the day or night.  If old, it observes stated periods, and
you might as well attempt to regulate the time of highwater to suit a
fishing-party as to change these periods. The crucial experiment is this.
Offer a bulky and boggy bun to the suspected individual just ten minutes
before dinner.  If this is eagerly accepted and devoured, the fact of
youth is established.  If the subject of the question starts back and
expresses surprise and incredulity, as if you could not possibly be in
earnest, the fact of maturity is no less clear.

--Excuse me,--I return to my story of the Commons-table.--Young fellows
being always hungry, and tea and dry toast being the meagre fare of the
evening meal, it was a trick of some of the Boys to impale a slice of
meat upon a fork, at dinner-time, and stick the fork holding it beneath
the table, so that they could get it at tea-time.  The dragons that
guarded this table of the Hesperides found out the trick at last, and
kept a sharp look-out for missing forks;--they knew where to find one,
if it was not in its place.--Now the odd thing was, that, after waiting
so many years to hear of this college trick, I should hear it mentioned a
second time within the same twenty-four hours by a college youth of the
present generation. Strange, but true.  And so it has happened to me and
to every person, often and often, to be hit in rapid succession by these
twinned facts or thoughts, as if they were linked like chain-shot.

I was going to leave the simple reader to wonder over this, taking it as
an unexplained marvel.  I think, however, I will turn over a furrow of
subsoil in it.--The explanation is, of course, that in a great many
thoughts there must be a few coincidences, and these instantly arrest our
attention.  Now we shall probably never have the least idea of the
enormous number of impressions which pass through our consciousness,
until in some future life we see the photographic record of our thoughts
and the stereoscopic picture of our actions. There go more pieces to make
up a conscious life or a living body than you think for.  Why, some of
you were surprised when a friend of mine told you there were fifty-eight
separate pieces in a fiddle. How many "swimming glands"--solid,
organized, regularly formed, rounded disks taking an active part in all
your vital processes, part and parcel, each one of them, of your
corporeal being--do you suppose are whirled along, like pebbles in a
stream, with the blood which warms your frame and colors your cheeks?--A
noted German physiologist spread out a minute drop of blood, under the
microscope, in narrow streaks, and counted the globules, and then made a
calculation.  The counting by the micrometer took him a week.--You have,
my full-grown friend, of these little couriers in crimson or scarlet
livery, running on your vital errands day and night as long as you live,
sixty-five billions, five hundred and seventy thousand millions. Errors
excepted.--Did I hear some gentleman say, "Doubted? "--I am the
Professor.  I sit in my chair with a petard under it that will blow me
through the skylight of my lecture-room, if I do not know what I am
talking about and whom I am quoting.

Now, my dear friends, who are putting your hands to your foreheads, and
saying to yourselves that you feel a little confused, as if you had been
waltzing until things began to whirl slightly round you, is it possible
that you do not clearly apprehend the exact connection of all that I have
been saying, and its bearing on what is now to come? Listen, then.  The
number of these living elements in our bodies illustrates the
incalculable multitude of our thoughts; the number of our thoughts
accounts for those frequent coincidences spoken of; these coincidences in
the world of thought illustrate those which we constantly observe in the
world of outward events, of which the presence of the young girl now at
our table, and proving to be the daughter of an old acquaintance some of
us may remember, is the special example which led me through this
labyrinth of reflections, and finally lands me at the commencement of
this young girl's story, which, as I said, I have found the time and felt
the interest to learn something of, and which I think I can tell without
wronging the unconscious subject of my brief delineation.

You remember, perhaps, in some papers published awhile ago, an odd poem
written by an old Latin tutor?  He brought up at the verb amo, I love, as
all of us do, and by and by Nature opened her great living dictionary for
him at the word filia, a daughter.  The poor man was greatly perplexed in
choosing a name for her.  Lucretia and Virginia were the first that he
thought of; but then came up those pictured stories of Titus Livius,
which he could never read without crying, though he had read them a
hundred times.

--Lucretia sending for her husband and her father, each to bring one
friend with him, and awaiting them in her chamber.  To them her wrongs
briefly.  Let them see to the wretch,--she will take care of herself.
Then the hidden knife flashes out and sinks into her heart. She slides
from her seat, and falls dying.  "Her husband and her father cry
aloud."--No, not Lucretia.

-Virginius,--a brown old soldier, father of a nice girl.  She engaged to
a very promising young man.  Decemvir Appius takes a violent fancy to
her,--must have her at any rate.  Hires a lawyer to present the arguments
in favor of the view that she was another man's daughter. There used to
be lawyers in Rome that would do such things.--All right.   There are two
sides to everything.  Audi alteram partem. The legal gentleman has no
opinion,--he only states the evidence.--A doubtful case.  Let the young
lady be under the protection of the Honorable Decemvir until it can be
looked up thoroughly.--Father thinks it best, on the whole, to give in.
Will explain the matter, if the young lady and her maid will step this
way.  That is the explanation,--a stab with a butcher's knife, snatched
from a stall, meant for other lambs than this poor bleeding Virginia.

The old man thought over the story.  Then he must have one look at the
original.  So he took down the first volume and read it over. When he
came to that part where it tells how the young gentleman she was engaged
to and a friend of his took up the poor girl's bloodless shape and
carried it through the street, and how all the women followed, wailing,
and asking if that was what their daughters were coming to,--if that was
what they were to get for being good girls,--he melted down into his
accustomed tears of pity and grief, and, through them all, of delight at
the charming Latin of the narrative. But it was impossible to call his
child Virginia.  He could never look at her without thinking she had a
knife sticking in her bosom.

Dido would be a good name, and a fresh one.  She was a queen, and the
founder of a great city.  Her story had been immortalized by the greatest
of poets,--for the old Latin tutor clove to "Virgilius Maro," as he
called him, as closely as ever Dante did in his memorable journey.  So he
took down his Virgil, it was the smooth-leafed, open-lettered quarto of
Baskerville,--and began reading the loves and mishaps of Dido.  It would
n't do.  A lady who had not learned discretion by experience, and came to
an evil end.  He shook his head, as he sadly repeated,

    "---misera ante diem, subitoque accensa furore;"

but when he came to the lines,

    "Ergo Iris croceis per coelum roscida pennis
     Mille trahens varios adverso Sole colores,"

he jumped up with a great exclamation, which the particular recording
angel who heard it pretended not to understand, or it might have gone
hard with the Latin tutor some time or other.

"Iris shall be her name!"--he said.  So her name was Iris.

--The natural end of a tutor is to perish by starvation.  It is only a
question of time, just as with the burning of college libraries. These
all burn up sooner or later, provided they are not housed in brick or
stone and iron.  I don't mean that you will see in the registry of deaths
that this or that particular tutor died of well-marked, uncomplicated
starvation.  They may, even, in extreme cases, be carried off by a thin,
watery kind of apoplexy, which sounds very well in the returns, but means
little to those who know that it is only debility settling on the head.
Generally, however, they fade and waste away under various
pretexts,--calling it dyspepsia, consumption, and so on, to put a decent
appearance upon the case and keep up the credit of the family and the
institution where they have passed through the successive stages of

In some cases it takes a great many years to kill a tutor by the process
in question.  You see they do get food and clothes and fuel, in
appreciable quantities, such as they are.  You will even notice rows of
books in their rooms, and a picture or two,--things that look as if they
had surplus money; but these superfluities are the water of
crystallization to scholars, and you can never get them away till the
poor fellows effloresce into dust.  Do not be deceived.  The tutor
breakfasts on coffee made of beans, edulcorated with milk watered to the
verge of transparency; his mutton is tough and elastic, up to the moment
when it becomes tired out and tasteless; his coal is a sullen, sulphurous
anthracite, which rusts into ashes, rather than burns, in the shallow
grate; his flimsy broadcloth is too thin for winter and too thick for
summer.  The greedy lungs of fifty hot-blooded boys suck the oxygen from
the air he breathes in his recitation-room.  In short, he undergoes a
process of gentle and gradual starvation.

--The mother of little Iris was not called Electra, like hers of the old
story, neither was her grandfather Oceanus.  Her blood-name, which she
gave away with her heart to the Latin tutor, was a plain old English one,
and her water-name was Hannah, beautiful as recalling the mother of
Samuel, and admirable as reading equally well from the initial letter
forwards and from the terminal letter backwards.  The poor lady, seated
with her companion at the chessboard of matrimony, had but just pushed
forward her one little white pawn upon an empty square, when the Black
Knight, that cares nothing for castles or kings or queens, swooped down
upon her and swept her from the larger board of life.

The old Latin tutor put a modest blue stone at the head of his late
companion, with her name and age and Eheu! upon it,--a smaller one at her
feet, with initials; and left her by herself, to be rained and snowed
on,--which is a hard thing to do for those whom we have cherished

About the time that the lichens, falling on the stone, like drops of
water, had spread into fair, round rosettes, the tutor had starved into a
slight cough.  Then he began to draw the buckle of his black trousers a
little tighter, and took in another reef in his never-ample waistcoat.
His temples got a little hollow, and the contrasts of color in his cheeks
more vivid than of old.  After a while his walks fatigued him, and he was
tired, and breathed hard after going up a flight or two of stairs.  Then
came on other marks of inward trouble and general waste, which he spoke
of to his physician as peculiar, and doubtless owing to accidental
causes; to all which the doctor listened with deference, as if it had not
been the old story that one in five or six of mankind in temperate
climates tells, or has told for him, as if it were something new.  As the
doctor went out, he said to himself,--"On the rail at last.
Accommodation train. A good many stops, but will get to the station by
and by."  So the doctor wrote a recipe with the astrological sign of
Jupiter before it, (just as your own physician does, inestimable reader,
as you will see, if you look at his next prescription,) and departed,
saying he would look in occasionally.  After this, the Latin tutor began
the usual course of "getting better," until he got so much better that
his face was very sharp, and when he smiled, three crescent lines showed
at each side of his lips, and when he spoke; it was in a muffled whisper,
and the white of his eye glistened as pearly as the purest porcelain,
--so much better, that he hoped--by spring--he--might be
able--to--attend------to his class again.--But he was recommended not to
expose himself, and so kept his chamber, and occasionally, not having
anything to do, his bed.  The unmarried sister with whom he lived took
care of him; and the child, now old enough to be manageable and even
useful in trifling offices, sat in the chamber, or played, about.

Things could not go on so forever, of course.  One morning his face was
sunken and his hands were very, very cold.  He was "better," he
whispered, but sadly and faintly.  After a while he grew restless and
seemed a little wandering.  His mind ran on his classics, and fell back
on the Latin grammar.

"Iris!" he said,--"filiola mea!"--The child knew this meant my dear
little daughter as well as if it had been English.--"Rainbow!" for he
would translate her name at times,--"come to me,--veni"--and his lips
went on automatically, and murmured, "vel venito!"--The child came and
sat by his bedside and took his hand, which she could not warm, but which
shot its rays of cold all through her slender frame.  But there she sat,
looking steadily at him.  Presently he opened his lips feebly, and
whispered, "Moribundus."  She did not know what that meant, but she saw
that there was something new and sad.  So she began to cry; but presently
remembering an old book that seemed to comfort him at times, got up and
brought a Bible in the Latin version, called the Vulgate.  "Open it," he
said,--"I will read, segnius irritant,--don't put the light out,--ah!
hoeret lateri,--I am going,--vale, vale, vale, goodbye, good-bye,--the
Lord take care of my child!  Domine, audi--vel audito!" His face whitened
suddenly, and he lay still, with open eyes and mouth.  He had taken his
last degree.

--Little Miss Iris could not be said to begin life with a very brilliant
rainbow over her, in a worldly point of view.  A limited wardrobe of
man's attire, such as poor tutors wear,--a few good books, principally
classics,--a print or two, and a plaster model of the Pantheon, with some
pieces of furniture which had seen service,--these, and a child's heart
full of tearful recollections and strange doubts and questions,
alternating with the cheap pleasures which are the anodynes of childish
grief; such were the treasures she inherited.--No,--I forgot.  With that
kindly sentiment which all of us feel for old men's first
children,--frost-flowers of the early winter season, the old tutor's
students had remembered him at a time when he was laughing and crying
with his new parental emotions, and running to the side of the plain crib
in which his alter egg, as he used to say, was swinging, to hang over the
little heap of stirring clothes, from which looked the minute, red,
downy, still, round face, with unfixed eyes and working lips,--in that
unearthly gravity which has never yet been broken by a smile, and which
gives to the earliest moon-year or two of an infant's life the character
of a first old age, to counterpoise that second childhood which there is
one chance in a dozen it may reach by and by.  The boys had remembered
the old man and young father at that tender period of his hard, dry life.
There came to him a fair, silver goblet, embossed with classical figures,
and bearing on a shield the graver words, Ex dono pupillorum.  The handle
on its side showed what use the boys had meant it for; and a kind letter
in it, written with the best of feeling, in the worst of Latin, pointed
delicately to its destination.  Out of this silver vessel, after a long,
desperate, strangling cry, which marked her first great lesson in the
realities of life, the child took the blue milk, such as poor tutors and
their children get, tempered with water, and sweetened a little, so as to
bring it nearer the standard established by the touching indulgence and
partiality of Nature,--who had mingled an extra allowance of sugar in the
blameless food of the child at its mother's breast, as compared with that
of its infant brothers and sisters of the bovine race.

But a willow will grow in baked sand wet with rainwater.  An air-plant
will grow by feeding on the winds.  Nay, those huge forests that
overspread great continents have built themselves up mainly from the
air-currents with which they are always battling.  The oak is but a
foliated atmospheric crystal deposited from the aerial ocean that holds
the future vegetable world in solution.  The storm that tears its leaves
has paid tribute to its strength, and it breasts the tornado clad in the
spoils of a hundred hurricanes.

Poor little Iris!  What had she in common with the great oak in the
shadow of which we are losing sight of her?--She lived and grew like
that,--this was all.  The blue milk ran into her veins and filled them
with thin, pure blood.  Her skin was fair, with a faint tinge, such as
the white rosebud shows before it opens.  The doctor who had attended
her father was afraid her aunt would hardly be able to "raise"
her,--"delicate child,"--hoped she was not consumptive,--thought
there was a fair chance she would take after her father.

A very forlorn-looking person, dressed in black, with a white neckcloth,
sent her a memoir of a child who died at the age of two years and eleven
months, after having fully indorsed all the doctrines of the particular
persuasion to which he not only belonged himself, but thought it very
shameful that everybody else did not belong.  What with foreboding looks
and dreary death-bed stories, it was a wonder the child made out to live
through it.  It saddened her early years, of course,--it distressed her
tender soul with thoughts which, as they cannot be fully taken in, should
be sparingly used as instruments of torture to break down the natural
cheerfulness of a healthy child, or, what is infinitely worse, to cheat a
dying one out of the kind illusions with which the Father of All has
strewed its downward path.

The child would have died, no doubt, and, if properly managed, might have
added another to the long catalogue of wasting children who have been as
cruelly played upon by spiritual physiologists, often with the best
intentions, as ever the subject of a rare disease by the curious students
of science.

Fortunately for her, however, a wise instinct had guided the late Latin
tutor in the selection of the partner of his life, and the future mother
of his child.  The deceased tutoress was a tranquil, smooth woman, easily
nourished, as such people are,--a quality which is inestimable in a
tutor's wife,--and so it happened that the daughter inherited enough
vitality from the mother to live through childhood and infancy and fight
her way towards womanhood, in spite of the tendencies she derived from
her other parent.

--Two and two do not always make four, in this matter of hereditary
descent of qualities.  Sometimes they make three, and sometimes five. It
seems as if the parental traits at one time showed separate, at another
blended,--that occasionally, the force of two natures is represented in
the derivative one by a diagonal of greater value than either original
line of living movement,--that sometimes there is a loss of vitality
hardly to be accounted for, and again a forward impulse of variable
intensity in some new and unforeseen direction.

So it was with this child.  She had glanced off from her parental
probabilities at an unexpected angle.  Instead of taking to classical
learning like her father, or sliding quietly into household duties like
her mother, she broke out early in efforts that pointed in the direction
of Art.  As soon as she could hold a pencil she began to sketch outlines
of objects round her with a certain air and spirit. Very extraordinary
horses, but their legs looked as if they could move.  Birds unknown to
Audubon, yet flying, as it were, with a rush. Men with impossible legs,
which did yet seem to have a vital connection with their most improbable
bodies.  By-and-by the doctor, on his beast,--an old man with a face
looking as if Time had kneaded it like dough with his knuckles, with a
rhubarb tint and flavor pervading himself and his sorrel horse and all
their appurtenances. A dreadful old man!  Be sure she did not forget
those saddle-bags that held the detestable bottles out of which he used
to shake those loathsome powders which, to virgin childish palates that
find heaven in strawberries and peaches, are--Well, I suppose I had
better stop. Only she wished she was dead sometimes when she heard him
coming. On the next leaf would figure the gentleman with the black coat
and white cravat, as he looked when he came and entertained her with
stories concerning the death of various little children about her age, to
encourage her, as that wicked Mr. Arouet said about shooting Admiral
Byng.   Then she would take her pencil, and with a few scratches there
would be the outline of a child, in which you might notice how one sudden
sweep gave the chubby cheek, and two dots darted at the paper looked like
real eyes.

By-and-by she went to school, and caricatured the schoolmaster on the
leaves of her grammars and geographies, and drew the faces of her
companions, and, from time to time, heads and figures from her fancy,
with large eyes, far apart, like those of Raffaelle's mothers and
children, sometimes with wild floating hair, and then with wings and
heads thrown back in ecstasy.  This was at about twelve years old, as the
dates of these drawings show, and, therefore, three or four years before
she came among us.  Soon after this time, the ideal figures began to take
the place of portraits and caricatures, and a new feature appeared in her
drawing-books in the form of fragments of verse and short poems.

It was dull work, of course, for such a young girl to live with an old
spinster and go to a village school.  Her books bore testimony to this;
for there was a look of sadness in the faces she drew, and a sense of
weariness and longing for some imaginary conditions of blessedness or
other, which began to be painful.  She might have gone through this
flowering of the soul, and, casting her petals, subsided into a sober,
human berry, but for the intervention of friendly assistance and counsel.

In the town where she lived was a lady of honorable condition, somewhat
past middle age, who was possessed of pretty ample means, of cultivated
tastes, of excellent principles, of exemplary character, and of more than
common accomplishments.  The gentleman in black broadcloth and white
neckerchief only echoed the common voice about her, when he called her,
after enjoying, beneath her hospitable roof, an excellent cup of tea,
with certain elegancies and luxuries he was unaccustomed to, "The Model
of all the Virtues."

She deserved this title as well as almost any woman.  She did really
bristle with moral excellences.  Mention any good thing she had not done;
I should like to see you try!  There was no handle of weakness to take
hold of her by; she was as unseizable, except in her totality, as a
billiard-ball; and on the broad, green, terrestrial table, where she had
been knocked about, like all of us, by the cue of Fortune, she glanced
from every human contact, and "caromed" from one relation to another, and
rebounded from the stuffed cushion of temptation, with such exact and
perfect angular movements, that the Enemy's corps of Reporters had long
given up taking notes of her conduct, as there was no chance for their

What an admirable person for the patroness and directress of a slightly
self-willed child, with the lightning zigzag line of genius running like
a glittering vein through the marble whiteness of her virgin nature!  One
of the lady-patroness's peculiar virtues was calmness.  She was resolute
and strenuous, but still.  You could depend on her for every duty; she
was as true as steel.  She was kind-hearted and serviceable in all the
relations of life.  She had more sense, more knowledge, more
conversation, as well as more goodness, than all the partners you have
waltzed with this winter put together.

Yet no man was known to have loved her, or even to have offered himself
to her in marriage.  It was a great wonder.  I am very anxious to
vindicate my character as a philosopher and an observer of Nature by
accounting for this apparently extraordinary fact.

You may remember certain persons who have the misfortune of presenting to
the friends whom they meet a cold, damp hand.  There are states of mind
in which a contact of this kind has a depressing effect on the vital
powers that makes us insensible to all the virtues and graces of the
proprietor of one of these life-absorbing organs.  When they touch us,
virtue passes out of us, and we feel as if our electricity had been
drained by a powerful negative battery, carried about by an overgrown
human torpedo.

"The Model of all the Virtues" had a pair of searching eyes as clear as
Wenham ice; but they were slower to melt than that fickle jewelry. Her
features disordered themselves slightly at times in a surface-smile, but
never broke loose from their corners and indulged in the riotous tumult
of a laugh,--which, I take it, is the mob-law of the features;--and
propriety the magistrate who reads the riot-act.  She carried the
brimming cup of her inestimable virtues with a cautious, steady hand, and
an eye always on them, to see that they did not spill.  Then she was an
admirable judge of character.  Her mind was a perfect laboratory of tests
and reagents; every syllable you put into breath went into her
intellectual eudiometer, and all your thoughts were recorded on
litmus-paper.  I think there has rarely been a more admirable woman.
Of course, Miss Iris was immensely and passionately attached
to her.--Well,--these are two highly oxygenated adverbs,
--grateful,--suppose we say,--yes,--grateful, dutiful, obedient to her
wishes for the most part,--perhaps not quite up to the concert pitch of
such a perfect orchestra of the virtues.

We must have a weak spot or two in a character before we can love it
much.  People that do not laugh or cry, or take more of anything than is
good for them, or use anything but dictionary-words, are admirable
subjects for biographies.  But we don't always care most for those
flat-pattern flowers that press best in the herbarium.

This immaculate woman,--why could n't she have a fault or two? Is n't
there any old whisper which will tarnish that wearisome aureole of
saintly perfection?  Does n't she carry a lump of opium in her pocket?
Is n't her cologne-bottle replenished oftener than its legitimate use
would require?  It would be such a comfort!

Not for the world would a young creature like Iris have let such words
escape her, or such thoughts pass through her mind.  Whether at the
bottom of her soul lies any uneasy consciousness of an oppressive
presence, it is hard to say, until we know more about her.  Iris sits
between the Little Gentleman and the "Model of all the Virtues," as the
black-coated personage called her.--I will watch them all.

--Here I stop for the present.  What the Professor said has had to make
way this time for what he saw and heard.

-And now you may read these lines, which were written for gentle souls
who love music, and read in even tones, and, perhaps, with something like
a smile upon the reader's lips, at a meeting where these musical friends
had gathered.  Whether they were written with smiles or not, you can
guess better after you have read them.

                    THE OPENING OF THE PIANO.

     In the little southern parlor of the house you may have seen
     With the gambrel-roof, and the gable looking westward to the green,
     At the side toward the sunset, with the window on its right,
     Stood the London-made piano I am dreaming of to-night.

     Ah me! how I remember the evening when it came!
     What a cry of eager voices, what a group of cheeks in flame,
     When the wondrous boa was opened that had come from over seas,
     With its smell of mastic-varnish and its flash of ivory keys!

     Then the children all grew fretful in the restlessness of joy,
     For the boy would push his sister, and the sister crowd the boy,
     Till the father asked for quiet in his grave paternal way,
     But the mother hushed the tumult with the words, "Now, Mary, play."

     For the dear soul knew that music was a very sovereign balm;
     She had sprinkled it over Sorrow and seen its brow grow calm,
     In the days of slender harpsichords with tapping tinkling quills,
     Or caroling to her spinet with its thin metallic thrills.

     So Mary, the household minstrel, who always loved to please,
     Sat down to the new "Clementi," and struck the glittering keys.
     Hushed were the children's voices, and every eye grew dim,
     As, floating from lip and finger, arose the "Vesper Hymn."

     --Catharine, child of a neighbor, curly and rosy-red,
     (Wedded since, and a widow,--something like ten years dead,)
     Hearing a gush of music such as none before,
     Steals from her mother's chamber and peeps at the open door.

     Just as the "Jubilate" in threaded whisper dies,
     --"Open it! open it, lady!" the little maiden cries,
     (For she thought 't was a singing creature caged in a box she heard,)
     "Open it! open it, lady! and let me see the bird!"


I don't know whether our literary or professional people are more amiable
than they are in other places, but certainly quarrelling is out of
fashion among them.  This could never be, if they were in the habit of
secret anonymous puffing of each other.  That is the kind of underground
machinery which manufactures false reputations and genuine hatreds.  On
the other hand, I should like to know if we are not at liberty to have a
good time together, and say the pleasantest things we can think of to
each other, when any of us reaches his thirtieth or fortieth or fiftieth
or eightieth birthday.

We don't have "scenes," I warrant you, on these occasions.  No "surprise"
parties!  You understand these, of course.  In the rural districts, where
scenic tragedy and melodrama cannot be had, as in the city, at the
expense of a quarter and a white pocket-handkerchief, emotional
excitement has to be sought in the dramas of real life.  Christenings,
weddings, and funerals, especially the latter, are the main dependence;
but babies, brides, and deceased citizens cannot be had at a day's
notice.  Now, then, for a surprise-party!

A bag of flour, a barrel of potatoes, some strings of onions, a basket of
apples, a big cake and many little cakes, a jug of lemonade, a purse
stuffed with bills of the more modest denominations, may, perhaps, do
well enough for the properties in one of these private theatrical
exhibitions.  The minister of the parish, a tender-hearted, quiet,
hard-working man, living on a small salary, with many children, sometimes
pinched to feed and clothe them, praying fervently every day to be blest
in his "basket and store," but sometimes fearing he asks amiss, to judge
by the small returns, has the first role,--not, however, by his own
choice, but forced upon him.  The minister's wife, a sharp-eyed,
unsentimental body, is first lady; the remaining parts by the rest of the
family.  If they only had a playbill, it would run thus:

                     ON TUESDAY NEXT
                    WILL BE PRESENTED
                   THE AFFECTING SCENE

                   THE SURPRISE-PARTY


                  THE OVERCOME FAMILY;


     The Rev.  Mr. Overcome, by the Clergyman of this Parish.
     Mrs.  Overcome, by his estimable lady.
     Masters Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John Overcome,
     Misses Dorcas, Tabitha, Rachel, and Hannah, Overcome, by their
     interesting children.
     Peggy, by the female help.

The poor man is really grateful;--it is a most welcome and unexpected
relief.  He tries to express his thanks,--his voice falters,--he
chokes,--and bursts into tears.  That is the great effect of the evening.
The sharp-sighted lady cries a little with one eye, and counts the
strings of onions, and the rest of the things, with the other.  The
children stand ready for a spring at the apples.  The female help weeps
after the noisy fashion of untutored handmaids.

Now this is all very well as charity, but do let the kind visitors
remember they get their money's worth.  If you pay a quarter for dry
crying, done by a second-rate actor, how much ought you to pay for real
hot, wet tears, out of the honest eyes of a gentleman who is not acting,
but sobbing in earnest?

All I meant to say, when I began, was, that this was not a surprise-party
where I read these few lines that follow:

     We will not speak of years to-night;
     For what have years to bring,
     But larger floods of love and light
     And sweeter songs to sing?

     We will not drown in wordy praise
     The kindly thoughts that rise;
     If friendship owns one tender phrase,
     He reads it in our eyes.

     We need not waste our schoolboy art
     To gild this notch of time;
     Forgive me, if my wayward heart
     Has throbbed in artless rhyme.

     Enough for him the silent grasp
     That knits us hand in hand,
     And he the bracelet's radiant clasp
     That locks our circling band.

     Strength to his hours of manly toil!
     Peace to his starlit dreams!
     Who loves alike the furrowed soil,
     The music-haunted streams!

     Sweet smiles to keep forever bright
     The sunshine on his lips,
     And faith, that sees the ring of light
     Round Nature's last eclipse!

--One of our boarders has been talking in such strong language that I am
almost afraid to report it.  However, as he seems to be really honest and
is so very sincere in his local prejudices, I don't believe anybody will
be very angry with him.

It is here, Sir! right here!--said the little deformed gentleman,--in
this old new city of Boston,--this remote provincial corner of a
provincial nation, that the Battle of the Standard is fighting, and was
fighting before we were born, and will be fighting when we are dead and
gone,--please God!  The battle goes on everywhere throughout
civilization; but here, here, here is the broad white flag flying which
proclaims, first of all, peace and good-will to men, and, next to that,
the absolute, unconditional spiritual liberty of each individual immortal
soul!  The three-hilled city against the seven-hilled city!  That is it,
Sir,--nothing less than that; and if you know what that means, I don't
think you'll ask for anything more.  I swear to you, Sir, I believe that
these two centres of civilization are just exactly the two points that
close the circuit in the battery of our planetary intelligence!  And I
believe there are spiritual eyes looking out from Uranus and unseen
Neptune,--ay, Sir, from the systems of Sirius and Arcturus and Aldebaran,
and as far as that faint stain of sprinkled worlds confluent in the
distance that we call the nebula of Orion,--looking on, Sir, with what
organs I know not, to see which are going to melt in that fiery fusion,
the accidents and hindrances of humanity or man himself, Sir,--the
stupendous abortion, the illustrious failure that he is, if the
three-hilled city does not ride down and trample out the seven-hilled

--Steam 's up!--said the young man John, so called, in a low tone.
--Three hundred and sixty-five tons to the square inch.  Let him blow her
off, or he'll bu'st his b'iler.

The divinity-student took it calmly, only whispering that he thought
there was a little confusion of images between a galvanic battery and a
charge of cavalry.

But the Koh-i-noor--the gentleman, you remember, with a very large
diamond in his shirt-front laughed his scornful laugh, and made as if to

Sail in, Metropolis!--said that same young man John, by name.  And then,
in a lower lane, not meaning to be heard,--Now, then, Ma'am Allen!

But he was heard,--and the Koh-i-noor's face turned so white with rage,
that his blue-black moustache and beard looked fearful, seen against it.
He grinned with wrath, and caught at a tumbler, as if he would have
thrown it or its contents at the speaker.  The young Marylander fixed his
clear, steady eye upon him, and laid his hand on his arm, carelessly
almost, but the Jewel found it was held so that he could not move it.  It
was of no use.  The youth was his master in muscle, and in that deadly
Indian hug in which men wrestle with their eyes;--over in five seconds,
but breaks one of their two backs, and is good for threescore years and
ten;--one trial enough,--settles the whole matter,--just as when two
feathered songsters of the barnyard, game and dunghill, come
together,-after a jump or two at each other, and a few sharp kicks, there
is the end of it; and it is, Apres vous, Monsieur, with the beaten party
in all the social relations for all the rest of his days.

I cannot philosophically account for the Koh-i-noor's wrath.  For though
a cosmetic is sold, bearing the name of the lady to whom reference was
made by the young person John, yet, as it is publicly asserted in
respectable prints that this cosmetic is not a dye, I see no reason why
he should have felt offended by any suggestion that he was indebted to it
or its authoress.

I have no doubt that there are certain exceptional complexions to which
the purple tinge, above alluded to, is natural.  Nature is fertile in
variety.  I saw an albiness in London once, for sixpence, (including the
inspection of a stuffed boa-constrictor,) who looked as if she had been
boiled in milk.  A young Hottentot of my acquaintance had his hair all in
little pellets of the size of marrow-fat peas.  One of my own classmates
has undergone a singular change of late years,--his hair losing its
original tint, and getting a remarkable discolored look; and another has
ceased to cultivate any hair at all over the vertex or crown of the head.
So I am perfectly willing to believe that the purple-black of the
Koh-i-noor's moustache and whiskers is constitutional and not pigmentary.
But I can't think why he got so angry.

The intelligent reader will understand that all this pantomime of the
threatened onslaught and its suppression passed so quickly that it was
all over by the time the other end of the table found out there was a
disturbance; just as a man chopping wood half a mile off may be seen
resting on his axe at the instant you hear the last blow he struck.  So
you will please to observe that the Little Gentleman was not, interrupted
during the time implied by these ex-post-facto remarks of mine, but for
some ten or fifteen seconds only.

He did not seem to mind the interruption at all, for he started again.
The "Sir" of his harangue was no doubt addressed to myself more than
anybody else, but he often uses it in discourse as if he were talking
with some imaginary opponent.

--America, Sir,--he exclaimed,--is the only place where man is

He straightened himself up, as he spoke, standing on the top round of his
high chair, I suppose, and so presented the larger part of his little
figure to the view of the boarders.

It was next to impossible to keep from laughing.  The commentary was so
strange an illustration of the text!  I thought it was time to put in a
word; for I have lived in foreign parts, and am more or less

I doubt if we have more practical freedom in America than they have in
England,---I said.--An Englishman thinks as he likes in religion and
politics.  Mr. Martineau speculates as freely as ever Dr. Channing did,
and Mr. Bright is as independent as Mr. Seward.

Sir,--said he,--it is n't what a man thinks or says; but when and where
and to whom he thinks and says it.  A man with a flint and steel striking
sparks over a wet blanket is one thing, and striking them over a
tinder-box is another.  The free Englishman is born under protest; he
lives and dies under protest,--a tolerated, but not a welcome fact.  Is
not freethinker a term of reproach in England?  The same idea in the soul
of an Englishman who struggled up to it and still holds it
antagonistically, and in the soul of an American to whom it is congenital
and spontaneous, and often unrecognized, except as an element blended
with all his thoughts, a natural movement, like the drawing of his breath
or the beating of his heart, is a very different thing.  You may teach a
quadruped to walk on his hind legs, but he is always wanting to be on all
fours.  Nothing that can be taught a growing youth is like the
atmospheric knowledge he breathes from his infancy upwards.  The American
baby sucks in freedom with the milk of the breast at which he hangs.

--That's a good joke,--said the young fellow John,--considerin' it
commonly belongs to a female Paddy.

I thought--I will not be certain--that the Little Gentleman winked, as if
he had been hit somewhere--as I have no doubt Dr. Darwin did when the
wooden-spoon suggestion upset his theory about why, etc.  If he winked,
however, he did not dodge.

A lively comment!--he said.--But Rome, in her great founder, sucked the
blood of empire out of the dugs of a brute, Sir!  The Milesian wet-nurse
is only a convenient vessel through which the American infant gets the
life-blood of this virgin soil, Sir, that is making man over again, on
the sunset pattern!  You don't think what we are doing and going to do
here.  Why, Sir, while commentators are bothering themselves with
interpretation of prophecies, we have got the new heavens and the new
earth over us and under us!  Was there ever anything in Italy, I should
like to know, like a Boston sunset?

--This time there was a laugh, and the little man himself almost smiled.

Yes,--Boston sunsets;--perhaps they're as good in some other places, but
I know 'em best here.  Anyhow, the American skies are different from
anything they see in the Old World.  Yes, and the rocks are different,
and the soil is different, and everything that comes out of the soil,
from grass up to Indians, is different.  And now that the provisional
races are dying out--

--What do you mean by the provisional races, Sir?--said the
divinity-student, interrupting him.

Why, the aboriginal bipeds, to be sure,--he answered,--the red-crayon
sketch of humanity laid on the canvas before the colors for the real
manhood were ready.

I hope they will come to something yet,--said the divinity-student.

Irreclaimable, Sir,--irreclaimable!--said the Little Gentleman.--Cheaper
to breed white men than domesticate a nation of red ones. When you can
get the bitter out of the partridge's thigh, you can make an enlightened
commonwealth of Indians.  A provisional race, Sir,--nothing more.
Exhaled carbonic acid for the use of vegetation, kept down the bears and
catamounts, enjoyed themselves in scalping and being scalped, and then
passed away or are passing away, according to the programme.

Well, Sir, these races dying out, the white man has to acclimate himself.
It takes him a good while; but he will come all right by-and-by, Sir,--as
sound as a woodchuck,--as sound as a musquash!

A new nursery, Sir, with Lake Superior and Huron and all the rest of 'em
for wash-basins!  A new race, and a whole new world for the new-born
human soul to work in!  And Boston is the brain of it, and has been any
time these hundred years!  That's all I claim for Boston,--that it is
the thinking centre of the continent, and therefore of the planet.

--And the grand emporium of modesty,--said the divinity-student, a little

Oh, don't talk to me of modesty!--answered the Little Gentleman,--I 'm
past that!  There is n't a thing that was ever said or done in Boston,
from pitching the tea overboard to the last ecclesiastical lie it tore
into tatters and flung into the dock, that was n't thought very
indelicate by some fool or tyrant or bigot, and all the entrails of
commercial and spiritual conservatism are twisted into colics as often as
this revolutionary brain of ours has a fit of thinking come over it.--No,
Sir,--show me any other place that is, or was since the megalosaurus has
died out, where wealth and social influence are so fairly divided between
the stationary and the progressive classes!  Show me any other place
where every other drawing-room is not a chamber of the Inquisition, with
papas and mammas for inquisitors,--and the cold shoulder, instead of the
"dry pan and the gradual fire," the punishment of "heresy"!

--We think Baltimore is a pretty civilized kind of a village,--said the
young Marylander, good-naturedly.--But I suppose you can't forgive it for
always keeping a little ahead of Boston in point of numbers,--tell the
truth now.  Are we not the centre of something?

Ah, indeed, to be sure you are.  You are the gastronomic metropolis of
the Union.  Why don't you put a canvas-back-duck on the top of the
Washington column?  Why don't you get that lady off from Battle Monument
and plant a terrapin in her place?  Why will you ask for other glories
when you have soft crabs?  No, Sir,--you live too well to think as hard
as we do in Boston.  Logic comes to us with the salt-fish of Cape Ann;
rhetoric is born of the beans of Beverly; but you--if you open your
mouths to speak, Nature stops them with a fat oyster, or offers a slice
of the breast of your divine bird, and silences all your aspirations.

And what of Philadelphia?--said the Marylander.

Oh, Philadelphia?--Waterworks,--killed by the Croton and Cochituate;
--Ben Franklin,--borrowed from Boston;--David Rittenhouse,--made an
orrery;--Benjamin Rush,--made a medical system;--both interesting to
antiquarians;--great Red-river raft of medical students,--spontaneous
generation of professors to match;--more widely known through the
Moyamensing hose-company, and the Wistar parties;-for geological section
of social strata, go to The Club.--Good place to live in,--first-rate
market,--tip-top peaches.--What do we know about Philadelphia, except
that the engine-companies are always shooting each other?

And what do you say to New York?--asked the Koh-i-noor.

A great city, Sir,--replied the Little Gentleman,--a very opulent,
splendid city.  A point of transit of much that is remarkable, and of
permanence for much that is respectable.  A great money-centre.  San
Francisco with the mines above-ground,--and some of 'em under the
sidewalks.  I have seen next to nothing grandiose, out of New York, in
all our cities.  It makes 'em all look paltry and petty.  Has many
elements of civilization.  May stop where Venice did, though, for aught
we know.--The order of its development is just this:--Wealth;
architecture; upholstery; painting; sculpture.  Printing, as a mechanical
art,--just as Nicholas Jepson and the Aldi, who were scholars too, made
Venice renowned for it.  Journalism, which is the accident of business
and crowded populations, in great perfection. Venice got as far as Titian
and Paul Veronese and Tintoretto,--great colorists, mark you, magnificent
on the flesh-and-blood side of Art,--but look over to Florence and see
who lie in Santa Crocea, and ask out of whose loins Dante sprung!

Oh, yes, to be sure, Venice built her Ducal Palace, and her Church of St.
Mark, and her Casa d' Or, and the rest of her golden houses; and Venice
had great pictures and good music; and Venice had a Golden Book, in which
all the large tax-payers had their names written;--but all that did not
make Venice the brain of Italy.

I tell you what, Sir,--with all these magnificent appliances of
civilization, it is time we began to hear something from the djinnis
donee whose names are on the Golden Book of our sumptuous, splendid,
marble-placed Venice,--something in the higher walks of literature,
--something in the councils of the nation.  Plenty of Art, I grant you,
Sir; now, then, for vast libraries, and for mighty scholars and thinkers
and statesmen,--five for every Boston one, as the population is to
ours,--ten to one more properly, in virtue of centralizing attraction as
the alleged metropolis, and not call our people provincials, and have to
come begging to us to write the lives of Hendrik Hudson and Gouverneur

--The Little Gentleman was on his hobby, exalting his own city at the
expense of every other place.  I have my doubts if he had been in either
of the cities he had been talking about.  I was just going to say
something to sober him down, if I could, when the young Marylander spoke

Come, now,--he said,--what's the use of these comparisons?  Did n't I
hear this gentleman saying, the other day, that every American owns all
America?  If you have really got more brains in Boston than other folks,
as you seem to think, who hates you for it, except a pack of scribbling
fools?  If I like Broadway better than Washington Street, what then?  I
own them both, as much as anybody owns either. I am an American,--and
wherever I look up and see the stars and stripes overhead, that is home
to me!

He spoke, and looked up as if he heard the emblazoned folds crackling
over him in the breeze.  We all looked up involuntarily, as if we should
see the national flag by so doing.  The sight of the dingy ceiling and
the gas-fixture depending therefrom dispelled the illusion.

Bravo! bravo!--said the venerable gentleman on the other side of the
table.--Those are the sentiments of Washington's Farewell Address.
Nothing better than that since the last chapter in Revelations.
Five-and-forty years ago there used to be Washington societies, and
little boys used to walk in processions, each little boy having a copy of
the Address, bound in red, hung round his neck by a ribbon. Why don't
they now?  Why don't they now?  I saw enough of hating each other in the
old Federal times; now let's love each other, I say,--let's love each
other, and not try to make it out that there is n't any place fit to live
in except the one we happen to be born in.

It dwarfs the mind, I think,--said I,--to feed it on any localism. The
full stature of manhood is shrivelled--

The color burst up into my cheeks.  What was I saying,--I, who would not
for the world have pained our unfortunate little boarder by an allusion?

I will go,--he said,--and made a movement with his left arm to let
himself down from his high chair.

No,--no,--he does n't mean it,--you must not go,--said a kind voice next
him; and a soft, white hand was laid upon his arm.

Iris, my dear!--exclaimed another voice, as of a female, in accents that
might be considered a strong atmospheric solution of duty with very
little flavor of grace.

She did not move for this address, and there was a tableau that lasted
some seconds.  For the young girl, in the glory of half-blown womanhood,
and the dwarf, the cripple, the misshapen little creature covered with
Nature's insults, looked straight into each other's eyes.

Perhaps no handsome young woman had ever looked at him so in his life.
Certainly the young girl never had looked into eyes that reached into her
soul as these did.  It was not that they were in themselves
supernaturally bright,--but there was the sad fire in them that flames up
from the soul of one who looks on the beauty of woman without hope, but,
alas! not without emotion.  To him it seemed as if those amber gates had
been translucent as the brown water of a mountain brook, and through them
he had seen dimly into a virgin wilderness, only waiting for the sunrise
of a great passion for all its buds to blow and all its bowers to ring
with melody.

That is my image, of course,--not his.  It was not a simile that was in
his mind, or is in anybody's at such a moment,--it was a pang of wordless
passion, and then a silent, inward moan.

A lady's wish,--he said, with a certain gallantry of manner,--makes
slaves of us all.--And Nature, who is kind to all her children, and never
leaves the smallest and saddest of all her human failures without one
little comfit of self-love at the bottom of his poor ragged
pocket,--Nature suggested to him that he had turned his sentence well;
and he fell into a reverie, in which the old thoughts that were always
hovering dust outside the doors guarded by Common Sense, and watching for
a chance to squeeze in, knowing perfectly well they would be
ignominiously kicked out again as soon as Common Sense saw them, flocked
in pell-mell,--misty, fragmentary, vague, half-ashamed of themselves, but
still shouldering up against his inner consciousness till it warmed with
their contact:--John Wilkes's--the ugliest man's in England--saying, that
with half-an-hour's start he would cut out the handsomest man in all the
land in any woman's good graces; Cadenus--old and savage--leading captive
Stella and Vanessa; and then the stray line of a ballad, "And a winning
tongue had he,"--as much as to say, it is n't looks, after all, but
cunning words, that win our Eves over,--just as of old when it was the
worst-looking brute of the lot that got our grandmother to listen to his
stuff and so did the mischief.

Ah, dear me!  We rehearse the part of Hercules with his club, subjugating
man and woman in our fancy, the first by the weight of it, and the second
by our handling of it,--we rehearse it, I say, by our own hearth-stones,
with the cold poker as our club, and the exercise is easy.  But when we
come to real life, the poker is in the fore, and, ten to one, if we would
grasp it, we find it too hot to hold;--lucky for us, if it is not
white-hot, and we do not have to leave the skin of our hands sticking to
it when we fling it down or drop it with a loud or silent cry!

--I am frightened when I find into what a labyrinth of human character
and feeling I am winding.  I meant to tell my thoughts, and to throw in a
few studies of manner and costume as they pictured themselves for me from
day to day.  Chance has thrown together at the table with me a number of
persons who are worth studying, and I mean not only to look on them, but,
if I can, through them.  You can get any man's or woman's secret, whose
sphere is circumscribed by your own, if you will only look patiently on
them long enough.  Nature is always applying her reagents to character,
if you will take the pains to watch her.  Our studies of character, to
change the image, are very much like the surveyor's triangulation of a
geographical province.  We get a base-line in organization, always; then
we get an angle by sighting some distant object to which the passions or
aspirations of the subject of our observation are tending; then
another;--and so we construct our first triangle.  Once fix a man's
ideals, and for the most part the rest is easy.  A wants to die worth
half a million.  Good.  B (female) wants to catch him,--and outlive him.
All right.  Minor details at our leisure.

What is it, of all your experiences, of all your thoughts, of all your
misdoings, that lies at the very bottom of the great heap of acts of
consciousness which make up your past life?  What should you most dislike
to tell your nearest friend?--Be so good as to pause for a brief space,
and shut the volume you hold with your finger between the pages.--Oh,
that is it!

What a confessional I have been sitting at, with the inward ear of my
soul open, as the multitudinous whisper of my involuntary confidants came
back to me like the reduplicated echo of a cry among the craggy bills!

At the house of a friend where I once passed the night was one of those
stately upright cabinet desks and cases of drawers which were not rare in
prosperous families during the last century.  It had held the clothes and
the books and the papers of generation after generation.  The hands that
opened its drawers had grown withered, shrivelled, and at last been
folded in death.  The children that played with the lower handles had got
tall enough to open the desk, to reach the upper shelves behind the
folding-doors,--grown bent after a while,--and then followed those who
had gone before, and left the old cabinet to be ransacked by a new

A boy of ten or twelve was looking at it a few years ago, and, being a
quick-witted fellow, saw that all the space was not accounted for by the
smaller drawers in the part beneath the lid of the desk. Prying about
with busy eyes and fingers, he at length came upon a spring, on pressing
which, a secret drawer flew from its hiding-place.  It had never been
opened but by the maker.  The mahogany shavings and dust were lying in it
as when the artisan closed it,--and when I saw it, it was as fresh as if
that day finished.

Is there not one little drawer in your soul, my sweet reader, which no
hand but yours has ever opened, and which none that have known you seem
to have suspected?  What does it hold?--A sin?--I hope not. What a
strange thing an old dead sin laid away in a secret drawer of the soul
is!  Must it some time or other be moistened with tears, until it comes
to life again and begins to stir in our consciousness,--as the dry
wheel-animalcule, looking like a grain of dust, becomes alive, if it is
wet with a drop of water?

Or is it a passion?  There are plenty of withered men and women walking
about the streets who have the secret drawer in their hearts, which, if
it were opened, would show as fresh as it was when they were in the flush
of youth and its first trembling emotions.

What it held will, perhaps, never be known, until they are dead and gone,
and same curious eye lights on an old yellow letter with the fossil
footprints of the extinct passion trodden thick all over it.

There is not a boarder at our table, I firmly believe, excepting the
young girl, who has not a story of the heart to tell, if one could only
get the secret drawer open.  Even this arid female, whose armor of black
bombazine looks stronger against the shafts of love than any cuirass of
triple brass, has had her sentimental history, if I am not mistaken.  I
will tell you my reason for suspecting it.

Like many other old women, she shows a great nervousness and restlessness
whenever I venture to express any opinion upon a class of subjects which
can hardly be said to belong to any man or set of men as their strictly
private property,--not even to the clergy, or the newspapers commonly
called "religious."  Now, although it would be a great luxury to me to
obtain my opinions by contract, ready-made, from a professional man, and
although I have a constitutional kindly feeling to all sorts of good
people which would make me happy to agree with all their beliefs, if that
were possible, still I must have an idea, now and then, as to the meaning
of life; and though the only condition of peace in this world is to have
no ideas, or, at least, not to express them, with reference to such
subjects, I can't afford to pay quite so much as that even for peace.

I find that there is a very prevalent opinion among the dwellers on the
shores of Sir Isaac Newton's Ocean of Truth, that salt, fish, which have
been taken from it a good while ago, split open, cured and dried, are the
only proper and allowable food for reasonable people. I maintain, on the
other hand, that there are a number of live fish still swimming in it,
and that every one of us has a right to see if he cannot catch some of
them.  Sometimes I please myself with the idea that I have landed an
actual living fish, small, perhaps, but with rosy gills and silvery
scales.  Then I find the consumers of nothing but the salted and dried
article insist that it is poisonous, simply because it is alive, and cry
out to people not to touch it.  I have not found, however, that people
mind them much.

The poor boarder in bombazine is my dynamometer.  I try every
questionable proposition on her.  If she winces, I must be prepared for
an outcry from the other old women.  I frightened her, the other day, by
saying that faith, as an intellectual state, was self-reliance, which, if
you have a metaphysical turn, you will find is not so much of a paradox
as it sounds at first.  So she sent me a book to read which was to cure
me of that error.  It was an old book, and looked as if it had not been
opened for a long time.  What should drop out of it, one day, but a small
heart-shaped paper, containing a lock of that straight, coarse, brown
hair which sets off the sharp faces of so many thin-flanked, large-handed
bumpkins!  I read upon the paper the name "Hiram."--Love! love!
love!--everywhere! everywhere!--under diamonds and housemaids'
"jewelry,"--lifting the marrowy camel's-hair, and rustling even the black
bombazine!--No, no,--I think she never was pretty, but she was young
once, and wore bright ginghams, and, perhaps, gay merinos.  We shall find
that the poor little crooked man has been in love, or is in love, or will
be in love before we have done with him, for aught that I know!

Romance!  Was there ever a boarding-house in the world where the
seemingly prosaic table had not a living fresco for its background, where
you could see, if you had eyes, the smoke and fire of some upheaving
sentiment, or the dreary craters of smouldering or burnt-out passions?
You look on the black bombazine and high-necked decorum of your neighbor,
and no more think of the real life that underlies this despoiled and
dismantled womanhood than you think of a stone trilobite as having once
been full of the juices and the nervous thrills of throbbing and
self-conscious being.  There is a wild creature under that long yellow
pin which serves as brooch for the bombazine cuirass,--a wild creature,
which I venture to say would leap in his cage, if I should stir him,
quiet as you think him.  A heart which has been domesticated by matrimony
and maternity is as tranquil as a tame bullfinch; but a wild heart which
has never been fairly broken in flutters fiercely long after you think
time has tamed it down,--like that purple finch I had the other day,
which could not be approached without such palpitations and frantic
flings against the bars of his cage, that I had to send him back and get
a little orthodox canary which had learned to be quiet and never mind the
wires or his keeper's handling.  I will tell you my wicked, but half
involuntary experiment on the wild heart under the faded bombazine.

Was there ever a person in the room with you, marked by any special
weakness or peculiarity, with whom you could be two hours and not touch
the infirm spot?  I confess the most frightful tendency to do just this
thing.  If a man has a brogue, I am sure to catch myself imitating it.
If another is lame, I follow him, or, worse than that, go before him,

I could never meet an Irish gentleman--if it had been the Duke of
Wellington himself--without stumbling upon the word "Paddy,"--which I use
rarely in my common talk.

I have been worried to know whether this was owing to some innate
depravity of disposition on my part, some malignant torturing instinct,
which, under different circumstances, might have made a Fijian
anthropophagus of me, or to some law of thought for which I was not
answerable.  It is, I am convinced, a kind of physical fact like
endosmosis, with which some of you are acquainted.  A thin film of
politeness separates the unspoken and unspeakable current of thought from
the stream of conversation.  After a time one begins to soak through and
mingle with the other.

We were talking about names, one day.--Was there ever anything,--I
said,--like the Yankee for inventing the most uncouth, pretentious,
detestable appellations,--inventing or finding them,--since the time of
Praise-God Barebones?  I heard a country-boy once talking of another whom
he called Elpit, as I understood him.  Elbridge is common enough, but
this sounded oddly.  It seems the boy was christened Lord Pitt,--and
called for convenience, as above.  I have heard a charming little girl,
belonging to an intelligent family in the country, called Anges
invariably; doubtless intended for Agnes. Names are cheap.  How can a man
name an innocent new-born child, that never did him any harm, Hiram?--The
poor relation, or whatever she is, in bombazine, turned toward me, but I
was stupid, and went on.--To think of a man going through life saddled
with such an abominable name as that!--The poor relation grew very
uneasy.--I continued; for I never thought of all this till afterwards.--I
knew one young fellow, a good many years ago, by the name of
Hiram--What's got into you, Cousin,--said our landlady,--to look
so?--There! you 've upset your teacup!

It suddenly occurred to me what I had been doing, and I saw the poor
woman had her hand at her throat; she was half-choking with the "hysteric
ball,"--a very odd symptom, as you know, which nervous women often
complain of.  What business had I to be trying experiments on this
forlorn old soul?  I had a great deal better be watching that young girl.

Ah, the young girl!  I am sure that she can hide nothing from me. Her
skin is so transparent that one can almost count her heart-beats by the
flushes they send into her cheeks.  She does not seem to be shy, either.
I think she does not know enough of danger to be timid. She seems to me
like one of those birds that travellers tell of, found in remote,
uninhabited islands, who, having never received any wrong at the hand of
man, show no alarm at and hardly any particular consciousness of his

The first thing will be to see how she and our little deformed gentleman
get along together; for, as I have told you, they sit side by side.  The
next thing will be to keep an eye on the duenna,--the "Model" and so
forth, as the white-neck-cloth called her.  The intention of that
estimable lady is, I understand, to launch her and leave her.  I suppose
there is no help for it, and I don't doubt this young lady knows how to
take care of herself, but I do not like to see young girls turned loose
in boarding-houses.  Look here now! There is that jewel of his race, whom
I have called for convenience the Koh-i-noor, (you understand it is quite
out of the question for me to use the family names of our boarders,
unless I want to get into trouble,)--I say, the gentleman with the
diamond is looking very often and very intently, it seems to me, down
toward the farther corner of the table, where sits our amber-eyed blonde.
The landlady's daughter does not look pleased, it seems to me, at this,
nor at those other attentions which the gentleman referred to has, as I
have learned, pressed upon the newly-arrived young person.  The landlady
made a communication to me, within a few days after the arrival of Miss
Iris, which I will repeat to the best of my remembrance.

He, (the person I have been speaking of,)--she said,--seemed to be kinder
hankerin' round after that young woman.  It had hurt her daughter's
feelin's a good deal, that the gentleman she was a-keepin' company with
should be offerin' tickets and tryin' to send presents to them that he'd
never know'd till jest a little spell ago,--and he as good as merried, so
fur as solemn promises went, to as respectable a young lady, if she did
say so, as any there was round, whosomever they might be.

Tickets! presents!--said I.--What tickets, what presents has he had the
impertinence to be offering to that young lady?

Tickets to the Museum,--said the landlady.  There is them that's glad
enough to go to the Museum, when tickets is given 'em; but some of 'em
ha'n't had a ticket sence Cenderilla was played,--and now he must be
offerin' 'em to this ridiculous young paintress, or whatever she is,
that's come to make more mischief than her board's worth.  But it a'n't
her fault,--said the landlady, relenting;--and that aunt of hers, or
whatever she is, served him right enough.

Why, what did she do?

Do?  Why, she took it up in the tongs and dropped it out o' winder.

Dropped? dropped what?--I said.

Why, the soap,--said the landlady.

It appeared that the Koh-i-noor, to ingratiate himself, had sent an
elegant package of perfumed soap, directed to Miss Iris, as a delicate
expression of a lively sentiment of admiration, and that, after having
met with the unfortunate treatment referred to, it was picked up by
Master Benjamin Franklin, who appropriated it, rejoicing, and indulged in
most unheard-of and inordinate ablutions in consequence, so that his
hands were a frequent subject of maternal congratulation, and he smelt
like a civet-cat for weeks after his great acquisition.

After watching daily for a time, I think I can see clearly into the
relation which is growing up between the little gentleman and the young
lady.  She shows a tenderness to him that I can't help being interested
in.  If he was her crippled child, instead of being more than old enough
to be her father, she could not treat him more kindly.  The landlady's
daughter said, the other day, she believed that girl was settin' her cap
for the Little Gentleman.

Some of them young folks is very artful,--said her mother,--and there is
them that would merry Lazarus, if he'd only picked up crumbs enough.  I
don't think, though, this is one of that sort; she's kinder
childlike,--said the landlady,--and maybe never had any dolls to play
with; for they say her folks was poor before Ma'am undertook to see to
her teachin' and board her and clothe her.

I could not help overhearing this conversation.  "Board her and clothe
her!"--speaking of such a young creature!  Oh, dear!--Yes,--she must be
fed,--just like Bridget, maid-of-all-work at this establishment.
Somebody must pay for it.  Somebody has a right to watch her and see how
much it takes to "keep" her, and growl at her, if she has too good an
appetite.  Somebody has a right to keep an eye on her and take care that
she does not dress too prettily.  No mother to see her own youth over
again in these fresh features and rising reliefs of half-sculptured
womanhood, and, seeing its loveliness, forget her lessons of
neutral-tinted propriety, and open the cases that hold her own ornaments
to find for her a necklace or a bracelet or a pair of ear-rings,--those
golden lamps that light up the deep, shadowy dimples on the cheeks of
young beauties,--swinging in a semi-barbaric splendor that carries the
wild fancy to Abyssinian queens and musky Odalisques!  I don't believe
any woman has utterly given up the great firm of Mundus & Co., so long as
she wears ear-rings.

I think Iris loves to hear the Little Gentleman talk.  She smiles
sometimes at his vehement statements, but never laughs at him.  When he
speaks to her, she keeps her eye always steadily upon him.  This may be
only natural good-breeding, so to speak, but it is worth noticing.  I
have often observed that vulgar persons, and public audiences of inferior
collective intelligence, have this in common: the least thing draws off
their minds, when you are speaking to them. I love this young creature's
rapt attention to her diminutive neighbor while he is speaking.

He is evidently pleased with it.  For a day or two after she came, he was
silent and seemed nervous and excited.  Now he is fond of getting the
talk into his own hands, and is obviously conscious that he has at least
one interested listener.  Once or twice I have seen marks of special
attention to personal adornment, a ruffled shirt-bosom, one day, and a
diamond pin in it,--not so very large as the Koh-i-noor's, but more
lustrous.  I mentioned the death's-head ring he wears on his right hand.
I was attracted by a very handsome red stone, a ruby or carbuncle or
something of the sort, to notice his left hand, the other day.  It is a
handsome hand, and confirms my suspicion that the cast mentioned was
taken from his arm.  After all, this is just what I should expect.  It is
not very uncommon to see the upper limbs, or one of them, running away
with the whole strength, and, therefore, with the whole beauty, which we
should never have noticed, if it had been divided equally between all
four extremities.  If it is so, of course he is proud of his one strong
and beautiful arm; that is human nature.  I am afraid he can hardly help
betraying his favoritism, as people who have any one showy point are apt
to do,--especially dentists with handsome teeth, who always smile back to
their last molars.

Sitting, as he does, next to the young girl, and next but one to the calm
lady who has her in charge, he cannot help seeing their relations to each

That is an admirable woman, Sir,--he said to me one day, as we sat alone
at the table after breakfast,--an admirable woman, Sir,--and I hate her.

Of course, I begged an explanation.

An admirable woman, Sir, because she does good things, and even kind
things,--takes care of this--this--young lady--we have here, talks like a
sensible person, and always looks as if she was doing her duty with all
her might.  I hate her because her voice sounds as if it never trembled
and her eyes look as if she never knew what it was to cry.  Besides, she
looks at me, Sir, stares at me, as if she wanted to get an image of me
for some gallery in her brain,--and we don't love to be looked at in this
way, we that have--I hate her,--I hate her,--her eyes kill me,--it is
like being stabbed with icicles to be looked at so,--the sooner she goes
home, the better.  I don't want a woman to weigh me in a balance; there
are men enough for that sort of work.  The judicial character is n't
captivating in females, Sir.  A woman fascinates a man quite as often by
what she overlooks as by what she sees.  Love prefers twilight to
daylight; and a man doesn't think much of, nor care much for, a woman
outside of his household, unless he can couple the idea of love, past,
present, or future, with her.  I don't believe the Devil would give half
as much for the services of a sinner as he would for those of one of
these folks that are always doing virtuous acts in a way to make them
unpleasing.--That young girl wants a tender nature to cherish her and
give her a chance to put out her leaves,--sunshine, and not east winds.

He was silent,--and sat looking at his handsome left hand with the red
stone ring upon it.--Is he going to fall in love with Iris?

Here are some lines I read to the boarders the other day:--


     Ah, here it is! the sliding rail
     That marks the old remembered spot,
     --The gap that struck our schoolboy trail,
     --The crooked path across the lot.

     It left the road by school and church,
     A pencilled shadow, nothing more,
     That parted from the silver birch
     And ended at the farmhouse door.

     No line or compass traced its plan;
     With frequent bends to left or right,
     In aimless, wayward curves it ran,
     But always kept the door in sight.

     The gabled porch, with woodbine green,
     --The broken millstone at the sill,
     --Though many a rood might stretch between,
     The truant child could see them still.

     No rocks, across the pathway lie,
     --No fallen trunk is o'er it thrown,
     --And yet it winds, we know not why,
     And turns as if for tree or stone.

     Perhaps some lover trod the way
     With shaking knees and leaping heart,
     --And so it often runs astray
     With sinuous sweep or sudden start.

     Or one, perchance, with clouded brain
     From some unholy banquet reeled,
     --And since, our devious steps maintain
     His track across the trodden field.

     Nay, deem not thus,--no earthborn will
     Could ever trace a faultless line;
     Our truest steps are human still,
     --To walk unswerving were divine!

     Truants from love, we dream of wrath;
     --Oh, rather let us trust the more!
     Through all the wanderings of the path,
     We still can see our Father's door!


The Professor finds a Fly in his Teacup.

I have a long theological talk to relate, which must be dull reading to
some of my young and vivacious friends.  I don't know, however, that any
of them have entered into a contract to read all that I write, or that I
have promised always to write to please them.  What if I should sometimes
write to please myself?

Now you must know that there are a great many things which interest me,
to some of which this or that particular class of readers may be totally
indifferent.  I love Nature, and human nature, its thoughts, affections,
dreams, aspirations, delusions,--Art in all its forms,--virtu in all its
eccentricities,--old stories from black-letter volumes and yellow
manuscripts, and new projects out of hot brains not yet imbedded in the
snows of age.  I love the generous impulses of the reformer; but not less
does my imagination feed itself upon the old litanies, so often warmed by
the human breath upon which they were wafted to Heaven that they glow
through our frames like our own heart's blood.  I hope I love good men
and women; I know that they never speak a word to me, even if it be of
question or blame, that I do not take pleasantly, if it is expressed with
a reasonable amount of human kindness.

I have before me at this time a beautiful and affecting letter, which I
have hesitated to answer, though the postmark upon it gave its direction,
and the name is one which is known to all, in some of its
representatives.  It contains no reproach, only a delicately-hinted fear.
Speak gently, as this dear lady has spoken, and there is no heart so
insensible that it does not answer to the appeal, no intellect so virile
that it does not own a certain deference to the claims of age, of
childhood, of sensitive and timid natures, when they plead with it not to
look at those sacred things by the broad daylight which they see in
mystic shadow.  How grateful would it be to make perpetual peace with
these pleading saints and their confessors, by the simple act that
silences all complainings!  Sleep, sleep, sleep! says the
Arch-Enchantress of them all,--and pours her dark and potent anodyne,
distilled over the fires that consumed her foes,--its large, round drops
changing, as we look, into the beads of her convert's rosary!  Silence!
the pride of reason! cries another, whose whole life is spent in
reasoning down reason.

I hope I love good people, not for their sake, but for my own.  And most
assuredly, if any deed of wrong or word of bitterness led me into an act
of disrespect towards that enlightened and excellent class of men who
make it their calling to teach goodness and their duty to practise it, I
should feel that I had done myself an injury rather than them.  Go and
talk with any professional man holding any of the medieval creeds,
choosing one who wears upon his features the mark of inward and outward
health, who looks cheerful, intelligent, and kindly, and see how all your
prejudices melt away in his presence!  It is impossible to come into
intimate relations with a large, sweet nature, such as you may often find
in this class, without longing to be at one with it in all its modes of
being and believing.  But does it not occur to you that one may love
truth as he sees it, and his race as he views it, better than even the
sympathy and approbation of many good men whom he honors,--better than
sleeping to the sound of the Miserere or listening to the repetition of
an effete Confession of Faith?

The three learned professions have but recently emerged from a state of
quasi-barbarism.  None of them like too well to be told of it, but it
must be sounded in their ears whenever they put on airs.  When a man has
taken an overdose of laudanum, the doctors tell us to place him between
two persons who shall make him walk up and down incessantly; and if he
still cannot be kept from going to sleep, they say that a lash or two
over his back is of great assistance.

So we must keep the doctors awake by telling them that they have not yet
shaken off astrology and the doctrine of signatures, as is shown by the
form of their prescriptions, and their use of nitrate of silver, which
turns epileptics into Ethiopians.  If that is not enough, they must be
given over to the scourgers, who like their task and get good fees for
it.  A few score years ago, sick people were made to swallow burnt toads
and powdered earthworms and the expressed juice of wood-lice.  The
physician of Charles I. and II. prescribed abominations not to be named.
Barbarism, as bad as that of Congo or Ashantee.  Traces of this barbarism
linger even in the greatly improved medical science of our century.  So
while the solemn farce of over-drugging is going on, the world over, the
harlequin pseudo-science jumps on to the stage, whip in hand, with
half-a-dozen somersets, and begins laying about him.

In 1817, perhaps you remember, the law of wager by battle was unrepealed,
and the rascally murderous, and worse than murderous, clown, Abraham
Thornton, put on his gauntlet in open court and defied the appellant to
lift the other which he threw down.  It was not until the reign of George
II. that the statutes against witchcraft were repealed.  As for the
English Court of Chancery, we know that its antiquated abuses form one of
the staples of common proverbs and popular literature.  So the laws and
the lawyers have to be watched perpetually by public opinion as much as
the doctors do.

I don't think the other profession is an exception.  When the Reverend
Mr. Cauvin and his associates burned my distinguished scientific
brother,--he was burned with green fagots, which made it rather slow and
painful,--it appears to me they were in a state of religious barbarism.
The dogmas of such people about the Father of Mankind and his creatures
are of no more account in my opinion than those of a council of Aztecs.
If a man picks your pocket, do you not consider him thereby disqualified
to pronounce any authoritative opinion on matters of ethics?  If a man
hangs my ancient female relatives for sorcery, as they did in this
neighborhood a little while ago, or burns my instructor for not believing
as he does, I care no more for his religious edicts than I should for
those of any other barbarian.

Of course, a barbarian may hold many true opinions; but when the ideas of
the healing art, of the administration of justice, of Christian love,
could not exclude systematic poisoning, judicial duelling, and murder for
opinion's sake, I do not see how we can trust the verdict of that time
relating to any subject which involves the primal instincts violated in
these abominations and absurdities.--What if we are even now in a state
of semi-barbarism?

[This physician believes we "are even now in a state of semi-barbarism":
invasive procedures for the prolongation of death rather than
prolongation of life; "faith",as slimly based as medieval faith in minute
differences between control and treated groups; statistical manipulation
to prove a prejudice.  Medicine has a good deal to answer for!  D.W.]

Perhaps some think we ought not to talk at table about such things.--I
am not so sure of that.  Religion and government appear to me the two
subjects which of all others should belong to the common talk of people
who enjoy the blessings of freedom.  Think, one moment.  The earth is a
great factory-wheel, which, at every revolution on its axis, receives
fifty thousand raw souls and turns off nearly the same number worked up
more or less completely.  There must be somewhere a population of two
hundred thousand million, perhaps ten or a hundred times as many,
earth-born intelligences.  Life, as we call it, is nothing but the edge
of the boundless ocean of existence where it comes on soundings.  In this
view, I do not see anything so fit to talk about, or half so interesting,
as that which relates to the innumerable majority of our
fellow-creatures, the dead-living, who are hundreds of thousands to one
of the live-living, and with whom we all potentially belong, though we
have got tangled for the present in some parcels of fibrine, albumen, and
phosphates, that keep us on the minority side of the house.  In point of
fact, it is one of the many results of Spiritualism to make the permanent
destiny of the race a matter of common reflection and discourse, and a
vehicle for the prevailing disbelief of the Middle-Age doctrines on the
subject.  I cannot help thinking, when I remember how many conversations
my friend and myself have sported, that it would be very extraordinary,
if there were no mention of that class of subjects which involves all
that we have and all that we hope, not merely for ourselves, but for the
dear people whom we love best,--noble men, pure and lovely women,
ingenuous children, about the destiny of nine tenths of whom you know the
opinions that would have been taught by those old man-roasting,
woman-strangling dogmatists.--However, I fought this matter with one of
our boarders the other day, and I am going to report the conversation.

The divinity-student came down, one morning, looking rather more serious
than usual.  He said little at breakfast-time, but lingered after the
others, so that I, who am apt to be long at the table, found myself alone
with him.

When the rest were all gone, he turned his chair round towards mine, and

I am afraid,--he said,--you express yourself a little too freely on a
most important class of subjects.  Is there not danger in introducing
discussions or allusions relating to matters of religion into common

Danger to what?--I asked.

Danger to truth,--he replied, after a slight pause.

I didn't know Truth was such an invalid,' I said.--How long is it since
she could only take the air in a close carriage, with a gentleman in a
black coat on the box?  Let me tell you a story, adapted to young
persons, but which won't hurt older ones.

--There was a very little boy who had one of those balloons you may have
seen, which are filled with light gas, and are held by a string to keep
them from running off in aeronautic voyages on their own account.  This
little boy had a naughty brother, who said to him, one day,--Brother,
pull down your balloon, so that I can look at it and take hold of it.
Then the little boy pulled it down.  Now the naughty brother had a sharp
pin in his hand, and he thrust it into the balloon, and all the gas oozed
out, so that there was nothing left but a shrivelled skin.

One evening, the little boy's father called him to the window to see the
moon, which pleased him very much; but presently he said,--Father, do
not pull the string and bring down the moon, for my naughty brother will
prick it, and then it will all shrivel up and we shall not see it any

Then his father laughed, and told him how the moon had been shining a
good while, and would shine a good while longer, and that all we could do
was to keep our windows clean, never letting the dust get too thick on
them, and especially to keep our eyes open, but that we could not pull
the moon down with a string, nor prick it with a pin.--Mind you this,
too, the moon is no man's private property, but is seen from a good many

--Truth is tough.  It will not break, like a bubble, at a touch; nay, you
may kick it about all day, like a football, and it will be round and full
at evening.  Does not Mr. Bryant say, that Truth gets well if she is run
over by a locomotive, while Error dies of lockjaw if she scratches her
finger?  [Would that this was so:--error, superstition, mysticism,
authoritarianism, pseudo-science all have a tenacity that survives
inexplicably.  D.W.]  I never heard that a mathematician was alarmed for
the safety of a demonstrated proposition.  I think, generally, that fear
of open discussion implies feebleness of inward conviction, and great
sensitiveness to the expression of individual opinion is a mark of

--I am not so much afraid for truth,--said the divinity-student,--as for
the conceptions of truth in the minds of persons not accustomed to judge
wisely the opinions uttered before them.

Would you, then, banish all allusions to matters of this nature from the
society of people who come together habitually?

I would be very careful in introducing them,--said the divinity-student.

Yes, but friends of yours leave pamphlets in people's entries, to be
picked up by nervous misses and hysteric housemaids, full of doctrines
these people do not approve.  Some of your friends stop little children
in the street, and give them books, which their parents, who have had
them baptized into the Christian fold and give them what they consider
proper religious instruction, do not think fit for them.  One would say
it was fair enough to talk about matters thus forced upon people's

The divinity-student could not deny that this was what might be called
opening the subject to the discussion of intelligent people.

But,--he said,--the greatest objection is this, that persons who have not
made a professional study of theology are not competent to speak on such
subjects.  Suppose a minister were to undertake to express opinions on
medical subjects, for instance, would you not think he was going beyond
his province?

I laughed,--for I remembered John Wesley's "sulphur and supplication,"
and so many other cases where ministers had meddled with
medicine,--sometimes well and sometimes ill, but, as a general rule, with
a tremendous lurch to quackery, owing to their very loose way of
admitting evidence,--that I could not help being amused.

I beg your pardon,--I said,--I do not wish to be impolite, but I was
thinking of their certificates to patent medicines.  Let us look at this

If a minister had attended lectures on the theory and practice of
medicine, delivered by those who had studied it most deeply, for thirty
or forty years, at the rate of from fifty to one hundred a year,--if he
had been constantly reading and hearing read the most approved text-books
on the subject,--if he had seen medicine actually practised according to
different methods, daily, for the same length of time,--I should think,
that if a person of average understanding, he was entitled to express an
opinion on the subject of medicine, or else that his instructors were a
set of ignorant and incompetent charlatans.

If, before a medical practitioner would allow me to enjoy the full
privileges of the healing art, he expected me to affirm my belief in a
considerable number of medical doctrines, drugs, and formulae, I should
think that he thereby implied my right to discuss the same, and my
ability to do so, if I knew how to express myself in English.

Suppose, for instance, the Medical Society should refuse to give us an
opiate, or to set a broken limb, until we had signed our belief in a
certain number of propositions,--of which we will say this is the first:

I.  All men's teeth are naturally in a state of total decay or caries,
and, therefore, no man can bite until every one of them is extracted and
a new set is inserted according to the principles of dentistry adopted by
this Society.

I, for one, should want to discuss that before signing my name to it, and
I should say this:--Why, no, that is n't true.  There are a good many bad
teeth, we all know, but a great many more good ones.  You must n't trust
the dentists; they are all the time looking at the people who have bad
teeth, and such as are suffering from toothache. The idea that you must
pull out every one of every nice young man and young woman's natural
teeth!  Poh, poh!  Nobody believes that.  This tooth must be
straightened, that must be filled with gold, and this other perhaps
extracted, but it must be a very rare case, if they are all so bad as to
require extraction; and if they are, don't blame the poor soul for it!
Don't tell us, as some old dentists used to, that everybody not only
always has every tooth in his head good for nothing, but that he ought to
have his head cut off as a punishment for that misfortune!  No, I can't
sign Number One.  Give us Number Two.

II.  We hold that no man can be well who does not agree with our views of
the efficacy of calomel, and who does not take the doses of it prescribed
in our tables, as there directed.

To which I demur, questioning why it should be so, and get for answer the
two following:

III.  Every man who does not take our prepared calomel, as prescribed by
us in our Constitution and By-Laws, is and must be a mass of disease from
head to foot; it being self-evident that he is simultaneously affected
with Apoplexy, Arthritis, Ascites, Asphyxia, and Atrophy; with
Borborygmus, Bronchitis, and Bulimia; with Cachexia, Carcinoma, and
Cretinismus; and so on through the alphabet, to Xerophthahnia and Zona,
with all possible and incompatible diseases which are necessary to make
up a totally morbid state; and he will certainly die, if he does not take
freely of our prepared calomel, to be obtained only of one of our
authorized agents.

IV.  No man shall be allowed to take our prepared calomel who does not
give in his solemn adhesion to each and all of the above-named and the
following propositions (from ten to a hundred) and show his mouth to
certain of our apothecaries, who have not studied dentistry, to examine
whether all his teeth have been extracted and a new set inserted
according to our regulations.

Of course, the doctors have a right to say we sha'n't have any rhubarb,
if we don't sign their articles, and that, if, after signing them, we
express doubts (in public), about any of them, they will cut us off from
our jalap and squills,--but then to ask a fellow not to discuss the
propositions before he signs them is what I should call boiling it down a
little too strong!

If we understand them, why can't we discuss them?  If we can't understand
them, because we have n't taken a medical degree, what the Father of Lies
do they ask us to sign them for?

Just so with the graver profession.  Every now and then some of its
members seem to lose common sense and common humanity.  The laymen have
to keep setting the divines right constantly.  Science, for instance,--in
other words, knowledge,--is not the enemy of religion; for, if so, then
religion would mean ignorance: But it is often the antagonist of

Everybody knows the story of early astronomy and the school-divines. Come
down a little later, Archbishop Usher, a very learned Protestant prelate,
tells us that the world was created on Sunday, the twenty-third of
October, four thousand and four years before the birth of Christ.
Deluge, December 7th, two thousand three hundred and forty-eight years B.
C.  Yes, and the earth stands on an elephant, and the elephant on a
tortoise.  One statement is as near the truth as the other.

Again, there is nothing so brutalizing to some natures as moral surgery.
I have often wondered that Hogarth did not add one more picture to his
four stages of Cruelty.  Those wretched fools, reverend divines and
others, who were strangling men and women for imaginary crimes a little
more than a century ago among us, were set right by a layman, and very
angry it made them to have him meddle.

The good people of Northampton had a very remarkable man for their
clergyman,--a man with a brain as nicely adjusted for certain mechanical
processes as Babbage's calculating machine.  The commentary of the laymen
on the preaching and practising of Jonathan Edwards was, that, after
twenty-three years of endurance, they turned him out by a vote of twenty
to one, and passed a resolve that he should never preach for them again.
A man's logical and analytical adjustments are of little consequence,
compared to his primary relations with Nature and truth: and people have
sense enough to find it out in the long ran; they know what "logic" is

In that miserable delusion referred to above, the reverend Aztecs and
Fijians argued rightly enough from their premises, no doubt, for many men
can do this.  But common sense and common humanity were unfortunately
left out from their premises, and a layman had to supply them.  A hundred
more years and many of the barbarisms still lingering among us will, of
course, have disappeared like witch-hanging.  But people are sensitive
now, as they were then.  You will see by this extract that the Rev.
Cotton Mather did not like intermeddling with his business very well.

"Let the Levites of the Lord keep close to their Instructions," he says,
"and God will smite thro' the loins of those that rise up against them.
I will report unto you a Thing which many Hundreds among us know to be
true.  The Godly Minister of a certain Town in Connecticut, when he had
occasion to be absent on a Lord's Day from his Flock, employ'd an honest
Neighbour of some small Talents for a Mechanick, to read a Sermon out of
some good Book unto 'em.  This Honest, whom they ever counted also a
Pious Man, had so much conceit of his Talents, that instead of Reading a
Sermon appointed, he to the Surprize of the People, fell to preaching one
of his own.  For his Text he took these Words, 'Despise not
Prophecyings'; and in his Preachment he betook himself to bewail the Envy
of the Clergy in the Land, in that they did not wish all the Lord's
People to be Prophets, and call forth Private Brethren publickly to
prophesie.  While he was thus in the midst of his Exercise, God smote him
with horrible Madness; he was taken ravingly distracted; the People were
forc'd with violent Hands to carry him home.  I will not mention his
Name: He was reputed a Pious Man."--This is one of Cotton Mather's
"Remarkable Judgments of God, on Several Sorts of Offenders,"--and the
next cases referred to are the Judgments on the "Abominable Sacrilege" of
not paying the Ministers' Salaries.

This sort of thing does n't do here and now, you see, my young friend!
We talk about our free institutions;--they are nothing but a coarse
outside machinery to secure the freedom of individual thought. The
President of the United States is only the engine driver of our
broad-gauge mail-train; and every honest, independent thinker has a seat
in the first-class cars behind him.

--There is something in what you say,--replied the divinity-student;
--and yet it seems to me there are places and times where disputed
doctrines of religion should not be introduced.  You would not attack a
church dogma--say Total Depravity--in a lyceum-lecture, for instance?

Certainly not; I should choose another place,--I answered.--But, mind
you, at this table I think it is very different.  I shall express my
ideas on any subject I like.  The laws of the lecture-room, to which my
friends and myself are always amenable, do not hold here.  I shall not
often give arguments, but frequently opinions,--I trust with courtesy and
propriety, but, at any rate, with such natural forms of expression as it
has pleased the Almighty to bestow upon me.

A man's opinions, look you, are generally of much more value than his
arguments.  These last are made by his brain, and perhaps he does not
believe the proposition they tend to prove,--as is often the case with
paid lawyers; but opinions are formed by our whole nature,--brain,
heart, instinct, brute life, everything all our experience has shaped for
us by contact with the whole circle of our being.

--There is one thing more,--said the divinity-student,--that I wished to
speak of; I mean that idea of yours, expressed some time since, of
depolarizing the text of sacred books in order to judge them fairly. May
I ask why you do not try the experiment yourself?

Certainly,--I replied,--if it gives you any pleasure to ask foolish
questions.  I think the ocean telegraph-wire ought to be laid and will be
laid, but I don't know that you have any right to ask me to go and lay
it.  But, for that matter, I have heard a good deal of Scripture
depolarized in and out of the pulpit.  I heard the Rev. Mr. F. once
depolarize the story of the Prodigal Son in Park-Street Church.  Many
years afterwards, I heard him repeat the same or a similar depolarized
version in Rome, New York.  I heard an admirable depolarization of the
story of the young man who "had great possessions" from the Rev.  Mr. H.
in another pulpit, and felt that I had never half understood it before.
All paraphrases are more or less perfect depolarizations.  But I tell you
this: the faith of our Christian community is not robust enough to bear
the turning of our most sacred language into its depolarized equivalents.
You have only to look back to Dr. Channing's famous Baltimore discourse
and remember the shrieks of blasphemy with which it was greeted, to
satisfy yourself on this point.  Time, time only, can gradually wean us
from our Epeolatry, or word-worship, by spiritualizing our ideas of the
thing signified.  Man is an idolater or symbol-worshipper by nature,
which, of course, is no fault of his; but sooner or later all his local
and temporary symbols must be ground to powder, like the golden
calf,--word-images as well as metal and wooden ones.  Rough work,
iconoclasm,--but the only way to get at truth.  It is, indeed, as that
quaint and rare old discourse, "A Summons for Sleepers," hath it, "no
doubt a thankless office, and a verie unthriftie occupation; veritas
odium parit, truth never goeth without a scratcht face; he that will be
busie with voe vobis, let him looke shortly for coram nobas."

The very aim and end of our institutions is just this: that we may think
what we like and say what we think.

--Think what we like!--said the divinity-student;--think what we like!
What! against all human and divine authority?

Against all human versions of its own or any other authority.  At our own
peril always, if we do not like the right,--but not at the risk of being
hanged and quartered for political heresy, or broiled on green fagots for
ecclesiastical treason!  Nay, we have got so far, that the very word
heresy has fallen into comparative disuse among us.

And now, my young friend, let-us shake hands and stop our discussion,
which we will not make a quarrel.  I trust you know, or will learn, a
great many things in your profession which we common scholars do not
know; but mark this: when the common people of New England stop talking
politics and theology, it will be because they have got an Emperor to
teach them the one, and a Pope to teach them the other!

That was the end of my long conference with the divinity-student. The
next morning we got talking a little on the same subject, very
good-naturedly, as people return to a matter they have talked out.

You must look to yourself,--said the divinity-student,--if your
democratic notions get into print.  You will be fired into from all

If it were only a bullet, with the marksman's name on it!--I said.--I
can't stop to pick out the peep-shot of the anonymous scribblers.

Right, Sir! right!--said the Little Gentleman.  The scamps!  I know the
fellows.  They can't give fifty cents to one of the Antipodes, but they
must have it jingled along through everybody's palms all the way, till it
reaches him,--and forty cents of it gets spilt, like the water out of the
fire-buckets passed along a "lane" at a fire;--but when it comes to
anonymous defamation, putting lies into people's mouths, and then
advertising those people through the country as the authors of them,--oh,
then it is that they let not their left hand know what their right hand

I don't like Ehud's style of doing business, Sir.  He comes along with a
very sanctimonious look, Sir, with his "secret errand unto thee," and his
"message from God unto thee," and then pulls out his hidden knife with
that unsuspected hand of his,---(the Little Gentleman lifted his clenched
left hand with the blood-red jewel on the ring-finger,)--and runs it,
blade and haft, into a man's stomach! Don't meddle with these fellows,
Sir.  They are read mostly by persons whom you would not reach, if you
were to write ever so much. Let 'em alone.  A man whose opinions are not
attacked is beneath contempt.

I hope so,--I said.--I got three pamphlets and innumerable squibs flung
at my head for attacking one of the pseudo-sciences, in former years.
When, by the permission of Providence, I held up to the professional
public the damnable facts connected with the conveyance of poison from
one young mother's chamber to another's,--for doing which humble office I
desire to be thankful that I have lived, though nothing else good should
ever come of my life,--I had to bear the sneers of those whose position I
had assailed, and, as I believe, have at last demolished, so that nothing
but the ghosts of dead women stir among the ruins.--What would you do, if
the folks without names kept at you, trying to get a San Benito on to
your shoulders that would fit you?--Would you stand still in fly-time, or
would you give a kick now and then?

Let 'em bite!--said the Little Gentleman,--let 'em bite!  It makes 'em
hungry to shake 'em off, and they settle down again as thick as ever and
twice as savage.  Do you know what meddling with the folks without names,
as you call 'em, is like?--It is like riding at the quintaan.  You run
full tilt at the board, but the board is on a pivot, with a bag of sand
on an arm that balances it.  The board gives way as soon as you touch it;
and before you have got by, the bag of sand comes round whack on the back
of your neck.  "Ananias," for instance, pitches into your lecture, we
will say, in some paper taken by the people in your kitchen.  Your
servants get saucy and negligent.  If their newspaper calls you names,
they need not be so particular about shutting doors softly or boiling
potatoes.  So you lose your temper, and come out in an article which you
think is going to finish "Ananias," proving him a booby who doesn't know
enough to understand even a lyceum-lecture, or else a person that tells
lies. Now you think you 've got him!  Not so fast.  "Ananias" keeps still
and winks to "Shimei," and "Shimei" comes out in the paper which they
take in your neighbor's kitchen, ten times worse than t'other fellow. If
you meddle with "Shimei," he steps out, and next week appears
"Rab-shakeh," an unsavory wretch; and now, at any rate, you find out what
good sense there was in Hezekiah's "Answer him not."--No, no,--keep your
temper.--So saying, the Little Gentleman doubled his left fist and looked
at it as if he should like to hit something or somebody a most pernicious
punch with it.

Good!--said I.--Now let me give you some axioms I have arrived at, after
seeing something of a great many kinds of good folks.

--Of a hundred people of each of the different leading religious sects,
about the same proportion will be safe and pleasant persons to deal and
to live with.

--There are, at least, three real saints among the women to one among the
men, in every denomination.

--The spiritual standard of different classes I would reckon thus:

     1.  The comfortably rich.
     2.  The decently comfortable.
     3.  The very rich, who are apt to be irreligious.
     4.  The very poor, who are apt to be immoral.

--The cut nails of machine-divinity may be driven in, but they won't

--The arguments which the greatest of our schoolmen could not refute were
two: the blood in men's veins, and the milk in women's breasts.

--Humility is the first of the virtues--for other people.

--Faith always implies the disbelief of a lesser fact in favor of a
greater.  A little mind often sees the unbelief, without seeing the
belief of a large one.

The Poor Relation had been fidgeting about and working her mouth while
all this was going on.  She broke out in speech at this point.

I hate to hear folks talk so.  I don't see that you are any better than a

I wish I were half as good as many heathens have been,--I said.--Dying
for a principle seems to me a higher degree of virtue than scolding for
it; and the history of heathen races is full of instances where men have
laid down their lives for the love of their kind, of their country, of
truth, nay, even for simple manhood's sake, or to show their obedience or
fidelity.  What would not such beings have done for the souls of men, for
the Christian commonwealth, for the King of Kings, if they had lived in
days of larger light?  Which seems to you nearest heaven, Socrates
drinking his hemlock, Regulus going back to the enemy's camp, or that old
New England divine sitting comfortably in his study and chuckling over
his conceit of certain poor women, who had been burned to death in his
own town, going "roaring out of one fire into another"?

I don't believe he said any such thing,--replied the Poor Relation.

It is hard to believe,--said I,--but it is true for all that.  In another
hundred years it will be as incredible that men talked as we sometimes
hear them now.

Pectus est quod facit theologum.  The heart makes the theologian. Every
race, every civilization, either has a new revelation of its own or a new
interpretation of an old one.  Democratic America, has a different
humanity from feudal Europe, and so must have a new divinity.  See, for
one moment, how intelligence reacts on our faiths.  The Bible was a
divining-book to our ancestors, and is so still in the hands of some of
the vulgar.  The Puritans went to the Old Testament for their laws; the
Mormons go to it for their patriarchal institution.  Every generation
dissolves something new and precipitates something once held in solution
from that great storehouse of temporary and permanent truths.

You may observe this: that the conversation of intelligent men of the
stricter sects is strangely in advance of the formula that belong to
their organizations.  So true is this, that I have doubts whether a large
proportion of them would not have been rather pleased than offended, if
they could have overheard our, talk.  For, look you, I think there is
hardly a professional teacher who will not in private conversation allow
a large part of what we have said, though it may frighten him in print;
and I know well what an under-current of secret sympathy gives vitality
to those poor words of mine which sometimes get a hearing.

I don't mind the exclamation of any old stager who drinks Madeira worth
from two to six Bibles a bottle, and burns, according to his own
premises, a dozen souls a year in the cigars with which he muddles his
brains.  But as for the good and true and intelligent men whom we see all
around us, laborious, self-denying, hopeful, helpful,--men who know that
the active mind of the century is tending more and more to the two poles,
Rome and Reason, the sovereign church or the free soul, authority or
personality, God in us or God in our masters, and that, though a man may
by accident stand half-way between these two points, he must look one way
or the other,--I don't believe they would take offence at anything I have
reported of our late conversation.

But supposing any one do take offence at first sight, let him look over
these notes again, and see whether he is quite sure he does not agree
with most of these things that were said amongst us.  If he agrees with
most of them, let him be patient with an opinion he does not accept, or
an expression or illustration a little too vivacious. I don't know that I
shall report any more conversations on these topics; but I do insist on
the right to express a civil opinion on this class of subjects without
giving offence, just when and where I please,---unless, as in the
lecture-room, there is an implied contract to keep clear of doubtful
matters.  You did n't think a man could sit at a breakfast-table doing
nothing but making puns every morning for a year or two, and never give a
thought to the two thousand of his fellow-creatures who are passing into
another state during every hour that he sits talking and laughing.  Of
course, the one matter that a real human being cares for is what is going
to become of them and of him.  And the plain truth is, that a good many
people are saying one thing about it and believing another.

--How do I know that?  Why, I have known and loved to talk with good
people, all the way from Rome to Geneva in doctrine, as long as I can
remember.  Besides, the real religion of the world comes from women much
more than from men,--from mothers most of all, who carry the key of our
souls in their bosoms.  It is in their hearts that the "sentimental"
religion some people are so fond of sneering at has its source.  The
sentiment of love, the sentiment of maternity, the sentiment of the
paramount obligation of the parent to the child as having called it into
existence, enhanced just in proportion to the power and knowledge of the
one and the weakness and ignorance of the other,--these are the
"sentiments" that have kept our soulless systems from driving men off to
die in holes like those that riddle the sides of the hill opposite the
Monastery of St. Saba, where the miserable victims of a
falsely-interpreted religion starved and withered in their delusion.

I have looked on the face of a saintly woman this very day, whose creed
many dread and hate, but whose life is lovely and noble beyond all
praise.  When I remember the bitter words I have heard spoken against her
faith, by men who have an Inquisition which excommunicates those who ask
to leave their communion in peace, and an Index Expurgatorius on which
this article may possibly have the honor of figuring,--and, far worse
than these, the reluctant, pharisaical confession, that it might perhaps
be possible that one who so believed should be accepted of the
Creator,--and then recall the sweet peace and love that show through all
her looks, the price of untold sacrifices and labors, and again recollect
how thousands of women, filled with the same spirit, die, without a
murmur, to earthly life, die to their own names even, that they may know
nothing but their holy duties,--while men are torturing and denouncing
their fellows, and while we can hear day and night the clinking of the
hammers that are trying, like the brute forces in the "Prometheus," to
rivet their adamantine wedges right through the breast of human
nature,--I have been ready to believe that we have even now a new
revelation, and the name of its Messiah is WOMAN!

--I should be sorry,--I remarked, a day or two afterwards, to the
divinity-student,--if anything I said tended in any way to foster any
jealousy between the professions, or to throw disrespect upon that one on
whose counsel and sympathies almost all of us lean in our moments of
trial.  But we are false to our new conditions of life, if we do not
resolutely maintain our religious as well as our political freedom, in
the face of any and all supposed monopolies.  Certain men will, of
course, say two things, if we do not take their views: first, that we
don't know anything about these matters; and, secondly, that we are not
so good as they are.  They have a polarized phraseology for saying these
things, but it comes to precisely that. To which it may be answered, in
the first place, that we have good authority for saying that even babes
and sucklings know something; and, in the second, that, if there is a
mote or so to be removed from our premises, the courts and councils of
the last few years have found beams enough in some other quarters to
build a church that would hold all the good people in Boston and have
sticks enough left to make a bonfire for all the heretics.

As to that terrible depolarizing process of mine, of which we were
talking the other day, I will give you a specimen of one way of managing
it, if you like.  I don't believe it will hurt you or anybody.  Besides,
I had a great deal rather finish our talk with pleasant images and gentle
words than with sharp sayings, which will only afford a text, if anybody
repeats them, for endless relays of attacks from Messrs.  Ananias,
Shimei, and Rabshakeh.

[I must leave such gentry, if any of them show themselves, in the hands
of my clerical friends, many of whom are ready to stand up for the rights
of the laity,--and to those blessed souls, the good women, to whom this
version of the story of a mother's hidden hopes and tender anxieties is
dedicated by their peaceful and loving servant.]

               A MOTHER'S SECRET.

     How sweet the sacred legend--if unblamed
     In my slight verse such holy things are named
     --Of Mary's secret hours of hidden joy,
     Silent, but pondering on her wondrous boy!
     Ave, Maria!  Pardon, if I wrong
     Those heavenly words that shame my earthly song!

     The choral host had closed the angel's strain
     Sung to the midnight watch on Bethlehem's plain;
     And now the shepherds, hastening on their way,
     Sought the still hamlet where the Infant lay.
     They passed the fields that gleaning Ruth toiled O'er,
     They saw afar the ruined threshing-floor
     Where Moab's daughter, homeless and forlorn,
     Found Boaz slumbering by his heaps of corn;
     And some remembered how the holy scribe,
     Skilled in the lore of every jealous tribe,
     Traced the warm blood of Jesse's royal son
     To that fair alien, bravely wooed and won.
     So fared they on to seek the promised sign
     That marked the anointed heir of David's line.

     At last, by forms of earthly semblance led,
     They found the crowded inn, the oxen's shed.
     No pomp was there, no glory shone around
     On the coarse straw that strewed the reeking ground;
     One dim retreat a flickering torch betrayed,
     In that poor cell the Lord of Life was laid!

     The wondering shepherds told their breathless tale
     Of the bright choir that woke the sleeping vale;
     Told how the skies with sudden glory flamed;
     Told how the shining multitude proclaimed
     "Joy, joy to earth!  Behold the hallowed morn!
     In David's city Christ the Lord is born!
     'Glory to God!' let angels shout on high,
     'Good-will to men!' the listening Earth reply!"

     They spoke with hurried words and accents wild;
     Calm in his cradle slept the heavenly child.
     No trembling word the mother's joy revealed,
     One sigh of rapture, and her lips were sealed;
     Unmoved she saw the rustic train depart,
     But kept their words to ponder in her heart.

     Twelve years had passed; the boy was fair and tall,
     Growing in wisdom, finding grace with all.
     The maids of Nazareth, as they trooped to fill
     Their balanced urns beside the mountain-rill,
     The gathered matrons, as they sat and spun,
     Spoke in soft words of Joseph's quiet son.
     No voice had reached the Galilean vale
     Of star-led kings or awe-struck shepherds' tale;
     In the meek, studious child they only saw
     The future Rabbi, learned in Israel's law.

     So grew the boy; and now the feast was near,
     When at the holy place the tribes appear.
     Scarce had the home-bred child of Nazareth seen
     Beyond the hills that girt the village-green,
     Save when at midnight, o'er the star-lit sands,
     Snatched from the steel of Herod's murdering bands,
     A babe, close-folded to his mother's breast,
     Through Edom's wilds he sought the sheltering West.

     Then Joseph spake: "Thy boy hath largely grown;
     Weave him fine raiment, fitting to be shown;
     Fair robes beseem the pilgrim, as the priest
     Goes he not with us to the holy feast?"

     And Mary culled the flaxen fibres white;
     Till eve she spun; she spun till morning light.
     The thread was twined; its parting meshes through
     From hand to hand her restless shuttle flew,
     Till the full web was wound upon the beam,
     Love's curious toil,--a vest without a seam!

     They reach the holy place, fulfil the days
     To solemn feasting given, and grateful praise.
     At last they turn, and far Moriah's height
     Melts in the southern sky and fades from sight.
     All day the dusky caravan has flowed
     In devious trails along the winding road,
     (For many a step their homeward path attends,
     And all the sons of Abraham are as friends.)
     Evening has come,--the hour of rest and joy;
     Hush! hush!--that whisper,-"Where is Mary's boy?"

     O weary hour!  O aching days that passed
     Filled with strange fears, each wilder than the last:
     The soldier's lance,--the fierce centurion's sword,
     The crushing wheels that whirl some Roman lord,
     The midnight crypt that suck's the captive's breath,
     The blistering sun on Hinnom's vale of death!

     Thrice on his cheek had rained the morning light,
     Thrice on his lips the mildewed kiss of night,
     Crouched by some porphyry column's shining plinth,
     Or stretched beneath the odorous terebinth.

     At last, in desperate mood, they sought once more
     The Temple's porches, searched in vain before;
     They found him seated with the ancient men,
     The grim old rufflers of the tongue and pen,
     Their bald heads glistening as they clustered near;
     Their gray beards slanting as they turned to hear,
     Lost in half-envious wonder and surprise
     That lips so fresh should utter words so wise.

     And Mary said,--as one who, tried too long,
     Tells all her grief and half her sense of wrong,
     "What is this thoughtless thing which thou hast done?
     Lo, we have sought thee sorrowing, O my son!"
     Few words he spake, and scarce of filial tone,
     Strange words, their sense a mystery yet unknown;
     Then turned with them and left the holy hill,
     To all their mild commands obedient still.

     The tale was told to Nazareth's sober men,
     And Nazareth's matrons told it oft again;
     The maids retold it at the fountain's side;
     The youthful shepherds doubted or denied;
     It passed around among the listening friends,
     With all that fancy adds and fiction fends,
     Till newer marvels dimmed the young renown
     Of Joseph's son, who talked the Rabbis down.

     But Mary, faithful to its lightest word,
     Kept in her heart the sayings she had heard,
     Till the dread morning rent the Temple's veil,
     And shuddering Earth confirmed the wondrous tale.

     Youth fades; love droops; the leaves of friendship fall;
     A mother's secret hope outlives them all.


You don't look so dreadful poor in the face as you did a while back.
Bloated some, I expect.

This was the cheerful and encouraging and elegant remark with which the
Poor Relation greeted the divinity-student one morning.

Of course every good man considers it a great sacrifice on his part to
continue living in this transitory, unsatisfactory, and particularly
unpleasant world.  This is so much a matter of course, that I was
surprised to see the divinity-student change color.  He took a look at a
small and uncertain-minded glass which hung slanting forward over the
chapped sideboard.  The image it returned to him had the color of a very
young pea somewhat overboiled.  The scenery of a long tragic drama
flashed through his mind as the lightning-express-train whishes by a
station: the gradual dismantling process of disease; friends looking on,
sympathetic, but secretly chuckling over their own stomachs of iron and
lungs of caoutchouc; nurses attentive, but calculating their crop, and
thinking how soon it will be ripe, so that they can go to your neighbor,
who is good for a year or so longer; doctors assiduous, but giving
themselves a mental shake, as they go out of your door, which throws off
your particular grief as a duck sheds a raindrop from his oily feathers;
undertakers solemn, but happy; then the great subsoil cultivator, who
plants, but never looks for fruit in his garden; then the stone-cutter,
who puts your name on the slab which has been waiting for you ever since
the birds or beasts made their tracks on the new red sandstone; then the
grass and the dandelions and the buttercups,----Earth saying to the
mortal body, with her sweet symbolism, "You have scarred my bosom, but
you are forgiven"; then a glimpse of the soul as a floating consciousness
without very definite form or place, but dimly conceived of as an upright
column of vapor or mist several times larger than life-size, so far as it
could be said to have any size at all, wandering about and living a thin
and half-awake life for want of good old-fashioned solid matter to come
down upon with foot and fist,--in fact, having neither foot nor fist, nor
conveniences for taking the sitting posture.

And yet the divinity-student was a good Christian, and those heathen
images which remind one of the childlike fancies of the dying Adrian were
only the efforts of his imagination to give shape to the formless and
position to the placeless.  Neither did his thoughts spread themselves
out and link themselves as I have displayed them. They came confusedly
into his mind like a heap of broken mosaics,--sometimes a part of the
picture complete in itself, sometimes connected fragments, and sometimes
only single severed stones.

They did not diffuse a light of celestial joy over his countenance. On
the contrary, the Poor Relation's remark turned him pale, as I have said;
and when the terrible wrinkled and jaundiced looking-glass turned him
green in addition, and he saw himself in it, it seemed to him as if it
were all settled, and his book of life were to be shut not yet half-read,
and go back to the dust of the under-ground archives.  He coughed a mild
short cough, as if to point the direction in which his downward path was
tending.  It was an honest little cough enough, so far as appearances
went.  But coughs are ungrateful things.  You find one out in the cold,
take it up and nurse it and make everything of it, dress it up warm, give
it all sorts of balsams and other food it likes, and carry it round in
your bosom as if it were a miniature lapdog.  And by-and-by its little
bark grows sharp and savage, and--confound the thing!--you find it is a
wolf's whelp that you have got there, and he is gnawing in the breast
where he has been nestling so long.--The Poor Relation said that
somebody's surrup was good for folks that were gettin' into a bad
way.--The landlady had heard of desperate cases cured by

Whiskey's the fellah,--said the young man John.--Make it into punch, cold
at dinner-time 'n' hot at bed-time.  I'll come up 'n' show you how to mix
it.  Have n't any of you seen the wonderful fat man exhibitin' down in
Hanover Street?

Master Benjamin Franklin rushed into the dialogue with a breezy
exclamation, that he had seen a great picter outside of the place where
the fat man was exhibitin'.  Tried to get in at half-price, but the man
at the door looked at his teeth and said he was more'n ten year old.

It is n't two years,--said the young man John, since that fat fellah was
exhibitin' here as the Livin' Skeleton.  Whiskey--that's what did
it,--real Burbon's the stuff.  Hot water, sugar, 'n' jest a little
shavin' of lemon-skin in it,--skin, mind you, none o' your juice; take it
off thin,--shape of one of them flat curls the factory-girls wear on the
sides of their foreheads.

But I am a teetotaller,--said the divinity-student in a subdued
tone;--not noticing the enormous length of the bow-string the young
fellow had just drawn.

He took up his hat and went out.

I think you have worried that young man more than you meant,--I said.--I
don't believe he will jump off one of the bridges, for he has too much
principle; but I mean to follow him and see where he goes, for he looks
as if his mind were made up to something.

I followed him at a reasonable distance.  He walked doggedly along,
looking neither to the right nor the left, turned into State Street, and
made for a well-known Life-Insurance Office.  Luckily, the doctor was
there and overhauled him on the spot.  There was nothing the matter with
him, he said, and he could have his life insured as a sound one.  He came
out in good spirits, and told me this soon after.

This led me to make some remarks the next morning on the manners of
well-bred and ill-bred people.

I began,--The whole essence of true gentle-breeding (one does not like to
say gentility) lies in the wish and the art to be agreeable.
Good-breeding is surface-Christianity.  Every look, movement, tone,
expression, subject of discourse, that may give pain to another is
habitually excluded from conversational intercourse.  This is the reason
why rich people are apt to be so much more agreeable than others.

--I thought you were a great champion of equality,--said the discreet and
severe lady who had accompanied our young friend, the Latin Tutor's

I go politically for equality,--I said,--and socially for the quality.

Who are the "quality,"--said the Model, etc., in a community like ours?

I confess I find this question a little difficult to answer,--I said.
--Nothing is better known than the distinction of social ranks which
exists in every community, and nothing is harder to define.  The great
gentlemen and ladies of a place are its real lords and masters and
mistresses; they are the quality, whether in a monarchy or a republic;
mayors and governors and generals and senators and ex-presidents are
nothing to them.  How well we know this, and how seldom it finds a
distinct expression!  Now I tell you truly, I believe in man as man, and
I disbelieve in all distinctions except such as follow the natural lines
of cleavage in a society which has crystallized according to its own true
laws.  But the essence of equality is to be able to say the truth; and
there is nothing more curious than these truths relating to the
stratification of society.

Of all the facts in this world that do not take hold of immortality,
there is not one so intensely real, permanent, and engrossing as this of
social position,--as you see by the circumstances that the core of all
the great social orders the world has seen has been, and is still, for
the most part, a privileged class of gentlemen and ladies arranged in a
regular scale of precedence among themselves, but superior as a body to
all else.

Nothing but an ideal Christian equality, which we have been getting
farther away from since the days of the Primitive Church, can prevent
this subdivision of society into classes from taking place
everywhere,--in the great centres of our republic as much as in old
European monarchies.  Only there position is more absolutely
hereditary,--here it is more completely elective.

--Where is the election held? and what are the qualifications? and who
are the electors?--said the Model.

Nobody ever sees when the vote is taken; there never is a formal vote.
The women settle it mostly; and they know wonderfully well what is
presentable, and what can't stand the blaze of the chandeliers and the
critical eye and ear of people trained to know a staring shade in a
ribbon, a false light in a jewel, an ill-bred tone, an angular movement,
everything that betrays a coarse fibre and cheap training.  As a general
thing, you do not get elegance short of two or three removes from the
soil, out of which our best blood doubtless comes,--quite as good, no
doubt, as if it came from those old prize-fighters with iron pots on
their heads, to whom some great people are so fond of tracing their
descent through a line of small artisans and petty shopkeepers whose
veins have held "base" fluid enough to fill the Cloaca Maxima!

Does not money go everywhere?--said the Model.

Almost.  And with good reason.  For though there are numerous exceptions,
rich people are, as I said, commonly altogether the most agreeable
companions.  The influence of a fine house, graceful furniture, good
libraries, well-ordered tables, trim servants, and, above all, a position
so secure that one becomes unconscious of it, gives a harmony and
refinement to the character and manners which we feel, if we cannot
explain their charm.  Yet we can get at the reason of it by thinking a

All these appliances are to shield the sensibility from disagreeable
contacts, and to soothe it by varied natural and artificial influences.
In this way the mind, the taste, the feelings, grow delicate, just as the
hands grow white and soft when saved from toil and incased in soft
gloves.  The whole nature becomes subdued into suavity.  I confess I like
the quality ladies better than the common kind even of literary ones.
They have n't read the last book, perhaps, but they attend better to you
when you are talking to them. If they are never learned, they make up for
it in tact and elegance. Besides, I think, on the whole, there is less
self-assertion in diamonds than in dogmas.  I don't know where you will
find a sweeter portrait of humility than in Esther, the poor play-girl of
King Ahasuerus; yet Esther put on her royal apparel when she went before
her lord.  I have no doubt she was a more gracious and agreeable person
than Deborah, who judged the people and wrote the story of Sisera.  The
wisest woman you talk with is ignorant of something that you know, but an
elegant woman never forgets her elegance.

Dowdyism is clearly an expression of imperfect vitality.  The highest
fashion is intensely alive,--not alive necessarily to the truest and best
things, but with its blood tingling, as it were, in all its extremities
and to the farthest point of its surface, so that the feather in its
bonnet is as fresh as the crest of a fighting-cock, and the rosette on
its slipper as clean-cut and pimpant (pronounce it English fashion,--it
is a good word) as a dahlia.  As a general rule, that society where
flattery is acted is much more agreeable than that where it is spoken.
Don't you see why?  Attention and deference don't require you to make
fine speeches expressing your sense of unworthiness (lies) and returning
all the compliments paid you.  This is one reason.

--A woman of sense ought to be above flattering any man,--said the Model.

[My reflection.  Oh! oh! no wonder you did n't get married.  Served you
right.]  My remark.  Surely, Madam,--if you mean by flattery telling
people boldly to their faces that they are this or that, which they are
not.  But a woman who does not carry about with her wherever she goes a
halo of good feeling and desire to make everybody contented,--an
atmosphere of grace, mercy, and peace, of at least six feet radius, which
wraps every human being upon whom she voluntarily bestows her presence,
and so flatters him with the comfortable thought that she is rather glad
he is alive than otherwise, isn't worth the trouble of talking to, as a
woman; she may do well enough to hold discussions with.

--I don't think the Model exactly liked this.  She said,--a little
spitefully, I thought,--that a sensible man might stand a little praise,
but would of course soon get sick of it, if he were in the habit of
getting much.

Oh, yes,--I replied,--just as men get sick of tobacco.  It is notorious
how apt they are to get tired of that vegetable.

--That 's so!--said the young fellow John,--I've got tired of my cigars
and burnt 'em all up.

I am heartily glad to hear it,--said the Model,--I wish they were all
disposed of in the same way.

So do I,--said the young fellow John.

Can't you get your friends to unite with you in committing those odious
instruments of debauchery to the flames in which you have consumed your

I wish I could,--said the young fellow John.

It would be a noble sacrifice,--said the Model, and every American woman
would be grateful to you.  Let us burn them all in a heap out in the

That a'n't my way,--said the young fellow John;--I burn 'em one 't'
time,--little end in my mouth and big end outside.

--I watched for the effect of this sudden change of programme, when it
should reach the calm stillness of the Model's interior apprehension, as
a boy watches for the splash of a stone which he has dropped into a well.
But before it had fairly reached the water, poor Iris, who had followed
the conversation with a certain interest until it turned this sharp
corner, (for she seems rather to fancy the young fellow John,) laughed
out such a clear, loud laugh, that it started us all off, as the
locust-cry of some full-throated soprano drags a multitudinous chorus
after it.  It was plain that some dam or other had broken in the soul of
this young girl, and she was squaring up old scores of laughter, out of
which she had been cheated, with a grand flood of merriment that swept
all before it. So we had a great laugh all round, in which the
Model--who, if she had as many virtues as there are spokes to a wheel,
all compacted with a personality as round and complete as its tire, yet
wanted that one little addition of grace, which seems so small, and is as
important as the linchpin in trundling over the rough ways of life--had
not the tact to join.  She seemed to be "stuffy" about it, as the young
fellow John said.  In fact, I was afraid the joke would have cost us both
our new lady-boarders.  It had no effect, however, except, perhaps, to
hasten the departure of the elder of the two, who could, on the whole, be

--I had meant to make this note of our conversation a text for a few
axioms on the matter of breeding.  But it so happened, that, exactly at
this point of my record, a very distinguished philosopher, whom several
of our boarders and myself go to hear, and whom no doubt many of my
readers follow habitually, treated this matter of manners.  Up to this
point, if I have been so fortunate as to coincide with him in opinion,
and so unfortunate as to try to express what he has more felicitously
said, nobody is to blame; for what has been given thus far was all
written before the lecture was delivered.  But what shall I do now?  He
told us it was childish to lay down rules for deportment,--but he could
not help laying down a few.

Thus,--Nothing so vulgar as to be in a hurry.  True, but hard of
application.  People with short legs step quickly, because legs are
pendulums, and swing more times in a minute the shorter they are.
Generally a natural rhythm runs through the whole organization: quick
pulse, fast breathing, hasty speech, rapid trains of thought, excitable
temper.  Stillness of person and steadiness of features are signal marks
of good-breeding.  Vulgar persons can't sit still, or, at least, they
must work their limbs or features.

Talking of one's own ails and grievances.--Bad enough, but not so bad as
insulting the person you talk with by remarking on his ill-looks, or
appealing to notice any of his personal peculiarities.

Apologizing.--A very desperate habit,--one that is rarely cured. Apology
is only egotism wrong side out.  Nine times out of ten, the first thing a
man's companion knows of his shortcoming is from his apology.  It is
mighty presumptuous on your part to suppose your small failures of so
much consequence that you must make a talk about them.

Good dressing, quiet ways, low tones of voice, lips that can wait, and
eyes that do not wander,--shyness of personalities, except in certain
intimate communions,--to be light in hand in conversation, to have ideas,
but to be able to make talk, if necessary, without them,--to belong to
the company you are in, and not to yourself,--to have nothing in your
dress or furniture so fine that you cannot afford to spoil it and get
another like it, yet to preserve the harmonies, throughout your person
and--dwelling: I should say that this was a fair capital of manners to
begin with.

Under bad manners, as under graver faults, lies very commonly an
overestimate of our special individuality, as distinguished from our
generic humanity.  It is just here that the very highest society asserts
its superior breeding.  Among truly elegant people of the highest ton,
you will find more real equality in social intercourse than in a country
village.  As nuns drop their birth-names and become Sister Margaret and
Sister Mary, so high-bred people drop their personal distinctions and
become brothers and sisters of conversational charity.  Nor are
fashionable people without their heroism.  I believe there are men who
have shown as much self-devotion in carrying a lone wall-flower down to
the supper-table as ever saint or martyr in the act that has canonized
his name.  There are Florence Nightingales of the ballroom, whom nothing
can hold back from their errands of mercy.  They find out the red-handed,
gloveless undergraduate of bucolic antecedents, as he squirms in his
corner, and distill their soft words upon him like dew upon the green
herb.  They reach even the poor relation, whose dreary apparition saddens
the perfumed atmosphere of the sumptuous drawing-room.  I have known one
of these angels ask, of her own accord, that a desolate middle-aged man,
whom nobody seemed to know, should be presented to her by the hostess.
He wore no shirt-collar,--he had on black gloves,--and was flourishing a
red bandanna handkerchief! Match me this, ye proud children of poverty,
who boast of your paltry sacrifices for each other!  Virtue in humble
life!  What is that to the glorious self-renunciation of a martyr in
pearls and diamonds?  As I saw this noble woman bending gracefully before
the social mendicant,--the white billows of her beauty heaving under the
foam of the traitorous laces that half revealed them,--I should have wept
with sympathetic emotion, but that tears, except as a private
demonstration, are an ill-disguised expression of self-consciousness and
vanity, which is inadmissible in good society.

I have sometimes thought, with a pang, of the position in which political
chance or contrivance might hereafter place some one of our
fellow-citizens.  It has happened hitherto, so far as my limited
knowledge goes, that the President of the United States has always been
what might be called in general terms a gentleman.  But what if at some
future time the choice of the people should fall upon one on whom that
lofty title could not, by any stretch of charity, be bestowed?  This may
happen,--how soon the future only knows.  Think of this miserable man of
coming political possibilities,--an unpresentable boor sucked into office
by one of those eddies in the flow of popular sentiment which carry
straws and chips into the public harbor, while the prostrate trunks of
the monarchs of the forest hurry down on the senseless stream to the gulf
of political oblivion!  Think of him, I say, and of the concentrated gaze
of good society through its thousand eyes, all confluent, as it were, in
one great burning-glass of ice that shrivels its wretched object in fiery
torture, itself cold as the glacier of an unsunned cavern! No,--there
will be angels of good-breeding then as now, to shield the victim of free
institutions from himself and from his torturers. I can fancy a lovely
woman playfully withdrawing the knife which he would abuse by making it
an instrument for the conveyance of food,--or, failing in this kind
artifice, sacrificing herself by imitating his use of that implement; how
much harder than to plunge it into her bosom, like Lucretia!  I can see
her studying in his provincial dialect until she becomes the Champollion
of New England or Western or Southern barbarisms.  She has learned that
haow means what; that think-in' is the same thing as thinking, or she has
found out the meaning of that extraordinary mono syllable, which no
single-tongued phonographer can make legible, prevailing on the banks of
the Hudson and at its embouchure, and elsewhere,--what they say when they
think they say first, (fe-eest,--fe as in the French le),--or that cheer
means chair,--or that urritation means irritation,--and so of other
enormities.  Nothing surprises her.  The highest breeding, you know,
comes round to the Indian standard,--to take everything coolly,--nil
admirari,--if you happen to be learned and like the Roman phrase for the
same thing.

If you like the company of people that stare at you from head to foot to
see if there is a hole in your coat, or if you have not grown a little
older, or if your eyes are not yellow with jaundice, or if your
complexion is not a little faded, and so on, and then convey the fact to
you, in the style in which the Poor Relation addressed the
divinity-student,--go with them as much as you like. I hate the sight of
the wretches.  Don't for mercy's sake think I hate them; the distinction
is one my friend or I drew long ago.  No matter where you find such
people; they are clowns.

The rich woman who looks and talks in this way is not half so much a lady
as her Irish servant, whose pretty "saving your presence," when she has
to say something which offends her natural sense of good manners, has a
hint in it of the breeding of courts, and the blood of old Milesian
kings, which very likely runs in her veins,--thinned by two hundred years
of potato, which, being an underground fruit, tends to drag down the
generations that are made of it to the earth from which it came, and,
filling their veins with starch, turn them into a kind of human

I say, if you like such people, go with them.  But I am going to make a
practical application of the example at the beginning of this particular
record, which some young people who are going to choose professional
advisers by-and-by may remember and thank me for.  If you are making
choice of a physician, be sure you get one, if possible, with a cheerful
and serene countenance.  A physician is not--at least, ought not to
be--an executioner; and a sentence of death on his face is as bad as a
warrant for execution signed by the Governor.  As a general rule, no man
has a right to tell another by word or look that he is going to die.  It
may be necessary in some extreme cases; but as a rule, it is the last
extreme of impertinence which one human being can offer to another.  "You
have killed me," said a patient once to a physician who had rashly told
him he was incurable.  He ought to have lived six months, but he was dead
in six' weeks.  If we will only let Nature and the God of Nature alone,
persons will commonly learn their condition as early as they ought to
know it, and not be cheated out of their natural birthright of hope of
recovery, which is intended to accompany sick people as long as life is
comfortable, and is graciously replaced by the hope of heaven, or at
least of rest, when life has become a burden which the bearer is ready to
let fall.

Underbred people tease their sick and dying friends to death.  The chance
of a gentleman or lady with a given mortal ailment to live a certain time
is as good again as that of the common sort of coarse people.  As you go
down the social scale, you reach a point at length where the common talk
in sick rooms is of churchyards and sepulchres, and a kind of perpetual
vivisection is forever carried on, upon the person of the miserable

And so, in choosing your clergyman, other things being equal, prefer the
one of a wholesome and cheerful habit of mind and body.  If you can get
along with people who carry a certificate in their faces that their
goodness is so great as to make them very miserable, your children
cannot.  And whatever offends one of these little ones cannot be right in
the eyes of Him who loved them so well.

After all, as you are a gentleman or a lady, you will probably select
gentlemen for your bodily and spiritual advisers, and then all will be

This repetition of the above words,--gentleman and lady,--which could not
be conveniently avoided, reminds me what strange uses are made of them by
those who ought to know what they mean.  Thus, at a marriage ceremony,
once, of two very excellent persons who had been at service, instead of,
Do you take this man, etc.? and, Do you take this woman? how do you think
the officiating clergyman put the questions?  It was, Do you, Miss So and
So, take this GENTLEMAN? and, Do you, Mr. This or That, take this LADY?!
What would any English duchess, ay, or the Queen of England herself, have
thought, if the Archbishop of Canterbury had called her and her
bridegroom anything but plain woman and man at such a time?

I don't doubt the Poor Relation thought it was all very fine, if she
happened to be in the church; but if the worthy man who uttered these
monstrous words--monstrous in such a connection--had known the ludicrous
surprise, the convulsion of inward disgust and contempt, that seized upon
many of the persons who were present,--had guessed what a sudden flash of
light it threw on the Dutch gilding, the pinchbeck, the shabby, perking
pretension belonging to certain social layers,--so inherent in their
whole mode of being, that the holiest offices of religion cannot exclude
its impertinences,--the good man would have given his marriage-fee twice
over to recall that superb and full-blown vulgarism.  Any persons whom it
could please could have no better notion of what the words referred to
signify than of the meaning of apsides and asymptotes.

MAN!  Sir!  WOMAN!  Sir!  Gentility is a fine thing, not to be
undervalued, as I have been trying to explain; but humanity comes before

         "When Adam delved and Eve span,
          Who was then the gentleman?"

The beauty of that plainness of speech and manners which comes from the
finest training is not to be understood by those whose habitat is below a
certain level.  Just as the exquisite sea-anemones and all the graceful
ocean-flowers die out at some fathoms below the surface, the elegances
and suavities of life die out one by one as we sink through the social
scale.  Fortunately, the virtues are more tenacious of life, and last
pretty well until we get down to the mud of absolute pauperism, where
they do not flourish greatly.

--I had almost forgotten about our boarders.  As the Model of all the
Virtues is about to leave us, I find myself wondering what is the reason
we are not all very sorry.  Surely we all like good persons.  She is a
good person.  Therefore we like her.--Only we don't.

This brief syllogism, and its briefer negative, involving the principle
which some English conveyancer borrowed from a French wit and embodied in
the lines by which Dr. Fell is made unamiably immortal, this syllogism, I
say, is one that most persons have had occasion to construct and
demolish, respecting somebody or other, as I have done for the Model.
"Pious and painefull."  Why has that excellent old phrase gone out of
use?  Simply because these good painefull or painstaking persons proved
to be such nuisances in the long run, that the word "painefull" came,
before people thought of it, to mean pain-giving instead of painstaking.

--So, the old fellah's off to-morrah,--said the young man John.

Old fellow?--said I,--whom do you mean?

Why, the one that came with our little beauty, the old fellah in

--Now that means something,--said I to myself.--These rough young rascals
very often hit the nail on the head, if they do strike with their eyes
shut.  A real woman does a great many things without knowing why she does
them; but these pattern machines mix up their intellects with everything
they do, just like men.  They can't help it, no doubt; but we can't help
getting sick of them, either. Intellect is to a woman's nature what her
watch-spring skirt is to her dress; it ought to underlie her silks and
embroideries, but not to show itself too staringly on the outside.---You
don't know, perhaps, but I will tell you; the brain is the palest of all
the internal organs, and the heart the reddest.  Whatever comes from the
brain carries the hue of the place it came from, and whatever comes from
the heart carries the heat and color of its birthplace.

The young man John did not hear my soliloquy, of course, but sent up one
more bubble from our sinking conversation, in the form of a statement,
that she was at liberty to go to a personage who receives no visits, as
is commonly supposed, from virtuous people.

Why, I ask again, (of my reader,) should a person who never did anybody
any wrong, but, on the contrary, is an estimable and intelligent, nay, a
particularly enlightened and exemplary member of society, fail to inspire
interest, love, and devotion?  Because of the reversed current in the
flow of thought and emotion.  The red heart sends all its instincts up to
the white brain to be analyzed, chilled, blanched, and so become pure
reason, which is just exactly what we do not want of woman as woman.  The
current should run the other-way.  The nice, calm, cold thought, which in
women shapes itself so rapidly that they hardly know it as thought,
should always travel to the lips via the heart.  It does so in those
women whom all love and admire.  It travels the wrong way in the Model.
That is the reason why the Little Gentleman said "I hate her, I hate
her."  That is the reason why the young man John called her the "old
fellah," and banished her to the company of the great Unpresentable. That
is the reason why I, the Professor, am picking her to pieces with scalpel
and forceps.  That is the reason why the young girl whom she has
befriended repays her kindness with gratitude and respect, rather than
with the devotion and passionate fondness which lie sleeping beneath the
calmness of her amber eyes.  I can see her, as she sits between this
estimable and most correct of personages and the misshapen, crotchety,
often violent and explosive little man on the other side of her, leaning
and swaying towards him as she speaks, and looking into his sad eyes as
if she found some fountain in them at which her soul could quiet its

Women like the Model are a natural product of a chilly climate and high
culture.  It is not

    "The frolic wind that breathes the spring,
     Zephyr with Aurora playing,"

when the two meet

    "---on beds of violets blue,
     And fresh-blown roses washed in dew,"

that claim such women as their offspring.  It is rather the east wind, as
it blows out of the fogs of Newfoundland, and clasps a clear-eyed wintry
noon on the chill bridal couch of a New England ice-quarry.--Don't throw
up your cap now, and hurrah as if this were giving up everything, and
turning against the best growth of our latitudes,--the daughters of the
soil.  The brain-women never interest us like the heart women; white
roses please less than red. But our Northern seasons have a narrow green
streak of spring, as well as a broad white zone of winter,--they have a
glowing band of summer and a golden stripe of autumn in their
many-colored wardrobe; and women are born to us that wear all these hues
of earth and heaven in their souls.  Our ice-eyed brain-women are really
admirable, if we only ask of them just what they can give, and no more.
Only compare them, talking or writing, with one of those babbling,
chattering dolls, of warmer latitudes, who do not know enough even to
keep out of print, and who are interesting to us only as specimens of
arrest of development for our psychological cabinets.

Good-bye, Model of all the Virtues!  We can spare you now.  A little
clear perfection, undiluted with human weakness, goes a great way. Go! be
useful, be honorable and honored, be just, be charitable, talk pure
reason, and help to disenchant the world by the light of an achromatic
understanding.  Goodbye!  Where is my Beranger?  I must read a verse or
two of "Fretillon."

Fair play for all.  But don't claim incompatible qualities for anybody.
Justice is a very rare virtue in our community. Everything that public
sentiment cares about is put into a Papin's digester, and boiled under
high pressure till all is turned into one homogeneous pulp, and the very
bones give up their jelly.  What are all the strongest epithets of our
dictionary to us now?  The critics and politicians, and especially the
philanthropists, have chewed them, till they are mere wads of
syllable-fibre, without a suggestion of their old pungency and power.

Justice!  A good man respects the rights even of brute matter and
arbitrary symbols.  If he writes the same word twice in succession, by
accident, he always erases the one that stands second; has not the
first-comer the prior right?  This act of abstract justice, which I trust
many of my readers, like myself, have often performed, is a curious
anti-illustration, by the way, of the absolute wickedness of human
dispositions.  Why doesn't a man always strike out the first of the two
words, to gratify his diabolical love of injustice?

So, I say, we owe a genuine, substantial tribute of respect to these
filtered intellects which have left their womanhood on the strainer. They
are so clear that it is a pleasure at times to look at the world of
thought through them.  But the rose and purple tints of richer natures
they cannot give us, and it is not just to them to ask it.

Fashionable society gets at these rich natures very often in a way one
would hardly at first think of.  It loves vitality above all things,
sometimes disguised by affected languor, always well kept under by the
laws of good-breeding,--but still it loves abundant life, opulent and
showy organizations,--the spherical rather than the plane trigonometry of
female architecture,--plenty of red blood, flashing eyes, tropical
voices, and forms that bear the splendors of dress without growing pale
beneath their lustre.  Among these you will find the most delicious women
you will ever meet,--women whom dress and flattery and the round of city
gayeties cannot spoil,--talking with whom, you forget their diamonds and
laces,--and around whom all the nice details of elegance, which the
cold-blooded beauty next them is scanning so nicely, blend in one
harmonious whole, too perfect to be disturbed by the petulant sparkle of
a jewel, or the yellow glare of a bangle, or the gay toss of a feather.

There are many things that I, personally, love better than fashion or
wealth.  Not to speak of those highest objects of our love and loyalty, I
think I love ease and independence better than the golden slavery of
perpetual matinees and soirees, or the pleasures of accumulation.

But fashion and wealth are two very solemn realities, which the frivolous
class of moralists have talked a great deal of silly stuff about.
Fashion is only the attempt to realize Art in living forms and social
intercourse.  What business has a man who knows nothing about the
beautiful, and cannot pronounce the word view, to talk about fashion to a
set of people who, if one of the quality left a card at their doors,
would contrive to keep it on the very top of their heap of the names of
their two-story acquaintances, till it was as yellow as the Codex

Wealth, too,--what an endless repetition of the same foolish trivialities
about it!  Take the single fact of its alleged uncertain tenure and
transitory character.  In old times, when men were all the time fighting
and robbing each other,--in those tropical countries where the Sabeans
and the Chaldeans stole all a man's cattle and camels, and there were
frightful tornadoes and rains of fire from heaven, it was true enough
that riches took wings to themselves not unfrequently in a very
unexpected way.  But, with common prudence in investments, it is not so
now.  In fact, there is nothing earthly that lasts so well, on the whole,
as money.  A man's learning dies with him; even his virtues fade out of
remembrance, but the dividends on the stocks he bequeaths to his children
live and keep his memory green.

I do not think there is much courage or originality in giving utterance
to truths that everybody knows, but which get overlaid by conventional
trumpery.  The only distinction which it is necessary to point out to
feeble-minded folk is this: that, in asserting the breadth and depth of
that significance which gives to fashion and fortune their tremendous
power, we do not indorse the extravagances which often disgrace the one,
nor the meanness which often degrades the other.

A remark which seems to contradict a universally current opinion is not
generally to be taken "neat," but watered with the ideas of common-sense
and commonplace people.  So, if any of my young friends should be tempted
to waste their substance on white kids and "all-rounds," or to insist on
becoming millionaires at once, by anything I have said, I will give them
references to some of the class referred to, well known to the public as
providers of literary diluents, who will weaken any truth so that there
is not an old woman in the land who cannot take it with perfect impunity.

I am afraid some of the blessed saints in diamonds will think I mean to
flatter them.  I hope not;--if I do, set it down as a weakness. But there
is so much foolish talk about wealth and fashion, (which, of course, draw
a good many heartless and essentially vulgar people into the glare of
their candelabra, but which have a real respectability and meaning, if we
will only look at them stereoscopically, with both eyes instead of one,)
that I thought it a duty to speak a few words for them.  Why can't
somebody give us a list of things that everybody thinks and nobody says,
and another list of things that everybody says and nobody thinks?

Lest my parish should suppose we have forgotten graver matters in
these lesser topics, I beg them to drop these trifles and read the
following lesson for the day.

          THE TWO STREAMS.

     Behold the rocky wall
     That down its sloping sides
     Pours the swift rain-drops, blending, as they fall,
     In rushing river-tides!

     Yon stream, whose sources run
     Turned by a pebble's edge,
     Is Athabasca, rolling toward the sun
     Through the cleft mountain-ledge.

     The slender rill had strayed,
     But for the slanting stone,
     To evening's ocean, with the tangled braid
     Of foam-flecked Oregon.

     So from the heights of Will
     Life's parting stream descends,
     And, as a moment turns its slender rill,
     Each widening torrent bends,

     From the same cradle's side,
     From the same mother's knee,
     --One to long darkness and the frozen tide,
     One to the Peaceful Sea!


Our landlady's daughter is a young lady of some pretensions to gentility.
She wears her bonnet well back on her head, which is known by all to be a
mark of high breeding.  She wears her trains very long, as the great
ladies do in Europe.  To be sure, their dresses are so made only to sweep
the tapestried floors of chateaux and palaces; as those odious
aristocrats of the other side do not go draggling through the mud in
silks and satins, but, forsooth, must ride in coaches when they are in
full dress.  It is true, that, considering various habits of the American
people, also the little accidents which the best-kept sidewalks are
liable to, a lady who has swept a mile of them is not exactly in such a
condition that one would care to be her neighbor.  But then there is no
need of being so hard on these slight weaknesses of the poor, dear women
as our little deformed gentleman was the other day.

--There are no such women as the Boston women, Sir,--he said. Forty-two
degrees, north latitude, Rome, Sir, Boston, Sir!  They had grand women in
old Rome, Sir,--and the women bore such men--children as never the world
saw before.  And so it was here, Sir.  I tell you, the revolution the
Boston boys started had to run in woman's milk before it ran in man's
blood, Sir!

But confound the make-believe women we have turned loose in our
streets!--where do they come from?  Not out of Boston parlors, I trust.
Why, there is n't a beast or a bird that would drag its tail through the
dirt in the way these creatures do their dresses. Because a queen or a
duchess wears long robes on great occasions, a maid-of-all-work or a
factory-girl thinks she must make herself a nuisance by trailing through
the street, picking up and carrying about with her pah!--that's what I
call getting vulgarity into your bones and marrow.  Making believe be
what you are not is the essence of vulgarity.  Show over dirt is the one
attribute of vulgar people. If any man can walk behind one of these women
and see what she rakes up as she goes, and not feel squeamish, he has got
a tough stomach. I wouldn't let one of 'em into my room without serving
'em as David served Saul at the cave in the wilderness,--cut off his
skirts, Sir! cut off his skirts!

I suggested, that I had seen some pretty stylish ladies who offended in
the way he condemned.

Stylish women, I don't doubt,--said the Little Gentleman.--Don't tell me
that a true lady ever sacrifices the duty of keeping all about her sweet
and clean to the wish of making a vulgar show.  I won't believe it of a
lady.  There are some things that no fashion has any right to touch, and
cleanliness is one of those things.  If a woman wishes to show that her
husband or her father has got money, which she wants and means to spend,
but doesn't know how, let her buy a yard or two of silk and pin it to her
dress when she goes out to walk, but let her unpin it before she goes
into the house;--there may be poor women that will think it worth
disinfecting.  It is an insult to a respectable laundress to carry such
things into a house for her to deal with.  I don't like the Bloomers any
too well,--in fact, I never saw but one, and she--or he, or it--had a mob
of boys after her, or whatever you call the creature, as if she had been

The Little Gentleman stopped short,--flushed somewhat, and looked round
with that involuntary, suspicious glance which the subjects of any bodily
misfortune are very apt to cast round them.  His eye wandered over the
company, none of whom, excepting myself and one other, had, probably,
noticed the movement.  They fell at last on Iris,--his next neighbor, you

--We know in a moment, on looking suddenly at a person, if that person's
eyes have been fixed on us.

Sometimes we are conscious of it before we turn so as to see the person.
Strange secrets of curiosity, of impertinence, of malice, of love, leak
out in this way.  There is no need of Mrs. Felix Lorraine's reflection in
the mirror, to tell us that she is plotting evil for us behind our backs.
We know it, as we know by the ominous stillness of a child that some
mischief or other is going-on.  A young girl betrays, in a moment, that
her eyes have been feeding on the face where you find them fixed, and
not merely brushing over it with their pencils of blue or brown light.

A certain involuntary adjustment assimilates us, you may also observe, to
that upon which we look.  Roses redden the cheeks of her who stoops to
gather them, and buttercups turn little people's chins yellow.  When we
look at a vast landscape, our chests expand as if we would enlarge to
fill it.  When we examine a minute object, we naturally contract, not
only our foreheads, but all our dimensions. If I see two men wrestling, I
wrestle too, with my limbs and features.  When a country-fellow comes
upon the stage, you will see twenty faces in the boxes putting on the
bumpkin expression.  There is no need of multiplying instances to reach
this generalization; every person and thing we look upon puts its special
mark upon us. If this is repeated often enough, we get a permanent
resemblance to it, or, at least, a fixed aspect which we took from it.
Husband and wife come to look alike at last, as has often been noticed.
It is a common saying of a jockey, that he is "all horse"; and I have
often fancied that milkmen get a stiff, upright carriage, and an angular
movement of the arm, that remind one of a pump and the working of its

All this came in by accident, just because I happened to mention that the
Little Gentleman found that Iris had been looking at him with her soul in
her eyes, when his glance rested on her after wandering round the
company.  What he thought, it is hard to say; but the shadow of suspicion
faded off from his face, and he looked calmly into the amber eyes,
resting his cheek upon the hand that wore the red jewel.

--If it were a possible thing,--women are such strange creatures! Is
there any trick that love and their own fancies do not play them? Just
see how they marry!  A woman that gets hold of a bit of manhood is like
one of those Chinese wood-carvers who work on any odd, fantastic root
that comes to hand, and, if it is only bulbous above and bifurcated
below, will always contrive to make a man--such as he is--out of it.  I
should like to see any kind of a man, distinguishable from a Gorilla,
that some good and even pretty woman could not shape a husband out of.

--A child,--yes, if you choose to call her so, but such a child!  Do you
know how Art brings all ages together?  There is no age to the angels and
ideal human forms among which the artist lives, and he shares their youth
until his hand trembles and his eye grows dim. The youthful painter talks
of white-bearded Leonardo as if he were a brother, and the veteran
forgets that Raphael died at an age to which his own is of patriarchal

But why this lover of the beautiful should be so drawn to one whom Nature
has wronged so deeply seems hard to explain.  Pity, I suppose.  They say
that leads to love.

--I thought this matter over until I became excited and curious, and
determined to set myself more seriously at work to find out what was
going on in these wild hearts and where their passionate lives were
drifting.  I say wild hearts and passionate lives, because I think I can
look through this seeming calmness of youth and this apparent feebleness
of organization, and see that Nature, whom it is very hard to cheat, is
only waiting as the sapper waits in his mine, knowing that all is in
readiness and the slow-match burning quietly down to the powder.  He will
leave it by-and-by, and then it will take care of itself.

One need not wait to see the smoke coming through the roof of a house and
the flames breaking out of the windows to know that the building is on
fire.  Hark!  There is a quiet, steady, unobtrusive, crisp, not loud, but
very knowing little creeping crackle that is tolerably intelligible.
There is a whiff of something floating about, suggestive of toasting
shingles.  Also a sharp pyroligneous-acid pungency in the air that stings
one's eyes.  Let us get up and see what is going on.--Oh,--oh,--oh! do
you know what has got hold of you?  It is the great red dragon that is
born of the little red eggs we call sparks, with his hundred blowing red
manes, and his thousand lashing red tails, and his multitudinous red eyes
glaring at every crack and key-hole, and his countless red tongues
lapping the beams he is going to crunch presently, and his hot breath
warping the panels and cracking the glass and making old timber sweat
that had forgotten it was ever alive with sap.  Run for your life! leap!
or you will be a cinder in five minutes, that nothing but a coroner would
take for the wreck of a human being!

If any gentleman will have the kindness to stop this run-away comparison,
I shall be much obliged to him.  All I intended to say was, that we need
not wait for hearts to break out in flames to know that they are full of
combustibles and that a spark has got among them.  I don't pretend to say
or know what it is that brings these two persons together;--and when I
say together, I only mean that there is an evident affinity of some kind
or other which makes their commonest intercourse strangely significant,
as that each seems to understand a look or a word of the other.  When the
young girl laid her hand on the Little Gentleman's arm,--which so greatly
shocked the Model, you may remember,--I saw that she had learned the
lion-tamer's secret.  She masters him, and yet I can see she has a kind
of awe of him, as the man who goes into the cage has of the monster that
he makes a baby of.

One of two things must happen.  The first is love, downright love, on the
part of this young girl, for the poor little misshapen man. You may
laugh, if you like.  But women are apt to love the men who they think
have the largest capacity of loving;--and who can love like one that has
thirsted all his life long for the smile of youth and beauty, and seen it
fly his presence as the wave ebbed from the parched lips of him whose
fabled punishment is the perpetual type of human longing and
disappointment?  What would become of him, if this fresh soul should
stoop upon him in her first young passion, as the flamingo drops out of
the sky upon some lonely and dark lagoon in the marshes of Cagliari, with
a flutter of scarlet feathers and a kindling of strange fires in the
shadowy waters that hold her burning image?

--Marry her, of course?--Why, no, not of course.  I should think the
chance less, on the whole, that he would be willing to marry her than she
to marry him.

There is one other thing that might happen.  If the interest he awakes in
her gets to be a deep one, and yet has nothing of love in it, she will
glance off from him into some great passion or other. All excitements run
to love in women of a certain--let us not say age, but youth.  An
electrical current passing through a coil of wire makes a magnet of a bar
of iron lying within it, but not touching it.  So a woman is turned into
a love-magnet by a tingling current of life running round her.  I should
like to see one of them balanced on a pivot properly adjusted, and watch
if she did not turn so as to point north and south,--as she would, if the
love-currents are like those of the earth our mother.

Pray, do you happen to remember Wordsworth's "Boy of Windermere"? This
boy used to put his hands to his mouth, and shout aloud, mimicking the
hooting of the owls, who would answer him

               "with quivering peals,
     And long halloos and screams, and echoes loud
     Redoubled and redoubled."

When they failed to answer him, and he hung listening intently for their
voices, he would sometimes catch the faint sound of far distant
waterfalls, or the whole scene around him would imprint itself with new
force upon his perceptions.--Read the sonnet, if you please;--it is
Wordsworth all over,--trivial in subject, solemn in style, vivid in
description, prolix in detail, true metaphysically, but immensely
suggestive of "imagination," to use a mild term, when related as an
actual fact of a sprightly youngster. All I want of it is to enforce the
principle, that, when the door of the soul is once opened to a guest,
there is no knowing who will come in next.

--Our young girl keeps up her early habit of sketching heads and
characters.  Nobody is, I should think, more faithful and exact in the
drawing of the academical figures given her as lessons, but there is a
perpetual arabesque of fancies that runs round the margin of her
drawings, and there is one book which I know she keeps to run riot in,
where, if anywhere, a shrewd eye would be most likely to read her
thoughts.  This book of hers I mean to see, if I can get at it honorably.

I have never yet crossed the threshold of the Little Gentleman's chamber.
How he lives, when he once gets within it, I can only guess.  His hours
are late, as I have said; often, on waking late in the night, I see the
light through cracks in his window-shutters on the wall of the house
opposite.  If the times of witchcraft were not over, I should be afraid
to be so close a neighbor to a place from which there come such strange
noises.  Sometimes it is the dragging of something heavy over the floor,
that makes me shiver to hear it,--it sounds so like what people that
kill other people have to do now and then.  Occasionally I hear very
sweet strains of music,--whether of a wind or stringed instrument, or a
human voice, strange as it may seem, I have often tried to find out, but
through the partition I could not be quite sure.  If I have not heard a
woman cry and moan, and then again laugh as though she would die
laughing, I have heard sounds so like them that--I am a fool to confess
it--I have covered my head with the bedclothes; for I have had a fancy in
my dreams, that I could hardly shake off when I woke up, about that
so-called witch that was his great-grandmother, or whatever it was,--a
sort of fancy that she visited the Little Gentleman,--a young woman in
old-fashioned dress, with a red ring round her white neck,--not a
neck-lace, but a dull-stain.

Of course you don't suppose that I have any foolish superstitions about
the matter,--I, the Professor, who have seen enough to take all that
nonsense out of any man's head!  It is not our beliefs that frighten us
half so much as our fancies.  A man not only believes, but knows he runs
a risk, whenever he steps into a railroad car; but it does n't worry him
much.  On the other hand, carry that man across a pasture a little way
from some dreary country-village, and show him an old house where there
were strange deaths a good many years ago, and there are rumors of ugly
spots on the walls,--the old man hung himself in the garret, that is
certain, and ever since the country-people have called it "the haunted
house,"--the owners have n't been able to let it since the last tenants
left on account of the noises,--so it has fallen into sad decay, and the
moss grows on the rotten shingles of the roof, and the clapboards have
turned black, and the windows rattle like teeth that chatter with fear,
and the walls of the house begin to lean as if its knees were shaking,
--take the man who did n't mind the real risk of the cars to that old
house, on some dreary November evening, and ask him to sleep there
alone,--how do you think he will like it?  He doesn't believe one word of
ghosts,--but then he knows, that, whether waking or sleeping, his
imagination will people the haunted chambers with ghostly images.  It is
not what we believe, as I said before, that frightens us commonly, but
what we conceive.  A principle that reaches a good way if I am not
mistaken.  I say, then, that, if these odd sounds coming from the Little
Gentleman's chamber sometimes make me nervous, so that I cannot get to
sleep, it is not because I suppose he is engaged in any unlawful or
mysterious way. The only wicked suggestion that ever came into my head
was one that was founded on the landlady's story of his having a pile of
gold; it was a ridiculous fancy; besides, I suspect the story of sweating
gold was only one of the many fables got up to make the Jews odious and
afford a pretext for plundering them.  As for the sound like a woman
laughing and crying, I never said it was a woman's voice; for, in the
first place, I could only hear indistinctly; and, secondly, he may have
an organ, or some queer instrument or other, with what they call the vox
humana stop.  If he moves his bed round to get away from the window, or
for any such reason, there is nothing very frightful in that simple
operation.  Most of our foolish conceits explain themselves in some such
simple way.  And, yet, for all that, I confess, that, when I woke up the
other evening, and heard, first a sweet complaining cry, and then
footsteps, and then the dragging sound,--nothing but his bed, I am quite
sure,--I felt a stirring in the roots of my hair as the feasters did in
Keats's terrible poem of "Lamia."

There is nothing very odd in my feeling nervous when I happen to lie
awake and get listening for sounds.  Just keep your ears open any time
after midnight, when you are lying in bed in a lone attic of a dark
night.  What horrid, strange, suggestive, unaccountable noises you will
hear!  The stillness of night is a vulgar error.  All the dead things
seem to be alive.  Crack!  That is the old chest of drawers; you never
hear it crack in the daytime.  Creak!  There's a door ajar; you know you
shut them all.

Where can that latch be that rattles so?  Is anybody trying it softly?
or, worse than any body, is----?  (Cold shiver.) Then a sudden gust that
jars all the windows;--very strange!--there does not seem to be any wind
about that it belongs to.  When it stops, you hear the worms boring in
the powdery beams overhead.  Then steps outside,--a stray animal, no
doubt.  All right,--but a gentle moisture breaks out all over you; and
then something like a whistle or a cry,--another gust of wind, perhaps;
that accounts for the rustling that just made your heart roll over and
tumble about, so that it felt more like a live rat under your ribs than a
part of your own body; then a crash of something that has fallen,--blown
over, very likely----Pater noster, qui es in coelis! for you are damp and
cold, and sitting bolt upright, and the bed trembling so that the
death-watch is frightened and has stopped ticking!

No,--night is an awful time for strange noises and secret doings. Who
ever dreamed, till one of our sleepless neighbors told us of it, of that
Walpurgis gathering of birds and beasts of prey,--foxes, and owls, and
crows, and eagles, that come from all the country round on moonshiny
nights to crunch the clams and muscles, and pick out the eyes of dead
fishes that the storm has thrown on Chelsea Beach?  Our old mother Nature
has pleasant and cheery tones enough for us when she comes in her dress
of blue and gold over the eastern hill-tops; but when she follows us
up-stairs to our beds in her suit of black velvet and diamonds, every
creak of her sandals and every whisper of her lips is full of mystery and

You understand, then, distinctly, that I do not believe there is anything
about this singular little neighbor of mine which is as it should not be.
Probably a visit to his room would clear up all that has puzzled me, and
make me laugh at the notions which began, I suppose, in nightmares, and
ended by keeping my imagination at work so as almost to make me
uncomfortable at times.  But it is not so easy to visit him as some of
our other boarders, for various reasons which I will not stop to mention.
I think some of them are rather pleased to get "the Professor" under
their ceilings.

The young man John, for instance, asked me to come up one day and try
some "old Burbon," which he said was A 1.  On asking him what was the
number of his room, he answered, that it was forty-'leven, sky-parlor
floor, but that I shouldn't find it, if he did n't go ahead to show me
the way.  I followed him to his habitat, being very willing to see in
what kind of warren he burrowed, and thinking I might pick up something
about the boarders who had excited my curiosity.

Mighty close quarters they were where the young man John bestowed himself
and his furniture; this last consisting of a bed, a chair, a bureau, a
trunk, and numerous pegs with coats and "pants" and "vests,"--as he was
in the habit of calling waist-coats and pantaloons or trousers,--hanging
up as if the owner had melted out of them.  Several prints were pinned up
unframed,--among them that grand national portrait-piece, "Barnum
presenting Ossian E. Dodge to Jenny Lind," and a picture of a famous
trot, in which I admired anew the cabalistic air of that imposing array
of expressions, and especially the Italicized word, "Dan Mace names b. h.
Major Slocum," and "Hiram Woodruff names g. m. Lady Smith."  "Best three
in five. Time: 2.40, 2.46, 2.50."

That set me thinking how very odd this matter of trotting horses is, as
an index of the mathematical exactness of the laws of living mechanism.
I saw Lady Suffolk trot a mile in 2.26.  Flora Temple has trotted close
down to 2.20; and Ethan Allen in 2.25, or less. Many horses have trotted
their mile under 2.30; none that I remember in public as low down as
2.20.  From five to ten seconds, then, in about a hundred and sixty is
the whole range of the maxima of the present race of trotting horses.
The same thing is seen in the running of men.  Many can run a mile in
five minutes; but when one comes to the fractions below, they taper down
until somewhere about 4.30 the maximum is reached.  Averages of masses
have been studied more than averages of maxima and minima.  We know from
the Registrar-General's Reports, that a certain number of children--say
from one to two dozen--die every year in England from drinking hot water
out of spouts of teakettles.  We know, that, among suicides, women and
men past a certain age almost never use fire-arms.  A woman who has made
up her mind to die is still afraid of a pistol or a gun.  Or is it that
the explosion would derange her costume?

I say, averages of masses we have, but our tables of maxima we owe to the
sporting men more than to the philosophers.  The lesson their experience
teaches is, that Nature makes no leaps,--does nothing per saltum.  The
greatest brain that ever lived, no doubt, was only a small fraction of an
idea ahead of the second best.  Just look at the chess-players.  Leaving
out the phenomenal exceptions, the nice shades that separate the skilful
ones show how closely their brains approximate,--almost as closely as
chronometers.  Such a person is a "knight-player,"--he must have that
piece given him.  Another must have two pawns.  Another, "pawn and two,"
or one pawn and two moves. Then we find one who claims "pawn and move,"
holding himself, with this fractional advantage, a match for one who
would be pretty sure to beat him playing even.--So much are minds alike;
and you and I think we are "peculiar,"--that Nature broke her jelly-mould
after shaping our cerebral convolutions.  So I reflected, standing and
looking at the picture.

--I say, Governor,--broke in the young man John,--them bosses '11 stay
jest as well, if you'll only set down.  I've had 'em this year, and they
haven't stirred.--He spoke, and handed the chair towards me,--seating
himself, at the same time, on the end of the bed.

You have lived in this house some time?--I said,--with a note of
interrogation at the end of the statement.

Do I look as if I'd lost much flesh--said he, answering my question by

No,--said I;--for that matter, I think you do credit to "the bountifully
furnished table of the excellent lady who provides so liberally for the
company that meets around her hospitable board."

[The sentence in quotation-marks was from one of those disinterested
editorials in small type, which I suspect to have been furnished by a
friend of the landlady's, and paid for as an advertisement.  This
impartial testimony to the superior qualities of the establishment and
its head attracted a number of applicants for admission, and a couple of
new boarders made a brief appearance at the table.  One of them was of
the class of people who grumble if they don't get canvas-backs and
woodcocks every day, for three-fifty per week.  The other was subject to
somnambulism, or walking in the night, when he ought to have been asleep
in his bed.  In this state he walked into several of the boarders'
chambers, his eyes wide open, as is usual with somnambulists, and, from
some odd instinct or other, wishing to know what the hour was, got
together a number of their watches, for the purpose of comparing them, as
it would seem.  Among them was a repeater, belonging to our young
Marylander.  He happened to wake up while the somnambulist was in his
chamber, and, not knowing his infirmity, caught hold of him and gave him
a dreadful shaking, after which he tied his hands and feet, and so left
him till morning, when he introduced him to a gentleman used to taking
care of such cases of somnambulism.]

If you, my reader, will please to skip backward, over this parenthesis,
you will come to our conversation, which it has interrupted.

It a'n't the feed,--said the young man John,--it's the old woman's looks
when a fellah lays it in too strong.  The feed's well enough. After geese
have got tough, 'n' turkeys have got strong, 'n' lamb's got old, 'n'
veal's pretty nigh beef, 'n' sparragrass 's growin' tall 'n' slim 'n'
scattery about the head, 'n' green peas are gettin' so big 'n' hard
they'd be dangerous if you fired 'em out of a revolver, we get hold of
all them delicacies of the season.  But it's too much like feedin' on
live folks and devourin' widdah's substance, to lay yourself out in the
eatin' way, when a fellah 's as hungry as the chap that said a turkey was
too much for one 'n' not enough for two.  I can't help lookin' at the old
woman.  Corned-beef-days she's tolerable calm.  Roastin'-days she worries
some, 'n' keeps a sharp eye on the chap that carves.  But when there's
anything in the poultry line, it seems to hurt her feelin's so to see the
knife goin' into the breast and joints comin' to pieces, that there's no
comfort in eatin'.  When I cut up an old fowl and help the boarders, I
always feel as if I ought to say, Won't you have a slice of
widdah?--instead of chicken.

The young man John fell into a train of reflections which ended in his
producing a Bologna sausage, a plate of "crackers," as we Boston folks
call certain biscuits, and the bottle of whiskey described as being A 1.

Under the influence of the crackers and sausage, he grew cordial and

It was time, I thought, to sound him as to those of our boarders who had
excited my curiosity.

What do you think of our young Iris?--I began.

Fust-rate little filly;-he said.--Pootiest and nicest little chap I've
seen since the schoolma'am left.  Schoolma'am was a brown-haired
one,--eyes coffee-color.  This one has got wine-colored eyes,--'n' that
's the reason they turn a fellah's head, I suppose.

This is a splendid blonde,--I said,--the other was a brunette. Which
style do you like best?

Which do I like best, boiled mutton or roast mutton?--said the young man
John.  Like 'em both,--it a'n't the color of 'em makes the goodness.  I
've been kind of lonely since schoolma'am went away. Used to like to look
at her.  I never said anything particular to her, that I remember, but--

I don't know whether it was the cracker and sausage, or that the young
fellow's feet were treading on the hot ashes of some longing that had not
had time to cool, but his eye glistened as he stopped.

I suppose she wouldn't have looked at a fellah like me,--he said,--but I
come pretty near tryin'.  If she had said, Yes, though, I shouldn't have
known what to have done with her.  Can't marry a woman now-a-days till
you're so deaf you have to cock your head like a parrot to hear what she
says, and so longsighted you can't see what she looks like nearer than

Here is another chance for you,--I said.--What do you want nicer than
such a young lady as Iris?

It's no use,--he answered.--I look at them girls and feel as the fellah
did when he missed catchin' the trout.--'To'od 'a' cost more butter to
cook him 'n' he's worth,--says the fellah.--Takes a whole piece o' goods
to cover a girl up now-a-days.  I'd as lief undertake to keep a span of
elephants,--and take an ostrich to board, too,--as to marry one of 'em.
What's the use?  Clerks and counter-jumpers ain't anything.  Sparragrass
and green peas a'n't for them,--not while they're young and tender.
Hossback-ridin' a'n't for them,--except once a year, on Fast-day.  And
marryin' a'n't for them. Sometimes a fellah feels lonely, and would like
to have a nice young woman, to tell her how lonely he feels.  And
sometimes a fellah,--here the young man John looked very confidential,
and, perhaps, as if a little ashamed of his weakness,--sometimes a fellah
would like to have one o' them small young ones to trot on his knee and
push about in a little wagon,--a kind of a little Johnny, you know;--it's
odd enough, but, it seems to me, nobody can afford them little articles,
except the folks that are so rich they can buy everything, and the folks
that are so poor they don't want anything.  It makes nice boys of us
young fellahs, no doubt!  And it's pleasant to see fine young girls
sittin', like shopkeepers behind their goods, waitin', and waitin', and
waitin', 'n' no customers,--and the men lingerin' round and lookin' at
the goods, like folks that want to be customers, but have n't the money!

Do you think the deformed gentleman means to make love to Iris?--I said.

What!  Little Boston ask that girl to marry him!  Well, now, that's
cumin' of it a little too strong.  Yes, I guess she will marry him and
carry him round in a basket, like a lame bantam: Look here!--he said,
mysteriously;--one of the boarders swears there's a woman comes to see
him, and that he has heard her singin' and screechin'. I should like to
know what he's about in that den of his.  He lays low 'n' keeps
dark,--and, I tell you, there's a good many of the boarders would like to
get into his chamber, but he don't seem to want 'em.  Biddy could tell
somethin' about what she's seen when she 's been to put his room to
rights.  She's a Paddy 'n' a fool, but she knows enough to keep her
tongue still.  All I know is, I saw her crossin' herself one day when she
came out of that room.  She looked pale enough, 'n' I heard her mutterin'
somethin' or other about the Blessed Virgin.  If it had n't been for the
double doors to that chamber of his, I'd have had a squint inside before
this; but, somehow or other, it never seems to happen that they're both
open at once.

What do you think he employs himself about? said I.

The young man John winked.

I waited patiently for the thought, of which this wink was the blossom,
to come to fruit in words.

I don't believe in witches,--said the young man John.

Nor I.

We were both silent for a few minutes.

--Did you ever see the young girl's drawing-books,--I said, presently.

All but one,--he answered;--she keeps a lock on that, and won't show it.
Ma'am Allen, (the young rogue sticks to that name, in speaking of the
gentleman with the diamond,) Ma'am Allen tried to peek into it one day
when she left it on the sideboard.  "If you please," says she,--'n' took
it from him, 'n' gave him a look that made him curl up like a caterpillar
on a hot shovel.  I only wished he had n't, and had jest given her a
little sass, for I've been takin' boxin'-lessons, 'n' I 've got a new way
of counterin' I want to try on to somebody.

--The end of all this was, that I came away from the young fellow's room,
feeling that there were two principal things that I had to live for, for
the next six weeks or six months, if it should take so long.  These were,
to get a sight of the young girl's drawing-book, which I suspected had
her heart shut up in it, and to get a look into the Little Gentleman's

I don't doubt you think it rather absurd that I should trouble myself
about these matters.  You tell me, with some show of reason, that all I
shall find in the young girl's--book will be some outlines of angels with
immense eyes, traceries of flowers, rural sketches, and caricatures,
among which I shall probably have the pleasure of seeing my own features
figuring.  Very likely.  But I'll tell you what I think I shall find.  If
this child has idealized the strange little bit of humanity over which
she seems to have spread her wings like a brooding dove,--if, in one of
those wild vagaries that passionate natures are so liable to, she has
fairly sprung upon him with her clasping nature, as the sea-flowers fold
about the first stray shell-fish that brushes their outspread tentacles,
depend upon it, I shall find the marks of it in this drawing-book of
hers,--if I can ever get a look at it,--fairly, of course, for I would
not play tricks to satisfy my curiosity.

Then, if I can get into this Little Gentleman's room under any fair
pretext, I shall, no doubt, satisfy myself in five minutes that he is
just like other people, and that there is no particular mystery about

The night after my visit to the young man John, I made all these and many
more reflections.  It was about two o'clock in the morning,--bright
starlight,--so light that I could make out the time on my
alarm-clock,--when I woke up trembling and very moist.  It was the heavy
dragging sound, as I had often heard it before that waked me. Presently a
window was softly closed.  I had just begun to get over the agitation
with which we always awake from nightmare dreams, when I heard the sound
which seemed to me as of a woman's voice,--the clearest, purest soprano
which one could well conceive of.  It was not loud, and I could not
distinguish a word, if it was a woman's voice; but there were recurring
phrases of sound and snatches of rhythm that reached me, which suggested
the idea of complaint, and sometimes, I thought, of passionate grief and
despair.  It died away at last,--and then I heard the opening of a door,
followed by a low, monotonous sound, as of one talking,--and then the
closing of a door,--and presently the light on the opposite wall
disappeared and all was still for the night.

By George! this gets interesting,--I said, as I got out of bed for a
change of night-clothes.

I had this in my pocket the other day, but thought I would n't read
it at our celebration.  So I read it to the boarders instead, and
print it to finish off this record with.

               ROBINSON OF LEYDEN.

     He sleeps not here; in hope and prayer
     His wandering flock had gone before,
     But he, the shepherd, might not share
     Their sorrows on the wintry shore.

     Before the Speedwell's anchor swung,
     Ere yet the Mayflower's sail was spread,
     While round his feet the Pilgrims clung,
     The pastor spake, and thus he said:--

     "Men, brethren, sisters, children dear!
     God calls you hence from over sea;
     Ye may not build by Haerlem Meer,
     Nor yet along the Zuyder-Zee.

     "Ye go to bear the saving word
     To tribes unnamed and shores untrod:
     Heed well the lessons ye have heard
     From those old teachers taught of God.

     "Yet think not unto them was lent
     All light for all the coming days,
     And Heaven's eternal wisdom spent
     In making straight the ancient ways.

     "The living fountain overflows
     For every flock, for every lamb,
     Nor heeds, though angry creeds oppose
     With Luther's dike or Calvin's dam."

     He spake; with lingering, long embrace,
     With tears of love and partings fond,
     They floated down the creeping Maas,
     Along the isle of Ysselmond.

     They passed the frowning towers of Briel,
     The "Hook of Holland's" shelf of sand,
     And grated soon with lifting keel
     The sullen shores of Fatherland.

     No home for these!--too well they knew
     The mitred king behind the throne;
     The sails were set, the pennons flew,
     And westward ho! for worlds unknown.

     --And these were they who gave us birth,
     The Pilgrims of the sunset wave,
     Who won for us this virgin earth,
     And freedom with the soil they gave.

     The pastor slumbers by the Rhine,
     --In alien earth the exiles lie,
     --Their nameless graves our holiest shrine,
     His words our noblest battle-cry!

     Still cry them, and the world shall hear,
     Ye dwellers by the storm-swept sea!
     Ye have not built by Haerlem Meer,
     Nor on the land-locked Zuyder-Zee!


There has been a sort of stillness in the atmosphere of our
boarding-house since my last record, as if something or other were going
on.  There is no particular change that I can think of in the aspect of
things; yet I have a feeling as if some game of life were quietly playing
and strange forces were at work, underneath this smooth surface of
every-day boardinghouse life, which would show themselves some fine
morning or other in events, if not in catastrophes.  I have been
watchful, as I said I should be, but have little to tell as yet.  You may
laugh at me, and very likely think me foolishly fanciful to trouble
myself about what is going on in a middling-class household like ours.
Do as you like.  But here is that terrible fact to begin with,--a
beautiful young girl, with the blood and the nerve-fibre that belong to
Nature's women, turned loose among live men.

-Terrible fact?

Very terrible.  Nothing more so.  Do you forget the angels who lost
heaven for the daughters of men?  Do you forget Helen, and the fair women
who made mischief and set nations by the ears before Helen was born?  If
jealousies that gnaw men's hearts out of their bodies,--if pangs that
waste men to shadows and drive them into raving madness or moping
melancholy,--if assassination and suicide are dreadful possibilities,
then there is always something frightful about a lovely young woman.--I
love to look at this "Rainbow," as her father used sometimes to call her,
of ours.  Handsome creature that she is in forms and colors,--the very
picture, as it seems to me, of that "golden blonde" my friend whose book
you read last year fell in love with when he was a boy, (as you remember,
no doubt,)--handsome as she is, fit for a sea-king's bride, it is not her
beauty alone that holds my eyes upon her.  Let me tell you one of my
fancies, and then you will understand the strange sort of fascination she
has for me.

It is in the hearts of many men and women--let me add children--that
there is a Great Secret waiting for them,--a secret of which they get
hints now and then, perhaps oftener in early than in later years.  These
hints come sometimes in dreams, sometimes in sudden startling
flashes,--second wakings, as it were,--a waking out of the waking state,
which last is very apt to be a half-sleep.  I have many times stopped
short and held my breath, and felt the blood leaving my cheeks, in one of
these sudden clairvoyant flashes.  Of course I cannot tell what kind of a
secret this is, but I think of it as a disclosure of certain relations of
our personal being to time and space, to other intelligences, to the
procession of events, and to their First Great Cause.  This secret seems
to be broken up, as it were, into fragments, so that we find here a word
and there a syllable, and then again only a letter of it; but it never is
written out for most of us as a complete sentence, in this life.  I do
not think it could be; for I am disposed to consider our beliefs about
such a possible disclosure rather as a kind of premonition of an
enlargement of our faculties in some future state than as an expectation
to be fulfilled for most of us in this life.  Persons, however, have
fallen into trances,--as did the Reverend William Tennent, among many
others,--and learned some things which they could not tell in our human

Now among the visible objects which hint to us fragments of this infinite
secret for which our souls are waiting, the faces of women are those that
carry the most legible hieroglyphics of the great mystery.  There are
women's faces, some real, some ideal, which contain something in them
that becomes a positive element in our creed, so direct and palpable a
revelation is it of the infinite purity and love.  I remember two faces
of women with wings, such as they call angels, of Fra Angelico,--and I
just now came across a print of Raphael's Santa Apollina, with something
of the same quality,--which I was sure had their prototypes in the world
above ours.  No wonder the Catholics pay their vows to the Queen of
Heaven!  The unpoetical side of Protestantism is, that it has no women to
be worshipped.

But mind you, it is not every beautiful face that hints the Great Secret
to us, nor is it only in beautiful faces that we find traces of it.
Sometimes it looks out from a sweet sad eye, the only beauty of a plain
countenance; sometimes there is so much meaning in the lips of a woman,
not otherwise fascinating, that we know they have a message for us, and
wait almost with awe to hear their accents.  But this young girl has at
once the beauty of feature and the unspoken mystery of expression.  Can
she tell me anything?

Is her life a complement of mine, with the missing element in it which I
have been groping after through so many friendships that I have tired of,
and through--Hush!  Is the door fast?  Talking loud is a bad trick in
these curious boarding-houses.

You must have sometimes noted this fact that I am going to remind you of
and to use for a special illustration.  Riding along over a rocky road,
suddenly the slow monotonous grinding of the crushing gravel changes to a
deep heavy rumble.  There is a great hollow under your feet,--a huge
unsunned cavern.  Deep, deep beneath you in the core of the living rock,
it arches its awful vault, and far away it stretches its winding
galleries, their roofs dripping into streams where fishes have been
swimming and spawning in the dark until their scales are white as milk
and their eyes have withered out, obsolete and useless.

So it is in life.  We jog quietly along, meeting the same faces, grinding
over the same thoughts, the gravel of the soul's highway,--now and then
jarred against an obstacle we cannot crush, but must ride over or round
as we best may, sometimes bringing short up against a disappointment, but
still working along with the creaking and rattling and grating and
jerking that belong to the journey of life, even in the smoothest-rolling
vehicle.  Suddenly we hear the deep underground reverberation that
reveals the unsuspected depth of some abyss of thought or passion beneath

I wish the girl would go.  I don't like to look at her so much, and yet I
cannot help it.  Always that same expression of something that I ought to
know,--something that she was made to tell and I to hear,--lying there
ready to fall off from her lips, ready to leap out of her eyes and make a
saint of me, or a devil or a lunatic, or perhaps a prophet to tell the
truth and be hated of men, or a poet whose words shall flash upon the dry
stubble-field of worn-out thoughts and burn over an age of lies in an
hour of passion.

It suddenly occurs to me that I may have put you on the wrong track. The
Great Secret that I refer to has nothing to do with the Three Words.  Set
your mind at ease about that,--there are reasons I could give you which
settle all that matter.  I don't wonder, however, that you confounded the
Great Secret with the Three Words.

I LOVE YOU is all the secret that many, nay, most women have to tell.
When that is said, they are like China-crackers on the morning of the
fifth of July.  And just as that little patriotic implement is made with
a slender train which leads to the magazine in its interior, so a sharp
eye can almost always see the train leading from a young girl's eye or
lip to the "I love you" in her heart.  But the Three Words are not the
Great Secret I mean.  No, women's faces are only one of the tablets on
which that is written in its partial, fragmentary symbols.  It lies
deeper than Love, though very probably Love is a part of it.  Some, I
think,--Wordsworth might be one of them,--spell out a portion of it from
certain beautiful natural objects, landscapes, flowers, and others. I can
mention several poems of his that have shadowy hints which seem to me to
come near the region where I think it lies.  I have known two persons who
pursued it with the passion of the old alchemists,--all wrong evidently,
but infatuated, and never giving up the daily search for it until they
got tremulous and feeble, and their dreams changed to visions of things
that ran and crawled about their floor and ceilings, and so they died.
The vulgar called them drunkards.

I told you that I would let you know the mystery of the effect this young
girl's face produces on me.  It is akin to those influences a friend of
mine has described, you may remember, as coming from certain voices.  I
cannot translate it into words,--only into feelings; and these I have
attempted to shadow by showing that her face hinted that revelation of
something we are close to knowing, which all imaginative persons are
looking for either in this world or on the very threshold of the next.

You shake your head at the vagueness and fanciful incomprehensibleness of
my description of the expression in a young girl's face.  You forget what
a miserable surface-matter this language is in which we try to reproduce
our interior state of being.  Articulation is a shallow trick.  From the
light Poh! which we toss off from our lips as we fling a nameless
scribbler's impertinence into our waste-baskets, to the gravest
utterances which comes from our throats in our moments of deepest need,
is only a space of some three or four inches.  Words, which are a set of
clickings, hissings, lispings, and so on, mean very little, compared to
tones and expression of the features.  I give it up; I thought I could
shadow forth in some feeble way, by their aid, the effect this young
girl's face produces on my imagination; but it is of no use. No doubt
your head aches, trying to make something of my description.  If there is
here and there one that can make anything intelligible out of my talk
about the Great Secret, and who has spelt out a syllable or two of it on
some woman's face, dead or living, that is all I can expect.  One should
see the person with whom he converses about such matters.  There are
dreamy-eyed people to whom I should say all these things with a certainty
of being understood;--

          That moment that his face I see,
          I know the man that must hear me
          To him my tale I teach.

--I am afraid some of them have not got a spare quarter of a dollar for
this August number, so that they will never see it.

--Let us start again, just as if we had not made this ambitious attempt,
which may go for nothing, and you can have your money refunded, if you
will make the change.

This young girl, about whom I have talked so unintelligibly, is the
unconscious centre of attraction to the whole solar system of our
breakfast-table.  The Little Gentleman leans towards her, and she again
seems to be swayed as by some invisible gentle force towards him.  That
slight inclination of two persons with a strong affinity towards each
other, throwing them a little out of plumb when they sit side by side, is
a physical fact I have often noticed.  Then there is a tendency in all
the men's eyes to converge on her; and I do firmly believe, that, if all
their chairs were examined, they would be found a little obliquely
placed, so as to favor the direction in which their occupants love to

That bland, quiet old gentleman, of whom I have spoken as sitting
opposite to me, is no exception to the rule.  She brought down some
mignonette one morning, which she had grown in her chamber.  She gave a
sprig to her little neighbor, and one to the landlady, and sent another
by the hand of Bridget to this old gentleman.

--Sarvant, Ma'am I Much obleeged,--he said, and put it gallantly in his
button-hole.--After breakfast he must see some of her drawings. Very fine
performances,--very fine!--truly elegant productions, truly elegant!--Had
seen Miss Linwood's needlework in London, in the year (eighteen hundred
and little or nothing, I think he said,)--patronized by the nobility and
gentry, and Her Majesty,--elegant, truly elegant productions, very fine
performances; these drawings reminded him of them;--wonderful resemblance
to Nature; an extraordinary art, painting; Mr. Copley made some very fine
pictures that he remembered seeing when he was a boy.  Used to remember
some lines about a portrait Written by Mr. Cowper, beginning,

         "Oh that those lips had language!  Life has pass'd
          With me but roughly since I heard thee last."

And with this the old gentleman fell to thinking about a dead mother of
his that he remembered ever so much younger than he now was, and looking,
not as his mother, but as his daughter should look.  The dead young
mother was looking at the old man, her child, as she used to look at him
so many, many years ago.  He stood still as if in a waking dream, his
eyes fixed on the drawings till their outlines grew indistinct and they
ran into each other, and a pale, sweet face shaped itself out of the
glimmering light through which he saw them.--What is there quite so
profoundly human as an old man's memory of a mother who died in his
earlier years?  Mother she remains till manhood, and by-and-by she grows
to be as a sister; and at last, when, wrinkled and bowed and broken, he
looks back upon her in her fair youth, he sees in the sweet image he
caresses, not his parent, but, as it were, his child.

If I had not seen all this in the old gentleman's face, the words with
which he broke his silence would have betrayed his train of thought.

--If they had only taken pictures then as they do now!--he said.--All
gone! all gone! nothing but her face as she leaned on the arms of her
great chair; and I would give a hundred pound for the poorest little
picture of her, such as you can buy for a shilling of anybody that you
don't want to see.--The old gentleman put his hand to his forehead so as
to shade his eyes.  I saw he was looking at the dim photograph of memory,
and turned from him to Iris.

How many drawing-books have you filled,--I said,--since you began to take
lessons?--This was the first,--she answered,--since she was here; and it
was not full, but there were many separate sheets of large size she had
covered with drawings.

I turned over the leaves of the book before us.  Academic studies,
principally of the human figure.  Heads of sibyls, prophets, and so
forth.  Limbs from statues.  Hands and feet from Nature.  What a superb
drawing of an arm!  I don't remember it among the figures from Michel
Angelo, which seem to have been her patterns mainly. From Nature, I
think, or after a cast from Nature.--Oh!

--Your smaller studies are in this, I suppose,--I said, taking up the
drawing-book with a lock on it,--Yes,--she said.--I should like to see
her style of working on a small scale.--There was nothing in it worth
showing,--she said; and presently I saw her try the lock, which proved to
be fast.  We are all caricatured in it, I haven't the least doubt.  I
think, though, I could tell by her way of dealing with us what her
fancies were about us boarders.  Some of them act as if they were
bewitched with her, but she does not seem to notice it much.  Her
thoughts seem to be on her little neighbor more than on anybody else.
The young fellow John appears to stand second in her good graces.  I
think he has once or twice sent her what the landlady's daughter calls
bo-kays of flowers,--somebody has, at any rate.--I saw a book she had,
which must have come from the divinity-student.  It had a dreary
title-page, which she had enlivened with a fancy portrait of the
author,--a face from memory, apparently,--one of those faces that small
children loathe without knowing why, and which give them that inward
disgust for heaven so many of the little wretches betray, when they hear
that these are "good men," and that heaven is full of such.--The
gentleman with the diamond--the Koh-i-noor, so called by us--was not
encouraged, I think, by the reception of his packet of perfumed soap.  He
pulls his purple moustache and looks appreciatingly at Iris, who never
sees him, as it should seem.  The young Marylander, who I thought would
have been in love with her before this time, sometimes looks from his
corner across the long diagonal of the table, as much as to say, I wish
you were up here by me, or I were down there by you,--which would,
perhaps, be a more natural arrangement than the present one.  But nothing
comes of all this,--and nothing has come of my sagacious idea of finding
out the girl's fancies by looking into her locked drawing-book.

Not to give up all the questions I was determined to solve, I made an
attempt also to work into the Little Gentleman's chamber.  For this
purpose, I kept him in conversation, one morning, until he was just ready
to go up-stairs, and then, as if to continue the talk, followed him as he
toiled back to his room.  He rested on the landing and faced round toward
me.  There was something in his eye which said, Stop there!  So we
finished our conversation on the landing.  The next day, I mustered
assurance enough to knock at his door, having a pretext ready.--No
answer.--Knock again.  A door, as if of a cabinet, was shut softly and
locked, and presently I heard the peculiar dead beat of his thick-soled,
misshapen boots. The bolts and the lock of the inner door were
unfastened,--with unnecessary noise, I thought,--and he came into the
passage.  He pulled the inner door after him and opened the outer one at
which I stood.  He had on a flowered silk dressing-gown, such as "Mr.
Copley" used to paint his old-fashioned merchant-princes in; and a
quaint-looking key in his hand.  Our conversation was short, but long
enough to convince me that the Little Gentleman did not want my company
in his chamber, and did not mean to have it.

I have been making a great fuss about what is no mystery at all,--a
schoolgirl's secrets and a whimsical man's habits.  I mean to give up
such nonsense and mind my own business.--Hark!  What the deuse is that
odd noise in his chamber?

--I think I am a little superstitious.  There were two things, when I was
a boy, that diabolized my imagination,--I mean, that gave me a distinct
apprehension of a formidable bodily shape which prowled round the
neighborhood where I was born and bred.  The first was a series of marks
called the "Devil's footsteps."  These were patches of sand in the
pastures, where no grass grew, where the low-bush blackberry, the
"dewberry," as our Southern neighbors call it, in prettier and more
Shakspearian language, did not spread its clinging creepers,--where even
the pale, dry, sadly-sweet "everlasting" could not grow, but all was bare
and blasted.  The second was a mark in one of the public buildings near
my home,--the college dormitory named after a Colonial Governor.  I do
not think many persons are aware of the existence of this mark,--little
having been said about the story in print, as it was considered very
desirable, for the sake of the Institution, to hush it up.  In the
northwest corner, and on the level of the third or fourth story, there
are signs of a breach in the walls, mended pretty well, but not to be
mistaken.  A considerable portion of that corner must have been carried
away, from within outward.  It was an unpleasant affair; and I do not
care to repeat the particulars; but some young men had been using sacred
things in a profane and unlawful way, when the occurrence, which was
variously explained, took place.  The story of the Appearance in the
chamber was, I suppose, invented afterwards; but of the injury to the
building there could be no question; and the zig-zag line, where the
mortar is a little thicker than before, is still distinctly visible.  The
queer burnt spots, called the "Devil's footsteps," had never attracted
attention before this time, though there is no evidence that they had not
existed previously, except that of the late Miss M., a "Goody," so
called, or sweeper, who was positive on the subject, but had a strange
horror of referring to an affair of which she was thought to know
something.--I tell you it was not so pleasant for a little boy of
impressible nature to go up to bed in an old gambrel-roofed house, with
untenanted, locked upper-chambers, and a most ghostly garret,--with the
"Devil's footsteps" in the fields behind the house and in front of it the
patched dormitory where the unexplained occurrence had taken place which
startled those godless youths at their mock devotions, so that one of
them was epileptic from that day forward, and another, after a dreadful
season of mental conflict, took holy orders and became renowned for his
ascetic sanctity.

There were other circumstances that kept up the impression produced by
these two singular facts I have just mentioned.  There was a dark
storeroom, on looking through the key-hole of which, I could dimly see a
heap of chairs and tables, and other four-footed things, which seemed to
me to have rushed in there, frightened, and in their fright to have
huddled together and climbed up on each other's backs,--as the people did
in that awful crush where so many were killed, at the execution of
Holloway and Haggerty.  Then the Lady's portrait, up-stairs, with the
sword-thrusts through it,--marks of the British officers' rapiers,--and
the tall mirror in which they used to look at their red coats,--confound
them for smashing its mate?--and the deep, cunningly wrought arm-chair in
which Lord Percy used to sit while his hair was dressing;--he was a
gentleman, and always had it covered with a large peignoir, to save the
silk covering my grandmother embroidered.  Then the little room
downstairs from which went the orders to throw up a bank of earth on the
hill yonder, where you may now observe a granite obelisk,--"the study" in
my father's time, but in those days the council-chamber of armed
men,--sometimes filled with soldiers; come with me, and I will show you
the "dents" left by the butts of their muskets all over the floor.  With
all these suggestive objects round me, aided by the wild stories those
awful country-boys that came to live in our service brought with
them;--of contracts written in blood and left out over night, not to be
found the next morning, (removed by the Evil One, who takes his nightly
round among our dwellings, and filed away for future use,)--of dreams
coming true,--of death-signs,--of apparitions, no wonder that my
imagination got excited, and I was liable to superstitious fancies.

Jeremy Bentham's logic, by which he proved that he couldn't possibly see
a ghost is all very well-in the day-time.  All the reason in the world
will never get those impressions of childhood, created by just such
circumstances as I have been telling, out of a man's head. That is the
only excuse I have to give for the nervous kind of curiosity with which I
watch my little neighbor, and the obstinacy with which I lie awake
whenever I hear anything going on in his chamber after midnight.

But whatever further observations I may have made must be deferred for
the present.  You will see in what way it happened that my thoughts were
turned from spiritual matters to bodily ones, and how I got my fancy full
of material images,--faces, heads, figures, muscles, and so forth,--in
such a way that I should have no chance in this number to gratify any
curiosity you may feel, if I had the means of so doing.

Indeed, I have come pretty near omitting my periodical record this time.
It was all the work of a friend of mine, who would have it that I should
sit to him for my portrait.  When a soul draws a body in the great
lottery of life, where every one is sure of a prize, such as it is, the
said soul inspects the said body with the same curious interest with
which one who has ventured into a "gift enterprise" examines the "massive
silver pencil-case" with the coppery smell and impressible tube, or the
"splendid gold ring" with the questionable specific gravity, which it has
been his fortune to obtain in addition to his purchase.

The soul, having studied the article of which it finds itself proprietor,
thinks, after a time, it knows it pretty well.  But there is this
difference between its view and that of a person looking at us:--we look
from within, and see nothing but the mould formed by the elements in
which we are incased; other observers look from without, and see us as
living statues.  To be sure, by the aid of mirrors, we get a few glimpses
of our outside aspect; but this occasional impression is always modified
by that look of the soul from within outward which none but ourselves can
take.  A portrait is apt, therefore, to be a surprise to us.  The artist
looks only from without.  He sees us, too, with a hundred aspects on our
faces we are never likely to see.  No genuine expression can be studied
by the subject of it in the looking-glass.

More than this; he sees us in a way in which many of our friends or
acquaintances never see us.  Without wearing any mask we are conscious
of, we have a special face for each friend.  For, in the first place,
each puts a special reflection of himself upon us, on the principle of
assimilation you found referred to in my last record, if you happened to
read that document.  And secondly, each of our friends is capable of
seeing just so far, and no farther, into our face, and each sees in it
the particular thing that he looks for.  Now the artist, if he is truly
an artist, does not take any one of these special views.  Suppose he
should copy you as you appear to the man who wants your name to a
subscription-list, you could hardly expect a friend who entertains you to
recognize the likeness to the smiling face which sheds its radiance at
his board. Even within your own family, I am afraid there is a face which
the rich uncle knows, that is not so familiar to the poor relation.  The
artist must take one or the other, or something compounded of the two, or
something different from either.  What the daguerreotype and photograph
do is to give the features and one particular look, the very look which
kills all expression, that of self-consciousness. The artist throws you
off your guard, watches you in movement and in repose, puts your face
through its exercises, observes its transitions, and so gets the whole
range of its expression.  Out of all this he forms an ideal portrait,
which is not a copy of your exact look at any one time or to any
particular person.  Such a portrait cannot be to everybody what the
ungloved call "as nat'ral as life."  Every good picture, therefore, must
be considered wanting in resemblance by many persons.

There is one strange revelation which comes out, as the artist shapes
your features from his outline.  It is that you resemble so many
relatives to whom you yourself never had noticed any particular likeness
in your countenance.

He is at work at me now, when I catch some of these resemblances, thus:

There! that is just the look my father used to have sometimes; I never
thought I had a sign of it.  The mother's eyebrow and grayish-blue eye,
those I knew I had.  But there is a something which recalls a smile that
faded away from my sister's lips--how many years ago!  I thought it so
pleasant in her, that I love myself better for having a trace of it.

Are we not young?  Are we not fresh and blooming?  Wait, a bit.  The
artist takes a mean little brush and draws three fine lines, diverging
outwards from the eye over the temple.  Five years.--The artist draws one
tolerably distinct and two faint lines, perpendicularly between the
eyebrows.  Ten years.--The artist breaks up the contours round the mouth,
so that they look a little as a hat does that has been sat upon and
recovered itself, ready, as one would say, to crumple up again in the
same creases, on smiling or other change of feature.--Hold on!  Stop
that!  Give a young fellow a chance!  Are we not whole years short of
that interesting period of life when Mr. Balzac says that a man, etc.,
etc., etc.?

There now!  That is ourself, as we look after finishing an article,
getting a three-mile pull with the ten-foot sculls, redressing the wrongs
of the toilet, and standing with the light of hope in our eye and the
reflection of a red curtain on our cheek.  Is he not a POET that painted

          "Blest be the art that can immortalize!"

--Young folks look on a face as a unit; children who go to school with
any given little John Smith see in his name a distinctive appellation,
and in his features as special and definite an expression of his sole
individuality as if he were the first created of his race: As soon as we
are old enough to get the range of three or four generations well in
hand, and to take in large family histories, we never see an individual
in a face of any stock we know, but a mosaic copy of a pattern, with
fragmentary tints from this and that ancestor.  The analysis of a face
into its ancestral elements requires that it should be examined in the
very earliest infancy, before it has lost that ancient and solemn look it
brings with it out of the past eternity; and again in that brief space
when Life, the mighty sculptor, has done his work, and Death, his silent
servant, lifts the veil and lets us look at the marble lines he has
wrought so faithfully; and lastly, while a painter who can seize all the
traits of a countenance is building it up, feature after feature, from
the slight outline to the finished portrait.

--I am satisfied, that, as we grow older, we learn to look upon our
bodies more and more as a temporary possession and less and less as
identified with ourselves.  In early years, while the child "feels its
life in every limb," it lives in the body and for the body to a very
great extent.  It ought to be so.  There have been many very interesting
children who have shown a wonderful indifference to the things of earth
and an extraordinary development of the spiritual nature.  There is a
perfect literature of their biographies, all alike in their essentials;
the same "disinclination to the usual amusements of childhood "; the same
remarkable sensibility; the same docility; the same conscientiousness; in
short, an almost uniform character, marked by beautiful traits, which we
look at with a painful admiration.  It will be found that most of these
children are the subjects of some constitutional unfitness for living,
the most frequent of which I need not mention.  They are like the
beautiful, blushing, half-grown fruit that falls before its time because
its core is gnawed out.  They have their meaning,--they do not-live in
vain,--but they are windfalls.  I am convinced that many healthy children
are injured morally by being forced to read too much about these little
meek sufferers and their spiritual exercises.  Here is a boy that loves
to run, swim, kick football, turn somersets, make faces, whittle, fish,
tear his clothes, coast, skate, fire crackers, blow squash "tooters," cut
his name on fences, read about Robinson Crusoe and Sinbad the Sailor, eat
the widest-angled slices of pie and untold cakes and candies, crack nuts
with his back teeth and bite out the better part of another boy's apple
with his front ones, turn up coppers, "stick" knives, call names, throw
stones, knock off hats, set mousetraps, chalk doorsteps, "cut behind"
anything on wheels or runners, whistle through his teeth, "holler" Fire!
on slight evidence, run after soldiers, patronize an engine-company, or,
in his own words, "blow for tub No. 11," or whatever it may be;--isn't
that a pretty nice sort of a boy, though he has not got anything the
matter with him that takes the taste of this world out?  Now, when you
put into such a hot-blooded, hard-fisted, round-cheeked little rogue's
hand a sad-looking volume or pamphlet, with the portrait of a thin,
white-faced child, whose life is really as much a training for death as
the last month of a condemned criminal's existence, what does he find in
common between his own overflowing and exulting sense of vitality and the
experiences of the doomed offspring of invalid parents?  The time comes
when we have learned to understand the music of sorrow, the beauty of
resigned suffering, the holy light that plays over the pillow of those
who die before their time, in humble hope and trust. But it is not until
he has worked his way through the period of honest hearty animal
existence, which every robust child should make the most of,--not until
he has learned the use of his various faculties, which is his first
duty,--that a boy of courage and animal vigor is in a proper state to
read these tearful records of premature decay.  I have no doubt that
disgust is implanted in the minds of many healthy children by early
surfeits of pathological piety.  I do verily believe that He who took
children in His arms and blessed them loved the healthiest and most
playful of them just as well as those who were richest in the tuberculous
virtues.  I know what I am talking about, and there are more parents in
this country who will be willing to listen to what I say than there are
fools to pick a quarrel with me.  In the sensibility and the sanctity
which often accompany premature decay I see one of the most beautiful
instances of the principle of compensation which marks the Divine
benevolence.  But to get the spiritual hygiene of robust natures out of
the exceptional regimen of invalids is just simply what we Professors
call "bad practice"; and I know by experience that there are worthy
people who not only try it on their own children, but actually force it
on those of their neighbors.

--Having been photographed, and stereographed, and chromatographed, or
done in colors, it only remained to be phrenologized.  A polite note from
Messrs. Bumpus and Crane, requesting our attendance at their
Physiological Emporium, was too tempting to be resisted.  We repaired to
that scientific Golgotha.

Messrs. Bumpus and Crane are arranged on the plan of the man and the
woman in the toy called a "weather-house," both on the same wooden arm
suspended on a pivot,--so that when one comes to the door, the other
retires backwards, and vice versa.  The more particular speciality of one
is to lubricate your entrance and exit,--that of the other to polish you
off phrenologically in the recesses of the establishment.  Suppose
yourself in a room full of casts and pictures, before a counterful of
books with taking titles.  I wonder if the picture of the brain is there,
"approved" by a noted Phrenologist, which was copied from my, the
Professor's, folio plate, in the work of Gall and Spurzheim.  An extra
convolution, No. 9, Destructiveness, according to the list beneath, which
was not to be seen in the plate, itself a copy of Nature, was very
liberally supplied by the artist, to meet the wants of the catalogue of
"organs."  Professor Bumpus is seated in front of a row of women,
--horn-combers and gold-beaders, or somewhere about that range of
life,--looking so credulous, that, if any Second-Advent Miller or Joe
Smith should come along, he could string the whole lot of them on his
cheapest lie, as a boy strings a dozen "shiners" on a stripped twig of

The Professor (meaning ourselves) is in a hurry, as usual; let the
horn-combers wait,--he shall be bumped without inspecting the

Tape round the head,--22 inches.  (Come on, old 23 inches, if you think
you are the better man!)

Feels thorax and arm, and nuzzles round among muscles as those horrid old
women poke their fingers into the salt-meat on the provision-stalls at
the Quincy Market.  Vitality, No.  5 or 6, or something or other.
Victuality, (organ at epigastrium,) some other number equally

Mild champooing of head now commences.  'Extraordinary revelations!
Cupidiphilous, 6!  Hymeniphilous, 6 +!  Paediphilous, 5! Deipniphilous,
6!  Gelasmiphilous, 6!  Musikiphilous, 5! Uraniphilous, 5!
Glossiphilous, 8!! and so on.  Meant for a linguist.--Invaluable
information.  Will invest in grammars and dictionaries immediately.--I
have nothing against the grand total of my phrenological endowments.

I never set great store by my head, and did not think Messrs. Bumpus and
Crane would give me so good a lot of organs as they did, especially
considering that I was a dead-head on that occasion. Much obliged to them
for their politeness.  They have been useful in their way by calling
attention to important physiological facts. (This concession is due to
our immense bump of Candor.)

A short Lecture on Phrenology, read to the Boarders at our

I shall begin, my friends, with the definition of a Pseudo-science. A
Pseudo-science consists of a nomenclature, with a self-adjusting
arrangement, by which all positive evidence, or such as favors its
doctrines, is admitted, and all negative evidence, or such as tells
against it, is excluded.  It is invariably connected with some lucrative
practical application.  Its professors and practitioners are usually
shrewd people; they are very serious with the public, but wink and laugh
a good deal among themselves.  The believing multitude consists of women
of both sexes, feeble minded inquirers, poetical optimists, people who
always get cheated in buying horses, philanthropists who insist on
hurrying up the millennium, and others of this class, with here and there
a clergyman, less frequently a lawyer, very rarely a physician, and
almost never a horse-jockey or a member of the detective police.--I do
not say that Phrenology was one of the Pseudo-sciences.

A Pseudo-science does not necessarily consist wholly of lies.  It may
contain many truths, and even valuable ones.  The rottenest bank starts
with a little specie.  It puts out a thousand promises to pay on the
strength of a single dollar, but the dollar is very commonly a good one.
The practitioners of the Pseudo-sciences know that common minds, after
they have been baited with a real fact or two, will jump at the merest
rag of a lie, or even at the bare hook. When we have one fact found us,
we are very apt to supply the next out of our own imagination.  (How many
persons can read Judges xv. 16 correctly the first time?) The
Pseudo-sciences take advantage of this.--I did not say that it was so
with Phrenology.

I have rarely met a sensible man who would not allow that there was
something in Phrenology.  A broad, high forehead, it is commonly agreed,
promises intellect; one that is "villanous low" and has a huge hind-head
back of it, is wont to mark an animal nature.  I have as rarely met an
unbiassed and sensible man who really believed in the bumps.  It is
observed, however, that persons with what the Phrenologists call "good
heads" are more prone than others toward plenary belief in the doctrine.

It is so hard to prove a negative, that, if a man should assert that the
moon was in truth a green cheese, formed by the coagulable substance of
the Milky Way, and challenge me to prove the contrary, I might be
puzzled.  But if he offer to sell me a ton of this lunar cheese, I call
on him to prove the truth of the Gaseous nature of our satellite, before
I purchase.

It is not necessary to prove the falsity of the phrenological statement.
It is only necessary to show that its truth is not proved, and cannot be,
by the common course of argument.  The walls of the head are double, with
a great air-chamber between them, over the smallest and most closely
crowded "organs."  Can you tell how much money there is in a safe, which
also has thick double walls, by kneading its knobs with your fingers?  So
when a man fumbles about my forehead, and talks about the organs of
Individuality, Size, etc., I trust him as much as I should if he felt of
the outside of my strong-box and told me that there was a five-dollar or
a ten-dollar-bill under this or that particular rivet.  Perhaps there is;
only he does n't know anything about at.  But this is a point that I, the
Professor, understand, my friends, or ought to, certainly, better than
you do.  The next argument you will all appreciate.

I proceed, therefore, to explain the self-adjusting mechanism of
Phrenology, which is very similar to that of the Pseudo-sciences. An
example will show it most conveniently.

A. is a notorious thief.  Messrs. Bumpus and Crane examine him and find a
good-sized organ of Acquisitiveness.  Positive fact for Phrenology.
Casts and drawings of A. are multiplied, and the bump does not lose in
the act of copying.--I did not say it gained.--What do you look so for?
(to the boarders.)

Presently B. turns up, a bigger thief than A.  But B. has no bump at all
over Acquisitiveness.  Negative fact; goes against Phrenology.--Not a
bit of it.  Don't you see how small Conscientiousness is? That's the
reason B. stole.

And then comes C., ten times as much a thief as either A. or B.,--used
to steal before he was weaned, and would pick one of his own pockets and
put its contents in another, if he could find no other way of committing
petty larceny.  Unfortunately, C.  has a hollow, instead of a bump, over
Acquisitiveness.  Ah, but just look and see what a bump of
Alimentiveness!  Did not C. buy nuts and gingerbread, when a boy, with
the money he stole?  Of course you see why he is a thief, and how his
example confirms our noble science.

At last comes along a case which is apparently a settler, for there is a
little brain with vast and varied powers,--a case like that of Byron, for
instance.  Then comes out the grand reserve-reason which covers
everything and renders it simply impossible ever to corner a
Phrenologist.  "It is not the size alone, but the quality of an organ,
which determines its degree of power."

Oh! oh!  I see.--The argument may be briefly stated thus by the
Phrenologist: "Heads I win, tails you lose."  Well, that's convenient.

It must be confessed that Phrenology has a certain resemblance to the
Pseudo-sciences.  I did not say it was a Pseudo-science.

I have often met persons who have been altogether struck up and amazed at
the accuracy with which some wandering Professor of Phrenology had read
their characters written upon their skulls.  Of course the Professor
acquires his information solely through his cranial inspections and
manipulations.--What are you laughing at? (to the boarders.)--But let us
just suppose, for a moment, that a tolerably cunning fellow, who did not
know or care anything about Phrenology, should open a shop and undertake
to read off people's characters at fifty cents or a dollar apiece.  Let
us see how well he could get along without the "organs."

I will suppose myself to set up such a shop.  I would invest one hundred
dollars, more or less, in casts of brains, skulls, charts, and other
matters that would make the most show for the money.  That would do to
begin with.  I would then advertise myself as the celebrated Professor
Brainey, or whatever name I might choose, and wait for my first customer.
My first customer is a middle-aged man. I look at him,--ask him a
question or two, so as to hear him talk. When I have got the hang of him,
I ask him to sit down, and proceed to fumble his skull, dictating as
follows: SCALE FROM 1 TO 10.

                             Each to be accompanied with a wink.

Amativeness, 7.        Most men love the conflicting sex, and all
                       men love to be told they do.

Alimentiveness, 8.     Don't you see that he has burst off his
                       lowest waistcoat-button with feeding,--hey

Acquisitiveness, 8.    Of course.  A middle-aged Yankee.

Approbativeness 7+.    Hat well brushed.  Hair ditto.  Mark the
                       effect of that plus sign.

Self-Esteem 6.         His face shows that.

Benevolence 9.         That'll please him.

Conscientiousness 8 1/2  That fraction looks first-rate.

Mirthfulness 7         Has laughed twice since he came in.

Ideality 9             That sounds well.

Form, Size, Weight,    4 to 6.  Average everything that Color, Locality,
                       cannot be guessed. Eventuality, etc. etc.

                And so of the other faculties.

Of course, you know, that isn't the way the Phrenologists do.  They go
only by the bumps.--What do you keep laughing so for?  (to the boarders.)
I only said that is the way I should practise "Phrenology" for a living.

                    End of my Lecture.

--The Reformers have good heads, generally.  Their faces are commonly
serene enough, and they are lambs in private intercourse, even though
their voices may be like

         The wolf's long howl from Oonalaska's shore,

when heard from the platform.  Their greatest spiritual danger is from
the perpetual flattery of abuse to which they are exposed. These lines
are meant to caution them.


               HIS TEMPTATION.

     No fear lest praise should make us proud!
     We know how cheaply that is won;
     The idle homage of the crowd
     Is proof of tasks as idly done.

     A surface-smile may pay the toil
     That follows still the conquering Right,
     With soft, white hands to dress the spoil
     That sunbrowned valor clutched in fight.

     Sing the sweet song of other days,
     Serenely placid, safely true,
     And o'er the present's parching ways
     Thy verse distils like evening dew.

     But speak in words of living power,
     --They fall like drops of scalding rain
     That plashed before the burning shower
     Swept o'er the cities of the plain!

     Then scowling Hate turns deadly pale,
     --Then Passion's half-coiled adders spring,
     And, smitten through their leprous mail,
     Strike right and left in hope to sting.

     If thou, unmoved by poisoning wrath,
     Thy feet on earth, thy heart above,
     Canst walk in peace thy kingly path,
     Unchanged in trust, unchilled in love,--

     Too kind for bitter words to grieve,
     Too firm for clamor to dismay,
     When Faith forbids thee to believe,
     And Meekness calls to disobey,--

     Ah, then beware of mortal pride!
     The smiling pride that calmly scorns
     Those foolish fingers, crimson dyed
     In laboring on thy crown of thorns!


One of our boarders--perhaps more than one was concerned in it--sent in
some questions to me, the other day, which, trivial as some of them are,
I felt bound to answer.

1.--Whether a lady was ever known to write a letter covering only a
single page?

To this I answered, that there was a case on record where a lady had but
half a sheet of paper and no envelope; and being obliged to send through
the post-office, she covered only one side of the paper (crosswise,
lengthwise, and diagonally).

2.--What constitutes a man a gentleman?

To this I gave several answers, adapted to particular classes of

a.  Not trying to be a gentleman.

b.  Self-respect underlying courtesy.

c.  Knowledge and observance of the fitness of things in social

d.  f. s. d.  (as many suppose.)

3.--Whether face or figure is most attractive in the female sex?

Answered in the following epigram, by a young man about town:

     Quoth Tom, "Though fair her features be,
     It is her figure pleases me."
     "What may her figure be?" I cried.
     "One hundred thousand!" he replied.

When this was read to the boarders, the young man John said he should
like a chance to "step up" to a figger of that kind, if the girl was one
of the right sort.

The landlady said them that merried for money didn't deserve the blessin'
of a good wife.  Money was a great thing when them that had it made a
good use of it.  She had seen better days herself, and knew what it was
never to want for anything.  One of her cousins merried a very rich old
gentleman, and she had heerd that he said he lived ten year longer than
if he'd staid by himself without anybody to take care of him.  There was
nothin' like a wife for nussin' sick folks and them that couldn't take
care of themselves.

The young man John got off a little wink, and pointed slyly with his
thumb in the direction of our diminutive friend, for whom he seemed to
think this speech was intended.

If it was meant for him, he did n't appear to know that it was. Indeed,
he seems somewhat listless of late, except when the conversation falls
upon one of those larger topics that specially interest him, and then he
grows excited, speaks loud and fast, sometimes almost savagely,--and, I
have noticed once or twice, presses his left hand to his right side, as
if there were something that ached, or weighed, or throbbed in that

While he speaks in this way, the general conversation is interrupted, and
we all listen to him.  Iris looks steadily in his face, and then he will
turn as if magnetized and meet the amber eyes with his own melancholy
gaze.  I do believe that they have some kind of understanding together,
that they meet elsewhere than at our table, and that there is a mystery,
which is going to break upon us all of a sudden, involving the relations
of these two persons.  From the very first, they have taken to each
other.  The one thing they have in common is the heroic will.  In him, it
shows itself in thinking his way straightforward, in doing battle for
"free trade and no right of search" on the high seas of religious
controversy, and especially in fighting the battles of his crooked old
city.  In her, it is standing up for her little friend with the most
queenly disregard of the code of boarding-house etiquette.  People may
say or look what they like,--she will have her way about this sentiment
of hers.

The Poor Relation is in a dreadful fidget whenever the Little Gentleman
says anything that interferes with her own infallibility. She seems to
think Faith must go with her face tied up, as if she had the
toothache,--and that if she opens her mouth to the quarter the wind blows
from, she will catch her "death o' cold."

The landlady herself came to him one day, as I have found out, and tried
to persuade him to hold his tongue.--The boarders was gettin'
uneasy,--she said,--and some of 'em would go, she mistrusted, if he
talked any more about things that belonged to the ministers to settle.
She was a poor woman, that had known better days, but all her livin'
depended on her boarders, and she was sure there was n't any of 'em she
set so much by as she did by him; but there was them that never liked to
hear about sech things, except on Sundays.

The Little Gentleman looked very smiling at the landlady, who smiled even
more cordially in return, and adjusted her cap-ribbon with an unconscious
movement,--a reminiscence of the long-past pairing-time, when she had
smoothed her locks and softened her voice, and won her mate by these and
other bird-like graces.--My dear Madam,--he said,--I will remember your
interests, and speak only of matters to which I am totally
indifferent.--I don't doubt he meant this; but a day or two after,
something stirred him up, and I heard his voice uttering itself aloud,

-It must be done, Sir!--he was saying,--it must be done!  Our religion
has been Judaized, it has been Romanized, it has been Orientalized, it
has been Anglicized, and the time is at hand when it must be
AMERICANIZED!  Now, Sir, you see what Americanizing is in politics;--it
means that a man shall have a vote because he is a man,--and shall vote
for whom he pleases, without his neighbor's interference.  If he chooses
to vote for the Devil, that is his lookout;--perhaps he thinks the Devil
is better than the other candidates; and I don't doubt he's often right,
Sir.  Just so a man's soul has a vote in the spiritual community; and it
doesn't do, Sir, or it won't do long, to call him "schismatic" and
"heretic" and those other wicked names that the old murderous Inquisitors
have left us to help along "peace and goodwill to men"!

As long as you could catch a man and drop him into an oubliette, or pull
him out a few inches longer by machinery, or put a hot iron through his
tongue, or make him climb up a ladder and sit on a board at the top of a
stake so that he should be slowly broiled by the fire kindled round it,
there was some sense in these words; they led to something.  But since we
have done with those tools, we had better give up those words.  I should
like to see a Yankee advertisement like this!--(the Little Gentleman
laughed fiercely as he uttered the words,--)

--Patent thumb-screws,--will crush the bone in three turns.

--The cast-iron boot, with wedge and mallet, only five dollars!

--The celebrated extension-rack, warranted to stretch a man six inches in
twenty minutes,--money returned, if it proves unsatisfactory.

I should like to see such an advertisement, I say, Sir!  Now, what's the
use of using the words that belonged with the thumb-screws, and the
Blessed Virgin with the knives under her petticoats and sleeves and
bodice, and the dry pan and gradual fire, if we can't have the things
themselves, Sir?  What's the use of painting the fire round a poor
fellow, when you think it won't do to kindle one under him,--as they did
at Valencia or Valladolid, or wherever it was?

--What story is that?--I said.

Why,--he answered,--at the last auto-da-fe, in 1824 or '5, or somewhere
there,--it's a traveller's story, but a mighty knowing traveller he
is,--they had a "heretic" to use up according to the statutes provided
for the crime of private opinion.  They could n't quite make up their
minds to burn him, so they only hung him in a hogshead painted all over
with flames!

No, Sir! when a man calls you names because you go to the ballot-box and
vote for your candidate, or because you say this or that is your opinion,
he forgets in which half of the world he was born, Sir!  It won't be
long, Sir, before we have Americanized religion as we have Americanized
government; and then, Sir, every soul God sends into the world will be
good in the face of all men for just so much of His "inspiration" as
"giveth him understanding"!--None of my words, Sir! none of my words!

--If Iris does not love this Little Gentleman, what does love look like
when one sees it?  She follows him with her eyes, she leans over toward
him when he speaks, her face changes with the changes of his speech, so
that one might think it was with her as with Christabel,--

          That all her features were resigned
          To this sole image in her mind.

But she never looks at him with such intensity of devotion as when he
says anything about the soul and the soul's atmosphere, religion.

Women are twice as religious as men;--all the world knows that. Whether
they are any better, in the eyes of Absolute Justice, might be
questioned; for the additional religious element supplied by sex hardly
seems to be a matter of praise or blame.  But in all common aspects they
are so much above us that we get most of our religion from them,--from
their teachings, from their example,--above all, from their pure

Now this poor little Iris had been talked to strangely in her childhood.
Especially she had been told that she hated all good things,--which every
sensible parent knows well enough is not true of a great many children,
to say the least.  I have sometimes questioned whether many libels on
human nature had not been a natural consequence of the celibacy of the
clergy, which was enforced for so long a period.

The child had met this and some other equally encouraging statements as
to her spiritual conditions, early in life, and fought the battle of
spiritual independence prematurely, as many children do.  If all she did
was hateful to God, what was the meaning of the approving or else the
disapproving conscience, when she had done "right" or "wrong"?  No
"shoulder-striker" hits out straighter than a child with its logic.  Why,
I can remember lying in my bed in the nursery and settling questions
which all that I have heard since and got out of books has never been
able to raise again.  If a child does not assert itself in this way in
good season, it becomes just what its parents or teachers were, and is no
better than a plastic image.--How old was I at the time?--I suppose
about 5823 years old,--that is, counting from Archbishop Usher's date of
the Creation, and adding the life of the race, whose accumulated
intelligence is a part of my inheritance, to my own.  A good deal older
than Plato, you see, and much more experienced than my Lord Bacon and
most of the world's teachers.--Old books, as you well know, are books of
the world's youth, and new books are fruits of its age.  How many of all
these ancient folios round me are like so many old cupels!  The gold has
passed out of them long ago, but their pores are full of the dross with
which it was mingled.

And so Iris--having thrown off that first lasso which not only fetters,
but chokes those whom it can hold, so that they give themselves up
trembling and breathless to the great soul-subduer, who has them by the
windpipe had settled a brief creed for herself, in which love of the
neighbor, whom we have seen, was the first article, and love of the
Creator, whom we have not seen, grew out of this as its natural
development, being necessarily second in order of time to the first
unselfish emotions which we feel for the fellow-creatures who surround us
in our early years.

The child must have some place of worship.  What would a young girl be
who never mingled her voice with the songs and prayers that rose all
around her with every returning day of rest?  And Iris was free to
choose.  Sometimes one and sometimes another would offer to carry her to
this or that place of worship; and when the doors were hospitably opened,
she would often go meekly in by herself.  It was a curious fact, that two
churches as remote from each other in doctrine as could well be divided
her affections.

The Church of Saint Polycarp had very much the look of a Roman Catholic
chapel.  I do not wish to run the risk of giving names to the
ecclesiastical furniture which gave it such a Romish aspect; but there
were pictures, and inscriptions in antiquated characters, and there were
reading-stands, and flowers on the altar, and other elegant arrangements.
Then there were boys to sing alternately in choirs responsive to each
other, and there was much bowing, with very loud responding, and a long
service and a short sermon, and a bag, such as Judas used to hold in the
old pictures, was carried round to receive contributions.  Everything was
done not only "decently and in order," but, perhaps one might say, with a
certain air of magnifying their office on the part of the dignified
clergymen, often two or three in number.  The music and the free welcome
were grateful to Iris, and she forgot her prejudices at the door of the
chapel.  For this was a church with open doors, with seats for all
classes and all colors alike,--a church of zealous worshippers after
their faith, of charitable and serviceable men and women, one that took
care of its children and never forgot its poor, and whose people were
much more occupied in looking out for their own souls than in attacking
the faith of their neighbors.  In its mode of worship there was a union
of two qualities,--the taste and refinement, which the educated require
just as much in their churches as elsewhere, and the air of stateliness,
almost of pomp, which impresses the common worshipper, and is often not
without its effect upon those who think they hold outward forms as of
little value.  Under the half-Romish aspect of the Church of Saint
Polycarp, the young girl found a devout and loving and singularly
cheerful religious spirit.  The artistic sense, which betrayed itself in
the dramatic proprieties of its ritual, harmonized with her taste.  The
mingled murmur of the loud responses, in those rhythmic phrases, so
simple, yet so fervent, almost as if every tenth heart-beat, instead of
its dull tic-tac, articulated itself as "Good Lord, deliver us!  "--the
sweet alternation of the two choirs, as their holy song floated from side
to side, the keen young voices rising like a flight of singing-birds that
passes from one grove to another, carrying its music with it back and
forward,--why should she not love these gracious outward signs of those
inner harmonies which none could deny made beautiful the lives of many of
her fellow-worshippers in the humble, yet not inelegant Chapel of Saint

The young Marylander, who was born and bred to that mode of worship, had
introduced her to the chapel, for which he did the honors for such of our
boarders as were not otherwise provided for.  I saw them looking over the
same prayer-book one Sunday, and I could not help thinking that two such
young and handsome persons could hardly worship together in safety for a
great while.  But they seemed to mind nothing but their prayer-book.
By-and-by the silken bag was handed round.--I don't believe she will; so
awkward, you know;--besides, she only came by invitation.  There she is,
with her hand in her pocket, though,--and sure enough, her little bit of
silver tinkled as it struck the coin beneath.  God bless her! she has n't
much to give; but her eye glistens when she gives it, and that is all
Heaven asks.--That was the first time I noticed these young people
together, and I am sure they behaved with the most charming
propriety,--in fact, there was one of our silent lady-boarders with them,
whose eyes would have kept Cupid and Psyche to their good behavior.  A
day or two after this I noticed that the young gentleman had left his
seat, which you may remember was at the corner diagonal to that of Iris,
so that they have been as far removed from each other as they could be at
the table.  His new seat is three or four places farther down the table.
Of course I made a romance out of this, at once.  So stupid not to see
it!  How could it be otherwise?--Did you speak, Madam?  I beg your
pardon.  (To my lady-reader.)

I never saw anything like the tenderness with which this young girl
treats her little deformed neighbor.  If he were in the way of going to
church, I know she would follow him.  But his worship, if any, is not
with the throng of men and women and staring children.

I, the Professor, on the other hand, am a regular church-goer.  I should
go for various reasons if I did not love it; but I am happy enough to
find great pleasure in the midst of devout multitudes, whether I can
accept all their creeds or not.  One place of worship comes nearer than
the rest to my ideal standard, and to this it was that I carried our
young girl.

The Church of the Galileans, as it is called, is even humbler in outside
pretensions than the Church of Saint Polycarp.  Like that, it is open to
all comers.  The stranger who approaches it looks down a quiet street and
sees the plainest of chapels,--a kind of wooden tent, that owes whatever
grace it has to its pointed windows and the high, sharp roofs--traces,
both, of that upward movement of ecclesiastical architecture which soared
aloft in cathedral-spires, shooting into the sky as the spike of a
flowering aloe from the cluster of broad, sharp-wedged leaves below.
This suggestion of medieval symbolism, aided by a minute turret in which
a hand-bell might have hung and found just room enough to turn over, was
all of outward show the small edifice could boast.  Within there was very
little that pretended to be attractive.  A small organ at one side, and a
plain pulpit, showed that the building was a church; but it was a church
reduced to its simplest expression:

Yet when the great and wise monarch of the East sat upon his throne, in
all the golden blaze of the spoils of Ophir and the freights of the navy
of Tarshish, his glory was not like that of this simple chapel in its
Sunday garniture.  For the lilies of the field, in their season, and the
fairest flowers of the year, in due succession, were clustered every
Sunday morning over the preacher's desk.  Slight, thin-tissued blossoms
of pink and blue and virgin white in early spring, then the full-breasted
and deep-hearted roses of summer, then the velvet-robed crimson and
yellow flowers of autumn, and in the winter delicate exotics that grew
under skies of glass in the false summers of our crystal palaces without
knowing that it was the dreadful winter of New England which was rattling
the doors and frosting the panes,--in their language the whole year told
its history of life and growth and beauty from that simple desk.  There
was always at least one good sermon,--this floral homily.  There was at
least one good prayer,--that brief space when all were silent, after the
manner of the Friends at their devotions.

Here, too, Iris found an atmosphere of peace and love.  The same gentle,
thoughtful faces, the same cheerful but reverential spirit, the same
quiet, the same life of active benevolence.  But in all else how
different from the Church of Saint Polycarp!  No clerical costume, no
ceremonial forms, no carefully trained choirs.  A liturgy they have, to
be sure, which does not scruple to borrow from the time-honored manuals
of devotion, but also does not hesitate to change its expressions to its
own liking.

Perhaps the good people seem a little easy with each other;--they are apt
to nod familiarly, and have even been known to whisper before the
minister came in.  But it is a relief to get rid of that old
Sunday--no,--Sabbath face, which suggests the idea that the first day of
the week is commemorative of some most mournful event. The truth is,
these brethren and sisters meet very much as a family does for its
devotions, not putting off their humanity in the least, considering it on
the whole quite a delightful matter to come together for prayer and song
and good counsel from kind and wise lips.  And if they are freer in their
demeanor than some very precise congregations, they have not the air of a
worldly set of people.  Clearly they have not come to advertise their
tailors and milliners, nor for the sake of exchanging  criticisms on the
literary character of the sermon they  may hear.  There is no
restlessness and no restraint  among these quiet, cheerful worshippers.
One thing  that keeps them calm and happy during the season so evidently
trying to many congregations is, that they join very generally in the
singing.  In this way they  get rid of that accumulated nervous force
which escapes in all sorts of fidgety movements, so that a minister
trying to keep his congregation still reminds one of a boy with his hand
over the nose of a pump which another boy is working,--this spirting
impatience of the people is so like the jets that find their way through
his fingers, and the grand rush out at the final Amen! has such a
wonderful likeness to the gush that takes place when the boy pulls his
hand away, with immense relief, as it seems, to both the pump and the
officiating youngster.

How sweet is this blending of all voices and all hearts in one common
song of praise!  Some will sing a little loud, perhaps,--and now and then
an impatient chorister will get a syllable or two in advance, or an
enchanted singer so lose all thought of time and place in the luxury of a
closing cadence that he holds on to the last semi-breve upon his private
responsibility; but how much more of the spirit of the old Psalmist in
the music of these imperfectly trained voices than in the academic
niceties of the paid performers who take our musical worship out of our

I am of the opinion that the creed of the Church of the Galileans is not
laid down in as many details as that of the Church of Saint Polycarp.
Yet I suspect, if one of the good people from each of those churches had
met over the bed of a suffering fellow-creature, or for the promotion of
any charitable object, they would have found they had more in common than
all the special beliefs or want of beliefs that separated them would
amount to.  There are always many who believe that the fruits of a tree
afford a better test of its condition than a statement of the composts
with which it is dressed, though the last has its meaning and importance,
no doubt.

Between these two churches, then, our young Iris divides her affections.
But I doubt if she listens to the preacher at either with more devotion
than she does to her little neighbor when he talks of these matters.

What does he believe?  In the first place, there is some deep-rooted
disquiet lying at the bottom of his soul, which makes him very bitter
against all kinds of usurpation over the right of private judgment.  Over
this seems to lie a certain tenderness for humanity in general, bred out
of life-long trial, I should say, but sharply streaked with fiery lines
of wrath at various individual acts of wrong, especially if they come in
an ecclesiastical shape, and recall to him the days when his mother's
great-grandmother was strangled on Witch Hill, with a text from the Old
Testament for her halter.  With all this, he has a boundless belief in
the future of this experimental hemisphere, and especially in the destiny
of the free thought of its northeastern metropolis.

--A man can see further, Sir,--he said one day,--from the top of Boston
State House, and see more that is worth seeing, than from all the
pyramids and turrets and steeples in all the places in the world!  No
smoke, Sir; no fog, Sir; and a clean sweep from the Outer Light and the
sea beyond it to the New Hampshire mountains!  Yes, Sir,--and there are
great truths that are higher than mountains and broader than seas, that
people are looking for from the tops of these hills of ours;--such as the
world never saw, though it might have seen them at Jerusalem, if its eyes
had been open!--Where do they have most crazy people?  Tell me that, Sir!

I answered, that I had heard it said there were more in New England than
in most countries, perhaps more than in any part of the world.

Very good, Sir,--he answered.--When have there been most people killed
and wounded in the course of this century?

During the wars of the French Empire, no doubt,--I said.

That's it! that's it!--said the Little Gentleman;--where the battle of
intelligence is fought, there are most minds bruised and broken! We're
battling for a faith here, Sir.

The divinity-student remarked, that it was rather late in the world's
history for men to be looking out for a new faith.

I did n't say a new faith,--said the Little Gentleman;--old or new, it
can't help being different here in this American mind of ours from
anything that ever was before; the people are new, Sir, and that makes
the difference.  One load of corn goes to the sty, and makes the fat of
swine,--another goes to the farm-house, and becomes the muscle that
clothes the right arms of heroes.  It is n't where a pawn stands on the
board that makes the difference, but what the game round it is when it is
on this or that square.

Can any man look round and see what Christian countries are now doing,
and how they are governed, and what is the general condition of society,
without seeing that Christianity is the flag under which the world sails,
and not the rudder that steers its course?  No, Sir!  There was a great
raft built about two thousand years ago,--call it an ark, rather,--the
world's great ark! big enough to hold all mankind, and made to be
launched right out into the open waves of life,--and here it has been
lying, one end on the shore and one end bobbing up and down in the water,
men fighting all the time as to who should be captain and who should have
the state-rooms, and throwing each other over the side because they could
not agree about the points of compass, but the great vessel never getting
afloat with its freight of nations and their rulers;--and now, Sir, there
is and has been for this long time a fleet of "heretic" lighters sailing
out of Boston Bay, and they have been saying, and they say now, and they
mean to keep saying, "Pump out your bilge-water, shovel over your loads
of idle ballast, get out your old rotten cargo, and we will carry it out
into deep waters and sink it where it will never be seen again; so shall
the ark of the world's hope float on the ocean, instead of sticking in
the dock-mud where it is lying!"

It's a slow business, this of getting the ark launched.  The Jordan was
n't deep enough, and the Tiber was n't deep enough, and the Rhone was n't
deep enough, and the Thames was n't deep enough, and perhaps the Charles
is n't deep enough; but I don't feel sure of that, Sir, and I love to
hear the workmen knocking at the old blocks of tradition and making the
ways smooth with the oil of the Good Samaritan.  I don't know, Sir,--but
I do think she stirs a little,--I do believe she slides;--and when I
think of what a work that is for the dear old three-breasted mother of
American liberty, I would not take all the glory of all the greatest
cities in the world for my birthright in the soil of little Boston!

--Some of us could not help smiling at this burst of local patriotism,
especially when it finished with the last two words.

And Iris smiled, too.  But it was the radiant smile of pleasure which
always lights up her face when her little neighbor gets excited on the
great topics of progress in freedom and religion, and especially on the
part which, as he pleases himself with believing, his own city is to take
in that consummation of human development to which he looks forward.

Presently she looked into his face with a changed expression,--the
anxiety of a mother that sees her child suffering.

You are not well,--she said.

I am never well,--he answered.--His eyes fell mechanically on the
death's-head ring he wore on his right hand.  She took his hand as if it
had been a baby's, and turned the grim device so that it should be out of
sight.  One slight, sad, slow movement of the head seemed to say, "The
death-symbol is still there!"

A very odd personage, to be sure!  Seems to know what is going on,
--reads books, old and new,--has many recent publications sent him, they
tell me, but, what is more curious, keeps up with the everyday affairs of
the world, too.  Whether he hears everything that is said with
preternatural acuteness, or whether some confidential friend visits him
in a quiet way, is more than I can tell.  I can make nothing more of the
noises I hear in his room than my old conjectures.  The movements I
mention are less frequent, but I often hear the plaintive cry,--I observe
that it is rarely laughing of late;--I never have detected one articulate
word, but I never heard such tones from anything but a human voice.

There has been, of late, a deference approaching to tenderness, on the
part of the boarders generally so far as he is concerned.  This is
doubtless owing to the air of suffering which seems to have saddened his
look of late.  Either some passion is gnawing at him inwardly, or some
hidden disease is at work upon him.

--What 's the matter with Little Boston?--said the young man John to me
one day.--There a'n't much of him, anyhow; but 't seems to me he looks
peakeder than ever.  The old woman says he's in a bad way, 'n' wants a
puss to take care of him.  Them pusses that take care of old rich folks
marry 'em sometimes,--'n' they don't commonly live a great while after
that.  No, Sir!  I don't see what he wants to die for, after he's taken
so much trouble to live in such poor accommodations as that crooked body
of his.  I should like to know how his soul crawled into it, 'n' how it's
goin' to get out.  What business has he to die, I should like to know?
Let Ma'am Allen (the gentleman with the diamond) die, if he likes, and be
(this is a family-magazine); but we a'n't goin' to have him dyin'.  Not
by a great sight.  Can't do without him anyhow.  A'n't it fun to hear him
blow off his steam?

I believe the young fellow would take it as a personal insult, if the
Little Gentleman should show any symptoms of quitting our table for a
better world.

--In the mean time, what with going to church in company with our young
lady, and taking every chance I could get to talk with her, I have found
myself becoming, I will not say intimate, but well acquainted with Miss
Iris.  There is a certain frankness and directness about her that perhaps
belong to her artist nature.  For, you see, the one thing that marks the
true artist is a clear perception and a firm, bold hand, in distinction
from that imperfect mental vision and uncertain touch which give us the
feeble pictures and the lumpy statues of the mere artisans on canvas or
in stone.  A true artist, therefore, can hardly fail to have a sharp,
well-defined mental physiognomy.  Besides this, many young girls have a
strange audacity blended with their instinctive delicacy.  Even in
physical daring many of them are a match for boys; whereas you will find
few among mature women, and especially if they are mothers, who do not
confess, and not unfrequently proclaim, their timidity.  One of these
young girls, as many of us hereabouts remember, climbed to the top of a
jagged, slippery rock lying out in the waves,--an ugly height to get up,
and a worse one to get down, even for a bold young fellow of sixteen.
Another was in the way of climbing tall trees for crows' nests,--and
crows generally know about how far boys can "shin up," and set their
household establishments above that high-water mark.  Still another of
these young ladies I saw for the first time in an open boat, tossing on
the ocean ground-swell, a mile or two from shore, off a lonely island.
She lost all her daring, after she had some girls of her own to look out

Many blondes are very gentle, yielding in character, impressible,
unelastic.  But the positive blondes, with the golden tint running
through them, are often full of character.  They come, probably enough,
from those deep-bosomed German women that Tacitus portrayed in such
strong colors.  The negative blondes, or those women whose tints have
faded out as their line of descent has become impoverished, are of
various blood, and in them the soul has often become pale with that
blanching of the hair and loss of color in the eyes which makes them
approach the character of Albinesses.

I see in this young girl that union of strength and sensibility which,
when directed and impelled by the strong instinct so apt to accompany
this combination of active and passive capacity, we call genius.  She is
not an accomplished artist, certainly, as yet; but there is always an air
in every careless figure she draws, as it were of upward aspiration,--the
elan of John of Bologna's Mercury,--a lift to them, as if they had on
winged sandals, like the herald of the Gods.  I hear her singing
sometimes; and though she evidently is not trained, yet is there a wild
sweetness in her fitful and sometimes fantastic melodies,--such as can
come only from the inspiration of the moment,--strangely enough,
reminding me of those long passages I have heard from my little
neighbor's room, yet of different tone, and by no means to be mistaken
for those weird harmonies.

I cannot pretend to deny that I am interested in the girl.  Alone,
unprotected, as I have seen so many young girls left in boarding-houses,
the centre of all the men's eyes that surround the table, watched with
jealous sharpness by every woman, most of all by that poor relation of
our landlady, who belongs to the class of women that like to catch others
in mischief when they themselves are too mature for indiscretions, (as
one sees old rogues turn to thief-catchers,) one of Nature's gendarmerie,
clad in a complete suit of wrinkles, the cheapest coat-of-mail against
the shafts of the great little enemy,--so surrounded, Iris spans this
commonplace household-life of ours with her arch of beauty, as the
rainbow, whose name she borrows, looks down on a dreary pasture with its
feeding flocks and herds of indifferent animals.

These young girls that live in boarding-houses can do pretty much as they
will.  The female gendarmes are off guard occasionally.  The sitting-room
has its solitary moments, when any two boarders who wish to meet may come
together accidentally, (accidentally, I said, Madam, and I had not the
slightest intention of Italicizing the word,) and discuss the social or
political questions of the day, or any other subject that may prove
interesting.  Many charming conversations take place at the foot of the
stairs, or while one of the parties is holding the latch of a door,--in
the shadow of porticoes, and especially on those outside balconies which
some of our Southern neighbors call "stoops," the most charming places in
the world when the moon is just right and the roses and honeysuckles are
in full blow,--as we used to think in eighteen hundred and never mention

On such a balcony or "stoop," one evening, I walked with Iris.  We were
on pretty good terms now, and I had coaxed her arm under mine,--my left
arm, of course.  That leaves one's right arm free to defend the lovely
creature, if the rival--odious wretch! attempt, to ravish her from your
side.  Likewise if one's heart should happen to beat a little, its mute
language will not be without its meaning, as you will perceive when the
arm you hold begins to tremble, a circumstance like to occur, if you
happen to be a good-looking young fellow, and you two have the "stoop" to

We had it to ourselves that evening.  The Koh-inoor, as we called him,
was in a corner with our landlady's daughter.  The young fellow John was
smoking out in the yard.  The gendarme was afraid of the evening air, and
kept inside, The young Marylander came to the door, looked out and saw us
walking together, gave his hat a pull over his forehead and stalked off.
I felt a slight spasm, as it were, in the arm I held, and saw the girl's
head turn over her shoulder for a second.  What a kind creature this is!
She has no special interest in this youth, but she does not like to see a
young fellow going off because he feels as if he were not wanted.

She had her locked drawing-book under her arm.--Let me take it,--I said.

She gave it to me to carry.

This is full of caricatures of all of us, I am sure,--said I.

She laughed, and said,--No,--not all of you.

I was there, of course?

Why, no,--she had never taken so much pains with me.

Then she would let me see the inside of it?

She would think of it.

Just as we parted, she took a little key from her pocket and handed it to
me.  This unlocks my naughty book,--she said,--you shall see it.  I am
not afraid of you.

I don't know whether the last words exactly pleased me.  At any rate, I
took the book and hurried with it to my room.  I opened it, and saw, in a
few glances, that I held the heart of Iris in my hand.

--I have no verses for you this month, except these few lines suggested
by the season.


     Here! sweep these foolish leaves away,
     I will not crush my brains to-day!
     Look! are the southern curtains drawn?
     Fetch me a fan, and so begone!

     Not that,--the palm-tree's rustling leaf
     Brought from a parching coral-reef!
     Its breath is heated;--I would swing
     The broad gray plumes,--the eagle's wing.

     I hate these roses' feverish blood!
     Pluck me a half-blown lily-bud,
     A long-stemmed lily from the lake,
     Cold as a coiling water-snake.

     Rain me sweet odors on the air,
     And wheel me up my Indian chair,
     And spread some book not overwise
     Flat out before my sleepy eyes.

     --Who knows it not,--this dead recoil
     Of weary fibres stretched with toil,
     The pulse that flutters faint and low
     When Summer's seething breezes blow?

     O Nature! bare thy loving breast
     And give thy child one hour of rest,
     One little hour to lie unseen
     Beneath thy scarf of leafy green!

     So, curtained by a singing pine,
     Its murmuring voice shall blend with mine,
     Till, lost in dreams, my faltering lay
     In sweeter music dies away.


               IRIS, HER BOOK

     I pray thee by the soul of her that bore thee,
     By thine own sister's spirit I implore thee,
     Deal gently with the leaves that lie before thee!

     For Iris had no mother to infold her,
     Nor ever leaned upon a sister's shoulder,
     Telling the twilight thoughts that Nature told her.

     She had not learned the mystery of awaking
     Those chorded keys that soothe a sorrow's aching,
     Giving the dumb heart voice, that else were breaking.

     Yet lived, wrought, suffered.  Lo, the pictured token!
     Why should her fleeting day-dreams fade unspoken,
     Like daffodils that die with sheaths unbroken?

     She knew not love, yet lived in maiden fancies,
     Walked simply clad, a queen of high romances,
     And talked strange tongues with angels in her trances.

     Twin-souled she seemed, a twofold nature wearing,
     Sometimes a flashing falcon in her daring,
     Then a poor mateless dove that droops despairing.

     Questioning all things: Why her Lord had sent her?
     What were these torturing gifts, and wherefore lent her?
     Scornful as spirit fallen, its own tormentor.

     And then all tears and anguish: Queen of Heaven,
     Sweet Saints, and Thou by mortal sorrows riven,
     Save me! oh, save me!  Shall I die forgiven?

     And then--Ah, God!  But nay, it little matters
     Look at the wasted seeds that autumn scatters,
     The myriad germs that Nature shapes and shatters!

     If she had--Well!  She longed, and knew not wherefore
     Had the world nothing she might live to care for?
     No second self to say her evening prayer for?

     She knew the marble shapes that set men dreaming,
     Yet with her shoulders bare and tresses streaming
     Showed not unlovely to her simple seeming.

     Vain?  Let it be so!  Nature was her teacher.
     What if a lonely and unsistered creature
     Loved her own harmless gift of pleasing feature,

     Saying, unsaddened,--This shall soon be faded,
     And double-hued the shining tresses braided,
     And all the sunlight of the morning shaded?

     --This her poor book is full of saddest follies,
     Of tearful smiles and laughing melancholies,
     With summer roses twined and wintry hollies.

     In the strange crossing of uncertain chances,
     Somewhere, beneath some maiden's tear-dimmed glances
     May fall her little book of dreams and fancies.

     Sweet sister!  Iris, who shall never name thee,
     Trembling for fear her open heart may shame thee,
     Speaks from this vision-haunted page to claim thee.

     Spare her, I pray thee!  If the maid is sleeping,
     Peace with her! she has had her hour of weeping.
     No more!  She leaves her memory in thy keeping.

These verses were written in the first leaves of the locked volume. As I
turned the pages, I hesitated for a moment.  Is it quite fair to take
advantage of a generous, trusting impulse to read the unsunned depths of
a young girl's nature, which I can look through, as the balloon-voyagers
tell us they see from their hanging-baskets through the translucent
waters which the keenest eye of such as sail over them in ships might
strive to pierce in vain?  Why has the child trusted me with such artless
confessions,--self-revelations, which might be whispered by trembling
lips, under the veil of twilight, in sacred confessionals, but which I
cannot look at in the light of day without a feeling of wronging a sacred

To all this the answer seemed plain enough after a little thought. She
did not know how fearfully she had disclosed herself; she was too
profoundly innocent.  Her soul was no more ashamed than the fair shapes
that walked in Eden without a thought of over-liberal loveliness.  Having
nobody to tell her story to,--having, as she said in her verses, no
musical instrument to laugh and cry with her,--nothing, in short, but the
language of pen and pencil,--all the veinings of her nature were
impressed on these pages as those of a fresh leaf are transferred to the
blank sheets which inclose it. It was the same thing which I remember
seeing beautifully shown in a child of some four or five years we had one
day at our boarding-house.  The child was a deaf mute.  But its soul had
the inner sense that answers to hearing, and the shaping capacity which
through natural organs realizes itself in words.  Only it had to talk
with its face alone; and such speaking eyes, such rapid alternations of
feeling and shifting expressions of thought as flitted over its face, I
have never seen in any other human countenance.

I wonder if something of spiritual transparency is not typified in the
golden-blonde organization.  There are a great many little
creatures,--many small fishes, for instance,--which are literally
transparent, with the exception of some of the internal organs.  The
heart can be seen beating as if in a case of clouded crystal.  The
central nervous column with its sheath runs as a dark stripe through the
whole length of the diaphanous muscles of the body.  Other little
creatures are so darkened with pigment that we can see only their
surface.  Conspirators and poisoners are painted with black, beady-eyes
and swarthy hue; Judas, in Leonardo's picture, is the model of them all.

However this may be, I should say there never had been a book like this
of Iris,--so full of the heart's silent language, so transparent that the
heart itself could be seen beating through it. I should say there never
could have been such a book, but for one recollection, which is not
peculiar to myself, but is shared by a certain number of my former
townsmen.  If you think I over-color this matter of the young girl's
book, hear this, which there are others, as I just said, besides myself,
will tell you is strictly true.


In the town called Cantabridge, now a city, water-veined and gas
windpiped, in the street running down to the Bridge, beyond which dwelt
Sally, told of in a book of a friend of mine, was of old a house
inhabited by three maidens.  They left no near kinsfolk, I believe;
whether they did or not, I have no ill to speak of them; for they lived
and died in all good report and maidenly credit.  The house they lived in
was of the small, gambrel-roofed cottage pattern, after the shape of
Esquires' houses, but after the size of the dwellings of handicraftsmen.
The lower story was fitted up as a shop.  Specially was it provided with
one of those half-doors now so rarely met with, which are to whole doors
as spencers worn by old folk are to coats.  They speak of limited
commerce united with a social or observing disposition--on the part of
the shopkeeper,--allowing, as they do, talk with passers-by, yet keeping
off such as have not the excuse of business to cross the threshold.  On
the door-posts, at either side, above the half-door, hung certain
perennial articles of merchandise, of which my memory still has hanging
among its faded photographs a kind of netted scarf and some pairs of
thick woollen stockings.  More articles, but not very many, were stored
inside; and there was one drawer, containing children's books, out of
which I once was treated to a minute quarto ornamented with handsome
cuts.  This was the only purchase I ever knew to be made at the shop kept
by the three maiden ladies, though it is probable there were others.  So
long as I remember the shop, the same scarf and, I should say, the same
stockings hung on the door-posts.--You think I am exaggerating again, and
that shopkeepers would not keep the same article exposed for years.  Come
to me, the Professor, and I will take you in five minutes to a shop in
this city where I will show you an article hanging now in the very place
where more than thirty years ago I myself inquired the price of it of the
present head of the establishment. [ This was a glass alembic, which hung
up in Daniel Henchman's apothecary shop, corner of Cambridge and Chambers

The three maidens were of comely presence, and one of them had had claims
to be considered a Beauty.  When I saw them in the old meeting-house on
Sundays, as they rustled in through the aisles in silks and satins, not
gay, but more than decent, as I remember them, I thought of My Lady
Bountiful in the history of "Little King Pippin," and of the Madam Blaize
of Goldsmith (who, by the way, must have taken the hint of it from a
pleasant poem, "Monsieur de la Palisse," attributed to De la Monnoye, in
the collection of French songs before me).  There was some story of an
old romance in which the Beauty had played her part.  Perhaps they all
had had lovers; for, as I said, they were shapely and seemly personages,
as I remember them; but their lives were out of the flower and in the
berry at the time of my first recollections.

One after another they all three dropped away, objects of kindly
attention to the good people round, leaving little or almost nothing, and
nobody to inherit it.  Not absolutely nothing, of course.  There must
have been a few old dresses--perhaps some bits of furniture, a Bible, and
the spectacles the good old souls read it through, and little keepsakes,
such as make us cry to look at, when we find them in old drawers;--such
relics there must have been.  But there was more.  There was a manuscript
of some hundred pages, closely written, in which the poor things had
chronicled for many years the incidents of their daily life.  After their
death it was passed round somewhat freely, and fell into my hands.  How I
have cried and laughed and colored over it!  There was nothing in it to
be ashamed of, perhaps there was nothing in it to laugh at, but such a
picture of the mode of being of poor simple good old women I do believe
was never drawn before.  And there were all the smallest incidents
recorded, such as do really make up humble life, but which die out of all
mere literary memoirs, as the houses where the Egyptians or the Athenians
lived crumble and leave only their temples standing.  I know, for
instance, that on a given day of a certain year, a kindly woman, herself
a poor widow, now, I trust, not without special mercies in heaven for her
good deeds,--for I read her name on a proper tablet in the churchyard a
week ago,--sent a fractional pudding from her own table to the Maiden
Sisters, who, I fear, from the warmth and detail of their description,
were fasting, or at least on short allowance, about that time.  I know
who sent them the segment of melon, which in her riotous fancy one of
them compared to those huge barges to which we give the ungracious name
of mudscows.  But why should I illustrate further what it seems almost a
breach of confidence to speak of?  Some kind friend, who could challenge
a nearer interest than the curious strangers into whose hands the book
might fall, at last claimed it, and I was glad that it should be
henceforth sealed to common eyes. I learned from it that every good and,
alas! every evil act we do may slumber unforgotten even in some earthly
record.  I got a new lesson in that humanity which our sharp race finds
it so hard to learn.  The poor widow, fighting hard to feed and clothe
and educate her children, had not forgotten the poorer ancient maidens. I
remembered it the other day, as I stood by her place of rest, and I felt
sure that it was remembered elsewhere.  I know there are prettier words
than pudding, but I can't help it,--the pudding went upon the record, I
feel sure, with the mite which was cast into the treasury by that other
poor widow whose deed the world shall remember forever, and with the
coats and garments which the good women cried over, when Tabitha, called
by interpretation Dorcas, lay dead in the upper chamber, with her
charitable needlework strewed around her.

--Such was the Book of the Maiden Sisters.  You will believe me more
readily now when I tell you that I found the soul of Iris in the one that
lay open before me.  Sometimes it was a poem that held it, sometimes a
drawing, angel, arabesque, caricature, or a mere hieroglyphic symbol of
which I could make nothing.  A rag of cloud on one page, as I remember,
with a streak of red zigzagging out of it across the paper as naturally
as a crack runs through a China bowl.  On the next page a dead
bird,--some little favorite, I suppose; for it was worked out with a
special love, and I saw on the leaf that sign with which once or twice in
my life I have had a letter sealed,--a round spot where the paper is
slightly corrugated, and, if there is writing there, the letters are
somewhat faint and blurred.  Most of the pages were surrounded with
emblematic traceries.  It was strange to me at first to see how often she
introduced those homelier wild-flowers which we call weeds,--for it
seemed there was none of them too humble for her to love, and none too
little cared for by Nature to be without its beauty for her artist eye
and pencil.  By the side of the garden-flowers,--of Spring's curled
darlings, the hyacinths, of rosebuds, dear to sketching maidens, of
flower-de-luces and morning-glories, nay, oftener than these, and more
tenderly caressed by the colored brush that rendered them,--were those
common growths which fling themselves to be crushed under our feet and
our wheels, making themselves so cheap in this perpetual martyrdom that
we forget each of them is a ray of the Divine beauty.

Yellow japanned buttercups and star-disked dandelions,--just as we see
them lying in the grass, like sparks that have leaped from the kindling
sun of summer; the profuse daisy-like flower which whitens the fields, to
the great disgust of liberal shepherds, yet seems fair to loving eyes,
with its button-like mound of gold set round with milk-white rays; the
tall-stemmed succory, setting its pale blue flowers aflame, one after
another, sparingly, as the lights are kindled in the candelabra of
decaying palaces where the heirs of dethroned monarchs are dying out; the
red and white clovers, the broad, flat leaves of the plantain,--"the
white man's foot," as the Indians called it,--the wiry, jointed stems of
that iron creeping plant which we call "knot-grass," and which loves its
life so dearly that it is next to impossible to murder it with a hoe, as
it clings to the cracks of the pavement;--all these plants, and many
more, she wove into her fanciful garlands and borders.--On one of the
pages were some musical notes.  I touched them from curiosity on a piano
belonging to one of our boarders.  Strange!  There are passages that I
have heard before, plaintive, full of some hidden meaning, as if they
were gasping for words to interpret them.  She must have heard the
strains that have so excited my curiosity, coming from my neighbor's
chamber.  The illuminated border she had traced round the page that held
these notes took the place of the words they seemed to be aching for.
Above, a long monotonous sweep of waves, leaden-hued, anxious and jaded
and sullen, if you can imagine such an expression in water.  On one side
an Alpine needle, as it were, of black basalt, girdled with snow.  On the
other a threaded waterfall. The red morning-tint that shone in the drops
had a strange look,--one would say the cliff was bleeding;--perhaps she
did not mean it. Below, a stretch of sand, and a solitary bird of prey,
with his wings spread over some unseen object.--And on the very next page
a procession wound along, after the fashion of that on the title-page of
Fuller's "Holy War," in which I recognized without difficulty every
boarder at our table in all the glory of the most resplendent
caricature--three only excepted,--the Little Gentleman, myself, and one

I confess I did expect to see something that would remind me of the
girl's little deformed neighbor, if not portraits of him.--There is a
left arm again, though;--no,--that is from the "Fighting Gladiator," the
"Jeune Heros combattant" of the Louvre;--there is the broad ring of the
shield.  From a cast, doubtless.  [The separate casts of the
"Gladiator's" arm look immense; but in its place the limb looks light,
almost slender,--such is the perfection of that miraculous marble.  I
never felt as if I touched the life of the old Greeks until I looked on
that statue.]--Here is something very odd, to be sure.  An Eden of all
the humped and crooked creatures!  What could have been in her head when
she worked out such a fantasy?  She has contrived to give them all beauty
or dignity or melancholy grace.  A Bactrian camel lying under a palm.  A
dromedary flashing up the sands,--spray of the dry ocean sailed by the
"ship of the desert."  A herd of buffaloes, uncouth, shaggy-maned, heavy
in the forehand, light in the hind-quarter.  [The buffalo is the lion of
the ruminants.] And there is a Norman horse, with his huge, rough collar,
echoing, as it were, the natural form of the other beast. And here are
twisted serpents; and stately swans, with answering curves in their bowed
necks, as if they had snake's blood under their white feathers; and
grave, high-shouldered herons standing on one foot like cripples, and
looking at life round them with the cold stare of monumental effigies.--A
very odd page indeed!  Not a creature in it without a curve or a twist,
and not one of them a mean figure to look at.  You can make your own
comment; I am fanciful, you know.  I believe she is trying to idealize
what we vulgarly call deformity, which she strives to look at in the
light of one of Nature's eccentric curves, belonging to her system of
beauty, as the hyperbola, and parabola belong to the conic sections,
though we cannot see them as symmetrical and entire figures, like the
circle and ellipse.  At any rate, I cannot help referring this paradise
of twisted spines to some idea floating in her head connected with her
friend whom Nature has warped in the moulding.--That is nothing to
another transcendental fancy of mine.  I believe her soul thinks itself
in his little crooked body at times,--if it does not really get freed or
half freed from her own.  Did you ever see a case of catalepsy?  You know
what I mean,--transient loss of sense, will, and motion; body and limbs
taking any position in which they are put, as if they belonged to a
lay-figure.  She had been talking with him and listening to him one day
when the boarders moved from the table nearly all at once.  But she sat
as before, her cheek resting on her hand, her amber eyes wide open and
still.  I went to her, she was breathing as usual, and her heart was
beating naturally enough,--but she did not answer.  I bent her arm; it
was as plastic as softened wax, and kept the place I gave it.--This will
never do, though, and I sprinkled a few drops of water on her forehead.
She started and looked round.--I have been in a dream,--she said;--I
feel as if all my strength were in this arm;--give me your hand!--She
took my right hand in her left, which looked soft and white enough,
but--Good Heaven!  I believe she will crack my bones!  All the nervous
power in her body must have flashed through those muscles; as when a
crazy lady snaps her iron window-bars,--she who could hardly glove
herself when in her common health.  Iris turned pale, and the tears came
to her eyes;--she saw she had given pain.  Then she trembled, and might
have fallen but for me;--the poor little soul had been in one of those
trances that belong to the spiritual pathology of higher natures, mostly
those of women.

To come back to this wondrous book of Iris.  Two pages faced each other
which I took for symbolical expressions of two states of mind. On the
left hand, a bright blue sky washed over the page, specked with a single
bird.  No trace of earth, but still the winged creature seemed to be
soaring upward and upward.  Facing it, one of those black dungeons such
as Piranesi alone of all men has pictured. I am sure she must have seen
those awful prisons of his, out of which the Opium-Eater got his
nightmare vision, described by another as "cemeteries of departed
greatness, where monstrous and forbidden things are crawling and twining
their slimy convolutions among mouldering bones, broken sculpture, and
mutilated inscriptions." Such a black dungeon faced the page that held
the blue sky and the single bird; at the bottom of it something was
coiled,--what, and whether meant for dead or alive, my eyes could not
make out.

I told you the young girl's soul was in this book.  As I turned over the
last leaves I could not help starting.  There were all sorts of faces
among the arabesques which laughed and scowled in the borders that ran
round the pages.  They had mostly the outline of childish or womanly or
manly beauty, without very distinct individuality. But at last it seemed
to me that some of them were taking on a look not wholly unfamiliar to
me; there were features that did not seem new.--Can it be so?  Was there
ever such innocence in a creature so full of life?  She tells her heart's
secrets as a three-years-old child betrays itself without need of being
questioned!  This was no common miss, such as are turned out in scores
from the young-lady-factories, with parchments warranting them
accomplished and virtuous,--in case anybody should question the fact.  I
began to understand her;--and what is so charming as to read the secret
of a real femme incomprise?--for such there are, though they are not the
ones who think themselves uncomprehended women.

Poets are never young, in one sense.  Their delicate ear hears the
far-off whispers of eternity, which coarser souls must travel towards for
scores of years before their dull sense is touched by them.  A moment's
insight is sometimes worth a life's experience.  I have frequently seen
children, long exercised by pain and exhaustion, whose features had a
strange look of advanced age.  Too often one meets such in our charitable
institutions.  Their faces are saddened and wrinkled, as if their few
summers were threescore years and ten.

And so, many youthful poets have written as if their hearts were old
before their time; their pensive morning twilight has been as cool and
saddening as that of evening in more common lives.  The profound
melancholy of those lines of Shelley,

     "I could lie down like a tired child
      And weep away the life of care
      Which I have borne and yet must bear."

came from a heart, as he says, "too soon grown old,"--at twenty-six
years, as dull people count time, even when they talk of poets.

I know enough to be prepared for an exceptional nature,--only this gift
of the hand in rendering every thought in form and color, as well as in
words, gives a richness to this young girl's alphabet of feeling and
imagery that takes me by surprise.  And then besides, and most of all, I
am puzzled at her sudden and seemingly easy confidence in me.  Perhaps I
owe it to my--Well, no matter!  How one must love the editor who first
calls him the venerable So-and-So!

--I locked the book and sighed as I laid it down.  The world is always
ready to receive talent with open arms.  Very often it does not know what
to do with genius.  Talent is a docile creature.  It bows its head meekly
while the world slips the collar over it.  It backs into the shafts like
a lamb.  It draws its load cheerfully, and is patient of the bit and of
the whip.  But genius is always impatient of its harness; its wild blood
makes it hard to train.

Talent seems, at first, in one sense, higher than genius,--namely, that
it is more uniformly and absolutely submitted to the will, and therefore
more distinctly human in its character.  Genius, on the other hand, is
much more like those instincts which govern the admirable movements of
the lower creatures, and therefore seems to have something of the lower
or animal character.  A goose flies by a chart which the Royal
Geographical Society could not mend.  A poet, like the goose, sails
without visible landmarks to unexplored regions of truth, which
philosophy has yet to lay down on its atlas. The philosopher gets his
track by observation; the poet trusts to his inner sense, and makes the
straighter and swifter line.

And yet, to look at it in another light, is not even the lowest instinct
more truly divine than any voluntary human act done by the suggestion of
reason?  What is a bee's architecture but an unobstructed divine
thought?--what is a builder's approximative rule but an obstructed
thought of the Creator, a mutilated and imperfect copy of some absolute
rule Divine Wisdom has established, transmitted through a human soul as
an image through clouded glass?

Talent is a very common family-trait; genius belongs rather to
individuals;--just as you find one giant or one dwarf in a family, but
rarely a whole brood of either.  Talent is often to be envied, and genius
very commonly to be pitied.  It stands twice the chance of the other of
dying in hospital, in jail, in debt, in bad repute. It is a perpetual
insult to mediocrity; its every word is a trespass against somebody's
vested ideas,--blasphemy against somebody's O'm, or intangible private

--What is the use of my weighing out antitheses in this way, like a
rhetorical grocer?--You know twenty men of talent, who are making their
way in the world; you may, perhaps, know one man of genius, and very
likely do not want to know any more.  For a divine instinct, such as
drives the goose southward and the poet heavenward, is a hard thing to
manage, and proves too strong for many whom it possesses.  It must have
been a terrible thing to have a friend like Chatterton or Burns.  And
here is a being who certainly has more than talent, at once poet and
artist in tendency, if not yet fairly developed,--a woman, too;--and
genius grafted on womanhood is like to overgrow it and break its stem, as
you may see a grafted fruit-tree spreading over the stock which cannot
keep pace with its evolution.

I think now you know something of this young person.  She wants nothing
but an atmosphere to expand in.  Now and then one meets with a nature for
which our hard, practical New England life is obviously utterly
incompetent.  It comes up, as a Southern seed, dropped by accident in one
of our gardens, finds itself trying to grow and blow into flower among
the homely roots and the hardy shrubs that surround it.  There is no
question that certain persons who are born among us find themselves many
degrees too far north.  Tropical by organization, they cannot fight for
life with our eastern and northwestern breezes without losing the color
and fragrance into which their lives would have blossomed in the latitude
of myrtles and oranges.  Strange effects are produced by suffering any
living thing to be developed under conditions such as Nature had not
intended for it.  A French physiologist confined some tadpoles under
water in the dark.  Removed from the natural stimulus of light, they did
not develop legs and arms at the proper period of their growth, and so
become frogs; they swelled and spread into gigantic tadpoles. I have seen
a hundred colossal human tadpoles, overgrown Zarvce or embryos; nay, I am
afraid we Protestants should look on a considerable proportion of the
Holy Father's one hundred and thirty-nine millions as spiritual larvae,
sculling about in the dark by the aid of their caudal extremities,
instead of standing on their legs, and breathing by gills, instead of
taking the free air of heaven into the lungs made to receive it.  Of
course we never try to keep young souls in the tadpole state, for fear
they should get a pair or two of legs by-and-by and jump out of the pool
where they have been bred and fed!  Never!  Never.  Never?

Now to go back to our plant.  You may know, that, for the earlier stages
of development of almost any vegetable, you only want air, water, light,
and warmth.  But by-and-by, if it is to have special complex principles
as a part of its organization, they must be supplied by the soil;--your
pears will crack, if the root of the tree gets no iron,--your
asparagus-bed wants salt as much as you do. Just at the period of
adolescence, the mind often suddenly begins to come into flower and to
set its fruit.  Then it is that many young natures, having exhausted the
spiritual soil round them of all it contains of the elements they demand,
wither away, undeveloped and uncolored, unless they are transplanted.

Pray for these dear young souls!  This is the second natural birth;--for
I do not speak of those peculiar religious experiences which form the
point of transition in many lives between the consciousness of a general
relation to the Divine nature and a special personal relation.  The
litany should count a prayer for them in the list of its supplications;
masses should be said for them as for souls in purgatory; all good
Christians should remember them as they remember those in peril through
travel or sickness or in warfare.

I would transport this child to Rome at once, if I had my will.  She
should ripen under an Italian sun.  She should walk under the frescoed
vaults of palaces, until her colors deepened to those of Venetian
beauties, and her forms were perfected into rivalry with the Greek
marbles, and the east wind was out of her soil.  Has she not exhausted
this lean soil of the elements her growing nature requires?

I do not know.  The magnolia grows and comes into full flower on Cape
Ann, many degrees out of its proper region.  I was riding once along that
delicious road between the hills and the sea, when we passed a thicket
where there seemed to be a chance of finding it. In five minutes I had
fallen on the trees in full blossom, and filled my arms with the sweet,
resplendent flowers.  I could not believe I was in our cold, northern
Essex, which, in the dreary season when I pass its slate-colored,
unpainted farm-houses, and huge, square, windy, 'squire-built "mansions,"
looks as brown and unvegetating as an old rug with its patterns all
trodden out and the colored fringe worn from all its border.

If the magnolia can bloom in northern New England, why should not a poet
or a painter come to his full growth here just as well?  Yes, but if the
gorgeous tree-flower is rare, and only as if by a freak of Nature springs
up in a single spot among the beeches and alders, is there not as much
reason to think the perfumed flower of imaginative genius will find it
hard to be born and harder to spread its leaves in the clear, cold
atmosphere of our ultra-temperate zone of humanity?

Take the poet.  On the one hand, I believe that a person with the
poetical faculty finds material everywhere.  The grandest objects of
sense and thought are common to all climates and civilizations.  The sky,
the woods, the waters, the storms, life, death love, the hope and vision
of eternity,--these are images that write themselves in poetry in every
soul which has anything of the divine gift.

On the other hand, there is such a thing as a lean, impoverished life, in
distinction from a rich and suggestive one.  Which our common New England
life might be considered, I will not decide.  But there are some things I
think the poet misses in our western Eden. I trust it is not unpatriotic
to mention them in this point of view as they come before us in so many
other aspects.

There is no sufficient flavor of humanity in the soil out of which we
grow.  At Cantabridge, near the sea, I have once or twice picked up an
Indian arrowhead in a fresh furrow.  At Canoe Meadow, in the Berkshire
Mountains, I have found Indian arrowheads.  So everywhere Indian
arrowheads.  Whether a hundred or a thousand years old, who knows? who
cares?  There is no history to the red race,--there is hardly an
individual in it;--a few instincts on legs and holding a tomahawk--there
is the Indian of all time.  The story of one red ant is the story of all
red ants.  So, the poet, in trying to wing his way back through the life
that has kindled, flitted, and faded along our watercourses and on our
southern hillsides for unknown generations, finds nothing to breathe or
fly in; he meets

    "A vast vacuity! all unawares,
     Fluttering his pennons vain, plumb down he drops
     Ten thousand fathom deep."

But think of the Old World,--that part of it which is the seat of ancient
civilization!  The stakes of the Britons' stockades are still standing in
the bed of the Thames.  The ploughman turns up an old Saxon's bones, and
beneath them is a tessellated pavement of the time of the Caesars.  In
Italy, the works of mediaeval Art seem to be of yesterday,--Rome, under
her kings, is but an intruding newcomer, as we contemplate her in the
shadow of the Cyclopean walls of Fiesole or Volterra.  It makes a man
human to live on these old humanized soils.  He cannot help marching in
step with his kind in the rear of such a procession.  They say a dead
man's hand cures swellings, if laid on them.  There is nothing like the
dead cold hand of the Past to take down our tumid egotism and lead us
into the solemn flow of the life of our race.  Rousseau came out of one
of his sad self-torturing fits, as he cast his eye on the arches of the
old Roman aqueduct, the Pont du Gard.

I am far from denying that there is an attraction in a thriving railroad
village.  The new "depot," the smartly-painted pine houses, the spacious
brick hotel, the white meeting-house, and the row of youthful and leggy
trees before it, are exhilarating.  They speak of progress, and the time
when there shall be a city, with a His Honor the Mayor, in the place of
their trim but transient architectural growths.  Pardon me, if I prefer
the pyramids.  They seem to me crystals formed from a stronger solution
of humanity than the steeple of the new meeting-house.  I may be wrong,
but the Tiber has a voice for me, as it whispers to the piers of the Pons
Alius, even more full of meaning than my well-beloved Charles eddying
round the piles of West Boston Bridge.

Then, again, we Yankees are a kind of gypsies,--a mechanical and
migratory race.  A poet wants a home.  He can dispense with an
apple-parer and a reaping-machine.  I feel this more for others than for
myself, for the home of my birth and childhood has been as yet exempted
from the change which has invaded almost everything around it.

--Pardon me a short digression.  To what small things our memory and our
affections attach themselves!  I remember, when I was a child, that one
of the girls planted some Star-of-Bethlehem bulbs in the southwest corner
of our front-yard.  Well, I left the paternal roof and wandered in other
lands, and learned to think in the words of strange people.  But after
many years, as I looked on the little front-yard again, it occurred to me
that there used to be some Star-of-Bethlehems in the southwest corner.
The grass was tall there, and the blade of the plant is very much like
grass, only thicker and glossier.  Even as Tully parted the briers and
brambles when he hunted for the sphere-containing cylinder that marked
the grave of Archimedes, so did I comb the grass with my fingers for my
monumental memorial-flower.  Nature had stored my keepsake tenderly in
her bosom; the glossy, faintly streaked blades were there; they are there
still, though they never flower, darkened as they are by the shade of the
elms and rooted in the matted turf.

Our hearts are held down to our homes by innumerable fibres, trivial as
that I have just recalled; but Gulliver was fixed to the soil, you
remember, by pinning his head a hair at a time.  Even a stone with a
whitish band crossing it, belonging to the pavement of the back-yard,
insisted on becoming one of the talismans of memory. This intussusception
of the ideas of inanimate objects, and their faithful storing away among
the sentiments, are curiously prefigured in the material structure of the
thinking centre itself.  In the very core of the brain, in the part where
Des Cartes placed the soul, is a small mineral deposit, consisting, as I
have seen it in the microscope, of grape-like masses of crystalline

But the plants that come up every year in the same place, like the
Star-of-Bethlehems, of all the lesser objects, give me the liveliest
home-feeling.  Close to our ancient gambrel-roofed house is the dwelling
of pleasant old Neighbor Walrus.  I remember the sweet honeysuckle that I
saw in flower against the wall of his house a few months ago, as long as
I remember the sky and stars.  That clump of peonies, butting their
purple heads through the soil every spring in just the same circle, and
by-and-by unpacking their hard balls of buds in flowers big enough to
make a double handful of leaves, has come up in just that place, Neighbor
Walrus tells me, for more years than I have passed on this planet.  It is
a rare privilege in our nomadic state to find the home of one's childhood
and its immediate neighborhood thus unchanged.  Many born poets, I am
afraid, flower poorly in song, or not at all, because they have been too
often transplanted.

Then a good many of our race are very hard and unimaginative;--their
voices have nothing caressing; their movements are as of machinery
without elasticity or oil.  I wish it were fair to print a letter a young
girl, about the age of our Iris, wrote a short time since.  "I am *** ***
***," she says, and tells her whole name outright.  Ah!--said I, when I
read that first frank declaration,--you are one of the right sort!--She
was.  A winged creature among close-clipped barn door fowl.  How tired
the poor girl was of the dull life about her,--the old woman's "skeleton
hand" at the window opposite, drawing her curtains,--"Ma'am shooing away
the hens,"--the vacuous country eyes staring at her as only country eyes
can stare,--a routine of mechanical duties, and the soul's
half-articulated cry for sympathy, without an answer!  Yes,--pray for
her, and for all such!  Faith often cures their longings; but it is so
hard to give a soul to heaven that has not first been trained in the
fullest and sweetest human affections!  Too often they fling their hearts
away on unworthy objects.  Too often they pine in a secret discontent,
which spreads its leaden cloud over the morning of their youth.  The
immeasurable distance between one of these delicate natures and the
average youths among whom is like to be her only choice makes one's heart
ache.  How many women are born too finely organized in sense and soul for
the highway they must walk with feet unshod!  Life is adjusted to the
wants of the stronger sex.  There are plenty of torrents to be crossed in
its journey; but their stepping-stones are measured by the stride of man,
and not of woman.

Women are more subject than men to atrophy of the heart.  So says the
great medical authority, Laennec.  Incurable cases of this kind used to
find their hospitals in convents.  We have the disease in New
England,--but not the hospitals.  I don't like to think of it. I will not
believe our young Iris is going to die out in this way. Providence will
find her some great happiness, or affliction, or duty,--and which would
be best for her, I cannot tell.  One thing is sure: the interest she
takes in her little neighbor is getting to be more engrossing than ever.
Something is the matter with him, and she knows it, and I think worries
herself about it.

I wonder sometimes how so fragile and distorted a frame has kept the
fiery spirit that inhabits it so long its tenant.  He accounts for it in
his own way.

The air of the Old World is good for nothing, he said, one day.--Used
up, Sir,--breathed over and over again.  You must come to this side, Sir,
for an atmosphere fit to breathe nowadays.  Did not worthy Mr. Higginson
say that a breath of New England's air is better than a sup of Old
England's ale?  I ought to have died when I was a boy, Sir; but I could
n't die in this Boston air,--and I think I shall have to go to New York
one of these days, when it's time for me to drop this bundle,--or to New
Orleans, where they have the yellow fever,--or to Philadelphia, where
they have so many doctors.

This was some time ago; but of late he has seemed, as I have before said,
to be ailing.  An experienced eye, such as I think I may call mine, can
tell commonly whether a man is going to die, or not, long before he or
his friends are alarmed about him.  I don't like it.

Iris has told me that the Scottish gift of second-sight runs in her
family, and that she is afraid she has it.  Those who are so endowed look
upon a well man and see a shroud wrapt about him.  According to the
degree to which it covers him, his death will be near or more remote.  It
is an awful faculty; but science gives one too much like it.  Luckily for
our friends, most of us who have the scientific second-sight school
ourselves not to betray our knowledge by word or look.

Day by day, as the Little Gentleman comes to the table, it seems to me
that the shadow of some approaching change falls darker and darker over
his countenance.  Nature is struggling with something, and I am afraid
she is under in the wrestling-match.  You do not care much, perhaps, for
my particular conjectures as to the nature of his difficulty.  I should
say, however, from the sudden flushes to which he is subject, and certain
other marks which, as an expert, I know how to interpret, that his heart
was in trouble; but then he presses his hand to the right side, as if
there were the centre of his uneasiness.

When I say difficulty about the heart, I do not mean any of those
sentimental maladies of that organ which figure more largely in romances
than on the returns which furnish our Bills of Mortality. I mean some
actual change in the organ itself, which may carry him off by slow and
painful degrees, or strike him down with one huge pang and only time for
a single shriek,--as when the shot broke through the brave Captain
Nolan's breast, at the head of the Light Brigade at Balaklava, and with a
loud cry he dropped dead from his saddle.

I thought it only fair to say something of what I apprehended to some who
were entitled to be warned.  The landlady's face fell when I mentioned my

Poor man!--she said.--And will leave the best room empty!  Has n't he got
any sisters or nieces or anybody to see to his things, if he should be
took away?  Such a sight of cases, full of everything! Never thought of
his failin' so suddin.  A complication of diseases, she expected.
Liver-complaint one of 'em?

After this first involuntary expression of the too natural selfish
feelings, (which we must not judge very harshly, unless we happen to be
poor widows ourselves, with children to keep filled, covered, and
taught,--rents high,--beef eighteen to twenty cents per pound,)--after
this first squeak of selfishness, followed by a brief movement of
curiosity, so invariable in mature females, as to the nature of the
complaint which threatens the life of a friend or any person who may
happen to be mentioned as ill,--the worthy soul's better feelings
struggled up to the surface, and she grieved for the doomed invalid,
until a tear or two came forth and found their way down a channel worn
for them since the early days of her widowhood.

Oh, this dreadful, dreadful business of being the prophet of evil! Of all
the trials which those who take charge of others' health and lives have
to undergo, this is the most painful.  It is all so plain to the
practised eye!--and there is the poor wife, the doting mother, who has
never suspected anything, or at least has clung always to the hope which
you are just going to wrench away from her!--I must tell Iris that I
think her poor friend is in a precarious state.  She seems nearer to him
than anybody.

I did tell her.  Whatever emotion it produced, she kept a still face,
except, perhaps, a little trembling of the lip.--Could I be certain that
there was any mortal complaint?--Why, no, I could not be certain; but it
looked alarming to me.--He shall have some of my life,--she said.

I suppose this to have been a fancy of hers, or a kind of magnetic power
she could give out;--at any rate, I cannot help thinking she wills her
strength away from herself, for she has lost vigor and color from that
day.  I have sometimes thought he gained the force she lost; but this may
have been a whim, very probably.

One day she came suddenly to me, looking deadly pale.  Her lips moved, as
if she were speaking; but I could not at first hear a word.  Her hair
looked strangely, as if lifting itself, and her eyes were full of wild
light.  She sunk upon a chair, and I thought was falling into one of her
trances.  Something had frozen her blood with fear; I thought, from what
she said, half audibly, that she believed she had seen a shrouded figure.

That night, at about eleven o'clock, I was sent for to see the Little
Gentleman, who was taken suddenly ill.  Bridget, the servant, went before
me with a light.  The doors were both unfastened, and I found myself
ushered, without hindrance, into the dim light of the mysterious
apartment I had so longed to enter.

I found these stanzas in the young girl's book among many others.  I give
them as characterizing the tone of her sadder moments.

               UNDER THE VIOLETS.

     Her hands are cold; her face is white;
     No more her pulses come and go;
     Her eyes are shut to life and light;
     Fold the white vesture, snow on snow,
     And lay her where the violets blow.

     But not beneath a graven stone,
     To plead for tears with alien eyes;
     A slender cross of wood alone
     Shall say, that here a maiden lies
     In peace beneath the peaceful skies.

     And gray old trees of hugest limb
     Shall wheel their circling shadows round
     To make the scorching sunlight dim
     That drinks the greenness from the ground,
     And drop their dead leaves on her mound.

     When o'er their boughs the squirrels run,
     And through their leaves the robins call,
     And, ripening in the autumn sun,
     The acorns and the chestnuts fall,
     Doubt not that she will heed them all.

     For her the morning choir shall sing
     Its matins from the branches high,
     And every minstrel voice of spring,
     That trills beneath the April sky,
     Shall greet her with its earliest cry.

     When, turning round their dial-track,
     Eastward the lengthening shadows pass,
     Her little mourners, clad in black,
     The crickets, sliding through the grass,
     Shall pipe for her an evening mass.

     At last the rootlets of the trees
     Shall find the prison where she lies,
     And bear the buried dust they seize
     In leaves and blossoms to the skies.
     So may the soul that warmed it rise!

     If any, born of kindlier blood,
     Should ask, What maiden lies below?
     Say only this: A tender bud,
     That tried to blossom in the snow,
     Lies withered where the violets blow.


You will know, perhaps, in the course of half an hour's reading, what has
been haunting my hours of sleep and waking for months.  I cannot tell, of
course, whether you are a nervous person or not. If, however, you are
such a person,--if it is late at night,--if all the rest of the household
have gone off to bed,--if the wind is shaking your windows as if a human
hand were rattling the sashes,--if your candle or lamp is low and will
soon burn out,--let me advise you to take up some good quiet sleepy
volume, or attack the "Critical Notices" of the last Quarterly and leave
this to be read by daylight, with cheerful voices round, and people near
by who would hear you, if you slid from your chair and came down in a
lump on the floor.

I do not say that your heart will beat as mine did, I am willing to
confess, when I entered the dim chamber.  Did I not tell you that I was
sensitive and imaginative, and that I had lain awake with thinking what
were the strange movements and sounds which I heard late at night in my
little neighbor's apartment?  It had come to that pass that I was truly
unable to separate what I had really heard from what I had dreamed in
those nightmares to which I have been subject, as before mentioned.  So,
when I walked into the room, and Bridget, turning back, closed the door
and left me alone with its tenant, I do believe you could have grated a
nutmeg on my skin, such a "goose-flesh" shiver ran over it.  It was not
fear, but what I call nervousness,--unreasoning, but irresistible; as
when, for instance, one looking at the sun going down says, "I will count
fifty before it disappears"; and as he goes on and it becomes doubtful
whether he will reach the number, he gets strangely flurried, and his
imagination pictures life and death and heaven and hell as the issues
depending on the completion or non-completion of the fifty he is
counting.  Extreme curiosity will excite some people as much as fear, or
what resembles fear, acts on some other less impressible natures.

I may find myself in the midst of strange facts in this little conjurer's
room.  Or, again, there may be nothing in this poor invalid's chamber but
some old furniture, such as they say came over in the Mayflower.  All
this is just what I mean to, find out while I am looking at the Little
Gentleman, who has suddenly become my patient.  The simplest things turn
out to be unfathomable mysteries; the most mysterious appearances prove
to be the most commonplace objects in disguise.

I wonder whether the boys who live in Roxbury and Dorchester are ever
moved to tears or filled with silent awe as they look upon the rocks and
fragments of "puddingstone" abounding in those localities. I have my
suspicions that those boys "heave a stone" or "fire a brickbat," composed
of the conglomerate just mentioned, without any more tearful or
philosophical contemplations than boys of less favored regions expend on
the same performance.  Yet a lump of puddingstone is a thing to look at,
to think about, to study over, to dream upon, to go crazy with, to beat
one's brains out against. Look at that pebble in it.  From what cliff was
it broken?  On what beach rolled by the waves of what ocean?  How and
when imbedded in soft ooze, which itself became stone, and by-and-by was
lifted into bald summits and steep cliffs, such as you may see on
Meetinghouse-Hill any day--yes, and mark the scratches on their faces
left when the boulder-carrying glaciers planed the surface of the
continent with such rough tools that the storms have not worn the marks
out of it with all the polishing of ever so many thousand years?

Or as you pass a roadside ditch or pool in springtime, take from it any
bit of stick or straw which has lain undisturbed for a time. Some little
worm-shaped masses of clear jelly containing specks are fastened to the
stick: eggs of a small snail-like shell-fish.  One of these specks
magnified proves to be a crystalline sphere with an opaque mass in its
centre.  And while you are looking, the opaque mass begins to stir, and
by-and-by slowly to turn upon its axis like a forming planet,--life
beginning in the microcosm, as in the great worlds of the firmament, with
the revolution that turns the surface in ceaseless round to the source of
life and light.

A pebble and the spawn of a mollusk!  Before you have solved their
mysteries, this earth where you first saw them may be a vitrified slag,
or a vapor diffused through the planetary spaces.  Mysteries are common
enough, at any rate, whatever the boys in Roxbury and Dorchester think of
"brickbats" and the spawn of creatures that live in roadside puddles.

But then a great many seeming mysteries are relatively perfectly plain,
when we can get at them so as to turn them over.  How many ghosts that
"thick men's blood with cold" prove to be shirts hung out to dry!  How
many mermaids have been made out of seals!  How many times have
horse-mackerels been taken for the sea-serpent!

--Let me take the whole matter coolly, while I see what is the matter
with the patient.  That is what I say to myself, as I draw a chair to the
bedside.  The bed is an old-fashioned, dark mahogany four-poster.  It was
never that which made the noise of something moving.  It is too heavy to
be pushed about the room.--The Little Gentleman was sitting, bolstered up
by pillows, with his hands clasped and their united palms resting on the
back of the head, one of the three or four positions specially affected
by persons whose breathing is difficult from disease of the heart or
other causes.

Sit down, Sir,--he said,--sit down!  I have come to the hill Difficulty,
Sir, and am fighting my way up.--His speech was laborious and

Don't talk,--I said,--except to answer my questions.--And I proceeded to
"prospect" for the marks of some local mischief, which you know is at the
bottom of all these attacks, though we do not always find it.  I suppose
I go to work pretty much like other professional folks of my temperament.

Wrist, if you please.--I was on his right side, but he presented his left
wrist, crossing it over the other.--I begin to count, holding watch in
left hand.  One, two, three, four,--What a handsome hand! wonder if that
splendid stone is a carbuncle.--One, two, three, four, five, six,
seven,--Can't see much, it is so dark, except one white object.--One,
two, three, four,--Hang it! eighty or ninety in the minute, I
guess.--Tongue, if you please.--Tongue is put out.  Forget to look at it,
or, rather, to take any particular notice of it;--but what is that white
object, with the long arm stretching up as if pointing to the sky, just
as Vesalius and Spigelius and those old fellows used to put their
skeletons?  I don't think anything of such objects, you know; but what
should he have it in his chamber for?  As I had found his pulse irregular
and intermittent, I took out a stethoscope, which is a pocket-spyglass
for looking into people's chests with your ears, and laid it over the
place where the heart beats.  I missed the usual beat of the organ.--How
is this?--I said,--where is your heart gone to?--He took the stethoscope
and shifted it across to the right side; there was a displacement of the
organ.--I am ill-packed,--he said;--there was no room for my heart in its
place as it is with other men.--God help him!

It is hard to draw the line between scientific curiosity and the desire
for the patient's sake to learn all the details of his condition.  I must
look at this patient's chest, and thump it and listen to it.  For this is
a case of ectopia cordis, my boy,--displacement of the heart; and it is
n't every day you get a chance to overhaul such an interesting
malformation.  And so I managed to do my duty and satisfy my curiosity at
the same time.  The torso was slight and deformed; the right arm
attenuated,--the left full, round, and of perfect symmetry.  It had run
away with the life of the other limbs,--a common trick enough of
Nature's, as I told you before.  If you see a man with legs withered from
childhood, keep out of the way of his arms, if you have a quarrel with
him.  He has the strength of four limbs in two; and if he strikes you, it
is an arm-blow plus a kick administered from the shoulder instead of the
haunch, where it should have started from.

Still examining him as a patient, I kept my eyes about me to search all
parts of the chamber and went on with the double process, as
before.--Heart hits as hard as a fist,--bellows-sound over mitral valves
(professional terms you need not attend to).--What the deuse is that long
case for?  Got his witch grandmother mummied in it? And three big
mahogany presses,--hey?--A diabolical suspicion came over me which I had
had once before,--that he might be one of our modern alchemists,--you
understand, make gold, you know, or what looks like it, sometimes with
the head of a king or queen or of Liberty to embellish one side of the
piece.--Don't I remember hearing him shut a door and lock it once?  What
do you think was kept under that lock?  Let's have another look at his
hand, to see if there are any calluses.

One can tell a man's business, if it is a handicraft, very often by just
taking a look at his open hand.  Ah!  Four calluses at the end of the
fingers of the right hand.  None on those of the left.  Ah, ha!  What do
those mean?

All this seems longer in the telling, of course, than it was in fact.
While I was making these observations of the objects around me, I was
also forming my opinion as to the kind of case with which I had to deal.

There are three wicks, you know, to the lamp of a man's life: brain,
blood, and breath.  Press the brain a little, its light goes out,
followed by both the others.  Stop the heart a minute and out go all
three of the wicks.  Choke the air out of the lungs, and presently the
fluid ceases to supply the other centres of flame, and all is soon
stagnation, cold, and darkness.  The "tripod of life" a French
physiologist called these three organs.  It is all clear enough which leg
of the tripod is going to break down here.  I could tell you exactly what
the difficulty is;--which would be as intelligible and amusing as a
watchmaker's description of a diseased timekeeper to a ploughman.  It is
enough to say, that I found just what I expected to, and that I think
this attack is only the prelude of more serious consequences,--which
expression means you very well know what.

And now the secrets of this life hanging on a thread must surely come
out.  If I have made a mystery where there was none, my suspicions will
be shamed, as they have often been before.  If there is anything strange,
my visits will clear it up.

I sat an hour or two by the side of the Little Gentleman's bed, after
giving him some henbane to quiet his brain, and some foxglove, which an
imaginative French professor has called the "Opium of the Heart."  Under
their influence he gradually fell into an uneasy, half-waking slumber,
the body fighting hard for every breath, and the mind wandering off in
strange fancies and old recollections, which escaped from his lips in
broken sentences.

--The last of 'em,--he said,--the last of 'em all,--thank God!  And the
grave he lies in will look just as well as if he had been straight.  Dig
it deep, old Martin, dig it deep,--and let it be as long as other folks'
graves.  And mind you get the sods flat, old man,--flat as ever a
straight-backed young fellow was laid under. And then, with a good tall
slab at the head, and a foot-stone six foot away from it, it'll look just
as if there was a man underneath.

A man!  Who said he was a man?  No more men of that pattern to bear his
name!--Used to be a good-looking set enough.--Where 's all the manhood
and womanhood gone to since his great-grandfather was the strongest man
that sailed out of the town of Boston, and poor Leah there the handsomest
woman in Essex, if she was a witch?

--Give me some light,--he said,--more light.  I want to see the picture.

He had started either from a dream or a wandering reverie.  I was not
unwilling to have more light in the apartment, and presently had lighted
an astral lamp that stood on a table.--He pointed to a portrait hanging
against the wall.--Look at her,--he said,--look at her!  Wasn't that a
pretty neck to slip a hangman's noose over?

The portrait was of a young woman, something more than twenty years old,
perhaps.  There were few pictures of any merit painted in New England
before the time of Smibert, and I am at a loss to know what artist could
have taken this half-length, which was evidently from life.  It was
somewhat stiff and flat, but the grace of the figure and the sweetness of
the expression reminded me of the angels of the early Florentine
painters.  She must have been of some consideration, for she was dressed
in paduasoy and lace with hanging sleeves, and the old carved frame
showed how the picture had been prized by its former owners.  A proud eye
she had, with all her sweetness.--I think it was that which hanged her,
as his strong arm hanged Minister George Burroughs;--but it may have been
a little mole on one cheek, which the artist had just hinted as a beauty
rather than a deformity.  You know, I suppose, that nursling imps addict
themselves, after the fashion of young opossums, to these little
excrescences.  "Witch-marks" were good evidence that a young woman was
one of the Devil's wet-nurses;--I should like to have seen you make fun
of them in those days!--Then she had a brooch in her bodice, that might
have been taken for some devilish amulet or other; and she wore a ring
upon one of her fingers, with a red stone in it, that flamed as if the
painter had dipped his pencil in fire;--who knows but that it was given
her by a midnight suitor fresh from that fierce element, and licensed for
a season to leave his couch of flame to tempt the unsanctified hearts of
earthly maidens and brand their cheeks with the print of his scorching

She and I,--he said, as he looked steadfastly at the canvas,--she and I
are the last of 'em.--She will stay, and I shall go.  They never painted
me,--except when the boys used to make pictures of me with chalk on the
board-fences.  They said the doctors would want my skeleton when I was
dead.--You are my friend, if you are a doctor,--a'n't you?

I just gave him my hand.  I had not the heart to speak.

I want to lie still,--he said,--after I am put to bed upon the hill
yonder.  Can't you have a great stone laid over me, as they did over the
first settlers in the old burying-ground at Dorchester, so as to keep the
wolves from digging them up?  I never slept easy over the sod;--I should
like to lie quiet under it.  And besides,--he said, in a kind of scared
whisper,--I don't want to have my bones stared at, as my body has been.
I don't doubt I was a remarkable case; but, for God's sake, oh, for God's
sake, don't let 'em make a show of the cage I have been shut up in and
looked through the bars of for so many years.

I have heard it said that the art of healing makes men hard-hearted and
indifferent to human suffering.  I am willing to own that there is often
a professional hardness in surgeons, just as there is in
theologians,--only much less in degree than in these last.  It does not
commonly improve the sympathies of a man to be in the habit of thrusting
knives into his fellow-creatures and burning them with red-hot irons, any
more than it improves them to hold the blinding-white cantery of Gehenna
by its cool handle and score and crisp young souls with it until they are
scorched into the belief of--Transubstantiation or the Immaculate
Conception.  And, to say the plain truth, I think there are a good many
coarse people in both callings.  A delicate nature will not commonly
choose a pursuit which implies the habitual infliction of suffering, so
readily as some gentler office.  Yet, while I am writing this paragraph,
there passes by my window, on his daily errand of duty, not seeing me,
though I catch a glimpse of his manly features through the oval glass of
his chaise, as he drives by, a surgeon of skill and standing, so
friendly, so modest, so tenderhearted in all his ways, that, if he had
not approved himself at once adroit and firm, one would have said he was
of too kindly a mould to be the minister of pain, even if he were saving

You may be sure that some men, even among those who have chosen the task
of pruning their fellow-creatures, grow more and more thoughtful and
truly compassionate in the midst of their cruel experience.  They become
less nervous, but more sympathetic.  They have a truer sensibility for
others' pain, the more they study pain and disease in the light of
science.  I have said this without claiming any special growth in
humanity for myself, though I do hope I grow tenderer in my feelings as I
grow older.  At any rate, this was not a time in which professional
habits could keep down certain instincts of older date than these.

This poor little man's appeal to my humanity against the supposed
rapacity of Science, which he feared would have her "specimen," if his
ghost should walk restlessly a thousand years, waiting for his bones to
be laid in the dust, touched my heart.  But I felt bound to speak

--We won't die yet awhile, if we can help it,--I said,--and I trust we
can help it.  But don't be afraid; if I live longest, I will see that
your resting place is kept sacred till the dandelions and buttercups blow
over you.

He seemed to have got his wits together by this time, and to have a vague
consciousness that he might have been saying more than he meant for
anybody's ears.--I have been talking a little wild, Sir, eh? he
said.--There is a great buzzing in my head with those drops of yours, and
I doubt if my tongue has not been a little looser than I would have it,
Sir.  But I don't much want to live, Sir; that's the truth of the matter,
and it does rather please me to think that fifty years from now nobody
will know that the place where I lie does n't hold as stout and straight
a man as the best of 'em that stretch out as if they were proud of the
room they take.  You may get me well, if you can, Sir, if you think it
worth while to try; but I tell you there has been no time for this many a
year when the smell of fresh earth was not sweeter to me than all the
flowers that grow out of it.  There's no anodyne like your good clean
gravel, Sir.  But if you can keep me about awhile, and it amuses you to
try, you may show your skill upon me, if you like.  There is a pleasure
or two that I love the daylight for, and I think the night is not far
off, at best.--I believe I shall sleep now; you may leave me, and come,
if you like, in the morning.

Before I passed out, I took one more glance round the apartment. The
beautiful face of the portrait looked at me, as portraits often do, with
a frightful kind of intelligence in its eyes.  The drapery fluttered on
the still outstretched arm of the tall object near the window;--a crack
of this was open, no doubt, and some breath of wind stirred the hanging
folds.  In my excited state, I seemed to see something ominous in that
arm pointing to the heavens.  I thought of the figures in the Dance of
Death at Basle, and that other on the panels of the covered Bridge at
Lucerne, and it seemed to me that the grim mask who mingles with every
crowd and glides over every threshold was pointing the sick man to his
far home, and would soon stretch out his bony hand and lead him or drag
him on the unmeasured journey towards it.

The fancy had possession of me, and I shivered again as when I first
entered the chamber.  The picture and the shrouded shape; I saw only
these two objects.  They were enough.  The house was deadly still, and
the night-wind, blowing through an open window, struck me as from a field
of ice, at the moment I passed into the creaking corridor.  As I turned
into the common passage, a white figure, holding a lamp, stood full
before me.  I thought at first it was one of those images made to stand
in niches and hold a light in their hands.  But the illusion was
momentary, and my eyes speedily recovered from the shock of the bright
flame and snowy drapery to see that the figure was a breathing one.  It
was Iris, in one of her statue-trances.  She had come down, whether
sleeping or waking, I knew not at first, led by an instinct that told her
she was wanted,--or, possibly, having overheard and interpreted the
sound of our movements,--or, it may be, having learned from the servant
that there was trouble which might ask for a woman's hand.  I sometimes
think women have a sixth sense, which tells them that others, whom they
cannot see or hear, are in suffering.  How surely we find them at the
bedside of the dying!  How strongly does Nature plead for them, that we
should draw our first breath in their arms, as we sigh away our last upon
their faithful breasts!

With white, bare feet, her hair loosely knotted, clad as the starlight
knew her, and the morning when she rose from slumber, save that she had
twisted a scarf round her long dress, she stood still as a stone before
me, holding in one hand a lighted coil of waxtaper, and in the other a
silver goblet.  I held my own lamp close to her, as if she had been a
figure of marble, and she did not stir.  There was no breach of propriety
then, to scare the Poor Relation with and breed scandal out of.  She had
been "warned in a dream," doubtless suggested by her waking knowledge and
the sounds which had reached her exalted sense.  There was nothing more
natural than that she should have risen and girdled her waist, and
lighted her taper, and found the silver goblet with "Ex dono pupillorum"
on it, from which she had taken her milk and possets through all her
childish years, and so gone blindly out to find her place at the
bedside,--a Sister of Charity without the cap and rosary; nay, unknowing
whither her feet were leading her, and with wide blank eyes seeing
nothing but the vision that beckoned her along.--Well, I must wake her
from her slumber or trance.--I called her name, but she did not heed my

The Devil put it into my head that I would kiss one handsome young girl
before I died, and now was my chance.  She never would know it, and I
should carry the remembrance of it with me into the grave, and a rose
perhaps grow out of my dust, as a brier did out of Lord Lovers, in memory
of that immortal moment!  Would it wake her from her trance? and would
she see me in the flush of my stolen triumph, and hate and despise me
ever after?  Or should I carry off my trophy undetected, and always from
that time say to myself, when I looked upon her in the glory of youth and
the splendor of beauty, "My lips have touched those roses and made their
sweetness mine forever"? You think my cheek was flushed, perhaps, and my
eyes were glittering with this midnight flash of opportunity.  On the
contrary, I believe I was pale, very pale, and I know that I trembled.
Ah, it is the pale passions that are the fiercest,--it is the violence of
the chill that gives the measure of the fever!  The fighting-boy of our
school always turned white when he went out to a pitched battle with the
bully of some neighboring village; but we knew what his bloodless cheeks
meant,--the blood was all in his stout heart,--he was a slight boy, and
there was not enough to redden his face and fill his heart both at once.

Perhaps it is making a good deal of a slight matter, to tell the internal
conflicts in the heart of a quiet person something more than juvenile and
something less than senile, as to whether he should be guilty of an
impropriety, and, if he were, whether he would get caught in his
indiscretion.  And yet the memory of the kiss that Margaret of Scotland
gave to Alain Chartier has lasted four hundred years, and put it into the
head of many an ill-favored poet, whether Victoria, or Eugenie, would do
as much by him, if she happened to pass him when he was asleep.  And have
we ever forgotten that the fresh cheek of the young John Milton tingled
under the lips of some high-born Italian beauty, who, I believe, did not
think to leave her card by the side of the slumbering youth, but has
bequeathed the memory of her pretty deed to all coming time?  The sound
of a kiss is not so loud as that of a cannon, but its echo lasts a deal

There is one disadvantage which the man of philosophical habits of mind
suffers, as compared with the man of action.  While he is taking an
enlarged and rational view of the matter before him, he lets his chance
slip through his fingers.  Iris woke up, of her own accord, before I had
made up my mind what I was going to do about it.

When I remember how charmingly she looked, I don't blame myself at all
for being tempted; but if I had been fool enough to yield to the impulse,
I should certainly have been ashamed to tell of it.  She did not know
what to make of it, finding herself there alone, in such guise, and me
staring at her.  She looked down at her white robe and bare feet, and
colored,--then at the goblet she held in her hand, then at the taper; and
at last her thoughts seemed to clear up.

I know it all,--she said.--He is going to die, and I must go and sit by
him.  Nobody will care for him as I shall, and I have nobody else to care

I assured her that nothing was needed for him that night but rest, and
persuaded her that the excitement of her presence could only do harm.
Let him sleep, and he would very probably awake better in the morning.
There was nothing to be said, for I spoke with authority; and the young
girl glided away with noiseless step and sought her own chamber.

The tremor passed away from my limbs, and the blood began to burn in my
cheeks.  The beautiful image which had so bewitched me faded gradually
from my imagination, and I returned to the still perplexing mysteries of
my little neighbor's chamber.

All was still there now.  No plaintive sounds, no monotonous murmurs, no
shutting of windows and doors at strange hours, as if something or
somebody were coming in or going out, or there was something to be hidden
in those dark mahogany presses.  Is there an inner apartment that I have
not seen?  The way in which the house is built might admit of it.  As I
thought it over, I at once imagined a Bluebeard's chamber.  Suppose, for
instance, that the narrow bookshelves to the right are really only a
masked door, such as we remember leading to the private study of one of
our most distinguished townsmen, who loved to steal away from his stately
library to that little silent cell.  If this were lighted from above, a
person or persons might pass their days there without attracting
attention from the household, and wander where they pleased at night,--to
Copp's-Hill burial-ground, if they liked,--I said to myself, laughing,
and pulling the bed-clothes over my head. There is no logic in
superstitious-fancies any more than in dreams. A she-ghost wouldn't want
an inner chamber to herself.  A live woman, with a valuable soprano
voice, wouldn't start off at night to sprain her ankles over the old
graves of the North-End cemetery.

It is all very easy for you, middle-aged reader, sitting over this page
in the broad daylight, to call me by all manner of asinine and anserine
unchristian names, because I had these fancies running through my head.
I don't care much for your abuse.  The question is not, what it is
reasonable for a man to think about, but what he actually does think
about, in the dark, and when he is alone, and his whole body seems but
one great nerve of hearing, and he sees the phosphorescent flashes of his
own eyeballs as they turn suddenly in the direction of the last strange
noise,--what he actually does think about, as he lies and recalls all the
wild stories his head is full of, his fancy hinting the most alarming
conjectures to account for the simplest facts about him, his common-sense
laughing them to scorn the next minute, but his mind still returning to
them, under one shape or another, until he gets very nervous and foolish,
and remembers how pleasant it used to be to have his mother come and tuck
him up and go and sit within call, so that she could hear him at any
minute, if he got very much scared and wanted her.  Old babies that we

Daylight will clear up all that lamp-light has left doubtful.  I longed
for the morning to come, for I was more curious than ever. So, between my
fancies and anticipations, I had but a poor night of it, and came down
tired to the breakfast-table.  My visit was not to be made until after
this morning hour; there was nothing urgent, so the servant was ordered
to tell me.

It was the first breakfast at which the high chair at the side of Iris
had been unoccupied.--You might jest as well take away that chair,--said
our landlady,--he'll never want it again.  He acts like a man that 's
struck with death, 'n' I don't believe he 'll ever come out of his
chamber till he 's laid out and brought down a corpse.--These good women
do put things so plainly!  There were two or three words in her short
remark that always sober people, and suggest silence or brief moral

--Life is dreadful uncerting,--said the Poor Relation,--and pulled in her
social tentacles to concentrate her thoughts on this fact of human

--If there was anything a fellah could do,--said the young man John, so
called,--a fellah 'd like the chance o' helpin' a little cripple like
that.  He looks as if he couldn't turn over any handier than a turtle
that's laid on his back; and I guess there a'n't many people that know
how to lift better than I do.  Ask him if he don't want any watchers.  I
don't mind settin' up any more 'n a cat-owl.  I was up all night twice
last month.

[My private opinion is, that there was no small amount of punch absorbed
on those two occasions, which I think I heard of at the time];--but the
offer is a kind one, and it is n't fair to question how he would like
sitting up without the punch and the company and the songs and smoking.
He means what he says, and it would be a more considerable achievement
for him to sit quietly all night by a sick man than for a good many other
people.  I tell you this odd thing: there are a good many persons, who,
through the habit of making other folks uncomfortable, by finding fault
with all their cheerful enjoyments, at last get up a kind of hostility to
comfort in general, even in their own persons.  The correlative to loving
our neighbors as ourselves is hating ourselves as we hate our neighbors.
Look at old misers; first they starve their dependants, and then
themselves.  So I think it more for a lively young fellow to be ready to
play nurse than for one of those useful but forlorn martyrs who have
taken a spite against themselves and love to gratify it by fasting and

--The time came at last for me to make my visit.  I found Iris sitting by
the Little Gentleman's pillow.  To my disappointment, the room was
darkened.  He did not like the light, and would have the shutters kept
nearly closed.  It was good enough for me; what business had I to be
indulging my curiosity, when I had nothing to do but to exercise such
skill as I possessed for the benefit of my patient?  There was not much
to be said or done in such a case; but I spoke as encouragingly as I
could, as I think we are always bound to do.  He did not seem to pay any
very anxious attention, but the poor girl listened as if her own life and
more than her own life were depending on the words I uttered.  She
followed me out of the room, when I had got through my visit.

How long?--she said.

Uncertain.  Any time; to-day,--next week, next month,--I answered.--One
of those cases where the issue is not doubtful, but may be sudden or

The women of the house were kind, as women always are in trouble. But
Iris pretended that nobody could spare the time as well as she, and kept
her place, hour after hour, until the landlady insisted that she'd be
killin' herself, if she begun at that rate, 'n' haf to give up, if she
didn't want to be clean beat out in less 'n a week.

At the table we were graver than common.  The high chair was set back
against the wall, and a gap left between that of the young girl and her
nearest neighbor's on the right.  But the next morning, to our great
surprise, that good-looking young Marylander had very quietly moved his
own chair to the vacant place.  I thought he was creeping down that way,
but I was not prepared for a leap spanning such a tremendous parenthesis
of boarders as this change of position included.  There was no denying
that the youth and maiden were a handsome pair, as they sat side by side.
But whatever the young girl may have thought of her new neighbor she
never seemed for a moment to forget the poor little friend who had been
taken from her side.  There are women, and even girls, with whom it is of
no use to talk.  One might as well reason with a bee as to the form of
his cell, or with an oriole as to the construction of his swinging nest,
as try to stir these creatures from their own way of doing their own
work.  It was not a question with Iris, whether she was entitled by any
special relation or by the fitness of things to play the part of a nurse.
She was a wilful creature that must have her way in this matter.  And it
so proved that it called for much patience and long endurance to carry
through the duties, say rather the kind offices, the painful pleasures,
which she had chosen as her share in the household where accident had
thrown her.  She had that genius of ministration which is the special
province of certain women, marked even among their helpful sisters by a
soft, low voice, a quiet footfall, a light hand, a cheering smile, and a
ready self-surrender to the objects of their care, which such trifles as
their own food, sleep, or habits of any kind never presume to interfere
with. Day after day, and too often through the long watches of the night,
she kept her place by the pillow.

That girl will kill herself over me, Sir,--said the poor Little Gentleman
to me, one day,--she will kill herself, Sir, if you don't call in all the
resources of your art to get me off as soon as may be.  I shall wear her
out, Sir, with sitting in this close chamber and watching when she ought
to be sleeping, if you leave me to the care of Nature without dosing me.

This was rather strange pleasantry, under the circumstances.  But there
are certain persons whose existence is so out of parallel with the larger
laws in the midst of which it is moving, that life becomes to them as
death and death as life.--How am I getting along?--he said, another
morning.  He lifted his shrivelled hand, with the death's-head ring on
it, and looked at it with a sad sort of complacency.  By this one
movement, which I have seen repeatedly of late, I know that his thoughts
have gone before to another condition, and that he is, as it were,
looking back on the infirmities of the body as accidents of the past.
For, when he was well, one might see him often looking at the handsome
hand with the flaming jewel on one of its fingers.  The single
well-shaped limb was the source of that pleasure which in some form or
other Nature almost always grants to her least richly endowed children.
Handsome hair, eyes, complexion, feature, form, hand, foot, pleasant
voice, strength, grace, agility, intelligence,--how few there are that
have not just enough of one at least of these gifts to show them that the
good Mother, busy with her millions of children, has not quite forgotten
them!  But now he was thinking of that other state, where, free from all
mortal impediments, the memory of his sorrowful burden should be only as
that of the case he has shed to the insect whose "deep-damasked wings"
beat off the golden dust of the lily-anthers, as he flutters in the
ecstasy of his new life over their full-blown summer glories.

No human being can rest for any time in a state of equilibrium, where the
desire to live and that to depart just balance each other. If one has a
house, which he has lived and always means to live in, he pleases himself
with the thought of all the conveniences it offers him, and thinks little
of its wants and imperfections.  But once having made up his mind to move
to a better, every incommodity starts out upon him, until the very
ground-plan of it seems to have changed in his mind, and his thoughts and
affections, each one of them packing up its little bundle of
circumstances, have quitted their several chambers and nooks and migrated
to the new home, long before its apartments are ready to receive their
coming tenant.  It is so with the body.  Most persons have died before
they expire,--died to all earthly longings, so that the last breath is
only, as it were, the locking of the door of the already deserted
mansion.  The fact of the tranquillity with which the great majority of
dying persons await this locking of those gates of life through which its
airy angels have been going and coming, from the moment of the first cry,
is familiar to those who have been often called upon to witness the last
period of life.  Almost always there is a preparation made by Nature for
unearthing a soul, just as on the smaller scale there is for the removal
of a milktooth.  The roots which hold human life to earth are absorbed
before it is lifted from its place.  Some of the dying are weary and want
rest, the idea of which is almost inseparable in the universal mind from
death.  Some are in pain, and want to be rid of it, even though the
anodyne be dropped, as in the legend, from the sword of the Death-Angel.
Some are stupid, mercifully narcotized that they may go to sleep without
long tossing about.  And some are strong in faith and hope, so that, as
they draw near the next world, they would fair hurry toward it, as the
caravan moves faster over the sands when the foremost travellers send
word along the file that water is in sight.  Though each little party
that follows in a foot-track of its own will have it that the water to
which others think they are hastening is a mirage, not the less has it
been true in all ages and for human beings of every creed which
recognized a future, that those who have fallen worn out by their march
through the Desert have dreamed at least of a River of Life, and thought
they heard its murmurs as they lay dying.

The change from the clinging to the present to the welcoming of the
future comes very soon, for the most part, after all hope of life is
extinguished, provided this be left in good degree to Nature, and not
insolently and cruelly forced upon those who are attacked by illness, on
the strength of that odious foreknowledge often imparted by science,
before the white fruit whose core is ashes, and which we call death, has
set beneath the pallid and drooping flower of sickness.  There is a
singular sagacity very often shown in a patient's estimate of his own
vital force.  His physician knows the state of his material frame well
enough, perhaps,--that this or that organ is more or less impaired or
disintegrated; but the patient has a sense that he can hold out so much
longer,--sometimes that he must and will live for a while, though by the
logic of disease he ought to die without any delay.

The Little Gentleman continued to fail, until it became plain that his
remaining days were few.  I told the household what to expect. There was
a good deal of kind feeling expressed among the boarders, in various
modes, according to their characters and style of sympathy.  The landlady
was urgent that he should try a certain nostrum which had saved
somebody's life in jest sech a case.  The Poor Relation wanted me to
carry, as from her, a copy of "Allein's Alarm," etc.  I objected to the
title, reminding her that it offended people of old, so that more than
twice as many of the book were sold when they changed the name to "A Sure
Guide to Heaven." The good old gentleman whom I have mentioned before has
come to the time of life when many old men cry easily, and forget their
tears as children do.--He was a worthy gentleman,--he said,--a very
worthy gentleman, but unfortunate,--very unfortunate.  Sadly deformed
about the spine and the feet.  Had an impression that the late Lord Byron
had some malformation of this kind.  Had heerd there was something the
matter with the ankle-j'ints of that nobleman, but he was a man of
talents.  This gentleman seemed to be a man of talents.  Could not always
agree with his statements,--thought he was a little over-partial to this
city, and had some free opinions; but was sorry to lose him,--and
if--there was anything--he--could--.  In the midst of these kind
expressions, the gentleman with the diamond, the Koh-i-noor, as we called
him, asked, in a very unpleasant sort of way, how the old boy was likely
to cut up,--meaning what money our friend was going to leave behind.

The young fellow John spoke up, to the effect that this was a diabolish
snobby question, when a man was dying and not dead.--To this the
Koh-i-noor replied, by asking if the other meant to insult him.  Whereto
the young man John rejoined that he had no particul'r intentions one way
or t'other.-The Kohi-noor then suggested the young man's stepping out
into the yard, that he, the speaker, might "slap his chops."--Let 'em
alone, said young Maryland,--it 'll soon be over, and they won't hurt
each other much.--So they went out.

The Koh-i-noor entertained the very common idea, that, when one quarrels
with another, the simple thing to do is to knock the man down, and there
is the end of it.  Now those who have watched such encounters are aware
of two things: first, that it is not so easy to knock a man down as it is
to talk about it; secondly, that, if you do happen to knock a man down,
there is a very good chance that he will be angry, and get up and give
you a thrashing.

So the Koh-i-noor thought he would begin, as soon as they got into the
yard, by knocking his man down, and with this intention swung his arm
round after the fashion of rustics and those unskilled in the noble art,
expecting the young fellow John to drop when his fist, having completed a
quarter of a circle, should come in contact with the side of that young
man's head.  Unfortunately for this theory, it happens that a blow struck
out straight is as much shorter, and therefore as much quicker than the
rustic's swinging blow, as the radius is shorter than the quarter of a
circle.  The mathematical and mechanical corollary was, that the
Koh-i-noor felt something hard bring up suddenly against his right eye,
which something he could have sworn was a paving-stone, judging by his
sensations; and as this threw his person somewhat backwards, and the
young man John jerked his own head back a little, the swinging blow had
nothing to stop it; and as the Jewel staggered between the hit he got and
the blow he missed, he tripped and "went to grass," so far as the
back-yard of our boardinghouse was provided with that vegetable.  It was
a signal illustration of that fatal mistake, so frequent in young and
ardent natures with inconspicuous calves and negative pectorals, that
they can settle most little quarrels on the spot by "knocking the man

We are in the habit of handling our faces so carefully, that a heavy
blow, taking effect on that portion of the surface, produces a most
unpleasant surprise, which is accompanied with odd sensations, as of
seeing sparks, and a kind of electrical or ozone-like odor,
half-sulphurous in character, and which has given rise to a very vulgar
and profane threat sometimes heard from the lips of bullies.  A person
not used to pugilistic gestures does not instantly recover from this
surprise.  The Koh-i-noor exasperated by his failure, and still a little
confused by the smart hit he had received, but furious, and confident of
victory over a young fellow a good deal lighter than himself, made a
desperate rush to bear down all before him and finish the contest at
once.  That is the way all angry greenhorns and incompetent persons
attempt to settle matters.  It does n't do, if the other fellow is only
cool, moderately quick, and has a very little science.  It didn't do this
time; for, as the assailant rushed in with his arms flying everywhere,
like the vans of a windmill, he ran a prominent feature of his face
against a fist which was travelling in the other direction, and
immediately after struck the knuckles of the young man's other fist a
severe blow with the part of his person known as the epigastrium to one
branch of science and the bread-basket to another.  This second round
closed the battle.  The Koh-i-noor had got enough, which in such cases is
more than as good as a feast.  The young fellow asked him if he was
satisfied, and held out his hand.  But the other sulked, and muttered
something about revenge.--Jest as ye like,--said the young man
John.--Clap a slice o' raw beefsteak on to that mouse o' yours 'n' 't'll
take down the swellin'.  (Mouse is a technical term for a bluish, oblong,
rounded elevation occasioned by running one's forehead or eyebrow against
another's knuckles.) The young fellow was particularly pleased that he
had had an opportunity of trying his proficiency in the art of
self-defence without the gloves.  The Koh-i-noor did not favor us with
his company for a day or two, being confined to his chamber, it was said,
by a slight feverish, attack. He was chop-fallen always after this, and
got negligent in his person.  The impression must have been a deep one;
for it was observed, that, when he came down again, his moustache and
whiskers had turned visibly white about the roots.  In short, it
disgraced him, and rendered still more conspicuous a tendency to
drinking, of which he had been for some time suspected.  This, and the
disgust which a young lady naturally feels at hearing that her lover has
been "licked by a fellah not half his size," induced the landlady's
daughter to take that decided step which produced a change in the
programme of her career I may hereafter allude to.

I never thought he would come to good, when I heard him attempting to
sneer at an unoffending city so respectable as Boston.  After a man
begins to attack the State-House, when he gets bitter about the
Frog-Pond, you may be sure there is not much left of him.  Poor Edgar Poe
died in the hospital soon after he got into this way of talking; and so
sure as you find an unfortunate fellow reduced to this pass, you had
better begin praying for him, and stop lending him money, for he is on
his last legs.  Remember poor Edgar!  He is dead and gone; but the
State-House has its cupola fresh-gilded, and the Frog-Pond has got a
fountain that squirts up a hundred feet into the air and glorifies that
humble sheet with a fine display of provincial rainbows.

--I cannot fulfil my promise in this number.  I expected to gratify your
curiosity, if you have become at all interested in these puzzles, doubts,
fancies, whims, or whatever you choose to call them, of mine.  Next month
you shall hear all about it.

--It was evening, and I was going to the sick-chamber.  As I paused
at the door before entering, I heard a sweet voice singing.  It was
not the wild melody I had sometimes heard at midnight:--no, this was
the voice of Iris, and I could distinguish every word.  I had seen
the verses in her book; the melody was new to me.  Let me finish my
page with them.

               HYMN OF TRUST.

     O Love Divine, that stooped to share
     Our sharpest pang, our bitterest tear,
     On Thee we cast each earthborn care,
     We smile at pain while Thou art near!

     Though long the weary way we tread,
     And sorrow crown each lingering year,
     No path we shun, no darkness dread,
     Our hearts still whispering, Thou art near!

     When drooping pleasure turns to grief,
     And trembling faith is changed to fear,
     The murmuring wind, the quivering leaf
     Shall softly tell us, Thou art near!

     On Thee we fling our burdening woe,
     O Love Divine, forever dear,
     Content to suffer, while we know,
     Living and dying, Thou art near!


A young fellow, born of good stock, in one of the more thoroughly
civilized portions of these United States of America, bred in good
principles, inheriting a social position which makes him at his ease
everywhere, means sufficient to educate him thoroughly without taking
away the stimulus to vigorous exertion, and with a good opening in some
honorable path of labor, is the finest sight our private satellite has
had the opportunity of inspecting on the planet to which she belongs.  In
some respects it was better to be a young Greek.  If we may trust the old
marbles, my friend with his arm stretched over my head, above there, (in
plaster of Paris,) or the discobolus, whom one may see at the principal
sculpture gallery of this metropolis,--those Greek young men were of
supreme beauty. Their close curls, their elegantly set heads, column-like
necks, straight noses, short, curled lips, firm chins, deep chests, light
flanks, large muscles, small joints, were finer than anything we ever
see.  It may well be questioned whether the human shape will ever present
itself again in a race of such perfect symmetry.  But the life of the
youthful Greek was local, not planetary, like that of the young American.
He had a string of legends, in place of our Gospels.  He had no printed
books, no newspaper, no steam caravans, no forks, no soap, none of the
thousand cheap conveniences which have become matters of necessity to our
modern civilization.  Above all things, if he aspired to know as well as
to enjoy, he found knowledge not diffused everywhere about him, so that a
day's labor would buy him more wisdom than a year could master, but held
in private hands, hoarded in precious manuscripts, to be sought for only
as gold is sought in narrow fissures, and in the beds of brawling
streams.  Never, since man came into this atmosphere of oxygen and azote,
was there anything like the condition of the young American of the
nineteenth century.  Having in possession or in prospect the best part of
half a world, with all its climates and soils to choose from; equipped
with wings of fire and smoke than fly with him day and night, so that he
counts his journey not in miles, but in degrees, and sees the seasons
change as the wild fowl sees them in his annual flights; with huge
leviathans always ready to take him on their broad backs and push behind
them with their pectoral or caudal fins the waters that seam the
continent or separate the hemispheres; heir of all old civilizations,
founder of that new one which, if all the prophecies of the human heart
are not lies, is to be the noblest, as it is the last; isolated in space
from the races that are governed by dynasties whose divine right grows
out of human wrong, yet knit into the most absolute solidarity with
mankind of all times and places by the one great thought he inherits as
his national birthright; free to form and express his opinions on almost
every subject, and assured that he will soon acquire the last franchise
which men withhold from man,--that of stating the laws of his spiritual
being and the beliefs he accepts without hindrance except from clearer
views of truth,--he seems to want nothing for a large, wholesome, noble,
beneficent life.  In fact, the chief danger is that he will think the
whole planet is made for him, and forget that there are some
possibilities left in the debris of the old-world civilization which
deserve a certain respectful consideration at his hands.

The combing and clipping of this shaggy wild continent are in some
measure done for him by those who have gone before.  Society has
subdivided itself enough to have a place for every form of talent. Thus,
if a man show the least sign of ability as a sculptor or a painter, for
instance, he finds the means of education and a demand for his services.
Even a man who knows nothing but science will be provided for, if he does
not think it necessary to hang about his birthplace all his days,--which
is a most unAmerican weakness.  The apron-strings of an American mother
are made of India-rubber.  Her boy belongs where he is wanted; and that
young Marylander of ours spoke for all our young men, when he said that
his home was wherever the stars and stripes blew over his head.

And that leads me to say a few words of this young gentleman, who made
that audacious movement lately which I chronicled in my last
record,--jumping over the seats of I don't know how many boarders to put
himself in the place which the Little Gentleman's absence had left vacant
at the side of Iris.  When a young man is found habitually at the side of
any one given young lady,--when he lingers where she stays, and hastens
when she leaves,--when his eyes follow her as she moves and rest upon her
when she is still,--when he begins to grow a little timid, he who was so
bold, and a little pensive, he who was so gay, whenever accident finds
them alone,--when he thinks very often of the given young lady, and
names her very seldom,--

What do you say about it, my charming young expert in that sweet science
in which, perhaps, a long experience is not the first of qualifications?

--But we don't know anything about this young man, except that he is
good-looking, and somewhat high-spirited, and strong-limbed, and has a
generous style of nature,--all very promising, but by no means proving
that he is a proper lover for Iris, whose heart we turned inside out when
we opened that sealed book of hers.

Ah, my dear young friend!  When your mamma then, if you will believe it,
a very slight young lady, with very pretty hair and figure--came and told
her mamma that your papa had--had--asked No, no, no! she could n't say
it; but her mother--oh the depth of maternal sagacity!--guessed it all
without another word!--When your mother, I say, came and told her mother
she was engaged, and your grandmother told your grandfather, how much did
they know of the intimate nature of the young gentleman to whom she had
pledged her existence?  I will not be so hard as to ask how much your
respected mamma knew at that time of the intimate nature of your
respected papa, though, if we should compare a young girl's
man-as-she-thinks-him with a forty-summered matron's man-as-she-finds-him,
I have my doubts as to whether the second would be a facsimile of the
first in most cases.

The idea that in this world each young person is to wait until he or she
finds that precise counterpart who alone of all creation was meant for
him or her, and then fall instantly in love with it, is pretty enough,
only it is not Nature's way.  It is not at all essential that all pairs
of human beings should be, as we sometimes say of particular couples,
"born for each other."  Sometimes a man or a woman is made a great deal
better and happier in the end for having had to conquer the faults of the
one beloved, and make the fitness not found at first, by gradual
assimilation.  There is a class of good women who have no right to marry
perfectly good men, because they have the power of saving those who would
go to ruin but for the guiding providence of a good wife.  I have known
many such cases.  It is the most momentous question a woman is ever
called upon to decide, whether the faults of the man she loves are beyond
remedy and will drag her down, or whether she is competent to be his
earthly redeemer and lift him to her own level.

A person of genius should marry a person of character.  Genius does not
herd with genius.  The musk-deer and the civet-cat are never found in
company.  They don't care for strange scents,--they like plain animals
better than perfumed ones.  Nay, if you will have the kindness to notice,
Nature has not gifted my lady musk-deer with the personal peculiarity by
which her lord is so widely known.

Now when genius allies itself with character, the world is very apt to
think character has the best of the bargain.  A brilliant woman marries a
plain, manly fellow, with a simple intellectual mechanism;--we have all
seen such cases.  The world often stares a good deal and wonders.  She
should have taken that other, with a far more complex mental machinery.
She might have had a watch with the philosophical compensation-balance,
with the metaphysical index which can split a second into tenths, with
the musical chime which can turn every quarter of an hour into melody.
She has chosen a plain one, that keeps good time, and that is all.

Let her alone!  She knows what she is about.  Genius has an infinitely
deeper reverence for character than character can have for genius.  To be
sure, genius gets the world's praise, because its work is a tangible
product, to be bought, or had for nothing.  It bribes the common voice to
praise it by presents of speeches, poems, statues, pictures, or whatever
it can please with.  Character evolves its best products for home
consumption; but, mind you, it takes a deal more to feed a family for
thirty years than to make a holiday feast for our neighbors once or twice
in our lives.  You talk of the fire of genius.  Many a blessed woman, who
dies unsung and unremembered, has given out more of the real vital heat
that keeps the life in human souls, without a spark flitting through her
humble chimney to tell the world about it, than would set a dozen
theories smoking, or a hundred odes simmering, in the brains of so many
men of genius.  It is in latent caloric, if I may borrow a philosophical
expression, that many of the noblest hearts give out the life that warms
them.  Cornelia's lips grow white, and her pulse hardly warms her thin
fingers,--but she has melted all the ice out of the hearts of those young
Gracchi, and her lost heat is in the blood of her youthful heroes.  We
are always valuing the soul's temperature by the thermometer of public
deed or word.  Yet the great sun himself, when he pours his noonday beams
upon some vast hyaline boulder, rent from the eternal ice-quarries, and
floating toward the tropics, never warms it a fraction above the
thirty-two degrees of Fahrenheit that marked the moment when the first
drop trickled down its side.

How we all like the spirting up of a fountain, seemingly against the law
that makes water everywhere slide, roll, leap, tumble headlong, to get as
low as the earth will let it!  That is genius.  But what is this
transient upward movement, which gives us the glitter and the rainbow, to
that unsleeping, all-present force of gravity, the same yesterday,
to-day, and forever, (if the universe be eternal,)--the great outspread
hand of God himself, forcing all things down into their places, and
keeping them there?  Such, in smaller proportion, is the force of
character to the fitful movements of genius, as they are or have been
linked to each other in many a household, where one name was historic,
and the other, let me say the nobler, unknown, save by some faint
reflected ray, borrowed from its lustrous companion.

Oftentimes, as I have lain swinging on the water, in the swell of the
Chelsea ferry-boats, in that long, sharp-pointed, black cradle in which I
love to let the great mother rock me, I have seen a tall ship glide by
against the tide, as if drawn by some invisible towline, with a hundred
strong arms pulling it.  Her sails hung unfilled, her streamers were
drooping, she had neither side-wheel nor stern-wheel; still she moved on,
stately, in serene triumph, as if with her own life.  But I knew that on
the other side of the ship, hidden beneath the great hulk that swam so
majestically, there was a little toiling steam-tug, with heart of fire
and arms of iron, that was hugging it close and dragging it bravely on;
and I knew, that, if the little steam-tug untwined her arms and left the
tall ship, it would wallow and roll about, and drift hither and thither,
and go off with the refluent tide, no man knows whither.  And so I have
known more than one genius, high-decked, full-freighted, wide-sailed,
gay-pennoned, that, but for the bare toiling arms, and brave, warm,
beating heart of the faithful little wife, that nestled close in his
shadow, and clung to him, so that no wind or wave could part them, and
dragged him on against all the tide of circumstance, would soon have gone
down the stream and been heard of no more.--No, I am too much a lover of
genius, I sometimes think, and too often get impatient with dull people,
so that, in their weak talk, where nothing is taken for granted, I look
forward to some future possible state of development, when a gesture
passing between a beatified human soul and an archangel shall signify as
much as the complete history of a planet, from the time when it curdled
to the time when its sun was burned out.  And yet, when a strong brain is
weighed with a true heart, it seems to me like balancing a bubble against
a wedge of gold.

--It takes a very true man to be a fitting companion for a woman of
genius, but not a very great one.  I am not sure that she will not
embroider her ideal better on a plain ground than on one with a brilliant
pattern already worked in its texture.  But as the very essence of genius
is truthfulness, contact with realities, (which are always ideas behind
shows of form or language,) nothing is so contemptible as falsehood and
pretence in its eyes.  Now it is not easy to find a perfectly true woman,
and it is very hard to find a perfectly true man.  And a woman of genius,
who has the sagacity to choose such a one as her companion, shows more of
the divine gift in so doing than in her finest talk or her most brilliant
work of letters or of art.

I have been a good while coming at a secret, for which I wished to
prepare you before telling it.  I think there is a kindly feeling growing
up between Iris and our young Marylander.  Not that I suppose there is
any distinct understanding between them, but that the affinity which has
drawn him from the remote corner where he sat to the side of the young
girl is quietly bringing their two natures together.  Just now she is all
given up to another; but when he no longer calls upon her daily thoughts
and cares, I warn you not to be surprised, if this bud of friendship open
like the evening primrose, with a sound as of a sudden stolen kiss, and
lo! the flower of full-blown love lies unfolded before you.

And now the days had come for our little friend, whose whims and
weaknesses had interested us, perhaps, as much as his better traits, to
make ready for that long journey which is easier to the cripple than to
the strong man, and on which none enters so willingly as he who has borne
the life-long load of infirmity during his earthly pilgrimage.  At this
point, under most circumstances, I would close the doors and draw the
veil of privacy before the chamber where the birth which we call death,
out of life into the unknown world, is working its mystery.  But this
friend of ours stood alone in the world, and, as the last act of his life
was mainly in harmony with the rest of its drama, I do not here feel the
force of the objection commonly lying against that death-bed literature
which forms the staple of a certain portion of the press.  Let me explain
what I mean, so that my readers may think for themselves a little, before
they accuse me of hasty expressions.

The Roman Catholic Church has certain formulas for its dying children, to
which almost all of them attach the greatest importance.  There is hardly
a criminal so abandoned that he is not anxious to receive the
"consolations of religion" in his last hours. Even if he be senseless,
but still living, I think that the form is gone through with, just as
baptism is administered to the unconscious new-born child.  Now we do not
quarrel with these forms. We look with reverence and affection upon all
symbols which give peace and comfort to our fellow-creatures.  But the
value of the new-born child's passive consent to the ceremony is null, as
testimony to the truth of a doctrine.  The automatic closing of a dying
man's lips on the consecrated wafer proves nothing in favor of the Real
Presence, or any other dogma.  And, speaking generally, the evidence of
dying men in favor of any belief is to be received with great caution.

They commonly tell the truth about their present feelings, no doubt. A
dying man's deposition about anything he knows is good evidence. But it
is of much less consequence what a man thinks and says when he is changed
by pain, weakness, apprehension, than what he thinks when he is truly and
wholly himself.  Most murderers die in a very pious frame of mind,
expecting to go to glory at once; yet no man believes he shall meet a
larger average of pirates and cut-throats in the streets of the New
Jerusalem than of honest folks that died in their beds.

Unfortunately, there has been a very great tendency to make capital of
various kinds out of dying men's speeches.  The lies that have been put
into their mouths for this purpose are endless.  The prime minister,
whose last breath was spent in scolding his nurse, dies with a
magnificent apothegm on his lips, manufactured by a reporter. Addison
gets up a tableau and utters an admirable sentiment,--or somebody makes
the posthumous dying epigram for him.  The incoherent babble of green
fields is translated into the language of stately sentiment.  One would
think, all that dying men had to do was to say the prettiest thing they
could,--to make their rhetorical point,--and then bow themselves
politely out of the world.

Worse than this is the torturing of dying people to get their evidence in
favor of this or that favorite belief.  The camp-followers of proselyting
sects have come in at the close of every life where they could get in, to
strip the languishing soul of its thoughts, and carry them off as spoils.
The Roman Catholic or other priest who insists on the reception of his
formula means kindly, we trust, and very commonly succeeds in getting the
acquiescence of the subject of his spiritual surgery, but do not let us
take the testimony of people who are in the worst condition to form
opinions as evidence of the truth or falsehood of that which they accept.
A lame man's opinion of dancing is not good for much.  A poor fellow who
can neither eat nor drink, who is sleepless and full of pains, whose
flesh has wasted from him, whose blood is like water, who is gasping for
breath, is not in a condition to judge fairly of human life, which in all
its main adjustments is intended for men in a normal, healthy condition.
It is a remark I have heard from the wise Patriarch of the Medical
Profession among us, that the moral condition of patients with disease
above the great breathing-muscle, the diaphragm, is much more hopeful
than that of patients with disease below it, in the digestive organs.
Many an honest ignorant man has given us pathology when he thought he was
giving us psychology.  With this preliminary caution I shall proceed to
the story of the Little Gentleman's leaving us.

When the divinity-student found that our fellow-boarder was not likely to
remain long with us, he, being a young man of tender conscience and
kindly nature, was not a little exercised on his behalf.  It was
undeniable that on several occasions the Little Gentleman had expressed
himself with a good deal of freedom on a class of subjects which,
according to the divinity-student, he had no right to form an opinion
upon.  He therefore considered his future welfare in jeopardy.

The Muggletonian sect have a very odd way of dealing with people. If I,
the Professor, will only give in to the Muggletonian doctrine, there
shall be no question through all that persuasion that I am competent to
judge of that doctrine; nay, I shall be quoted as evidence of its truth,
while I live, and cited, after I am dead, as testimony in its behalf.
But if I utter any ever so slight Anti-Muggletonian sentiment, then I
become incompetent to form any opinion on the matter.  This, you cannot
fail to observe, is exactly the way the pseudo-sciences go to work, as
explained in my Lecture on Phrenology.  Now I hold that he whose
testimony would be accepted in behalf of the Muggletonian doctrine has a
right to be heard against it.  Whoso offers me any article of belief for
my signature implies that I am competent to form an opinion upon it; and
if my positive testimony in its favor is of any value, then my negative
testimony against it is also of value.

I thought my young friend's attitude was a little too much like that of
the Muggletonians.  I also remarked a singular timidity on his part lest
somebody should "unsettle" somebody's faith,--as if faith did not require
exercise as much as any other living thing, and were not all the better
for a shaking up now and then.  I don't mean that it would be fair to
bother Bridget, the wild Irish girl, or Joice Heth, the centenarian, or
any other intellectual non-combatant; but all persons who proclaim a
belief which passes judgment on their neighbors must be ready to have it
"unsettled," that is, questioned, at all times and by anybody,--just as
those who set up bars across a thoroughfare must expect to have them
taken down by every one who wants to pass, if he is strong enough.

Besides, to think of trying to water-proof the American mind against the
questions that Heaven rains down upon it shows a misapprehension of our
new conditions.  If to question everything be unlawful and dangerous, we
had better undeclare our independence at once; for what the Declaration
means is the right to question everything, even the truth of its own
fundamental proposition.

The old-world order of things is an arrangement of locks and canals,
where everything depends on keeping the gates shut, and so holding the
upper waters at their level; but the system under which the young
republican American is born trusts the whole unimpeded tide of life to
the great elemental influences, as the vast rivers of the continent
settle their own level in obedience to the laws that govern the planet
and the spheres that surround it.

The divinity-student was not quite up to the idea of the commonwealth, as
our young friend the Marylander, for instance, understood it.  He could
not get rid of that notion of private property in truth, with the right
to fence it in, and put up a sign-board, thus:


He took the young Marylander to task for going to the Church of the
Galileans, where he had several times accompanied Iris of late.

I am a Churchman,--the young man said,--by education and habit.  I love
my old Church for many reasons, but most of all because I think it has
educated me out of its own forms into the spirit of its highest
teachings.  I think I belong to the "Broad Church," if any of you can
tell what that means.

I had the rashness to attempt to answer the question myself.--Some say
the Broad Church means the collective mass of good people of all
denominations.  Others say that such a definition is nonsense; that a
church is an organization, and the scattered good folks are no
organization at all.  They think that men will eventually come together
on the basis of one or two or more common articles of belief, and form a
great unity.  Do they see what this amounts to? It means an equal
division of intellect!  It is mental agrarianism! a thing that never was
and never will be until national and individual idiosyncrasies have
ceased to exist.  The man of thirty-nine beliefs holds the man of one
belief a pauper; he is not going to give up thirty-eight of them for the
sake of fraternizing with the other in the temple which bears on its
front, "Deo erexit Voltaire."  A church is a garden, I have heard it
said, and the illustration was neatly handled.  Yes, and there is no such
thing as a broad garden.  It must be fenced in, and whatever is fenced in
is narrow.  You cannot have arctic and tropical plants growing together
in it, except by the forcing system, which is a mighty narrow piece of
business.  You can't make a village or a parish or a family think alike,
yet you suppose that you can make a world pinch its beliefs or pad them
to a single pattern!  Why, the very life of an ecclesiastical
organization is a life of induction, a state of perpetually disturbed
equilibrium kept up by another charged body in the neighborhood.  If the
two bodies touch and share their respective charges, down goes the index
of the electrometer!

Do you know that every man has a religious belief peculiar to himself?
Smith is always a Smithite.  He takes in exactly Smith's-worth of
knowledge, Smith's-worth of truth, of beauty, of divinity. And Brown has
from time immemorial been trying to burn him, to excommunicate him, to
anonymous-article him, because he did not take in Brown's-worth of
knowledge, truth, beauty, divinity.  He cannot do it, any more than a
pint-pot can hold a quart, or a quart-pot be filled by a pint.  Iron is
essentially the same everywhere and always; but the sulphate of iron is
never the same as the carbonate of iron.  Truth is invariable; but the
Smithate of truth must always differ from the Brownate of truth.

The wider the intellect, the larger and simpler the expressions in which
its knowledge is embodied.  The inferior race, the degraded and enslaved
people, the small-minded individual, live in the details which to larger
minds and more advanced tribes of men reduce themselves to axioms and
laws.  As races and individual minds must always differ just as sulphates
and carbonates do, I cannot see ground for expecting the Broad Church to
be founded on any fusion of intellectual beliefs, which of course implies
that those who hold the larger number of doctrines as essential shall
come down to those who hold the smaller number.  These doctrines are to
the negative aristocracy what the quarterings of their coats are to the
positive orders of nobility.

The Broad Church, I think, will never be based on anything that requires
the use of language. Freemasonry gives an idea of such a church, and a
brother is known and cared for in a strange land where no word of his can
be understood.  The apostle of this church may be a deaf mute carrying a
cup of cold water to a thirsting fellow-creature.  The cup of cold water
does not require to be translated for a foreigner to understand it.  I am
afraid the only Broad Church possible is one that has its creed in the
heart, and not in the head,--that we shall know its members by their
fruits, and not by their words.  If you say this communion of well-doers
is no church, I can only answer, that all organized bodies have their
limits of size, and that when we find a man a hundred feet high and
thirty feet broad across the shoulders, we will look out for an
organization that shall include all Christendom.

Some of us do practically recognize a Broad Church and a Narrow Church,
however.  The Narrow Church may be seen in the ship's boats of humanity,
in the long boat, in the jolly boat, in the captain's gig, lying off the
poor old vessel, thanking God that they are safe, and reckoning how soon
the hulk containing the mass of their fellow-creatures will go down.  The
Broad Church is on board, working hard at the pumps, and very slow to
believe that the ship will be swallowed up with so many poor people in
it, fastened down under the hatches ever since it floated.

--All this, of course, was nothing but my poor notion about these
matters. I am simply an "outsider," you know; only it doesn't do very
well for a nest of Hingham boxes to talk too much about outsiders and

After this talk of ours, I think these two young people went pretty
regularly to the Church of the Galileans.  Still they could not keep away
from the sweet harmonies and rhythmic litanies of Saint Polycarp on the
great Church festival-days; so that, between the two, they were so much
together, that the boarders began to make remarks, and our landlady said
to me, one day, that, though it was noon of her business, them that had
eyes couldn't help seein' that there was somethin' goin', on between them
two young people; she thought the young man was a very likely young man,
though jest what his prospecs was was unbeknown to her; but she thought
he must be doing well, and rather guessed he would be able to take care
of a femily, if he didn't go to takin' a house; for a gentleman and his
wife could board a great deal cheaper than they could keep house;--but
then that girl was nothin' but a child, and wouldn't think of bein'
married this five year.  They was good boarders, both of 'em, paid
regular, and was as pooty a couple as she ever laid eyes on.

--To come back to what I began to speak of before,--the divinity-student
was exercised in his mind about the Little Gentleman, and, in the
kindness of his heart,--for he was a good young man,--and in the strength
of his convictions,--for he took it for granted that he and his crowd
were right, and other folks and their crowd were wrong,--he determined to
bring the Little Gentleman round to his faith before he died, if he
could.  So he sent word to the sick man, that he should be pleased to
visit him and have some conversation with him; and received for answer
that he would be welcome.

The divinity-student made him a visit, therefore and had a somewhat
remarkable interview with him, which I shall briefly relate, without
attempting to justify the positions taken by the Little Gentleman. He
found him weak, but calm.  Iris sat silent by his pillow.

After the usual preliminaries, the divinity-student said; in a kind way,
that he was sorry to find him in failing health, that he felt concerned
for his soul, and was anxious to assist him in making preparations for
the great change awaiting him.

I thank you, Sir,--said the Little Gentleman, permit me to ask you, what
makes you think I am not ready for it, Sir, and that you can do anything
to help me, Sir?

I address you only as a fellow-man,--said the divinity-student,--and
therefore a fellow-sinner.

I am not a man, Sir!--said the Little Gentleman.--I was born into this
world the wreck of a man, and I shall not be judged with a race to which
I do not belong.  Look at this!--he said, and held up his withered
arm.--See there!--and he pointed to his misshapen extremities.--Lay your
hand here!--and he laid his own on the region of his misplaced heart.--I
have known nothing of the life of your race.  When I first came to my
consciousness, I found myself an object of pity, or a sight to show.  The
first strange child I ever remember hid its face and would not come near
me.  I was a broken-hearted as well as broken-bodied boy.  I grew into
the emotions of ripening youth, and all that I could have loved shrank
from my presence.  I became a man in years, and had nothing in common
with manhood but its longings.  My life is the dying pang of a worn-out
race, and I shall go down alone into the dust, out of this world of men
and women, without ever knowing the fellowship of the one or the love of
the other.  I will not die with a lie rattling in my throat. If another
state of being has anything worse in store for me, I have had a long
apprenticeship to give me strength that I may bear it.  I don't believe
it, Sir!  I have too much faith for that.  God has not left me wholly
without comfort, even here.  I love this old place where I was born;--the
heart of the world beats under the three hills of Boston, Sir!  I love
this great land, with so many tall men in it, and so many good, noble
women.--His eyes turned to the silent figure by his pillow.--I have
learned to accept meekly what has been allotted to me, but I cannot
honestly say that I think my sin has been greater than my suffering.  I
bear the ignorance and the evil-doing of whole generations in my single
person.  I never drew a breath of air nor took a step that was not a
punishment for another's fault.  I may have had many wrong thoughts, but
I cannot have done many wrong deeds,--for my cage has been a narrow one,
and I have paced it alone.  I have looked through the bars and seen the
great world of men busy and happy, but I had no part in their doings.  I
have known what it was to dream of the great passions; but since my
mother kissed me before she died, no woman's lips have pressed my
cheek,--nor ever will.

--The young girl's eyes glittered with a sudden film, and almost without
a thought, but with a warm human instinct that rushed up into her face
with her heart's blood, she bent over and kissed him. It was the
sacrament that washed out the memory of long years of bitterness, and I
should hold it an unworthy thought to defend her. The Little Gentleman
repaid her with the only tear any of us ever saw him shed.

The divinity-student rose from his place, and, turning away from the sick
man, walked to the other side of the room, where he bowed his head and
was still.  All the questions he had meant to ask had faded from his
memory.  The tests he had prepared by which to judge of his
fellow-creature's fitness for heaven seemed to have lost their virtue.
He could trust the crippled child of sorrow to the Infinite Parent.  The
kiss of the fair-haired girl had been like a sign from heaven, that
angels watched over him whom he was presuming but a moment before to
summon before the tribunal of his private judgment. Shall I pray with
you?--he said, after a pause.  A little before he would have said, Shall
I pray for you?--The Christian religion, as taught by its Founder, is
full of sentiment.  So we must not blame the divinity-student, if he was
overcome by those yearnings of human sympathy which predominate so much
more in the sermons of the Master than in the writings of his successors,
and which have mad