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Title: Stories of Achievement, Volume IV (of 6) - Authors and Journalists
Author: Various
Language: English
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*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "Stories of Achievement, Volume IV (of 6) - Authors and Journalists" ***

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(OF 6)***


Authors and Journalists

Edited by


Authors and Journalists


[Frontispiece: Robert Burns]

Garden City ---- New York
Doubleday, Page & Company
Copyright, 1916, by
Doubleday, Page & Company
All Rights Reserved


In the preparation of this volume the publishers have received from
several houses and authors generous permissions to reprint copyright
material.  For this they wish to express their cordial gratitude.  In
particular, acknowledgments are due to the Houghton Mifflin Company for
permission to reprint the sketch of Horace Greeley; to Little, Brown &
Co. for permission to reprint passages from "The Life, Letters, and
Journals of Louisa May Alcott"; to Mr. Henry George, Jr., for the
extract from his life of his father; to William H. Rideing for
permission to reprint extracts from his book "Many Celebrities and a
Few Others"; to the Macmillan Company for permission to use passages
from "The Making of an American," by Jacob A. Riis; to Miss Helen
Keller for permission to reprint from "The Story of My Life."



  The Man to Whom Expression was Travail

  The Ploughman-poet

  How the Farm-boy Became an Editor

  The Factory Boy

  The Country Parson's Daughter

  The Journal of a Brave and Talented Girl

  The Troubles of a Job Printer

  "The Making of an American"

  Rejected Manuscripts

  How She Learned to Speak




From the "Confessions of Rousseau."

It is strange to hear that those critics who spoke of Rousseau's
"incomparable gift of expression," of his "easy, natural style," were
ludicrously incorrect in their allusions.  From his "Confessions" we
learn that he had no gift of clear, fluent expression; that he was by
nature so incoherent that he could not creditably carry on an ordinary
conversation; and that the ideas which stirred Europe, although
spontaneously conceived, were brought forth and set before the world
only after their progenitor had suffered the real pangs of labor.

But after all it is the same old story over again.  Great things are
rarely said or done easily.

Two things very opposite unite in me, and in a manner which I cannot
myself conceive.  My disposition is extremely ardent, my passions
lively and impetuous, yet my ideas are produced slowly, with great
embarrassment and after much afterthought.  It might be said my heart
and understanding do not belong to the same individual.  A sentiment
takes possession of my soul with the rapidity of lightning, but instead
of illuminating, it dazzles and confounds me; I feel all, but see
nothing; I am warm but stupid; to think I must be cool.  What is
astonishing, my conception is clear and penetrating, if not hurried: I
can make excellent impromptus at leisure, but on the instant could
never say or do anything worth notice.  I could hold a tolerable
conversation by the post, as they say the Spaniards play at chess, and
when I read that anecdote of a duke of Savoy, who turned himself round,
while on a journey, to cry out "_a votre gorge, marchand de Paris_!" I
said, "Here is a trait of my character!"

This slowness of thought, joined to vivacity of feeling, I am not only
sensible of in conversation, but even alone.  When I write, my ideas
are arranged with the utmost difficulty.  They glance on my imagination
and ferment till they discompose, heat, and bring on a palpitation;
during this state of agitation I see nothing properly, cannot write a
single word, and must wait till all is over.  Insensibly the agitation
subsides, the chaos acquires form, and each circumstance takes its
proper place.  Have you never seen an opera in Italy where during the
change of scene everything is in confusion, the decorations are
intermingled, and any one would suppose that all would be overthrown;
yet by little and little, everything is arranged, nothing appears
wanting, and we feel surprised to see the tumult succeeded by the most
delightful spectacle.  This is a resemblance of what passes in my brain
when I attempt to write; had I always waited till that confusion was
past, and then pointed, in their natural beauties, the objects that had
presented themselves, few authors would have surpassed me.

Thence arises the extreme difficulty I find in writing; my manuscripts,
blotted, scratched, and scarcely legible, attest the trouble they cost
me; nor is there one of them but I have been obliged to transcribe four
or five times before it went to press.  Never could I do anything when
placed at a table, pen in hand; it must be walking among the rocks, or
in the woods; it is at night in my bed, during my wakeful hours, that I
compose; it may be judged how slowly, particularly for a man who has
not the advantage of verbal memory, and never in his life could retain
by heart six verses.  Some of my periods I have turned and returned in
my head five or six nights before they were fit to be put to paper:
thus it is that I succeed better in works that require laborious
attention than those that appear more trivial, such as letters, in
which I could never succeed, and being obliged to write one is to me a
serious punishment; nor can I express my thoughts on the most trivial
subjects without it costing me hours of fatigue.  If I write
immediately what strikes me, my letter is a long, confused, unconnected
string of expressions, which, when read, can hardly be understood.

It is not only painful to me to give language to my ideas but even to
receive them.  I have studied mankind, and think myself a tolerable
observer, yet I know nothing from what I see, but all from what I
remember, nor have I understanding except in my recollections.  From
all that is said, from all that passes in my presence, I feel nothing,
conceive nothing, the exterior sign being all that strikes me;
afterward it returns to my remembrance; I recollect the place, the
time, the manner, the look, and gesture, not a circumstance escapes me;
it is then, from what has been done or said, that I imagine what has
been thought, and I have rarely found myself mistaken.

So little master of my understanding when alone, let any one judge what
I must be in conversation, where to speak with any degree of ease you
must think of a thousand things at the same time: the bare idea that I
should forget something material would be sufficient to intimidate me.
Nor can I comprehend how people can have the confidence to converse in
large companies, where each word must pass in review before so many,
and where it would be requisite to know their several characters and
histories to avoid saying what might give offence.  In this particular,
those who frequent the world would have a great advantage, as they know
better where to be silent, and can speak with greater confidence; yet
even they sometimes let fall absurdities; in what predicament then must
he be who drops as it were from the clouds?  It is almost impossible he
should speak ten minutes with impunity.

In a tête-à-tête there is a still worse inconvenience; that is, the
necessity of talking perpetually, at least, the necessity of answering
when spoken to, and keeping up the conversation when the other is
silent.  This insupportable constraint is alone sufficient to disgust
me with variety, for I cannot form an idea of a greater torment than
being obliged to speak continually without time for recollection.  I
know not whether it proceeds from my mortal hatred of all constraint;
but if I am obliged to speak, I infallibly talk nonsense.  What is
still worse, instead of learning how to be silent when I have
absolutely nothing to say, it is generally at such times that I have a
violent inclination; and, endeavoring to pay my debt of conversation as
speedily as possible, I hastily gabble a number of words without ideas,
happy when they only chance to mean nothing; thus endeavoring to
conquer or hide my incapacity, I rarely fail to show it.

I think I have said enough to show that, though not a fool, I have
frequently passed for one, even among people capable of judging; this
was the more vexatious, as my physiognomy and eyes promised otherwise,
and expectation being frustrated, my stupidity appeared the more
shocking.  This detail, which a particular occasion gave birth to, will
not be useless in the sequel, being a key to many of my actions which
might otherwise appear unaccountable; and have been attributed to a
savage humor I do not possess.  I love society as much as any man, was
I not certain to exhibit myself in it, not only disadvantageously, but
totally different from what I really am.  The plan I have adopted of
writing and retirement is what exactly suits me.  Had I been present,
my worth would never have been known, no one would ever have suspected
it; thus it was with Madam Dupin, a woman of sense, in whose house I
lived for several years; indeed, she has often since owned it to me:
though on the whole this rule may be subject to some exceptions. . . .

The heat of the summer was this year (1749) excessive.  Vincennes is
two leagues from Paris.  The state of my finances not permitting me to
pay for hackney coaches, at two o'clock in the afternoon, I went on
foot, when alone, and walked as fast as possible, that I might arrive
the sooner.  The trees by the side of the road, always lopped,
according to the custom of the country, afforded but little shade, and
exhausted by fatigue, I frequently threw myself on the ground, being
unable to proceed any farther.  I thought a book in my hand might make
me moderate my pace.  One day I took the _Mercure de France_, and as I
walked and read, I came to the following question proposed by the
academy of Dijon, for the premium of the ensuing year: Has the progress
of sciences and arts contributed to corrupt or purify morals?

The moment I had read this, I seemed to behold another world, and
became a different man.  Although I have a lively remembrance of the
impression it made upon me, the detail has escaped my mind, since I
communicated it to M. de Malesherbes in one of my four letters to him.
This is one of the singularities of my memory which merits to be
remarked.  It serves me in proportion to my dependence upon it; the
moment I have committed to paper that with which it was charged, it
forsakes me, and I have no sooner written a thing than I had forgotten
it entirely.  This singularity is the same with respect to music.
Before I learned the use of notes I knew a great number of songs; the
moment I had made a sufficient progress to sing an air of art set to
music, I could not recollect any one of them; and, at present, I much
doubt whether I should be able entirely to go through one of those of
which I was the most fond.  All I distinctly recollect upon this
occasion is, that on my arrival at Vincennes, I was in an agitation
which approached a delirium.  Diderot perceived it; I told him the
cause, and read to him the prosopopoeia of Fabricius, written with a
pencil under a tree.  He encouraged me to pursue my ideas, and to
become a competitor for the premium.  I did so, and from that moment I
was ruined.

All the rest of my misfortunes during my life were the inevitable
effect of this moment of error.

My sentiments became elevated with the most inconceivable rapidity to
the level of my ideas.  All my little passions were stifled by the
enthusiasm of truth, liberty, and virtue; and, what is most
astonishing, this effervescence continued in my mind upward of five
years, to as great a degree, perhaps, as it has ever done in that of
any other man.  I composed the discourse in a very singular manner, and
in that style which I have always followed in my other works, I
dedicated to it the hours of the night in which sleep deserted me; I
meditated in my bed with my eyes closed, and in my mind turned over and
over again my periods with incredible labor and care; the moment they
were finished to my satisfaction, I deposited in my memory, until I had
an opportunity of committing them to paper; but the time of rising and
putting on my clothes made me lose everything, and when I took up my
pen I recollected but little of what I had composed.  I made Madam le
Vasseur my secretary; I had lodged her with her daughter and husband
nearer to myself; and she, to save me the expense of a servant, came
every morning to make my fire, and to do such other little things as
were necessary.  As soon as she arrived I dictated to her while in bed
what I had composed in the night, and this method, which for a long
time I observed, preserved me many things I should otherwise have

As soon as the discourse was finished, I showed it to Diderot.  He was
satisfied with the production, and pointed out some corrections he
thought necessary to be made.  However, this composition, full of force
and fire, absolutely wants logic and order; of all the works I ever
wrote, this is the weakest in reasoning, and the most devoid of number
and harmony.  With whatever talent a man may be born, the art of
writing is not easily learned.

I sent off this piece without mentioning it to anybody, except, I
think, to Grimm.

The year following (1750), not thinking more of my discourse, I learned
it had gained the premium at Dijon.  This news awakened all the ideas
which had dictated it to me, gave them new animation, and completed the
fermentation of my heart of that first leaves of heroism and virtue
which my father, my country, and Plutarch had inspired in my infancy.
Nothing now appeared great in my eyes but to be free and virtuous,
superior to fortune and opinion, and independent of all exterior
circumstances; although a false shame, and the fear of disapprobation
at first prevented me from conducting myself according to these
principles, and from suddenly quarrelling with the maxims of the age in
which I lived, I from that moment took a decided resolution to do
it. . . .




A note of pride in his humble origin rings throughout the following
pages.  The ploughman poet was wiser in thought than in deed, and his
life was not a happy one.  But, whatever his faults, he did his best
with the one golden talent that Fate bestowed upon him.  Each book that
he encountered was made to stand and deliver the message that it
carried for him.  Sweethearting and good-fellowship were his bane, yet
he won much good from his practice of the art of correspondence with
sweethearts and boon companions.  And although Socrates was perhaps
scarcely a name to him, he studied always to follow the Athenian's
favourite maxim, _Know thyself_; realizing, with his elder brother of
Warwickshire, that "the chiefest study of mankind is man."

From an autobiographical sketch sent to Dr. Moore.

[_To Dr. Moore_]

MAUCHLINE, August 2, 1787.

For some months past I have been rambling over the country, but I am
now confined with some lingering complaints, originating, as I take it,
in the stomach.  To divert my spirits a little in this miserable fog of
ennui, I have taken a whim to give you a history of myself.  My name
has made some little noise in this country; you have done me the honour
to interest yourself very warmly in my behalf; and I think a faithful
account of what character of a man I am, and how I came by that
character, may perhaps amuse you in an idle moment.  I will give you an
honest narrative, though I know it will be often at my own expense; for
I assure you, sir, I have, like Solomon, whose character, excepting in
the trifling affair of wisdom, I sometimes think I resemble--I have, I
say, like him turned my eyes to behold madness and folly, and like him,
too, frequently shaken hands with their intoxicating friendship.  After
you have perused these pages, should you think them trifling and
impertinent, I only beg leave to tell you that the poor author wrote
them under some twitching qualms of conscience, arising from a
suspicion that he was doing what he ought not to do; a predicament he
has more than once been in before.

I have not the most distant pretensions to assume that character which
the pye-coated guardians of escutcheons call a gentleman.  When at
Edinburgh last winter I got acquainted in the _Herald's_ office; and,
looking through that granary of honors, I there found almost every name
in the kingdom; but for me,

      My ancient but ignoble blood
  Has crept thro' scoundrels ever since the flood.

Gules, purpure, argent, etc., quite disowned me.

My father was of the north of Scotland, the son of a farmer, and was
thrown by early misfortunes on the world at large; where, after many
years' wanderings and sojournings, he picked up a pretty large quantity
of observation and experience, to which I am indebted for most of my
little pretensions to wisdom.  I have met with few who understood men,
their manners and their ways, equal to him; but stubborn, ungainly
integrity, and headlong, ungovernable irascibility, are disqualifying
circumstances; consequently, I was born a very poor man's son.  For the
first six or seven years of my life my father was gardener to a worthy
gentleman of small estate in the neighbourhood of Ayr.  Had he
continued in that station, I must have marched off to be one of the
little underlings about a farmhouse; but it was his dearest wish and
prayer to have it in his power to keep his children under his own eye
till they could discern between good and evil; so with the assistance
of his generous master, my father ventured on a small farm on his

At those years, I was by no means a favourite with anybody.  I was a
good deal noted for a retentive memory, a stubborn, sturdy something in
my disposition, and an enthusiastic, idiotic piety.  I say idiotic
piety because I was then but a child.  Though it cost the schoolmaster
some thrashings, I made an excellent English scholar; and by the time I
was ten or eleven years of age, I was a critic in substantives, verbs,
and particles.  In my infant and boyish days, too, I owe much to an old
woman who resided in the family, remarkable for her ignorance,
credulity, and superstition.  She had, I suppose, the largest
collection in the country of tales and songs concerning devils, ghosts,
fairies, brownies, witches, warlocks, spunkies, kelpies, elf-candles,
dead-lights, wraiths, apparitions, cantraips, giants, enchanted towers,
dragons, and other trumpery.  This cultivated the latent seeds of
poetry; but had so strong an effect on my imagination that to this hour
in my nocturnal rambles I sometimes keep a sharp lookout in suspicious
places; and though nobody can be more sceptical than I am in such
matters, yet it often takes an effort of philosophy to shake off these
idle terrors.

The earliest composition that I recollect taking pleasure in was "The
Vision of Mirza," and a hymn of Addison's beginning, "How are thy
servants blest, O Lord!"  I particularly remember one half-stanza which
was music to my boyish ear--

  For though on dreadful whirls we hung
  High on the broken wave--

I met with these pieces in Mason's English Collection, one of my
schoolbooks.  The first two books I ever read in private, and which
gave me more pleasure than any two books I ever read since, were "The
Life of Hannibal" and "The History of Sir William Wallace."  Hannibal
gave my young ideas such a turn that I used to strut in raptures up and
down after the recruiting drum and bagpipe and wish myself tall enough
to be a soldier; while the story of Wallace poured a Scottish prejudice
into my veins, which will boil along there till the floodgates of life
shut in eternal rest.

Polemical divinity about this time was putting the country half mad,
and I, ambitious of shining in conversation parties on Sundays, between
sermons, at funerals, etc., used a few years afterward to puzzle
Calvinism with so much heat and indiscretion that I raised a hue and
cry of heresy against me, which has not ceased to this hour.

My vicinity to Ayr was of some advantage to me.  My social disposition,
when not checked by some modifications of spirited pride, was like our
catechism definition of infinitude, without bounds or limits.  I formed
several connections with other younkers, who possessed superior
advantages; the youngling actors who were busy in the rehearsal of
parts, in which they were shortly to appear on the stage of life,
where, alas! I was destined to drudge behind the scenes.  It is not
commonly at this green age that our young gentry have a just sense of
the immense distance between them and their ragged playfellows.  It
takes a few dashes into the world to give the young, great man that
proper, decent, unnoticing disregard for the poor, insignificant,
stupid devils, the mechanics and peasantry around him, who were,
perhaps, born in the same village.  My young superiors never insulted
the clouterly appearance of my plough-boy carcase, the two extremes of
which were often exposed to all the inclemencies of all the seasons.
They would give me stray volumes of books; among them, even then, I
could pick up some observations, and one, whose heart, I am sure, not
even the "Munny Begum" scenes have tainted, helped me to a little
French.  Parting with these my young friends and benefactors, as they
occasionally went off for the East or West Indies, was often to me a
sore affliction; but I was soon called to more serious evils.  My
father's generous master died, the farm proved a ruinous bargain; and
to clench the misfortune, we fell into the hands of a factor, who sat
for the picture I have drawn of one in my tale of "Twa Dogs."  My
father was advanced in life when he married; I was the eldest of seven
children, and he, worn out by early hardships, was unfit for labour.
My father's spirit was soon irritated, but not easily broken.  There
was a freedom in his lease in two years more, and to weather these two
years, we retrenched our expenses.  We lived very poorly; I was a
dexterous ploughman for my age; and the next eldest to me was a brother
(Gilbert), who could drive the plough very well, and help me to thrash
the corn.  A novel-writer might, perhaps, have viewed these scenes with
some satisfaction, but so did not I; my indignation yet boils at the
recollection of the scoundrel factor's insolent, threatening letters,
which used to set us all in tears.

This kind of life--the cheerless gloom of a hermit, with the unceasing
moil of a galley slave, brought me to my sixteenth year; a little
before which period I first committed the sin of rhyme.  You know our
country custom of coupling a man and woman together as partners in the
labours of harvest.  In my fifteenth autumn my partner was a bewitching
creature, a year younger than myself.  My scarcity of English denies me
the power of doing her justice in that language, but you know the
Scottish idiom: she was a "bonnie, sweet, sonsie (engaging) lass."  In
short, she, altogether unwittingly to herself, initiated me in that
delicious passion, which, in spite of acid disappointment, gin-horse
prudence, and bookworm philosophy, I hold to be the first of human
joys, our dearest blessing here below!  How she caught the contagion I
cannot tell; you medical people talk much of infection from breathing
the same air, the touch, etc., but I never expressly said I loved her.
Indeed I did not know myself why I liked so much to loiter behind with
her when returning in the evening from our labours; why the tones of
her voice made my heartstrings thrill like an Aeolian harp; and
particularly why my pulse beat such a furious ratan, when I looked and
fingered over her little hand to pick out the cruel nettle-stings and
thistles.  Among her other love-inspiring qualities, she sung sweetly;
and it was her favourite reel to which I attempted giving an embodied
vehicle in rhyme.  I was not so presumptuous as to imagine that I could
make verses like printed ones, composed by men who had Greek and Latin;
but my girl sung a song which was said to be composed by a small
country laird's son, on one of his father's maids with whom he was in
love; and I saw no reason why I might not rhyme as well as he; for,
excepting that he could smear sheep, and cast peats, his father living
in the moorlands, he had no more scholar-craft than myself.

Thus with me began love and poetry, which at times have been my only,
and till within the last twelve months have been my highest, enjoyment.
My father struggled on till he reached the freedom in his lease, when
he entered on a larger farm, about ten miles farther in the country.
The nature of the bargain he made was such as to throw a little ready
money into his hands at the commencement of his lease, otherwise the
affair would have been impracticable.  For four years we lived
comfortably here, but a difference commencing between him and his
landlord as to terms, after three years' tossing and whirling in the
vortex of litigation, my father was just saved from the horrors of a
jail by a consumption which, after two years' promises, kindly stepped
in, and carried him away, to where the wicked cease from troubling, and
where the weary are at rest!

It is during the time that we lived on this farm that my little story
is most eventful.  I was, at the beginning of this period, perhaps the
most ungainly, awkward boy in the parish--no hermit was less acquainted
with the ways of the world.  What I knew of ancient story was gathered
from Salmon's and Guthrie's Geographical Grammars; and the ideas I had
formed of modern manners, of literature, and criticism, I got from the
_Spectator_.  These, with Pope's Works, some Plays of Shakespeare,
Tull, and Dickson on Agriculture, The "Pantheon," Locke's "Essay on the
Human Understanding," Stackhouse's "History of the Bible," Justice's
"British  Gardener's  Directory," Boyle's "Lectures," Allan Ramsay's
Works, Taylor's "Scripture Doctrine of Original Sin," "A Select
Collection of English Songs," and Hervey's "Meditations," had formed
the whole of my reading.  The collection of songs was my companion, day
and night.  I pored over them driving my cart, or walking to labour,
song by song, verse by verse; carefully noting the true, tender, or
sublime, from affectation and fustian.  I am convinced I owe to this
practice much of my critic-craft, such as it is.

In my seventeenth year, to give my manners a brush, I went to a country
dancing-school.  My father had an unaccountable antipathy against these
meetings, and my going was, what to this moment I repent, in opposition
to his wishes.  My father, as I said before, was subject to strong
passions; from that instance of disobedience in me he took a sort of
dislike to me, which, I believe, was one cause of the dissipation which
marked my succeeding years.  I say dissipation, comparatively with the
strictness, and sobriety, and regularity of Presbyterian country life;
for though the will-o'-wisp meteors of thoughtless whim were almost the
sole lights of my path, yet early ingrained piety and virtue kept me
for several years afterward within the line of innocence.  The great
misfortune of my life was to want an aim.  I had felt early some
stirrings of ambition, but they were the blind gropings of Homer's
Cyclops round the walls of his cave.  I saw my father's situation
entailed on me perpetual labour.  The only two openings by which I
could enter the temple of fortune were the gate of niggardly economy or
the path of little chicaning bargain-making.  The first is so
contracted an aperture I never could squeeze myself into it; the last I
always hated--there was contamination in the very entrance!  Thus
abandoned of aim or view in life, with a strong appetite for
sociability, as well from native hilarity as from a pride of
observation and remark; a constitutional melancholy or hypochondriasm
that made me fly solitude; add to these incentives to social life my
reputation for bookish knowledge, a certain wild, logical talent, and a
strength of thought, something like the rudiments of good sense; and it
will not seem surprising that I was generally a welcome guest where I
visited, or any great wonder that always, where two or three met
together, there was I among them.  But far beyond all other impulses of
my heart was a leaning toward the adorable half of humankind.  My heart
was completely tinder, and was eternally lighted up by some goddess or
other; and, as in every other warfare in this world, my fortune was
various; sometimes I was received with favour, and sometimes I was
mortified with a repulse.  At the plough, scythe, or reap-hook I feared
no competitor, and thus I set absolute want at defiance; and as I never
cared further for my labours than while I was in actual exercise, I
spent the evenings in the way after my own heart.

Another circumstance in my life which made some alteration in my mind
and manners was that I spent my nineteenth summer on a smuggling coast,
a good distance from home, at a noted school, to learn mensuration,
surveying, dialling, etc., in which I made a pretty good progress.  But
I made a greater progress in the knowledge of mankind.  The contraband
trade was at that time very successful, and it sometimes happened to me
to fall with those who carried it on.  Scenes of swaggering riot and
roaring dissipation were, till this time, new to me; but I was no enemy
to social life.

My reading meantime was enlarged with the very important addition of
Thomson's and Shenstone's Works.  I had seen human nature in a new
phase; and I engaged several of my schoolfellows to keep up a literary
correspondence with me.  This improved me in composition.  I had met
with a collection of letters by the wits of Queen Anne's reign, and
pored over them most devoutly.  I kept copies of any of my own letters
that pleased me, and a comparison between them and the composition of
most of my correspondents flattered my vanity.  I carried this whim so
far that, though I had not three farthings' worth of business in the
world, yet almost every post brought me as many letters as if I had
been a broad plodding son of the day-book and ledger.

My life flowed on much in the same course till my twenty-third year.
The addition of two more authors to my library gave me great pleasure:
Sterne and Mackenzie--"Tristram Shandy" and the "Man of Feeling"--were
my bosom favourites.  Poesy was still a darling walk for my mind, but
it was only indulged in according to the humour of the hour.  I had
usually half a dozen or more pieces on hand; I took up one or other, as
it suited the momentary tone of the mind, and dismissed the work as it
bordered on fatigue.  My passions, when once lighted up, raged like so
many devils, till they got vent in rhyme; and then the conning over my
verses, like a spell, soothed all into quiet!  None of the rhymes of
those days are in print, except "Winter, a Dirge," the eldest of my
printed pieces; "The Death of Poor Maillie," "John Barleycorn," and
Songs First, Second, and Third.  Song Second was the ebullition of that
passion which ended the forementioned school business.

My twenty-third year was to me an important era.  Partly through whim,
and partly that I wished to set about doing something in life, I joined
a flax-dresser in a neighbouring town (Irvine), to learn the trade.
This was an unlucky affair.  As we were giving a welcome carousal to
the new year, the shop took fire and burned to ashes, and I was left,
like a true poet, not worth a sixpence.

I was obliged to give up this scheme, the clouds of misfortune were
gathering thick round my father's head; and, what was worst of all, he
was visibly far gone in a consumption; and to crown my distresses, a
beautiful girl, whom I adored, and who had pledged her soul to meet me
in the field of matrimony, jilted me, with peculiar circumstances of
mortification.  The finishing evil that brought up the rear of this
infernal file was my constitutional melancholy being increased to such
a degree that for three months I was in a state of mind scarcely to be
envied by the hopeless wretches who have got their mittimus--depart
from me, ye cursed!

From this adventure I learned something of a town life; but the
principal thing which gave my mind a turn was a friendship I formed
with a young fellow, a very noble character, but a hapless son of
misfortune.  He was the son of a simple mechanic; but a great man in
the neighbourhood taking him under his patronage, gave him a genteel
education, with a view of bettering his situation in life.  The patron
dying just as he was ready to launch out into the world, the poor
fellow in despair went to sea; where, after a variety of good and ill
fortune, a little before I was acquainted with him he had been set on
shore by an American privateer, on the wild coast of Connaught,
stripped of everything.  I cannot quit this poor fellow's story without
adding that he is at this time master of a large West Indiaman
belonging to the Thames.

His mind was fraught with independence, magnanimity, and every manly
virtue.  I loved and admired him to a degree of enthusiasm, and of
course strove to imitate him.  In some measure I succeeded; I had pride
before, but he taught it to flow in proper channels.  His knowledge of
the world was vastly superior to mine, and I was all attention to
learn. . . .  My reading only increased while in this town by two stray
volumes of "Pamela," and one of "Ferdinand Count Fathom," which gave me
some idea of novels.  Rhyme, except some religious pieces that are in
print, I had given up; but meeting with Fergusson's Scottish Poems, I
strung anew my wildly sounding lyre with emulating vigour.  When my
father died his all went among the hell-hounds that growl in the kennel
of justice; but we made a shift to collect a little money in the family
amongst us, with which to keep us together; my brother and I took a
neighbouring farm.  My brother wanted my hare-brained imagination, as
well as my social and amorous madness; but in good sense, and every
sober qualification, he was far my superior.

I entered on this farm with a full resolution, "come, go to, I will be
wise!"  I read farming books, I calculated crops; I attended markets;
and, in short, in spite of the devil, and the world, and the flesh, I
believe I should have been a wise man; but the first year, from
unfortunately buying bad seed, the second from a late harvest, we lost
half our crops.  This overset all my wisdom, and I returned, "like the
dog to his vomit, and the sow that was washed, to her wallowing in the

I now began to be known in the neighbourhood as a maker of rhymes.  The
first of my poetic offspring that saw the light was a burlesque
lamentation on a quarrel between two reverend Calvinists, both of them
figuring in my "Holy Fair."  I had a notion myself that the piece had
some merit; but, to prevent the worst, I gave a copy of it to a friend,
who was very fond of such things, and told him that I could not guess
who was the author of it, but that I thought it pretty clever.  With a
certain description of the clergy, as well as laity, it met with a roar
of applause.  "Holy Willie's Prayer" next made its appearance, and
alarmed the kirk-session so much, that they held several meetings to
look over their spiritual artillery, if haply any of it might be
pointed against profane rhymers.  Unluckily for me, my wanderings led
me on another side, within point-blank shot of their heaviest metal.
This is the unfortunate story that gave rise to my printed poem, "The
Lament."  This was a most melancholy affair, which I cannot yet bear to
reflect on, and had very nearly given me one or two of the principal
qualifications for a place among those who have lost the chart, and
mistaken the reckoning of rationality.  I gave up my part of the farm
to my brother; in truth, it was only nominally mine; and made what
little preparation was in my power for Jamaica.

But before leaving my native country forever, I resolved to publish my
poems.  I weighed my productions as impartially as was in my power; I
thought they had merit; and it was a delicious idea that I should be
called a clever fellow, even though it should never reach my ears--a
poor Negro driver--or perhaps a victim to that inhospitable clime, and
gone to the world of spirits!  I can truly say that, poor and unknown
as I then was, I had pretty nearly as high an idea of myself and of my
works as I have at this moment, when the public has decided in their
favour.  It ever was my opinion that the mistakes and blunders, both in
a rational and religious point of view, of which we see thousands daily
guilty, are owing to their ignorance of themselves.  To know myself had
been all along my constant study.  I weighed myself alone; I balanced
myself with others.  I watched every means of information, to see how
much ground I occupied as a man and as a poet; I studied assiduously
Nature's design in my formation--where the lights and shades in my
character were intended.  I was pretty confident my poems would meet
with some applause; but at the worst, the roar of the Atlantic would
deafen the voice of censure, and the novelty of West Indian scenes make
me forget neglect.  I threw off six hundred copies, of which I had got
subscriptions for about three hundred and fifty.  My vanity was highly
gratified by the reception I met with from the public; and besides I
pocketed, all expenses deducted, nearly twenty pounds.  This sum came
very seasonably, as I was thinking of indenting myself for want of
money to procure my passage.  As soon as I was master of nine guineas,
the price of wafting me to the torrid zone, I took a steerage passage
in the first ship that was to sail from the Clyde, for

  Hungry ruin had me in the wind.

I had been for some days skulking from covert to covert, under all the
terrors of a jail; as some ill-advised people had uncoupled the
merciless pack of the law at my heels.  I had taken the last farewell
of my few friends; my chest was on the road to Greenock; I had composed
the last song I should ever measure in Caledonia--"The Gloomy Night Is
Gathering Fast," when a letter from Dr. Blacklock to a friend of mine
overthrew all my schemes by opening new prospects to my poetic
ambition.  The doctor belonged to a set of critics for whose applause I
had not dared to hope.  His opinion, that I would meet with
encouragement in Edinburgh for a second edition, fired me so much, that
away I posted for that city, without a single acquaintance, or a single
letter of introduction.  The baneful star that had so long shed its
blasting influence in my zenith for once made a revolution to the
nadir; and a kind Providence placed me under the patronage of one of
the noblest of men, the Earl of Glencairn.  _Oublie moi, grand Dieu, si
jamais je l'oublie_  [Forget me, Great God, if I ever forget him!].

I need relate no further.  At Edinburgh I was in a new world; I mingled
among many classes of men, but all of them new to me, and I was all
attention to "catch" the characters and "the manners living as they
rise."  Whether I have profited, time will show.


[_To Dr. Moore_]

ELLISLAND, 4th January, 1789.

. . . The character and employment of a poet were formerly my pleasure,
but are now my pride.  I know that a very great deal of my late _éclat_
was owing to the singularity of my situation and the honest prejudice
of Scotsmen; but still, as I said in the preface to my first edition, I
do look upon myself as having some pretensions from nature to the
poetic character.  I have not a doubt but the knack, the aptitude, to
learn the muses' trade, is a gift bestowed by Him "who forms the secret
bias of the soul"; but I as firmly believe that _excellence_ in the
profession is the fruit of industry, labour, attention, and pains.  At
least I am resolved to try my doctrine by the test of experience.
Another appearance from the press I put off to a very distant day, a
day that may never arrive--but poesy I am determined to prosecute with
all my vigour.  Nature has given very few, if any, of the profession,
the talents of shining in every species of composition.  I shall try
(for until trial it is impossible to know) whether she has qualified me
to shine in any one.


[_To Mr. Moore_]

The worst of it is, by the time one has finished a piece, it has been
so often viewed and reviewed before the mental eye that one loses, in a
good measure, the power of critical discrimination.  Here the best
criterion I know is a friend--not only of abilities to judge, but with
good nature enough like a prudent teacher with a young learner to
praise a little more than is exactly just, lest the thin-skinned animal
fall into that most deplorable of all diseases--heart-breaking
despondency of himself.  Dare I, sir, already immensely indebted to
your goodness, ask the additional obligation of your being that friend
to me? . . .




Horace Greeley, the farmer's son, lived most of his life in the
metropolis, yet he always looked like a farmer, and most people would
be willing to admit that he retained the farmer's traditional goodness
of heart, if not quite all of his traditional simplicity.  His judgment
was keen and shrewd, and for many years the cracker-box philosophers of
the village store impatiently awaited the sorting of the mail chiefly
that they might learn what "Old Horace" had to say about some new
picture in the kaleidoscope of politics.

From "Captains of Industry," by James Parton.  Houghton, Mifflin & Co.,

I have seldom been more interested than in hearing Horace Greeley tell
the story of his coming to New York, in 1831, and gradually working his
way into business there.

He was living at the age of twenty years with his parents in a small
log-cabin in a new clearing of Western Pennsylvania, about twenty miles
from Erie.  His father, a Yankee by birth, had recently moved to that
region and was trying to raise sheep there, as he had been accustomed
to do in Vermont.  The wolves were too numerous there.

It was part of the business of Horace and his brother to watch the
flock of sheep, and sometimes they camped out all night, sleeping with
their feet to the fire, Indian fashion.  He told me that occasionally a
pack of wolves would come so near that he could see their eyeballs
glare in the darkness and hear them pant.  Even as he lay in the loft
of his father's cabin he could hear them howling in the fields.  In
spite of all their care, the wolves killed in one season a hundred of
his father's sheep, and then he gave up the attempt.

The family were so poor that it was a matter of doubt sometimes whether
they could get food enough to live through the long winter, and so
Horace, who had learned the printer's trade in Vermont, started out on
foot in search of work in a village printing office.  He walked from
village to village, and from town to town, until at last he went to
Erie, the largest place in the vicinity.

There he was taken for a runaway apprentice, and certainly his
appearance justified suspicion.  Tall and gawky as he was in person,
with tow-coloured hair, and a scanty suit of shabbiest homespun, his
appearance excited astonishment or ridicule wherever he went.  He had
never worn a good suit of clothes in his life.  He had a singularly
fair, white complexion, a piping, whining voice, and these
peculiarities gave the effect of his being wanting in intellect.  It
was not until people conversed with him that they discovered his worth
and intelligence.  He had been an ardent reader from his childhood up,
and had taken of late years the most intense interest in politics and
held very positive opinions, which he defended in conversation with
great earnestness and ability.

A second application at Erie procured him employment for a few months
in the office of the Erie _Gazette_, and he won his way, not only to
the respect, but to the affection of his companions and his employer.
That employer was Judge J. M. Sterrett, and from him I heard many
curious particulars of Horace Greeley's residence in Erie.  As he was
only working in the office as a substitute, the return of the absentee
deprived him of his place, and he was obliged to seek work elsewhere.
His employer said to him one day:

"Now, Horace, you have a good deal of money coming to you; don't go
about the town any longer in that outlandish rig.  Let me give you an
order on the store.  Dress up a little, Horace."

The young man looked down on his clothes as though he had never seen
them before, and then said, by way of apology:

"You see, Mr. Sterrett, my father is on a new place, and I want to help
him all I can."

In fact, upon the settlement of his account at the end of his seven
months' labour, he had drawn for his personal expenses six dollars
only.  Of the rest of his wages he retained fifteen dollars for
himself, and gave all the rest, amounting to about a hundred and twenty
dollars, to his father, who, I am afraid, did not make the very best
use of all of it.

With the great sum of fifteen dollars in his pocket, Horace now
resolved upon a bold movement.  After spending a few days at home, he
tied up his spare clothes in a bundle, not very large, and took the
shortest road through the woods that led to the Erie Canal.  He was
going to New York, and he was going cheap!

A walk of sixty miles or so, much of it through the primeval forest,
brought him to Buffalo, where he took passage on the Erie Canal, and
after various detentions he reached Albany on a Thursday morning just
in time to see the regular steamboat of the day move out into the
stream.  At ten o'clock on the same morning he embarked on board of a
towboat, which required nearly twenty-four hours to descend the river,
and thus afforded him ample time to enjoy the beauty of its shores.

On the 18th of August, 1831, about sunrise, he set foot in the city of
New York, then containing about two hundred thousand inhabitants. . . .
He had managed his affairs with such strict economy that his journey of
six hundred miles had cost him little more than five dollars, and he
had ten left with which to begin life in the metropolis.  This sum of
money and the knowledge of the printer's trade made up his capital.
There was not a person in all New York, as far as he knew, who had ever
seen him before.

His appearance, too, was much against him, for although he had a really
fine face, a noble forehead, and the most benign expression I ever saw
upon a human countenance, yet his clothes and bearing quite spoiled
him.  His round jacket made him look like a tall boy who had grown too
fast for his strength; he stooped a little and walked in a
loose-jointed manner.  He was very bashful, and totally destitute of
the power of pushing his way, or arguing with a man who said, "No" to
him.  He had brought no letters of recommendation, and had no kind of
evidence to show that he had even learned his trade.

The first business was, of course, to find an extremely cheap
boarding-house, as he had made up his mind only to try New York as an
experiment, and, if he did not succeed in finding work, to start
homeward while he still had a portion of his money.  After walking a
while he went into what looked to him like a low-priced tavern, at the
corner of Wall and Broad streets.

"How much do you charge for board?" he asked the barkeeper, who was
wiping his decanters, and putting his bar in trim for the business of
the day.

The barkeeper gave the stranger a look-over and said to him:

"I guess we're too high for you."

"Well, how much do you charge?"

"Six dollars."

"Yes, that's more than I can afford."

He walked on until he descried on the North River, near Washington
Market, a boarding-house so very mean and squalid that he was tempted
to go in and inquire the price of board there.  The price was two
dollars and a half a week.

"Ah!" said Horace, "that sounds more like it."

In ten minutes more he was taking his breakfast at the landlord's
table.  Mr. Greeley gratefully remembered this landlord, who was a
friendly Irishman by the name of McGorlick.  Breakfast done, the
newcomer sallied forth in quest of work, and began by expending nearly
half of his capital in improving his wardrobe.  It was a wise action.
He that goes courting should dress in his best, particularly if he
courts so capricious a jade as Fortune.

Then he began the weary round of the printing offices, seeking for work
and finding none, all day long.  He would enter an office and ask in
his whining note:

"Do you want a hand?"

"No," was the inevitable reply, upon receiving which he left without a
word.  Mr. Greeley chuckled as he told the reception given him at the
office of the _Journal of Commerce_, a newspaper he was destined to
contend with for many a year in the columns of the _Tribune_.

"Do you want a hand?" he said to David Hale, one of the owners of the

Mr. Hale looked at him from head to foot, and then said:

"My opinion is, young man, that you're a runaway apprentice, and you'd
better go home to your master."

The applicant tried to explain, but the busy proprietor merely replied:

"Be off about your business, and don't bother us."

The young man laughed good-humouredly and resumed his walk.  He went to
bed Saturday night thoroughly tired and a little discouraged.  On
Sunday he walked three miles to attend a church, and remembered to the
end of his days the delight he had, for the first time in his life, in
hearing a sermon that he entirely agreed with.  In the meantime he had
gained the good will of his landlord and the boarders, and to that
circumstance he owed his first chance in the city.  His landlord
mentioned his fruitless search for work to an acquaintance who happened
to call that Sunday afternoon.  That acquaintance, who was a shoemaker,
had accidently heard that printers were wanted at No. 85 Chatham Street.

At half-past five on Monday morning Horace Greeley stood before the
designated house, and discovered the sign, "West's Printing Office,"
over the second story, the ground floor being occupied as a bookstore.
Not a soul was stirring up stairs or down.  The doors were locked, and
Horace sat down on the steps to wait.  Thousands of workmen passed by;
but it was nearly seven before the first of Mr. West's printers
arrived, and he, too, finding the door locked, sat down by the side of
the stranger, and entered into conversation with him.

"I saw," said the printer to me many years after, "that he was an
honest, good young man, and being a Vermonter myself, I determined to
help him if I could."

Thus, a second time in New York already, _the native quality of the
man_ gained him, at the critical moment, the advantage that decided his
destiny.  His new friend did help him, and it was very much through his
urgent recommendation that the foreman of the printing office gave him
a chance.  The foreman did not in the least believe that the
green-looking young fellow before him could set in type one page of the
polyglot Testament for which help was needed.

"Fix up a case for him," said he, "and we'll see if he _can_ do

Horace worked all day with silent intensity, and when he showed to the
foreman at night a printer's proof of his day's work, it was found to
be the best day's work that had yet been done on that most difficult
job.  It was greater in quantity and much more correct.  The battle was
won.  He worked on the Testament for several months, making long hours
and earning only moderate wages, saving all his surplus money, and
sending the greater part of it to his father, who was still in debt for
his farm and not sure of being able to keep it.

Ten years passed.  Horace Greeley from journeyman printer made his way
slowly to partnership in a small printing office.  He founded the _New
Yorker_, a weekly paper, the best periodical of its class in the United
States.  It brought him great credit and no profit.

In 1840, when General Harrison was nominated for the Presidency against
Martin Van Buren, his feelings as a politician were deeply stirred, and
he started a little campaign paper called _The Log-Cabin_, which was
incomparably the most spirited thing of the kind ever published in the
United States.  It had a circulation of unprecedented extent, beginning
with forty-eight thousand, and rising week after week until it reached
ninety thousand.  The price, however, was so low that its great sale
proved rather an embarrassment than a benefit to the proprietors, and
when the campaign ended the firm of Horace Greeley & Co. was rather
more in debt than it was when the first number of _The Log-Cabin_ was

The little paper had given the editor two things which go far toward
making a success in business: great reputation and some confidence in
himself.  The first penny paper had been started.  The New York
_Herald_ was making a great stir.  The _Sun_ was already a profitable
sheet.  And now the idea occurred to Horace Greeley to start a daily
paper which should have the merits of cheapness and abundant news,
without some of the qualities possessed by the others.  He wished to
found a cheap daily paper that should be good and salutary as well as
interesting.  The last number of _The Log-Cabin_ announced the
forthcoming _Tribune_, price one cent.

The editor was probably not solvent when he conceived the scheme, and
he borrowed a thousand dollars of his old friend, James Coggeshall,
with which to buy the indispensable material.  He began with six
hundred subscribers, printed five thousand of the first number, and
found it difficult to give them all away.  The _Tribune_ appeared on
the day set apart in New York for the funeral procession in
commemoration of President Harrison, who died a month after his

It was a chilly, dismal day in April, and all the town was absorbed in
the imposing pageant.  The receipts during the first week were
ninety-two dollars; the expenses five hundred and twenty-five.  But the
little paper soon caught public attention, and the circulation
increased for three weeks at the rate of about three hundred a day.  It
began its fourth week with six thousand; its seventh week with eleven
thousand.  The first number contained four columns of advertisements;
the twelfth, nine columns; the hundredth, thirteen columns.

In a word, the success of the paper was immediate and very great.  It
grew a little faster than the machinery for producing it could be
provided.  Its success was due chiefly to the fact that the original
idea of the editor was actually carried out.  He aimed to produce a
paper which should morally benefit the public.  It was not always
right, but it always meant to be.




This factory boy felt in his heart that he was qualified for a better
position in life, and great was his humiliation at the wretched
meanness of his surroundings.  But his demeanor must have been
admirable, for he succeeded not only in retaining the respect of his
associates, but also in winning their regard.  In his case, as in that
of so many others, it was darkest just before the dawn of a better day.

They are his own words which follow:

An autobiographical fragment from Forster's "Life."

In an evil hour for me, as I often bitterly thought . . . James Lamert,
who had lived with us in Bayham Street, seeing how I was employed from
day to day, and knowing what our domestic circumstances then were,
proposed that I should go into the blacking warehouse, to be as useful
as I could, at a salary, I think, of six shillings a week.  I am not
clear whether it was six or seven.  I am inclined to believe, from my
uncertainty on this head, that it was six at first, and seven
afterward.  At any rate, the offer was accepted very willingly by my
father and mother, and on a Monday morning I went down to the blacking
warehouse to begin my business life.

It is wonderful to me how I could have been so easily cast away at such
an age.  It is wonderful to me that, even after my descent into the
poor little drudge I had been since we came to London, no one had
compassion enough on me--a child of singular abilities, quick, eager,
delicate, and soon hurt, bodily or mentally--to suggest that something
might have been spared, as certainly it might have been, to place me at
any common school.  Our friends, I take it, were tired out.  No one
made any sign.  My father and mother were quite satisfied.  They could
hardly have been more so if I had been twenty years of age,
distinguished at a grammar school, and going to Cambridge.

Our relative had kindly arranged to teach me something in the
dinner-hour, from twelve to one, I think it was, every day.  But an
arrangement so incompatible with counting-house business soon died
away, from no fault of his or mine; and for the same reason, my small
work-table, and my grosses of pots, my papers, string, scissors,
paste-pot, and labels, by little and little, vanished out of the recess
in the counting-house, and kept company with the other small
work-tables, grosses of pots, papers, string, scissors, and paste-pots,
downstairs.  It was not long before Bob Fagin and I, and another boy
whose name was Paul Green, but who was currently believed to have been
christened Poll (a belief which I transferred, long afterward again, to
Mr. Sweedlepipe, in "Martin Chuzzlewit"), worked generally side by
side.  Bob Fagin was an orphan, and lived with his brother-in-law, a
waterman.  Poll Green's father had the additional distinction of being
a fireman, and was employed at Drury Lane Theatre, where another
relation of Poll's, I think his little sister, did imps in the

No words can express the secret agony of my soul as I sunk into this
companionship; compared these every-day associates with those of my
happier childhood; and felt my early hopes of growing up to be a
learned and distinguished man crushed in my breast.  The deep
remembrance of the sense I had of being utterly neglected and hopeless;
of the shame I felt in my position; of the misery it was to my young
heart to believe that, day by day, what I had learned, and thought, and
delighted in, and raised my fancy and my emulation up by, was passing
away from me, never to be brought back any more, cannot be written.  My
whole nature was so penetrated with the grief and humiliation of such
considerations that even now, famous and caressed and happy, I often
forget in my dreams that I have a dear wife and children; even that I
am a man; and wander desolately back to that time of my life.

I know I do not exaggerate, unconsciously and unintentionally, the
scantiness of my resources and the difficulties of my life.  I know
that if a shilling or so were given me by any one, I spent it in a
dinner or a tea.  I know that I worked, from morning to night, with
common men and boys, a shabby child.  I know that I tried, but
ineffectually, not to anticipate my money, and to make it last the week
through; by putting it away in a drawer I had in the counting-house,
wrapped into six little parcels, each parcel containing the same
amount, and labelled with a different day.  I know that I have lounged
about the streets, insufficiently and unsatisfactorily fed.  I know
that, but for the mercy of God, I might easily have been, for any care
that was taken of me, a little robber or a little vagabond.


But I held some station at the blacking warehouse, too.  Besides that
my relative at the counting-house did what a man so occupied, and
dealing with a thing so anomalous, could, to treat me as one upon a
different footing from the rest, I never said, to man or boy, how it
was that I came to be there, or gave the least indication of being
sorry that I was there.  That I suffered in secret, and that I suffered
exquisitely, no one ever knew but I.  How much I suffered, it is, as I
have said already, utterly beyond my power to tell.  No man's
imagination can overstep the reality.  But I kept my own counsel, and I
did my work.  I knew from the first that if I could not do my work as
well as any of the rest I could not hold myself above slight and
contempt.  I soon became at least as expeditious and as skilful with my
hands as either of the other boys.  Though perfectly familiar with
them, my conduct and manners were different enough from theirs to place
a space between us.  They and the men always spoke of me as "the young
gentleman."  A certain man (a soldier once) named Thomas, who was the
foreman, and another man Harry, who was the carman, and wore a red
jacket, used to call me "Charles" sometimes in speaking to me; but I
think it was mostly when we were very confidential, and when I had made
some efforts to entertain them over our work with the results of some
of the old readings, which were fast perishing out of my mind.  Poll
Green uprose once, and rebelled against the "young gentleman" usage;
but Bob Fagin settled him speedily.

My rescue from this kind of existence I considered quite hopeless, and
abandoned as such, altogether; though I am solemnly convinced that I
never, for one hour, was reconciled to it, or was otherwise than
miserably unhappy.  I felt keenly, however, the being so cut off from
my parents, my brothers, and sisters; and, when my day's work was done,
going home to such a miserable blank.  And _that_, I thought, might be
corrected.  One Sunday night I remonstrated with my father on this head
so pathetically and with so many tears that his kind nature gave way.
He began to think that it was not quite right.  I do believe he had
never thought so before, or thought about it.  It was the first
remonstrance I had ever made about my lot, and perhaps it opened up a
little more than I intended.  A back-attic was found for me at the
house of an insolvent court agent, who lived in Lant Street in the
Borough, where Bob Sawyer lodged many years afterward.  A bed and
bedding were sent over for me, and made up on the floor.  The little
window had a pleasant prospect of a timber-yard; and when I took
possession of my new abode, I thought it was a paradise.


Bob Fagin was very good to me on the occasion of a bad attack of my old
disorder, cramps.  I suffered such excruciating pain that time that
they made a temporary bed of straw in my old recess in the
counting-house, and I rolled about on the floor, and Bob filled empty
blacking-bottles with hot water, and applied relays of them to my side,
half the day.  I got better, and quite easy toward evening; but Bob
(who was much bigger and older than I) did not like the idea of my
going home alone, and took me under his protection.  I was too proud to
let him know about the prison; and after making several efforts to get
rid of him, to all of which Bob Fagin, in his goodness, was deaf, shook
hands with him on the steps of a house near Southwark Bridge on the
Surrey side, making believe that I lived there.  As a finishing piece
of reality in case of his looking back, I knocked at the door, I
recollect, and asked, when the woman opened it, if that was Mr. Robert
Fagin's house.

My usual way home was over Blackfriars Bridge, and down that turning in
the Blackfriars Road which has Rowland Hill's chapel on one side, and
the likeness of a golden dog licking a golden pot over a shop door on
the other.  There are a good many little low-browed old shops in that
street, of a wretched kind; and some are unchanged now.  I looked into
one a few weeks ago, where I used to buy bootlaces on Saturday nights,
and saw the corner where I once sat down on a stool to have a pair of
ready-made half-boots fitted on.  I have been seduced more than once,
in that street on a Saturday night, by a show-van at a corner; and have
gone in, with a very motley assemblage, to see the Fat Pig, the Wild
Indian, and the Little Lady.  There were two or three hat manufactories
there then (I think they are there still); and among the things which,
encountered anywhere, or under any circumstances, will instantly recall
that time, is the smell of hat-making.

I was such a little fellow, with my poor white hat, little jacket, and
corduroy trousers, that frequently, when I went into the bar of a
strange public-house for a glass of ale or porter to wash down the
saveloy and the loaf I had eaten in the street, they didn't like to
give it me.  I remember, one evening (I had been somewhere for my
father, and was going back to the Borough over Westminster Bridge),
that I went into a public-house in Parliament Street, which is still
there, though altered, at the corner of the short street leading into
Cannon Row, and said to the landlord behind the bar, "What is your very
best--the VERY _best_--ale a glass?"  For the occasion was a festive
one, for some reasons: I forget why.  It may have been my birthday, or
somebody else's.  "Twopence," says he.  "Then," says I, "just draw me a
glass of that, if you please, with a good head to it."  The landlord
looked at me, in return, over the bar, from head to foot, with a
strange smile on his face; and instead of drawing the beer, looked
round the screen and said something to his wife, who came out from
behind it, with her work in her hand, and joined him in surveying me.
Here we stand, all three, before me now, in my study in Devonshire
Terrace.  The landlord in his shirt-sleeves, leaning against the bar
window-frame; his wife looking over the little half-door; and I, in
some confusion, looking up at them from outside the partition.  They
asked me a good many questions, as what my name was, how old I was,
where I lived, how I was employed, etc., etc.  To all of which, that I
might commit nobody, I invented appropriate answers.  They served me
with the ale, though I suspect it was not the strongest on the
premises; and the landlord's wife, opening the little half-door and
bending down, gave me a kiss that was half-admiring and
half-compassionate, but all womanly and good, I am sure.


At last, one day, my father and the relative so often mentioned
quarrelled; quarrelled by letter, for I took the letter from my father
to him which caused the explosion, but quarrelled very fiercely.  It
was about me.  It may have had some backward reference, in part, for
anything I know, to my employment at the window.  All I am certain of
is that, soon after I had given him the letter, my cousin (he was a
sort of cousin by marriage) told me he was very much insulted about me;
and that it was impossible to keep me after that.  I cried very much,
partly because it was so sudden, and partly because in his anger he was
violent about my father, though gentle to me.  Thomas, the old soldier,
comforted me, and said he was sure it was for the best.  With a relief
so strange that it was like oppression, I went home.

My mother set herself to accommodate the quarrel, and did so next day.
She brought home a request for me to return next morning, and a high
character of me, which I am very sure I deserved.  My father said I
should go back no more, and should go to school.  I do not write
resentfully or angrily, for I know how all these things have worked
together to make me what I am, but I never afterward forgot, I never
shall forget, I never can forget, that my mother was warm for my being
sent back.

From that hour until this at which I write no word of that part of my
childhood, which I have now gladly brought to a close, has passed my
lips to any human being.  I have no idea how long it lasted; whether
for a year, or much more, or less.  From that hour until this, my
father and my mother have been stricken dumb upon it.  I have never
heard the least allusion to it, however far off and remote, from either
of them.  I have never, until I now impart it to this paper, in any
burst of confidence with any one, my own wife not excepted, raised the
curtain I then dropped, thank God.

Dickens sent the following sketch of his early career to Wilkie
Collins.  It will be noted that he omits all reference to his
experiences in the blacking factory.  The _naïve_ touches of
self-appreciation are delightful to the true lover of "The Inimitable."

TAVISTOCK HOUSE, June 6, 1856.

I have never seen anything about myself in print which has much
correctness in it--any biographical account of myself I mean.  I do not
supply such particulars when I am asked for them by editors and
compilers, simply because I am asked for them every day.  If you want
to prime Forgues, you may tell him, without fear of anything wrong,
that I was born at Portsmouth on the 7th of February, 1812; that my
father was in the Navy Pay Office; that I was taken by him to Chatham
when I was very young, and lived and was educated there till I was
twelve or thirteen, I suppose; that I was then put to a school near
London, where (as at other places) I distinguished myself like a brick;
that I was put in the office of a solicitor, a friend of my father's,
and didn't much like it; and after a couple of years (as well as I can
remember) applied myself with a celestial or diabolical energy to the
study of such things as would qualify me to be a first-rate
parliamentary reporter--at that time a calling pursued by many clever
men who were young at the Bar; that I made my debut in the gallery (at
about eighteen, I suppose), engaged on a voluminous publication no
longer in existence, called the _Mirror of Parliament_; that when the
_Morning Chronicle_ was purchased by Sir John Easthope and acquired a
large circulation, I was engaged there, and that I remained there until
I had begun to publish "Pickwick," when I found myself in a condition
to relinquish that part of my labours; that I left the reputation
behind me of being the best and most rapid reporter ever known, and
that I could do anything in that way under any sort of circumstances,
and often did.  (I daresay I am at this present writing the best
shorthand writer in the world.)

That I began, without any interest or introduction of any kind, to
write fugitive pieces for the old _Monthly Magazine_, when I was in the
gallery for the _Mirror of Parliament_; that my faculty for descriptive
writing was seized upon the moment I joined the _Morning Chronicle_,
and that I was liberally paid there and handsomely acknowledged, and
wrote the greater part of the short descriptive "Sketches by Boz" in
that paper; that I had been a writer when I was a mere baby, and always
an actor from the same age; that I married the daughter of a writer to
the signet in Edinburgh, who was the great friend and assistant of
Scott, and who first made Lockhart known to him.

And that here I am.

Finally, if you want any dates of publication of books, tell Wills and
he'll get them for you.

This is the first time I ever set down even these particulars, and,
glancing them over, I feel like a wild beast in a caravan describing
himself in the keeper's absence.

Ever faithfully.

The following letter, criticising the work of an inexperienced author,
is valuable in itself, and reveals clearly the essential kindliness of
the man.

  Monday, June 1, 1857.


I know that what I am going to say will not be agreeable; but I rely on
the authoress's good sense; and say it knowing it to be the truth.

These "Notes" are destroyed by too much smartness.  It gives the
appearance of perpetual effort, stabs to the heart the nature that is
in them, and wearies by the manner and not by the matter.  It is the
commonest fault in the world (as I have constant occasion to observe
here) but it is a very great one.  Just as you couldn't bear to have an
épergne or a candlestick on your table, supported by a light figure
always on tip-toe and evidently in an impossible attitude for the
sustainment of its weight, so all readers would be more or less
oppressed and worried by this presentation of everything in one smart
point of view, when they know it must have other, and weightier, and
more solid properties.  Airiness and good spirits are always
delightful, and are inseparable from notes of a cheerful trip; but they
should sympathize with many things as well as see them in a lively way.
It is but a word or a touch that expresses this humanity, but without
that little embellishment of good nature there is no such thing as
humour.  In this little MS. everything is too much patronized and
condescended to, whereas the slightest touch of feeling for the rustic
who is of the earth earthy, or of sisterhood with the homely servant
who has made her face shine in her desire to please, would make a
difference that the writer can scarcely imagine without trying it.  The
only relief in the twenty-one slips is the little bit about the chimes.
It is a relief, simply because it is an indication of some kind of
sentiment.  You don't want any sentiment laboriously made out in such a
thing.  You don't want any maudlin show of it.  But you do want a
pervading suggestion that it is there.  It makes all the difference
between being playful and being cruel.  Again I must say, above all
things--especially to young people writing: For the love of God don't
condescend!  Don't assume the attitude of saying, "See how clever I am,
and what fun everybody else is!"  Take any shape but that.

I observe an excellent quality of observation throughout, and think the
boy at the shop, and all about him, particularly good.  I have no doubt
whatever that the rest of the journal will be much better if the writer
chooses to make it so.  If she considers for a moment within herself,
she will know that she derived pleasure from everything she saw,
because she saw it with innumerable lights and shades upon it, and
bound to humanity by innumerable fine links; she cannot possibly
communicate anything of that pleasure to another by showing it from one
little limited point only, and that point, observe, the one from which
it is impossible to detach the exponent as the patroness of a whole
universe of inferior souls.  This is what everybody would mean in
objecting to these notes (supposing them to be published), that they
are too smart and too flippant.

As I understand this matter to be altogether between us three, and as I
think your confidence and hers imposes a duty of friendship on me, I
discharge it to the best of my ability.  Perhaps I make more of it than
you may have meant or expected; if so, it is because I am interested
and wish to express it.  If there had been anything in my objection not
perfectly easy of removal, I might, after all, have hesitated to state
it; but that is not the case.  A very little indeed would make all this
gayety as sound and wholesome and good-natured in the reader's mind as
it is in the writer's.

Affectionately always.


[_To his sixth son, Henry Fielding Dickens, born in 1849_]


TUESDAY, February 11, 1868.


I should have written to you before now but for constant and arduous
occupation. . . .  I am very glad to hear of the success of your
reading, and still more glad that you went at it in downright earnest.
I should never have made my success in life if I had been shy of taking
pains, or if I had not bestowed upon the least thing I have ever
undertaken exactly the same attention and care that I have bestowed
upon the greatest.  Do everything at your best.  It was but this last
year that I set to and learned every word of my readings; and from ten
years ago to last night, I have never read to an audience but I have
watched for an opportunity of striking out something better somewhere.
Look at such of my manuscripts as are in the library at Gad's, and
think of the patient hours devoted year after year to single
lines. . . .

Ever, my dear Harry,

Your affectionate Father.


[Dickens's last child, Edward Bulwer Lytton Dickens, was born in 1852.
At sixteen he went to Australia, with this parting word from his


I write this note to-day because your going away is much upon my mind,
and because I want you to have a few parting words from me to think of
now and then at quiet times.  I need not tell you that I love you
dearly, and am very, very sorry in my heart to part with you.  But this
life is half made up of partings, and these pains must be borne.  It is
my comfort and my sincere conviction that you are going to try the life
for which you are best fitted.  I think its freedom and wildness more
suited to you than any experiment in a study or office would ever have
been; and without that training, you could have followed no other
suitable occupation.

What you have already wanted until now has been a set, steady, constant
purpose.  I therefore exhort you to persevere in a thorough
determination to do whatever you have to do as well as you can do it.
I was not so old as you are now when I first had to win my food, and do
this out of this determination, and I have never slackened in it since.

Never take a mean advantage of any one in any transaction, and never be
hard upon people who are in your power.  Try to do to others as you
would have them do to you, and do not be discouraged if they fail
sometimes.  It is much better for you that they should fail in obeying
the greatest rule laid down by our Saviour than that you should.  I put
a New Testament among your books for the very same reasons, and with
the very same hopes that made me write an easy account of it for you,
when you were a little child.  Because it is the best book that ever
was, or will be, known in the world; and because it teaches you the
best lessons by which any human creature, who tries to be truthful and
faithful to duty, can possibly be guided.  As your brothers have gone
away, one by one, I have written to each such words as I am now writing
to you, and have entreated them all to guide themselves by this Book,
putting aside the interpretations and inventions of man.  You will
remember that you have never at home been harassed about religious
observances or mere formalities.  I have always been anxious not to
weary my children with such things before they are old enough to form
opinions respecting them.  You will therefore understand the better
that I now most solemnly impress upon you the truth and beauty of the
Christian Religion, as it came from Christ Himself, and the
impossibility of your going far wrong if you humbly but heartily
respect it.  Only one thing more on this head.  The more we are in
earnest as to feeling it, the less we are disposed to hold forth about
it.  Never abandon the wholesome practice of saying your own private
prayers, night and morning.  I have never abandoned it myself, and I
know the comfort of it.  I hope you will always be able to say in after
life that you had a kind father.  You cannot show your affection for
him so well, or make him so happy, as by doing your duty.




Mrs. Gaskell's "Life of Charlotte Brontë" is one of the great
biographies of literature, but like other works on the same theme, it
is really a history of the Brontë family during the period of
Charlotte's life.  The individuals of this family were for many years
as closely associated with one another as they were closely hidden from
the outside world.  The personality of each was influenced by its
house-mates to an unusual degree.  They studied each other and they
studied every book that came within reach.  Themselves they knew well:
the world, through books only.  This probably accounts for the weird
and even morbid character of much of their work.  Their vivid
imaginations, unchecked by experience, in a commonplace world were
allowed free play, and as a result we find some of the most original
creations in the whole realm of literature.

The life of the Brontë sisterhood should convince the literary aspirant
that the creative imagination is sufficient unto itself and independent
of the stimulus of contact with the busy hum of men.  If it be
necessary, the literary genius by divination can portray life without
seeing it.  Bricks are produced without straw.

From "Life of Charlotte Brontë," by Mrs. E. C. Gaskell.

But the children did not want society.  To small infantine gayeties
they were unaccustomed.  They were all in all to each other.  I do not
suppose that there ever was a family more tenderly bound to each other.
Maria read the newspapers, and reported intelligence to her younger
sisters which it is wonderful they could take an interest in.  But I
suspect that they had no "children's books," and their eager minds
"browzed undisturbed among the wholesome pasturage of English
literature," as Charles Lamb expresses it.  The servants of the
household appear to have been much impressed with the little Brontës'
extraordinary cleverness.  In a letter which I had from him on this
subject, their father writes: "The servants often said they had never
seen such a clever little child" (as Charlotte), "and that they were
obliged to be on their guard as to what they said and did before her.
Yet she and the servants always lived on good terms with each
other. . . ."

I return to the father's letter.  He says:

"When mere children, as soon as they could read and write, Charlotte
and her brothers and sisters used to invent and act little plays of
their own in which the Duke of Wellington, my daughter Charlotte's
hero, was sure to come off conqueror; when a dispute would not
unfrequently arise amongst them regarding the comparative merits of
him, Bonaparte, Hannibal, and Caesar.  When the argument got warm, and
rose to its height, as their mother was then dead, I had sometimes to
come in as arbitrator, and settle the dispute according to the best of
my judgment.  Generally, in the management of these concerns, I
frequently thought that I discovered signs of rising talent, which I
had seldom or never before seen in any of their age. . . .  A
circumstance now occurs to my mind which I may as well mention.  When
my children were very young, when, as far as I can remember, the oldest
was about ten years of age, and the youngest about four, thinking they
knew more than I had yet discovered, in order to make them speak with
less timidity, I deemed that if they were put under a sort of cover I
might gain my end; and happening to have a mask in the house, I told
them all to stand and speak boldly from under cover of the mask.

"I began with the youngest (Anne, afterward Acton Bell), and asked what
a child like her most wanted; she answered, 'Age and experience.'  I
asked the next (Emily, afterward Ellis Bell) what I had best do with
her brother Branwell, who was sometimes a naughty boy; she answered,
'Reason with him, and when he won't listen to reason, whip him.'  I
asked Branwell what was the best way of knowing the difference between
the intellects of men and women; he answered, 'By considering the
difference between them as to their bodies.'  I then asked Charlotte
what was the best book in the world; she answered, 'The Bible.'  And
what was the next best; she answered, 'The Book of Nature.'  I then
asked the next what was the best mode of education for a woman; she
answered, 'That which would make her rule her house well.'  Lastly I
asked the oldest what was the best mode of spending time; she answered,
'By laying it out in preparation for a happy eternity.'

"I may not have given precisely their words, but I have nearly done so,
as they made a deep and lasting impression on my memory.  The
substance, however, was exactly what I have stated."

The strange and quaint simplicity of the mode taken by the father to
ascertain the hidden characters of his children, and the tone and
character of these questions and answers, show the curious education
which was made by the circumstances surrounding the Brontës.  They knew
no other children.  They knew no other modes of thought than what were
suggested to them by the fragments of clerical conversation which they
overheard in the parlour, or the subjects of village and local interest
which they heard discussed in the kitchen.  Each had their own strong
characteristic flavour.

They took a vivid interest in the public characters, and the local and
foreign politics discussed in the newspapers.  Long before Maria Brontë
died, at the age of eleven, her father used to say he would converse
with her on any of the leading topics of the day with as much freedom
and pleasure as with any grown-up person. . . .

Miss Branwell instructed the children at regular hours in all she could
teach, making her bed-chamber into their schoolroom.  Their father was
in the habit of relating to them any public news in which he felt an
interest; and from the opinions of his strong and independent mind they
would gather much food for thought; but I do not know whether he gave
them any direct instruction.  Charlotte's deep, thoughtful spirit
appears to have felt almost painfully the tender responsibility which
rested upon her with reference to her remaining sisters.  She was only
eighteen months older than Emily; but Emily and Anne were simply
companions and playmates, while Charlotte was motherly friend and
guardian to both; and this loving assumption of duties beyond her years
made her feel considerably older than she really was.

I have had a curious packet confided to me, containing an immense
amount of manuscript, in an inconceivably small space; tales, dramas,
poems, romances, written principally by Charlotte, in a hand which is
almost impossible to decipher without the aid of a magnifying
glass. . . .

As each volume contains from sixty to a hundred pages . . . the amount
of the whole seems very great, if we remember that it was all written
in about fifteen months.  So much for the quantity; the quality strikes
me as of singular merit for a girl of thirteen or fourteen.  Both as a
specimen of her prose style at this time, and also as revealing
something of the quiet domestic life led by these children, I take an
extract from the introduction to "Tales of the Islanders," the title of
one of their "Little Magazines":

"JUNE the 31st, 1829.

"The play of the 'Islanders' was formed in December, 1827, in the
following manner: One night, about the time when cold sleet and stormy
fogs of November are succeeded by the snowstorms and high, piercing
night-winds of confirmed winter, we were all sitting round the warm
blazing kitchen fire, having just concluded a quarrel with Tabby
concerning the propriety of lighting a candle, from which she came off
victorious, no candle having been produced.  A long pause succeeded,
which was at last broken by Branwell saying in a lazy manner, 'I don't
know what to do.'  This was echoed by Emily and Anne.

"Tabby.  'Wha ya may go t'bed.'

"Branwell.  'I'd rather do anything than that.'

"Charlotte.  'Why are you so glum to-night, Tabby?  Oh! suppose we had
each an island of our own.'

"Branwell.  'If we had I would choose the Island of Man.'

"Charlotte.  'And I would choose the Isle of Wight.'

"Emily.  'The Isle of Arran for me.'

"Anne.  'And mine should be Guernsey.'

"We then chose who would be chief men in our Islands.  Branwell chose
John Bull, Astley Cooper, and Leigh Hunt; Emily, Walter Scott, Mr.
Lockhart, Johnny Lockhart; Anne, Michael Sadler, Lord Bentinck, Sir
Henry Halford.  I chose the Duke of Wellington and two sons,
Christopher North and Co., and Mr. Abernethy.  Here our conversation
was interrupted by the, to us, dismal sound of the clock striking
seven, and we were summoned off to bed.  The next day we added many
others to our list of men, till we got almost all the chief men of the
kingdom.  After this, for a long time, nothing worth noticing occurred.
In June, 1828, we erected a school on a fictitious island, which was to
contain 1,000 children.  The manner of the building was as follows: The
island was fifty miles in circumference, and certainly appeared more
like the work of enchantment than anything real," etc. . . .

There is another scrap of paper in this all but illegible handwriting,
written about this time, and which gives some idea of the sources of
their opinions. . . .

"Papa and Branwell are gone for the newspaper, the Leeds
_Intelligencer_, a most excellent Tory newspaper, edited by Mr. Wood,
and the proprietor, Mr. Henneman.  We take two, and see three,
newspapers a week.  We take the Leeds _Intelligencer_, Tory, and the
Leeds _Mercury_, Whig, edited by Mr. Baines, and his brother,
son-in-law, and his two sons, Edward and Talbot.  We see the _John
Bull_; it is a high Tory, very violent.  Mr. Driver lends us it, as
likewise _Blackwood's Magazine_, the most able periodical there is.
The editor is Mr. Christopher North, an old man seventy-four years of
age; the 1st of April is his birthday; his company are Timothy Tickler,
Morgan O'Doherty, Macrabin Mordecai, Mullion, Warnell, and James Hogg,
a man of most extraordinary genius, a Scottish shepherd.  Our plays
were established, 'Young Men,' June, 1826; 'Our Fellows,' July, 1827;
'Islanders,' December, 1827.  These are our three great plays that are
not kept secret.  Emily's and my best plays were established the 1st of
December, 1827; the others March, 1828.  Best plays mean secret plays,
they are very nice ones.  All our plays are very strange ones.  Their
nature I need not write on paper, for I think I shall always remember
them.  The 'Young Men's' play took its rise from some wooden soldiers
Branwell had; 'Our Fellows' from 'Aesop's Fables'; and the 'Islanders'
from several events which happened.  I will sketch out the origin of
our plays more explicitly if I can.  First, 'Young Men.'  Papa brought
Branwell some wooden soldiers at Leeds; when papa came home it was
night, and we were in bed, so next morning Branwell came to our door
with a box of soldiers.  Emily and I jumped out of bed, and I snatched
up one and exclaimed, 'This is the Duke of Wellington!  This shall be
the Duke!'  When I had said this Emily likewise took one up and said it
should be hers; when Anne came down, she said one should be hers.  Mine
was the prettiest of the whole, and the tallest, and the most perfect
in every part.  Emily's was a grave-looking fellow, and we called him
'Gravey.'  Anne's was a queer little thing, much like herself, and we
called him 'Waiting-boy.'  Branwell chose his, and called him

The foregoing extract shows something of the kind of reading in which
the little Brontës were interested; but their desire for knowledge must
have been excited in many directions, for I find a "list of painters
whose works I wish to see," drawn up by Charlotte Brontë when she was
scarcely thirteen: "Guido Reni, Julio Romano Titian, Raphael, Michael
Angelo, Coreggio, Annibal Carracci, Leonardo da Vinci, Fra Bartolomeo,
Carlo Cignani, Vandyke, Rubens, Bartolomeo Ramerghi."

Here is this little girl, in a remote Yorkshire parsonage, who has
probably never seen anything worthy the name of a painting in her life
studying the names and characteristics of the great old Italian and
Flemish masters, whose works she longs to see some time, in the dim
future that lies before her!  There is a paper remaining which contains
minute studies of, and criticisms upon, the engravings in "Friendship's
Offering for 1829," showing how she had early formed those habits of
close observation and patient analysis of cause and effect, which
served so well in after-life as handmaids to her genius.

The way in which Mr. Brontë made his children sympathize with him in
his great interest in politics must have done much to lift them above
the chances of their minds being limited or tainted by petty local
gossip.  I take the only other remaining personal fragment out of
"Tales of the Islanders"; it is a sort of apology, contained in the
introduction to the second volume, for their not having been continued
before; the writers have been for a long time too busy and lately too
much absorbed in politics:

"Parliament was opened, and the great Catholic question was brought
forward, and the Duke's measures were disclosed, and all was slander,
violence, party spirit, and confusion.  Oh, those six months, from the
time of the King's speech to the end!  Nobody could write, think, or
speak on any subject but the Catholic question, and the Duke of
Wellington, and Mr. Peel.  I remember the day when the _Intelligence
Extraordinary_ came with Mr. Peel's speech in it, containing the terms
on which the Catholics were to be let in!  With what eagerness papa
tore off the cover, and how we all gathered round him, and with what
breathless anxiety we listened, as one by one they were disclosed, and
explained, and argued upon so ably and so well; and then when it was
all out, how aunt said that she thought it was excellent, and that the
Catholics could do no harm with such good security.  I remember also
the doubts as to whether it would pass the House of Lords, and the
prophecies that it would not; and when the paper came which was to
decide the question, the anxiety was almost dreadful with which we
listened to the whole affair; the opening of the doors, the hush; the
royal dukes in their robes, and the great duke in green sash and
waistcoat; the rising of all the peeresses when he rose; the reading of
his speech--papa saying that his words were like precious gold; and
lastly, the majority of one to four (sic) in favour of the Bill.  But
this is a digression."

This must have been written when she was between thirteen and fourteen.

She was an indefatigable student; constantly reading and learning; with
a strong conviction of the necessity and value of education very
unusual in a girl of fifteen.  She never lost a moment of time, and
seemed almost to grudge the necessary leisure for relaxation and
play-hours, which might be partly accounted for by the awkwardness in
all games occasioned by her shortness of sight.  Yet, in spite of these
unsociable habits, she was a great favourite with her school-fellows.
She was always ready to try and do what they wished, though not sorry
when they called her awkward, and left her out of their sports.  Then,
at night, she was an invaluable story-teller, frightening them almost
out of their wits as they lay in bed.  On one occasion the effect was
such that she was led to scream out loud, and Miss Wooler, coming
upstairs, found that one of the listeners had been seized with violent
palpitations, in consequence of the excitement produced by Charlotte's

Her indefatigable craving for knowledge tempted Miss Wooler on into
setting her longer and longer tasks of reading for examination; and
toward the end of the two years that she remained as a pupil at Roe
Head, she received her first bad mark for an imperfect lesson.  She had
had a great quantity of Blair's "Lectures on Belles-Lettres" to read;
and she could not answer some of the questions upon it; Charlotte
Brontë had a bad mark.  Miss Wooler was sorry, and regretted that she
had over-tasked so willing a pupil.  Charlotte cried bitterly.  But her
school-fellows were more than sorry--they were indignant.  They
declared that the infliction of ever so slight a punishment on
Charlotte Brontë was unjust--for who had tried to do her duty like
her?--and testified their feeling in a variety of ways, until Miss
Wooler, who was in reality only too willing to pass over her good
pupil's first fault, withdrew the bad mark. . . .

After her return home she employed herself in teaching her sisters over
whom she had had superior advantages.  She writes thus, July 21, 1832,
of her course of life at the parsonage:

"An account of one day is an account of all.  In the morning, from nine
o'clock till half-past twelve, I instruct my sisters, and draw; then we
walk till dinner-time.  After dinner I sew till tea-time, and after tea
I either write, read, or do a little fancywork, or draw, as I please.
Thus, in one delightful though somewhat monotonous course, my life is
passed.  I have been out only twice to tea since I came home.  We are
expecting company this afternoon, and on Tuesday next we shall have all
the female teachers of the Sunday-school to tea."

It was about this time that Mr. Brontë provided his children with a
teacher in drawing, who turned out to be a man of considerable talent
but very little principle.  Although they never attained to anything
like proficiency, they took great interest in acquiring this art;
evidently from an instinctive desire to express their powerful
imaginations in visible forms.  Charlotte told me that at this period
of her life drawing and walking out with her sisters formed the two
great pleasures and relaxations of her day. . . .

Quiet days, occupied in teaching and feminine occupations in the house,
did not present much to write about; and Charlotte was naturally driven
to criticise books.

Of these there were many in different plights, and according to their
plight, kept in different places.  The well bound were ranged in the
sanctuary of Mr. Brontë's study; but the purchase of books was a
necessary luxury to him, and as it was often a choice between binding
an old one, or buying a new one, the familiar volume, which had been
hungrily read by all the members of the family, was sometimes in such a
condition that the bedroom shelf was considered its fitting place.  Up
and down the house were to be found many standard works of a solid
kind.  Sir Walter Scott's writings, Wadsworth's and Southey's poems
were among the lighter literature; while, as having a character of
their own--earnest, wild, and occasionally fanatical, may be named some
of the books which came from the Branwell side of the family--from the
Cornish followers of the saintly John Wesley--and which are touched on
in the account of the works to which Caroline Helstone had access in
"Shirley":  "Some venerable Lady's Magazines, that had once performed a
voyage with their owner, and undergone a storm"--(possibly part of the
relics of Mrs. Brontë's possessions, contained in the ship wrecked on
the coast of Cornwall)--"and whose pages were stained with salt water;
some mad Methodist Magazines full of miracles and apparitions, and
preternatural warnings, ominous dreams, and frenzied fanaticism; and
the equally mad Letters of Mrs. Elizabeth Rowe from the Dead to the

Mr. Brontë encouraged a taste for reading in his girls; and though Miss
Branwell kept it in due bounds by the variety of household occupations,
in which she expected them not merely to take a part, but to become
proficients, thereby occupying regularly a good portion of every day,
they were allowed to get books from the circulating library at
Keighley; and many a happy walk up those long four miles must they have
had burdened with some new book into which they peeped as they hurried
home.  Not that the books were what would generally be called new; in
the beginning of 1833 the two friends [Charlotte and "E.," a school
friend] seem almost simultaneously to have fallen upon "Kenilworth,"
and Charlotte writes as follows about it:

"I am glad you like 'Kenilworth'; it is certainly more resembling a
romance than a novel; in my opinion, one of the most interesting works
that ever emanated from the great Sir Walter's pen.  Varney is
certainly the personification of consummate villainy; and in the
delineation of his dark and profoundly and artful mind, Scott exhibits
a wonderful knowledge of human nature, as well as surprising skill in
embodying his perceptions, so as to enable others to become
participators in that knowledge. . . ."

Meanwhile, "The Professor" had met with many refusals from different
publishers; some, I have reason to believe, not over-courteously worded
in writing to an unknown author, and none alleging any distinct reasons
for its rejection.  Courtesy is always due; but it is, perhaps, hardly
to be expected that, in the press of business in a great publishing
house, they should find time to explain why they decline particular
works.  Yet, though one course of action is not to be wondered at, the
opposite may fall upon a grieved and disappointed mind with all the
graciousness of dew; and I can well sympathize with the published
account which "Currer Bell" gives, of the feelings experienced on
reading Messrs. Smith and Elder's letter containing the rejection of
"The Professor."

"As a forlorn hope, we tried one publishing house more.  Ere long, in a
much shorter space than that on which experience had taught him to
calculate, there came a letter, which he opened in the dreary
anticipation of finding two hard, hopeless lines, intimating that
'Messrs. Smith and Elder were not disposed to publish the MS.,' and,
instead, he took out the envelope a letter of two pages.  He read it,
trembling.  It declined, indeed, to publish that tale, for business
reasons, but it discussed its merits and demerits so courteously, so
considerately, in a spirit so rational, with a discrimination so
enlightened, that this very refusal cheered the author better than a
vulgarly expressed acceptance would have done.  It was added, that a
work in three volumes would meet with careful attention."

Mr. Smith has told me a little circumstance connected with the
reception of this manuscript which seems to me indicative of no
ordinary character.  It came (accompanied by the note given below) in a
brown paper parcel, to 65 Cornhill.  Besides the address to Messrs.
Smith & Co., there were on it those of other publishers to whom the
tale had been sent, not obliterated, but simply scored through, so that
Messrs.  Smith at once perceived the names of some of the houses in the
trade to which the unlucky parcel had gone, without success.

[_To Messrs. Smith and Elder_]

"JULY 15th, 1847.

"Gentlemen--I beg to submit to your consideration the accompanying
manuscript.  I should be glad to learn whether it be such as you
approve, and would undertake to publish at as early a period as
possible.  Address, Mr. Currer Bell, under cover to Miss Brontë,
Haworth, Bradford, Yorkshire."

Some time elapsed before an answer was returned. . . .

[_To Messrs. Smith and Elder_]

"AUGUST 2nd, 1847.

"Gentlemen--About three weeks since I sent for your consideration a MS.
entitled 'The Professor, a Tale by Currer Bell.'  I should be glad to
know whether it reached your hands safely, and likewise to learn, at
your earliest convenience, whether it be such as you can undertake to
publish.  I am, gentlemen, yours respectfully,


"I enclose a directed cover for your reply."

This time her note met with a prompt answer; for, four days later, she
writes (in reply to the letter she afterward characterized in the
Preface to the second edition of "Wuthering Heights," as containing a
refusal so delicate, reasonable, and courteous as to be more cheering
than some acceptances):

"Your objection to the want of varied interest in the tale is, I am
aware, not without grounds; yet it appears to me that it might be
published without serious risk, if its appearance were speedily
followed up by another work from the same pen, of a more striking and
exciting character.  The first work might serve as an introduction, and
accustom the public to the author's name: the success of the second
might thereby be rendered more probable.  I have a second narrative in
three volumes, now in progress, and nearly completed, to which I have
endeavoured to impart a more vivid interest than belongs to 'The
Professor.'  In about a month I hope to finish it, so that if a
publisher were found for 'The Professor' the second narrative might
follow as soon as was deemed advisable; and thus the interest of the
public (if any interest was aroused) might not be suffered to cool.
Will you be kind enough to favour me with your judgment on this
plan?". . .

Mr. Brontë, too, had his suspicions of something going on; but, never
being spoken to, he did not speak on the subject, and consequently his
ideas were vague and uncertain, only just prophetic enough to keep him
from being actually stunned when, later on, he heard of the success of
"Jane Eyre"; to the progress of which we must now return.

[_To Messrs. Smith and Elder_]

"AUGUST 24th.

"I now send you per rail a MS. entitled 'Jane Eyre,' a novel in three
volumes, by Currer Bell.  I find I cannot prepay the carriage of the
parcel, as money for that purpose is not received at the small
station-house where it is left.  If, when you acknowledge the receipt
of the MS., you would have the goodness to mention the amount charged
on delivery, I will immediately transmit it in postage stamps.  It is
better in future to address Mr. Currer Bell, under cover to Miss
Brontë, Haworth, Bradford, Yorkshire, as there is a risk of letters
otherwise directed not reaching me at present.  To save trouble, I
enclose an envelope."

"Jane Eyre" was accepted, and printed and published by October
16th. . . .

When the manuscript of "Jane Eyre" had been received by the future
publishers of that remarkable novel, it fell to the share of a
gentleman connected with the firm to read it first.  He was so
powerfully struck by the character of the tale that he reported his
impression in very strong terms to Mr. Smith, who appears to have been
much amused by the admiration excited.  "You seem to have been so
enchanted that I do not know how to believe you," he laughingly said.
But when a second reader, in the person of a clear-headed Scotchman,
not given to enthusiasm, had taken the MS. home in the evening, and
became so deeply interested in it as to sit up half the night to finish
it, Mr. Smith's curiosity was sufficiently excited to prompt him to
read it for himself; and great as were the praises which had been
bestowed upon it, he found that they had not exceeded the truth.



He is a hard-hearted churl who can read with unmoistened eyes this
journal of a brave and talented girl.

With what genuine, _personal_ pleasure one remembers that a full
measure of success and recognition was finally won by her efforts.

From "Louisa Mary Alcott: Her Life, Letters, and Journals."  Little,
Brown & Co., 1889.

1852.--_High Street, Boston_.--After the smallpox summer, we went to a
house in High Street.  Mother opened an intelligence office, which grew
out of her city missionary work and a desire to find places for good
girls.  It was not fit work for her, but it paid; and she always did
what came to her in the work of duty or charity, and let pride, taste,
and comfort suffer for love's sake.

Anna and I taught; Lizzie was our little housekeeper--our angel in a
cellar kitchen; May went to school; father wrote and talked when he
could get classes or conversations.  Our poor little home had much love
and happiness in it, and it was a shelter for lost girls, abused wives,
friendless children, and weak or wicked men.  Father and mother had no
money to give, but gave them time, sympathy, help; and if blessings
would make them rich, they would be millionaires.  This is practical

My first story was printed, and $5 paid for it.  It was written in
Concord when I was sixteen.  Great rubbish!  Read it aloud to sisters,
and when they praised it, not knowing the author, I proudly announced
her name.

Made a resolution to read fewer novels, and those only of the best.
List of books I like:

  Carlyle's French Revolution and Miscellanies.
  Hero and Hero-Worship.
  Goethe's poems, plays, and novels.
  Plutarch's Lives.
  Madame Guion.
  Paradise Lost and Comus.
  Schiller's Plays.
  Madame de Staël.
  Louis XIV.
  Jane Eyre.
  Uncle Tom's Cabin.
  Emerson's Poems. . . .

1853.--In January I started a little school--E. W., W. A., two L's, two
H's--about a dozen in our parlor.  In May, when my school closed, I
went to L. as second girl.  I needed the change, could do the wash, and
was glad to earn my $2 a week.  Home in October with $34 for my wages.
After two days' rest, began school again with ten children.  Anna went
to Syracuse to teach; father to the West to try his luck--so poor, so
hopeful, so serene.  God be with him!  Mother had several boarders, and
May got on well at school.  Betty was still the home bird, and had a
little romance with C.

Pleasant letters from father and Anna.  A hard year.  Summer
distasteful and lonely; winter tiresome with school and people I didn't
like; I miss Anna, my one bosom friend and comforter.

1854.--_Pinckney Street_.--I have neglected my journal for months, so
must write it up.  School for me month after month.  Mother busy with
boarders and sewing.  Father doing as well as a philosopher can in a
money-loving world.  Anna at S.

I earned a good deal by sewing in the evening when my day's work was

In February father came home.  Paid his way, but no more.  A dramatic
scene when he arrived in the night.  We were waked by hearing the bell.
Mother flew down, crying "My husband!"  We rushed after, and five white
figures embraced the half-frozen wanderer who came in hungry, tired,
cold, and disappointed, but smiling bravely and as serene as ever.  We
fed and warmed and brooded over him, longing to ask if he had made any
money; but no one did till little May said, after he had told all the
pleasant things, "Well, did people pay you?"  Then, with a queer look,
he opened his pocketbook and showed one dollar, saying with a smile
that made our eyes fill, "Only that!  My overcoat was stolen, and I had
to buy a shawl.  Many promises were not kept, and travelling is costly;
but I have opened the way, and another year shall do better."

I shall never forget how beautifully mother answered him, though the
dear, hopeful soul had built much on his success; but with a beaming
face she kissed him, saying, "I call that doing _very well_.  Since you
are safely home, dear, we don't ask anything more."

Anna and I choked down our tears, and took a little lesson in real
love, which we never forgot, nor the look that the tired man and the
tender woman gave one another.  It was half tragic and comic, for
father was very dirty and sleepy, and mother in a big nightcap and
funny old jacket.

[I began to see the strong contrasts and the fun and follies in
every-day life about this time--L. M. A.]

Anna came home in March.  Kept our school all summer.  I got "Flower
Fables" ready to print.

Louisa also tried service with a relative in the country for a short
time, but teaching, sewing, and writing were her principal occupations
during this residence in Boston.

These seven years, from Louisa's sixteenth to her twenty-third year,
might be called an apprenticeship to life.  She tried various paths,
and learned to know herself and the world about her, although she was
not even yet certain of success in the way which finally opened before
her and led her so successfully to the accomplishment of her
life-purpose.  She tried teaching, without satisfaction to herself or
perhaps to others.  The kind of education she had herself received
fitted her admirably to understand and influence children, but not to
carry on the routine of a school.  Sewing was her resource when nothing
else offered, but it is almost pitiful to think of her as confined to
such work when great powers were lying dormant in her mind.  Still
Margaret Fuller said that a year of enforced quiet in the country
devoted mainly to sewing was very useful to her, since she reviewed and
examined the treasures laid up in her memory; and doubtless Louisa
Alcott thought out many a story which afterward delighted the world
while her fingers busily plied the needle.  Yet it was a great
deliverance when she first found that the products of her brain would
bring in the needed money for family support.

[_L. in Boston to A. in Syracuse_]


DEAREST NAN: I was so glad to hear from you, and hear that all are well.

I am grubbing away as usual, trying to get money enough to buy mother a
nice warm shawl.  I have eleven dollars, all my own earnings--five for
a story, and four for the pile of sewing I did for the ladies of Dr.
Gray's society, to give him as a present.

. . . I got a crimson ribbon for a bonnet for May, and I took my straw
and fixed it nicely with some little duds I had.  Her old one has
haunted me all winter, and I want her to look neat.  She is so graceful
and pretty and loves beauty so much it is hard for her to be poor and
wear other people's ugly things.  You and I have learned not to mind
_much_; but when I think of her I long to dash out and buy the finest
hat the limited sum often dollars can procure.  She says so sweetly in
one of her letters: "It is hard sometimes to see other people have so
many nice things and I so few; but I try not to be envious, but
contented with my poor clothes, and cheerful about it."  I hope the
little dear will like the bonnet and the frills I made her and some
bows I fixed over from bright ribbons L. W. threw away.  I get half my
rarities from her rag-bag, and she doesn't know her own rags when fixed
over.  I hope I shall live to see the dear child in silk and lace, with
plenty of pictures and "bottles of cream," Europe, and all she longs

For our good little Betty, who is wearing all the old gowns we left, I
shall soon be able to buy a new one, and send it with my blessing to
the cheerful saint.  She writes me the funniest notes, and tries to
keep the old folks warm and make the lonely house in the snowbanks
cosey and bright.

To father I shall send new neckties and some paper; then he will be
happy, and can keep on with the beloved diaries though the heavens fall.

Don't laugh at my plans; I'll carry them out, if I go to service to do
it.  Seeing so much money flying about, I long to honestly get a little
and make my dear family more comfortable.  I feel weak-minded when I
think of all they need and the little I can do.

Now about you: Keep the money you have earned by so many tears and
sacrifices, and clothe yourself; for it makes me mad to know that my
good little lass is going round in shabby things, and being looked down
upon by people who are not worthy to touch her patched shoes or the hem
of her ragged old gowns.  Make yourself tidy, and if any is left over
send it to mother; for there are always many things needed at home,
though they won't tell us.  I only wish I, too, by any amount of
weeping and homesickness could earn as much.  But my mite won't come
amiss; and if tears can add to its value, I've shed my quart--first,
over the book not coming out; for that was a sad blow, and I waited so
long it was dreadful when my castle in the air came tumbling about my
ears.  Pride made me laugh in public; but I wailed in private, and no
one knew it.  The folks at home think I rather enjoyed it, for I wrote
a jolly letter.  But my visit was spoiled; and now I'm digging away for
dear life, that I may not have come entirely in vain.  I didn't mean to
groan about it; but my lass and I must tell some one our trials, and so
it becomes easy to confide in one another.  I never let mother know how
unhappy you were in S. till Uncle wrote.

My doings are not much this week.  I sent a little tale to the Gazette,
and Clapp asked H. W. if five dollars would be enough.  Cousin H. said
yes, and gave it to me, with kind words and a nice parcel of paper,
saying in his funny way, "Now, Lu, the door is open, go in and win."
So I shall try to do it.  Then cousin L. W. said Mr. B. had got my
play, and told her that if Mrs. B. liked it as well, it must be clever,
and if it didn't cost too much, he would bring it out by and by.  Say
nothing about it yet.  Dr. W. tells me Mr. F. is very sick; so the
farce cannot be acted yet.  But the Doctor is set on its coming out,
and we have fun about it.  H. W. takes me often to the theatre when L.
is done with me.  I read to her all the P. M. often, as she is poorly,
and in that way I pay my debt to them.

I'm writing another story for Clapp.  I want more fives, and mean to
have them, too.

Uncle wrote that you were Dr. W.'s pet teacher, and every one loved you
dearly.  But if you are not well, don't stay.  Come home, and be
cuddled by your old


_Pinckney Street, Boston_, January 1, 1855.--The principal event of the
winter is the appearance of my book "Flower Fables."  An edition of
sixteen hundred.  It has sold very well, and people seem to like it.  I
feel quite proud that the little tales that I wrote for Ellen E. when I
was sixteen should now bring money and fame.

I will put in some of the notices as "varieties," mothers are always
foolish over their first-born.

Miss Wealthy Stevens paid for the book, and I received $32.

[A pleasing contrast to the receipts of six months only, in 1886, being
$8,000 for the sale of books, and no new one; but I was prouder over
the $32 than the $8,000.--L. M. A., 1886.]

_April_, 1855.--I am in the garret with my papers round me, and a pile
of apples to eat while I write my journal, plan stories, and enjoy the
patter of rain on the roof, in peace and quiet.

[Jo in the garret.--L. M. A.]

Being behindhand, as usual, I'll make note of the main events up to
date, for I don't waste ink in poetry and pages of rubbish now.  I've
begun to live, and have no time for sentimental musing.

In October I began my school; father talked, mother looked after her
boarders, and tried to help everybody.  Anna was in Syracuse teaching
Mrs. S------'s children.

My book came out; and people began to think that topsy-turvy Louisa
would amount to something after all, since she could do so well as
housemaid, teacher, seamstress, and story-teller.  Perhaps she may.

In February I wrote a story for which C. paid $5 and asked for more.

In March I wrote a farce for W. Warren, and Dr. W. offered it to him;
but W. W. was too busy.

Also began another tale, but found little time to work on it, with
school, sewing, and housework.  My winter's earnings are:

  School, one quarter  . . . . . $50
  Sewing . . . . . . . . . . . .  50
  Stories  . . . . . . . . . . .  20

if I am ever paid.

A busy and a pleasant winter, because, though hard at times, I do seem
to be getting on a little; and that encourages me.

Have heard Lowell and Hedge lecture, acted in plays, and thanks to our
rag-money and good cousin H., have been to the theatre several
times--always my great joy.

Summer plans are yet unsettled.  Father wants to go to England: not a
wise idea, I think.  We shall probably stay here, and A. and I go into
the country as governesses.  It's a queer way to live, but dramatic,
and I rather like it; for we never know what is to come next.  We are
real "Micawbers," and always "ready for a spring."

I have planned another Christmas book, and hope to be able to write it.

1855.--Cousin L. W. asks me to pass the summer at Walpole with her.  If
I can get no teaching, I shall go; for I long for the hills, and can
write my fairy tales there.

I delivered my burlesque lecture on "Woman, and Her Position; by
Oronthy Bluggage," last evening at Deacon G's.  Had a merry time, and
was asked by Mr. R. to do it at H. for money.  Read "Hamlet" at our
club--my favorite play.  Saw Mrs. W. H. Smith about the farce; says she
will do it at her benefit.

_May_.--Father went to C. to talk with Mr. Emerson about the England
trip.  I am to go to Walpole.  I have made my own gowns, and had money
enough to fit up the girls.  So glad to be independent.

[I wonder if $40 fitted up the whole family.  Perhaps so, as my
wardrobe was made up of old clothes from cousins and friends.--L. M. A.]

_Walpole, N. H., June, 1855_.--Pleasant journey and a kind welcome.
Lovely place, high among the hills.  So glad to run and skip in the
woods and up the splendid ravine.  Shall write here, I know.

Helped cousin L. in her garden; and the smell of the fresh earth and
the touch of green leaves did me good.

Mr. T. came and praised my first book, so I felt much inspired to go
and do another.  I remember him at Scituate years ago, when he was a
young shipbuilder and I a curly-haired hoyden of five or six.

Up at five, and had a lovely run in the ravine, seeing the woods wake.
Planned a little tale which ought to be fresh and true, as it came at
that hour and place--"King Goldenrod."  Have lively days--writing in A.
M., driving in P. M., and fun in the eve.  My visit is doing me much

_July_, 1855.--Read "Hyperion."  On the 16th the family came to live in
Mr. W.'s house, rent free.  No better plan offered, and we were all
tired of the city.  Here father can have a garden, mother can rest and
be near her good niece; the children have freedom and fine air; and A.
and I can go from here to our teaching, wherever it may be.

Busy and happy times as we settle in the little house in the lane near
by my dear ravine--plays, picnics, pleasant people, and good neighbors.
Fanny Kemble came up, Mrs. Kirkland, and others, and Dr. Bellows is the
gayest of the gay.  We acted the "Jacobite," "Rivals," and
"Bonnycastles," to an audience of a hundred, and were noticed in the
Boston papers.  H. T. was our manager, and Dr. B., D. D., our dramatic
director.  Anna was the star, her acting being really very fine.  I did
"Mrs. Malaprop," "Widow Pottle," and the old ladies.

Finished fairy book in September.  Ann had an offer from Dr. Wilbur of
Syracuse to teach at the great idiot asylum.  She disliked it, but
decided to go.  Poor dear! so beauty-loving, timid, and tender.  It is
a hard trial; but she is so self-sacrificing she tries to like it
because it is duty.

_October_.--A. to Syracuse.  May illustrated my book and tales called
"Christmas Elves." Better than "Flower Fables."  Now I must try to sell

[Innocent Louisa, to think that a Christmas book could be sold in
October.--L. M. A.]

_November_.--Decided to seek my fortune; so with my little trunk of
home-made clothes, $20 earned by stories sent to the _Gazette_, and my
MSS., I set forth with mother's blessing one rainy day in the dullest
month in the year.

[My birth-month; always to be a memorable one.--L. M. A.]

Found it too late to do anything with the book, so put it away and
tried for teaching, sewing, or any honest work.  Won't go home to sit
idle while I have a head and pair of hands.

_December_.--H. and L. W. very kind, and my dear cousins the Sewalls
take me in.  I sew for Mollie and others, and write stories.  C. gave
me books to notice.  Heard Thackeray.  Anxious times; Anna very
homesick.  Walpole very cold and dull now the summer butterflies have
gone.  Got $5 for a tale and $12 for sewing; sent home a Christmas box
to cheer the dear souls in the snow-banks.

_January, 1856_.--C. paid $6 for "A Sister's Trial."  Gave me more
books to notice, and wants more tales.

[Should think he would at that price.--L. M. A.]

Sewed for L. W. Sewall and others.  Mr. J. M. Field took my farce to
Mobile to bring out; Mr. Barry of the Boston Theatre has the play.

Heard Curtis lecture.  Began a book for summer--"Beach Bubbles."  Mr.
F. of the _Courier_ printed a poem of mine on "Little Nell."  Got $10
for "Bertha," and saw great yellow placards stuck up announcing it.
Acted at the W.'s.

_March_.--Got $10 for "Genevieve."  Prices go up, as people like the
tales and ask who wrote them.  Finished "Twelve Bubbles."  Sewed a
great deal, and got very tired; one job for Mr. G. of a dozen pillow
cases, one dozen sheets, six fine cambric neckties, and two dozen
handkerchiefs, at which I had to work all one night to get them done,
as they were a gift to him.  I got only $4.

Sewing won't make my fortune; but I can plan my stories while I work,
and then scribble 'em down on Sundays.

Poem on "Little Paul"; Curtis's lecture on "Dickens" made it go well.
Hear Emerson on "England."

_May_.--Anna came on her way home, sick and worn out; the work was too
much for her.  We had some happy days visiting about.  Could not
dispose of B. B. in book form, but C. took them for his paper.  Mr.
Field died, so the farce fell through there.  Altered the play for Mrs.
Barrow to bring out next winter.

_June, 1856_.--Home, to find dear Betty very ill with scarlet-fever
caught from some poor children mother nursed when they fell sick,
living over a cellar where pigs had been kept.  The landlord (a deacon)
would not clean the place till mother threatened to sue him for
allowing a nuisance.  Too late to save two of the poor babies or Lizzie
and May from the fever.

[L. never recovered, but died of it two years later.--L. M. A.]

An anxious time, I nursed, did housework, and wrote a story a month
through the summer.

Dr. Bellows and Father had Sunday eve conversations.

_October_.--Pleasant letters from father, who went on a tour to New
York, Philadelphia, and Boston.

Made plans to go to Boston for the winter, as there is nothing to do
here, and there I can support myself and help the family.  C. offers
$10 a month, and perhaps more.  L. W., M. S., and others, have plenty
of sewing; the play may come out, and Mrs. R. will give me a sky-parlor
for $3 a week, with fire and board.  I sew for her also.

If I can get A. L. to governess I shall be all right.

I was born with a boy's spirit under my bib and tucker.  I _can't wait_
when I _can work_, so I took my little talent in my hand and forced the
world again, braver than before and wiser for my failures.

[Jo in N. Y.--L. M. A.]

I don't often pray in words; but when I set out that day with all my
worldly goods in the little old trunk, my own earnings ($25) in my
pocket, and much hope and resolution in my soul, my heart was very
full, and I said to the Lord, "Help us all, and keep us for one
another," as I never said it before, while I looked back at the dear
faces watching me, so full of love and hope and faith.


Boston, _November, 1856: Mrs. David Reed's_.--I find my little room up
in the attic very cosey and a house full of boarders very amusing to
study.  Mrs. Reed very kind.  Fly around and take C. his stories.  Go
to see Mrs. L. about A.  Don't want me.  A blow, but I cheer up and
hunt for sewing.  Go to hear Parker, and he does me good.  Asks me to
come Sunday evenings to his house.  I did go there, and met Phillips,
Garrison, Hedge, and other great men, and sit in my corner weekly,
staring and enjoying myself.

When I went Mr. Parker said, "God bless you, Louisa; come again"; and
the grasp of his hand gave me courage to face another anxious week.

_November 3d_.--Wrote all the morning.  In the P. M. went to see the
Sumner reception as he comes home after the Brooks affair.  I saw him
pass up Beacon Street, pale and feeble, but smiling and bowing.  I
rushed to Hancock Street, and was in time to see him bring his proud
old mother to the window when the crowd gave three cheers for her.  I
cheered, too, and was very much excited.  Mr. Parker met him somewhere
before the ceremony began, and the above P. cheered like a boy; and
Sumner laughed and nodded as his friend pranced and shouted, bareheaded
and beaming.

My kind cousin, L. W., got tickets for a course of lectures on "Italian
Literature," and seeing my old cloak sent me a new one, with other
needful and pretty things such as girls love to have.  I shall never
forget how kind she has always been to me.

_November 5th_.--Went with H. W. to see Manager Barry about the
everlasting play which is always coming out but never comes.  We went
all over the great new theatre, and I danced a jig on the immense
stage.  Mr. B. was very kind, and gave me a pass to come whenever I
liked.  This was such richness I didn't care if the play was burnt on
the spot, and went home full of joy.  In the eve I saw La Grange as
Norma, and felt as if I knew all about that place.  Quite stage-struck,
and imagined myself in her place, with white robes and oak-leaf crown.

_November 6th_.--Sewed happily on my job of twelve sheets for H. W.,
and put lots of good will into the work after his kindness to me.

Walked to Roxbury to see cousin Dr. W. about the play and tell the fine
news.  Rode home in the new cars, and found them very nice.

In the eve went to teach at Warren Street Chapel Charity School.  I'll
help as I am helped if I can.  Mother says no one so poor he can't do a
little for some one poorer yet.

_Sunday_.--Heard Parker on "Individuality of Character," and liked it
much.  In the eve I went to his house.  Mrs. Howe was there, and Sumner
and others.  I sat in my usual corner, but Mr. P. came up and said, in
that cordial way of his, "Well, child, how goes it?"  "Pretty well,
sir."  "That's brave"; and with his warm handshake he went on, leaving
me both proud and happy, though I have my trials.  He is like a great
fire where all can come and be warmed and comforted.  Bless him!

Had a talk at tea about him, and fought for him when W. R. said he was
not a Christian.  He is my _sort_; for though he may lack reverence for
other people's God, he works bravely for his own, and turns his back on
no one who needs help, as some of the pious do.

_Monday, 14th_.--May came full of expectation and joy to visit good
aunt B. and study drawing.  We walked about and had a good home talk,
then my girl went off to Auntie's to begin what I hope will be a
pleasant and profitable winter.  She needs help to develop her talent,
and I can't give it to her.

Went to see Forrest as Othello.  It is funny to see how attentive all
the once cool gentlemen are to Miss Alcott now she has a pass to the
new theatre.

_November 29th_.--My birthday.  Felt forlorn so far from home.  Wrote
all day.  Seem to be getting on slowly, so should be contented.  To a
little party at the B.'s in the eve.  May looked very pretty, and
seemed to be a favorite.  The boys teased me about being an authoress,
and I said I'd be famous yet.  Will if I can, but something else may be
better for me.

Found a pretty pin from father and a nice letter when I got home.  Mr.
H. brought them with letters from mother and Betty, so I went to bed

_December_.--Busy with Christmas and New Year's tales.  Heard a good
lecture by E. P. Whipple on "Courage."  Thought I needed it, being
rather tired of living like a spider--spinning my brains out for money.

Wrote a story, "The Cross on the Church Tower," suggested by the tower
before my window.

Called on Mrs. L., and she asked me to come and teach A. for three
hours each day.  Just what I wanted; and the children's welcome was
very pretty and comforting to "Our Olly," as they called me.

Now board is all safe, and something over for home, if stories and
sewing fail.  I don't do much, but can send little comforts to mother
and Betty, and keep May neat.

_December 18th_.--Begin with A. L., in Beacon Street.  I taught C. when
we lived in High Street, A. in Pinckney Street, and now Al; so I seem
to be an institution and a success, since I can start the boy, teach
one girl, and take care of the little invalid.  It is hard work, but I
can do it; and am glad to sit in a large, fine room part of each day,
after my sky-parlor, which has nothing pretty in it, and only the gray
tower and blue sky outside as I sit at the window writing.  I love
luxury, but freedom and independence better.

[_To her father, written from Mrs. Reed's_]

_Boston, November 29, 1856_.

DEAREST FATHER: Your little parcel was very welcome to me as I sat
alone in my room, with snow falling fast outside, and a few tears in
(for birthdays are dismal times to me); and the fine letter, the pretty
gift, and, most of all, the loving thought so kindly taken for your old
absent daughter, made the cold, dark day as warm and bright as summer
to me.

And now, with the birthday pin upon my bosom, many thanks on my lips,
and a whole heart full of love for its giver, I will tell you a little
about my doings, stupid as they will seem after your own grand
proceedings.  How I wish I could be with you, enjoying what I have
always longed for--fine people, fine amusements, and fine books.  But
as I can't, I am glad you are; for I love to see your name first among
the lecturers, to hear it kindly spoken of in papers and inquired about
by good people here--to say nothing of the delight and pride I take in
seeing you at last filling the place you are so fitted for, and which
you have waited for so long and patiently.  If the New Yorkers raise a
statue to the modern Plato, it will be a wise and highly creditable

      *      *      *      *      *      *

I am very well and very happy.  Things go smoothly, and I think I shall
come out right, and prove that though an _Alcott_ I _can_ support
myself.  I like the independent feeling; and though not an easy life,
it is a free one, and I enjoy it.  I can't do much with my hands; so I
will make a battering-ram of my head and make a way through this
rough-and-tumble world.  I have very pleasant lectures to amuse my
evenings--Professor Gajani on "Italian Reformers," the Mercantile
Library course, Whipple, Beecher, and others, and, best of all, a free
pass at the Boston Theatre.  I saw Mr. Barry, and he gave it to me with
many kind speeches, and promises to bring out the play very soon.  I
hope he will.

My farce is in the hands of Mrs. W. H. Smith, who acts at Laura Keene's
theatre in New York.  She took it, saying she would bring it out there.
If you see or hear anything about it, let me know.  I want something
doing.  My mornings are spent in writing.  C. takes one a month, and I
am to see Mr. B., who may take some of my wares.

In the afternoons I walk and visit my hundred relations, who are all
kind and friendly, and seem interested in our various successes.

Sunday evenings I go to Parker's parlor, and there meet Phillips,
Garrison, Scherb, Sanborn, and many other pleasant people.  All talk,
and I sit in a corner listening, and wishing a certain placid,
gray-haired gentleman was there talking, too.  Mrs. Parker calls on me,
reads my stories, and is very good to me.  Theodore asks Louisa "how
her worthy parents do," and is otherwise very friendly to the large,
bashful girl who adorns his parlor steadily.

Abby is preparing for a busy and, I hope, a profitable winter.  She has
music lessons already, French and drawing in store, and, if her eyes
hold out, will keep her word and become what none of us can be, "an
accomplished Alcott."  Now, dear Father, I shall hope to hear from you
occasionally, and will gladly answer all epistles from the Plato, whose
parlor parish is becoming quite famous.  I got the _Tribune_ but not
the letter, and shall look it up.  I have been meaning to write, but
did not know where you were.

Good-bye, and a happy birthday from your ever-loving child,



_January, 1857_.--Had my first new silk dress from good little L. W.;
very fine; and I felt as if all the Hancocks and Quincys beheld me as I
went to two parties in it on New Year's eve.

A busy, happy month--taught, wrote, sewed, read aloud to the "little
mother," and went often to the theatre; heard good lectures; and
enjoyed my Parker evenings very much.

Father came to see me on his way home; little money; had had a good
time, and was asked to come again.  Why don't rich people who enjoy his
talk pay for it?  Philosophers are always poor, and too modest to pass
round their own hats.

Sent by him a good bundle to the poor Forlomites among the ten-foot
drifts in W.

_February_.--Ran home as a valentine on the 14th.

_March_.--Have several irons in the fire now, and try to keep 'em all

_April_.--May did a crayon head of mother with Mrs. Murdock; very good
likeness.  All of us as proud as peacocks of our "little Raphael."

Heard Mrs. Butler read; very fine.

_May_.--Left the L.'s with my $33; glad to rest.  May went home with
her picture, happy in her winter's work and success.

Father had three talks at W. F. Channing's.  Good company--Emerson,
Mrs. Howe, and the rest.

Saw young Booth in Brutus, and liked him better than his father; went
about and rested after my labors; glad to be with Father, who enjoyed
Boston and friends.

Home on the 10th, passing Sunday at the Emersons'.  I have done what I
planned--supported myself, written eight stories, taught four months,
earned a hundred dollars, and sent money home.




Henry George was a self-helped man, if ever there was one.  When less
than fourteen years of age, he left school and started to earn his own
living.  He never afterward returned to school.  In adolescence, his
eager mind was obsessed by the glamor of the sea, so he began life as a
sailor.  After a few years came the desperate poverty of his early
married life in California, as here described.  His work as a printer
led to casual employment as a journalist.  This was the first step in
his subsequently life-long career as an independent thinker, writer,
and speaker.

An apparent failure in life, he was obliged when twenty-six years of
age to beg money from a stranger on the street to keep his wife and
babies from actual starvation.  But his misery may have been of
incalculable value to the human race, for his bitter personal
experience convinced him that the times were out of joint, and his
brain began to seek the remedy.  The doctrine of _single tax_, already
on trial in some parts of the world, is his chief contribution to
economic theory.

From "The Life of Henry George, by His Son."  Doubleday, Page &
Company, 1900.

Thus heavily weighted at the outset, the three men opened their office.
But hard times had come.  A drought had shortened the grain crop,
killed great numbers of cattle and lessened the gold supply, and the
losses that the farming, ranching, and mineral regions suffered
affected all the commercial and industrial activities of the State, so
that there was a general depression.  Business not coming into their
office, the three partners went out to hunt for it; and yet it was
elusive, so that they had very little to do and soon were in
extremities for living necessities, even for wood for the kitchen fire.
Henry George had fitfully kept a pocket diary during 1864, and a few
entries at this job-printing period tell of the pass of affairs.

"_December 25_.--Determined to keep a regular journal, and to cultivate
habits of determination, energy, and industry.  Feel that I am in a bad
situation, and must use my utmost effort to keep afloat and go ahead.
Will try to follow the following general rules for one week:

"1st.  In every case to determine rationally what is best to be done.

"2nd.  To do everything determined upon immediately, or as soon as an
opportunity presents.

"3rd.  To write down what I shall determine upon doing for the
succeeding day.

"Saw landlady and told her I was not able to pay rent.

"_December 26_, 7 A. M.:

"1st.  Propose to-day, in addition to work in office, to write to Boyne.

"2nd.  To get wood in trade.

"3rd.  To talk with Dr. Eaton, and, perhaps, Dr. Morse.

"Rose at quarter to seven.  Stopped at six wood yards trying to get
wood in exchange for printing, but failed.  Did very little in office.
Walked and talked with Ike.  Felt very blue and thought of drawing out.
Saw Dr. Eaton, but failed to make a trade.  In evening saw Dr. Morse.
Have not done all, nor as well as I could wish.  Also wrote to Boyne,
but did not mail letter.

"_January 1 (Sunday)_.--Annie not very well.  Got down town about 11
o'clock.  Went with Ike to Chinaman's to see about paper bags.
Returned to office and worked off a lot.

"_January 2_.--Got down town about 8 o'clock.  Worked some labels.  Not
much doing.

"_January 3_.--Working in office all day.  De Long called to talk about
getting out a journal.  Did our best day's work."

From time to time they got a little business, enough at any rate to
encourage Trump and George to continue with the office, though Daley
dropped out; and each day that the money was there the two partners
took out of the business twenty-five cents apiece, which they together
spent for food, Trump's wife being with her relatives and he taking his
dinner with the Georges.  They lived chiefly on cornmeal and milk,
potatoes, bread and sturgeon, for meat they could not afford and
sturgeon was the cheapest fish they could find.[1]  Mr. George
generally went to the office early without breakfast, saying that he
would get it down town; but knowing that he had no money, his wife more
than suspected that many a morning passed without his getting a
mouthful.  Nor could he borrow money except occasionally, for the
drought that had made general business so bad had hurt all his friends,
and, indeed, many of them had already borrowed from him while he had
anything to lend; and he was too proud to complain now to them.  Nor
did his wife complain, though what deepened their anxieties was that
they looked for the coming of a second child.  Mrs. George would not
run up bills that she did not have money to meet.  She parted with her
little pieces of jewellery and smaller trinkets one by one, until only
her wedding ring had not been pawned.  And then she told the milkman
that she could no longer afford to take milk, but he offered to
continue to supply it for printed cards, which she accepted.  Mr.
George's diary is blank just here, but at another time he said:[2]

"I came near starving to death, and at one time I was so close to it
that I think I should have done so but for the job of printing a few
cards which enabled us to buy a little cornmeal.  In this darkest time
in my life my second child was born."

The baby came at seven o'clock in the morning of January 27, 1865.
When it was born the wife heard the doctor say: "Don't stop to wash the
child; he is starving.  Feed him!"  After the doctor had gone and
mother and baby had fallen asleep, the husband left them alone in the
house, and taking the elder child to a neighbour's, himself went to his
business in a desperate state of mind, for his wife's condition made
money--some money--an absolute and immediate necessity.  But nothing
came into the office and he did not know where to borrow.  What then
happened he told sixteen years subsequently.

"I walked along the street and made up my mind to get money from the
first man whose appearance might indicate that he had it to give.  I
stopped a man--a stranger--and told him I wanted $5.  He asked what I
wanted it for.  I told him that my wife was confined and that I had
nothing to give her to eat.  He gave me the money.  If he had not, I
think I was desperate enough to have killed him." [3]

The diary notes commence again twenty days after the new baby's birth
and show that the struggle for subsistence was still continuing, that
Henry George abandoned the job-printing office, and that he and his
wife and babies had moved into a smaller house where he had to pay a
rent of only nine dollars a month--just half of his former rent.  This
diary consists simply of two half-sheets of white note paper, folded
twice and pinned in the middle, forming two small neat books of eight
pages each of about the size of a visiting card.  The writing is very
small, but clear.

"_February 17, 1865 (Friday)_ 10:40 P.M.--Gave I. Trump this day bill
of sale for my interest in office, with the understanding that if he
got any money by selling, I am to get some.  I am now afloat again,
with the world before me.  I have commenced this little book as an
experiment--to aid me in acquiring habits of regularity, punctuality,
and purpose.  I will enter in it each evening the principal events of
the day, with notes, if they occur, errors committed or the reverse,
and plans for the morrow and future.  I will make a practice of looking
at it on rising in the morning.

"I am starting out afresh, very much crippled and embarrassed, owing
over $200.  I have been unsuccessful in everything.  I wish to profit
by my experience and to cultivate those qualities necessary to success
in which I have been lacking.  I have not saved as much as I ought, and
am resolved to practice a rigid economy until I have something ahead.

"1st.  To make every cent I can.

"2nd.  To spend nothing unnecessarily.

"3rd.  To put something by each week, if it is only a five-cent piece
borrowed for the purpose.

"4th.  Not to run in debt if it can be avoided."

"1st.  To endeavour to make an acquaintance and friend of every one
with whom I am brought in contact.

"2nd.  To stay at home less, and be more social.

"3rd.  To strive to think consecutively and decide quickly."

"_February 18_.--Rose at 6 o'clock.  Took cards to woodman.  Went to
post-office and got two letters, one from Wallazz and another from
mother.  Heard that Smith was up and would probably not go down.  Tried
to hunt him up.  Ran around after him a great deal.  Saw him; made an
appointment, but he did not come.  Finally met him about 4.  He said
that he had written up for a man, who had first choice; but he would do
all he could.  I was much disappointed.  Went back to office; then
after Knowlton, but got no money.  Then went to _Alta_ office.  Smith
there.  Stood talking till they went to work.  Then to job office.  Ike
had got four bits [50 cents] from Dr. Josselyn.  Went home, and he came
out to supper.

"Got up in good season.

"Tried to be energetic about seeing Smith.  Have not done with that
matter yet, but will try every means.

"To-morrow will write to Cousin Sophia,[5] and perhaps to Wallazz and
mother, and will try to make acquaintances.  Am in very desperate
plight.  Courage!

"_February 19 (Sunday)_.--Rose about 9.  Ran a small bill with Wessling
for flour, coffee, and butter.  After breakfast took Harry around to
Wilbur's.  Talked a while.  Went down town.  Could not get in office.
Went into _Alta_ office several times.  Then walked around, hoping to
strike Smith.  Ike to dinner.  Afterward walked with him, looking for
house.  Was at _Alta_ office at 6, but no work.  Went with Ike to
Stickney's and together went to _Californian_ office.  Came home and
summed up assets and liabilities.  At 10 went to bed, with
determination of getting up at 6 and going to _Bulletin_ office.

"Have wasted a great deal of time in looking for Smith.  Think it would
have been better to have hunted him at once or else trusted to luck.
There seems to be very little show for me down there.  Don't know what
to do.

"_February 20_.--Got up too late to go to the _Bulletin office_.  Got
$1 from woodman.  Got my pants from the tailor.  Saw Smith and had a
long talk with him.  He seemed sorry that he had not thought of me, but
said another man had been spoken to and was anxious to go.  Went to
_Alta_ office several times.  Came home early and went to _Alta_ office
at 6 and to _Call_ at 7, but got no work.  Went to Ike Trump's room,
and then came home.

"Was not prompt enough in rising.  Have been walking around a good part
of the day without definite purpose, thereby losing time.

"_February 21_.--Worked for Ike.  Did two cards for $1.  Saw about
books, and thought some of travelling with them.  Went to _Alta_ before
coming home.  In evening had row with Chinaman.  Foolish.

"_February 22_.--Hand very sore.  Did not go down till late.  Went to
work in _Bulletin_ at 12.  Got $3.  Saw Boyne.  Went to library in
evening.  Thinking of economy.

"_February 26_.--Went to _Bulletin_; no work.  Went with Ike Trump to
look at house on hill; came home to breakfast.  Decided to take house
on Perry Street with Mrs. Stone; took it.  Came home and moved.  Paid
$5 of rent.  About 6 o'clock went down town.  Saw Ike; got 50 cents.
Walked around and went to Typographical Union meeting.  Then saw Ike
again.  Found Knowlton had paid him for printing plant, and demanded
some of the money.  He gave me $5 with very bad humour.

"_February 27_.--Saw Ike in afternoon and had further talk.  In evening
went to work for Col. Strong on _Alta_.  Smith lent me $3.

"_February 28_.--Worked again for Strong.  Got $5 from John McComb.

"_February 29_.--Got $5 from Barstow, and paid Charlie Coddington the
$10 I had borrowed from him on Friday last.  On Monday left at Mrs.
Lauder's [the Russ Street landlady] $1.25 for extra rent and $1.50 for

"_March 1_.--Rose early, went to _Bulletin_; but got no work.  Looked
in at Valentine's and saw George Foster, who told me to go to Frank
Eastman's [printing office].  Did so and was told to call again.  Came
home; had breakfast.  Went to _Alta_ in evening, but no work.  Went to
Germania Lodge and then to Stickney's.

"_March 2_.--Went to Eastman's about 11 o'clock and was put to work.

"_March 3_.--At work.

"_March 4_.--At work.  Got $5 in evening."

The strength of the storm had now passed.  The young printer began to
get some work at "subbing," though it was scant and irregular.  His
wife, who paid the second month's rent of the Perry Street house by
sewing for her landlady, remarked to her husband how contentedly they
should be able to live if he could be sure of making regularly twenty
dollars a week.


Henry George's career as a writer should be dated from the commencement
of 1865, when he was an irregular, substitute printer at Eastman's and
on the daily newspapers, just after his severe job-office experience.
He now deliberately set himself to self-improvement.  These few diary
notes for the end of March and beginning of April are found in a small
blank book that in 1878, while working on "Progress and Poverty," he
also used as a diary.

"_Saturday, March 25, 1865_.--As I knew we would have no letter this
morning, I did not hurry down to the office.  After getting breakfast,
took the wringing machine which I had been using as a sample back to
Faulkner's; then went to Eastman's and saw to bill; loafed around until
about 2 P. M.  Concluded that the best thing I could do would be to go
home and write a little.  Came home and wrote for the sake of practice
an essay on the 'Use of Time,' which occupied me until Annie prepared
dinner.  Went to Eastman's by six, got money.  Went to Union meeting.

"_Sunday, March 26_.--Did not get out until 11 o'clock.  Took Harry
down town and then to Wilbur's.  Proposed to have Dick [the new baby]
baptised in afternoon; got Mrs. Casey to come to the house for that
purpose, but concluded to wait.  Went to see Dull, who took me to his
shop and showed me the model of his wagon brake.

"_Monday, March 27_.--Got down to office about one o'clock; but no
proofs yet.  Strolled around a little.  Went home and wrote
communication for Aleck Kenneday's new paper, _Journal of the Trades
and Workingmen_.  Took it down to him.  In the evening called on Rev.
Mr. Simonds.

"_Tuesday, 28_.--Got down late.  No work.  In afternoon wrote article
about laws relating to sailors.  In evening went down to Dull's shop
while he was engaged on model.

"_Wednesday, 29_.--Went to work about 10:30.  In evening corrected
proof for _Journal of the Trades and Workingmen_.

"_Thursday, 30_.--At work.

"_Tuesday, April 4_.--Despatch received stating that Richmond and
Petersburgh are both in our possession.

"_Wednesday, 5_.--Took model of wagon brake to several carriage shops;
also to _Alta_ office.  In evening signed agreement with Dull.

"_Saturday, 8_.--Not working; bill for week, $23.  Paid Frank Mahon the
$5 I have been owing for some time.  Met Harrison, who had just come
down from up the country.  He has a good thing up there.  Talked with
Dull and drew up advertisement.  In evening, nothing."

Thus while he was doing haphazard type-setting, and trying to interest
carriage builders in a new wagon brake, he was also beginning to write.
The first and most important of these pieces of writing mentioned in
the diary notes--on "The Use of Time"--was sent by Mr. George to his
mother, as an indication of his intention to improve himself.
Commencing with boyhood, Henry George, as has been seen, had the power
of simple and clear statement, and if this essay served no other
purpose than to show the development of that natural power, it would be
of value.  But as a matter of fact, it has a far greater value; for
while repeating his purpose to practise writing--"to acquire facility
and elegance in the expression" of his thought--it gives an
introspective glimpse into the naturally secretive mind, revealing an
intense desire, if not for the "flesh pots of Egypt," at least for such
creature and intellectual comforts as would enable him and those close
to him "to bask themselves in the warm sunshine of the brief day."
This paper is presented in full:

_Essay, Saturday Afternoon, March 25, 1865_.


"Most of us have some principal object of desire at any given time of
our lives; something which we wish more than anything else, either
because its want is more felt, or that it includes other desirable
things, and we are conscious that in gaining it we obtain the means of
gratifying other of our wishes.

"With most of us this power, in one shape or the other--is money, or
that which is its equivalent or will bring it.

"For this end we subject ourselves to many sacrifices; for its gain we
are willing to confine ourselves and employ our minds and bodies in
duties which, for their own sakes, are irksome; and if we do not throw
the whole force of our natures into the effort to gain this, it is that
we do not possess the requisite patience, self-command, and penetration
where we may direct our efforts.

"I am constantly longing for wealth; the wide difference between my
wishes and the means of gratifying them at my command keeps me in
perpetual disquiet.  It would bring me comfort and luxury which I
cannot now obtain; it would give me more congenial employment and
associates; it would enable me to cultivate my mind and exert to a
fuller extent my powers; it would give me the ability to minister to
the comfort and enjoyment of those whom I love most, and, therefore, it
is my principal object in life to obtain wealth, or at least more of it
than I have at present.

"Whether this is right or wrong, I do not now consider; but that it is
so I am conscious.  When I look behind at my past life I see that I
have made little or no progress, and am disquieted; when I consider my
present, it is difficult to see that I am moving toward it at all; and
all my comfort in this respect is in the hope of what the future may
bring forth.

"And yet my hopes are very vague and indistinct, and my efforts in any
direction, save the beaten track in which I have been used to earn my
bread, are, when perceptible, jerky, irregular, and without
intelligent, continuous direction.

"When I succeed in obtaining employment, I am industrious and work
faithfully, though it does not satisfy my wishes.  When I have nothing
to do, I am anxious to be in some way labouring toward the end I wish,
and yet from hour to hour I cannot tell at what to employ myself.

"To secure any given result it is only necessary to rightly supply
sufficient force.  Some men possess a greater amount of natural power
than others and produce quicker and more striking results; yet it is
apparent that the abilities of the majority, if properly and
continuously applied, are sufficient to accomplish much more than they
generally do.

"The hours which I have idled away, though made miserable by the
consciousness of accomplishing nothing, had been sufficient to make me
master of almost any common branch of study.  If, for instance, I had
applied myself to the practice of bookkeeping and arithmetic I might
now have been an expert in those things; or I might have had the
dictionary at my fingers' ends; been a practised, and perhaps an able,
writer; a much better printer; or been able to read and write French,
Spanish, or any other modern or ancient language to which I might have
directed my attention; and the mastery of any of these things now would
give me an additional, appreciable power, and means by which to work to
my end, not to speak of that which would have been gained by exercise
and good mental habits.

"These truths are not sudden discoveries; but have been as apparent for
years as at this present time; but always wishing for some chance to
make a sudden leap forward, I have never been able to direct my mind
and concentrate my attention upon those slow processes by which
everything mental (and in most cases material) is acquired.

"Constantly the mind works, and if but a tithe of its attention was
directed to some end, how many matters might it have taken up in
succession, increasing its own stores and power while mastering them?

"To sum up for the present, though this essay has hardly taken the
direction and shape which at the outset I intended, it is evident to me
that I have not employed the time and means at my command faithfully
and advantageously as I might have done, and consequently, that I have
myself to blame for at least a part of my non-success.  And this being
true of the past, in the future like results will flow from like
causes.  I will, therefore, try (though, as I know from experience, it
is much easier to form good resolutions than to faithfully carry them
out) to employ my mind in acquiring useful information or practice,
when I have nothing leading more directly to my end claiming my
attention.  When practicable, or when I cannot decide upon anything
else, I will endeavour to acquire facility and elegance in the
expression of my thought by writing essays or other matters which I
will preserve for future comparison.  And in this practice it will be
well to aim at mechanical neatness and grace, as well as at proper and
polished language."

Of the two other pieces of writing spoken of in the diary notes, the
"article about laws relating to sailors," has left no trace, but a copy
of the one for the _Journal of the Trades and Workingmen_ has been

[1] Unlike that fish on the Atlantic Coast, sturgeon on the Pacific
Coast, or at any rate in California waters, is of fine quality and
could easily be substituted on the table for halibut.

[2] Meeker notes, October, 1897.

[3] Henry George related this incident to Dr. James E. Kelly in a
conversation in Dublin during the winter of 1881-82, in proof that
environment has more to do with human actions, and especially with
so-called criminal actions, than we generally concede; and to show how
acute poverty may drive sound-minded, moral men to the commission of
deeds that are supposed to belong entirely to hardened evil natures.
Out of long philosophical and physiological talks together at that time
the two men formed a warm friendship, and subsequently, when he came to
the United States and established himself in New York, Dr. Kelly became
Henry George's family physician and attended him at his deathbed.

[4] She was now a widow, James George having died in the preceding




The intimate friend at once of "the children of the tenements" and of
Theodore Roosevelt, Jacob A. Riis was beloved by countless New Yorkers
for his gallant "battle with the slums," and for the message he brought
as to "how the other half lives."

From experiences that would have spelled permanent degradation to a man
of baser metal, he won the knowledge, sympathy, and inspiration that
made him one of the most exceptionally useful and exceptionally loved
of American citizens.

From "The Making of an American," by Jacob A. Riis.  The Macmillan
Company.  Copyright, 1901-'08.

The steamer _Iowa_, from Glasgow, made port after a long and stormy
voyage, on Whitsunday, 1870.  She had come up during the night, and
cast anchor off Castle Garden.  It was a beautiful spring morning, and
as I looked over the rail at the miles of straight streets, the green
heights of Brooklyn, and the stir of ferryboats and pleasure craft on
the river, my hopes rose high that somewhere in this teeming hive there
would be a place for me.  What kind of a place I had myself no clear
notion of; I would let that work out as it could.  Of course I had my
trade to fall back on, but I am afraid that is all the use I thought of
putting it to.  The love of change belongs to youth, and I meant to
take a hand in things as they came along.  I had a pair of strong
hands, and stubbornness enough to do for two; also a strong belief that
in a free country, free from the dominion of custom, of caste, as well
as of men, things would somehow come right in the end, and a man get
shaken into the corner where he belonged if he took a hand in the game.
I think I was right in that.  If it took a lot of shaking to get me
where I belonged, that was just what I needed.  Even my mother admits
that now. . . .

I made it my first business to buy a navy revolver of the largest size,
investing in the purchase exactly one-half of my capital.  I strapped
the weapon on the outside of my coat and strode up Broadway, conscious
that I was following the fashion of the country.  I knew it upon the
authority of a man who had been there before me and had returned, a
gold digger in the early days of California; but America was America to
us.  We knew no distinction of West and East.  By rights there ought to
have been buffaloes and red Indians charging up and down Broadway.  I
am sorry to say that it is easier even to-day to make lots of people
over there believe that than that New York is paved, and lighted with
electric lights, and quite as civilized as Copenhagen.  They will have
it that it is in the wilds.  I saw none of the signs of this, but I
encountered a friendly policeman, who, sizing me and my pistol up,
tapped it gently with his club and advised me to leave it home, or I
might get robbed of it.  This, at first blush, seemed to confirm my
apprehensions; but he was a very nice policeman, and took time to
explain, seeing that I was very green.  And I took his advice and put
the revolver away, secretly relieved to get rid of it.  It was quite
heavy to carry around.

I had letters to the Danish Consul and to the president of the American
Banknote Company, Mr. Goodall.  I think perhaps he was not then the
president, but became so afterward.  Mr. Goodall had once been wrecked
on the Danish coast and rescued by the captain of the lifesaving crew,
a friend of my family.  But they were both in Europe, and in just four
days I realized that there was no special public clamor for my services
in New York, and decided to go West.

A missionary in Castle Garden was getting up a gang of men for the
Brady's Bend Iron Works on the Allegheny River, and I went along.  We
started a full score, with tickets paid, but only two of us reached the
Bend.  The rest calmly deserted in Pittsburg and went their way. . . .

The [iron works] company mined its own coal.  Such as it was, it
cropped out of the hills right and left in narrow veins, sometimes too
shallow to work, seldom affording more space to the digger than barely
enough to permit him to stand upright.  You did not go down through a
shaft, but straight in through the side of a hill to the bowels of the
mountain, following a track on which a little donkey drew the coal to
the mouth of the mine and sent it down the incline to run up and down a
hill a mile or more by its own gravity before it reached the place of
unloading.  Through one of these we marched in, Adler and I, one summer
morning, with new pickaxes on our shoulders and nasty little oil lamps
fixed in our hats to light us through the darkness, where every second
we stumbled over chunks of slate rock, or into pools of water that
oozed through from above.  An old miner whose way lay past the fork in
the tunnel where our lead began showed us how to use our picks and the
timbers to brace the slate that roofed over the vein, and left us to
ourselves in a chamber perhaps ten feet wide and the height of a man.

We were to be paid by the ton--I forget how much, but it was very
little--and we lost no time getting to work.  We had to dig away the
coal at the floor without picks, lying on our knees to do it, and
afterward drive wedges under the roof to loosen the mass.  It was hard
work, and, entirely inexperienced as we were, we made but little
headway.  As the day wore on, the darkness and silence grew very
oppressive, and made us start nervously at the least thing.  The sudden
arrival of our donkey with its cart gave me a dreadful fright.  The
friendly beast greeted us with a joyous bray and rubbed its shaggy
sides against us in the most companionable way.  In the flickering
light of my lamp I caught sight of its long ears waving over me--I
don't believe I had seen three donkeys before in my life; there were
none where I came from--and heard that demoniac shriek, and I verily
believe I thought the evil one had come for me in person.  I know that
I nearly fainted.

That donkey was a discerning animal.  I think it knew when it first set
eyes on us that we were not going to overwork it; and we didn't.  When,
toward evening, we quit work, after narrowly escaping being killed by a
large stone that fell from the roof in consequence of our neglect to
brace it up properly, our united efforts had resulted in barely filling
two of the little carts, and we had earned, if I recollect aright,
something like sixty cents each.  The fall of the roof robbed us of all
desire to try mining again.  It knocked the lamps from our hats, and,
in darkness that could almost be felt, we groped our way back to the
light along the track, getting more badly frightened as we went.  The
last stretch of way we ran, holding each other's hands as though we
were not men and miners, but two frightened children in the dark. . . .

[A short time later he learned of the outbreak of the Franco-Prussian
War, and at once determined to enlist.]

I reached New York with just one cent in my pocket, and put up at a
boarding-house where the charge was one dollar a day.  In this no moral
obliquity was involved.  I had simply reached the goal for which I had
sacrificed all, and felt sure that the French people or the Danish
Consul would do the rest quickly.  But there was evidently something
wrong somewhere.  The Danish Consul could only register my demand to be
returned to Denmark in the event of war.  They have my letter at the
office yet, he tells me, and they will call me out with the reserves.
The French were fitting out no volunteer army that I could get on the
track of, and nobody was paying the passage of fighting men.  The end
of it was that, after pawning my revolver and my top-boots, the only
valuable possessions I had left, to pay for my lodging, I was thrown on
the street, and told to come back when I had more money.  That night I
wandered about New York with a gripsack that had only a linen duster
and a pair of socks in it, turning over in my mind what to do next.
Toward midnight I passed a house in Clinton Place that was lighted up
festively.  Laughter and the hum of many voices came from within.  I
listened.  They spoke French.  A society of Frenchmen having their
annual dinner, the watchman in the block told me.  There at last was my
chance.  I went up the steps and rang the bell.  A flunkey in a
dress-suit opened, but when he saw that I was not a guest, but to all
appearances a tramp, he tried to put me out.  I, on my part, tried to
explain.  There was an altercation and two gentlemen of the society
appeared.  They listened impatiently to what I had to say, then,
without a word, thrust me into the street, and slammed the door in my

It was too much.  Inwardly raging, I shook the dust of the city from my
feet and took the most direct route out of it, straight up Third
Avenue.  I walked till the stars in the east began to pale, and then
climbed into a wagon that stood at the curb, to sleep.  I did not
notice that it was a milk-wagon.  The sun had not risen yet when the
driver came, unceremoniously dragged me out by the feet, and dumped me
into the gutter.  On I went with my gripsack, straight ahead, until
toward noon I reached Fordham College, famished and footsore.  I had
eaten nothing since the previous day, and had vainly tried to make a
bath in the Bronx River do for breakfast.  Not yet could I cheat my
stomach that way.

The college gates were open, and I strolled wearily in, without aim or
purpose.  On a lawn some young men were engaged in athletic exercises,
and I stopped to look and admire the beautiful shade-trees and the
imposing building.  So at least it seems to me at this distance.  An
old monk in a cowl, whose noble face I sometimes recall in my dreams,
came over and asked kindly if I was not hungry.  I was in all
conscience fearfully hungry, and I said so, though I did not mean to.
I had never seen a real live monk before, and my Lutheran training had
not exactly inclined me in their favor.  I ate of the food set before
me, not without qualms of conscience, and with a secret suspicion that
I would next be asked to abjure my faith, or at least do homage to the
Virgin Mary, which I was firmly resolved not to do.  But when, the meal
finished, I was sent on my way with enough to do me for supper, without
the least allusion having been made to my soul, I felt heartily ashamed
of myself.  I am just as good a Protestant as I ever was.  Among my own
I am a kind of heretic even, because I cannot put up with the apostolic
succession; but I have no quarrel with the excellent charities of the
Roman Church, or with the noble spirit that animated them.  I learned
that lesson at Fordham thirty years ago.

Up the railroad track I went, and at night hired out to a truck-farmer,
with the freedom of his hay-mow for my sleeping quarters.  But when I
had hoed cucumbers three days in a scorching sun, till my back ached as
if it were going to break, and the farmer guessed that he would call it
square for three shillings, I went farther.  A man is not necessarily a
philanthropist, it seems, because he tills the soil.  I did not hire
out again.  I did odd jobs to earn my meals, and slept in the fields at
night, still turning over in my mind how to get across the sea.  An
incident of those wanderings comes to mind while I am writing.  They
were carting in hay, and when night came on, somewhere about Mount
Vernon, I gathered an armful of wisps that had fallen from the loads,
and made a bed for myself in a wagon-shed by the roadside.  In the
middle of the night I was awakened by a loud outcry.  A fierce light
shone in my face.  It was the lamp of a carriage that had been driven
into the shed.  I was lying between the horse's feet unhurt.  A
gentleman sprang from the carriage, more frightened than I, and bent
over me.  When he found that I had suffered no injury, he put his hand
in his pocket and held out a silver quarter.

"Go," he said, "and drink it up."

"Drink it up yourself!" I shouted angrily.  "What do you take me for?"

They were rather high heroics, seeing where I was, but he saw nothing
to laugh at.  He looked earnestly at me for a moment, then held out his
hand and shook mine heartily.  "I believe you," he said; "yet you need
it, or you would not sleep here.  Now will you take it from me?"  And I
took the money.

The next day it rained, and the next day after that, and I footed it
back to the city, still on my vain quest.  A quarter is not a great
capital to subsist on in New York when one is not a beggar and has no
friends.  Two days of it drove me out again to find at least the food
to keep me alive; but in those two days I met the man who, long years
after, was to be my honored chief, Charles A. Dana, the editor of the
_Sun_.  There had been an item in the _Sun_ about a volunteer regiment
being fitted out for France.  I went up to the office, and was admitted
to Mr. Dana's presence.  I fancy I must have appealed to his sense of
the ludicrous, dressed in top-boots and a linen duster much the worse
for wear, and demanding to be sent out to fight.  He knew nothing about
recruiting.  Was I French?  No, Danish; it had been in his paper about
the regiment.  He smiled a little at my faith, and said editors
sometimes did not know about everything that was in their papers.  I
turned to go, grievously disappointed, but he called me back.

"Have you," he said, looking searchingly at me; "have you had your

No, God knows that I did not; neither that day nor for many days
before.  That was one of the things I had at last learned to consider
among the superfluities of an effete civilization.  I suppose I had no
need of telling it to him, for it was plain to read in my face.  He put
his hand in his pocket and pulled out a dollar.

"There," he said, "go and get your breakfast; and better give up the

Give up the war! and for a breakfast.  I spurned the dollar hotly.

"I came here to enlist, not to beg money for breakfast," I said, and
strode out of the office, my head in the air, but my stomach crying out
miserably in rebellion against my pride.  I revenged myself upon it by
leaving my top-boots with the "uncle," who was my only friend and
relative here, and filling my stomach upon the proceeds.  I had one
good dinner, anyhow, for when I got through there was only twenty-five
cents left of the dollar I borrowed upon my last article of "dress."
That I paid for a ticket to Perth Amboy, near which place I found work
in Pfeiffer's clay-bank.

Pfeiffer was a German, but his wife was Irish and so were his hands,
all except a giant Norwegian and myself.  The third day was Sunday, and
was devoted to drinking much beer, which Pfeiffer, with an eye to
business, furnished on the premises.  When they were drunk, the tribe
turned upon the Norwegian, and threw him out.  It seems that this was a
regular weekly occurrence.  Me they fired out at the same time, but
afterward paid no attention to me.  The whole crew of them perched on
the Norwegian and belabored him with broomsticks and balesticks until
they roused the sleeping Berserk in him.  As I was coming to his
relief, I saw the human heap heave and rock.  From under it arose the
enraged giant, tossed his tormentors aside as if they were so much
chaff, battered down the door of the house in which they took refuge,
and threw them all, Mrs. Pfeiffer included, through the window.  They
were not hurt, and within two hours they were drinking more beer
together and swearing at one another endearingly.  I concluded that I
had better go on, though Mr. Pfeiffer regretted that he never paid his
hands in the middle of the month.  It appeared afterward that he
objected likewise to paying them at the end of the month, or at the
beginning of the next.  He owes me two days' wages yet.

At sunset on the second day after my desertion of Pfeiffer I walked
across a footbridge into a city with many spires, in one of which a
chime of bells rang out a familiar tune.  The city was New Brunswick.
I turned down a side street where two stone churches stood side by
side.  A gate in the picket fence had been left open, and I went in
looking for a place to sleep.  Back in the churchyard I found what I
sought in the brownstone slab covering the tomb of, I know now, an old
pastor of the Dutch Reformed Church, who died full of wisdom and grace.
I am afraid that I was not over-burdened with either, or I might have
gone to bed with a full stomach, too, instead of chewing the last of
the windfall apples that had been my diet on my two days' trip; but if
he slept as peacefully under the slab as I slept on it, he was doing
well.  I had for once a dry bed, and brownstone keeps warm long after
the sun has set.  The night dews and the snakes, and the dogs that kept
sniffing and growling half the night in the near distance, had made me
tired of sleeping in the fields.  The dead were much better company.
They minded their own business, and let a fellow alone. . . .

[He found no employment in New Brunswick and after six weeks in a
neighboring brickyard he returned to New York, to be again disappointed
in an effort to enlist.]

The city was full of idle men.  My last hope, a promise of employment
in a human-hair factory, failed, and, homeless and penniless, I joined
the great army of tramps, wandering about the streets in the daytime
with the one aim of somehow stilling the hunger that gnawed at my
vitals, and fighting at night with vagrant curs or outcasts as
miserable as myself for the protection of some sheltering ash-bin or
doorway.  I was too proud in all my misery to beg.  I do not believe I
ever did.  But I remember well a basement window at the downtown
Delmonico's, the silent appearance of my ravenous face at which, at a
certain hour in the evening, always evoked a generous supply of
meat-bones and rolls from a white-capped cook who spoke French.  That
was the saving clause.  I accepted his rolls as installment of the debt
his country owed me, or ought to owe me, for my unavailing efforts in
its behalf.

It was under such auspices that I made the acquaintance of Mulberry
Bend, the Five Points, and the rest of the slums, with which there was
in the years to come to be a reckoning. . . .

There was until last winter a doorway in Chatham Square, that of the
old Barnum clothing store, which I could never pass without recalling
those nights of hopeless misery with the policeman's periodic "Get up
there!  Move on!" reinforced by a prod of his club or the toe of his
boot.  I slept there, or tried to, when crowded out of the tenements in
the Bend by their utter nastiness.  Cold and wet weather had set in,
and a linen duster was all that covered my back.  There was a woollen
blanket in my trunk which I had from home--the one, my mother had told
me, in which I was wrapped when I was born; but the trunk was in the
"hotel" as security for money I owed for board, and I asked for it in
vain.  I was now too shabby to get work, even if there had been any to
get.  I had letters still to friends of my family in New York who might
have helped me, but hunger and want had not conquered my pride.  I
would come to them, if at all, as their equal, and, lest I fall into
temptation, I destroyed the letters.  So, having burned my bridges
behind me, I was finally and utterly alone in the city, with the winter
approaching and every shivering night in the streets reminding me that
a time was rapidly coming when such a life as I led could no longer be

Not in a thousand years would I be likely to forget the night when it
came.  It had rained all day, a cold October storm, and night found me,
with the chill downpour unabated, down by the North River, soaked
through and through, with no chance for a supper, forlorn and
discouraged.  I sat on the bulwark, listening to the falling rain and
the swish of the dark tide, and thinking of home.  How far it seemed,
and how impassable the gulf now between the "castle" with its refined
ways, between her in her dainty girlhood and me sitting there, numbed
with the cold that was slowly stealing away my senses with my courage.
There was warmth and cheer where she was.  Here----  An overpowering
sense of desolation came upon me.  I hitched a little nearer the edge.
What if----?  Would they miss me or long at home if no word came from
me?  Perhaps they might never hear.  What was the use of keeping it up
any longer with, God help us, everything against and nothing to back a
lonely lad?

And even then the help came.  A wet and shivering body was pressed
against mine, and I felt rather than heard a piteous whine in my ear.
It was my companion in misery, a little outcast black-and-tan,
afflicted with fits, that had shared the shelter of a friendly doorway
with me one cold night and had clung to me ever since with a loyal
affection that was the one bright spot in my hard life.  As my hand
stole mechanically down to caress it, it crept upon my knees and licked
my face, as if it meant to tell me that there was one who understood;
that I was not alone.  And the love of the faithful little beast thawed
the icicles in my heart.  I picked it up in my arms and fled from the
tempter; fled to where there were lights and men moving, if they cared
less for me than I for them--anywhere so that I saw and heard the river
no more. . . .

[After a while he fell in with some Danish friends and there was a
period of more prosperous times, including some experiences on the
lecture platform.  Then came further adventures and finally]:

I made up my mind to go into the newspaper business.  It seemed to me
that a reporter's was the highest and noblest of all callings; no one
could sift wrong from right as he, and punish the wrong.  In that I was
right.  I have not changed my opinion on that point one whit, and I am
sure I never shall.  The power of fact is the mightiest lever of this
or of any day.  The reporter has his hand upon it, and it is his
grievous fault if he does not use it well.  I thought I would make a
good reporter.  My father had edited our local newspaper, and such
little help as I had been of to him had given me a taste for the
business.  Being of that mind, I went to the _Courier_ office one
morning and asked for the editor.  He was not in.  Apparently nobody
was.  I wandered through room after room, all empty, till at last I
came to one in which sat a man with a paste-pot and a pair of long
shears.  This must be the editor; he had the implements of his trade.
I told him my errand while he clipped away.

"What is it you want?" he asked, when I had ceased speaking and waited
for an answer.

"Work," I said.

"Work!" said he, waving me haughtily away with the shears; "we don't
work here.  This is a newspaper office."

I went, abashed.  I tried the _Express_ next.  This time I had the
editor pointed out to me.  He was just coming through the business
office.  At the door I stopped him and preferred my request.  He looked
me over, a lad fresh from the shipyard, with horny hands and a rough
coat, and asked:

"What are you?"

"A carpenter," I said.

The man turned upon his heel with a loud, rasping laugh and shut the
door in my face.  For a moment I stood there stunned.  His ascending
steps on the stairs brought back my senses.  I ran to the door, and
flung it open.  "You laugh!" I shouted, shaking my fist at him,
standing halfway up the stairs; "you laugh now, but wait----"  And then
I got the grip of my temper and slammed the door in my turn.  All the
same, in that hour it was settled that I was to be a reporter.  I knew
it as I went out into the street. . . .

With a dim idea of being sent into the farthest wilds as an operator, I
went to a business college on Fourth Avenue and paid $20 to learn
telegraphing.  It was the last money I had.  I attended the school in
the afternoon.  In the morning I peddled flat-irons, earning money for
my board, and so made out. . . .

[But there came again a season of hard times for him and the
Newfoundland dog some one had given him, and he had some unhappy
experiences as a book agent].

It was not only breakfast we lacked.  The day before we had had only a
crust together.  Two days without food is not good preparation for a
day's canvassing.  We did the best we could.  Bob stood by and wagged
his tail persuasively while I did the talking; but luck was dead
against us, and "Hard Times" stuck to us for all we tried.  Evening
came and found us down by the Cooper Institute, with never a cent.
Faint with hunger, I sat down on the steps under the illuminated clock,
while Bob stretched himself at my feet.  He had beguiled the cook in
one of the last houses we called at, and his stomach was filled.  From
the corner I had looked on enviously.  For me there was no supper, as
there had been no dinner and no breakfast.  To-morrow there was another
day of starvation.  How long was this to last?  Was it any use to keep
up a struggle so hopeless?  From this very spot I had gone, hungry and
wrathful, three years before when the dining Frenchmen for whom I
wanted to fight thrust me forth from their company.  Three wasted
years!  Then I had one cent in my pocket, I remembered.  To-day I had
not even so much.  I was bankrupt in hope and purpose.  Nothing had
gone right; nothing would ever go right; and worse, I did not care.  I
drummed moodily upon my book.  Wasted!  Yes, that was right.  My life
was wasted, utterly wasted.

A voice hailed me by name, and Bob sat up, looking attentively at me
for his cue as to the treatment of the owner of it.  I recognized in
him the principal of the telegraph school where I had gone until my
money gave out.  He seemed suddenly struck by something.

"Why, what are you doing here?" he asked.  I told him Bob and I were
just resting after a day of canvassing.

"Books!" he snorted.  "I guess they won't make you rich.  Now, how
would you like to be a reporter, if you have got nothing better to do?
The manager of a news agency downtown asked me to-day to find him a
bright young fellow whom he could break in.  It isn't much--$10 a week
to start with.  But it is better than peddling books, I know."

He poked over the book in my hand and read the title.  "Hard Times," he
said, with a little laugh.  "I guess so.  What do you say?  I think you
will do.  Better come along and let me give you a note to him now."

As in a dream, I walked across the street with him to his office and
got the letter which was to make me, half-starved and homeless, rich as
Croesus, it seemed to me. . . .

When the sun rose, I washed my face and hands in a dog's drinking
trough, pulled my clothes into such shape as I could, and went with Bob
to his new home.  That parting over, I walked down to 23 Park Row and
delivered my letter to the desk editor in the New York News
Association, up on the top floor.

He looked me over a little doubtfully, but evidently impressed with the
early hours I kept, told me that I might try.  He waved me to a desk,
bidding me wait until he had made out his morning book of assignments;
and with such scant ceremony was I finally introduced to Newspaper Row,
that had been to me like an enchanted land.  After twenty-seven years
of hard work in it, during which I have been behind the scenes of most
of the plays that go to make up the sum of the life of the metropolis,
it exercises the old spell over me yet.  If my sympathies need
quickening, my point of view adjusting, I have only to go down to Park
Row at eventide, when the crowds are hurrying homeward and the City
Hall clock is lighted, particularly when the snow lies on the grass in
the park, and stand watching them a while, to find all things coming
right.  It is Bob who stands by and watches with me then, as on that

The assignment that fell to my lot when the book was made out, the
first against which my name was written in a New York editor's book,
was a lunch of some sort at the Astor House.  I have forgotten what was
the special occasion.  I remember the bearskin hats of the Old Guard in
it, but little else.  In a kind of haze I beheld half the savory viands
of earth spread under the eyes and nostrils of a man who had not tasted
food for the third day.  I did not ask for any.  I had reached that
stage of starvation that is like the still centre of a cyclone, when no
hunger is left.  But it may be that a touch of it all crept into my
report; for when the editor had read it, he said briefly:

"You will do.  Take that desk, and report at ten every morning, sharp."

That night, when I was dismissed from the office, I went up the Bowery
to No. 185, where a Danish family kept a boarding-house up under the
roof.  I had work and wages now, and could pay.  On the stairs I fell
in a swoon and lay there till some one stumbled over me in the dark and
carried me in.  My strength had at last given out.

So began my life as a newspaper man.




Nowadays, it seems, every one reads, also writes.  There are few
streets where the callous postman does not occasionally render some
doorstep desolate by the delivery of a rejected manuscript.  Fellow
feeling makes us wondrous kind, and the first steps in the career of a
successful man of letters are always interesting.  You remember how
Franklin slyly dropped his first contribution through the slit in his
brother's printing-house door; and how the young Charles Dickens crept
softly to the letter-box up a dark court, off a dark alley, near Fleet

In the case of Mr. Rideing, all must admire and be thankful for the
indomitable spirit which disappointments were unable to discourage.

From "Many Celebrities and a Few Others," by William H. Rideing.
Doubleday, Page & Co., 1913.

I do not know to a certainty just how or when the new ambition found
its cranny and sprouted, and I wonder that it did not perish at once,
like others of its kind which never blossoming were torn from the bed
that nourished them and borne afar like balls of thistledown.  How and
why it survived the rest, which seemed more feasible, I am not able to
answer fully or satisfactorily to myself, and other people have yet to
show any curiosity about it.

How at this period I watched for the postman!  Envelopes of portentous
bulk were put into my hands so often that I became inured to
disappointment, unsurprised and unhurt, like a patient father who has
more faith in the abilities of his children than the stupid and
purblind world which will not employ them.

These rejected essays and tales were my children, and the embarrassing
number of them did not curb my philoprogenitiveness.

Dawn broke unheeded and without reproach to the novice as he sat by
candle-light at his table giving shape and utterance to dreams which
did not foretell penalties, nor allow any intimation to reach him of
the disillusionings sure to come, sharp-edged and poignant, with the
awakening day.  The rocky coast of realities, with its shoals and
whirlpools, which encircles the sphere of dreams, is never visible till
the sun is high.  You are not awake till you strike it.

Up and dressed, careless of breakfast, he hears the postman's knock.

There is Something for the boy, which at a glance instantly dispels the
clouds of his drowsiness and makes his heart jump: an envelope not
bulky, an envelope whose contents tremble in his hand and grow dim in
his eyes, and have to be read and read again before they can be
believed.  One of his stories has at last found a place and will be
printed next month!  Life may bestow on us its highest honours, and
wealth beyond the dreams of avarice, the guerdon of a glorious lot, but
it can never transcend or repeat the thrill and ecstasy of the
triumphant apotheosis of such a moment as that.

It was a fairy story, and though nobody could have suspected it, the
fairy queen was Miss Goodall, much diminished in stature, of course,
with all her indubitable excellencies, her nobility of character, and
her beauty of person sublimated to an essence that only a Lilliputian
vessel could hold.  Her instincts were domestic, and her domain was the
hearthstone, and there she and her attendants, miniatures of the
charming damsels in Miss McGinty's peachy and strawberry-legged _corps
de ballet_, rewarded virtue and trampled meanness under their dainty,
twinkling feet.  Moreover, the story was to be paid for, a condition of
the greater glory, an irrefragable proof of merit.  Only as evidence of
worth was money thought of, and though much needed, it alone was
lightly regarded.  The amount turned out to be very small.  The editor
handed it out of his trousers pocket--not the golden guinea looked for,
but a few shillings.  He must have detected a little disappointment in
the drooping corners of the boy's mouth, for without any remark from
him he said--he was a dingy and inscrutable person--"That is all we
ever pay--four shillings per _colyume_," pronouncing the second
syllable of that word like the second syllable of "volume."

What did the amount matter to the boy?  A paper moist and warm from the
press was in his hands, and as he walked home through sleet and snow
and wind--the weather of the old sea-port was in one of its
tantrums--he stopped time and again to look at his name, his very own
name, shining there in letters as lustrous as the stars of heaven.

When that little story of mine appeared in all the glory of print, Fame
stood at my door, a daughter of the stars in such array that it blinded
one to look at her.  She has never come near me since, and I have
changed my opinion of her: a beguiling minx, with little taste or
judgment, and more than her share of feminine lightness and caprice; an
unconscionable flirt, that is all she is.

I came to New York, and peeped into the doors of the _Tribune_, the
_World_, the _Times_, and the _Sun_ with all the reverence that a
Moslem may feel when he beholds Mecca.  ...

It was in the August of a bounteous year of fruit.  The smell of
peaches and grapes piled in barrows and barrels scented the air, as it
scents the memory still.  The odour of a peach brings back to me all
the magic-lantern impressions of a stranger--memories of dazzling,
dancing, tropical light, bustle, babble, and gayety; they made me feel
that I had never been alive before, and the people of the old seaport,
active as I had thought them, became in a bewildered retrospect as slow
and quiet as snails.  But far sweeter to me than the fragrance of
peaches were the humid whiffs I breathed from the noisy press rooms in
the Park Row basements, the smell of the printers' ink as it was
received by the warm, moist rolls of paper in the whirring, clattering
presses.  There was history in the making, destiny at her loom.
Nothing ever expels it: if once a taste for it is acquired, it ties
itself up with ineffaceable memories and longings, and even in
retirement and changed scenes restores the eagerness and aspirations of
the long-passed hour when it first came over us with a sort of

I had no introduction and no experience and was prudent enough to
foresee the rebuff that would surely follow a climb up the dusky but
alluring editorial stairs and an application for employment in so
exalted a profession by a boy of seventeen.  I decided that I could use
more persuasion and gain a point in hiding my youth, which was a menace
to me, by writing letters, and so I plunged through the post on Horace
Greeley, on L. J. Jennings, the brilliant, forgotten Englishman who
then edited the _Times_, on Mr. Dana, and on the rest.  The astonishing
thing of that time, as I look back on it, was my invulnerability to
disappointments; I expected them and was prepared for them, and when
they came they were as spurs and not as arrows nor as any deadly
weapon.  They hardly caused a sigh except a sigh of relief from the
chafing uncertainties of waiting, and instead of depressing they
compelled advances in fresh directions which soon became exhilarating,
advances upon which one started with stronger determination and fuller,
not lessened, confidence.  O heart of Youth!  How unfluttered thy beat!
How invincible thou art in thine own conceit!  What gift of heaven or
earth can compare with thy supernal faith!  "No matter how small the
cage the bird will sing if it has a voice."

Had my letters been thrown into the wastepaper basket, after an
impatient glance by the recipients, I should not have been surprised or
more than a little nettled; but I received answers not encouraging from
both Horace Greeley and Mr. Dana.

Mr. Greeley was brief and final, but Mr. Dana, writing in his own hand
(how friendly it was of him!), qualified an impulse to encourage with a
tag for self-protection.  "Your letter does you credit," he wrote.
Those five words put me on the threshold of my goal.  "Your letter does
you credit, and I shall be glad to hear from you again----"  A door
opened, and a flood of light and warmth from behind it enveloped me as
in a gown of eiderdown.  "I shall be glad to hear from you again three
or four years from now!"  The door slammed in my face, the gown slipped
off, and left me with a chill.  But I did not accuse Mr. Dana of
deliberately hurting me or think that he surmised how a polite evasion
of that sort may without forethought be more cruel than the coldest and
most abrupt negative.

I went farther afield, despatching my letters to Chicago, Philadelphia,
Boston, and Springfield.  In Philadelphia there was a little paper
called the _Day_, and this is what its editor wrote to me:

"There are several vacancies in the editorial department, but there is
one vacancy still worse on the ground floor, and the cashier is its
much-harried victim.  You might come here, but you would starve to
death, and saddle your friends with the expenses of a funeral."

A man with humour enough for that ought to have prospered, and I
rejoiced to learn soon afterward that he (I think his name was Cobb)
had been saved from his straits by an appointment to the United States

His jocularity did not shake my faith in the seriousness of journalism.
I had not done laughing when I opened another letter written in a fine,
crabbed hand like the scratching of a diamond on a window-pane, and as
I slowly deciphered its contents I could hardly believe what I read.
It was from Samuel Bowles the elder, editor of the Springfield
_Republican_, then as now one of the sanest, most respected, and
influential papers in the country.  He wanted a young man to relieve
him of some of his drudgery, and I might come on at once to serve as
his private secretary.  He did not doubt that I could be useful to him,
and he was no less sure that he could be useful to me.  Moreover, my
idea of salary, he said--it was modest, but forty dollars a
month--"just fitted his."  He was one of the great men of his time when
papers were strong or weak, potent in authority or negligible, in
proportion to the personality of the individual controlling them.  He
himself was the _Republican_, as Mr. Greeley was the _Tribune_, Mr.
Bennett the _Herald_, Mr. Dana the _Sun_, Mr. Watterson the
_Courier-Journal_, and Mr. Murat Halstead the Cincinnati _Commercial_,
though, of course, like them, he tacitly hid himself behind the sacred
and inviolable screen of anonymity, and none of them exercised greater
power over the affairs of the nation than he, out of the centre, did
from that charming New England town to which he invited me.  The
opportunity was worth a premium, such as is paid by apprentices in
England for training in ships and in merchants' and lawyers' offices;
the salary seemed like the gratuity of a too liberal and chivalric
employer, for no fees could procure from any vocational institution so
many advantages as were to be freely had in association with him.  He
instructed and inspired, and if he perceived ability and readiness in
his pupil (this was my experience of him), he was as eager to encourage
and improve him as any father could be with a son, looking not for the
most he could take out of him in return for pay, but for the most he
could put into him for his own benefit.

Journalism to him was not the medium of haste, passion, prejudice, and
faction.  He fully recognized all its responsibilities, and the need of
meeting them and respecting them by other than casual, haphazard, and
slipshod methods.  He was an economist of words, with an abhorrence of
redundance and irrelevance; not only an economist of words, but also an
economist of syllables, choosing always the fewer, and losing nothing
of force or precision by that choice.  He had what was not less than a
passion for brevity.  "What," he was asked, "makes a journalist?" and
he replied: "A nose for news."  But with him the news had to be sifted,
verified, and reduced to an essence, not inflated, distorted and
garnished with all the verbal spoils of the reporter's last scamper
through the dictionary.

How sedate and prosperous Springfield looked to me when I arrived there
on an early spring day!  How clean, orderly, leisurely, and respectable
after the untidiness and explosive anarchy of New York!  I made for the
river, as I always do wherever a river is, and watched it flowing down
in the silver-gray light and catching bits of the rain-washed blue sky.
The trees had lost the brittleness and sharpness of winter's drawing
and their outlines were softening into greenish velvet.  In the
coverts, arbutus crept out with a hawthorn-like fragrance from patches
of lingering snow.  The main street leading into the town from the
Massasoit House and the station also had an air of repose and dignity
as if those who had business in it were not preoccupied by the frenzy
for bargains, but had time and the inclination for loitering,
politeness, and sociability.  That was in 1870, and I fear that
Springfield must have lost some of its old-world simplicity and
leisureliness since then.  I regret that I have never been in it since,
though I have passed through it hundreds of times.

The office of the Republican was in keeping with its environment, an
edifice of stone or brick not more than three or four stories high,
neat, uncrowded, and quiet; very different from the newspaper offices
of Park Row, with their hustle, litter, dust, and noise.  I met no one
on my way upstairs to the editorial rooms, and quaked at the oppressive
solemnity and detachment of it.  I wondered if people were observing me
from the street and thought how much impressed they would be if they
divined the importance of the person they were looking at, possibly
another Tom Tower.  The vanity of youth is in the same measure as its
valour; withdraw one, and the other droops.

"Now," said Mr. Bowles sharply, after a brusque greeting, "we'll see
what you can do."

I was dubious of him in that first encounter.  He was crisp and quick
in manner, clear-skinned, very spruce, and clear-eyed; his eyes
appraised you in a glance.

"Take that and see how short you can make it."

He handed me a column from one of the "exchanges," as the copies of
other papers are called.  I spent half an hour at it, striking out
repetitions and superfluous adjectives and knitting long sentences into
brief ones.  Condensation is a fine thing, as Charles Reade once said,
and to know how to condense judiciously, to get all the juice, without
any of the rind or pulp, is as important to the journalist as a
knowledge of anatomy to the figure painter.

I went over it a second time before I handed it back to him as the best
I could do.  I had plucked the fatted column to a lean quarter of that
length, yet I trembled and sweated.

"Bah!" he cried, scoring it with a pencil, which sped as dexterously as
a surgeon's knife.  "Read it now.  Have I omitted anything essential?"

He had not; only the verbiage had gone.  All that was worthy of
preservation remained in what the printer calls a "stickful."  That was
my first lesson in journalism.




When nineteen months old Helen Keller was stricken with an illness
which robbed her of both sight and hearing.  The infant that is blind
and deaf is of course dumb also, for being unable to see or hear the
speech of others, the child cannot learn to imitate it.

Despite her enormous handicaps, Miss Keller to-day is a college
graduate, a public speaker, and the author of several charming books.
It need scarcely be explained that this miracle was not wrought by
self-help alone.  But if she had not striven with all her might to
respond to the efforts of her devoted teacher, Miss Keller would not
to-day be mistress of the unusual talent for literary expression which
makes her contributions sure of a welcome in the columns of the leading

From "The Story of My Life," by Helen Keller.  Published by Doubleday,
Page & Co.

The most important day I remember in all my life is the one on which my
teacher, Anne Mansfield Sullivan, came to me.  I am filled with wonder
when I consider the immeasurable contrast between the two lives which
it connects.  It was the third of March; 1887, three months before I
was seven years old.

On the afternoon of that eventful day I stood on the porch, dumb,
expectant.  I guessed vaguely from my mother's signs and from the
hurrying to and fro in the house that something unusual was about to
happen, so I went to the door and waited on the steps.  The afternoon
sun penetrated the mass of honeysuckle that covered the porch, and fell
on my upturned face.  My fingers lingered almost unconsciously on the
familiar leaves and blossoms which had just come forth to greet the
sweet southern spring.  I did not know what the future held of marvel
or surprise for me.  Anger and bitterness had preyed upon me
continually for weeks, and a deep languor had succeeded this passionate

Have you ever been at sea in a dense fog, when it seemed as if a
tangible white darkness shut you in, and the great ship, tense and
anxious, groped her way toward the shore with plummet and
sounding-line, and you waited with beating heart for something to
happen?  I was like that ship before my education began, only I was
without compass or sounding-line, and had no way of knowing how near
the harbour was.  "Light! give me light!" was the wordless cry of my
soul, and the light of love shone on me in that very hour.

I felt approaching footsteps.  I stretched out my hand as I supposed to
my mother.  Some one took it, and I was caught up and held close in the
arms of her who had come to reveal all things to me, and, more than all
things else, to love me.

The morning after my teacher came she led me into her room and gave me
a doll.  The little blind children at the Perkins Institution had sent
it and Laura Bridgman had dressed it; but I did not know this until
afterward.  When I had played with it a little while, Miss Sullivan
slowly spelled into my hand the word "d-o-l-l."  I was at once
interested in this finger play and tried to imitate it.  When I finally
succeeded in making the letters correctly I was flushed with childish
pleasure and pride.  Running downstairs to my mother I held up my hand
and made the letters for doll.  I did not know that I was spelling a
word or even that words existed; I was simply making my fingers go in
monkey-like imitation.  In the days that followed I learned to spell in
this uncomprehending way a great many words, among them _pin_, _hat_,
_cup_, and a few verbs like _sit_, _stand_, and _walk_.  But my teacher
had been with me several weeks before I understood that everything has
a name.

One day, while I was playing with my new doll, Miss Sullivan put my big
rag doll into my lap also, spelled "d-o-l-l" and tried to make me
understand that "d-o-l-l" applied to both.  Earlier in the day we had
had a tussle over the words "m-u-g" and "w-a-t-e-r."  Miss Sullivan had
tried to impress it upon me that "m-u-g" is mug and that "w-a-t-e-r" is
_water_, but I persisted in confounding the two.  In despair she had
dropped the subject for the time, only to renew it at the first
opportunity.  I became impatient at her repeated attempts and, seizing
the new doll, I dashed it upon the floor.  I was keenly delighted when
I felt the fragments of the broken doll at my feet.  Neither sorrow nor
regret followed my passionate outburst.  I had not loved the doll.  In
the still, dark world in which I lived there was no strong sentiment or
tenderness.  I felt my teacher sweep the fragments to one side of the
hearth, and I had a sense of satisfaction that the cause of my
discomfort was removed.  She brought me my hat, and I knew I was going
out into the warm sunshine.  This thought, if a wordless sensation may
be called a thought, made me hop and skip with pleasure.

We walked down the path to the well-house, attracted by the fragrance
of the honeysuckle with which it was covered.  Some one was drawing
water and my teacher placed my hand under the spout.  As the cool
stream gushed over one hand she spelled into the other the word water,
first slowly, then rapidly.  I stood still, my whole attention fixed
upon the motions of her fingers.  Suddenly I felt a misty consciousness
as of something forgotten--a thrill of returning thought; and somehow
the mystery of language was revealed to me.  I knew then that
"w-a-t-e-r" meant the wonderful cool something that was flowing over my
hand.  That living word awakened my soul, gave it light, hope, joy, set
it free!  There were barriers still, it is true, but barriers that
could in time be swept away.

I left the well-house eager to learn.  Everything had a name, and each
name gave birth to a new thought.  As we returned to the house every
object which I touched seemed to quiver with life.  That was because I
saw everything with the strange, new sight that had come to me.  On
entering the door I remembered the doll I had broken.  I felt my way to
the hearth and picked up the pieces.  I tried vainly to put them
together.  Then my eyes filled with tears; for I realized what I had
done, and for the first time I felt repentance and sorrow.

I learned a great many new words that day.  I do not remember what they
all were; but I do know that _mother_, _father_, _sister_, _teacher_
were among them--words that were to make the world blossom for me,
"like Aaron's rod, with flowers."  It would have been difficult to find
a happier child than I was as I lay in my crib at the close of that
eventful day and lived over the joys it had brought me, and for the
first time longed for a new day to come.

I had now the key to all language, and I was eager to learn to use it.
Children who hear acquire language without any particular effort; the
words that fall from others' lips they catch on the wing, as it were,
delightedly, while the little deaf child must trap them by a slow and
often painful process.  But whatever the process, the result is
wonderful.  Gradually from naming an object we advance step by step
until we have traversed the vast distance between our first stammered
syllable and the sweep of thought in a line of Shakespeare.

At first, when my teacher told me about a new thing I asked very few
questions.  My ideas were vague, and my vocabulary was inadequate; but
as my knowledge of things grew, and I learned more and more words, my
field of inquiry broadened, and I would return again and again to the
same subject, eager for further information.  Sometimes a new word
revived an image that some earlier experience had engraved on my brain.

I remember the morning that I first asked the meaning of the word,
"love."  This was before I knew many words.  I had found a few early
violets in the garden and brought them to my teacher.  She tried to
kiss me; but at that time I did not like to have any one kiss me except
my mother.  Miss Sullivan put her arm gently round me and spelled into
my hand, "I love Helen."

"What is love?" I asked.

She drew me closer to her and said, "It is here," pointing to my heart,
whose beats I was conscious of for the first time.  Her words puzzled
me very much because I did not then understand anything unless I
touched it.

I smelt the violets in her hand and asked, half in words, half in
signs, a question which meant, "Is love the sweetness of flowers?"

"No," said my teacher.

Again I thought.  The warm sun was shining on us.

"Is this not love?" I asked, pointing in the direction from which the
heat came, "Is this not love?"

It seemed to me that there could be nothing more beautiful than the
sun, whose warmth makes all things grow.  But Miss Sullivan shook her
head, and I was greatly puzzled and disappointed.  I thought it strange
that my teacher could not show me love.

A day or two afterward I was stringing beads of different sizes in
symmetrical groups--two large beads, three small ones, and so on.  I
had made many mistakes, and Miss Sullivan had pointed them out again
and again with gentle patience.  Finally I noticed a very obvious error
in the sequence and for an instant I concentrated my attention on the
lesson and tried to think how I should have arranged the beads.  Miss
Sullivan touched my forehead and spelled with decided emphasis, "Think."

In a flash I knew that the word was the name of the process that was
going on in my head.  This was my first conscious perception of an
abstract idea.

For a long time I was still--I was not thinking of the beads in my lap,
but trying to find a meaning for "love" in the light of this new idea.
The sun had been under a cloud all day, and there had been brief
showers; but suddenly the sun broke forth in all its southern splendour.

Again I asked my teacher, "Is this not love?"

"Love is something like the clouds that were in the sky before the sun
came out," she replied.  Then in simpler words than these, which at
that time I could not have understood, she explained: "You cannot touch
the clouds, you know; but you feel the rain and know how glad the
flowers and the thirsty earth are to have it after a hot day.  You
cannot touch love either; but you feel the sweetness that it pours into
everything.  Without love you would not be happy or want to play."

The beautiful truth burst upon my mind--I felt that there were
invisible lines stretched between my spirit and the spirits of others.

From the beginning of my education Miss Sullivan made it a practice to
speak to me as she would speak to any hearing child; the only
difference was that she spelled the sentences into my hand instead of
speaking them.  If I did not know the words and idioms necessary to
express my thoughts she supplied them, even suggesting conversation
when I was unable to keep up my end of the dialogue.

This process was continued for several years; for the deaf child does
not learn in a month, or even in two or three years, the numberless
idioms and expressions used in the simplest daily intercourse.  The
little hearing child learns these from constant repetition and
imitation.  The conversation he hears in his home stimulates his mind
and suggests topics and calls forth the spontaneous expression of his
own thoughts.  This natural exchange of ideas is denied to the deaf
child.  My teacher, realizing this, determined to supply the kinds of
stimulus I lacked.  This she did by repeating to me as far as possible,
verbatim, what she heard, and by showing me how I could take part in
the conversation.  But it was a long time before I ventured to take the
initiative, and still longer before I could find something appropriate
to say at the right time.

The next important step in my education was learning to read.

As soon as I could spell a few words my teacher gave me slips of
cardboard on which were printed words in raised letters.  I quickly
learned that each printed word stood for an object, an act, or a
quality.  I had a frame in which I could arrange the words in little
sentences; but before I ever put sentences in the frame I used to make
them in objects.  I found the slips of paper which represented, for
example, "doll," "is," "on," "bed" and placed each name on its object;
then I put my doll on the bed with the words _is_, _on_, _bed_ arranged
beside the doll, thus making a sentence of the words, and at the same
time carrying out the idea of the sentence with the things themselves.

One day, Miss Sullivan tells me, I pinned the word _girl_ on my
pinafore and stood in the wardrobe.  On the shelf I arranged the words,
_is_, _in_, _wardrobe_.  Nothing delighted me so much as this game.  My
teacher and I played it for hours at a time.  Often everything in the
room was arranged in object sentences.

From the printed slip it was but a step to the printed book.  I took my
"Reader for Beginners" and hunted for the words I knew; when I found
them my joy was like that of a game of hide-and-seek.  Thus I began to
read.  Of the time when I began to read connected stories I shall speak

For a long time I had no regular lessons.  Even when I studied most
earnestly it seemed more like play than work.  Everything Miss Sullivan
taught me she illustrated by a beautiful story or a poem.  Whenever
anything delighted or interested me she talked it over with me just as
if she were a little girl herself.  What many children think of with
dread, as a painful plodding through grammar, hard sums and harder
definitions, is to-day one of my most precious memories.

I cannot explain the peculiar sympathy Miss Sullivan had with
my pleasures and desires.  Perhaps it was the result of long
association with the blind.  Added to this she had a wonderful
faculty for description.  She went quickly over uninteresting
details, and never nagged me with questions to see if I remembered the
day-before-yesterday's lesson.  She introduced dry technicalities of
science little by little, making every subject so real that I could not
help remembering what she taught.

We read and studied out of doors, preferring the sunlit woods to the
house.  All my early lessons have in them the breath of the woods--the
fine, resinous odour of pine needles, blended with the perfume of wild
grapes.  Seated in the gracious shade of a wild tulip tree, I learned
to think that everything has a lesson and a suggestion.

Our favourite walk was to Keller's Landing, an old tumble-down
lumber-wharf on the Tennessee River, used during the Civil War to land
soldiers.  There we spent many happy hours and played at learning
geography.  I built dams of pebbles, made islands and lakes, and dug
river-beds, all for fun, and never dreamed that I was learning a
lesson.  I listened with increasing wonder to Miss Sullivan's
descriptions of the great round world with its burning mountains,
buried cities, moving rivers of ice, and many other things as strange.
She made raised maps in clay, so that I could feel the mountain ridges
and valleys, and follow with my fingers the devious course of rivers.
I liked this, too; but the division of the earth into zones and poles
confused and teased my mind.  The illustrative strings and the orange
stick representing the poles seemed so real that even to this day the
mere mention of temperate zone suggests a series of twine circles; and
I believe that if any one should set about it he could convince me that
white bears actually climb the North Pole.

Arithmetic seems to have been the only study I did not like.  From the
first I was not interested in the science of numbers.  Miss Sullivan
tried to teach me to count by stringing beads in groups, and by
arranging kindergarten straws I learned to add and subtract.  I never
had patience to arrange more than five or six groups at a time.  When I
had accomplished this my conscience was at rest for the day, and I went
out quickly to find my playmates.

In this same leisurely manner I studied zoology and botany.

Once a gentleman, whose name I have forgotten, sent me a collection of
fossils--tiny mollusk shells beautifully marked, and bits of sandstone
with the print of birds' claws, and a lovely fern in bas-relief.  These
were the keys which unlocked the treasures of the antediluvian world
for me.  With trembling fingers I listened to Miss Sullivan's
descriptions of the terrible beasts, with uncouth, unpronounceable
names, which once went tramping through the primeval forests, tearing
down the branches of gigantic trees for food, and died in the dismal
swamps of an unknown age.  For a long time these strange creatures
haunted my dreams, and this gloomy period formed a sombre background to
the joyous Now, filled with sunshine and roses and echoing with the
gentle beat of my pony's hoof.

Another time a beautiful shell was given me, and with a child's
surprise and delight I learned how a tiny mollusk had built the
lustrous coil for his dwelling place, and how on still nights, when
there is no breeze stirring the waves, the Nautilus sails on the blue
waters of the Indian Ocean in his "ship of pearl."

It was in the spring of 1890 that I learned to speak.  The impulse to
utter audible sounds had always been strong within me.  I used to make
noises, keeping one hand on my throat while the other hand felt the
movements of my lips.  I was pleased with anything that made a noise
and liked to feel the cat purr and the dog bark.  I also liked to keep
my hand on a singer's throat, or on a piano when it was being played.
Before I lost my sight and hearing, I was fast learning to talk, but
after my illness it was found that I had ceased to speak because I
could not hear.  I used to sit in my mother's lap all day long and keep
my hands on her face because it amused me to feel the motions of her
lips; and I moved my lips, too, although I had forgotten what talking
was.  My friends say that I laughed and cried naturally, and for a
while I made many sounds and word-elements, not because they were a
means of communication, but because the need of exercising my vocal
organs was imperative.  There was, however, one word the meaning of
which I still remembered, water.  I pronounced it "wa-wa."  Even this
became less and less intelligible until the time when Miss Sullivan
began to teach me.  I stopped using it only after I had learned to
spell the word on my fingers.

I had known for a long time that the people about me used a method of
communication different from mine; and even before I knew that a deaf
child could be taught to speak, I was conscious of dissatisfaction with
the means of communication I already possessed.  One who is entirely
dependent upon the manual alphabet has always a sense of restraint, of
narrowness.  This feeling began to agitate me with a vexing,
forward-reaching sense of a lack that should be filled.  My thoughts
would often rise and beat up like birds against the wind; and I
persisted in using my lips and voice.  Friends tried to discourage this
tendency, fearing lest it would lead to disappointment.  But I
persisted, and an accident soon occurred which resulted in the breaking
down of this great barrier--I heard the story of Ragnhild Kaata.

In 1890 Mrs. Lamson, who had been one of Laura Bridgman's teachers, and
who had just returned from a visit to Norway and Sweden, came to see
me, and told me of Ragnhild Kaata, a deaf and blind girl in Norway who
had actually been taught to speak.  Mrs. Lamson had scarcely finished
telling me about this girl's success before I was on fire with
eagerness.  I resolved that I, too, would learn to speak.  I would not
rest satisfied until my teacher took me, for advice and assistance, to
Miss Sarah Fuller, principal of the Horace Mann School.  This lovely,
sweet-natured lady offered to teach me herself, and we began the
twenty-sixth of March, 1890.

Miss Fuller's method was this: she passed my hand lightly over her
face, and let me feel the position of her tongue and lips when she made
a sound.  I was eager to imitate every motion, and in an hour had
learned six elements of speech: M, P, A, S, T, I.  Miss Fuller gave me
eleven lessons in all.  I shall never forget the surprise and delight I
felt when I uttered my first connected sentence, "It is warm."  True,
they were broken and stammering syllables; but they were human speech.
My soul, conscious of new strength, came out of bondage, and was
reaching through those broken symbols of speech to all knowledge and
all faith.

No deaf child who has earnestly tried to speak the words which he has
never heard--to come out of the prison of silence, where no tone of
love, on song of bird, no strain of music ever pierces the
stillness--can forget the thrill of surprise, the joy of discovery
which came over him when he uttered his first word.  Only such a one
can appreciate the eagerness with which I talked to my toys, to stones,
trees, birds and dumb animals, or the delight I felt when at my call
Mildred ran to me or my dogs obeyed my commands.  It is an unspeakable
boon to me to be able to speak in winged words that need no
interpretation.  As I talked, happy thoughts fluttered up out of my
words that might perhaps have struggled in vain to escape my fingers.

But it must not be supposed that I could really talk in this short
time.  I had learned only the elements of speech.  Miss Fuller and Miss
Sullivan could understand me, but most people would not have understood
one word in a hundred.  Nor is it true that, after I had learned these
elements, I did the rest of the work myself.  But for Miss Sullivan's
genius, untiring perseverance and devotion, I could not have progressed
as far as I have toward natural speech.  In the first place, I laboured
night and day before I could be understood even by my most intimate
friends; in the second place, I needed Miss Sullivan's assistance
constantly in my efforts to articulate each sound clearly and to
combine all sounds in a thousand ways.  Even now she calls my attention
every day to mispronounced words.

All teachers of the deaf know what this means, and only they can at all
appreciate the peculiar difficulties with which I had to contend.  In
reading my teacher's lips I was wholly dependent on my fingers: I had
to use the sense of touch in catching the vibrations of the throat, the
movements of the mouth, and the expression of the face; and often this
sense was at fault.  In such cases I was forced to repeat the words or
sentences, sometimes for hours, until I felt the proper ring in my own
voice.  My work was practice, practice, practice.  Discouragement and
weariness cast me down frequently; but the next moment the thought that
I should soon be at home and show my loved ones what I had
accomplished, spurred me on, and I eagerly looked forward to their
pleasure in my achievement.

"My little sister will understand me now," was a thought stronger than
all obstacles.  I used to repeat ecstatically, "I am not dumb now."  I
could not be despondent while I anticipated the delight of talking to
my mother and reading her responses from her lips.  It astonished me to
find how much easier it is to talk than to spell with the fingers, and
I discarded the manual alphabet as a medium of communication on my
part; but Miss Sullivan and a few friends still use it in speaking to
me, for it is more convenient and more rapid than lip-reading.

Just here, perhaps, I had better explain our use of the manual
alphabet, which seems to puzzle people who do not know us.  One who
reads or talks to me spells with his hand, using the single-hand manual
alphabet generally employed by the deaf.  I place my hand on the hand
of the speaker so lightly as not to impede its movements.  The position
of the hand is as easy to feel as it is to see.  I do not feel each
letter any more than you see each letter separately when you read.
Constant practice makes the fingers very flexible, and some of my
friends spell rapidly--about as fast as an expert writes on a
typewriter.  The mere spelling is, of course, no more a conscious act
than it is in writing.

When I had made speech my own, I could not wait to go home.  At last
the happiest of happy moments arrived.  I had made my homeward journey,
talking constantly to Miss Sullivan, not for the sake of talking, but
determined to improve to the last minute.  Almost before I knew it, the
train stopped at the Tuscumbia station, and there on the platform stood
the whole family.  My eyes fill with tears now as I think how my mother
pressed me close to her, speechless and trembling with delight, taking
in every syllable that I spoke, while little Mildred seized my free
hand and kissed it and danced, and my father expressed his pride and
affection in a big silence.  It was as if Isaiah's prophecy had been
fulfilled in me.  "The mountains and the hills shall break forth before
you into singing, and all the trees of the field shall clap their

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