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Title: From the Easy Chair, series 2
Author: Curtis, George William, 1824-1892
Language: English
As this book started as an ASCII text book there are no pictures available.
Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "From the Easy Chair, series 2" ***

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[Illustration: frontispiece]



FROM THE
EASY CHAIR

BY

GEORGE WILLIAM CURTIS

SECOND SERIES

[Illustration: colophon]

NEW YORK

HARPER AND BROTHERS

MDCCCXCIV

Copyright, 1893, by HARPER & BROTHERS.

Copyright, 1894, by HARPER & BROTHERS.

_All rights reserved._



CONTENTS.


                                             PAGE

  THE NEW YEAR                                  1
  THE PUBLIC SCOLD                             10
  NATIONAL NOMINATING CONVENTION               16
  BRYANT'S COUNTRY                             23
  _The Game of Newport_                        31
  THE LECTURE LYCEUM                           39
  TWEED                                        47
  COMMENCEMENT                                 60
  THE STREETS OF NEW YORK                      69
  THE MORALITY OF DANCING                      76
  THE HOG FAMILY                               81
  THE ENLIGHTENED OBSERVER                     88
  RALPH WALDO EMERSON                          94
  HENRY WARD BEECHER                          110
  THE GOLDEN AGE                              119
  SPRING PICTURES                             126
  PROPER AND IMPROPER                         130
  BELINDA AND THE VULGAR                      137
  DECAYED GENTILITY                           142
  THE PHARISEE                                149
  LADY MAVOURNEEN ON HER TRAVELS              155
  GENERAL SHERMAN                             162
  THE AMERICAN GIRL                           166
  ANNUS MIRABILIS                             174
  STATUES IN CENTRAL PARK                     186
  THE GRAND TOUR                              193
  "EASY DOES IT, GUVNER"                      203
  SISTE, VIATOR                               208
  CHRISTENDOM _vs._ CHRISTIANITY              216
  FRANCIS GEORGE SHAW                         222



THE NEW YEAR.


IN Germany on _Sylvesterabend_--the eve of Saint Sylvester, the last
night of the year--you shall wake and hear a chorus of voices singing
hymns, like the English waits at Christmas or the Italian _pifferari_.
In the deep silence, and to one awakening, the music has a penetrating
and indefinable pathos, the pathos that Richter remarked in all music,
and which our own Parsons has hinted delicately--

    "Strange was the music that over me stole,
    For 'twas born of old sadness that lives in my
    soul."

There is something of the same feeling in the melody of college songs
heard at a little distance on awakening in the night before
Commencement. The songs are familiar, but they have an appealing
melancholy unknown before. Their dying cadences murmur like a muffled
peal heralding the visionary procession that is passing out of the
enchanted realm of youth forever. So the voices of Sylvester's Eve chant
the requiem of the year that is dead. So much more of life, of
opportunity, of achievement, passed; so much nearer age, decline, the
mystery of the end. The music swells in rich and lingering strains. It
is a moment of exaltation, of purification. The chords are dying; the
hymn is ending; it ends. The voices are stilled. It is the benediction
of Saint Sylvester:

    "She died and left to me ...
    The memory of what has been,
    And nevermore will be."

But this is the midnight refrain--The King is dead! With the earliest
ray of daylight the exulting strain begins--Live the King! The bells are
ringing; the children are shouting; there are gifts and greetings, good
wishes and gladness. "Happy New Year! happy New Year!" It is the day of
hope and a fresh beginning. Old debts shall be forgiven; old feuds
forgotten; old friendships revived. To-day shall be better than
yesterday. The good vows shall be kept. A blessing shall be wrung from
the fleet angel Opportunity. There shall be more patience, more courage,
more faith; the dream shall become life; to-day shall wear the glamour
of to-morrow. Ring out the old, ring in the new!

Charles Lamb says that no one ever regarded the first of January with
indifference; no one, that is to say, of the new style. But a
fellow-pilgrim of the old style, before Pope Gregory retrenched those
ten days in October, three hundred years ago, or the British Parliament
those eleven days in September, a hundred and thirty-five years ago,
took no thought of the first of January. It was a date of no
significance. To have mused and moralized upon that day more than upon
any other would have exposed him to the mischance against which Rufus
Choate asked his daughter to defend him at the opera: "Tell me, my dear,
when to applaud, lest unwittingly I dilate with the wrong emotion." The
Pope and the Parliament played havoc with the date of the proper annual
emotion. Moreover, if a man should happen to think of it, every day is a
new-year's day. If we propose a prospect or a retrospect we can stand
tiptoe on the top of every day, yes, and of every hour, in the year.
Good-morning is but a daily greeting of Happy New Year.

But these smooth generalizations and truisms do not disturb the charm of
regularly recurring times and seasons. That the fifth of October, or any
day in any month, actually begins a new year, does not give to that date
the significance and the feeling of the first of January. Our
fellow-pilgrim of the old style must look out for himself. He may have
begun his year in March, and a blustering birth it was. But we are
children of the new style, and the first of January is our New Year.
That is our day of remembrance, our feast of hope, the first page of our
fresh calendar of good resolutions, the day of underscoring and emphasis
of the swift lapse of life. "A few more of them, and then--" whispers
the mentor, who is not deceived by the jolly compliments of the season,
and the sober significance of the whisper is plain enough. "Eheu!
Posthume," sang the old Roman. "This world and the next, and all's
over!" said airy Tom Lackwit to the afflicted widow.

The relentless punctuality, the unwearied urgency, of old Time, who
turns his hour-glass with such a sonorous ring on New-Year's Day, seems
sometimes a little wanting in the best breeding. It furnishes so
unnecessary a register. The slow whitening and thinning of the hair; the
gradual incision of wrinkles; the queer antics of the sight, which holds
the newspaper at farther and farther removes, until at last it is forced
to succumb to glasses; the abated pace in walking; the dexterous
avoidance of stone walls in country rambles; the harmless frauds lurking
in the expressed reasons for frequent pauses in climbing a hill to turn
and see the landscape--frauds which the tears of my Uncle Toby's good
angel promptly wash away; the general and gradual adjustment to greater
repose--all these surely are adequate reminders and signs of the
sovereignty of Time. Why should he be greedy of more? Why thump and
rattle at the door, as it were, on the first of January, and bawl out to
the whole world that we are a year older, and that makes--!

It is disagreeably unnecessary. Why should not the old fellow do his
duty quietly, and tell off another year without such an outrageous
uproar? Does he think it so pleasant to hear his increasing
tally--forty, five, fifty, five, sixty, five? Peace! peace! Why not have
it understood that the tally beyond--well, say fifty, is a gross
impertinence? Let something be left to the imagination. Besides, what is
the use of wigs and hair-dye and padding, and what not coloring and
enamelling, and other juvenescent procedures of the feminine arcana, if
annual proclamation of impertinent dates and facts is to be made?

The worst of it is that it is a positive interference with the just play
of the fundamental truth that age is not justly measurable by the mere
lapse of time. Some people are never young, others defy age. This,
indeed, is due to temperament. But that is not all. Those gray hairs and
wrinkles, that eyesight of less keenness, that disinclination to leap
walls, and those fraudulent halts to survey the rearward landscape, are
enemies whose assaults are by no means regular. They come at very
different times to different people. Adolphus at sixty despises
spectacles. Triptolemus at thirty is bald. The hair of Horatius at
sixty-five is as affluent as Hyperion's, and as dark without unguents as
the raven's plume. Let facts speak to a candid world. Why should that
graybeard Paul Pry called Time blare through a speaking-trumpet that the
brave Valentine--

    "As wild his thoughts and gay of wing
    As Eden's garden bird"--

is just as old as old, toothless, tottering, decrepit Orson?

Every well-regulated citizen of the world is interested, and more
vitally interested with every closing year, that upon the point of age
all men shall be left to their merits, and shall not be measured
arbitrarily by that Procrustean standard of years. It is notorious that
men grow wiser every year, and it is observable that the more years they
have, the more they look with doubt and questioning upon the Family
Record. Those leaves of births following the doubtful books of
Scripture, registered with such painful and needless particularity of
dates, partake of the doubtfulness of their neighborhood. They are mere
intercalations, new books of the Apocrypha. Yet they often cause young
fellows of seventy to be accused and convicted of being old men.

Since, then, we cannot stop the flight of Time, let him pass. But he
must not calumniate as he passes. He must not be allowed to stigmatize
vigor and health and freshness of feeling and the young heart and the
agile foot as old merely because of a certain number of years. This is
the season of good resolutions. The new year begins in a snow-storm of
white vows. So be it. But let our whitest vow be, after that for a
whiter life, that age shall no longer be measured by this arbitrary
standard of years, and that those deceitful and practical octogenarians
of thirty shall not escape as young merely because they have not yet
shown the strength to carry threescore and ten with jocund elasticity.

Then Happy New Year shall not mean Good-night, but Good-morrow.



THE PUBLIC SCOLD.


The Easy Chair was lately asked whether it thought the office of public
scold an agreeable one. There was a certain tartness in the question, as
if its real purpose was to learn from the Easy Chair whether _It_
enjoyed that position, and upon looking further it appeared that the
question had been suggested by a remark of the Easy Chair's to the
effect that a certain class of our fellow-creatures seemed to be
disposed to do their duty in a manner that might be improved. But what
is an Easy Chair but a kind of _censor morum!_ Would the kind critic of
its conduct have it say to the gentleman whose hands are soiled that
they are as pure as the morning, and to the tactless dame who makes all
her neighbors uncomfortable that her manners are charming?

Probably this is really what the critic meant, for he continued by
saying that it is so much better to dilate upon what is pleasant than to
discuss the unpleasant aspects of life. That is true. It was the
principle of the Vicar of Bray. That reverend gentleman always avoided
friction. He was a chip of the Polonius block. The cloud was a camel or
a whale, according to the fancy of his companion. The good vicar looked
askance at Rome under Henry and Edward, and told his beads piously under
Mary, and upon reflection eschewed the mass-house under Elizabeth. He
dilated upon the pleasant aspects of affairs. We can imagine him saying
to Ridley in the time of Mary, "My dear bishop, why think yourself wiser
than your time?" and a little later to Parker, Elizabeth's Archbishop
(Ridley having been burned in the meanwhile), "My dear archbishop, Rome,
I see, is much too stringent." The Vicar of Bray was not a scold. He
was, according to the abused text, all things to all men.

Yet his profession, our censor must remember, was a scolding
profession--at least in the sense in which the word is often used. His
duty was to admonish and exhort, to adjure his flock to quit the error
of their ways. Perhaps he was a poor illustration of it. Perhaps, true
to his temperament rather than to his profession, instead of urging
repentance because the kingdom was at hand, he was accustomed to say:
"Brethren, I observe that you lie and steal and slander your neighbors a
good deal. But in such a world as this what is to be expected? We are
all poor, weak, fallible things. Which of us can hope to strike twelve
every time? Let him that thinketh he standeth take heed lest he fall. We
must all beware of hypocrisy, dear brethren, and of pretending to be
better than our neighbors. You remember the Pharisee who thanked God
that he was not as other men. Let him be a warning against the sin of
presumption. There is the beautiful lesson of the beam and the mote. We
must not forget it. We are all miserable sinners, and therefore we must
not twit each other with sinning. We ought to tell the truth, my
friends. But we don't. We all lie. Let us therefore not scold each
other, since we are all equally wicked. But let us avoid Phariseeism and
all that assumption of superior virtue which is implied in saying to a
foul-mouthed brother that he ought to speak cleanly. Beware of
Phariseeism as of the unpardonable sin. Scold not, dear brethren, but
talk of the things which are pleasant, and instead of rebuking the liar,
commend his goodness to the poor, and instead of silencing the
backbiter, praise his subscription to the soup kitchen. For what says
Dr. Watts?

    "'Let dogs delight to bark and bite.'

Dogs naturally scold, but we, brethren, we have the gift of avoidance,
and, O liars, thieves, and slanderers, let us live together in peace,
and say nothing about falsehood, stealing, and calumny."

This was probably the tenor of the sermons of the Vicar of Bray, and
this was the way that he strove to save souls. But Fénelon and John Knox
and Edwards and Whitefield and Wesley and Channing and St. Paul, each in
his own way, said, "Thou art the man," and rebuked both the sin and the
sinner. Yet all of them were very human and very fallible, and all came
very short of the ideal of duty. To point out a defect in a picture, or
to exhort the artist to avoid it, is not to declare yourself an
incomparable artist. To demand honesty in public affairs is not to
proclaim yourself a saint. To say that school-teachers should be
thorough and use their common-sense as well as a text-book is not to
scold them. Romilly was not a scold because he denounced the unjust
criminal laws, nor John Howard because he rebuked the inhumanity of
prisons, nor John the Baptist because he exhorted men to repent.

The poets rebuke our lives by the fair ideals that they draw, but they
do not scold. If a man preaches a little sermon illustrating the way in
which men in a certain profession, let us say, shirk their duty, and
somebody cries out, "Don't scold so!" the preacher may safely exclaim,
"Fellow-sinner, thou art the man." But the best illustration is closer
at hand. If the Easy Chair reproves certain fellow-sinners for
remissness in doing their duty, and for that offence is a scold, what is
the censor who scolds the Easy Chair for scolding? Let us avoid
Phariseeism, brethren, and the assumption of superior virtue.



NATIONAL NOMINATING CONVENTION.


It was a wise newspaper that recently advised every American who could
do so to see a national nominating convention. It is a spectacle visible
in no other country, and the most exciting political spectacle in this.
It is the arena in which the prolonged and passionate strife of
countless ambitions, intrigues, interests, and conspiracies is decided;
and it is the more exciting because, with every effort to predetermine
the result, the result is still at the mercy of chance. The action of
the convention is a lottery. Suddenly, at the decisive moment, an
unexpected combination, an impulse, a whim, like an overwhelming tidal
wave, sweeps away all plans and calculations, and the result is as
complete as it is unanticipated.

Even the device of a two-thirds vote to make a nomination valid does
not avail to secure the real preference of the party which the
convention represents. The two-thirds rule, as it is called, was
designed to baffle the fundamental democratic principle, which is the
rule of the majority. When that is abandoned, the proportion selected is
purely arbitrary. It may as well be nine tenths as two thirds. But even
such a dam will not resist the swelling waters of feeling in a
convention. The French say that it is the unexpected that happens, but
in a national convention it is the unforeseen which is anticipated. The
palpitating multitude, which has been stimulating its own excitement,
confronts every doubtful moment with an air which says plainly, "Now
it's coming."

There is always a preliminary contest of various cities before the
national party committee to decide where the convention shall be held.
Local orators with honeyed persuasion dazzle the committee with
statistics of the superior convenience, accommodation, beauty,
healthfulness, resources, facilities, and whatever else their good
genius may suggest, of the city for which each one of them contends. The
convention is held in the largest hall, or in a building erected for the
purpose, like the Wigwam in Chicago in 1860. The convention itself is
composed of about nine hundred state delegates, their seats designated
by a flag with the name of the state placed by the seat of the chairman
of the delegation. The alternates are also seated.

Every convention is full of distinguished leaders and members of the
party, and as any of them appears, either entering or rising to speak,
they are greeted with great applause. If the temporary chairman be an
eminent party chief or an eloquent popular orator, his address touches
the springs of emotion and arouses hearty enthusiasm. But the friends of
the leading candidates deprecate the mention of names until the
candidates are presented by the chosen orator. The reason is that the
applause of the convention is one of the counters in the game. There are
hired _claques_ in the conventions which keep up a humming cry which is
a substitute for applause, and which is sometimes continued for a
quarter of an hour. The longer the hum, the more popular the candidate.

Forgetfulness or ignorance of the value of applause under such
circumstances reveals the comparative popularity of candidates in the
eager mass of delegates and spectators. In one convention the permanent
president in his address, but without any sinister purpose, or indeed
any other purpose than kindling the convention, mentioned successively,
and, of course, with impartial compliment, the name of every candidate
who was known to be on the list. Involuntarily he thus tested the
feeling of the convention. The galleries also swelled the acclaim, but
in the galleries the _claque_ is shrewdly distributed, and in critical
moments the approval or disapproval of the turbulent galleries
undoubtedly impresses the delegates, and recalls the galleries of the
French convention a hundred years ago.

There are occasional skirmishes of debate upon motions or resolutions,
but the first great interest of the regular proceedings is the report
of the platform committee. It is a tradition of conventions that the
platform should be accepted as reported, both to gain the prestige of
perfect unanimity and to escape "tinkering," which may lead to endless
discussion and discordant feeling. But when the motion is made to
proceed to the nomination of candidates, the excitement is intense. The
orators are usually carefully selected, not alone as eloquent speakers,
but as men of weight and influence, and of what at the moment is more
indispensable than everything else--tact. The speeches are made with the
fundamental understanding that, however glowing and elaborate the praise
of the candidate may be, there shall be an explicit assurance that
whatever the merits of any candidate, the candidate who shall be
nominated by the convention will receive the universal and enthusiastic
support of the party.

On one occasion, when this fundamental rule was forgotten by an ardent
orator, who, in the warmth of his devotion to his candidate, declared
that no other man was so certain to draw out the whole party vote in
the state for which he spoke, a hurricane of hisses from the convention
and the galleries silenced him, and the friends of his candidate were
instantly aware that a fatal injury had befallen him. In another
convention the orator who nominated one of the candidates was so
exasperated by what he felt to be the treachery to his candidate of a
conspicuous friend of another that his denunciation of the traitor was
held to be a covert assault upon the traitor's candidate, and again a
tempest of universal hissing overwhelmed the luckless orator and his
candidate.

The announcement by states of the first formal vote for candidates is
made in impressive silence, followed by immense applause. But the second
ballot is more significant; and whenever upon any ballot the
announcement of a vote is seen by the tally to decide the nomination,
the feeling culminates in an indescribable tumult of frenzied
acclamation, and the convention generally adjourns to consider the
Vice-Presidency. But the interest in its work is at an end, and it is
astounding to see the happy-go-lucky Providence which presides over the
selection of the officer who has thrice become the President of the
United States.

In the history of national conventions there is no more touching
incident than that of Mr. Seward awaiting at his home in Auburn the
result of the balloting at the convention of 1860, which nominated Mr.
Lincoln. By what is called the logic of the situation Mr. Seward's
nomination was assured, and no disappointment could have been greater
than the selection of another. How bitter it was was not suspected until
his life was recently published! But he encountered the shock with his
usual equanimity, and before the election he had made the most
extraordinary series of speeches for his party which the annals of any
campaign record.

The journal's advice was sound. See a national convention if you can.



BRYANT'S COUNTRY.


The traveller in western Massachusetts, reaching some quiet village upon
the hills, which seems to him singularly lonely and remote, often finds
some little incident in its annals which connects it with the great
world. Coming to Goshen, a solitary little town wholly unknown to most
of our readers, he is conscious of the height, of the purity of the air,
and the peacefulness of the wooded landscape, and far below, towards the
east, he sees the undulating line of Holyoke, and on some fortunate day
may catch the gleam of the placid Connecticut winding through broad
meadows and between Tom and Holyoke to the Sound.

The little town itself is a grassy street, with a meeting-house and a
hotel, which has a desolate air of mistaken enterprise declining into
disappointment, with long anticipation of a crowd of summer pilgrims,
who might well turn their steps hither, but who have never come. Beyond
the village street upon the same plateau is the great Goshen reservoir,
which lies hushed in grim repose over the town of Williamsburg, a few
miles below, the town which was overwhelmed some years ago by the
bursting of the Mill River dam. Such events are the tragedies of the
hills, which become traditions told in the village store, and investing
with dignity, as the years pass, the villagers who recall the direful
day.

Among the traditions of Goshen is that of the passage of some of the
soldiers of Burgoyne on their march from Saratoga to Cambridge. When the
brilliant British general swept down Lake Champlain to the Hudson,
capturing Ticonderoga as he came, it was feared in these hills that he
would march triumphantly from Albany to Boston. There was a general
rally of all able-bodied men to the rescue; and as they marched away
from their fields ripe for the harvest the prospect was dismal, until
the able-bodied women marched into the fields and gathered and housed
the crops. The British invaders reached Goshen, indeed, on their march
from Albany to Boston, but only as prisoners of war.

All this peaceful neighborhood was originally granted by the State to
the heirs of soldiers in the early New England wars. Goshen and its
neighbor Chesterfield, another city set upon a hill six or seven miles
to the south, were grants to the descendants of soldiers in the
Narragansett expedition of King Philip's war. From Goshen the
Chesterfield meeting-house can be seen against the southern horizon, and
the road lies through high pastures and lonely farms to the pleasant
town. When you climb its hill and look around, you see a cluster of
hospitable houses, around which the neatly kept grounds give an air of
refinement to the whole village, which is steeped in rural tranquillity.

The broad hills slope westward towards the valley of the Westfield, and
beyond lie the shaggy sides of the Cummington range. Chesterfield has
its special tradition of Lafayette passing the night in its old tavern,
on his way from Albany to Boston, in 1824. It is a characteristic
representative of the hill towns, so still that the air seems drowsy as
in Rip Van Winkle's village. But such tranquil towns, in which a moving
figure is half spectral and almost a surprise, were the beginnings of
the nation. From these sequestered springs the mighty river flows.

Chesterfield has not half the population that it counted seventy years
ago. The whole town now reports scarcely seven hundred persons. Yet,
with all the old spirit, it invited its neighbors in Hampshire County to
come and dine on one of the loveliest of summer days this year. It was
the annual festival of the Hill-side Agricultural Society, and fully a
thousand people filled the friendly town. The feast was spread upon
tables on a green space beside the old house in which Lafayette slept,
and under a bower of leafy white birch boughs. The magnates of the
county were all present, and it was whispered privately that there were
private whisperings among eminent politicians, who, however, with the
non-political, or the political of the wrong side, talked cheerfully of
the charming day and the promising crops. Politics is the breath of our
patriotic nostrils, and it was a stimulating thought that while we were
listening to the humorous but well-merited praises of Strawberry Hill
pork, some of our bland companions were saving their bacon in other
ways; and while we dreamed of crisp sausages and savory ham, were
contriving Senators and Councillors, and even a Governor himself.

The simple courtesy and universal intelligence were of the old New
England, nor less so the composure and ease with which speaker after
speaker mounted the bench on which he sat, and in what he said, and the
way in which he said it, showed that he was a graduate of the town
meeting. The pastor of Goshen, asked to speak of some of the more noted
citizens of the neighboring towns, might well have occupied with so
fruitful a text all the hours until sunset. But with exemplary
discretion he mentioned but a few, and among them some that surprised a
New-Yorker, who had not known, but might have guessed, that Gideon Lee,
former Mayor of the city, and Luther Bradish, Lieutenant-Governor of the
State, came from the little town upon the Cummington hills opposite,
where Bryant studied law.

The whole region before us, indeed, was especially Bryant's. Upon the
slope yonder he was born, and we could see the house in which as a boy
he lived. "Thanatopsis" was the hymn of his meditations among those
solitary woods. There, upon the nearer hill, high over Plainfield, where
he wrote the poem the "Water-fowl," forever floating in the twilight
heavens--

    "Far through their rosy depths dost thou pursue
    Thy solitary way."

We were looking upon the cradle of American literature. Here its first
enduring poem was written. The poet himself never escaped the spell of
the hills. The child was father of the man. Bryant in the city was
always the grave and unchanged genius of New England. The city did not
wear off the rusticity of his manner. His air was reserved and remote,
and he was still wrapped in the seclusion of the hills. It is in such
scenes and among such people on such a day that the power of these hills
and their influence upon our national life and literature are perceived.

These hidden springs have overflowed the prairies of the West; and how
much of the wealth and prosperity, the energy, industry, and
enlightenment of New York have trickled down from them, you may hear, if
you doubt, every year on Forefathers' Day at the New England dinner in
New Amsterdam. As there is altogether too much glory to be adequately
celebrated in one day, another has been added, to accommodate the Yankee
city of Brooklyn, and it is not the fault of the sons of New England if
on those two days the whole continent does not hear the melodious
thunder of their eloquence proclaiming that New England always led, is
leading still, and will lead forever, the triumphal procession of
American progress.

Supported by such a history it is a natural boast. There is, however,
one inexorable condition. To do what New England has done, New England
must be what she has been.



THE GAME OF NEWPORT.


There is nothing more delightful than the gravity with which the game of
Newport is played. To assist at one of the solemn "functions" like a
coach parade is not unlike attendance upon a function of the ancient
Church in Rome. On a true Newport afternoon, as soft and sweet and
luminous an air as can be breathed, Newport, in every kind of stately
and comfortable and light and graceful carriage, with the finest horses
and the most loftily disdainful of coachmen, proceeds down the avenue to
behold the stately procession along the ocean drive.

Of its kind there is no more beautiful drive in the world. The shore
winds among rocks which are massed, a shrewd-eyed traveller said, as on
the shores of Greece. The bold character of the coast of Rhode Island
and its picturesque effects are wholly unknown upon its neighbor Long
Island. The endless reach of sand and the monotony of the vast level
land on Long Island have a certain vague charm as of a sea-shore
becoming or about to become picturesque. But that point is fully reached
by its northern neighbors of the New England coast, and the ocean drive
in Newport is in itself incomparable.

For its company on the day of a great social function it is quite as
incomparable. Hyde Park, the Bois, the Cascine, the Prater, show no such
sumptuous display. If the street boy were a philosopher, he would say,
probably, as he watched the spectacle, "My eyes! money plays here for
all it is worth." The American street boy of every degree is not
supposed to need any stronger impression of the value of money than he
already possesses. But Newport is the great school for that instruction,
and it is open free to the whole world. Money elsewhere has the same
instincts and desires. But in a city, in winter, its sports and effects,
however splendid, are divided and hidden. In summer Newport they are
concentrated under most fortunate conditions and proceed in the open
air.

It is all the more striking because money has built its summer city
close by and just above one of the oldest and most historic of our
cities. It has improvised its magnificence and mad profusion upon the
outskirts of simplicity and moderation are observant, for all their
plainness. When they were asked what effect the new town produced upon
the old, whether the rollicking city on the hill harmed or helped the
plodding seaport, they answered: "Until Crœsus and Midas came, it was
beneficial. But they have ruined Newport."

Perhaps not, however. The Newport on the hill of to-day is the
legitimate offspring of the earlier summer retreat. That was a group of
the select who came to Newport to enjoy themselves for the summer. They
were well-to-do, some of them. But not many dwelt in cottages. The
multitude lived in hotels. They danced, they dined, they drove, they
sauntered. It was the green tree. It was less money enjoying itself as
more money enjoys itself now. The gossip, the flirting, the display were
not of another kind, they were the same as to-day, but the scale was
more limited. Mrs. Candour, Mrs. Malaprop, Sir Benjamin Backbite, and
the brothers Surface were already there. The standards of conduct, the
ideals of honor, were not essentially different.

A generation ago Sir Benjamin bowed and danced and supped at Mrs.
Malaprop's ball with all the gay world of that time, which is now in
wigs, caps, turbans, or heaven; and the next day, dining with Mrs.
Candour, Sir Benjamin told, with infinite relish and to the great
amusement of the table, the story of his hostess's verbal trips and
stumbles. It did not seem to be conduct essentially base, because this
sparkling summer realm by the sea is like Charles Lamb's conception of
the artificial comedy of the eighteenth century: "I confess, for myself,
that, with no great delinquencies to answer for, I am glad for a season
to take an airing beyond the diocese of the strict conscience--not to
live always in the precincts of the law courts--but now and then, for a
dream-while or so, to imagine a world with no meddling restrictions, to
get into recesses whither the hunter cannot follow me--

                    "'secret shades
    Of wooded Ida's inmost grove,
    While yet there was no fear of Jove.'"

To take permanent lodgings beyond the diocese of the strict conscience,
however, is a critical enterprise. If you take a house in Capua, you
must needs breathe the Capuan air. The magnetic rock in Sindbad's story
drew out the nails of the ships that ventured too near. Old Mithridates
fed on poisons until they "became a kind of nutriment," as Dr.
Rappaccini fed his daughter, until, too late, he discovered that she was
doomed. The graybeards who drive out to see the coach parade, and recall
the days, before the ocean drive, when the rocks beyond Lily Pond were a
glimmering land of Beulah, may prattle of the golden age of Newport as
of a happy past in which the graybeards were born. But will they
seriously contend that the age of Crœsus and Midas is not the golden
age of Newport?

While they are gossiping, the coaches approach. They have been through
the town, and are driving out by the Fort road; and as they appear, the
vast throng of carriages which have driven out to meet them pull to the
side of the road to allow a free course. A multitude of spectators
awaiting a festal procession, which at last is coming, naturally
suggests applause. But there is profound silence. There is no cheer for
every spectator to catch up and pass on. The first coach is at hand, and
gravely passes at a deliberate pace, and the great world in carriages
gravely looks on. The second coach deliberately follows, and is surveyed
with equal gravity. The next perhaps will strike a spark of applause.
But the next passes deliberately amid a silence profound. One friend,
perhaps, in the stately procession gravely nods to another gravely
gazing from a carriage. The "function" proceeds. Far out at sea the
white sails flash, and the summer surf breaks gently along the shore.
Every coach rolls slowly by. The moment for cheering has not yet
arrived. Indeed, it does not arrive before the pageant has passed, and
the reviewing carriages are turning and following on in its wake. It is
truly a solemn function. Graybeard recalls nothing like it for multitude
and display in the old drives on "beach days" along the beach in what he
calls the golden age. But does he doubt that old Newport would have done
it gladly if it could have done it?

If the ghost of Heliogabalus haunts the villa'd shore, it is with no
hope of resuming the imperial crown. His court merely makes a pretty
summer spectacle when the opera ends. The coach and the stately equipage
and the flashing splendor of busy idleness are the pageant which is
kindly displayed gratis for the passengers in the omnibus, for the
pedestrians and the nurses. They sit and stroll and stare at their ease
while the gay play proceeds before their eyes. Nowhere more constantly
than in the summer Newport does the remark of the little child watching
the march of the soldiers recur--"Mamma, how good they are to make such
a show!"



THE LECTURE LYCEUM.


The Utica _Herald_ in a pleasant article recently recalled the lecture
lyceum of a quarter of a century ago. It was then what is called a
power. It greatly influenced public opinion. Its spirit was indicated by
the reply of Wendell Phillips to an invitation which asked him his terms
and his subject. He answered that for a literary lecture he should
expect a hundred dollars, but he would deliver an antislavery address
for nothing, and pay his own expenses. The lecturers who were most
sought at that time were almost without exception men of very strong
convictions upon the great question which, however evaded and
dexterously hidden, was the vital thought of the country; and every
successive week from November to April, in the largest cities and the
smallest cities, along the belt of country from the Kennebec through
New England and New York westward through Ohio and the Northwest to the
Mississippi, before thousands of the most intelligent American citizens,
this band of lecturers advanced, like a well-ordered platoon of
sharp-shooters, and delivered their destructive volley at what they felt
to be the common enemy.

Edward Everett, "the monarch of the platform," as Mr. Edward Parker
called him in his book upon American contemporary orators, during part
of this same time was making a tour through much of the same region with
his oration upon Washington, for the benefit of the fund for the
purchase of Mount Vernon, and he was also writing the Mount Vernon
papers for the _Ledger_, in one of which he gave an entertaining
description of a night in a sleeping-car, when those itinerant
bedchambers had but recently taken to the road. Mr. Everett's
conservative temperament made his oration a kind of corrective of the
influence of the great tendency of the lyceum lecture. But patriotic as
his purpose undoubtedly was, his effort to stem the rapidly rising tide
of public sentiment was like the protests of Governor Hutchinson and the
Colonial conservatives against the fervid revolutionary appeals of Otis
and Adams and Quincy. Other popular speakers of the same sympathy as
that of Mr. Everett found themselves out of tune with the lyceum
audience, and were but meteors flashing across the stage, whose light
was lost in the steady and increasing glow of the group of men who were
identified with the great day of the lyceum lecture. These men were not
all like Wendell Phillips, open leaders of a specific agitation, nor
were these lectures always ostensibly upon what are called public
questions. But the influence of the lecturers was unmistakable. They
were all men known to be in the strongest sympathy with the most
advanced feeling of the agitation. It was the plain spirit and tone and
drift of those lectures, an occasional allusion and the necessary
application of the remarks, however general, to the actual situation,
rather than any deliberate discussion of the question itself, which
characterized the lyceum of that day. There was sometimes an attempted
reaction against this tendency. In Philadelphia it was discovered that
colored persons were not admitted to the Musical Fund Hall, in which the
lectures had been given. The leading lecturers instantly informed the
committee that they declined to speak in the hall so long as the
restriction continued. In Albany the reactionary sentiment in the Young
Men's Association succeeded in electing a lecture committee which was
resolved upon a purely "literary" course, and which would not invite the
usual lecturers. The result was an independent course, under the
auspices of dissatisfied members of the association, in which the
rejected lecturers spoke in the largest hall in the city, and the signal
triumph of the seceders lay in the immense audience which assembled in
contrast to the attenuated attendance upon the regular course.

The singular success of the lyceum lecture of that time was due,
undoubtedly, to two causes--the simultaneous appearance of a remarkable
group of orators, and their profound sympathy with the question which
absorbed the public mind. The weekly lecture was not merely a display of
oratory, not only an amusing recreation, but it brought wit and
accomplishment and eloquence to strengthen the public feeling and arouse
the public conscience, and to confirm the earnest spirit which was
universal, and which forecast the great events and the noble elevation
of the public mind that followed. Emerson, Wendell Phillips, Gough,
Beecher, Chapin, Starr King, Theodore Parker, could of themselves carry
any course of lectures, and each in his own way was thoroughly in accord
with the truest American life of that time. The situation and the
condition of the public mind would not have availed, indeed, without the
happy chance of such orators to create the lyceum, but with that chance
the lyceum of that day was as remarkable a continuous display of various
and effective eloquence as has been ever known.

If the faithful diary of any lecturer who went the grand rounds
twenty-five years ago, from Maine to the Mississippi, could be
published, it would be full of the most amusing stories. The lecturers
all had them to tell, and they were all men of a singularly fine
perception of humor. James T. Fields, the publisher in Boston, was the
friend of all the lyceum orators, and towards the close of his life he
was himself a popular and attractive lecturer upon literary subjects.
His little cell or private office in the old corner book-store in Boston
was an exchange of lecturers for that neighborhood, which teemed with
lyceums, and no similar space has ever heard fresher stories better
told, or has ever echoed with gayer laughter.

It was the pleasant company in that little retreat which first heard,
the day after it occurred, the tale of the belated lecturer who,
hurrying from the cars in a carriage to the hall in Boston, long beyond
the hour, dinnerless, and with no chance to dress, opened his
travelling-bag, and proceeded, to the consternation of the lady who had
taken a seat in the same carriage, and whose pardon he politely and
briefly invoked, to change his collar and his coat. As he began to pull
off his coat, having pulled off his collar, his amazed and terrified
fellow-passenger began to pull at the door, and to call loudly upon the
driver, who was furiously whipping his horses into a pace that increased
both the noise of the carriage and the conviction of the terrified lady
that she was the victim of some dreadful conspiracy, or the hapless
victim of a maniac. The maniac's earnest but interjectional explanation
as he proceeded in his toilet, begging his companion to be pacified, as
he was merely going to lecture, was an unintelligible asseveration,
which only made his madness more indisputable and awful, and what might
have befallen the poor lady, if the carriage had not suddenly stopped at
the hall, and the lecturer, in his clean collar and black coat, had not
begged her pardon for frightening her, with a fervor that frightened her
all the more, and disappeared from the vehicle with his travelling-bag,
shawl, and umbrella, he was not prepared to say. But the tale, as he
told it the next morning with infinite humor in Fields's corner, was
received, as he ruefully admitted, with louder shouts of laughter than
had greeted the brightest witticisms of his lecture.

Fields is gone, and his old friend and neighbor Whipple, who was one of
the earliest of the noted lyceum lecturers. The old corner in the old
corner book-store is gone, and with it have vanished many of the happy
company that gathered there, not only of orators, but of famous authors.
The lyceum of the last generation is gone, but it is not surprising that
those who recall with the Utica _Herald_ its golden prime should cherish
a kindly and regretful feeling for an institution which was so
peculiarly American, and which served so well the true American spirit
and American life.



TWEED.


There are many persons who wonder why Tweed did not evade justice by
forfeiting his bail. He had every chance to escape, they say; why did he
stay? His chief confederates are safe in Europe, where he might easily
have been, yet he was foolish enough to take the risk of a trial, and he
is imprisoned, probably for the rest of his life. The explanation,
however, is very obvious. He did not believe there was any risk. Tweed
was the most striking illustration of a very common faith--belief in the
Almighty Dollar. He is the victim of a most touching fidelity to the
great principle which every good American will surely be the last to
flout. His creed was very simple: it was that money would buy
everything, and he reposed upon his belief with the sweet security of
the Mussulman who sees by faith a heaven of houris. Certainly his
confidence was not surprising. He had proved his creed. He had seen
money work miracles. He had seen himself, a man of no cleverness and of
no advantages, rising swiftly by means of it from insignificant poverty
to the control of a great party. It had made him master of one of the
great cities of the world. It had secured for him Governors,
Legislatures, councils, and legal and executive authorities of every
kind. He invested in land and judges. He bought dogs and lawyers. He
silenced the press with a golden muzzle, and money made his will law.

Here was a man who wanted nothing that money could not buy: was it
strange that he had unbounded faith in it? Every form of virtue was to
him mere affectation, a more or less ingenious and tenacious "strike"
for money. If a man spoke of honesty, patriotism, self-respect, the
public welfare, public opinion, truth, justice, right, Tweed smiled at
the fine phrases in which the auctioneer, anxious to sell himself,
cried, "Going! going!" Argument, reason, decency--they were meaningless
to him. If an opponent held out, he simply asked, "How much?" The world
was a market. Life was a bargain. He felt himself with pride to be the
largest operator in his way, as Vanderbilt in his, or Stewart in his.

In Albany he had the finest quarters at the Delavan, and when he came
into the great dining-room at dinner-time, and looked at all the tables
thronged with members of the Legislature and the lobby, he had a
benignant, paternal expression, as of a patriarch pleased to see his
retainers happy. It was a magnificent rendering of Fagin and his pupils.
You could imagine him trotting up and down in the character of an
unsuspicious old gentleman with his handkerchief hanging out of his
pocket, that his scholars might show their skill in prigging a wipe. He
knew which of that cheerful company was the Artful Dodger and which
Charley Bates. And he never doubted that he could buy every man in the
room if he were willing to pay the price. So at the Capitol, where sits
the Legislature of a noble commonwealth of four millions of souls, he
moved about with an air of fat good-nature, like the chief shepherd of
the flock. If he stood at the door of the Assembly looking in, it is
easy to fancy him saying to himself, The State pays these men two or
three hundred dollars for four months' service; I will give them better
wages. He did not doubt that it was a fair transaction. What is the
State? It is only four millions of people, he thought, who are all
trying to be rich--struggling, cheating, by hook or by crook, every man
for himself, and the devil take the hindmost, to be rich. These men
would be fools not to take my money. And he smiled his fat smile, and
paid liberally for all that was in market.

There were some papers, whose price he could not ascertain, which
persisted in speaking ill of him and his pals. If the fools did not know
their own interest enough to be content with a good price--say, of
corporation advertising--they must be silenced. The conceit of virtue
must not be pushed too far. So one day his Legislature passed a bill
virtually giving his judges power to imprison editors at their
pleasure. But virtue--that is, in the Tweed theory of life, obstinacy in
holding out for a higher price--mustered such a really respectable
protest that the public project of coercion failed, and private methods
were tried. Tweed had no doubt that reputation could be bought as well
as power. Peter Cooper builds an institute for the education of the
poor, does he? You mean, said Tweed, a monument to his own glory. He
pays a certain number of thousands of dollars for the reputation of
philanthropy. And Mr. Stewart builds a working-woman's palace. Ah! And
Mr. Astor founds a library. Indeed! And they are benevolent gentlemen
and benefactors of their kind? Not at all. They merely invest money in a
certain kind of fame. That pleases their taste, as fast horses and
yachts and pictures please the taste of other people. I will show you
how 'tis done, says the faithful believer in the Dollar. And he gives
fifty thousand dollars to the poor just as winter is beginning. "Let the
cavillers say what they will," exclaim a myriad voices, "that shows a
good heart." Tweed, as it were, tips a wink. I told you how it was
done, he seems to say: what is there that money will not buy?

Is it surprising that such a man did not try to evade justice? Justice
in his view was a commodity like legislative honor, like newspaper
independence, like the reputation of benevolence. The reform movement
was to him a sudden and confusing flurry, in which strikers, to whose
terms he would not yield, had somehow gained a momentary advantage. He
had perhaps made a mistake in not buying them at their own price.
Success had possibly put him off his guard. He was sure that if an
indictment were found, that would be the end of it, and he had no
feeling of shame. His friend Fisk had shown what lawyers were made of,
and he himself would buy lawyers and judges, sheriffs and juries. He
knew that the one thing that in a needy and greedy world cannot fail is
money. He came to his first trial, and the jury disagreed: naturally,
for he had bought some of them. The evidence is, of course, moral only,
but it is conclusive. If justice, facetiously so called, wanted another
bout, he would "come up smiling." There was no trick or quibble that
lawyers could devise for which he had not made munificent preparation,
even to asserting that the judge who obstinately refused to name a price
was disqualified from sitting at the trial. Money had never failed
before; it certainly would not at this last pinch.

But it did, and the bewilderment and consternation of this simple
devotee were pitiful. He had but one article in his faith, and that was
now destroyed. He had staked everything upon the certainty of the
Almighty Dollar, and he had lost. But there was something not less
noticeable than his unquestioning faith. It was that his faith was so
generally held. For what gave the universal and intense interest to the
Tweed trial? Here was a common thief, except in the amount of his theft,
of whose guilt nobody had any doubt, against whom, as the judge said,
the evidence was a mathematical demonstration, and his conviction was
hailed as a kind of national deliverance and vindication of human
justice. There was but one reason for this, and it was the feeling that
money would free him. Of course it was known that the judge could not be
bought, nor the Attorney-General, nor the prosecution. Tweed might as
well have offered to buy the moral law. But public knowledge ended
there. And in the degree of the universality of the belief that somehow,
by actual bribery, or by legal quirk or shift or sham, money would buy
him off, is the value of the lesson of his conviction, which is that the
utmost power of money fails before firm, sagacious, and intelligent
honesty. There is not a saloon in New York in which the Tweed contempt
of honorable motives is the sole faith which has not had an astounding
revelation, and learned that money is not omnipotent.

Those saloons have learned one other thing--that stealing is the same
crime, whether it be the theft of public or of private property. The
Robin Hood jollity that surrounded Tweed, his familiar name, the "Boss,"
the laughing stories that were told of him, showed that he was held in
very different estimation from an ordinary thief. The baser newspapers
evidently regarded him as the French nobleman regarded himself who was
firmly convinced that the Almighty would think twice before condemning
such a gentleman as he. So when Tweed went to the Tombs the same feeling
attended him. The officers could not believe that it was really meant so
rich a man, who had lived in so fine a house, and had spent money so
profusely, should be treated as a common offender. The wretch who steals
a loaf to feed his starving children must have short shrift, and Black
Maria despatches him at the earliest moment. But a "statesman" who
steals millions of dollars from the people--really the law must think
twice before handling him impolitely! A day or two after he had been
taken to jail, on his way to the penitentiary, the papers said, as if he
had been a beloved prisoner of state whom cruel governments might
torture, but whom the people would still honor: "A great many
improvements have been made in his cell by his friends, and it has now
quite a cosey, comfortable appearance. The floor is covered with a
carpet of a dark green ground. The walls are hung with dark green cloth,
and the panes in the windows, opening on Centre Street, which were
cracked and broken a few days ago, have been newly glazed. In the centre
of the room is a large round table, at which the 'Boss' takes his three
regular meals, served up in the best manner from the prison restaurant.
There is a luxurious leather-covered lounge in one corner, and five
chairs, including a large, comfortable rocking-chair. Besides these few
articles of furniture are a wash-stand and a book-case. The prisoner is
plentifully supplied with reading matter; and as for creature comforts,
the solicitude of his friends and relatives leaves nothing to be desired
except liberty. Crowds of people have called to see him for the past two
days, but none were admitted without passes from the Commissioners."

This feeling was akin to that which inspires the proverb and the
practice that "all's fair at the Custom-house." When Robin Hood stepped
politely to the door of my Lord Bishop's carriage and requested him to
alight under the greenwood tree, and proceeded to rifle the carriage of
all the treasure that his lordship was conveying, he was not felt to be
a common thief. Far from it; he was the people's tax-gatherer in green.
He scattered with a free hand among the poor the money which the rich
man could lose without feeling it. Nobody suffered. My Lord Bishop was
admonished that he had the poor always with him, and the poor rejoiced
in his involuntary largess. So "the boys" thought of Tweed. While the
"Boss" was king there was always money about, as they said; and when did
Robin Hood himself ever bestow fifty thousand dollars in a lump upon the
poor? Besides, who could say that he was robbed? The rich could not feel
it; and was any poor orphan defrauded by him, any poor widow pinched,
any honest laborer burdened?

Yes, they were. It was public money that he stole. And what is public
money? It is the taxes. And who pay the taxes--the rich? No, the poor,
the producers. They come out of the rent of the tenement-house; out of
the price of tea and sugar and coal; out of the pittance of the widow
and orphan, and the small wages of the laborer. It was from the poor who
cowered gratefully over the coal that he gave them that he stole the
coal. His confederate, Sweeny, planted hyacinths in the city parks, and
for every flower some poor soul was pinched. Gay Robin Hood strips the
baron, and the poor bless him as he flings them the gold. Then the baron
goes home to his castle and wrings teeth out of the jaws of Isaac of
York, to force him to give money. Then Isaac of York advances at a more
ruinous rate than yesterday the interest upon the money he lends. So
when Tweed steals from the public treasury he picks every private
pocket. Every stroke of his hammer, if he hammers stone with other
thieves, refreshes in the public mind these familiar truths. It is
humiliating that the conviction of an evident offender in a court of law
should be a cause of public congratulation. But, on the other hand, it
is cheering that shameless crime intrenched in every way, and defying
the course of law, should by that course be quietly convicted and surely
punished.



COMMENCEMENT.


It is a changed college world since Nat. Willis's Philip Slingsby was
the hero of many a maiden's dream, and the stories of Willis reflected
the modest gayety of the society of his time. Nahant was then a summer
resort of importance, and had not become, as one of its denizens said in
later years, only "cold Boston." Willis's heroes, like Byron's, were
largely himself, and it was but a thin veil that covered in them persons
familiar in the society that he knew, and incidents drawn from his own
experience.

He was the college hero of his time. But his Scripture poems, which had
great vogue and were printed in all the "classbooks" and "readers," and
his "Burial of Arnold," a young and brilliant Senior at Yale, and his
bright and blithe "Saturday Afternoon," are quite passed out of current
knowledge. They are not the kind of verse which is produced in college
now. Their Byronic sentimentality is not to the taste of the college
club and Greek Letter Society man of to-day; and Charles Coldstream, who
looks on listlessly at the college athletic games, leaves enthusiasm to
"the Fresh," and has "really never read those things of Willis's."

Yet the dominant emotions of Commencement this year were very much what
they were when Philip Slingsby dared the waltz, and even the more
emancipated belles shuddered a little as they slid into the charmed
circle. Youth and hope and the passion which "is not all a dream" are
forever renewed, and if the fashion changes, the substance remains. In
the crowded church at Commencement this year, with the gay dresses and
the flowers and the music and the soft summer air breathing in at the
open doors and windows, there are still palpitating bosoms, and a color
that comes and goes, and glances that meet and mingle--"read the
language of those wandering eye-beams--the heart knoweth."

It was "Nat. Willis" yesterday, in a high-collared coat and an ample
cravat such as Brummel wore, and even D'Orsay. It is a quaint and a
droll costume, as you see it in those old _Fraser_ pictures of English
authors "'tis sixty years since." But in that guise it is you, sir, of
to-day, and if your oration is spoken to one auditor, in all that lovely
throng in the gallery, whose heart answers "pity Zekle" to your pitapat,
do you think that the divine Una's grandmother was never young, and that
the droll high-collared coats did not cover hearts as sensitive and
hopes as high as the faultless summer attire of Nameless, Jun., class of
'90? The actors change, but the spectacle is the same. Even the members
of the reverend and venerable the corporation, those bald and
white-haired worthies who seem vaguely always to have been sitting
unchanged in the front pews, like those austere senators of Rome of whom
the tradition tells us that they sat motionless although the invader
came--even they are living monuments, and on their hearts, as on
tablets, the story of the wandering eye-beams is engraved.

There is not one of the young heroes of the Commencement hour whom those
elders do not scan with knowledge. These wise young judges carry no
secrets which the elders do not share. Is it a strange world that of
Willis and his Philip Slingsby? It is the world of the moment and of
this Commencement.

But there is something else in Commencement besides this romance of
feeling and tradition. It is the celebration of the intellectual life.
The eloquence, indeed, is sometimes rather copious. An oration in the
morning before one literary society; in the afternoon before another;
and a sermon in the evening before the Missionary Association, is good
measure heaped up and running over. There is some jealousy also even in
academic groves. In the older day, if the Melpomene had its oration in
the morning and the Euterpe in the afternoon, and you read on the
following Sunday, scrawled on the blank page of the hymn-book in the
pew, "Words, words, words, oration of Cicero," and "Genius, eloquence,
common-sense, oration of Demosthenes," you knew that you read the
comment upon the rival orator of a Melpomenean or a Euterpean, as the
case might be. But if the orator was not always wise or eloquent, there
were also discourses which have profoundly influenced the lives of those
who heard or read them, giving a direction and inspiring a fidelity
which, like Wordsworth's thoughts of his past years, breed perpetual
benediction.

It is a recollection blended of many feelings, that which the recurring
Commencement brings to the alumnus. But the deep and permanent charm is
the consciousness of the infinite worth and consolation of letters.
Theoretically the college course was a series of years devoted to making
acquaintance with the treasures of human genius. Possibly there was in
fact some divergence from the theory. But that was the opportunity. The
gates were set ajar, and if the neophyte did not choose to enter, he
lost--as the teacher said to his pupil who went fishing rather than to
hear Webster's eulogy on Adams and Jefferson--he lost what he can never
regain.

Is there some fatality which makes the pen that treats of Commencement
hortatory and didactic? Is there some secret charm which still allies
the college to the pulpit, so that to talk about it is presently to
begin to preach? The Easy Chair asks because it feels that it is about
to take the sacerdotal tone, and remind the youth who is leaving or
entering college that, like every other epoch in life, college is an
opportunity. It is what you make it. Fate, as the older times would have
said--life, as we prefer to say--gives us a chance. But the improvement
of it we give ourselves. The tragedy of the refrain, "Too late, too
late; ye cannot enter now," is that of the man who, in our simple
phrase, wasted his college years. The tender spell of Whittier's "Maud
Muller" lies in its saddest words of tongue or pen. But the memory of
what might have been is so profoundly pathetic because it might not have
been, and we were the arbiters of fate and did not choose to turn
upward.

Kind sir of the college, who lend to the preacher of the moment your
listening ear, the preacher himself may be a wearisome chaplain, but you
are the young judge of the summer afternoon, smelling the meadows sweet
with hay, and stopping at the cool spring where Maud Muller hands you
the refreshing draught. Do you follow the allegory, and see in that maid
what really she is? To you she is a maiden who rakes the hay; to Numa
she was Egeria by the other fountain. It is a sweet illusion, for the
maid is not Egeria nor Maud Muller, but under those gentle forms she is
the nymph of opportunity. Woo her and win her, and all the happiness
that might have been will be yours.

There is nothing more touching than the inability of the chooser to
comprehend the choice. Why did not the judge yield to the soft
persuasion of that simple loveliness? Why did he not embrace the
opportunity, and fold his happiness to his heart? Well, sir, that is
always the question. But if he did not know that in that fair figure
opportunity stood before him, you do know it. Don't be satisfied to hum
"in court an old love tune." You remember the legend of the Sibyl's
books. Was it interpreted to you in the class-room? Do you interpret it
to yourself?

The most inspiring tradition in every college is not that of the boat or
the ball, of copious gold and flowing wine, of Milo or Sardanapalus or
Midas; it is not that of the "dig" or the "prig," of Dryasdust or
Casaubon; but it is that of the youth, by whatever name he was called in
your college, who did not, like the judge, "closing his heart," ride
on--who knew that four such years as yours in college would never
return, and that they offered him the golden keys which, polished by his
labor, would open the heaped treasures of genius in all ages and lands.
It is he who in taking the keys did not grudge the labor, and to whose
life those treasures have been wide open.

No, the inspiring personal tradition of college was not the pleasant
Philip Slingsby; it was rather Philip Sidney, who rode with the best
and was a man in every manly enterprise, but who had so used his
opportunities in study and affairs that Hubert Languet, most
accomplished of scholars, called him friend, and William of Orange
called him master.



THE STREETS OF NEW YORK.


Even the Pan-Americans protest that the streets of New York are dirty.
It is very comical, but it is true, that all our marvellous prosperity,
our genius of invention, our quickness of wit, and profusion of
resource; all our patriotism and pride, our great traditions of liberty
and heroism, our free soil, free speech, and free press; and all the
force and intelligence of our free government--cannot keep the streets
of New York clean. Miss Edwards, the most courteous and friendly of
visitors, is compelled to say: "I found on all sides nothing but holes
of mud, gutters, and dirt piles, an endless rush and a block of street
traffic. There are so many dangers and the state of the highways is such
as to make it incomprehensible to English people that enterprising
Americans would long endure it."

Miss Edwards is familiar with the dirt of Egypt, which is universal and
intolerable, but even that does not mollify or alleviate the awful
impression of dirty New York. Then a Pan-American, perhaps from Bogota,
from Callao, from Lima, from Santiago, from Buenos Ayres, from Rio de
Janeiro, from Guayaquil--cities in which we had not supposed impeccable
highways to be--politely flagellates us, and ignominiously discrowns
Broadway. "It was impossible not to notice the deplorable condition of
the streets. Our carriages plunged terribly into the holes which at
frequent intervals were met with, and the wheels at every turn sent
whirls of mud, which compelled the passers-by to keep at a respectful
distance."

We may indeed reply that this is the fling of a Pan-American. And who,
forsooth, is a Pan-American? Is he the superior--nay, does he presume to
be the peer--of a North American? Are we not notoriously the greatest
nation in the world? Does not our population reduplicate incalculably?
Have we not carried civilization from sea to sea? Have we not the
largest lakes, the longest rivers, the broadest prairies, the greatest
cataract, in the world? And shall the minions of monarchies and the
pigmies of tuppenny temporary republics snap their ridiculous fingers at
us, and presume to say that the streets of New York are dirty? The idea
is preposterous. It is contemptible. Moreover, it is insulting, and the
streets of New York are--

It is plain sailing--or slipping, as chance may determine whether we go
in the water or the mud--so far, but it is a little difficult to end
that sentence in the same key. Let us try another, possibly a little
less perfervid. The population of the United States is some sixty
millions. Taken altogether they form undoubtedly the most intelligent
community, with the highest average well-being, in the world. They are
self-governing down to aldermen and coroners. More than in any country
at any time in history, the will of the majority of the adult male
population determines the government. The city of New York is one of the
three or four chief cities of the world. It is confessedly the
metropolis of this blessed and absolutely self-governing country, and
the streets of New York can't be kept clean.

Is there any possible method of describing the unquestionable greatness
and undoubted glory of the country, its resplendent history and its
miraculous achievements, in an ascending and cumulative series of
epithets and epigrams which shall end truthfully in the resounding
allegation, "and the streets of New York are kept clean"? Indeed, is not
this little joker worse than that of the thimble? Does he not grin at us
from every pile of mud, and laugh out of every hole, and snicker and
sneer on every side of the unremoved and apparently irremovable dirt and
disorder?

It is absurd, as the boys say, to "blame" this situation upon somebody
else--some street commissioner, or scavenger, or other officer, or
employé. Nobody is ever guilty of misrule in this country but the
rulers, and the rulers are the people. The citizens of New York elect
the city officers who are to do the city work which the citizens pay
for. They give some of those officers authority to dismiss others who
are derelict in their duty, and the governor can deal with the chief
officers who do not obey the command of the people. If the taxes are
outrageously heavy, if the money is squandered, if the streets are dirty
and city government a farce, nobody is to blame but the citizens. They
have as good a government as they choose, and the kind of government
they desire.

Then they desire dirty streets? Certainly. That is to say, they don't
desire clean streets strongly enough to secure them. Then popular
government has failed in cities? Rather there are some things in cities
in which popular government is not especially interested. If there are
two hundred and fifty thousand voters in the city of New York, how many
of them really care enough for clean streets and proper municipal
administration to spend time and trouble to secure them?

Consider the lilies of the field--that is to say, look at the aldermen
and the municipal officers, the representatives in the State
Legislature and in Congress that the city of New York elects. Do they
represent what we call its intelligence and character? Yet undeniably
they are representatives of the majority of the voters, and if that
majority be corrupt or stupid, it is either because there are more
knaves and fools than intelligent and honest citizens among the voters,
or because such citizens do not care to take the trouble to vote and to
be represented; in which case the Aldermen and Co. that we see are,
morally speaking, true representatives of the city. The minions of
monarchies and the pigmies of tuppenny temporary republics, as they bump
and wallow and flounder, bespattered and contemptuous, through the
streets of New York, may truly say that they are such streets as the
citizens desire, because if the people desired clean streets, unless
popular government be a failure, they would have them. If the mayor did
not appoint officers who would clean the streets, they would require the
governor to deal with the mayor.

Does it necessarily follow, because popular government is, upon the
whole, the best government, that the governing people desire all good
things that government can supply? Liberty they want, and equality, and
fair play; but do they, because they are self-governing, desire
beautiful buildings and clean streets? Might not a good-natured despot
of fine taste and sanitary enlightenment and a sense of order give his
dominions nobler public works and a better municipal administration than
a republic which is neither tuppenny nor temporary, but in which there
is easy and indolent indifference to public beauty and public order?

"Above all," said the English bishop to the young catechumen, "don't
mistake zeal for knowledge." Above all, says the good genius of America,
don't confound national bumptiousness with patriotism.



THE MORALITY OF DANCING.


The gravity of the discussion of the morality of dancing is exceedingly
amusing. The dancing of young people is as natural and instinctive as
their laughing and singing, and the old Easy Chairs about the wall might
as wisely quarrel with the song of the bobolink in the fields as with
the dance upon the floor. But the grave censors who condemn it must be
heard. There is reason in the way in which they often put their
objections. Excitement, late hours, exposure of health, all these are
bad. But, on the other hand, exercise, cheerfulness, friendly
conversation, all these are good. The zealous censors confound uses and
abuses. The Easy Chair has seen a worthy temperance apostle ingulfing
cups of coffee in the pauses of an exhortation to abstinence, until it
marvelled at the capacity of the apostolic stomach. Could there be no
intemperance in coffee-drinking? But was coffee not to be drunk? The
Easy Chair has seen such frantic gobbling at a railway eating-room that
it could only gaze in wonder at the sottish and, so to speak, drunken
eating. But is food not to be eaten? The Easy Chair has seen little
children, extravagantly dressed and decorated, dancing in great hotel
parlors on hot summer nights at an hour when they should all have been
sound asleep in their beds, while their parents should have been soundly
chastised for not putting them there. But is the dancing of young
persons therefore wrong?

This is probably to the censorial mind nothing but the base compromise
and sophistry of "moderate drinking." But nevertheless most of the evils
of this kind are perversions of good things. There are a great many
young and ignorant parents who become impatient with the incessant
activity and restlessness of their children. They condemn them to sit
still in a chair and make no noise. Dear madame, it is nature's
intention that the child shall be restless, to develop his limbs. You
apply to him rules that are fit and easy for us who are old, and whom
nature equally admonishes to sit still in chairs. Our little Procrustean
beds are merely furniture that tortures. The desire of youth for
enjoyment is as worthy as its desire for knowledge, for truth, for
excellence. And it is the spirit, not the method, of enjoyments which
are not obviously wrong, that is chiefly to be regarded. A good man asks
whether he could go from dancing to console a dying bed. But could he go
from skating, or reading _Pickwick_, or from heartily laughing, to
console a dying friend? Would it not, even in his own view, depend
wholly upon the mood in which he was doing it?

Let him select an act which he would approve. Let him be reading a
serious book, or thinking in his study, or going upon a visit of charity
when he is summoned, and he would say that he could go with perfect
composure and the utmost propriety. But how if he were peevish as he
read the serious book, or if he were thinking angrily in his study, or
if he were mentally reproaching the duty that drew him from his
comfortable room to pay a visit of charity, could he then more properly
hasten to console the dying than if he had been cheerfully dancing, his
mind full of pleasant thoughts and the delight of the music and the
measured movement? It is not the thing that he is doing, but the spirit
in which he is doing it, that should be considered.

How different a view of the pleasant recreation of dancing may be taken
by an intellectual man, from that of one who thinks the waltz a device
of Satan, is shown by a passage of De Quincey, the beginning of which
the Easy Chair will quote, and which will find an echo in many a memory:
"And in itself, of all the scenes which this world offers, none is to me
so profoundly interesting, none (I say deliberately) so affecting, as
the spectacle of men and women floating through the mazes of a dance;
under these conditions, however, that the music shall be rich and
festal, the execution of the dancers perfect, and the dance itself of a
character to admit of free, fluent, and continuous action. And whenever
the music happens not to be of a light, trivial character, but charged
with the spirit of festal pleasure, and the performers in the dance so
far skilful as to betray no awkwardness verging on the ludicrous, I
believe that many persons feel as I feel in such circumstances, viz.,
derive from the spectacle the very grandest form of passionate sadness
which can belong to any spectacle whatsoever."



THE HOG FAMILY.


It is a good sign of the times that the crusade against the large and
omnipresent family of Hog which the Easy Chair long ago preached has
been vigorously renewed. Public manners are a common interest. The
private conduct of the most famous personages is of small concern beyond
their domestic circle. But the conduct of the person in the next room at
a hotel, or in the next seat in a railroad car, is of great interest to
us. Yet the remedy is not obvious. Even if we should propose a school of
manners, it is not certain that the pupils for whom it would be
especially designed would attend.

If a fellow-guest at the Grand Hotel of the Universe comes in at two in
the morning, and going humming along the corridor to his room, flings
his boot down upon the floor at his door with a resounding blow that
awakens all neighboring sleepers, you may cover him with expletives, and
consign him in imagination to a hundred direful dooms, but nevertheless
he goes unpunished. Or you may suddenly confront him in all the majesty
of nocturnal dishabille, and admonish him severely of the wicked
selfishness of his ways. But the probability is that you will have
either an extremely amused audience, who will "guy" your appearance
without mercy, or receive a surly rejoinder in the form of a boot or a
volley of vituperation. In any event, the school of manners will not be
honored by the exercises.

Yet the Hog family is not American, nor is it by any means peculiar to
this country. The Lady Mavourneen who said with enthusiasm that she
could travel without insult from the Atlantic to the Pacific, and that
every American of the other sex seemed to make himself her protector,
said only what is generally true of the American. He is naturally
courteous and invincibly good-natured. Indeed, it is his good-nature
which has permitted the family Hog to develop to such proportions. A man
enters a hotel "as if it belonged to him." Will he not be forced to pay
for his accommodation--and roundly? Shall he not take his ease in his
inn? Is he not willing to settle for all the food, drink, comfort,
trouble, that he may require or occasion? Shall he put himself out for
others? If number one does not look out for itself, who will look out
for it?

And to all this Jonathan good-naturedly assents. If number one takes
more than his share of the sofa, Jonathan moves up. If number one puts
his feet on a chair, Jonathan does not stare. If number one still more
grossly demonstrates his porcine lineage, Jonathan dislikes to make
trouble--until number one comes to despise those whom he insults, and
plainly expects every circle to bow to the sovereignty of selfishness.
This is a fatal form of good-nature, but it has a not unkindly origin.
It springs from a social condition in which everybody is expected to
help everybody else, because everybody needs help as in a frontier
community. Indeed, in many a rural neighborhood still, this spirit of
lending a hand is supreme. Everybody expects to submit to inconvenience,
because he knows that he will require others to submit.

But these refinements of mutual dependence must not be allowed to
justify the outrages of selfishness. The passenger in the boat or the
train who occupies more than his seat, who sits in one chair, covers
another with his feet, and a third with his bundles, and smokes, and
widely squirts tobacco juice around him until his vicinity is not "a
little heaven," but another kind of "h" below, is a public pest and
general nuisance, for whose punishment there should be a common law of
procedure. But this can be found only where there is a common contempt
and resolution which will deprive him of his ill-gotten seats in the
first place, and make him feel, in the second, the general scorn of his
neighbors.

But as we are told constantly and correctly that we are a reading
people, it is through reading that the members of the family which is
_hostis humani generis_ will learn that they are the most detestable and
detested of the great families of the race. You, sir, whose eyes are
skimming this page, and who never give your seat to a woman in the
elevated car "on principle"--the principle being either that a woman
ought not to get into a crowded car, knowing that she will put gentlemen
to inconvenience; or that the company ought to forbid the entry of more
passengers than there are seats; or that first come should be first
served; or that number one, having paid for a seat, has a right to
occupy it; or whatever other form the "principle" may assume--you are
one of the host against whom the crusade is pushed. Thou art the--well,
for the sake of euphony we will say man, but it is not man that is in
the mind of your censors.

Or you, madam, who enter the railroad car with an air of right, and a
look of reproval at every man who does not spring to his feet, and who
settle yourself into the seat offered you without the least recognition
of the courtesy that offers it--for you it would be well if the urbane
mentor of another day were still here, who, having given his seat to a
dashing young woman who seemed unconscious of his presence, looked at
her until she impatiently demanded if he wanted anything, and he
responding, said, blandly, "Yes, madam; I want to hear you say thank
you."

Both this sir and madam may learn from the daily papers as from this
page that even in a car where they recognize no acquaintance a cloud of
witnesses around hold them in full survey, and whatever the fashion or
richness of their garments, and however supercilious their air, perceive
at once whether they belong to the family of ladies and gentlemen, or to
that of Charles Lamb's "Mr. H." Thackeray's hero could not have been
more aghast to see his divine Ottilia consume with gusto the oysters
which were no longer fresh than Romeo to learn by his Juliet's question
to that urbane mentor of other years that his mistress must be of kin to
the unmentionable family.

The next time those boots are flung down in the reverberating hotel
corridor there will be no harm in remarking to the clerk the next
morning in the crowded office that it is not necessary for you to look
upon the register to know that one of the Hog family arrived during the
night.



THE ENLIGHTENED OBSERVER.


The Enlightened Observer from Europe who is studying American
institutions asked the Easy Chair the other day what was meant by the
statement that a candidate for a high elective office had opened
headquarters in the neighborhood of a nominating convention. The
Enlightened Observer said that he had always supposed that such
conventions were assemblies which nominated persons whose public
services and personal ability and character had distinguished them among
their fellow-citizens, and shown them to be especially fitted for the
offices which were to be filled. "Am I mistaken," he asked, "in
supposing that to be the theory of your institutions?"

The Easy Chair could not say that he was, and conceded that such was the
theory.

"In other words," continued the Enlightened Observer, "a republic
secures good government because it intrusts the government not to the
chance of birth, which may give to Oliver Cromwell a son Richard, and
make the heir of Alexander the Great an Alexander the Little, but
because it calls to its great offices of every degree those citizens who
have demonstrated their peculiar fitness."

"That is certainly the theory of our republican institutions," returned
the Easy Chair.

"Well?" said the Enlightened Observer.

"Well?" echoed the Easy Chair.

"Yes, but why, then, does a candidate open headquarters?"

"Yes, certainly. Why--that is--it is to make himself known."

"But the theory seems to assume that he is known already. Is it that he
performs public services at the headquarters, or exhibits there his
character and abilities? Is not the time a little limited and the space
somewhat inconvenient for such demonstrations? I am at a little loss. I
can see that the personal appearance and manners of a candidate might be
displayed favorably at a headquarters, and that, in a charming phrase of
your country, he might dispense a generous hospitality in a hotel
parlor, but how can he display his fitness for a high office in such
narrow quarters as headquarters must be? Am I to understand that when
Mr. John Jay was selected as a candidate for the Governorship of New
York he had repaired previously to the place of nomination and had
opened headquarters? Did General Washington pursue a similar course? If
the services and character of a candidate have commended him to public
favor and designated him as a suitable officer, why is not that enough?"

"Undoubtedly," answered the Easy Chair, "why isn't it? But I am afraid
that you have not pursued your enlightened observations quite far
enough, or you would have learned that in this country a kind providence
is supposed to help those who help themselves, and that those who
expect to have Governorships and Senatorships and other large and highly
flavored political morsels offered to them on golden salvers and on
bended knees will be seriously disappointed."

"I see," said, courteously, the Enlightened Observer, "that my excellent
friend the Easy Chair is pleased to speak in metaphor. If I may
penetrate it, he is declaring that great places are to be won like
precious prizes, and do not drop into idle hands like fruit overripe.
But if I may hold him to the point, is it not the theory of your
institutions that it is services and character and ability that win the
precious political prizes, and surely such qualities and services cannot
be described as idle hands? I agree that providence helps those who help
themselves, but who helps himself more than he who helps the entire
community? And how does he help the community who opens headquarters to
secure a prize for himself? Moreover, have I not heard that office
should pursue the man, and not the man the office? Yet what is opening
headquarters but pursuing office, as a hound a hare?"

The Easy Chair was obliged to suggest that there was no harm in knowing
"the boys," and in showing the affability of a simple citizen "without
airs," and making the acquaintance of important political personages,
all of which the Enlightened Observer conceded, but still politely
insisted that knowing the boys and showing affability and refraining
from lofty demeanor did not demonstrate fitness for great place, and was
a loss of proper personal dignity that ought not to be required of any
one who had really approved himself as a suitable officer. He concluded
that he might not have mistaken the theory, but he had certainly not
apprehended the practice of our institutions.

"But surely," said the Easy Chair, "'tis but a small price to pay."

"True," said the Enlightened Observer, "it is a very small price; but I
had not supposed that in the republic office was sold at any price. I
thought that the good Santa Claus of public approval dropped it as a
Christmas gift into the stocking of the most deserving. It seems,
however, to be rather a raisin in snap-dragon--the prize of the toughest
fingers."



RALPH WALDO EMERSON.


"The beauty of Israel has fallen in its high place," said the voice of
Emerson's friend and neighbor, Judge Hoar, trembling and almost hushed
in emotion, and everybody who heard felt the singular felicity of the
words. The plain little country church was crowded, and a vast throng
stood outside in the peaceful April sunshine. Before the pulpit--the
eyes forever closed, the voice forever silent--lay the man whose aspect
of sweet and majestic serenity Death had not touched, and which recalled
his own words: "Even the corpse that has lain in the chambers has added
a solemn ornament to the house." It was the man who was beloved of his
neighbors and honored by the world, whose modest counsel in grave
affairs guided the village, and whose thought led the thought of
Christendom. "He belonged to all men, but he is peculiarly ours," said
Judge Hoar truly, speaking for the quiet historic town of which
Emerson's grandfather had been the minister, and in which he lived
during the larger part of his life, and to which his memory will lend an
imperishable charm.

Concord when he first knew it was already famous. A hundred years ago,
at the bridge over the placid river, the Middlesex farmers, hastening as
minute men from all the neighboring country, had obeyed the first
military summons to fire upon the king's regulars; and the red-coated
regulars, turning, had begun, amid the blazing patriot volley of twenty
miles, their long retreat to Yorktown and over the sea. At the point
where the highway by which the soldiers marched enters the village,
under the hill along whose ridge the hurrying countrymen pressed to cut
off the soldiers' retreat, lived for more than forty years the scholar
who belongs to Concord as Shakespeare belongs to Stratford.

"Nature," said Emerson in his first book, written in the old Manse at
Concord, which Hawthorne afterwards inhabited, and which he has so
beautifully commemorated--"Nature stretcheth out her arms to embrace
man: only let his thoughts be of equal greatness. Willingly does she
follow his steps with the rose and the violet, and bend her lines of
grandeur and grace to the decoration of her darling child. Only let his
thoughts be of equal scope, and the frame will suit the picture. A
virtuous man is in unison with her works, and makes the central figure
of the visible sphere. Homer, Pindar, Socrates, Phocion, associate
themselves fitly in our memory with the geography and climate of Greece.
The visible heavens and the earth sympathize with Jesus. And in common
life whoever has seen a person of powerful character and happy genius
will have remarked how easily he took all things along with him, the
persons, the opinions, and the day, and nature became auxiliary to a
man." So is Emerson associated with the tranquil landscape of the old
Middlesex town--the gentle hills, the long sweep of meadowland, the
winding river, the woodland, and the pastures under the ample sky. The
broad horizon and rural repose were the fitting home of the lofty and
beneficent genius whose life and word perpetually illustrated the
supreme worth and beauty of truth, purity, and morality. Whoever saw him
there or elsewhere, saw the "sweet and virtuous soul" which George
Herbert likened to seasoned timber that never gives.

The sincerity and serenity of Emerson's character were unsurpassed. The
freshness and glow of his interest in life were perennial. With a sober
tenderness of regret he said to a friend who congratulated him upon his
seventieth birthday, "Yet it is a little sad to me, for I count to-day
the end of youth." In no other sense than the lapse of years, however,
was it true. That auroral freshness of soul which is the distinctive
charm of youth lingered when even memory somewhat failed. "How long it
is since I have seen you!" he said at Longfellow's funeral to a friend
whom he had accosted just before. But he said it with all that
heartiness of sympathy and expectation which, in the golden prime of
his life, when he was in many ways the most striking and original figure
in his country, made him greet every comer as if he expected to hear
from him a wiser word than had yet been spoken. A youth, fascinated by
this simple graciousness of manner, declared that Emerson greeted the
most ordinary persons like a King of Spain receiving an ambassador from
the Great Mogul. The expectancy of his manner implied that every man had
some message to deliver, and he bent himself to hear.

But his shrewdness of perception was exquisite. He did not take dross
because he hoped for gold. His reproof was as sure and incisive as the
stroke of a delicate Damascus blade. When a young man, hearing Emerson
say that everybody ought to read Plato, followed his advice, and read,
he thought, with the audacity of youth, that he detected faults in
Plato, and wrote an essay to set them forth. He asked Emerson to read
it, and when he returned it to the youth, Emerson said, pleasantly, "My
boy, when you strike at the king, you must kill him." One day he sat at
dinner with a distinguished company of statesmen. He was by far the most
famous man at the table; but he modestly followed the conversation,
turning from each guest who spoke, to the next, with the old sweet
gravity of earnest expectation. When all the notable company had gone, a
guest who remained said to him: "I saw you talking with the English
Minister. He is a brilliant man, and I hope that you found him
agreeable." "A very pleasant gentleman," replied Emerson; "but he does
not represent the England that I know."

Despite this sharp apprehension, however, Emerson was sometimes unable
to find any charm in writings which have apparently taken a permanent
place in literature. He could see nothing interesting or valuable in
Shelley. "When I read Shelley," he once said, "I am like a man who
thinks that he sees gold at the bottom of a stream. He reaches for it,
but his hands come up cold, with a little common sand in them." The
waywardness and disorder of Shelley's life may have troubled him. But
this would not have affected his intellectual judgment. His acute
intellect was supremely independent and absolutely courageous. "He must
embrace solitude as a bride," he said of the scholar; "he must have his
glees and his glooms alone." When as a young man he quietly closed his
pulpit door, and declined to preach any more, because he no longer felt
any value in certain religious rites, there was no protest, nor
ostentation, nor newspaper "sensation." It was simply the closing of a
book that he had read, and the amazement and censure and grief of others
could not possibly persuade him to do, or to say, or to affect, the
thing that was not true. Emerson's moral and intellectual integrity was
transparently simple, but it was sublime. It was not expressed in stormy
self-assertion nor cynical contempt. It spoke in tranquil and beautiful
affirmation, perfectly courteous, but absolutely sincere.

But no man more charitably and diligently sought to understand others,
and to be just to what was obscure and foreign to him. He listened
patiently to music. But it did not charm him. He was punctual in the
duties of a citizen. But he had no proper political tastes. Yet for the
true politics, the application of the moral law to the control of public
affairs, no man was more perceptive or uncompromising. He was always on
the right side of great public questions. His hospitable sympathy
entertained every good cause, and in all our antislavery literature
there is no nobler or more permanent work than his address upon the
anniversary of West India emancipation in 1844. The only cloud that ever
arose upon his regard for Carlyle was his displeasure with Carlyle's
contemptuous and cynical sneers at our civil war. He was deeply
impatient of doubtful and half-hearted Americans during the war. "They
call themselves gentlemen, I believe," he said of certain persons, and
in a tone which showed that his lofty and patriotic honor instinctively
and utterly repudiated the pinchbeck claims of educated feebleness to
bear "the grand old name of gentleman."

Those who recall Emerson when he was a clergyman in Boston remember a
singular spiritual beauty in the man, and an indescribable charm of
manner in his public speech. But apparently he impressed his earlier
associates with the purity and refinement of his mind and life, his
lofty intellectual tastes and sympathy, and his literary accomplishment,
rather than by the peculiar force of a genius which was to give the most
powerful spiritual impulse of the generation to American thought. This
is the more singular because there was always something breezy and
heroic in his tone, which might have led to the suspicion of the fact
that he was from the first a fond reader of Plutarch, from whose "Lives"
he draws so many illustrations. As in a mountain walk the traveller is
suddenly aware of wafts of perfumed air, now of the wild-grape blossom,
now of the azalea or sweet-brier, so the strain of Emerson suggests his
sympathy with Plutarch and Montaigne, the Oriental poets and the
Platonists.

But no one could describe accurately his "system" of philosophy, nor
fit him into a "school" of poetry. He was content to call himself a
scholar, and no name was more significant and precious to him. He
shunned notoriety, but he had the instinctive desire of every artist and
of all genius for an audience. When a friend asked him of a young man
whose literary talent had seemed to him to promise great achievement,
Emerson said: "He does nothing; and I doubted his genius when I saw that
he did not seek a hearing." When his own first slight volume, "Nature,"
was published, they were but a few, a very few, who perceived in it the
ripe and beautiful work of a master in literature and thought. The
richness and originality and picturesque simplicity of this book, its
subtle perception, its tone of jubilant power, and the soft glimmering
light of lofty imagination which irradiates every page, do not lose by
familiarity, and are as charming, although of course not so surprising,
as when they first took captive the readers of nearly fifty years ago.
With the eagerness of classification which characterizes many active
minds, Emerson was immediately labelled a Berkeleyan, an idealist, and a
mystic. But he eluded the precise classification as noiselessly and
surely as a cloud changes its form. Astonishment, satire, indignation,
contradiction, spent themselves in vain. Like a rose-tree in June, which
blossoms sweetly whether the air be chilly or sunny, his thought quietly
flowered into exquisite expression. You might like it or leave it. But
the rose would be still a rose.

There was a fashion of calling Emerson obscure. But there is no style in
literature of more poetic precision than his. It is full of surprises of
beauty and aptness. His central doctrine of the identity of men, the
grandeur of every man's opportunity, and the essential poetry of the
circumstances of common life, was a living faith. "The great man," he
said, "makes the great thing." "In the sighing of these woods; in the
quiet of these gray fields; in the cool breeze that sings out of these
Northern mountains; in the workmen, the boys, the maidens you meet; in
the hopes of the morning, the ennui of noon, and sauntering of the
afternoon; in the disquieting comparisons; in the regrets at want of
vigor; in the great idea and the puny execution--behold Charles the
Fifth's day; another, yet the same; behold Chatham's, Hampden's,
Bayard's, Alfred's, Scipio's, Pericles's day--day of all that are born
of women. The difference of circumstance is merely costume. I am tasting
the self-same life--its sweetness, its greatness, its pain--which I so
admire in other men." The temptation to complete the splendid passage is
almost irresistible. But in every page you are drawn on as in a stately
symphony of winning music.

This passage is from the Dartmouth College address, and it has all the
flowing cadence of a discourse written to be spoken. Yet Emerson had
little of the orator's temperament save the desire of an audience, and
an earnestness which was pure and not passionate. But no orator in the
country has exercised a deeper or more permanent influence. His
discourses were but essays, but their thought was so noble, their form
so symmetrical, their tone so lofty, and they were spoken with such
alluring rhythm, that they threw over young minds a spell which no other
eloquence could command. Emerson himself was very susceptible to the
power of fine oratory. No man ever praised more warmly the charm of
Everett in his earlier day. When Webster delivered his eulogy upon Adams
and Jefferson in Faneuil Hall, Emerson was teaching in Cambridge, and
Richard H. Dana, Jun., was one of his pupils. The day before Webster
spoke, the teacher announced that there would be no school upon the
morrow, and he earnestly exhorted his pupils not to lose the memorable
opportunity of hearing the great orator. Dana was of an age to prefer
fishing to oratory, and strolled off with his line to the river, where
he passed the day. When school was resumed, Mr. Emerson with sympathetic
interest asked him if he had heard Webster. The fisher, half ashamed,
reluctantly owned his absence. Emerson looked at him with regret and
almost pain, and said to him, gravely: "My boy, I am very sorry; you
have lost what you can never recover, and what you will regret to the
last day of your life."

But those who heard his own Divinity School address, or the Cambridge or
Dartmouth oration, or the Emancipation address, would not exchange that
recollection even to have heard the Olympian orator in Faneuil Hall.
"Tell me," said a Senator famous for his oratory, to a friend in
Washington, "what do you call eloquence? Repeat to me an eloquent
passage." The friend quoted from Emerson the unequalled passage from the
Dartmouth College address in which the scholar appeals to the young men
to be true to the ideals of their youth--a passage which no generous
youth can read to-day without deep emotion and a thrill of high resolve.
The Senator listened with an air of perplexed incredulity. "Do you call
that eloquent? Now see what I call eloquence," and he declaimed a
glowing piece of rhetoric with ardent feeling. It was a passage from
Charles Sprague's Fourth-of-July oration in Boston sixty years ago. But
effective as it was, his friend reminded the Senator that if the test of
eloquence be glow of feeling and splendor and sincerity of expression,
with an inner power of appeal which searches the heart and moulds the
life, no really greater results in this country could be traced to any
speech than to that of Emerson, who read the greater part of his essays
as addresses, and who sometimes reached a lyrical strain which not the
magnificent Burke nor any other great orator surpasses.

--To talk of Emerson, even if the talker were not of the circle of his
intimate friends, is to raise the flood-gate of happy and inspiring
recollections. It is one of the tenderest of the thoughts that hover
around his memory, as the low winds sigh through the pine-trees over his
grave, that, as with Longfellow, there are no excuses to be made for
grotesque eccentricities of genius, nor for a life at any point unworthy
of so great a soul. He said of his friend Thoreau, who is buried near
him, that he was like the Alpine climber who gathers the edelweiss, the
flower that blooms at the very edge of the glacier. He too lived at
those pure heights, and taught us how to tread them undazzled and
undismayed. Happy teacher, whose long and lovely life illustrated the
dignity and excellence of the truth, old as the morning and as ever
fresh, that fidelity to the divine law written upon the conscience is
the only safe law of life for every man. Noble and beneficent preacher,
who, in a sense that the pensive Goldsmith did not intend,

     "Allured to brighter worlds, and led the way."



HENRY WARD BEECHER.


For forty years Mr. Beecher had been minister of Plymouth Church when on
a Sunday morning suddenly came the news that his ministry and probably
his life were ended; and he died a day or two afterwards. The preacher
and the church were more widely known than any others in the Union, and
during all his pastorate he was one of the most conspicuous figures in
the country. He was undoubtedly also one of the most famous preachers of
his time and of the English race, and the death of Wendell Phillips left
him the most eminent of American orators. There have been popular
preachers during Mr. Beecher's career, like Moffit and other
revivalists, and there are always eloquent and scholarly orators in the
American pulpit. The tradition of Summerfield presents a beautiful
youth and a captivating speaker. The charm of Channing was profound and
indescribable. But Beecher recalls Whitefield more than any other
renowned preacher. Like Whitefield, he was what is known as a man of the
people; a man of strong virility, of exuberant vitality, of quick
sympathy, of an abounding humor, of a rapid play of poetic imagination,
of great fluency of speech; an emotional nature overflowing in ardent
expression, of strong convictions, of complete self-confidence; but also
not sensitive, nor critical, nor judicial; a hearty, joyous nature,
touching ordinary human life at every point, and responsive to every
generous moral impulse.

Mr. Beecher was not a pioneer, nor a leader of forlorn hopes, but of the
main column of the army. He marched just ahead of the advance, and
touched with his elbows those who moved forward with him. He liked to
feel the warmth of their breath upon his cheek, and the magnetism of
their neighborhood. He spoke for them as they could not speak for
themselves. He liked the crowd. The hum and throb of multitudinous life
inspired and cheered him. He was at home in streets and towns; with a
bright jest for every comer; a happy quip and repartee; with an eye and
a heart for the unfortunate and forlorn, and a ready rebuke for
insolence and injustice. He had nothing of the recluse or scholarly
habit; no fastidious taste. He was fond of pictures and music and all
forms of art, without especial aesthetic accomplishment; a man of cheery
presence, of cordial address; with a willing word for the reporter,
chaffing the interviewer; jumping on the street-car in motion; yet
always seemly, and always, despite his slouched hat and careless dress,
undeniably clerical, but with no undue professional sense of dignity or
decorum.

In the pulpit, or, more truly, upon the platform--for whether preaching,
or lecturing, or speaking at table or upon the stump, he seemed to be
always upon the platform--he inculcated right living rather than
traditional doctrine. He was a soldier of the church militant, but his
warfare was with human wrong and misery, and false theories of life,
and low aims and poor ambitions. He aimed to build up righteousness of
life, and in the ardor of the strife he liked to pause and wink, and let
fly a bright-tipped, winged word at the opponent, against whom he bore
no kind of malice. He hated the wrong, but not the wrong-doer. Ardent
and impulsive, his generous emotions often overwhelmed his judgment; and
in politics, although the most popular of stump-orators, and never
happier or more truly himself than in a political speech, in which, with
the instinct of a born fighter, he "drank delight of battle," yet he
sometimes amazed and confounded his friends, who, however, could not
doubt his sincerity nor question his purpose.

The great cloud that fell upon his life seemed also to darken the
country. The grief and consternation showed how strong a hold he had
upon the national mind and heart, which indeed was never so firm as at
the very moment that his good name seemed to be obscured. It was the
most tremendous ordeal to which any public man of his peculiar
character and quality of eminence has ever been exposed in this
country. The most remarkable fact in it all was the way in which he
endured it. The blacker the cloud appeared to be, the more sturdy was
his stern defiance, and for weeks of seemingly accumulating and
insurmountable obstruction he faced unflinchingly a possible doom the
mere prospect of which might well have withered a brave heart conscious
of innocence. That the cloud ever wholly disappeared cannot be said, in
view of the tone of the press even as he lay dead in his house. But that
he could never have maintained his position as he did if he had not been
generally acquitted in the public mind seems to be indisputable. If the
relation of his later life to the country was somewhat changed, the
result was due to the decline of confidence in what had been believed to
be his strongest quality, supreme good sense and sound judgment, rather
than to doubt of his moral integrity.

No man lived more in the public eye and for the public than Mr. Beecher.
In his speeches and sermons and writings he took the public into his
confidence with a freedom that was characteristic and natural in him,
but which would have been extraordinary in any other man. He could not
pass through the street without universal recognition, and no man in the
two cities was so well known to everybody as he. At public meetings and
at dinners where he was to speak, he came late amid smiling and
expectant applause, and with the air of saying, "Where MacGregor sits,
there is the head of the table." He had the right to that air, for
wherever he was to speak he was the chief orator. But he was no niggard
of generous praise and sympathy, and no man spoke with more fervent
eulogy and eloquent approval of other men. Doubtless, like an actor or
singer, the long habit of receiving applause had made it pleasant to
him, and as is the fact with all extempore speaking, the greater the
applause the higher the eloquence of his strain. It is a reciprocal
action. Of Mr. Beecher's later platform speeches, the most remarkable
was his political address at the Brooklyn Rink in 1884, which was
delivered amid a storm of enthusiasm, while in the delivery he was
himself wrought to the highest feeling.

His power over the emotions of an audience was unsurpassed in this
country probably since Patrick Henry. Thomas Corwin and Sergeant
Prentiss perhaps were as great masters of humor and patriotic appeal
upon the stump; but Beecher added to these a pathos and sentiment and
poetic tone in which the others did not excel. He had not the fine,
glittering, incisive touch of Wendell Phillips's fatal sarcasm and
vituperation. Phillips stood quietly and played his polished rapier with
a flexible wrist, but its point was deadly; Beecher smote, and crushed.
One was the deft Saladin with his chased and curving cimeter, the other
was Richard with his heavy battle-axe. In the great controversy in which
both were engaged, upon the same side, indeed, but under different
banners and wearing different colors, Beecher and Phillips, amid a
chorus of eloquence, were the two chief voices. Garrison was not
distinctively an orator, while Phillips was the especial and
distinctive orator of the cause, and his fame as a public man belongs to
that cause alone. But Beecher had many interests and relations, and his
oratory had other strains. They were friends always, and Phillips spoke
often in Plymouth Church, and uttered many a glowing word of his
fellow-laborer.

When these words are published the freshness of the impression of
Beecher's death will have passed, and from every part of the country his
eulogy will have been spoken. The universal emotion, the warmth and
tenor of the tributes, will have shown how eminent a figure he was, and
that his death is felt to be a national loss. One of the papers
described him as the last of a great generation, and Senator Cullom,
speaking of Logan in the crowded Brooklyn Academy on the evening of
Beecher's death, called a roll of illustrious names, of which his was
the latest, and among which it surely belongs. His profession was the
preaching of peace and good-will. But how often he must have felt that
his Master came not to bring peace, but a sword! His buoyant
temperament, his perfect health, his love of nature and of man, of
children and flowers, of the changing sky and landscape, his abounding
sympathy, his rich and sensitive humor, made his life joyous and often
happy. But it was none the less a stormy life, ending at last, amid the
sorrow of a country, in happy rest and the good fame of a great orator
for human welfare.



THE GOLDEN AGE.


In this country we are inclined to believe that the epoch that followed
the Revolution was one of the utmost purity and simplicity. But it was
one of the "fathers" who said to a friend upon the adjournment of the
first Congress, "Do you suppose such a set of rascals will ever assemble
again?" In his diary John Adams appeals to the calmer mind and juster
judgment of the coming age--meaning that in which we live, and from
which we look wistfully back to old John Adams's cocked hat and
knee-breeches as the symbols of a nobler time.

Then there is Fisher Ames, one of the famous orators and conspicuous
leaders of the beginning of the century, who, studying his country at
the time to which we recur as the age of high purpose and lofty men,
bewails the sordidness, selfishness, and degradation around him. "Of
course," he says, seventy years ago, "the single passion that engrosses
us, the only avenue to consideration and importance in our society, is
the accumulation of property: our inclinations cling to gold, and are
bedded in it as deeply as that precious ore in the mine.... As
experience evinces that popularity--in other words, consideration and
power--is to be procured by the meanest of mankind, the meanest in
spirit and understanding, and in the worst of ways, it is obvious that
at present the incitement to genius is next to nothing."

We might suppose that we were listening to a contemporary cynic; and
whoever reads the history of the politics of that time will find that
"the better days of the republic" were very like the days in which we
deplore their disappearance. When Mr. Ames died, Mr. John Quincy Adams
wrote a review of his works, in which, with the equanimity and
moderation of the golden age, he remarks, "It is a melancholy
contemplation of human nature to see a mind so highly cultivated and so
richly gifted as that of Mr. Ames soured and exasperated into the very
ravings of a bedlamite." He then proceeds to speak of those who, without
believing Mr. Ames's "absurd and inconsistent political creed," are
selfishly eager for its propagation, being "choice spirits, amounting to
at most six hundred" (their name was the Essex Junto!), and who hold
that "the porcelain must rule over the earthenware, the blind and sordid
multitude must put themselves, bound hand and foot, into the custody of
the lynx-eyed, seraphic souls of the six hundred, and then all together
must go and _squat_ for protection under the hundred hands of the
British Briareus."

To this gentle strain Mr. John Lowell replied in a similar vein,
beginning by speaking of the malignity of Mr. Adams's sarcasm, and of
his following Mr. Ames to the grave with crocodile tears, informing him
that he had no need to assail Mr. Ames's friends with all the venom of
an infuriated partisan, because he had already obtained his reward for
"ratting" from the Federalists, and this act of gratitude to his
benefactors was unnecessary. Mr. Lowell ends his reply by saying that
in the course of a short political life Mr. Adams had received more than
seventy thousand dollars from the public, and that while no man pitied
Mr. Ames, "Mr. Adams is an object of sincere commiseration with many a
man of high and honorable feelings, while it is to be doubted whether he
is the object of envy to any man on earth."

These are glimpses of the golden age, of that "better day" of the
republic with which our own is so often and so injuriously contrasted.
Indeed, there is no finer cordial for despondency than a glance at the
paradise that hovers behind our retreating steps. The mountain traveller
turns and sees a lovely vision floating in the sky.

    "How faintly flushed, how phantom-fair,
    Was Monte Rosa, hanging there--
        A thousand shadowy-pencil'd valleys,
    And snowy dells in a golden air."

Good lack! he cries, are those the crags and precipices along which I
slid and stumbled in terror of my life? The hanging gardens of the
past, the halcyon epoch of our history, the lost paradise of our
fathers, are all crags and precipices along which the race and our
country have stumbled and slid. If any man is disposed to think that he
has fallen upon evil times, let him open his history. It is a marvellous
tonic.

Does he think republics ungrateful? Look at Mr. Motley's vivid portrait
of John of Barneveld. When he was seventy-two years old he writes from
his prison to his wife and family: "I receive at this moment the very
heavy and sorrowful tidings that I, an old man, for all my services done
well and faithfully to the fatherland for so many years ... must prepare
myself to die to-morrow." Does he think irreligion undermining society?
Look into Smiles's "Huguenots in France after the Revocation of the
Edict of Nantes." For attending Huguenot meetings men were captured by
soldiers and sentenced to the galleys, mostly for life. They were
chained by the neck with murderers and other criminals, and were
quartered in Paris in the dungeon of the Chateau de la Tournelle. Thick
iron collars were attached by iron chains to the beams. The collar was
closed around the prisoner's neck, and riveted with blows of a hammer
upon an anvil. Twenty men in pairs were chained to each beam. They could
not sleep lying; they could not sleep sitting or standing up straight,
for the beam was too high for the one and too low for the other. This
was done in the name of religion. The age of Louis the Fourteenth is
called one of the great epochs of the world. It was an age in which the
king's mistress persuaded him to slaughter and banish hundreds of
thousands of his subjects because of their religious faith, and the
great preachers of his church applauded, and the Holy Father approved,
and even Madame de Sévigné, whose letters some young ladies at Newport
and Saratoga are diligently reading, and sighing for the good old witty
times in which she lived, wrote of the most innocent and most devoted
men: "Hanging is quite a refreshment to me. They have just taken
twenty-four or thirty of these men, and are going to throw them off."

The golden age is not yesterday or to-morrow, but to-day. It is the age
in which we live, not that in which somebody else lived. The trouble,
vexation, corruption, weakness, selfishness, meanness, which dismay us
and tempt us to despair are the old lions that have always beset the
path. No man is born out of time; and what man living to-day, who is not
pinched with poverty or disease, would have lived a thousand years ago?
If our politics seem mean and our men small, how does Alfred's time
seem, or the glory of Athens, or the court of Louis the Fourteenth, or
Luther's Germany? What did Jefferson think of Hamilton, or the _Aurora_
say of Washington?



SPRING PICTURES.


ON a late beautiful spring afternoon the Easy Chair
rolled itself into the suburbs for a stroll. There were everywhere the
signs of the advance of a great city and the pathetic forlornness of the
municipal frontier. Pleasant country-houses, spacious, rambling, with
broad piazzas and gardens and lawns, had been apparently suddenly
overtaken by streets and stone sidewalks and lamps. There were the
rattle and shriek of the incessant railway trains near by. Tall factory
chimneys smoked and machinery hummed and steam-whistles blew all around
the quiet old houses. The contrast gave them a kind of conscious life.
They seemed to be aware of the incongruity of their character with the
new neighborhood. They had a helpless air, as if nothing remained but
submission to division into regular building lots and the absolute
extinction of rural seclusion and charm. There was the impression of a
faint and futile struggle between city and country, in which, indeed,
for a moment the excellence of each was lost, but the result of which
was not doubtful.

As the Easy Chair pushed on, it saw in fancy the old pastoral peace and
retirement of the places when they were indeed in the country. It
recalled the noted men of that older day who sought here relaxation and
repose. There was the placid river, on which no restless steamer foamed,
but only silent sloops drifted or careened. Yonder were the leafy coves
under the wooded and rocky banks, from which the Indian had but recently
paddled his canoe. No railroad harmed the virgin shyness of the shore.
It was El Dorado, Arcadia, the land of Goshen. It was the home of peace,
of plenty, of content.

Such a poet, such a painter, is idealizing memory on a spring afternoon
in the suburbs. It seemed so gross a wrong that sidewalks and gas lamps
and factory chimneys and steam-whistles should invade and devastate the
tranquil fields that indignant imagination filled them as fact with all
the fancies that tranquil fields suggest. Doubtless in the closets of
those quiet houses there were the bones of plenty of old skeletons.
Those spacious, sunny rooms were the scenes of the familiar domestic
tragedies against which not the most romantic of country-houses can shut
the door. Up those steps have swayed and hesitated the doubtful feet of
the oldest son, heir of precious hopes and child of fervent prayers,
hesitating and lingering at hours long past midnight, watched for and
waited for by the mother's heart that breaks but does not falter. In
that broad hall, on the brightest of May mornings, the daughter of the
house has stood, radiant as the day, and crowned with orange blossoms.
There have met the hopes and joys of youth, the tears and blessings and
farewells of older years. The pretty pageant filled the house, and faded
slowly and utterly away. The old house has known, too, the solemn shadow
that falls on every house. It seems to regretful memory the abode of
unchanging delight. But from that door the slow procession moved, and
those whose hospitable smile and word had hallowed every room returned
no more. They are gone, the bride, the parent, the friend; "they are all
gone, the old familiar faces," the age, the society, the politics, the
interests. They are all gone. Why should not the house go too?

It was early spring, and the Easy Chair, looking up, saw half a dozen
kites flying in the air. A little further, and laughing girls were
skipping rope. Boys were spinning peg-tops and playing marbles and
driving hoops. The boys and girls who lived in the quiet old
country-house did the same a hundred years ago. They flew kites and
drove hoops, and that little bride skipped rope and carried dolls. The
age, the society, the politics, the interests, were very different. They
are, indeed, all changed. But tops are changeless, marbles are immortal,
and so are boys and girls. They know nothing of the old house over which
the Easy Chair becomes pensive. They belong to the new time, which
demands its demolition.



PROPER AND IMPROPER.


LONGFELLOW has commemorated in a beautiful sonnet the
delightful evenings of Mrs. Kemble's readings; and certainly it was a
singular pleasure to see and to hear her. Her historic name associated
her with her uncle John and her aunt Mrs. Siddons, and she had always
the port of one conscious of a famous lineage. She used to say, with a
half-humorous, half-proud emphasis, that she belonged to her majesty's
players, and in her presence it was easy to believe that her majesty's
players were an important body in the state. Her power of identification
with the various characters in the plays, and the skill with which she
maintained the individuality throughout, were always remarkable, and the
symmetry and completeness of the whole performance left nothing to be
criticised. The only observation that suggested itself might be that
the stage traditions were evident in her rendering. But that, in turn,
only suggested the further question whether the traditions were not
worthy of respect. Dramatic and histrionic forms of art, like all
others, are but representations of nature under certain conditions and
limitations. They are not an imitation, a fac-simile, and every man will
be at odds with any work of art in any kind who does not bear this in
mind.

The spectator complains of unnaturalness upon the stage; the substance
of his feeling is that people do not talk and act so in ordinary life.
That is true; but if the theatre should show us men and women doing upon
the stage what they do in ordinary life, the theatre would be no more
attractive than the street or the parlor. It is not the spectacle of
ordinary life that we expect to see in the theatre. It is a view of
human life and nature under ideal conditions, and it is as irrelevant to
require that the player shall seem to us like the man with whom we have
been transacting business as that he should speak plain prose instead
of blank verse. If Mrs. Kemble had read the words of Rosalind or of
Portia, of Shylock or Mercutio, as if they were neighbors of hers and
people whom we were in the habit of meeting, the effect would have been
ludicrous. When she came in--the Fanny Kemble of Talfourd and of the
wild enthusiasm of the grandfathers of to-day, ripened into the comely
and queenly woman--and seated herself at the little table on which the
great volume lay open, she was the magician who was to open to us the
realm of faery, the world of imagination, not to take us back into the
familiar scenes of the world of New York or Chicago. The spell was
resistless. The deep, rich, melodious voice flowed out like an enchanted
singing river, along which we glided seeing visions and dreaming dreams.
To sit and listen to her was like sitting and watching Titian laying on
the canvas the gorgeous tints which before our eyes took on the forms of
men and angels. A rarer, a more refined delight, which of us has known?
Did it ever occur to us that Mrs. Kemble was doing anything improper,
anything unwomanly? In the wonderful picture of Portia that "her voice's
music" drew, was there anything a little repulsive, a little unfeminine?

This question was suggested to the Easy Chair by the remark of one of
the most devoted and delighted of all the listeners at those readings,
that he was very sorry to see that the University of London had decided
to admit women to all its degrees upon precisely equal terms with men.
The secret reason of the regret, of course, is the feeling that there
would be something unwomanly in the act of competing for a degree which
would open the pursuit of professions--especially the medical
profession--which are usually and often exclusively cultivated by men.

Yet, when pressed, the Easy Chair's interlocutor admitted that there was
nothing more essentially unfeminine in the practice of medicine by a
woman than in the recitation of Shakespeare for the entertainment of a
miscellaneous crowd. It is a question of habit, not of instinct, nor of
principle, nor of reason. When the old Greek and Oriental idea of
absolute seclusion and subordination is abandoned, a woman's reading
from Shakespeare for the pleasure of the public is an action not
different in kind from her practising medicine or serving on a school
committee. This generation, however, is more used to the one than to the
other. It is a habit, nothing more.

Charles Lamb regrets in one of his later essays that "we have no
_rationale_ of sauces, or theory of mixed flavors; as to show why
cabbage is reprehensible with roast beef, laudable with bacon; why the
haunch of mutton seeks the alliance of currant jelly, the shoulder
civilly declineth it; why loin of veal (a pretty problem), being itself
unctuous, seeketh the adventitious lubricity of melted butter; and why
the same part in pork, not more oleaginous, abhorreth from it; ... why
oysters in death rise up against the contamination of brown sugar, while
they are posthumously amorous of vinegar; why the sour mango and the
sweet jam by turns court and are accepted by the compilable mutton
hash--she not yet decidedly declaring for either. We are as yet but in
the empirical stage of cookery."

It is not in cookery alone that this mystery is still unsolved. Why, for
instance, should it seem a womanly use of Heaven's gift that Jenny Lind
should sing for the pleasure of a thousand men, and something strange
and unfeminine that Portia should plead with eloquence in a court to
save a hapless woman from prison or the cord? Why is it fitting that
Mrs. Kemble should professionally read Shakespeare, and "queer" that she
should professionally attend women in peril and sickness? Do we not
naturally and logically glide into the part of the citation from Lamb
that we just now omitted?--"why salmon (a strong sapor _per se_)
fortifieth its condition with the mighty lobster sauce, whose embraces
are fatal to the delicater relish of the turbot." Must we not say that
we are as yet but in the rudimentary knowledge of what is and is not
feminine?

When the example of the London University is not singular, but when all
opportunities are opened equally to all talent and vocation, when it is
not forbidden a woman to do any honorable work for which she is by
nature and by study and training properly equipped, unless the laws of
nature fail, will any greater catastrophe befall, will there be any more
signal reversion of the order of things, than if cabbage should come at
last to be eaten with roast beef, and currant jelly cement an alliance
with the mutton's shoulder?



BELINDA AND THE VULGAR.


IT is perhaps because the Easy Chair sometimes discusses
questions of behavior that it is occasionally asked to express an
opinion upon more difficult social points. Thus it was lately requested
to say whether it did not think that the great want of our society is a
social standard. The inquiry was made by the lovely Belinda, who was
charmingly dressed for a select party, and the Easy Chair was obliged to
own that it did not at once comprehend the scope of the inquiry, and to
seek an explanation. As Belinda proceeded to elucidate her meaning it
seemed to be tolerably plain that she was contemplating some kind of
rank, or visible and recognized distinction, which should separate
"society" from what is not society, and it was impossible not to feel
that, however high the dividing line, and however small the circle
which it enclosed, she was herself included within it.

The Easy Chair thereupon described to her a conversation which it held
long ago with a distinguished man upon English social life and the
advantages of an aristocracy. The distinguished man's views were very
much like those which are set forth in Disraeli's "Sibyl" and
"Coningsby," and which were known forty years ago as those of Young
England. They proposed a national life blended of feudal romance and
modern philanthropy. There was to be a gracious nobility of very blue
blood which had been clarified in the veins of the Plantagenets, who
were to live in stately castles in the midst of superb demesnes, and to
be exceedingly good to their tenants and retainers, for whom there were
to be May-poles, and flitches of bacon at Christmas, and greased poles
to climb at appropriate times, and sacks to run races in, and who were
to be visited at their neat little cottages, when they were ill, by the
ladies from the castle, and who were to be industrious and obedient and
humble and grateful, and, above all things, to know their place. The
nobility were to own the land, and govern the country, and live in
splendid idleness, and the happy peasantry were to do all the work, and
bow respectfully when the nobility passed by, and go to bed when the
curfew tolled, and to make no trouble.

This was the Young England programme, and the Arcadia of the Disraeli
novel. And this also showed its familiar features in the talk of the
distinguished man as he bewailed the social bareness of American life
and descanted upon the charm of an ancient and well-ordered society. But
when the Easy Chair mischievously asked him whether he did not think
that he might tire of the greased pole, and the dance upon the lawn, and
the gracious patronage, and the respectful gratitude, the amusing
bewilderment of the distinguished man showed that in his admiration of
the society that he described he assumed always that he was to belong to
the class that lived in the stately castles and benignly condescended to
the humble cottagers. His view, therefore, was very simple. It was
merely that he should like to live in splendid idleness, steeped in
luxury, and surrounded by respectful servants.

Belinda listened to this story, of which the Easy Chair made no
application, with a slight blush; and to the polite inquiry, what kind
of social standard she contemplated, she responded that she meant a
certain fixed line which should exclude the vulgar. But she was
immediately silent, as if reflecting upon a difficult proposition, and
did not answer when she was asked what she thought would be the
consequence of removing the vulgar from the circles which she considered
most select.

Her benevolent attention invited further question, especially as at the
same moment a lady entered the room who bore one of the most noted
family names in the country, and most familiar in fashionable annals, a
family which delights to trace its lineage to a royal source. This proud
dame had married her daughter as if by main force to a coroneted lord of
hereditary acres. It was a familiar fact of the society in which she
was a conspicuous figure, and it was impossible not to ask: "Can there
be anything more coarsely vulgar than to sell a daughter for money and a
title to a man for whom she does not care; and shall we begin to erect
the social standard by expelling the vulgar offender?"

Belinda was still silent, and the brilliant rooms began to fill and
murmur with a gay company. Among them came the loud and diamonded Mrs.
Smasher, to whose unparalleled fêtes even Belinda would be almost
willing to request a card. The Smasher lineage is not renowned or regal;
the Smasher mind is imperfectly educated; the Smasher manners are those
of the suddenly rich who are not also suddenly refined.

"Is any conceivable vulgarity greater than the Smasher vulgarity, O
Belinda; and shall we continue these exercises by expelling also this
essentially vulgar person?"

Belinda was still silent. She has remained silent even to this day.



DECAYED GENTILITY.


DECAYED gentility has great interest for the
novel-reader, and the man and woman who "have seen better days" are
familiar figures in actual life. Hampton Court is regarded by some
travellers with pensive regard as a kind of almshouse for this class of
the indigent, and institutions nearer home are described with a
deferential courtesy and avoidance as homes for decayed gentlewomen. It
cannot be pleasant to the persons themselves to be so described, but the
founders of such places have perhaps a comfortable sense of reflected
honor, as if the impulse to provide a retreat of the kind were of itself
a sign of "very gentility." Despite the plaintive little plea which the
description itself urges for this decayed class of our fellow-beings,
the people who "have seen better days" are not generally an engaging
multitude. A person whose chief distinction is that he was once more
prosperous than he is now seems to renounce any present claim upon
consideration, and to offer his inability as a ground of regard. It is
an appeal to pity, but pity of old has a disagreeable relative.

The pathos of the appeal lies, first, in the sense of contrast, and then
in the spiritual rather than the material poverty which it discloses.
The lady who lets lodgings, and whose air and the allusions of whose
conversation constantly suggest that she has seen better days, is a
person who is mastered by circumstances, and therefore does not compel
respect. But a woman who is the perfectly self-respecting lady fulfils
simply the duty of the moment with no conscious appeal for sympathy; and
if by chance you discover that she has been more prosperous, the fact
that she has not the conceit of it strengthens your regard. For it is no
personal credit to have been more prosperous. As your landlady shows you
the convenience of the room, she lets fall that her father the Bishop,
or her uncle the Senator, or her lamented cousin the millionaire would
be deeply grieved if he could know that his kinswoman was actually
letting lodgings.

"Then, madam, you have seen better days?"

"Ah, sir--"

But how is it personally creditable to the good woman that her uncle was
honorable and her cousin rich? She recalls the circumstances of others
at the expense of her own character. The lodger wishes to hire rooms
upon their own merits. He resents the bribery of pity to take them. If
they are a little stuffy, they certainly seem no airier because his
landlady once sat upon a crimson sofa and read novels all day long. If
some philanthropist builds a retreat to which she can retire gratis, and
pass her declining years in regretful recollection of the crimson sofa,
so let it be. Such a retreat may be dedicated to sentimental repining.
But a woman of spirit and character never becomes a decayed gentlewoman,
however destitute she may be.

This refusal to succumb to circumstances and to make the best of it,
which is all that can be asked, is charmingly sketched in Lamb's Captain
Jackson. The Captain's frugal table had the air of a feast, such was the
magic of his cheerfulness. His plain cheese was served like Stilton or
Roquefort, and slipping a shred of it upon his guest's plate, he
contented himself with the rind, gayly declaring that the nearer the
bone the sweeter the meat. Poverty was no pleasanter to him than to the
rest of us. But had he gone to the almshouse he would not have
complained, and in no word or sigh of his would you have discovered that
he had seen better days.

The family of Captain Jackson is by no means extinct. The other day the
Easy Chair met one of them in Broadway--an elderly gentleman in a
well-brushed, exceedingly threadbare suit, moving briskly along the
pavement. His greeting was alert and courteous. There was a little chat
of the day's news, a gay jest or two, and then good-morning. Half a
century ago this was a young man about town, the heir of a fortune, a
youth of "family" who dressed and drove and dined and danced like the
golden youth of to-day. When the first Italian opera troupe came, he was
nightly behind the scenes. In the circle of Knickerbocker wits he was
one. He wrote verses, and had a kind of literary name. His portrait was
published in a weekly paper. He sat at the good tables. His name was
Fortunio.

Everything is gone but the cheerful spirit. Nobody knows exactly how he
lives, but only that it is in extreme poverty. But he preserves the tone
of prosperity. He writes notes in a beautiful and graceful hand upon
very cheap paper. "You remember our conversation the other morning about
'Anstey's Bath Guide'; and if you will look in your _Fraser_ for this
month, you will find that I was right." Here is the assumption that
every gentleman takes _Fraser_, and that your correspondent may have
dipped into his before you have looked at yours. Doubtless he had seen
it--at some reading-room, perhaps, or on Brentano's counter.

One day we had spoken of a famous author. A little while afterwards came
a comely package containing an old and choice work of his, and a note:
"Dear Easy Chair,--I thought it might be a pleasure to you to own this
rather uncommon copy of an author whom you evidently admire, and which
it is a pleasure to my shelves to spare." What a fine air of elegant
leisure in a library! But the "shelves" were a few remnant books,
probably worthless to sell, but affording the friendly soul true
satisfaction in giving. Fortunio is not a decayed gentleman. His
gentility, in the best sense, is in full vigor. Everything but that,
indeed, is decayed. But there is no unmanly moping about better days,
although in few men's lives could there be a sharper contrast between
the past and the present.

This cheerful steadiness is largely due to temperament, but it is not
therefore beyond those who have not the same temperament. Character can
emulate it. "It's bad enough to be poor," said one of the Captain
Jackson family, "but it's a great deal worse to be sulky too." It is
very easy, indeed, for prosperity to preach resignation to adversity,
and to urge it to bear up bravely. But it is a true gospel, although it
be easy to preach. Pure Lacrima Christi is as precious when poured from
a glass of Murano as from a pewter mug.



THE PHARISEE.


THERE is no more beautiful and impressive passage in the
New Testament than that which contrasts the Pharisee thanking God that
he is not as other men are and the Publican who asks mercy as a sinner.
But there is no passage, also, which has been more ingeniously
perverted, and it is exceedingly amusing to hear Jeremy Diddler or
Robert Macaire or Dick Turpin railing at honest and industrious men as
Pharisees because they prefer honesty and industry to knavery.

The taste for honesty and sobriety seems natural and simple enough, and
the qualities themselves quite as valuable as those of Diddler, or even
of Jonathan Wild the Great. But Jonathan will have none of them. They
are Pharisaic impertinences. They are impracticable and visionary
speculations, which assume heaven while yet we stand upon the green
earth; and Mr. Wild, who assures us that he does not desire to pass
himself off as better than other men, declares, with the noble candor
which distinguishes him, that simple, downright dishonesty is good
enough for him. He does not, indeed, choose that precise word, but he
conveys that precise idea.

'Tis a good trick, and it is generally sure of applause. But it is only
another version of a familiar maxim, that when you have no argument, you
must abuse the plaintiff's attorney. As a matter of fact, your client
did steal the handkerchief, or forge the name, or fire the barn. But I
ask you, gentlemen of the jury--you may well say--and I appeal to all
good citizens, is not this ostentation of superior virtue, this fine air
of moral indignation toward my client simply because he happened to slip
his hand into the wrong pocket, a little suspicious? Are we angels? I
ask your honor is this work-a-day world the celestial seat and the Mount
of Vision, and is a man so very much better than his fellows merely
because he rolls up his sanctimonious eyes with the Pharisee and thanks
God that he is holier than other men? Nay, gentlemen, have we not in
this sublime and immortal parable a Divine warning against this
Phariseeism which denounces the slides and slips of our common frail
humanity? I ask you, gentlemen, by your verdict not to place a premium
upon that most odious of all repulsive arrogancies--Phariseeism.

But it is upon the political platform that the gibes and sneers at
Phariseeism are intended to be most stinging. The Honorable Jonathan
Wild the Great comes out strong, as his henchmen truly declare, against
his political opponents. With one vast comprehensive sneer he brands
them as Pharisees, as if he were snorting consuming fire. It is not
surprising, because they have had their eye upon Jonathan. They have
seen him in bad company. They have caught him "conveying" public
treasure. They know all about him, and he knows that they know all about
him. He called himself Tweed, and he made a mesh of statutes to
legalize robbery. But how good he was to the poor! How he distributed
coal to the chilly! How he planted pinks and daisies in the City Hall
Park, and made the Battery to bloom as the rose! How he received wedding
gifts for his daughter from our best citizens; and how generously they
subscribed to erect his statue to commemorate that bright flower of the
State! And now a sneaking, mousing gang of would-be archangels prate
about common honesty, and demand that public hands shall be clean hands!
Fellow-citizens, Jonathan Wild is a man of the people. He doesn't
pretend to be higher and purer and better than other men. He didn't
graduate at a college, indeed, and he never read the Iliad in the
original Greek. No, fellow-citizens, there is no cambric handkerchief
and oh-de-cologne about him. He is just one of the boys. He whoops it up
with the plain people, and, thank God, whatever he is, he is not a
Pharisee.

The argument is ingenious. It does not deny that he is a thief. It only
insists that those who assert it are Pharisees--and Pharisees are so
odious that it is much better to scoff at them than to punish Mr. Wild.
There was a good old countryman who had been early taught to take men as
they are, which means to consider them liars and rascals. One day a
neighbor remarked to him that he thought that the old man had lost the
money with which he bought voters, because, he said, while they take
your money, the other side take their votes. "The deuce they do!" said
the old countryman. "Yes," said the other; "and you will find, in the
long-run, that political honesty is the best political policy." "You
think so, do you?" was the reply. "Well, do you know that you're a
blanked metaphysical Pharisee?"

It is obvious that when the advocacy of common honesty in any relation
of life is savagely and scornfully decried as Phariseeism, it is because
somebody's withers are wrung. It is a plea of guilty. It is the cry of
Squeers when the picture of Dotheboys Hall was displayed to the world:
"I didn't do it." If a man demands honesty in politics, and it is
retorted, "You're a Pharisee," it is because the dishonesty cannot be
denied or disproved, and the retort is therefore a summons to all honest
men to look out for thieves.

To deride the demand for decency is to concede that anything but
indecency is impracticable. If it be only Pharisees who insist that
sugar shall not be sanded, that milk shall not be swill-fed, that coffee
shall not be chiccory, that nutmegs shall not be wood, that cloth shall
not be shoddy, that employés of the government shall not be forced to
pay for their places, that public officers shall be honest, and that
government shall not be venal, it is pleasant to think how many
intelligent, upright, industrious, and practical Americans are
Pharisaical.



LADY MAVOURNEEN ON HER TRAVELS.


THE passenger in the crowded street railway car is often
disturbed by the conscious absorption of his masculine neighbors in
their newspapers when a woman enters and looks for a seat. If she be
young and pretty, there are apparently seats enough, however great the
crowd, and even if a man is slow to rise, he may yet, with Mr. Readywit,
exhort his son sitting upon his knee to get up and give the lady his
seat. The impatient passenger, in his indignation at the want of
courtesy upon the part of others, sometimes forgets, indeed, to rise
himself. But there is always some Nathan comfortably seated farther away
whose amused look says to the impatient but stationary David, "Thou art
the man."

It would be very unfair to generalize from this frequent situation that
the American is uncourteous. On the contrary, he is the most truly
polite man among men of all nations. Lady Mavourneen, who is familiar
with the society and the manners of many countries, and who has been
always accustomed to hear Americans in Europe described everywhere and
with pungent emphasis as "those Americans," was amazed upon coming here
to find universal courtesy. "In the street or at the railway station,"
she said, "if I ask anybody any question, I receive the most prompt and
polite reply. Everybody is at my service, not with much bowing or
flourishing, but heartily and honestly. I have never seen such universal
courtesy." When she was asked whether she had observed the absorption of
the street-car passengers in their newspapers, she smiled and said that
she had never been obliged to stand, because some one was sure to rise.
But in Paris she said that often as she was passing to a seat Monsieur
Crapeaud, raising his hat politely, and saying, warmly, _Pardon!_
pressed by and secured the seat.

Lady Mavourneen, who tells a little story with great humor, described a
scene in a crowded church in Paris. An apparent lady was disturbing
everybody by pushing along toward a distant chair in the row, when Lady
Mavourneen arose to allow her to pass more easily, and the apparent lady
immediately slipped into my lady's chair, and held it fast, saying only,
in reply to her earnest remonstrance: "Madame, you left the chair; I
took it. You have lost it. Voilà!" A vagabond of this kind took the seat
of a gentleman who had risen to help a lady off a street car. When the
gentleman returned he mentioned to the interloper that it was his seat.
The interloper shrugged his shoulders, remarked that it was an empty
seat when he took it, and that he should continue to occupy it. "If you
don't get out of that seat, I'll take you out," was the rejoinder of the
gentleman, whose shoulders were broad. The squatter scowled and
abdicated.

Lady Mavourneen found, what every lady will find, that she could travel
everywhere in "the States" alone, with entire safety and surrounded by
the utmost courtesy. The word "lady" with which she will be accosted by
hackmen and porters and conductors is spoken with kindly respect, and
even if some person in a lady's garb thrusts herself into the cue of
passengers slowly advancing to the window of the ticket office to buy
tickets, there may be sour looks and amazed stares, but she will
generally have her way. So great is our courtesy that we honor the
counterfeit claim. The source of the most serious objection to the
demand of suffrage for women is the secret apprehension that men will
lose their sincere deference, and treat women as they treat other men,
thus robbing life of the tender romance of chivalric courtesy. Emerson
says of the successful lover and his mistress, "She was heaven, while he
pursued her as a star; can she be heaven if she stoops to such an one as
he?"

Yet, while this feeling is frequent, and seems to many very plausible,
it is the true respect of the American for women which is the real
strength of this very movement. The European sentiment for woman is
still somewhat mediæval. She is still the goddess of the troubadours and
the minnesingers, but a goddess who is treated as the South-sea
Islanders treat their gods, beating them when they are not propitious.
To the American she is Wordsworth's "Phantom of Delight" seen upon
nearer view, and it is idle to prattle about her "sphere," as if she did
not instinctively know it more truly than men. The universal courtesy
which Lady Mavourneen remarked is essential respect and kindliness of
feeling, which no more permits a man to gild his selfishness with a
"Pardon" and a touching of his hat than it permits him to strike a
woman.

Yet although courtesy is essentially in the heart, and is kind feeling
rather than respectful manner, it is not worth while to despise the
manner. If we must choose between the good heart and suavity of address,
between Boythorne and Lovelace, of course we shall choose Boythorne. But
why not both? Why not the _mens sana in corpore sano?_ In "The Iron
Pen," Longfellow says:

    "And in words not idle and vain
    I shall answer and thank you again
    For the gift, and the grace of the gift,
    O beautiful Helen of Maine!"

It is not only the gift, it is the grace in giving which completes the
charm.

The young American of to-day puffs his cigarette in the face of his
partner on the balcony, in the boat, or in the wagon, and smiles at the
frilled Lothario of yesterday bowing in his flowered coat and paying
stately compliments as stiff as her brocade to the dame whom he
addresses. The youth is right in saying that the flowered coat and the
stately compliment were the dress and the speech of an old sinner. But
he would be right also if he remembered that familiarity breeds
contempt, and that he may wisely distrust his feeling for any woman who
does not put him upon his good behavior. The courtesy which Lady
Mavourneen observed in the railway station and in the street was plain,
but it was genuine. Respect naturally produces courtesy. Good manners
are the cultivation of natural courtesy: the gift and the grace of the
gift.

This was the chief remembrance, and it was a unique and precious
treasure, which Lady Mavourneen carried back to Europe from America.



GENERAL SHERMAN.


NONE of his great contemporaries was universally beloved
more than General Sherman, perhaps none so much. The rare happiness was
his not only of becoming famous by taking a great part in a great
historic achievement, but of the complete enjoyment of fame. His later
years forecast the future. He saw not only that his name would be
remembered, but remembered with personal affection. Very few men have
been able to foresee this, and very few more clearly than Sherman. It is
due not to achievement alone, but to personal quality blended with
achievement.

In his last years he was wholly withdrawn from public affairs, and with
extraordinary tact, although constantly in the public eye and mind, and
although the sense of his historic personality, so to speak, was
constant, he refrained from declarations upon pending public questions,
and the remarks of his interviews were not devoted to subjects of
general controversy. This was doubtless the result of his accurate
apprehension of his relation to the country. He had been educated by it,
and had served it as a soldier. He had strong convictions and was frank
of speech, but he belonged to all. He could not well be a common
partisan. He was apparently untouched by political ambition. If he had
felt its spur at all, he was happily able to prefer the general
permanent affectionate popular regard to the fierce enthusiasm of a
political campaign and the passionate ardor of partisanship.

Whatever the reason, he held aloof. Perhaps at one moment, had he
assented, his name might have been caught up in a vast and tumultuous
political convention, and to a burning and skilful appeal to patriotism
and the still glowing memories of the war a palpitating party might have
responded, and made him its leader. But if others doubted and hesitated
he did not. He comprehended the situation as in a comprehensive and
far-extending military movement. He knew himself, and he refused. The
opportunity for which the most illustrious and the most famous of
Americans have longed and labored and pined offered itself to him,
unsought, unwished, and he smiled it away.

Among the chief figures of the epoch of the war probably Lincoln and
Sherman were the most individual and original. The most romantic and
picturesque of the many renowned events of that time was the march to
the sea. It has already a distinctive character, like that of the Greeks
in Xenophon's story of the ten thousand. When the news of its successful
issue reached this part of the country, it served to show the simple and
honest patriotism of one of the more unfortunate of the Union generals.
Burnside, after the explosion of the mine at Petersburg, had been
relieved, and was staying with a company of friends at a country-house
on Narragansett Bay. The company were all sitting one morning upon the
spacious piazza, when a messenger rode up and announced Sherman's
success. Burnside's delight was enthusiastic. All thought of himself
vanished. The good cause only was in his mind and heart, and, running to
his wife, he joyfully kissed her, saying, "I know that the company feels
as I do, and will forgive me."

It was the feeling of a soldier as simple and true-hearted and
patriotic, but not so fortunate, as Sherman; and it was the same candor
and manly sweetness of nature that softened Sherman's voice whenever he
spoke of the soldiers of the war to whom fate had seemed to be unkind.
He is gone, the last of the old familiar figures, some of his old foes
bearing him tenderly to the grave. And are not Lincoln, Grant, Sherman,
Sheridan, Porter, Seward, Chase, Stanton, Sumner, and their fellows,
historic figures worthy to rank with the elder Revolutionary group dear
to all Americans?



THE AMERICAN GIRL.


A PLEASING and constant topic of English writers is the
American girl. One of the later commentators says of her, "American
girls have shown they can receive, travel, and live without chaperons,
escorts, or husbands, and are fast developing a bright, clear,
intelligent, self-reliant, courageous, and refreshing variety of the
human race." And again, "Even if in future years the slender Yankee
belle is hidden behind the ampler beauty of the English matron, we may
still hear from her lips the wit and shrewdness, the acute accent, the
intelligent question, and the rapid repartee that proclaim her original
nationality." The "society" pictures in the papers and magazines
represent the dismay of the British matron with marriageable daughters
as she surveys the avatar of the American divinity and rival. The
essential differences of society in the two countries are at once
suggested, and the alarm of the watchful parent is justified.

The charm of Miss Austen's novels is their acknowledged fidelity of
portraiture of the society with which they deal. They are miniatures,
but the likeness is wrought with exquisite skill of detail, and as the
American reader reflects he perceives that the great object of the game
which they describe is eligible marriage. Indeed the motive of the novel
in general is love and marriage. We open the book, we are at once
introduced to Paul, and presently to Virginia, and we proceed over the
pages until we hear the approaching beat of the Wedding March, which in
fact we have heard from the first page, and we know that the end is at
hand. But in the English novel of society, although the theme be
marriage, it is not necessarily love. If that were essential, a host of
rival fair ones with golden locks would bring no pang to the maternal
bosom, because she would know that love will find out the one among the
thousand.

The passages that we have quoted apparently describe by contrast, which
is a fact which does not seem to have occurred to the writer. Doubtless
at heart he is loyal to the English girl, and does not admit even in
debate that her supremacy of maidenhood can be disputed. When he says
that American girls have shown that they can receive, travel, and live
without chaperons, escorts, or husbands, he seems to mean that they have
shown this distinctively as compared with other girls. When he adds that
they are fast developing a bright, clear, intelligent, self-reliant,
courageous, and refreshing variety of the human race, can he mean that
those words describe a new variety of girl, and that it is not perfectly
familiar in England? So in the other passage, when, supposing the
American girl transformed into the British matron, he remarks, with
evident admiration, "we may still hear from her lips the wit and
shrewdness, the acute accent, the intelligent question, and the rapid
repartee that proclaim her original nationality," would he have us
understand that these are not the characteristics of the British matron
of to-day? Or does he intimate only that the coming of the Americans
will but enlarge the number of these delightful ladies?

The writer certainly seems to describe by contrast, but he has wisely
left a little cloud in which to envelop his retreat in case of
emergency. Certainly we need not press him. Whatever he may think or say
of the English girl, he has spoken well and truly of her American
sister. His description applies to the girl who grows up amid the
average conditions of American life, the girl who is portrayed in her
more jejune condition in Henry James's Daisy Miller. The two chief
qualities of that young woman, as represented by the shrewd and subtle
artist, are self-respect and self-reliance. The perplexity of the
phenomenon to the foreign reader lies in the fact that she does what the
European girl without self-respect does.

A distinguished writer in New York, no longer living, once said to the
Easy Chair, with an air of consternation: "Do you know that the best
girls in New York go without escort to the matinées at the Academy?
Goodness knows what will be the end of it!" The good man was seriously
troubled. He seemed to apprehend that the young woman who could go to a
matinée without an escort would probably run off with a circus troupe,
and presently ride--in a very short skirt--bare-backed horses in the
ring. He evidently felt that the young women whom he had seen were in
grave danger of losing maidenly reserve, and that their conduct betrayed
a want of refinement of feeling. The secret of his alarm lay in the fact
that the social conventions of foreign society had acquired in his mind
the force of rules of morality. He shared the feelings of the delightful
lady who remarked that in her opinion it was immodest to go abroad
without gloves. Nothing is more common than this confusion of mind, and
one of the advantages of genuinely American society is that it
dissipates such illusions. The Lady Mavourneen, who was familiar with
the finest society both in France and England, said that the respect
shown to women in this country was so sincere and universal that she
should not hesitate to cross the continent alone. Why, then, should the
Easy Chair's friend have been troubled that young women went unattended
to the concert at the Academy? Every man there would have been their
instant defender against insult. But they went, and they were allowed to
go, because the insult was more improbable than fire, while the defence
was sure.

In what is called distinctively society in large cities there is a great
deal of the feeling evinced by the observer at the Academy. There is
abundant regard for misplaced conventions. Young women in Vienna and
Paris who go unattended are generally working-women or another class,
and as working-women are not respected by Lovelace and Lothario, they
are exposed to insult. To avoid the chance of insult, therefore, a young
woman must have an escort in a partially civilized city like Paris or
Vienna. But no presumption lies against any woman in America. Her
self-respect and self-reliance are unquestioned, and American women,
old and young, are perpetually passing in railway trains by day and
night from one part of the country to another, unsuspected and
unsuspecting.

In a country where social classes are not permanent or rigidly defined,
as hitherto in America they have not been, the daughter as well as the
son of the house contemplates the possibility of self-support. In such a
country the harem view of the sphere and occupation of woman, however
modified, wholly disappears. The word "obey" gradually vanishes from the
marriage service, or is smoothed away by interpretation. The ideal of
woman changes, and, as we think in America, improves. All the excellent
qualities which the London writer attributes to the American girl spring
from this change, from social conditions which foster self-respect and
self-reliance. The demand of the suffrage, the rise of the woman's
college, the challenge to the great universities to lift up their gates
that woman may come in, show no decline of the feminine ideal of woman,
but its transformation from the fancy of a goddess or a toy into the
old Scriptural conception of the helpmeet.

The British matron, as she scrutinizes what she may hold to be an
invader of her realm, will not find that in any feminine quality or
grace, even to the most exquisite taste in dress, or delicate charm of
manner, or essential refinement of mind, Pocahontas defers to Boadicea.
Where the American imitates the English or any other, as when the
English girl affects the French, she must suffer from the inevitable
inferiority of all imitation. When her self-reliance is boisterous, or
without tact and fine perception, Daisy Miller will be as crude and
distasteful as Lady Clara Vere de Vere is heartless and cruel. But
Rosalind and Viola and Beatrice, and Tennyson's Eleanore and Adeline and
Margaret, meet in the American a sister of the same lineage as their
own, bred in an atmosphere most fortunate and fair.



ANNUS MIRABILIS.


This year, the centenary of the opening of our national constitutional
epoch, will be a Washington year. As on a saint's day there is a special
service in his honor, so through all this year there will be especial
remembrance of Washington, and natural self-congratulation that in him
we have a glory beyond that of other nations. The last striking tribute
to him is also most timely, for it is that of Mr. Bryce in his "American
Commonwealth," whose publication happily coincided with the opening of
this _annus mirabilis_. He says, in speaking of Hamilton's death, "One
cannot note the disappearance of this brilliant figure, to Europeans the
most interesting in the earlier history of the republic, without the
remark that his countrymen seem to have never, either in his lifetime or
afterward, duly recognized his splendid gifts." The explanation of this
seeming want of appreciation is, however, very characteristic, for it
lies in the instinctive American regard for morality.

Mr. Bryce touches it when he proceeds: "Washington, indeed, is a far
more perfect character. Washington stands alone and unapproachable, like
a snow-peak rising above its fellows into the clear air of morning, with
a dignity, constancy, and purity which have made him the ideal type of
civic virtue to succeeding generations. No greater benefit could have
befallen the republic than to have such a type set from the first before
the eye and mind of the people." That benefit is incalculable, and it
will be acknowledged with every form of stately ceremonial and of
eloquent enthusiasm during this year.

The great event of 1789 was Washington's inauguration as President, and
it is the most important event in the annals of the city. The
cosmopolitan character of the city from its settlement and in the early
time of the little town, when it was said that more than a dozen
different languages were spoken in its streets, down to the present,
when it is the third or fourth city in size upon the globe, has always
checked the sentiment of local pride which is so great a force in the
development of a community. Among all the original States New York has
seemed to care least for its significant events and its great men. That
the Revolution was tactically largely a contest for the control of the
Hudson, that the contest culminated at Saratoga, and that the new
national order which resulted from the Revolution began in the city of
New York, are facts which are known, indeed, but which have not grown
into a proud tradition universally cherished and constantly repeated and
celebrated like similar great events in New England.

This year, however, the last event, Washington's inauguration, will be
the occasion of a great national observance. The President and cabinet,
Senators and Representatives and judges, distinguished delegates from
every State, will attend, and there will be religious and oratorical
exercises and civil and military display. One fact, indeed, invests such
a celebration with especial triumph. It is that while the government
which was organized a hundred years ago was unprecedented in form and
wholly untried in the experience of states, and while it was regarded
with interest but with incredulity as essentially unequal to the great
shocks of fate to which other states have succumbed, it has passed,
within the century, not only unshaken but strengthened, through the most
tremendous and prolonged ordeal to which such a government could be
submitted.

Chief among its extraordinary good fortunes at its organization was that
of the presence of a man without whom at that time its establishment
would have been hardly possible. The French Minister at the time of the
inauguration wrote home to his government that it was the universal
confidence in Washington which secured assent to the Constitution. John
Lamb, who was unfriendly to the Constitution, told Hamilton in Wall
Street that only his faith in Washington overcame his repugnance to it.
The hour had plainly come for union, but except for the man it is
probable that union would not then have been effected.

The value of Washington to his country transcends that of any other man
to any land. Take him from the Revolution, and all the fervor of the
Sons of Liberty would seem to have been a wasted flame. Take him from
the constitutional epoch, and the essential condition of union, personal
confidence in a leader, would have been wanting. Franklin, when the work
of the Constitutional Convention was completed, said that until then he
had not been sure whether the sun depicted above the President's chair
was a rising or a setting sun, but now his doubt was solved. Yet it was
not the symbolic figure above the chair, it was the man within it, which
should have forecast the great result to that sagacious mind.

From the moment that independence was secured no man in America saw
more clearly the necessity of national union, or defined more wisely
and distinctly the reasons for it. He is the chief illustration in a
popular government of a great leader who was not also a great orator.
Perhaps that fact gave a solid force to his influence by depriving all
his expressions of a rhetorical character, and preserving in them
throughout a simplicity and moderation which deepened the impression of
his comprehensive sagacity. He was felt as both an inspiring and a
sustaining power in the preliminary movement for union, and by natural
selection he was both President of the Convention and the head of the
government which it instituted. John Adams was Vice-President, and
Hamilton and Jefferson were in the cabinet. After Washington himself,
they were the three most eminent figures in the country. But it is not
possible to conceive any one of them organizing and establishing the new
system without controversy which would have rent it asunder.

Indeed this year commemorates the auspicious beginning of the most
arduous task which devolved upon Washington, and which transcends that
to which any other man in history has been called. Yet how little in his
performance of that task his countrymen would change! During the course
of the century they have been divided largely upon views of the
Constitution and upon principles of administration, and have engaged in
a long and momentous civil war, but they would certainly not desire that
any chief act of Washington's administration should have been other than
it was. He acted without precedent, but with the calm majesty of
rectitude, and although the serpent of party spirit struck at him as he
retired, no honest partisan to-day either distrusts his motives or
doubts his wisdom.

It is a benignant fortune that so great a celebration as that of this
year is an act of homage to so great a man. It was his happiness to know
the affectionate reverence in which he was held. The memoirs and letters
of the time show that Washington's was not a tardy and posthumous
greatness, but that those who knew him best honored him most, and that
America was conscious of the worth of her chief citizen. One of the most
striking contemporary personal tributes to him is that of John Bernard,
the English actor, who was in this country at the close of the last
century, and who met Washington near the end of his life, by chance and
without knowing him, near Mount Vernon.

Bernard had paid a visit to a friend upon the banks of the Potomac, and
was returning upon horseback to Alexandria behind a chaise which seemed
to be in difficulties, and was presently upset. The actor hastened to
the rescue simultaneously with another horseman, and after some
exertions they succeeded in placing the occupants of the chaise--a man
and woman, who were fortunately not injured--again upon their way. After
their departure Bernard's companion politely offered to dust his coat,
and in returning the favor Bernard made a close survey of his
companion.

     "He was a tall, erect, well-made man, evidently advanced in years,
     but who seemed to have retained all the vigor and elasticity
     resulting from a life of temperance and exercise. His dress was a
     blue coat buttoned to his chin and buckskin breeches. Though the
     instant he took off his hat I could not avoid the recognition of
     familiar lineaments--which, indeed, I was in the habit of seeing on
     every sign-post and on every fire-place--still I failed to identify
     him."

Washington recognized Bernard as the actor whom he had "had the pleasure
of seeing perform" in Philadelphia during the previous winter, and after
some pleasant chat an invitation to ride with him to Mount Vernon, only
a mile distant, revealed to Bernard the name of his companion. He was
profoundly impressed, and upon reaching Mount Vernon they found that
Mrs. Washington was indisposed, and the General ordered refreshments
into a little parlor looking upon the Potomac.

At some length his guest describes the commanding presence of
Washington, in which "a feeling of awe and veneration stole over you."
During a conversation of an hour and a half "he touched on every topic
that I brought before him with an even current of good sense, if he
embellished it with little wit or verbal elegance."

     "When I mentioned to him the difference I perceived between the
     inhabitants of New England and of the Southern States, he remarked:
     'I esteem those people greatly; they are the stamina of the Union,
     and its greatest benefactors. They are continually spreading
     themselves, too, to settle and enlighten less favored quarters. Dr.
     Franklin is a New-Englander.' When I remarked that his observations
     were flattering to my country, he replied, with great good-humor:
     'Yes, yes, Mr. Bernard, but I consider your country the cradle of
     free principles, not their arm-chair. Liberty in England is a sort
     of idol; people are bred up in the belief and love of it, but see
     little of its doings. They walk about freely, but then it is
     between high walls; and the error of its government was in
     supposing that after a portion of their subjects had crossed the
     sea to live upon a common, they would permit their friends at home
     to build up those walls about them.'

     "A black coming in at this moment with a jug of spring-water, I
     could not repress a smile, which the General at once interpreted.
     'This may seem a contradiction,' he continued, 'but I think you
     must perceive that it is neither a crime nor an absurdity. When we
     profess, as our fundamental principle, that liberty is the
     inalienable right of every man, we do not include madmen or idiots;
     liberty in their hands would become a scourge. Till the mind of the
     slave has been educated to perceive what are the obligations of a
     state of freedom, and not to confound a man's with a brute's, the
     gift would insure its abuse. We might as well be asked to pull down
     our old warehouses before trade has increased to demand enlarged
     new ones. Both houses and slaves were bequeathed to us by
     Europeans, and time alone can change them--an event, sir, which,
     you may believe me, no man desires more heartily than I do. Not
     only do I pray for it on the score of human dignity, but I can
     clearly foresee that nothing but the rooting out of slavery can
     perpetuate the existence of our Union, by consolidating it in a
     common bond of principle.'"

At the end of a century which has vindicated his view so nobly and so
completely it is pleasant to read these words, and in this new and vivid
glimpse of our Washington to find only a stronger title to our
veneration. Bernard recalls the words of De Chastellux:

     "The great characteristic of Washington is the perfect union which
     seems to subsist between his moral and physical qualities, so that
     the selection of one would enable you to judge of all the rest. If
     you are presented with medals of Trajan or Cæsar, the features will
     lead you to inquire the proportions of their persons; but if you
     should discover in a heap of ruins the leg or arm of an antique
     Apollo, you would not be curious about the other parts, but content
     yourself with the assurance that they were all conformable to those
     of a god."



STATUES IN CENTRAL PARK IN 1889.


The Easy Chair recently spoke of the statue of Longfellow which has been
erected in the city of Portland, where he was born, and "Charter Oak,"
writing from Connecticut, asks why there is as yet no statue of
Washington Irving in Central Park, the beautiful sylvan resort of his
native city of New York. It is a question which the Easy Chair has
already asked, and which must constantly suggest itself in the spacious
public grounds which are becoming the most comprehensive of Walhallas.
The London _Times_ calls Westminster Abbey "our Walhalla," meaning that
of England only. But the pleasure-ground of New York is truly a
Pantheon. It is dedicated to all the gods except its own. With unwonted
metropolitan modesty the city honors especially those who are not
children of New York.

Webster is there, but not John Jay; Shakespeare and Scott and Burns and
Dante and Halleck even, but not Irving. It is grotesque that a space set
apart in New York for recreation, and decorated with marbles and bronzes
commemorating illustrious men, and among them authors and statesmen,
should still lack a fitting memorial of the greatest statesman and the
greatest author who were born in the city. Webster's famous panegyric of
Jay, that when the ermine of the Chief-Justiceship fell upon his
shoulders it touched nothing that was not as pure as itself, suggests
that a statue of John Jay might be of peculiar service as an object of
admonitory meditation in the bowery seclusion of a city that more
recently contemplated a statue to Tweed. In Couture's picture of the
"Decadence of the Romans," behind the luxurious and voluptuous groups of
intoxicated revellers in the foreground stand in sad severity the
statues of the elder Romans surveying the scene. In the lofty aspect of
Jay, filling with calm dignity the seclusion of some winding walk, would
there be felt amazement and reproof? Is it to escape the sculptured
rebuke of contrast with the civic heroes of to-day that it is not seen,
and that the eye of the student who reflects that the city of New York
has contributed few very great names to our history seeks in vain the
statue of John Jay in Central Park?

Irving has every claim to this especial distinction. It is his kindly
genius which made the annals of New Amsterdam the first work of our
creative literature, and which invested the great river of New York with
imperishable romance. Undoubtedly he wrote those annals in characters of
rollicking fun, and even over the heroism of the doughty Peter
Stuyvesant he has cast a humorous halo. But not all our authors combined
are so identified with New York as Irving. His earlier squib of
"Salmagundi" treats "the town" with an arch memory of the Spectator
loitering in London, and his spell was such that in a later day Dennett,
in the _Nation_, happily nicknamed the work of the talent which he had
quickened the Knickerbocker literature.

The same genius in a tenderer mood colored the shores of the Hudson with
the softest hues of legend. The banks at Tarrytown stretching backward
to Sleepy Hollow, the broad water of the Tappan Zee, the airy heights of
the summer Katskill, were mere landscape, pleasing scenery only, until
Irving suffused them with the rosy light of story, and gave them the
human association which is the crowning charm of landscape. In many a
scene a hundred mountain ranges survey the lower land far reaching to
the ocean. The scene is grand, but nameless, bare of tradition, and
forgotten. But where

    "The mountains look on Marathon,
    And Marathon looks on the sea,"

the eye and the heart are enchanted with the story of Greece and its
heroic human associations.

In the first century of our literature, which is ending, very few of our
authors have laid this legendary spell upon American scenes as Irving
did upon the Hudson. They have not much endeared the country to the
popular imagination, like Burns and Scott in Scotland, where every hill
and stream and bird and flower is reflected individually and fondly in
tale and song. The Easy Chair once met at Niagara a young Scotchman who
had come straight from his native land, and at every turn and glimpse
upon Goat Island and along the banks of the river he fairly bubbled and
murmured with the music of Burns and the other poets about Scottish
streams and scenes, of which he was reminded at every step. So in his
"Poems of Places" Longfellow reveals the charm which literature imparts
to scenery--a charm which he illustrates in his "Nuremberg" and "Belfry
at Bruges," and in his "Lost Youth," with its beautiful pictures of
Portland, a poem which probably gives to a larger number of persons a
more distinct and pleasing interest in that delightful city than
anything else connected with it.

Irving is the magician who has cast this glamour upon New York, the
roaring mart of trade, the humming hive of industry. He shows us in
these crowded and hurried streets the leisurely forms of old Dutch
burghers, their comely wives and buxom daughters, and their tranquil
existence. Upon this very spot, which thus becomes a palimpsest, one
life over-writing another, he awakens a romantic interest which gives it
an endless fascination. He is thus a universal benefactor.

His Rip Van Winkle, indolent but kindly vagabond that he is, asserts the
charm of a loitering life in the woods and fields, against all the
tremendous energy and lucrative devotion to dollars, the overpowering
crowd and crushing competition, of the whirring emporium. It is not
necessary to defend poor Rip, or justify him as a moral exemplar. Pax,
good Zeal-in-the-land Busy! But how soothing, as we mop our brows in the
ardent struggle, and waste our lives in the furious accumulation of the
means of living, to behold that figure stretched by the brook, or
pleasing the children, or sauntering homeward at sunset! Other figures
allure us, but still he holds his place. The new writers create their
worlds. The new standards, another literary spirit, a fresh impulse,
appear all around us. But still Rip Van Winkle lounges idly by, an
unwasted figure of the imagination, the first distinct creation of our
literature, the constant, unconscious satirist of our life.

The edicts of Fortune are caprices. Halleck, who sang of Marco Bozzaris,
has his statue in the Park. Bryant still awaits his, and Irving, first
of all, is without his memorial. The Germans have justly honored
Humboldt in our Walhalla, the Scotch have commemorated Burns, the
Italians have given to it Mazzini. The Puritan Pilgrim, ancestor of
distinctive America, New England in bronze, is properly there. But
where, asked the thoughtful child, reading the epitaphs in the
graveyard, where be the bad people buried? Those whom the statues recall
are all well and wisely honored in this most cosmopolitan of countries
and of cities. But where, amid Germans and Italians and Scotchmen and
great New-Englanders--where be the New-Yorkers?



THE GRAND TOUR.


Nobody could have written this book--a London Review recently said of
Longfellow's "Hyperion"--who could have reached the Rhine in a few
hours. It needed the ocean, thought the critic, to make the Rhine and
Switzerland remote and romantic to the poet. But he forgot "Childe
Harold," a book written by an Englishman, which has given to the Rhine
and Italy a more romantic glamour for John Bull upon his travels than
any book he reads. It is not the distance, it is the imagination
susceptible to association which is the secret.

The traveller of to-day is not likely to be affected as his father was
by the melancholy melody of Byron; but it is an interesting illustration
of the power of his genius that Byron has imposed his interpretation of
so many scenes upon the mind of the modern English and American
observer. His view makes Italy, as Sir Thomas Lawrence's portrait of
John Kemble made Hamlet. If we stand in the Capitol and look at the
Dying Gladiator, we must also see "his young barbarians all at play"
upon the Danube. If at Terni we see the Velino "cleave the wave-worn
precipice," the Byronic lines murmur along our lips. As we step into the
gondola and glide gently upon the Grand Canal, memory keeps time to the
measure of the dipping oar with the words whose charm is unexhausted:

    "In Venice Tasso's echoes are no more,
    And silent rows the songless gondolier."

At "a tomb in Arqua," at "Clarens, sweet Clarens," we are still led,
like Dante, by the singing guide. The Guide-book is full of him. The
travel-books are full of him. He is familiar almost to commonplace. Who
comes to "Belgium's capital" for the first time without listening for
"the sound of revelry"? Who goes to the field of Waterloo remembering
"the unreturning brave," and does not sigh,

    "And Ardennes waves above them her green leaves."

Sitting quietly here in a great land which looks to the future, not to
the past, it is pleasant to think of the throngs of travellers who have
gone hence for a summer wandering in Europe. Yet so intense is the
delight of European travel, so freshly remembered is it when almost
another generation of travellers are ready to begin their journey, that
the patriarch who goes to the wharf to say farewell to the newer
voyagers looks at them with tenderness and pity, and there is even a
sadness in his congratulations, not because they are sailing away, but
because he cannot believe that they will find what he found, nor
possibly enjoy what he enjoyed. These newer voyagers will see a France
and a Switzerland and an Italy; they will eat oranges at Sorrento, and
gaze upon the Mediterranean from Capri, and hear the fisher's song at
Amalfi: but they will not hear and see through the enchantment of
lapsed years.

In his lively book of travelling letters Dr. Bellows says that he went
up the Nile in a steamer of seventy berths. An ancient mariner of the
Nile cannot comprehend it. In a steamer? With paddles or screws whisking
the water? And steam blowing off? Making innumerable miles a day? The
round trip to Philæ in two weeks, or a week? But how could you see
Egypt, or feel it? That slow floating southward upon white wings; the
sinking deeper and farther from the world we knew; the sense of infinite
strangeness and distance; the weeks passing with no sign of accustomed
life; slowly, one by one, the temples, the tombs; in the still days the
crew dragging the boat along and singing the wild minor refrain; a
voyage of wonder and of dreams--is that Egypt to be seen in a steamer?
It is useless to say that you may go in the old way if you choose. You
cannot go in the old way, because it is no longer what it was, if there
be a newer. You may drive from London to Oxford. But is that going by
the old English stage-coach when it was the only way, when the guard
wound his horn, and the cherry-nosed coachman threw down the ribbons at
each relay, and the neat inns stood smiling with open doors, and
tra-la-la sped the nimble team by the park gate and the hawthorn hedge?
You may go by sloop from New York to Albany. But is that now the
romantic Hudson voyage which it was when it could be made in no other
way?

No sensible ancient mariner will quarrel with all this, nor desire to
banish the steamer of seventy berths from the Nile. When he shakes a
farewell hand with the youth who are going to run up to Rome by train,
and are _not_ going to stop at a certain point upon the Campagna, and
run forward to the top of a hill whence they can see far away upon the
horizon the faintly outlined dome of St. Peter's--and who are _not_
going from Leghorn to Florence through the grape harvest, their carriage
heaped with the luscious clusters, but are to whiz through Tuscany in
an hour or so, the regret in his tone is not personal or selfish, it is
for a whole order of things passed away.

Such an ancient mariner would, however, be indeed sorry if he supposed
that anybody suspected him of a very common and very odious kind of
remark, against which he kindly warns all the throngs of travellers of
whom mention has been made. The remark in question may be called the
capping remark. Thus one traveller says to another--as Marco Polo to
George Sandys--

"You went to Jerusalem?"

"Yes."

"And to Jericho?"

"Yes."

"And to the Jordan?"

"Yes."

"Did you see the white stone on the bottom near where the river flows
into the Dead Sea?"

"Well--let me see! I don't exactly seem to remember that I did precisely
see that."

"Ah!" replies Marco Polo.

It is a very brief sound, but being interpreted it means, "Then, my
dear George Sandys, you might just as well not have seen the Jordan at
all." Not that the white stone was famous or worth seeing, but that
Marco Polo wished to "rub in" upon George Sandys's mind the conviction
that he, Polo, had seen more than he, Sandys, in the same direction.

This capping process sometimes leads to very droll results. Young Green
heard Gray and Brown comparing their notes of travel. Each was naturally
anxious to have seen and done rather more than the other; but it
appeared that each had been in about the same places, and had had very
much the same experience.

"Lago Maggiore is a lovely sheet of water," remarked Gray.

"Truly exquisite," replied Brown.

"And Isola Bella is most beautiful," suggested Gray.

"Dear me! dear me!" approvingly assented Brown.

"How high is the statue of San Carlo Borromeo?" asked Gray.

"About sixty feet," answered Brown.

"It's a wonderful prospect from his eye," said Gray.

"Whose eye?" asked Brown.

"San Carlo Borromeo's," replied Gray, whose mind instantly suspected
that he had caught the adversary, and who followed up his advantage
vigorously and suddenly. "Of course you went up San Carlo?"

"Up San Carlo? You mean the church at--"

"Oh no! the statue on Lago Maggiore."

"Went up the statue! what do you mean?" snapped Brown, foreseeing
discomfiture.

"Oh! I thought you probably knew," retorted the triumphant Gray, "that
the statue is hollow."

"Oh! ah! yes!" returned Brown, indifferently.

"And you didn't go up?" pressed Gray.

"Not exactly," feebly rejoined Brown.

"Nor sit in his nose?" continued Gray.

"Not exactly," muttered Brown.

"Nor look out of his eyes?" said Gray.

"I thought I wouldn't," murmured Brown, in full retreat.

"Oh!" smiled Gray, with the air of David holding the head of Goliath by
the hair, and displaying it to mankind--"oh!"

Young Green heard all this, and he resolved that whatever he did not do
when he went to Europe, he would at all hazards sit in the nose of San
Carlo Borromeo. The next year he came to Lago Maggiore. He saw the
statue. He remembered the conversation and his high resolve, and he
essayed the deed. It was fearful. He tore his hands; he tore his
clothes; he was half suffocated; and, wedging himself into the nose, he
stuck fast, and was only rescued at the peril of his life. When he told
Gray afterward, and reminded him of the colloquy with Brown, that
experienced traveller laughed until the tears ran down his cheeks. "My
dear Green," said he, "I never went up the confounded thing; but it was
necessary to take Brown down somehow, and I employed the good saint for
the purpose." He laughed again to tears; but Mr. Green soberly resolved
that he would eschew the capping talk of travel. And he chose the wiser
course.

The truth is that Green should not trust too much the tales, nor indeed
the regrets, of the ancient mariners.

    "For travellers tell no idle tales,
    But fools at home believe them."

Certainly when this one remarks that he feels in saying farewell that
young Green will never see the Europe that he saw, he has not the
remotest idea of dimming his bright hope nor of asserting an advantage.
What is it, indeed, but a way of saying that he is no longer the same
man he was? If he were, what would be the gain of travel? It is not only
an enlargement of the scenery of the mind, not only a richer and more
various memory that he has acquired, but a riper experience. He has
grown wiser; and perhaps all that he feels when he shakes Green's
parting hand is that Green is not so wise as he will one day be.



"EASY DOES IT, GUVNER."


Dickens's Rogue Riderhood, who says "Easy does it, guvner," was a very
practical man. But there is no motto which is more susceptible of
perversion. Mr. Seward said the same thing in his last great speech. "I
early learned from Jefferson that in politics we must do what we can,
not what we would." It is not only plausible, but it is true. Yet its
truth can be most readily abused to defeat everything for which it is
urged.

    "'I weep for you,' the walrus said;
      'I deeply sympathize.'
    With tears and sobs he sorted out
      Those of the largest size,
    Holding his pocket-handkerchief
      Before his streaming eyes."

It was necessary that the walrus should eat, and it was very sad that
the oysters should satisfy the necessity. But it is obvious that wicked
walruses who have no intention whatever of not eating oysters would sob
aloud with heart-rending vehemence as proof of a virtue which they do
not possess. The foes of progress are always anxious that its friends
should go easily. "Easy does it, guvner." But meanwhile they are
anything but easy in obstructing. In the race, the sly gentleman who
bets on Tom whispers confidentially to the jockey who rides Jerry that
he had better "go easy." The friends of the saloon hope that the true
friends of temperance are aware that the only way of success is to avoid
fanaticism. But they omit to hide their bodies as well as their heads,
for they are unsparing fanatics on their own behalf.

When Gustavus, in deference to his dear Griselda, promised to begin to
reform the baleful habit of smoking, his Griselda was jocund as the
dawn. But at the end of a week she did not observe that there were fewer
cigars consumed, and she pleasantly asked him if the good resolution had
escaped his memory. "By no means," he answered; "quite the contrary.
But you remember what Rogue Riderhood said, 'Easy does it, guvner.' We
must move warily upon the intrenched enemy, dearest Grizzle. Remember
that Rome was not built in a day." Griselda remembered faithfully. But
still the cigars continued, and upon a further gentle remonstrance
Gustavus rejoined: "Certainly; but we must be reasonable. There are many
steps, my dear Griselda. In siege operations the great masters of war
approach by parallels, after making ample and thorough preparation. That
is what I am doing. I am beginning to prepare to begin. Easy does it,
you know. Don't forget Rome."

Still Gustavus smoked, and still Griselda waited, and at the end of six
months she asked with a smile how far he had advanced in abandoning the
habit of smoking. "Dear Grizzle," he answered, "you remember the weeds
that sprang up and soon withered because they had no depth of soil. I
wish my reform of this naughty habit to be well rooted, that it may long
endure. None of your spasmodic virtue, your superficial goodness, for
me! Great reforms, even in personal habits, my dear Mrs. Gustavus,
cannot be accomplished in a day. Even Rome was not built in that time. I
am working for great results, to which all my tastes and habits must
conform. I must lay the foundations broad and deep. Easy does it, my
rose-bud."

Gustavus continues to smoke, and Easy continues to do it. But there is
another saying quite as wise as that of Rogue Riderhood, which exhorts
him who puts his hand to the plough not to look back. The trouble with
Riderhood's apothegm is that it supplies an endless excuse for not doing
it. If the habit is too strong, and will not budge, you can soothe your
conscience and make the most plausible of pleas by insisting that human
nature and long custom and uniform tradition and the honest doubt
whether smoking is, after all, injurious, must all be carefully
considered. That is what Dickens also calls the great art of how not to
do it. "My son, if you wish a thing done, do it yourself; if not, send,"
said the wise father; and the pioneers, the men without whose one idea
and uncompromising energy and conciliation nothing would be
accomplished, say with Sumner. "There is but one side," and with Cato,
"_Delenda est Carthago_."

It is true that everything cannot be done at once, but something must be
done all the time; and you will observe that it is not when the work is
advancing, but when it stops or goes backward, that we hear the familiar
wisdom of the Rogue that Easy does it. That is what makes it a
suspicious saying, "What are you doing, sir?" thundered the master to
the boy. "Nothing, sir," replied the frightened pupil. "Just as I
thought, sir. Don't you know that your business is to do something?"
When a man says "Easy does it," he may be doing all that he can but the
immense probability, the almost absolute certainty, is that he is doing
nothing, or, like the amiable Gustavus, he is "beginning to prepare to
begin."



SISTE, VIATOR.


It is still very difficult to discover where the bad people are buried.
The cemeteries are still symbolically white with monuments to the
departed. Shylock and Ralph Nickleby are still, upon their tombstones,
the most respected of deceased citizens. Here lies Clytemnestra, a model
of the wifely virtues, whom an inconsolable spouse deplores. Beneath
this marble, in the tranquil hope of a joyful resurrection, repose the
remains of Iago, who kept the noiseless tenor of his way. Beyond sleeps
Solomon, most faithful of husbands; and under this turf of buttercups
and daisies lie Paris and Lovelace, _arcades ambo_, too early lost. 'Tis
pathetic to reflect how much worthier is the world under-ground than
that which still cumbers its surface; and if we, whose lives are
indifferent honest, had only had the good fortune to die a century ago,
our memories would by this time have been upon our tombstones a very
odor of sanctity to the sense of the age which knows us, perhaps, but
too well.

In one of his terrible inscriptions suggested for the monuments of the
Georges, Thackeray says, "He left an example for youth and for age to
avoid. He never did well by man or by woman." Has there been only one
such George in the world? And if more, and in every age, in what
cemetery have you found their epitaphs? Catiline was a fascinating and
accomplished man. He had many followers, and if his political views and
projects were open to differences of opinion, he was certainly
well-mannered. Has there been but one Catiline in history? Or is he
confined wholly to a public sphere? Cicero described him as "a corrupter
of youth," and no one has denied it. Where is Catiline buried? If you
sought his grave by that epitaph, where would you find it? Is there no
corrupter of youth now? Have there been none within the last century?
None, if you may trust the epitaphs. How long will you abuse our
patience, O Catiline, and be annually buried, like Cato the Censor, with
crosses of white camellias laid upon your coffin, and wreaths of
immortelles hung upon the weeping effigy of Virtue which guards your
sleep?

But because a man was brutal and coarse and cruel in his life, must we
needs insist upon it when he is gone? When Mawworm leaves us, must we
write upon his grave, he lying below defenceless, "_Hic jacet_ a
hypocrite"? When old Sathanas departs to a sphere of light and truth,
shall we carve upon his monument, "Father of lies"? Is it manly? Shall
we have no mercy? Do we really know any man; and shall charity be
forgotten? To be human is to be frail; and is not the fact that we must
die at all, of which the grave is proof, itself sufficient comment upon
our weakness? Here lies Colonel Newcome--tender, generous, noble,
child-like heart! Shall we add that he was credulous and ignorant? Dear
Uncle Toby is in the next grave. Shall we shout in marble, "_Siste,
viator_, contemplate his foibles"? Sacred to the memory of Samuel
Pickwick. Is the inscription incomplete if we do not chisel beneath it,
"A wind-bag pricked by Death"?

Epitaphs are written more forcibly than upon tombstones. When old
Silenus dies, and the white camellias and the lilies-of-the-valley and
the rose-buds are strewn upon his bier, and the "universally lamented"
is cut upon the monument, the satire is pathetic, but it is slight. But
when the bloated old debauchee is cautiously and forgivingly praised in
the papers, and everybody solemnly pretends not to know what everybody
knows that everybody else does know, it is a sign not of charity, but of
public demoralization. Catiline corrupts youth by his example. Then his
own offences bring him to a sudden end, and the newspapers speak of him
so deprecatingly, so gingerly, that as a good man being dead yet
speaketh, so a bad man being dead yet corrupteth. His evil influence is
not suffered to perish with him, but it is cherished and extended and
confirmed, and his death, like his life, demoralizes.

Dick Turpin no longer rides in jack-boots upon Hounslow Heath, stopping
my Lord Bishop and the Right Honorable the Earl of Garter; and no longer
stands at the dock, the hero of St. Giles's; and goes no longer to the
gallows in a blaze of glory, with a huge nosegay in his button-hole.
Richard Turpin is a very different fellow in his costume of to-day, but
he is the same Dick of the jack-boots and the heath, this vulgar robber
who smirks and is called smart. He drives a fine equipage, and lives
luxuriously, and keeps a harem, and frequents Wall Street, and beats
everybody in the game of making money, and spending it profusely and
splendidly. He dazzles the eyes of the widow's son, and bewilders his
mind. The boy sees the money with which Richard surrounds himself by
means which honorable men despise. He hears him called good-humoredly a
great rascal, and sees that he buys judges, and steals vast properties,
and procures laws to protect him. The boy hears that all men are
fallible, and that some men are no worse than other men, and that money
is a fine thing, and honor and truth and respect and all the rest of it
are very well, but see what power, what pleasure, what luxury Turpin
commands! Then the poor boy rushes for the same prizes, and fails, and
ends in disgrace, the jail, suicide. And Dick Turpin tosses a hundred
dollars to the boy's mother, and a generous press exclaims, "Not a model
man, perhaps; but what noble generosity! The friend of the widow and the
orphan! When he dies, how many poor homes will be darkened with grief!"
Yes, and the hundred dollars probably pays the widow for her boy.

It is not difficult to be generous with the money of others. A year ago
it was announced that Greed had given forty or fifty thousand dollars to
the poor. "There," said the admirers of Turpin, "you may say what you
will of Greed. He, too, is not a polished man; he is not a scholar nor a
dainty gentleman; but he is one of the people; he is large-hearted and
generous. Who else has given fifty thousand dollars to the poor?" Yes,
and who else has stolen five millions? The politest gentlemen of the
highway were notoriously gallant. The Marquis of Goutytoe they compelled
to descend from his carriage, and sent the trudging market-woman home in
it. They eased the pockets of the Spanish ambassador, and threw a
doubloon to the leper hiding behind the hedge. It was a cheap
munificence. So was Greed's. It was not _his_ fifty thousand dollars,
the giving of which caused such a burst of good feeling, and the
exclamation, "There now!" It was only a little of the millions that were
not his. He gave it to the poor dwellers in tenement-houses, and it was
said that there was no wretched hovel to which he did not send a load of
coal or a barrel of flour during the winter months. But he took them
first from those wretched dens. Somebody paid the taxes that he stole,
and it is the poor who at last pay taxes. Where be the bad people
buried? When Turpin dies, we have Greed's opinion of him and his ways
gravely paraded in a newspaper. Madame Brinvilliers's opinion of
Lucrezia Borgia would be edifying reading!

Shall we have no charity, then? and when a man lies dead and
defenceless, shall not warfare cease? Warfare may cease; but should
death condone all offences? The malignant lover who denounced his rival
to the Inquisition, and in the very moment of his rival's death by fire
himself fell dead--shall we write over him, _De mortuis?_ Shall we
Romans, whose sons he corrupted, go dumb and sorrowing behind the corpse
of Catiline? When a bad man dies, let us say that he was bad. Although
he was very rich and very splendid, shall we remember only that he gave
in charity one quarter of one per cent. upon the amount of his thefts?
The Italian brigand chief, when his band had slaughtered the travellers,
said, "There are twelve of us, and we will share equally; but the first
equal share shall be for the mother of God." When we tell his story,
shall we see only that share?



CHRISTENDOM vs. CHRISTIANITY.


IT is remarkable that what is called the practical sense
of Christendom virtually rejects the Christian ideals as impracticable.
Its highest ideal is obedience to the Divine will, and its instinct,
therefore, should represent the religious man as the perfection of
vigorous manhood. The more manly, the finer the bloom of health, the
sounder the body for the sound and purified mind, the truer and more
satisfactory the type, the more symmetrically revealed the Christian
man. This is the simple and natural ideal among living men of unthwarted
and normal Christian excellence.

But so little is this the fact that the oldest traditions of Christian
art depict the founder of Christianity Himself not as a blooming man,
not as a figure of the inward and outward health that proceeds
inevitably from complete and absolute conformity to the Divine will, but
as a wan and wasted personality plainly worsted by the world. This
conception extends to the constant and organized control of the Church,
and the general feeling of Christendom regards the ministers of its
religion either as official personages or as excluded from actual
knowledge of life; not masters of the arena, but professionally unfit to
cope with the world.

It may, indeed, be said that the traditions of Christian art show a
misapprehension of the essential character of the Christian faith. But
however that may be, it is certainly true that these traditions do not
misrepresent the general conception of Christianity which is professed
by those who practically reject its ideals. Here goes Solomon Gunnybags
to Christian worship on Sunday morning. He "abashiates" himself in his
pew, and his confession that he is a miserable sinner is so sonorous and
impressive that the hearer sighs sympathetically with Solomon's
consciousness of the enormous burden of wrong-doing that he carries.

Now what is Solomon doing in his pew? He is solemnly professing
confidence in and reverence for certain principles of faith and conduct,
not only as lofty in themselves, but as absolutely essential to his
soul's salvation. Then, unless the whole universe is a farce, and
religion and the soul impostures, they are the most practical and
practicable of all possible principles, because otherwise the soul's
salvation could not be made by beneficent Omnipotence dependent upon
fidelity to them. But if some attendant spirit should say to Solomon
Gunnybags, as he walks home with the happy consciousness of duty done,
"Solomon, the golden rule and the Christian religion forbid you to
'unload' upon David the stock that you believe to be very shaky," he
would unquestionably feel, if he did not say: "Stuff! Every man for
himself. Of course Christianity is an excellent thing, but it doesn't
mean that." Gunnybags does not expressly repudiate Christian principle
as unpractical; he only believes it to be so.

The fundamental doctrine of the Christian life is love. The Christian
millennium is peace. But it is Christendom that maintains the vast
standing armies; and when the International Peace Congress meets in
London and proposes disarmament, the good-natured reply of Christendom
is, "Well--yes--perhaps--some time," with a smile of amused incredulity,
as when a child seriously asks for the moon. Yet this is Christendom,
and the Christian principles are entirely familiar, and every Sunday and
saint's day in all the Christian churches we protest that the practice
of them is essential to our soul's salvation. Then we wipe our eyes, and
smile kindly upon any one who really insists that we should offer the
other cheek, and forgive seventy times seven. Oh no, we say; that is an
eccentric view. No man in this world--that is, in Christendom--can
afford to allow himself to be imposed upon. If we don't look out for
number one, who will take charge of that precious numeral?

So it is that on some bright July day, looking in imagination upon the
respectable Universal Peace Congress in the Hôtel Métropole in London,
and hearing the Bishop of Durham offer a resolution for international
arbitration, and denouncing the folly, the waste, the woe and wickedness
and wrong of war, we hear also, not the immediate and instinctive assent
of Christendom, but its wistful prayer and half-despairing hope that
some time Christianity may be found to be practicable, and something
more than a pretty dream. Yet is there anything more certain than that
the Christendom which actually rejects the Christian ideals and
principles as impracticable, denounces most savagely those who
practically illustrate them, even if they theoretically reject them?

The moral of this little sermon is altogether Christian, for it is
charity. Since Christendom is in practice so universally unchristian,
and holds its own fundamental principles in such practical contempt,
every member of that vast fraternity should be very modest in judging
others. Could there be a more radically unchristian figure in human
history than Torquemada? If Christianity be what it declares itself to
be, the least throb of sound Christian feeling in his bosom would have
held his hand. The Inquisition, the fierceness of sects, the religious
wars, offensive wars of any kind, are possible only among Christians who
hold Christianity to be impracticable.

Yet when the Easy Chair saw a gentle lady going to morning prayers on a
happy saint's day, and heard through the open window the murmuring music
of the promise when two or three are gathered together, and marked
during all the day and in daily conduct the unselfishness, the sympathy,
the courtesy, the kindly care of old and young, the faithful doing of
duty, the nameless charm of lofty character, the Christian ideal was no
longer the mirage of an unreached and unattainable oasis in the desert;
it was already come down to earth; it was here, a little heaven below.



FRANCIS GEORGE SHAW.

1882.


IN beginning his tender and charming paper upon
Washington Irving and Macaulay, Thackeray recalls the beautiful story of
which he was so fond, of Sir Walter Scott's last words to his son-in-law
Lockhart: "Be a good man, my dear; be a good man." It was a soft
autumnal day. The windows were wide open. The low sound of the rippling
Tweed stole into the chamber. The most renowned and the most widely
beloved of living men lay dying, after a career of admiration and
adulation, and of gratified ambition almost unexampled, and in the clear
and serene light of the moment that shows things as they are, the one
lesson and moral garnered by that marvellous life is spoken in the
simple words, "Be a good man, my dear." ...

There are men whose simplicity and dignity and strength and purity of
character, whose sound judgment and supreme common-sense, dispose of
sophistry and artifice in all relations and pursuits, as surely and
completely as the sun dries the dew. They are gentlemen, because they
know other men only as men, touching electrically whatever of manhood
there may be in them, and whose contact is a silent and consuming rebuke
of pretence and falsehood. Whatever his own advantage or attraction or
position or grace, the man of this quality takes hold of the reality in
other men, man meeting man, as when the grave William of Orange, in his
plain serge coat, met the brilliant Philip Sidney in his gold-flowered
doublet, and neither was troubled by the clothes of the other.

Such a man lately died. The mingled strength and simplicity and
sweetness of his nature, the lofty sense of justice, the tranquil and
complete devotion to duty, the large and humane sympathy, not lost in
vague philanthropic feeling, but mindful of every detail of relief--the
sound and steady judgment, the noble independence of thought and perfect
courage of conviction, the blended manliness and modesty of a life which
was unstained, and of a character which seemed without a flaw, all
belonged to what we call the ideal man.

Passing from college to the counting-room of a great commercial
business, his sagacity, energy, and executive power were all brought
into successful action. He went to Europe and to the West Indies, but
much of the spirit of trade and many of its practices were uncongenial
to him, and he quietly withdrew, despite wonder and affectionate
remonstrance, to lead his own life in his own way. By taste and
temperament an out-door man, he made his home in the rural neighborhood
of Boston, busy with country cares and various studies, but interested
chiefly in helping other men. He was allied by sympathy more than by
much previous actual association with the founders of Brook Farm. But
when they chose the site for their enterprise not far from his house,
he was soon in the pleasantest relations with the leaders, for their
spirit and purpose were in harmony with his own. He was a parishioner
and warm personal friend of Theodore Parker, who lived near him, and his
keen common-sense and mastery of practical affairs were most useful to
Parker as to Ripley. Indeed, the hospitality of such a man for every
generous endeavor and for all new and humane ideas was a happy augury
for the philanthropic pioneers, because it seemed to promise the final
approval and adhesion to their cause of the most conservative and
substantial sentiment of the community.

Such a man was, of course, an abolitionist in the days when the name was
as repugnant to what is called "society" as the name Christian was to
the Jewish Sanhedrim or Methodist to the English Establishment a century
and a half ago. He generously aided the cause, which seemed to him that
of practical Christianity and of American patriotism, and he held most
friendly relations with its chief representatives, who were ostracized
and denounced. But his sympathy was not an abstract regard for man
rather than for men, and his interest in the effort to help a race and
to forecast a happier social organization did not dull his heart or
close his hand to the necessities of his neighbor. His life, indeed, was
a prolonged charity, but a charity directed by a singularly calm and
shrewd judgment. His exhaustless generosity was not the sport of wayward
impulse. It was not a well-meaning weakness, but a wise force which
helped others to help themselves, but knew also when such self-help was
impossible.

Yet the strength and reserve and independence of his character were such
that the man was never lost in the reformer. His fine nature
instinctively asserted his own individuality. He quietly shunned the
wearisome artificiality of society, but he did not merge his own home in
the general home of his friends and neighbors at Brook Farm, and his
house was always a glimpse of the social refinement and grace, the
mental and moral charm, to which the dreams of social regeneration and
the elaborate fancies of Fourier pointed--fancies which greatly
interested him as hints of a happier social order.

Long absence with his family in Europe, and a long and final residence
upon Staten Island, only matured and developed the man, in whom not only
was there no guile, but in whom even the most intimate eye could not
note a fault. Clarendon might have studied from him his portrait of
Falkland: "his inimitable sweetness of, and delight in, conversation;
his flowing and obliging humanity; his goodness to mankind; and his
primitive simplicity and integrity of life." Disinclined to public life
of every kind, he was yet full of the highest public spirit, and it was
but natural that his only son should have been selected by Governor
Andrew to command the first colored regiment that marched from
Massachusetts in the war. In his young person all that was best in the
New England youth of his time, all the strength of the elder colonial
and Revolutionary day, blended with all the grace and tenderness and
gentleness of its modern life, the stern old Puritan softened into a
humaner Bayard, was typified. It was the flower of Essex that two
hundred years ago was withered in the fatal Indian ambush in the
Deerfield Meadows. It was the flower of New England that fell upon a
hundred redder fields within a score of years.

But no sorrow could fatally chill a faith which was reflected in the
perpetual summer of the father's presence and temperament. The frank
urbanity of his greeting, the hearty grasp of his hand, the lofty
simplicity of his courtesy, were but the signs of that unwasting
freshness of sympathy which held him true to the ideals and aims of
earlier life. His helping hand reached invisibly into a hundred homes,
and upheld a hundred faltering lives. But, besides this, as president of
the Freedman's Aid Association his administrative skill and his wise
benevolence enabled him to bear a most effective part in the great
settlement of the war. His invincible modesty and scorn of ostentation
veiled his beneficent activities, public and private. But nothing could
veil the pure and steadfast and unwearying devotion to the well-being of
other men. Kindly but firmly he protected his own seclusion, and he
permitted no man, in Emerson's phrase, to devastate his day. The
freshness of feeling which keeps the heart young was unwasted to the
end. His full life brimming purely to the sea reflected heaven as
clearly when at last it mingled with the main as when it ran a limpid
rivulet from its spring. Young and old, man and boy, he was still the
simplest, noblest, most devoted, best. How truly he was the man that
every thoughtful man secretly wishes he might be, those only know who
knew Francis George Shaw.


THE END.


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+ Refrain from automated querying Do not send automated queries of any sort
to Doctrine Publishing's system: If you are conducting research on machine
translation, optical character recognition or other areas where access to a
large amount of text is helpful, please contact us. We encourage the use of
public domain materials for these purposes and may be able to help.

+ Keep it legal -  Whatever your use, remember that you are responsible for
ensuring that what you are doing is legal. Do not assume that just because
we believe a book is in the public domain for users in the United States,
that the work is also in the public domain for users in other countries.
Whether a book is still in copyright varies from country to country, and we
can't offer guidance on whether any specific use of any specific book is
allowed. Please do not assume that a book's appearance in Doctrine Publishing
ISYS search  means it can be used in any manner anywhere in the world.
Copyright infringement liability can be quite severe.

About ISYS® Search Software
Established in 1988, ISYS Search Software is a global supplier of enterprise
search solutions for business and government.  The company's award-winning
software suite offers a broad range of search, navigation and discovery
solutions for desktop search, intranet search, SharePoint search and embedded
search applications.  ISYS has been deployed by thousands of organizations
operating in a variety of industries, including government, legal, law
enforcement, financial services, healthcare and recruitment.



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