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Title: From the Easy Chair, series 3
Author: Curtis, George William, 1824-1892
Language: English
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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 3" ***

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[Illustration: George William Curtis]



FROM THE

EASY CHAIR

BY

GEORGE WILLIAM CURTIS

_THIRD SERIES_

[Illustration]

NEW YORK

HARPER AND BROTHERS

MDCCCXCIV

Copyright, 1894, by HARPER & BROTHERS.

_All rights reserved._



CONTENTS

                                                                      PAGE

    HAWTHORNE AND BROOK FARM                                             1
    BEECHER IN HIS PULPIT AFTER THE DEATH OF LINCOLN                    20
    KILLING DEER                                                        28
    AUTUMN DAYS                                                         37
    FROM COMO TO MILAN DURING THE WAR OF 1848                           43
    HERBERT SPENCER ON THE YANKEE                                       56
    HONOR                                                               65
    JOSEPH WESLEY HARPER                                                72
    REVIEW OF UNION TROOPS, 1865                                        78
    APRIL, 1865                                                         88
    WASHINGTON IN 1867                                                  94
    RECEPTION TO THE JAPANESE AMBASSADORS AT THE WHITE HOUSE           102
    THE MAID AND THE WIT                                               112
    THE DEPARTURE OF THE _GREAT EASTERN_                               120
    CHURCH STREET                                                      127
    HISTORIC BUILDINGS                                                 140
    THE BOSTON MUSIC HALL                                              151
    PUBLIC BENEFACTORS                                                 162
    MR. TIBBINS'S NEW-YEAR'S CALL                                      169
    THE NEW ENGLAND SABBATH                                            178
    THE REUNION OF ANTISLAVERY VETERANS, 1884                          185
    REFORM CHARITY                                                     193
    BICYCLE RIDING FOR CHILDREN                                        204
    THE DEAD BIRD UPON CYRILLA'S HAT AN ENCOURAGEMENT OF "SLARTER"     210
    CHEAPENING HIS NAME                                                214
    CLERGYMEN'S SALARIES                                               221



HAWTHORNE AND BROOK FARM


In his preface to the _Marble Faun_, as before in that to _The
Blithedale Romance_, Hawthorne complained that there was no romantic
element in American life; or, as he expressed it, "There is as yet no
such Faery-land so like the real world that, in a suitable remoteness,
one cannot tell the difference, but with an atmosphere of strange
enchantment, beheld through which the inhabitants have a propriety of
their own." This he says in _The Blithedale_ preface, and then adds
that, to obviate this difficulty and supply a proper scene for his
figures, "the author has ventured to make free with his old and
affectionately remembered home at Brook Farm as being certainly the most
romantic episode of his own life, essentially a day-dream, and yet a
fact, and thus offering an available foothold between fiction and
reality." Probably a genuine Brook-Farmer doubts whether Hawthorne
remembered the place and his life there very affectionately, in the
usual sense of that word, and although in sending the book to one of
them, at least, he said that it was not to be considered a picture of
actual life or character. "Do not read it as if it had anything to do
with Brook Farm [which essentially it has not], but merely for its own
story and characters," yet it is plain that it is a very faithful
picture of the kind of impression that the enterprise made upon him.

Strangely enough, Hawthorne is likely to be the chief future authority
upon "the romantic episode" of Brook Farm. Those who had it at heart
more than he whose faith and hope and energy were all devoted to its
development, and many of whom have every ability to make a permanent
record, have never done so, and it is already so much of a thing of the
past that it will probably never be done. But the memory of the place
and of the time has been recently pleasantly refreshed by the lecture of
Mr. Emerson and the _Note-Book_ of Hawthorne. Mr. Emerson, whose mind
and heart are ever hospitable, was one of the chief, indeed the
chiefest, figure in this country of the famous intellectual
"Renaissance" of twenty-five years ago, which, as is generally the case,
is historically known by its nickname of "Transcendentalism," a
spiritual fermentation from which some of the best modern influences of
this country have proceeded.

In his late lecture upon the general subject, Mr. Emerson says that the
mental excitement began to take practical form nearly thirty years ago,
when Dr. Channing counselled with George Ripley upon the practicability
of bringing thoughtful and cultivated people together and forming a
society that should be satisfactory. "That good attempt," says Emerson,
with a sly smile, "ended in an oyster supper with excellent wines." But
a little later it was revived under better auspices, and as Brook Farm
made a name which will not be forgotten. Mr. Emerson was never a
resident, but he was sometimes a visitor and guest, and the more ardent
minds of the romantic colony were always much under his influence. With
his sensitively humorous eye he seizes upon some of the ludicrous
aspects of the scene and reports them with arch gravity. "The ladies
again," he says, "took cold on washing-days, and it was ordained that
the gentlemen shepherds should hang out the clothes, which they
punctually did; but a great anachronism followed in the evening, for
when they began to dance the clothes-pins dropped plentifully from their
pockets." And again: "One hears the frequent statement of the country
members that one man was ploughing all day and another was looking out
of the window all day--perhaps drawing his picture, and they both
received the same wages."

In Hawthorne's just published _Note-Book_ he records a great deal of his
daily experience at Brook Farm. But he was never truly at home there.
Hawthorne lived in the very centre of the Transcendental revival, and he
was the friend of many of its leaders, but he was never touched by its
spirit. He seems to have been as little affected by the great
intellectual influences of his time as Charles Lamb in England. The
Custom-house had become intolerable to him. He was obliged to do
something. The enterprise at Brook Farm seemed to him to promise
Arcadia. But he forgot that the kingdom of heaven is within you, and
when he went to the tranquil banks of the Charles he found himself in a
barn-yard shovelling manure, and not at all in Arcadia. "Before
breakfast I went out to the barn and began to chop hay for the cattle,
and with such 'righteous vehemence,' as Mr. Ripley says, did I labor,
that in the space of ten minutes I broke the machine. Then I brought
wood and replenished the fires, and finally went down to breakfast and
ate up a huge mound of buckwheat cakes. After breakfast Mr. Ripley put a
four-pronged instrument into my hands, which he gave me to understand
was called a pitchfork, and he and Mr. Farley being armed with similar
weapons, we all three commenced a gallant attack upon a heap of manure."

Hawthorne was a sturdy and resolute man, and any heap of manure that he
attacked must yield; but he had not come to Arcadia to sweat and blister
his hands, and his blank and amused disappointment is evident. He had a
subtle and pervasive humor, but no spirits. He sees the pleasantness of
the place and the beauty of the crops, having knowledge of them and a
new interest in them; and he has a quiet conscience because he feels
that he is really doing some of the manual work of the world; but he is
always a spectator, a critic. He went to Brook Farm as he might have
gone to an anchorite's cell; but the fervor that warms and adorns the
cold bare rock he does not have, and the mere consciousness of
well-doing is a chilly abstraction. "I do not believe that I should be
patient here if I were not engaged in a righteous and heaven-blessed way
of life. I fear it is time for me, sod-compelling as I am, to take the
field again. Even my Custom-house experience was not such a thraldom and
weariness; my mind and heart were free. Oh, labor is the curse of the
world, and nobody can meddle with it without becoming proportionally
brutified!" Very soon, of course, the pilgrim to Arcadia escapes from
the manure-yard, and declares as he runs that it was not he, it was a
spectre of him, who milked and hoed and toiled in the sun. Hawthorne
remained at Brook Farm but a few months, and after he left he never
returned thither, even for a visit.

_The Blithedale Romance_ shows that he was not unmindful of its poetic
aspect; but his genius was stirring in him, and he felt that he could
not work hard with his hands and write also. So he went off, and never
came back; and although he may have remembered certain persons kindly,
his memory of the place and of his life there could not have been very
affectionate. Probably there were other diaries kept at Brook Farm;
certainly there were many and many letters written thence, in which
still lie, and will forever lie, buried the material for its history.
But it is likely to become a tradition only, and upon its finer side
more and more unreal, because of such sketches as those of Hawthorne.
The most comical part of the whole was its impression--that is, such
impression as it made, and without exaggerating its extent or importance
upon the steady old conservatism of Boston, which was of the most
inflexible and antediluvian type. The enterprise was the more appalling
because it seemed somehow to be a natural product of the spirit of
society there. The hen of the tri-mountain had herself hatched this
inexpressible duckling. Dr. Channing, indeed, was the honored
intellectual chief; the culture of Boston had owed much to the liberal
theology; old Dr. Beecher had battered that theology in vain; but the
liberality of Boston was like the British Whiggery of the last century:
it was more intelligent and more patrician than Toryism itself.

Mr. Emerson, as we said, was practically the head--or, at least, the
accepted representative--of the new movement. His discourses before the
Phi Beta Kappa Society at Harvard College, his address to the divinity
students, and his noble Dartmouth oration, followed by his lectures in
Boston and his _Nature_ had set the barn-yard--not offensively to retain
the metaphor of the hen--into the most resonant cackle, in the midst of
Theodore Parker's South Boston sermon, and there was universal thunder.
The pulpits which Dr. Beecher had assaulted, and which had watched him
serenely, when they heard Parker thought that the very foundations of
things were going. The most distinguished chanticleers went to Mr.
Emerson's lectures, and when asked if they understood him, shook their
stately combs and replied, with caustic superiority, "No; but our
daughters do." And when the experiment began at Brook Farm there was no
doubt in conservative circles that for their sins this offshoot of
Bedlam was permitted in the neighborhood. What it was, what it was meant
to be, was inexplicable. Are they fools, knaves, madmen, or mere
sentimentalists?... Is this Coleridge and Southey again with their
Pantisocracy and Susquehanna Paradise? Is it a vast nursery of
infidelity; and is it true that "the abbé or religieux" sacrifices white
oxen to Jupiter in the back parlor? What may not be true, since it is
within Theodore Parker's parish, and his house, crammed with books, and
modest under the pines, is only a mile away?

These extraordinary and vague and hostile impressions were not relieved
by the appearance of such votaries of the new shrine as appeared in the
staid streets and halls of the city. There is always a certain amount of
oddity latent in society, which rushes into such an enterprise as a
natural vent, and in youth itself there is a similar latent and
boundless protest against the friction and apparent unreason of the
existing order. At the time of the Brook Farm enterprise this was
everywhere observable. The freedom of the anti-slavery reform and its
discussions had developed the "come-outers," who bore testimony at all
times and places against Church and State. Mr. Emerson mentions an
apostle of the gospel of love and no money, who preached zealously, but
never gathered a large church of believers. Then there were the
protestants against the sin of flesh-eating, refining into curious
metaphysics upon milk, eggs, and oysters. To purloin milk from the udder
was to injure the maternal instincts of the cow; to eat eggs was Feejee
cannibalism, and the destruction of the tender germ of life; to swallow
an oyster was to mask murder. A still selecter circle denounced the
chains that shackled the tongue and the false delicacy that clothed the
body. Profanity, they said, is not the use of forcible and picturesque
words; it is the abuse of such to express base passions and emotions. So
indecency cannot be affirmed of the model of all grace, the human body.
The fig-leaf is the sign of the fall. Man returning to Paradise will
leave it behind. The priests of this faith, therefore, felt themselves
called upon to rebuke true profanity and indecency by sitting at their
front doors upon Sunday morning with no other clothes than that of the
fig-leaf period, tranquilly but loudly conversing in the most
stupendous oaths, by way of conversational chiaro-oscuro, while a
deluded world went shuddering to church.

These were the harmless freaks and individual fantasies. But the time
was like the time of witchcraft. The air magnified and multiplied every
appearance, and exceptions and idiosyncrasies and ludicrous follies were
regarded as the rule, and as the logical masquerade of this foul fiend
Transcendentalism, which was evidently unappeasable, and was about to
devour manner, morals, religion, and common-sense. If Father Lamson or
Abby Folsom were borne by main force from an antislavery meeting, and
the non-resistants pleaded that those protestants had as good a right to
speak as anybody, and that what was called their senseless babble was
probably inspired wisdom, if people were only heavenly-minded enough to
understand it, it was but another sign of the impending anarchy. And
what was to be said--for you could not call them old dotards--when the
younger protestants of the time came walking through the sober streets
of Boston and seated themselves in concert-halls and lecture-rooms with
hair parted in the middle and falling to their shoulders, and clad in
garments such as no human being ever wore before--garments which seemed
to be a compromise between the blouse of the Paris workman and the
_peignoir_ of a possible sister? For tailoring underwent the sage
revision to which the whole philosophy of life was subjected, and one
ardent youth, asserting that the human form itself suggested the proper
shape of its garments, caused trousers to be constructed that closely
fitted the leg, and bore his testimony to the truth in coarse crash
breeches.

These were the ludicrous aspects of the intellectual and moral
fermentation or agitation that was called Transcendentalism. And these
were foolishly accepted by many as its chief and only signs. It was
supposed that the folly was complete at Brook Farm, and it was
indescribably ludicrous to observe reverend doctors and other dons
coming out to gaze upon the extraordinary spectacle, and going as
dainty ladies hold their skirts and daintily step from stone to stone in
a muddy street, lest they be soiled. The dons seemed to doubt whether
the mere contact had not smirched them. But droll in itself, it was a
thousandfold droller when Theodore Parker came through the woods and
described it. With his head set low upon his gladiatorial shoulders, and
his nasal voice in subtle and exquisite mimicry reproducing what was
truly laughable, yet all with infinite _bonhommie_ and a genuine
superiority to small malice, he was as humorous as he was learned, and
as excellent a mimic as he was noble and fervent and humane a preacher.
On Sundays a party always went from Brook Farm to Mr. Parker's little
country church. He was there just exactly what he was afterwards, when
he preached to thousands of eager people at the Boston Music Hall--the
same plain, simple, rustic, racy man. His congregation were his personal
friends. They loved him and were proud of him; and his geniality and
tender sympathy, his ample knowledge of things as well as of books, his
jovial manliness and sturdy independence, drew to him all ages and sexes
and conditions.

The society at Brook Farm was composed of every kind of person. There
were the ripest scholars, men and women of the most æsthetic culture and
accomplishment, young farmers, seamstresses, mechanics, preachers, the
industrious, the lazy, the conceited, the sentimental. But they
associated in such a spirit and under such conditions that, with some
extravagance, the best of everybody appeared, and there was a kind of
high _esprit de corps_--at least in the earlier or golden age of the
colony. There was plenty of steady, essential, hard work, for the
founding of an earthly paradise upon a New England farm is no pastime.
But with the best intention, and much practical knowledge and industry
and devotion, there was in the nature of the case an inevitable lack of
method, and the economical failure was almost a foregone conclusion. But
there were never such witty potato patches and such sparkling cornfields
before or since. The weeds were scratched out of the ground to the
music of Tennyson or Browning, and the nooning was an hour as gay and
bright as any brilliant midnight at Ambrose's. But in the midst of it
all was one figure, the practical farmer, an honest neighbor who was not
drawn to the enterprise by any spiritual attraction, but was hired at
good wages to superintend the work, and who always seemed to be
regarding the whole affair with a most good-natured wonder as a
prodigious masquerade. Indeed, the description which Hawthorne gives of
him at a real masquerade of the farmers in the woods depicts his
attitude towards Brook Farm itself: "And apart, with a shrewd Yankee
observation of the scene, stands our friend Orange, a thick-set, sturdy
figure, enjoying the fun well enough, yet rather laughing with a
perception of its nonsensicalness than at all entering into the spirit
of the thing." That, indeed, was very much the attitude of Hawthorne
himself towards Brook Farm and many other aspects of human life.

But beneath all the glancing colors, the lights and shadows of its
surface, it was a simple, honest, practical effort for wiser forms of
life than those in which we find ourselves. The criticism of science,
the sneer of literature, the complaint of experience is that man is a
miserably half-developed being, the proof of which is the condition of
human society, in which the few enjoy and the many toil. But the
enjoyment cloys and disappoints, and the very want of labor poisons the
enjoyment. Man is made body and soul. The health of each requires
reasonable exercise. If every man did his share of the muscular work of
the world no other man would be overwhelmed with it. The man who does
not work imposes the necessity of harder toil upon him who does. Thereby
the first steals from the last the opportunity of mental culture, and at
last we reach a world of pariahs and patricians, with all the
inconceivable sorrow and suffering that surround us. Bound fast by the
brazen age, we can see that the way back to the age of gold lies through
justice, which will substitute co-operation for competition.

That some such generous and noble thought inspired this effort at
practical Christianity is most probable. The Brook-Farmers did not
interpret the words, "The poor ye have always with ye" to mean, "We must
keep always some of you poor." They found the practical Christian in him
who said to his neighbor, "Friend, come up higher." But apart from any
precise and defined intention, it was certainly a very alluring
prospect: that of life in a pleasant country, taking exercise in useful
toil, and surrounded with the most interesting and accomplished people.
Compared with other efforts upon which time and money and industry are
lavished, measured by Colorado and Nevada speculations, by California
gold-washing, by oil-boring, and by the Stock Exchange, Brook Farm was
certainly a very reasonable and practical enterprise, worthy of the hope
and aid of generous men and women. The friendships that were formed
there were enduring. The devotion to noble endeavor, the sympathy with
what is most useful to men, the kind patience and constant charity that
were fostered there, have been no more lost than grain dropped upon the
field. It is to the Transcendentalism that seemed to so many good souls
both wicked and absurd that some of the best influences of American life
to-day are due. The spirit that was concentrated at Brook Farm is
diffused but not lost. As an organized effort, after many downward
changes, it failed; but those who remember the Hive, the Eyrie, the
Cottage, when Margaret Fuller came and talked, radiant with bright
humor; when Emerson and Parker and Hedge joined the circle for a night
or day; when those who may not be named publicly brought beauty and wit
and social sympathy to the feast; when the practical possibilities of
life seemed fairer, and life and character were touched ineffaceably
with good influence, cherish a pleasant vision which no fate can harm,
and remember with ceaseless gratitude the blithe days at Brook Farm.



BEECHER IN HIS PULPIT AFTER THE DEATH OF LINCOLN


"Cross the Fulton Ferry and follow the crowd" was the direction which
was said to have been given humorously by Mr. Beecher himself to a
pilgrim who asked how to find his church in Brooklyn. The Easy Chair
remembered it on the Sunday morning after the return of the Fort Sumter
party; and crossing at an early hour in the beautiful spring day, he
stepped ashore and followed the crowd up the street. That at so early an
hour the current would set strongly towards the church he did not
believe. But he was mistaken. At the corner of Hicks Street the throng
turned and pushed along with hurrying eagerness as if they were already
too late, although it was but a little past nine o'clock. The street
was disagreeable like a street upon the outskirts of a city, but the
current turned from it again in two streams, one flowing to the rear and
the other to the front of Plymouth Church. The Easy Chair drifted along
with the first, and as he went around the corner observed just before
him a low brick tower, below which was an iron gate.

The gate was open, and we all passed rapidly in, going through a low
passage smoothly paved and echoing, with a fountain of water midway and
a chained mug--a kind thought for the wayfarer--and that little cheap
charity seemed already an indication of the humane spirit which
irradiates the image of Plymouth Church. The low passage brought us all
to the narrow walk by the side of the church, and to the back door of
the building. The crowd was already tossing about all the doors. The
street in front of the building was full, and occasionally squads of
enterprising devotees darted out and hurried up to the back door to
compare the chances of getting in.

The Easy Chair pushed forward, and was shown by a courteous usher to a
convenient seat. The church is a large white building, with a gallery on
both sides, two galleries in front, and an organ-loft and choir just
behind the pulpit. It is spacious and very light, with four long windows
on each side. The seats upon the floor converge towards the pulpit,
which is a platform with a mahogany desk, and there are no columns. The
view of the speaker is unobstructed from every part. The plain white
walls and entire absence of architectural ornamentation inevitably
suggest the bare cold barns of meeting-houses in early New England. But
this house is of a very cheerful, comfortable, and substantial aspect.

There were already dense crowds wedged about all the doors upon the
inside. The seats of the pew-holders were protected by the ushers, the
habit being, as the Easy Chair understood, for the holders who do not
mean to attend any service to notify the ushers that they may fill the
seats. Upon the outside of the pews along the aisles there are chairs
which can be turned down, enabling two persons to be seated side by
side, yet with a space for passage between, so that the aisle is not
wholly choked. On this Sunday the duties of the ushers were very
difficult and delicate, for the pressure was extraordinary. There was
still more than an hour before the beginning of the service, but the
building was rapidly filling; and everybody who sank into a seat from
which he was sure that he could not be removed wore an edifying
expression of beaming contentment which must have been rather
exasperating to those who were standing and struggling and dreadfully
squeezed around the doors.

Presently the seats were all full. The multitude seemed to be solid
above and below, but still the new-comers tried to press in. The
platform was fringed by the legs of those who had been so lucky as to
find seats there. There was loud talking and scuffling, and even
occasionally a little cry at the doors. One boy struggled desperately in
the crowd for his life, or breath. The ushers, courteous to the last,
smiled pitifully upon their own efforts to put ten gallons into a pint
pot. As the hour of service approached a small door under the choir and
immediately behind the mahogany desk upon the platform opened quietly,
and Mr. Beecher entered. He stood looking at the crowd for a little
time, without taking off his outer coat, then advanced to the edge of
the platform and gave some directions about seats. He indicated with his
hands that the people should pack more closely. The ushers evidently
pleaded for the pew-holders who had not arrived; but the preacher
replied that they could not get in, and the seats should be filled that
the service might proceed in silence. Then he removed his coat, sat
down, and opened the Hymn-Book, while the organ played. The impatient
people meantime had climbed up to the window-sills from the outside, and
the great white church was like a hive, with the swarming bees hanging
in clusters upon the outside.

The service began with an invocation. It was followed by a hymn, by the
reading of a chapter in the Bible, and a prayer. The congregation joined
in singing; and the organ, skilfully and firmly played, prevented the
lagging which usually spoils congregational singing. The effect was
imposing. The vast volume filled the building with solid sound. It
poured out at the open windows and filled the still morning air of the
city with solemn melody. Far upon every side those who sat at home in
solitary chambers heard the great voice of praise. Then amid the hush of
the vast multitude the preacher, overpowered by emotion, prayed
fervently for the stricken family and the bereaved nation. There was
more singing, before which Mr. Beecher appealed to those who were
sitting to sit closer, and for once to be incommoded that some more of
the crowd might get in; and as the wind blew freshly from the open
windows, he reminded the audience that a handkerchief laid upon the head
would prevent the sensitive from taking cold. Then opening the Bible he
read the story of Moses going up to Pisgah, and took the verses for his
text.

The sermon was written, and he read calmly from the manuscript. Yet at
times, rising upon the flood of feeling, he shot out a solemn adjuration
or asserted an opinion with a fiery emphasis that electrified the
audience into applause. His action was intense but not dramatic; and the
demeanor of the preacher was subdued and sorrowful. He did not attempt
to speak in detail of the President's character or career. He drew the
bold outline in a few words, and leaving that task to a calmer and
fitter moment, spoke of the lessons of the hour. The way of his death
was not to be deplored; the crime itself revealed to the dullest the
ghastly nature of slavery; it was a blow not at a man, but at the people
and their government; it had utterly failed; and, finally, though dead
the good man yet speaketh. The discourse was brief, fitting, forcible,
and tender with emotion. It was a manly sorrow and sympathy that cast
its spell upon the great audience, and it was good to be there. When
words have a man behind them, says a wise man, they are eloquent. There
was another hymn before the benediction, a peal of pious triumph, which
poured out of the heart of the congregation, and seemed to lift us all
up, up into the sparkling, serene, inscrutable heaven.



KILLING DEER


"What shall he have that kill'd the deer?" sang the foresters in Arden.
If you are in the wild woods of the Adirondacks you lie behind a log or
rock by which the animal is likely to pass; you scarcely breathe as you
wait with your hand grasping your rifle. The slow hours drag by, and you
are very wet, or the gnats and mosquitoes sting, or you are hungry,
cramped, or generally uncomfortable--but hark! What's that? A slight
rustle! You are all alert. Your heart beats. Your hands tingle.
Breathlessly you stare towards the sound. And then--nothing. A twig
dropped.

Ah well! that's nothing. Very cautiously you stretch the leg which has
the most stitch in it lest you should alarm the deer. The position and
the progress of affairs are a little monotonous; but if the day that
counts one glorious nibble is a day well spent, how much more so that
which gives you the chance of a deer! 'St! A slight but decided crashing
beyond the wood. A faint, startled, hurrying sound; and the next moment,
erect, alive in every hair, the proud antlers quivering, the eye wild
but soft, the form firm and exquisitely agile, the buck bounds into
view. Crack you go, you poor miserable skulker behind a rotten log, and
off he goes, the dappled noble of the forest!

Perhaps you hit him and kill him. You outwit him and murder him. Well,
in Venice the bravos hid in dark doorways and stabbed the gallants
hieing home from love and lady. Anybody can stab in the dark, or shoot
from an ambush. To kill an animal for sport is wretched enough; but if
you talk of manliness and use other fine words, be at least fair. Give
him a chance. Put your two legs, your two arms, a knife, and your human
wit against his four legs, greater strength, antlers, and want of brain.
Then is the contest fair. You who seek his life for fun give him a
chance at yours for self-defence. The sylvan shades approve the equal
strife; and if you fall you are at least not disgraced.

If you are a deer-stalker you creep up stealthily to find them feeding,
and if you can creep near enough, you blaze away. I hope that you have
seen Doyle's picture of you, a company of you, scrambling up the side of
a hill hoping to catch the prey over the brow. But you will not do it.
They are off, the blithe beauties, and you may get up from your stomachs
as soon as you choose.

Or you may hunt in a deer preserve with drivers and hounds. You pass
beyond the thicket in which they lurk, leaving the drivers to urge them
forth. You emerge upon sunny open spaces waving with thin, long, dry
grass, tufted with thick shrubs, and dotted with convenient mossy rocks.
Here is a favorite path of the flying deer, and you post yourself
expectant behind a rock. How calm and lovely the brilliant October day!
How the mass of the foliage shines in the clear sunlight! How every
prospect pleases, and only man is--hark, again! They are coming. Lie
low. Still as death. Oh! the beauties! There they are! And one glorious
chief of chiefs darts straight and swift towards your ambush. Just
beyond is the covert. He believes that safety is there. The quiet sunny
nooks in which he shall lie and feed, the pleasant shades at noon, the
leafy lair--they are all there a hundred rods before. Press on! press
on! oh delicate, swift feet! He is not man who does not follow you with
human sympathy. Innocence, purity, helplessness, they skim the sunny
space with you. Too late! A sharp, mean sound, the bounding falters, the
panting racer falls. The dogs and men rush on. They slay the hapless
victim. 'Tis a noble sport! 'Tis a manly business!

Lately I saw two deer, two stately bucks. It was a solitary, sunny
opening upon which I suddenly came. They were lying at the edge of the
wood, and rose with a startled spring, for an instant looked, and with
one bound, as if they would leap over the tree tops, were lost in the
thicket. The grace and charm they gave to the wood were indescribable.
Into the remotest gloom they sent a flash of sunlight. Nothing fierce,
or treacherous, or repulsive, consorts with the image of a deer, and
when they vanished the whole wood was peopled with their lovely forms.
If I had gone back to dinner dragging a mangled body along the wood
road, or carrying the piteous burden in a wagon, how could that sunlit
beech wood ever again be so sylvan sweet and Arcadian? The tranquil,
secluded, happy scene would have been blood-stained. It would have been
a fantastic remorse, but how could I have justified the killing of the
deer?

No. I have not killed deer in the Adirondacks, nor moose at Moosehead. I
do not quarrel with those who have; and I hope they are as satisfied as
I am. One day I hope to reach those pleasant places, but I hope to see
deer, not to kill them. I am content that other people should slay my
venison as well as my beef; and I shall not pretend to find any sport in
the shambles, whether in the outskirts of the city or in the mountain
valleys. I do not insist upon killing the chickens that I eat, nor the
partridges, nor the quail. The noble art of Venery is a fine term to
describe the butcher's business. A man who sees a heron streaming
through the tranquil summer sky and only wishes for his gun, or who sees
the beautiful bound of a deer in the woods with no other wish than that
of killing it, I do not envy, as I do not envy the farmer slaughtering
pigs. The bravest and most robust manhood is not necessarily developed
nor proved either by sticking pins into grasshoppers or firing shot into
deer.

"Ah yes! but you treat it too seriously," says young Nimrod. "It is not
a matter of reason, but of feeling and excitement. As you lie in your
ambush and hear suddenly the shouting of the drivers, the barking of the
dogs, the crackling and rustling of boughs and leaves, you cannot help
the intense excitement. Your blood burns, your nerves tingle, your ears
quiver, your eyes leap from your head, and, upon my honor, sir, when our
best sportsman saw the deer near him last year in Maine, he fixed his
eyes steadily upon him, but such was his nervous twitter that he pointed
his rifle straight into the ground and fired. He wounded the ground
severely, but the deer escaped. What is the use of talking to him about
butchery? Nothing in the world interests or charms him so much as
hunting. Besides, you get used to it. It is not pleasant, probably, for
the tyro, who is a surgical student, to see men's legs and arms cut off.
You could not see it without shuddering, perhaps not without sickening
and fainting. But there must be surgeons, and how long would it be
before you would actually enjoy it?

"There. Hark! tally ho, tantivity! Is not the language rich with
metaphors derived from the hunt? Does not literature ring with hunting
songs and choruses and glees? Is it not all inwrought with romance and
poetry? Waken, lords and ladies gay! The baying hound, the winding horn,
the scarlet huntsman, the flying fox, the streaming, flashing dash
across the country--they are of the very essence of the life and
civilization from which we spring. They are the soul of the 'Merrie
England' which is our chief tradition. Come, come! to the Adirondacks!
to Moosehead!

    "'All nature smiles to usher in
      The jocund Queen of morn,
    And huntsmen with the day begin
      To wind the mellow horn!'"

Yes, the horn winds far and sweet in story and song, until it becomes
the horn of elf-land faintly blowing, and man is a carnivorous animal
who feeds on flesh. But butchers and fishermen are provided to supply
the market. Is the carnivorous formation of man a reason that boys
should stone birds or men shoot deer, that we should bait dogs and fight
cocks and kill scared pigeons, not for food, but for fun? Foxes may be a
pest that should be exterminated, like bears in a frontier country. But
when a country is so advanced in settlement and civilization that
prosperous gentlemen dress themselves gayly in scarlet coats and
buckskin breeches, and ride blooded horses, and follow costly packs of
hounds across country hunting a frightened fox, the fox is no longer a
pest, and the riders are not frontiersmen and honest settlers; they are
butchers, not for a lawful purpose, but for pleasure. Yes; the law
solemnly takes life, but the judge who should take life for sport--!

Nimrod, despite the winding horn, the human relation to domestic animals
that serve us is still barbarous. No man can see what treatment a noble
horse, straining and struggling to do his best, often receives from his
owner, without wincing at the fate that abandons so fine a creature to
so ignoble and cruel a tormentor. But the kindly hand of civilization
has at last reached the animals. In Cincinnati there is a statue newly
raised to their protector. They will never know him, but the American
list of worthies is incomplete in which the name of Henry Bergh is not
"writ large."



AUTUMN DAYS


The "season of mists and mellow fruitfulness" comes long before the
maples are crimson and the birches yellow. The splendor of the summer is
very brief. If it be really hot, July is not over before you may see the
leaves slightly shrivelling, and the woods have a half-crisp, curdled
aspect. The intense heat of the year gives a sense of violent and rapid
struggle, as if all the natural processes were wonderfully accelerated
by an access of fever, and the long cool repose of convalescence follows
in the clear, bright autumn days.

The enjoyment of these things is a kind of test of character. If a man
found himself ceasing to take pleasure in the moon and flowers and
children--if the red leaf of the fall gave him the same emotion as the
green leaf of the spring--he might well feel that he was old and his
heart worn out.

The finest sight is the autumn of age, like that of the year. Some men
shrivel and dry up as they grow old. Some become coarse, or cynical, or
sad. Some, after a noble promise and even a full flowering, ripen no
fruit at all, and leave only a few reluctant and blighted results. Some
stand covered with "nurly" balls, hard, dry, and useless. Others are
stripped and bare. But a genial, golden age has all the qualities of a
warm October day. There is soft repose upon the landscape. No harsh
winds blow, no sharp chills freeze. The distance on all sides is
delicate and lost in luminous haze. Behind, it is romantic and fair;
before, it is beautiful and alluring. On all the misty hill-tops visible
summer seems to linger. The fields are crimson and yellow with the
riches of the orchard; the purple grape glistens kindly, and the golden
pumpkin lies comfortably under the stooks of dry corn. In the woods the
light winds shake the trees and the dropping nuts patter upon the
fallen leaves. Along the road the profuse golden-rod waves its bright
spray, and the cool, scentless asters gleam like pallid stars. The heat
is so honest that the round earth seems to bask in it with conscious
joy. That shining sky hides no lightning. It hangs serenely over--a
visible benediction. Night and day the barn doors stand wide open, and
the great barn is bursting with its heaped treasures. The wagons come
and go, and the beat of the flail begins. Bright and beautiful and
abundant is the cheery scene, but there is a pervading sense of
accomplishment. The cattle graze in the pastures, and in the meadows
where the growth is over. The harvest fields will clearly do no more.
The green of June has faded into the russet of October, and even the
gorgeous leaves burn, a hectic hue, upon the landscape. The earth has
done its work for the year, and there is a feeling of gathering in, of
closing the doors, and of going to rest.

When the autumn of a man's life is thus sweet and fruitful and serene,
we see how outward nature merely hints and foreshows its master. In
great, visible, palpable operations and results it images the fine and
unmarked processes that go on in man. And yet, by its unfailing method,
its annual return, the regular spring and bud and flower and fruit, it
is a ceaseless, silent monitor. Measured by our own lives, how touching
the fidelity of the year! Who is not rebuked by the honest apple-tree in
his own garden? The plums are more like us. They are almost infallibly
stung by the curculio. But how many a man who fights the curculio with
all his fortune is himself stung all over by selfishness and pride! We
might well be ashamed to walk in the woods. The mute obedience of the
trees ought to be too impressive for us. Yes, in the long autumn nights
they wrestle and roar. Their mighty voice thunders out and smites the
heart of the awakening sleeper. But will you claim that it is their
protest against the inevitable law, that they too are rebellious and
forgetful and disdainful as we are? It seems to me only piercingly sad
in its wildest tumult. It is the blind king feeling for his peers and
crying out when he does not find them. "Lords of the world" shout the
autumn woods, tossing their branches and groping blindly in the
air--"men and women who are the latest born, the Benjamins of heaven,
who are set over us to subdue and govern, ye alone, in all the wide
creation, are false and heedless! What man of you all is as true and
noble for a man as the oak upon your hill-top for an oak? The oak obeys
every law, regularly increases and develops, stretches its shady arms of
blessing, proudly wears its leafy coronal, and drops abundant acorns for
future oaks as faithful; but who of ye all does not violate the law of
your life--so that we, if we follow you, would be so death-struck with
dry-rot that the trees would fail upon every hand and the earth become a
desert!"

So wail and roar the storm-swept autumn woods. In the late October
nights you may awaken, when the world is lost in the mystery of
darkness, and hear that appealing cry. Time and civilization have slain
the dryads and sweet sylvan populace, as Herod slew the innocents. But
although common-sense has buried them, the imagination will not let them
die. They survive in other forms, and with other voices they speak to
us--not as the spirits of the trees, but as their conscious life, they
yet whisper, and our hearts listen. Let the hickories and pine-trees
preach to us a little in these warm October afternoons. A stately elm is
the archbishop of my green diocese. In full canonicals he stands
sublime. His flowing robes fill the blithe air with sacred grace. The
light west winds and watery south are his fresh young deacons, his
ecclesiastical aides-de-camp. He rules the landscape round. And I--this
penitent old Easy Chair--attend devoutly when I hear the eloquent
rustling of his voice--as the neighbors of Saint George Herbert, of
Bemerton, used to stop their ploughs in the furrow and bow, with
uncovered head, while the sound of his chapel-bell tinkled in the air.



FROM COMO TO MILAN DURING THE WAR OF 1848.


As the afternoon was ending--walking from Lago Maggiore and the Lake of
Lugano to the Lake of Como--we passed a shrine at which a mother and
children were kneeling and chanting the Ave Maria, and an ass with
loaded panniers jogged slowly by. The vesper bells began to ring from an
old church-tower upon a mountain-side, while far over the rounding tops
of orange and fig trees in the warm-descending vale a triangle of
dark-blue water was the first glimpse of Como. My knees bent a little,
not with fatigue, but with reverence, as if I were again entering the
very court and heart of Italy. A group of girls, less timorous or more
interested than the crowd upon the Lugano Lake shore, asked us if there
were any news--if France were coming to help Italy. But ours, alas! were
not the beautiful feet upon the mountains. We could only say "nothing"
and "good-bye."

At Santa Croce we came out in full view of the lake, upon which lay the
splendor of sunset, and, taking a path which we were told would shorten
the journey, we lost our way upon a huge hill-side. But as we reached
the summit the full moon rose from behind the heights upon the opposite
shores of Como, and a handsome Italian boy showed us a straight path to
Cadenabia upon the margin of the lake. I gave him a silver trifle, and
he wished us "felice viaggio" with his black eyes and his musical lips;
and leaving him like a shepherd boy of the purer Arcadia of the hills,
we descended rapidly into a vineyard, and so came to the shore.

It was a moment of mingled twilight and moonlight. A glittering path lay
from the Cadenabia shore to the Villa Melzi opposite; and, hailing an
old boatman, we glided up that golden way to the vine-clustered balcony
which I knew at Bellagio under the moon. The air was calm and bland.
The water was oily and gleaming. The mountains stood around us dusky and
vast in the ghostly light as we went silently over the lake.

We landed, and took tea upon the balcony at the hotel whose only rival
in Europe for romantic picturesqueness is the _Trois Couronnes_ at Vevey
upon the Lake of Geneva. The "magic casement" of Keats's "Ode to a
Nightingale" was ours at Bellagio. The lake murmured with music
everywhere. We saw the boats full of people singing choruses, then
talking and laughing as they floated away. The sound of instruments, the
throb of strings, the sad, mellow peal of horns, filled the air; and
long after midnight a band was still playing in the village. About
midnight Edmund and Frank bathed in the lake. Their figures were white
as marble in the black water, and they struck the calm into sparkles of
splendor as they swam out....

The boat which we took to descend the lake to the town of Como had three
rowers. The chief, whom I remembered from last year, groaned bitterly
over the war, because there were so few strangers.

"Trade, you see, is conservative," said I to Edmund.

"Como is conservatism itself," he tranquilly replied.

"We live upon the strangers," continued Giovanni Battista, the boatman,
with a simplicity and truthfulness that made us laugh; "and this year
nobody comes. The Italians are driven away, and the foreigners are
frightened."

He had not been to Como for two months, although his business is plying
upon the lake, and his winter depends upon his summer. "The war is bad
for all of us," he said, "and after all the Germans are back again."

... Farther on, and nearer Como, the shore is covered with handsome
villas, of which the most remarkable for beauty and fame are Madame
Pasta's, a magnificent estate, and Taglioni's, which is not yet
finished, and the stately Odescalchi. As we passed Madame Pasta's the
old boatman shrugged his shoulders and trilled with his voice. "That's
the way the money came there," he said, contemptuously. He was clearly
of opinion that only the decaying and decayed families whose names he
had heard all his life, and whose ancestors his fathers knew, were to be
spoken of with praise.

"Whose villa is that?" asked I.

"Eh! che! nobody's," he replied; "if it were anybody's we should know."

At five o'clock we rounded the point over which I had stood upon the
height the year before on a still September afternoon hearing the girls
sing in a boat below, and so came to the shore at Como.

Everywhere there was an air of consternation. The Austrians had just
re-occupied the town, and the streets were full of the "hated
barbarians," rattling about with long swords and standing on guard at
the doors of public buildings. The walls bristled with military notices.
Among others I read one exhorting all well-disposed people to surrender
arms of every kind by a certain day at a place named. The people seemed
to be stupefied, and gazed in dull wonder upon the soldiers.

Out of the square, ringing with Austrian sabres, we stepped into the
Duomo, dim and lofty and hushed, untouched by revolutions or triumphs. A
few inodorous sinners were kneeling and praying. They were very poor and
ignorant. But this was their palace, and they looked as if they knew
that the great Emperor of the barbarians had not one more gorgeous or
solemn.

We tried to secure seats in the post for Milan. There was no place. We
applied at the offices of public and private diligences. It was still
impossible. The evening was cool and clear, and we considered. The
distance to Milan was but eight hours of our walking, and we were making
a walking tour. And although we had scarcely bargained for a promenade
over the plains of Lombardy in an August sun--yet this perfect moon?
Should we turn back without seeing the Goths encamped around the most
glorious of Gothic cathedrals?

It was nine o'clock when we shouldered our knapsacks and set forth. The
dwellers in romantic Como, standing at their doors, looked wonderingly
upon the four pedestrians marching in regular resolute tramp along the
streets, evidently moving upon Milan. The small children plainly thought
us a part of the imperial and royal army. "Here come the Austrians,"
whispered one boy to another, as he gazed at the gray wide-awakes and
knapsacks.

The mild Francis looked at him with the air of an army which would
respect persons and property so long as it was unmolested, and wished
the boy so soft a _buona notte_ that he smiled gently, and I am sure his
dreams were not disturbed.

We passed out of the gate of Como full against the round rising moon,
and took the broad hard highway for Milan. We passed a few wagons loaded
with the furniture of some fugitive rolling slowly along. As we pushed
on, the idea of penetrating by night and on foot into a country at war
was stimulating and novel. But what consciousness of war could survive
in the deep peace of that night? The fields were covered with high corn,
and the hard straight road went before us in dim perspective. There
were no other travellers. Two or three empty vetturas or a wine cart
straggled lazily by, the little bells upon the horses tinkling, and the
drivers fast asleep. Nor were the villages many. As we passed a group of
half a dozen houses a fellow was sleeping soundly upon a bench at a
door. When we broke in upon the silence of night by asking the name of
the village, he sprang up nimbly and limped rapidly out of sight as if
the question had been a pistol-shot and had wounded him. Everybody was
nervous "in questo momento." Towards midnight we stopped at a house
which should have been near the point at which we meant to sleep until
sunrise, and roused an old lady who shrilly chirped and twittered her
terror through the slide in the door. But satisfying her that we were
neither Croats nor cannibals, she told us that we were yet a mile or two
from Balasina.

It was now twelve o'clock, and the land seemed sunk in a sleep of death.
There was no sound but our own echoes as we entered the dreary, dismal
village, which, like all Italian villages, is merely a dirty street
bordered with gloomy houses. They looked so hopeless with their grim
stone fronts, high-barred windows out of reach, and huge gates, as if
expecting nothing but hostility, that when we stopped before the inn we
felt like the wretched wights who beheld the dungeons of an ogre; and
when Edmund exclaimed in what seemed a terrible voice, so still was the
night, "Shall I not take mine ease in mine inn?" we started as if he had
joked in church. Then the vision of a pleasant inn hung for a moment in
our minds, and the sense of the preposterous contrast awakened a loud
peal of laughter which died away echoing among those houses which were
as hospitable as sea-crags. While we stood debating, a group of
peasants, with their jackets slung over their shoulders, passed
spectrally by, staring steadily at us, as if they would not be unwilling
to strike a final blow for the kingdom of Italy.

They disappeared, and we struck a resounding blow upon the door of the
albergo, and another and another. After a while there was a sound of
stealthily unbarring window-shutters, followed by a voice demanding the
reason of the tumult. We explained that we were friends who wanted beds
for the night. No, that was impossible, "the voice replied far up the
height;" there were no beds, and we had better push on to the next
tavern. We expostulated in many tongues with the dimly-visioned head
that now appeared, pleading that we were strangers from a far country
who were very tired and sleepy. The head disappeared for a few moments
and we heard a low colloquy. Then the great gate of the albergo swung
sullenly open, and we stepped into a dim court, and the dimly-visioned
face became a face like a dull razor, it was so thin-featured and
stupid. The man asked us to stop, and, stepping aside, he called a
woman's name, then stood waiting, his wretched dozing face illuminated
by the weak lustre of a long-wicked tallow-candle which he held.
Presently he moved on along the windows of the court conversing with an
invisible within the house. When those murmuring arrangements were
made, he led us up a dirty stone staircase, trying to open various doors
with keys that did not fit the locks; and finally, after a desperate
wrestle with one, he swore fiercely in a thin, wiry voice that made the
blood run cold, and then smashed the door of the chamber, carrying away
wood-work and lock together. It was a vast room of immense discomfort,
and after barricading the disabled door with tables and chairs, we lay
down and fell asleep upon beds which could furnish no dreams.

In the morning we ate grapes and peaches, and finding a wagon which we
could hire, we bribed our pedestrian consciences and bowled over the
beautiful road to Milan as republicans, reluctantly confessing that the
imperial and royal post-roads were the best in the world.

"Yes--but not for the public benefit," said the mild Francis; "they are
for the quicker transport of troops and artillery to oppress the
people."

Silent, broken-hearted Milan! No, not yet visibly broken-hearted, for
the Cathedral sparkled pure and lofty in the rare, blue summer air. It
was the morning of the Feast of the Ascension of the Virgin Mary, to
whom the Cathedral is dedicated, and was therefore high festival. But
the people had little aspect of joy. We stopped at the gate, and sat in
the steady glare of the sun while our passports were closely inspected.
Outside the city wall lay a wilderness of tree trunks, which had been
levelled in expectation of a siege by the Austrians. They were useless
now; and groups of soldiers in gray slouched hats and black plumes--a
kind of Robin Hood uniform--were clustered idly and curiously about the
gate. They looked worn and red and wasted, and I fancied had taken part
in the fight of the burning day which had made almost as many idiots as
corpses in the Austrian army.

Within the city the streets were broken up, and the paving-stones
designed for barricades were merely roughly laid back again in their
places. In the long vista of the streets there was no shop open. The
only signs of traffic were the stands of the fruit-merchants shaded by
gayly-striped awnings, and covered with piles of glowing fruit.
Multitudes of brightly-dressed people strolled idly and curiously up and
down, and a company of sappers and miners marched by without music, but
carrying their implements and their soiled accoutrements. They were
dirty and draggled, like a corps marching across a battle-field to dig a
hopeless ditch. There were no carriages moving; there was no noise, no
hurry, no excitement, only that scuffling murmur which makes the silence
of a great city spectral. The stately Milanese women walked finely by.
Their long black hair was drawn away from the forehead and folded in
massive plaits; and the black veil that hung from the back of the head
was partly gathered over the arm. Queen-like they walked, carrying the
bright-colored fan which was raised to shield their eyes from the sun,
or languidly waved against their bosoms. Forms of the Orient or of
Spain, the imagination touched them with pathetic dignity--matrons of a
lost country.



HERBERT SPENCER ON THE YANKEE


It was a very distinguished and agreeable company that greeted Mr.
Herbert Spencer at dinner, and the speaking was capital. His own address
was an interesting paper, in which he preached "the gospel of
relaxation." In an interview published some time before, he had made
some incisive criticisms upon American life and character, and in his
dinner address he said that he was going to find fault.

"The Redcoats all talk to us like uncles or pedagogues," exclaimed
Americus, impatiently. "What business have they to lecture us in this
style? We are quite old enough to take care of ourselves, and quite able
to run this continent without any instruction from Englishmen. Suppose
that some American guest in England should say to his hosts that he
wanted to give them some good advice, and point out to them a few of
their defects, and then proceed to pat them on the head with patronizing
praise, don't you think there would be a storm? If strangers like us,
very well; if they don't like us, very well. It is a matter of supreme
indifference to us."

Why, then, Americus, do we ask them how they like us? And why should the
people of one country scornfully decline to hear the comments of
sensible people of other countries? Every man is, or ought to be, glad
to receive intelligent counsel, and to see his life from other points of
view than his own. Why should not the citizen be equally sensible? We
did not ask De Tocqueville to come and see us and analyze our political
institutions and their operations. We did not ask Von Holst to write our
constitutional history. But De Tocqueville and Von Holst have laid us
and all other lovers of popular constitutional liberty under great
obligations. Both of them have written better books of their kind about
us than any American has written.

It is absurd to snarl that we don't care what they say, and that they
had better stay at home and not lecture us. When Dickens stung us with
the satire of _Martin Chuzzlewit_, he was not only accused of
ingratitude--as if a man were bound to find no fault with any abuse, and
not to criticise any tendency, in a country where he had been kindly
welcomed--but he was told to look at home, and assured that if he wanted
to depict outrageous evils and ridiculous people he had only to portray
his beloved England. That was said with a fine air of indignation. But
what else was Dickens doing all his life? What are his books, in this
point of view, but a prolonged arraignment of the abuses and of the
absurd social types of his native England? But when Henry James, Jun.,
draws a good-natured and shrewd sketch of the American girl abroad in
Daisy Miller, although it is plainly intended to show to conventional
Europe that the American girl is misjudged, we petulantly wonder why he
could not choose another type to illustrate.

The observations of intelligent foreign critics are no more hostile than
the American criticisms which they confirm. When, for instance, after a
very intelligent recognition of the material advantages of this country,
Mr. Spencer says that if there had been another and higher progress
commensurate with the material advance there would be nothing to wish,
he says nothing which very many Americans have not felt and said, and he
adds an improvement from history which had occurred to many Americans,
and had been strongly stated by them, that while the republics of the
Middle Ages surrounded themselves with material splendor, their liberty
decayed. And what is this but a contemporary statement of the old truth
which Goldsmith put into memorable verse a hundred years ago,

    "Ill fares the land, to hastening ills a prey,
    Where wealth accumulates and men decay."

Mr. Spencer's further remarks that under the forms of freedom we may
lose its substance, and that in some ways, which he points out, we are
losing it, is the burden of the warning of many an intelligent American,
which does not need the old illustration of Cæsar's introduction of the
empire under republican forms, nor the warning of Burke, that "ambition,
though it has ever the same general views, has not at all times the same
means nor the same particular objects." So when Mr. Spencer says that
paper constitutions will not work as they are intended to work, and that
the real basis and bulwark of national greatness and of progressive
liberty is character and not education, he says what every thoughtful
American perceives and believes. He does not say, indeed, what many
Americans know, and what explains the emphasis with which we insist upon
education, that the perception of the desirability of general education
is in itself an evidence of character. Education alone may not save a
people from political trouble, but constitutional liberty will not be
maintained by an ignorant people.

That our good-nature is a kind of moral indifference which is really a
defect of character is another of Mr. Spencer's observations which is a
corroboration of much American comment upon American life. It has an
explanation in the conditions of that life for which Mr. Spencer does
not make allowance. But his remark is only that of the railroad
traveller last summer which this Easy Chair recorded. In a new
country--if an American without incurring the penalty of high-treason
may call this a new country--everybody must good-humoredly help
everybody else, and make the best of everything.

Perhaps Mr. Spencer has not heard the story of the American gentleman
travelling in a certain part of the country, who was quartered in a
hotel, in a room of which the window opened upon the piazza where his
fellow-citizens sat tilted back in chairs, talking, reading the
newspapers, and expectorating. There was no shade or shutter to the
window. The traveller, desiring to change his dress, for want of any
other curtain hung a shirt over the window to secure his seclusion. But
a watchful fellow-citizen chanced to see the unwonted attempt to escape
the public eye, and the traveller was surprised in the most intimate
stage of his change of raiment to see the improvised curtain suddenly
torn away, and a face thrust inquiringly into the window with the
remark, "I jess wanted to see what you're so---- private about." The
case was an extreme one, and a laugh was certainly a better recourse
than a revolver.

In everything that involves a principle, as Mr. Spencer truly says,
there is profound wisdom in Hamlet's phrase, "Greatly to find quarrel in
a straw." But this again is only a new face of the old wisdom _obsta
principiis_. For a straw shows which way the wind blows. How can a
sensible American quarrel with the shrewd and kindly insight of a quiet
Englishman who, when he is asked his opinion, shows that he agrees with
the asker? At the dinner Mr. Spencer did not speak as an Englishman, or
a critic, or a cynic, but as a philosopher. The end of all our study and
endeavor, he said, should be complete living. We do not learn for
learning's sake, we are not self-denying for the sake of self-denial,
but all is for fuller and richer living. Intemperate devotion to work of
any kind, like all intemperance, weakens the power of right living. In
America, as in England, there is this absorbing passion for work.
Therefore, in the interest of a better and more truly efficient life,
let us heed the gospel of relaxation and recreation.

It was, as he said, an unconventional after-dinner speech, and Carl
Schurz very happily cited the speaker himself as a striking
illustration--as striking as any Yankee--of the consequences of
disregarding his own doctrine of the desirability of recreation for a
completer life. But it was not an English uncle "tipping" his bumptious
American nephew with good advice, nor a pedagogue lecturing us upon our
follies and defects, nor a supercilious foreigner condescending. It was
a thoughtful guest of our own kindred, of the same high and generous
purpose that we attribute to the best of our countrymen, comparing notes
in the most friendly way, and speaking to us not distinctively as
Americans so much as men living in America. If any American of
corresponding standing with Mr. Spencer should go to England and speak
to Englishmen after dinner in the same simple and friendly way, they
would be very foolish fellows if they listened with any less courtesy
and heed than we have listened to Mr. Spencer.



HONOR


These are very precious words of Lovelace:

    "I could not love thee, dear, so much,
      Loved I not honor more."

And Francis First's message to his mother after Pavia, "All is lost but
honor," is in the same key. Yet honor has been as much travestied as
liberty, and the crimes committed in its name are as many. Falstaff's is
a sharp antistrophe: "What is in that word honor? What is that honor?
Air." But for that whiff of air how many noble lives have been
sacrificed!

Alexander Hamilton knew his own time, and he decided that his refusal of
Burr's challenge would be regarded as cowardly, and destroy his prestige
and influence. We may say that a morally greater man would nevertheless
have dared to refuse it, but we must also consider that Hamilton knew
the popular estimate of his own standard of life, and would naturally
test his conduct by that standard. He was a soldier and a man of the
world of the eighteenth century. Dr. Nott, the echoes of whose famous
sermon on Hamilton's death still linger in tradition, might have
declined to fight and been justified. He was a clergyman, and popular
feeling excused him from resorting to the field of honor. But it is very
doubtful if it would have excused Hamilton.

He might have urged that Burr had no right to make his demand. But
Hamilton knew that he had spoken most strongly of Burr, and he knew that
Burr knew it. He thought Burr an unprincipled and dangerous fellow, and
he said so plainly. But there was the familiar preface to Hamilton's
explanation of the charges against him as Secretary of the Treasury.
Could he take the lofty height of moral principle? Or could he stand
upon the technical punctilio of the duel? His honor, by which he meant
the consistency of his life and the standards that he acknowledged,
seemed to him to allow him no alternative, and he was slain by the
necessity of what is unquestionably a false sense of honor.

A man's honor, in the sense that we may attribute to the lines of
Lovelace, is his most precious possession. But it is something which is
wholly in his own keeping, and is not at the mercy or whim of another.
He can soil it, but except himself the whole world cannot smirch it. If
a man had told Dr. Channing that he lied, or had dashed a glass of wine
in his face, the honor of Dr. Channing would still have remained
unsullied, not because he was a minister, but because of a reason which
is equally applicable to all other men--because of his moral rectitude
and courage. That a ribald tongue railed at him for lying when he had
spoken the truth could not affect him except with pity or wonder. Even
if the charge were true and he had told a lie, he would, indeed, have
soiled his own honor, but the railer would not have touched it.

This view assumes that honor is something else than notoriety, which in
turn is something very different from fame or character. Notoriety is
current familiarity with a man's name, which is given by much mention of
it arising from any kind of conduct. Reputation is favorable notoriety
as distinguished from fame, which is permanent approval of great deeds
or noble thoughts by the best intelligence of mankind. But honor is
absolutely individual and personal. It is conscious and willing loyalty
to the highest inward leading. It is that quality which cannot be
insulted. This is the sublime instinct of which Lovelace sings. I could
not so much love thee, Lucasta, purest of the pure, if I did not love
purity more. _Amicus Plato, amicus Socrates, sed magis amica veritas._

The ordinary talk about honor is a parody of this spiritual loyalty. A
man seizes another by the nose at a public table, or he slaps his face
in the street, or he tells him in the sacred precincts of the club that
he lies, or he posts him as a coward, or he insults his wife or
daughter--such a man invites summary retaliation, and he generally gets
it. But there is no question of honor involved. "Suppose your nose
pulled at the opera," said a gentleman at the club, discussing the
ethics of honor--"your nose, you know," he said, with horror, and
unconsciously holding his own forward--"what could be a more unspeakable
insult?" "Yes," answered his protagonist; "but does a man carry his
honor in his nose?" Nature has provided instincts and weapons for the
defence of our noses. But she has not made the nose the citadel of
honor, nor has she left honor at the mercy of a sot who may choose to
drench it with wine.

There was a quarrel the other day between two men, one of whom had said
that the way in which the other had done something was not the way of a
gentleman; the other replied that he would not stand being called
ungentlemanly. There was a closing and grappling, and then one whipped
out a pistol and began firing at the other, who took to the street, and
most naturally but inconsiderately dodged behind innocent citizens in
the street to avoid the bullets. The pursuer fired as opportunity
served, while the pursued dashed into a hotel to borrow a pistol to
return the broadside. Stanley might have seen such a performance in the
Mmjumbo regions on the shores of Lake Nyanza or the banks of the
Zambesi, but what had it to do with honor? Is that what Lovelace loved
more than Lucasta? Is that what King Francis--more's the pity if this
were the thing--did not lose at Pavia!

Our honor is solely in our own keeping. To have your nose pulled is not
to be dishonored, but so to behave that it deserves pulling. But,
Alcibiades of the clubs, remember that it is not the pulling which makes
the dishonor.

    "The fault, dear Brutus, is not in our stars,
    But in ourselves, that we are underlings."

And Cassius also says what bears a very different interpretation from
that which he designed:

    "Well, honor is the subject of my story.
    I cannot tell what you and other men
    Think of this life; but, for my single self,
    I had as lief not be, as live to be
    In awe of such a thing as I myself."

Fear of yourself, fear of your own rebuke, fear of betraying your
consciousness of your duty and not doing it--that is the fear which
Lovelace loved better than Lucasta; that is the fear which Francis,
having done his duty, saved, and justly called it honor.



JOSEPH WESLEY HARPER


Often during the long and sorrowful days of the war, as the Easy Chair
wound its slow way to its corner, it heard a quiet greeting, and,
looking up, saw a friend standing aside upon the steps, calm, unhurried,
and the greeting was followed by the significant and challenging
question, "Well?" The tone was tender and tranquil, and conveyed all the
meaning of many words: "Where are we now? What will come of this last
news? How, when, and where will the bitter struggle end?" Then stepping
out upon one of the bridges that connect the tower of the staircase with
the various floors of the huge buildings in which this MAGAZINE is
prepared, the Easy Chair and its friend conversed. There was a singular
sagacity and justice in all that the calm friend said, and the most
truculent opponent of the cause to which his hopes and faith were given
would have heard nothing acrid or exasperating from his lips, even in
the darkest hour of the struggle. As they parted and the Easy Chair
resumed its way, it was with a soothed and cheerful conviction that
whatever might happen to states and nations, nothing could shake the
power of steadfast, manly character.

During the same day or any other, if it chanced to move into some other
part of the buildings, whether in the artists', the engravers', or the
editor's room; in the bindery, the press-rooms, the folding-rooms, the
composing-rooms, or in the counting-room, the Easy Chair encountered
that same friendly, serene presence which had yet its voice of authority
upon occasion, but which seemed to pervade all the rooms like sunshine.
And upon all who met him that friend made the same impression. To every
one, editor, printer, errand-boy, unknown visitor, or distinguished
guest, he was so simply courteous and kind that he controlled without
commanding; and in other days, when he had been the head of the most
turbulent work-room, he had kept the peace without an oath or a blow. It
was the man, not his clothes or his condition, that this man regarded.
It was as natural for him to stop in the street and talk with an old
black woman whom he knew as with the most renowned author whose works he
published. When Oliver Goldsmith lay in his coffin the poor women who
had known him sat weeping upon the stairs of the house. And so when this
true gentleman died, even the old pie-woman who sells cakes and apples
through the buildings left her traffic for a day, and, clad in her sad
best, stood, tearful at his funeral.

It was not strange, therefore, that when the fire of twenty years ago
seemed to have destroyed everything and to have ruined him and his
partners, the quality of the man appeared reflectively in the feeling
that was shown towards him by those who see us all without disguise.
When the misfortune was supposed to be complete the domestics in his
family assembled, apparently by a common feeling, to consider how they
could express their sympathy; and as he returned home at evening he was
met by one of them whom they had chosen, to tell him that they had all
agreed to continue their service at reduced wages, or for no wages at
all, until he should recover from the heavy loss. "I stood everything
very well up to that time," he said to a friend who tells the story to
the Easy Chair, and who had asked him if it were true, "but that broke
me down." And the tears were in his eyes as he said it.

Of course every one who, during the last forty-five years, has been
familiar with this publishing house, knows that the Easy Chair is
speaking of Joseph Wesley Harper, the third of the four brothers by whom
the house was founded, and who recently died in the sixty-ninth year of
his age. He was so truly modest, he avoided publicity so
unostentatiously, that the Easy Chair almost feels as if it were doing
wrong to mention him here with praise; so hard is it to believe that his
eyes will not rest upon these lines with all the old kind appreciation.
But it is a sermon or a poem which none of us can spare, the life of a
man who in very great prosperity kept not only the true heart of a
child, but the humble heart that owned no inferior. We are judged
usually by our public successes, by the esteem of distinguished persons.
But the real test of character is the feeling of those before whom we
play no part. What does the nurse in the nursery think of us, or the
porter in the store, or the butcher-boy? If a man's children confide in
him, if all whom he employs at home or in his business feel that he is
full of thought and sympathy for them as for brethren, if those who meet
him perceive the charm of his urbanity, and as they draw nearer and know
him better, honor and love him more and more, we can be very sure that
he has the noblest human qualities, whose influence will be a possession
to us forever.

Such was the friend whom for so many years in its little labors upon
these pages the Easy Chair has constantly seen, and whom it will see no
more; and as it meditates, not sadly, but with the sober cheerfulness
which his own serene faith in the divine order could not but inspire,
upon that good life now peacefully ended, it feels how truly Wesley
Harper will always be remembered by those who knew him well.

    "The wise who soar but never roam,
    True to the kindred points of heaven and home."



REVIEW OF UNION TROOPS

1865


The victorious armies had marched home and into history. The two days of
review at the end of May was a spectacle not likely to be forgotten by
those who saw it or did not see it. It belonged to that series of events
for which there is no precedence, because there never was before a
continental republic. Like every remarkable occurrence in these
remarkable days of ours, the disbanding of the armies of the East and
West, and their quiet absorption into the mass of the people, is a
spectacle which has another illustration to the extreme practicability
of a popular government. Usually the return of the victorious army is
dreaded by its country somewhat as its advance is by the enemy, and
government provides other wars to employ it. But our men are citizens
who have been defending their own rights. It is their own government
they have been maintaining. The endeavor to represent the government as
a power different from the people and dangerous to their liberty has
failed several times during the war, and will always fail so long as the
broadest base of the government is jealously guarded. And nothing is
more honorable to human nature, nothing so truly vindicates the wisdom
of our institutions and the faith that supports them, than that during
the Civil War, of which the event seemed sometimes doubtful, there has
not been even the suspicion of a desire upon the part of any popular
general to seize power and dictate to the authorities. Indeed, in the
only instance in which such a whisper was breathed the suggestion was
known to come from the politicians who surrounded the general, and not
from himself.

The review was, according to all reports, a noble sight. The Army of the
Potomac, which, often baffled, at last struck the crowning blow of the
war, and the Army of the West, whose history is immortal, poured through
the capital amid the shouts and exultation of thousands of spectators,
and marched, with the inspiring clash and peal of martial music, before
the President, the Lieutenant-General, and the notable civilians all the
day. The Western Army had with them the spoils of war: large red
roosters and fighting-cocks, tied on to the backs of mules; cows,
donkeys, and goats came also. The army moved as though Washington were
but a village upon the road of its march through Georgia or the
Carolinas. The critical spectators thought they observed the Western men
were of a finer physique and more entirely American, and the Eastern of
a stricter military drill. The slouched hat was worn by the officers and
men of the West, the French kepi by the more showy Eastern officers.
Sherman himself, the hero of the magnificent campaign which the Richmond
papers said was merely the flight of an arrow through the air--but which
literally pierced the rebellion to the heart--was saluted by the
grandest acclamations. History will rank him with the really great
soldiers. His men are very proud of him--how could they help it?--and if
for a moment there was wonder at his arrangements with Johnson, there is
no man now so poor as to doubt his sincerity or question his patriotism.

It would have been pleasant if, with the other heroes, the eager, proud
crowd could have seen General Thomas, the soldier who, by indomitable
tenacity, saved the day at Chickamauga and destroyed the rebel army
before Nashville; but he was on duty elsewhere.

As the armies passed it must have been impossible to forget--as in
reading of the spectacle we constantly remember--the disbanding of the
army of the Revolution. The soldiers at the review are only a part of
the men now in arms, yet they were about two hundred thousand. Since the
war began there have been many more than a million in the armies. During
the Revolution (as we learn from Professor G. W. Greene's very
interesting volume on the Revolution), there were altogether in the
service 239,791 regulars in the Continental army and 56,163 of the
militia, and the sufferings of that early army are not to be described.
"During the first winter soldiers thought it hard that they should have
nothing to cook their food with; but they found, before the close, that
it was harder still to have nothing to cook." Few Americans have ever
known what it was to suffer for want of clothing; but thousands, as the
war went on, saw their garments falling by piecemeal from around them,
till scarce a shred remained to cover their nakedness. They made long
marches without shoes, staining the frozen ground with the blood from
their feet. They fought battles with guns which were hardly safe to bear
half a charge of powder. They fought, or marched, or worked at the
intrenchments all day, and laid them down at night with but one blanket
to three men.

Mr. Greene tells us that the condition of the officers was hardly better
than that of the men. They, too, had suffered cold and hunger; they,
too, had been compelled to do duty without sufficient clothing, to march
and watch and fight without sufficient food. We are told of a dinner
where no officer was admitted who had a whole pair of pantaloons, and of
all who were invited there was not one who did not establish his claims
for admission.

The treatment of the army of the Revolution by the Continental Congress
was unworthy the fame of that body which Lord Chatham so loftily praised
to Dr. Franklin. The army was disbanded stealthily, "as if the nation
were afraid to look their deliverers in the face; all through the summer
of 1783 furloughs were granted freely, and the ranks gradually thinned.
Then on the 18th of October a final proclamation was issued for their
discharge. On the 2d of November Washington issued his final orders from
Rocky Hill, near Princeton. On the 3d they were disbanded. There was no
formal leave-taking. Each regiment, each company, went when it chose.
Men who had stood side by side in battle, who had shared the same tent
in summer, the same hut in winter, parted, never to meet again. Some
still had homes, and, therefore, definite hopes. But hundreds knew not
whither to go.... For a few days taverns and streets were crowded. For
weeks soldiers were to be seen on every road, or lingering bewildered
about public places, like men who were at a loss to know what to do with
themselves. There were no ovations for them as they came back, toilworn
before their time, to the places that had once known them; no ringing of
bells; no eager opening of hospitable doors. The country was tired of
the war, tired of the sound of the drum and fife; anxious to get back to
sowing and reaping, to buying and selling, and town meetings, and
general elections."

These were the veterans of one of the most glorious and important wars
in the progress of the race. Yet the men who were so unhandsomely
suffered to depart from the service were also grudgingly paid when they
were released. "Their claims were disputed inch by inch. Money which
should have been given cheerfully as a righteous debt was doled out with
a reluctant hand as a degrading charity."

It is refreshing to turn from the page of this melancholy historian to
the newspaper of to-day, and read that the men who have received the
jubilant ovation of the review are not only to be paid in full and at
once, as the most sacred of national debts, but that the most strenuous
effort will be made to employ them by preference in the public offices
to which they may be fitted, while private persons will bear in mind the
same just and generous purpose. Indeed, there is no forgetfulness of the
soldiers of to-day. The sense of their vital service to the country is
universal and commanding. They will be honored heroes while they live,
and our children shall be proud that we cherish them.

It is not easy even yet, although the victors have returned and are
disbanded, fully to comprehend that the war is over and the country
saved. But it is so, and the living and the dead are joined in a
glorious remembrance. How many an eye must have grown dim, swimming in
tears as it gazed on the splendid pageant because of the brave and
beautiful who had shared the peril and the long, long doubt and
struggle, but not the triumph of victory and return. The victory is won;
the country is saved; but at what inestimable cost! Four years ago
Theodore Winthrop fell at Great Bethel, on a summer morning, and those
that loved him learned that the war had begun. Three years ago, on a
winter evening, Joseph Curtis sank dead from his horse at
Fredericksburg, and Theodore Parkman perished at Princeton on an autumn
day. Two years ago, on a soft midsummer night, Robert Shaw fell upon the
ramparts of Wagner, and was "buried with his niggers." Eight months ago,
in the Shenandoah Valley, Charles Lowell died at Cedar Creek, in the
very shock of victory. They were five only, all young, and they gave
gladly for us all that makes life glad and beautiful. Yet how many as
young and brave and beloved as they have died like them, and, like
them, are remembered and mourned! They, too, let us believe, smile
still above us, and bend over us with serene joy at this happy time. Let
their sweet memory hallow our jubilee! Let us take care that our lives
are worthy their glorious death.



APRIL, 1865


A most genial and friendly letter to the Easy Chair, dated simply
"Home," and speaking tenderly of the late President, reminds us that our
loss is a blow to every home in the country. This peculiar personal
affection for Mr. Lincoln was so evident that every orator spoke of it,
and with an emotion that attends a private sorrow. No tribute could be
so pathetic and so suggestive of the character of the man who had more
deeply endeared himself to the heart and fixed himself in the confidence
of the American people than any man in our history. Among the
inscriptions that were displayed during the days of mourning in the city
there was one hung upon a shop that was touching in its very baldness:
"Alas! alas! our father Abraham is dead." That was the feeling in all
true hearts and homes. It was a feeling which no Cæsar, no Charlemagne,
no Napoleon ever inspired. The Netherlands wept with a sorrow as sore
for the Prince of Orange, France bewailed with romantic grief the death
of Henry IV. But the people of England and France were comparatively
few, and the relation between the victims and the mourners was that of
prince and subjects. Our leader was one of the poorest of the people. He
was great in their greatness. They felt with him and for him as one of
themselves, and in his fall, more truly than Rome in that of Cæsar, we
all fell down.

The month of April, 1865, was curiously eventful in the annals of this
country. General Grant moved upon the enemy's works, and Petersburg and
Richmond fell. He pursued and fought the retreating army, and the rebel
commander-in-chief surrendered. In the very jubilee of a national joy
the President was murdered. While yet his body was borne across the
country by the reverent hands of a nation, his murderer was tracked,
brought to bay, shot, and buried in a nameless spot to protect his
corpse from wild popular fury. In the midst of the tragical days General
Sherman, whom, only last month, the Easy Chair was celebrating as so
skilful and resistless a soldier, instead of summoning Johnston to a
surrender upon the terms granted to Lee, allowed himself to sign
recognition of the rebel government and to open a future political
discord, while he was yet able to prescribe the simple surrender of an
army. The shock of disappointment and regret was universal. The
authorities unanimously disapproved his convention. The
Lieutenant-General went immediately to the front, and the month that had
opened with President Lincoln trusted and beloved, with Davis defended
by Lee and his army in the rebel capital, and Sherman confronted by
Johnston, and Mobile holding out, closed with the rebel capital in
possession of the government, Lee a paroled prisoner, his army
disbanded, Davis a skulking fugitive, Johnston and his army paroled
prisoners, Mobile captured, President Lincoln dead, President Johnson
at the head of the government, and the assassin dead and buried.

Through such a succession of great events this country had never as
rapidly passed. It swept the scale of emotion. From the height of joy
triumphant it sank to the very depths of sorrow, from confidence and
pride in a military leader it passed to humiliating amazement, yet not
for a moment paused in its work or shook in its purpose, and was never
so calm, so strong, so grand, as in that tumult of emotion.

Every man who has been proud of his country hitherto has now profounder
cause for pride. Our system has been tried in every way; it rises
purified from the fire. No one man is essential to her, however deeply
beloved, however generously trusted. The history of the war from May,
1861, to May, 1865, proves that she cannot be hopelessly bereaved. The
sceptics who have sneered, the timid who have feared, the shrewd who
have doubted, must now see that the principles of popular government
have been amply vindicated. We have only clearly to understand and
fearlessly to trust these principles, and the future, like the past, is
secure.

In the earlier days of the war a sagacious foreign observer, resident in
the country, said that he feared we were making a mistake perilous to
the American principle. The suspension of the habeas corpus he thought a
very dangerous political, however necessary a military, experiment it
might be. But he was answered by another European, who had been a
political pupil of Cavour's, that, unlike such an act in other
countries, it was here done by the people themselves, and they must be
trusted in it, or else the whole American experiment failed. Such power
must be used, he said; the crucial test is the way in which it is used.
If the people cannot use it in a way which shall be permanently
harmless, then they are not capable of self-government. Oh, wise young
judge! In the whole world no heart will be more sincerely glad, no face
more bright with joy, or sadder with sorrow, at the strange April news
from America than yours!

What a May day! Stricken as all hearts are, what a May day! Budding and
blooming on every hand, on every hill-side and meadow and wood, flushing
and glittering with the lavish beauty of the spring softly gliding over
grieving hearts, and with her royal touch healing our varied sorrow,
came the Queen of May, for whom the people sighed and the land yearned,
came the well-beloved, the long-desired, palms in her hand and doves
flying before her; and the name of that May-day Queen was Peace.



WASHINGTON IN 1867


The gay young European diplomatist, accustomed to the charms of the
great foreign capitals--London, Paris, Vienna, Rome, and the scores of
small but delightful cities--probably regards an attachment to the
embassy of his country in the United States as a Boeotian exile. But
when, eagerly curious to see the capital of this remote region, he is
dumped in the railroad-shed at Washington, and emerges upon the
depthless mud or blinding dust of the city, upon its hackmen and
porters, greedy of his last penny, and upon its general hopelessness of
aspect, it is not difficult to imagine how his heart sinks and how
bitter the exile seems.

To the independent native of the country, however, Washington as a city
is simply exasperating and ridiculous. Its one truly magnificent
building, the Capitol, seems to have absorbed everything else. Like a
huge wen, it has apparently sucked up all the life of the other
buildings. Feeble, shapeless, ineffective, they huddle along the sides
of the vast avenues, and, however closely they stand, give nothing but
the impression of a straggling and clumsy village. Then there is the
eternal absurdity of the plan. It is not only a straggling and clumsy
village, but it is utterly dislocated. Washington is laid out upon the
plan of cart-wheels within cart-wheels. The stranger is always going
wrong. You meet him, say, near the junction of some avenue with some
Fourth and a Half Street north. He has the expression of a
long-confirmed but mild lunatic; and after gazing at you blandly and
inquiringly for a moment, he says, "I am trying to find the corner of
Ninth and Fifteenth streets." Of course he is; we all are in Washington.
The folly would be evident elsewhere, but in Washington it is the most
natural effort possible. There is but one reply to the candid and
inquiring fellow-maniac: "My dear sir, I have not the remotest
conception where I am, or where anything is." There is a fond delusion
that the city radiates from the Capitol. Nothing is more fallacious.
Washington is a system of hubs, and a consequent combination of
radiations.

The depression arising from arrival and the problem of streets is hardly
relieved by arrival at Willard's. The entrance to that hotel is a
cigar-shop, a newspaper-stand, and a loafing-room. You press through to
the office. But what is man that an American landlord should regard him?
The house is full, has been full, will be full. A few crisp words inform
you that by-and-by, some time, perhaps, possibly, you may be stowed away
in the seventh story, and allowed to pay four or five dollars a day. The
moderation of the landlords is always a subject of wonder and gratitude.
It seems a matter of mere grace and good-will that they do not charge
twenty dollars a night, with the privilege of making your own bed.

"Whew!" cried Don Giovanni when, arriving at the capital of this
country, he was made to undergo these initiatory steps, "will you please
to tell me one single particular in which travel in Europe is not
incomparably more agreeable and comfortable than in this country?" And
he went on to compare the universal comfort and courtesy of foreign
travel, sadly to the disadvantage of the home of the brave. "Certainly
there is no country in which the guest upon reaching his hotel is
treated with such laughable condescension as in this. A wretched hole of
a room, shabbily furnished, the dirty walls and a suspicious bed, with a
quart of water and a pocket-handkerchief of a towel, for which he is to
pay four or five dollars or more daily, is awarded to the humbly
expectant visitor as a high favor. A great American hotel is a
penitentiary for travellers, and the gentlemen at the office are the
lofty turnkeys and lord high-constables. A self-respecting man will
travel here as little as possible."

"There is no doubt that much travel at home is a discipline," replied
the Easy Chair.

"Yes," continued the indignant Don. "If you are known personally to the
gentlemanly gentleman who dispenses chambers you may be tolerably
quartered. But if you are merely one of the herd who have the temerity
to arrive by steamer or car, you may thank your stars if you are
graciously permitted to leave your luggage in the hall and to have a
room by-and-by."

Now the Easy Chair humbly hopes that all gentlemanly gentlemen concerned
will not understand him as making these remarks. They all proceeded from
the person named, who is alone responsible. The Easy Chair has not quite
come to the end of his travels; and would he malign the gentlemanly and
accommodating? He desires to state distinctly that if he could not open
the window of his room, it was merely because he had a foolish wish for
fresh air; and if he could not turn round, it was because of the
inordinate size of his trunk; and if his fingers went through the towel,
it was because his manner was rude towards a chamber ornament so
delicate and small; and if the sheets of the bed were not wholly fresh,
it was because the gentlemanly and accomplished chamber-maiden lady was
of a nobly economical turn of mind; and if the bell would not ring, it
was because some former guest had been so little able to restrain
himself as to pull it down. Indeed, there was nothing which did not
admit of the fullest explanation. It is only the unreasonable who would
complain of paying four or five dollars a day for such accommodations.
"Let me tell you, sir," whispered the gentlemanly gentleman at a certain
office to a bewildered person who had been ordered up to a burrow in the
seventh story, "you are very lucky to get in at all." But the bewildered
traveller's face, it is asserted, was not so humbly grateful as
circumstances demanded.

Washington itself merely multiplies the impression of Willard's.
Everything is feverish and transitory. The fine houses are rented by
senators, by representatives, by foreign ministers, by army and navy
officers, by families from other cities. They are taken for a season.
Those who occupy them have no permanent interest in the city. The rule
is almost universal. The Capitol, the White House, the departments, the
public buildings are all full of men who came yesterday and are going
to-morrow. Washington is a huge perch. All this tumult of twittering is
from birds upon the wing, who have lighted for a moment only. Even the
noisiest crows, the most solemn owls, are but for a day, or for two
years, or four years, or for six years.

There is a certain permanent population of the military and naval
bureaus, over whose heads the storms of fashion and politics roar and
break like tempests that toss the surface of the sea far above the
placid monsters and coral insects of the deep. And there are a few
memorial office-holders--quiet men, who have grown old in certain ruts
in which they can run with a facility that is absolutely essential. They
feel that they have become part of the government. The very oldest
senators and representatives excite in their breasts a kind of
compassionate sympathy as mere boys and tyros. And like heirs of old
royal lines long since superseded, who cherish a secret conviction that
modern times are a mere delusion and progress an absurd infatuation, and
who are sure that some day the world will discover what a huge mistake
it made in not continuing to be governed by the extinct line, and so
return to its allegiance, the faithful plodders in the official ruts do
still believe that the party, whatever it was, which appointed them is
the Heaven-appointed ruler of the country, and that when the froth of
the present moment is blown away, the clear, deep, sound good old times
will be again discerned. The droll old Jacobites! They drink to the king
over the water. They might as well drink to the king with his head off!



RECEPTION TO THE JAPANESE AMBASSADORS AT THE WHITE HOUSE


Herr Teufelsdrockh informs those who read his famous book, the _Tailor
Sewer Over; or, the Philosophy of Clothes_, that Mr. Pellum announces,
among other canons regulating human apparel, that it is permitted to
mankind, under certain conditions, to wear white waistcoats. But it now
appears that, under certain conditions also, straw-colored gloves are
not only permissible, but imperative. When a Japanese ambassador
appears, and the white flag with the orb of day in its centre is
unfurled, straw-color, as to the hands, is the only wear. Therefore,
when the reception was to take place in Washington the deeply initiated
held hands of that mystic color. The only chagrin was that nobody
seemed to know the significant fact nor to care for it; and one
honorable gentleman asked with interest whether it would not be
extremely orthodox to wear a straw-hat. But these levities were ill
becoming the august occasion.

The feast of the straw-colored gloves in honor of the Japanese
ambassadors fell upon an evening when the poetic policeman thought of
every belle who stepped from her carriage,

    "The bleak winds of March
    Made her tremble and shiver."

But he thought it only; he did not say it. Yet the bleak wind of the
cold night had little chance at the guests, for a pavilion was laid to
the very curb-stone, and everybody stepped out into friendly shelter.
Then up the steep stairs, just as the illustrious guests were passing
from the cloak-room to the hall. As they entered it the crowd, swelling
upward from the door below, made for the ladies' room, or for the little
hole in a corner into which the gentlemen were to thrust their coats,
in the vague hope that they might be recovered. Some of the Japs who at
a later hour were buffeting the crowd and struggling towards the
aperture must have been impressed, if they were philosophers, with the
fact that a nation of so many happy contrivances as they fondly believe
us to be has not yet learned how to take charge of overcoats at public
feasts. It would not be very difficult to avoid the fierce crush at the
cloak-room; but it is not avoided, and it is as good-humored as it is
disagreeable and unnecessary.

But who cared for the crush at the door of the opera-house on a Jenny
Lind night, when coat skirts strewed the pavement, and the most
elaborately tied cravats were undone? Not otherwise was this pressure
when the door was passed and the pretty hall entered. Was this also an
opera? And had the curtain risen? For the first impression of the
brilliant scene was that of the trilling and warbling of canaries in
clusters of cages hung high overhead, and for a moment giving a sense of
enchanted gardens and rose bowers upon Bendermere's stream. Was this
impression disturbed when from their tiring-room the nymphs and dames
emerged powdered, beflowered, effulgent? There were toilets of all
kinds. There were even ladies in bonnets, as if they had run in
neighborly to hobnob an hour with Iwakura. There were others in the very
extreme of fashion. There was every kind of tasteful and rich and
beautiful and plain and grotesque attire. And now and then behold! the
ineffable calm of the lady--not one, but many--of whom Mr. Emerson tells
the excellent story that she said to feel herself perfectly well dressed
imparted a tranquil happiness that religion itself could not bestow.

The hall was very light, draped and festooned simply with the American
and two Japanese flags intertwined, the whole giving a certain gauzy
effect, which was pretty, if not fairy-like nor magnificent. Upon a
little platform at the end of the hall stood the guest and other
distinguished ministers. The space in the middle of the hall, between
improvised columns, was kept clear for some time, so that the picture
was charming. The throng pressed slowly up one side of the room towards
the platform, and, passing across it in front of the various members of
the embassy, were received by the Secretary of State and the Japanese
minister, and by the latter presented to Iwakura. He was dressed, with
all his associates, in the sad sables with which Western nations mourn
their own gayety. Instead of some glittering cloth of gold, in which,
whatever the fact may have been at the White House, we might have
expected an ambassador from Zipango or El Dorado to be arrayed, we had
the familiar and useful black broadcloth coat and trousers of
civilization. But when Sir Philip Sidney, in flowered velvet, was
presented to the great William of Orange, William was clad in a plain
serge coat, and Sir Philip probably did not know it, or forgot it. And
as the gallant Sidneys at this feast were presented to the chief
ambassador, they doubtless saw the man and not his clothes.

Iwakura is about fifty years old; not a large man; of great dignity and
serenity of character and manners, with a high-bred and elegant air,
and a face of clear intelligence and refinement. He bowed courteously to
every guest, with a subtile distance of salutation without offence which
is peculiar to many men of high self-respect. Hand-shaking is the most
religiously observed of all the social rites in Washington, and
especially and amusingly by the diplomatic corps, who evidently
constrain themselves to observe punctually this sacred habit; but
Iwakura did not offer his hand, yet did not refuse to engage in the
ceremony when it was unavoidable. Beyond him in the line were the chief
ladies of the occasion, the wives of the Vice-President, of the
Secretary of State, of the Speaker, and of the other secretaries. It was
simply a republican court, recalling the days when President Washington
and his wife stood upon a slightly raised dais at the end of the hall,
there being about those three inches of monarchy left at the beginning
of the republic, before Thomas Jefferson, alighting from his horse,
hitched him by the bridle to the fence, and then went into the Capitol
to be inaugurated President.

Descending from the immediate presence, the guests gathered in lines
along the hall, or slowly promenaded, engaged in watching and in
criticising each other. Meanwhile the band played, and the canaries,
excited by the music and the lights, sang loud and clear. Not so sweetly
sang the gossips, as they whispered and exclaimed at each other's fresh
oddity or extravagance of attire. Gently, good gossips! gently! for even
at this moment is the Scripture fulfilled, and ye who judge are judged.
"In a world where Martin Farquhar Tupper passes to the thirty-seventh
edition," said Thackeray, in a company of authors, "let us all think
small-beer of ourselves." When to the eye of men the dress of the fairer
sex is altogether bewildering, and certainly not, as Professor
Teufelsdrockh would say, unbeautiful, why should the good gossip
invidiously discriminate? Peace, peace! The sober matron at whom you
smile wears the plain dress because she preferred to pay her boy's
college bills with the money that would have arrayed her in Parisian
robes had he stayed at home. And you, dear madam, daughter of
Fortunatus and heiress of his purse, you wear those ponderous diamonds
and nudge your neighbors to look and laugh with you.

Hark the soft prelude of the waltz. What is the mysterious pathos of
that long pulsing strain? Why is that measure, moving to which the joy
and the hope of youth celebrate their triumph, of all measures the most
passionately sad? One after another the partners glide into the dance.
They swim, they float, they circle, they move in music and to music. And
what is this, and who is here? this comet, this meteor of a couple, who
come pumping and dashing through the throng. Are her hands really laid
upon his shoulders? Do his hands clasp her elbows, or is it an
extraordinary dream? No wonder that Japan draws to the edge of the dais
and gazes in wonder, for America also looks on in amazement. The amused
incredulity of the foreign guests as they watch the dancing is
interesting to see. Iwakura regards the scene with smiling gravity. To
him the spectacle seems a thousandfold more against nature than the
vision of a woman voting can possibly be to the most conservative
American. Yet the ambassador will find that the loveliest woman may
waltz with a man and still be womanly, and the conservative American may
go and do likewise. The fashions of a time and the traditions of a
nation are not the final laws of nature, and even Horatio's philosophy
does not exhaust the things in heaven and earth that are yet to be.

The ambassadors are still gazing, the band is still playing, and the
birds are still singing over the happy dancers as we come away. There is
a desperate but brief struggle at the orifice in the corner, whence, to
our delight, our coats emerge. We have a glimpse into the ladies'
tiring-room, where, like bright-winged birds, they are pluming
themselves for flight. Upon the steep staircase, where they stand
waiting for their carriages, there is tranquillity and order, so
excellent are the arrangements. Scores of sentences are left in
fragments upon the stairs, for in the midst of a remark the cry
resounds, "The Honorable Mr. Iago's carriage, Mrs. Bluebeard's, The
Ambassador from San Salvador, Mr. Smith-Jones's carriage!" And instantly
the bright-winged birds are flown, and rose-buds and violets go home to
happy dreams.



THE MAID AND THE WIT


The fabled stream that sank from sight, and emerged far away, still
flowing, is an image of the course of all progress. The argument which
establishes the reason and the benefit of reform does not, therefore, at
once establish it, still less complete it. There are obstructions,
delays, disappearances; but still the stream flows, seen or unseen,
still it swells, and reappearing far beyond where it vanished, moves
brimming to the sea.

The Lady Mavourneen, who, coming to us straight from Paris, found here a
courteous regard for women, which she said that after a life's residence
she had not found in France, was only just to Americans. Nowhere is
there such instinctive and universal consideration for the gentler sex,
notwithstanding the occasional spectacle of the woman standing in the
elevated railroad car, and the necessity under which the elderly wit
found himself in the omnibus, when, seeing a comely young woman
standing, he said to his son sitting in his lap, "My son, why don't you
get up and give the lady your seat?"

Despite such gayety in the omnibus, and such devout reading of the
newspapers in the elevated cars that the devotees cannot see women
standing, even those women, if they are travelled, would agree that,
upon the whole, in no civilized country have they encountered more
deference to the sex as such than in America. Yet the courtesy is that
of a clever as well as polite people. If the comely maid in the omnibus
had suddenly and sweetly asked the elderly wit whether he was a true
American, and believed that taxation and representation should go
together, he would have promptly replied, "Yes, ma'am." But if she had
then whipped out her logical rapier and thrust at him the question, "Are
you, then, in favor of giving me a vote?" his cleverness and his
courtesy would have blended in his reply, "Madam, when women demand it,
they will have it." It is the universal reply of the ingenious patriot
who is aware that the argument is against him, but who is still
unconvinced. The stream of logic sinks in the sands of his scepticism,
but it will reappear still further on, flowing with a fuller current
towards its goal.

If the omnibus were a convenient ground for such bouts of argument, the
maid has plenty of other keen rapiers in reserve with which she would
pierce his courteous incredulity. One of the sharpest would be the
rejoinder of inquiry whether it was the general custom of Legislatures
to wait until everybody interested in a reform asked for it before
granting it. Having inserted the point of the weapon, she would turn it
around, to the great inconvenience of the elderly wit, by further asking
specifically whether imprisonment for debt was abolished because poor
debtors as a body requested it or because it was deemed best in the
general interest that it should be abolished, or whether hanging for
stealing a leg of mutton was renounced because the hapless thieves
demanded it, or because Romilly showed that humanity and the welfare of
society and of respect for law required it.

The comely maid, once aroused, would not spare him, and while declining
to occupy his son's seat, she would challenge him to say whether the
slave-trade was stopped and the West Indian slaves emancipated by
England because the slaves petitioned, or because Parliament thought
such reforms desirable for the interests of England. That inquiry,
doubtless, she would have pushed more closely home, and there would have
been no escape for the nimble wit except in some happy and elusive
epigram. Nothing would have followed. He would have lifted his hat
courteously as the lady smiled and left the omnibus. The stream of logic
would have disappeared. But its volume would have been stronger, and
when it reappeared, it would have been flowing nearer its goal.

The comely maid recently smiled, probably as if she saw the
reappearance, when she learned that venerable Yale, even before
venerable Harvard, had opened her post-graduate courses upon absolutely
the same conditions to women as to men. This is not co-education; far
from it; it is as far as eleven o'clock from twelve. Still less is it
co-suffrage. No, indeed; it is as different as the blossom of May from
the fruit of September. It means no more than that the good sense of
Yale, perceiving that there is a goodly company of women actually
devoted to higher studies, and not perceiving anything unwomanly or
undesirable in larger knowledge and stricter intellectual training,
invites Hypatia and Mrs. Somerville and Maria Mitchell to avail
themselves of her opportunities and resources to prosecute their
studies, and recognizes that in a modern world of larger and juster
views, which permits women to use every industrial faculty to the
utmost, and to own property and dispose of it, it is useless longer to
insist with chivalry that woman is a goddess "too bright and good," or
with the Orient that she is a slave in this world and a houri in the
next.

As for the logic of such an invitation, Yale is doubtless indifferent.
She invites women to study not with her under-graduates, but with her
post-graduates. Probably she recoils with instinctive conservatism from
the vision of a possible Hypatia seated among her faculty in a
professorial chair. That might do in Alexandria in the fifth century.
But in New Haven in the nineteenth, or even the twentieth--? She recoils
still further from the prospect of covoting. Elizabeth Tudor was a
creditable head of a kingdom and a fellow-counsellor of state with
Burleigh and Walsingham. But does it follow that a Connecticut woman
possessed of great estates should have a voice in the disposition of her
property? Probably Yale would agree that when all such amply endowed
women unite in asking for such a voice, it might be worth while to
consider. Meanwhile she opens the hospitable doors of her post-graduate
intellectual treasury, and every woman who will may enter and share the
riches.

Oliver asked for more, but not until he had consumed his portion. The
comely maid of the omnibus smiles as she sees those treasury doors
hospitably opening. She seems perhaps to see the stream of logic at once
vanishing and reappearing. If a woman may mingle wisely with
post-graduates, why not with under--but no. Something, she would say
with womanly good sense, may be left to time and the inevitable sequence
of events. Shall all be done at once, and the sound seed be spurned
because it must be planted and grow and ripen before there is a harvest?
In this Columbian year shall we think that nothing was gained when
Columbus reached San Salvador, as we used to be taught, or Watling
Island, or Grand Turk, or Samana, among which bewildered knowledge now
doubtfully gropes--because he had not reached the continent, and because
he believed it to be the old and not a new India?

That comely damsel, with her face towards the morning, says, quietly,
with Durandarte, "Patience, and shuffle the cards." One glance at the
woman in the Athens of Pericles and at woman in the New Haven of
President Dwight answers the question which the nimble elderly wit
eluded.



THE DEPARTURE OF THE _GREAT EASTERN_.


I saw the _Great Eastern_ sail away. The afternoon was exquisite--one of
the cool, clear, perfect days that followed the storm in the middle of
August; and it seemed to hang over the great ship like a cordial smile.
But it was the only smile the poor Leviathan received. There was a
Christian resignation in her departure. The big ship, like Falstaff, "'a
made a finer end and went away, an it had been any christom child: 'a
parted even just between" four and five, "ev'n at turning o' the tide."
But as when a prince is born, and the bells are rung, and the cannon
fired, and the city is illuminated, and with music and shouting the
people swarm the streets--and when the same prince, grown to be a bad
king and tyrant, dies, outcast and contemned, with never a tear to fall
nor a bell to toll for him--even such was the coming and the going of
the _Great Eastern_.

I remember also the June afternoon when she arrived, and at the same
hour. The city was excited as London used to be by the news of a famous
victory. It was reported early in the morning that she was below, and
public expectation, which had been feeding upon print and picture of
her, was despatching the population to the Battery, to the wharves, to
the excursion boats, and wherever she could be seen. At four o'clock you
could see, off Staten Island, a pyramid of towering masts above all
other masts. She looked a mighty admiral; and as she came up the bay,
attended by the little boats--for all other craft are little beside
her--you could easily remember the approach of Columbus to the shore and
the canoes of curious savages that darted and swarmed around his ship.
Her very size gave her a kind of superiority: the silence of her
progress was full of majesty.

The shores teemed with people. The heights of Staten Island twinkled
and fluttered with the gay toilets of the spectators that covered them.
The Jersey shores were alive. The Battery looked white with human faces.
The piers upon the river, the decks of vessels in the stream, and the
windows and roofs of the buildings that commanded the water, were
crowded with eager watchers. But the prettiest sight was the convoy of
every kind that attended the surprising guest. Yachts, sloops,
schooners, steamers, and tow-boats, large and small, moved down towards
her, came out from the shore, sailed round her, sailed beside her,
crossed her bows, followed her, so that the bay was bewitched with
excitement. Cannon roared, bells rang, flags waved, and the crowd
huzzaed welcome.

Through all the great ship glided majestically on. In response to each
fresh salute of steam-whistle the bell was touched upon the deck--it was
the quiet nod or smile of a prince in reply to the noisy complimenting
of a Common Council. There was an air of dignity and of grandeur in the
size and movement of the ship; and as the public was not disappointed
in her size, but found that she really looked as large as she had been
described and represented; and as every circumstance of her arrival was
propitious, so that she slipped quietly into her dock, like a
ferry-boat--it may fairly be claimed that the _Great Eastern_ had
already won the hearty regard of the New York public.

How she lost it--is it not all related in indignant reports and letters
and caricatures? How she dared to charge a dollar for admission--how
hapless sailors lost their lives--how she went to Cape May--and there
black night rushes down upon the tale. After a visit of forty-nine days,
in which she had unhappily, but too surely, worn out her welcome, she
prepares to depart. But at the last moment petty suits almost detain
her. She shakes them off, however, and with them the cables that bound
her to our shore. She slips into the stream. She promptly points her
head down the bay. It is a lovely afternoon--it is the same river full
of craft--there are the wharves, the windows, the roofs--but where, oh!
where are the people? She fires her departing gun. A few loiterers, whom
chance or business has called to the water-side, look up for a moment as
she goes by. Idle boys upon the wharves joke and jeer at her. Where are
the wolves, naughty boys? How dare you cry bald-head? Everything in the
river and the city slouches in the every-day costume of habit. There are
no gala garments, no fluttering flags, and merry bells, and booming
guns, and cheering crowds. The _Great Eastern_ is going away--who cares?
She will never come back--so much the better! Alas! the poor old King of
yesterday is dying, and there is no one to close his eyes. No; the
courtiers are booted and spurred to dash away the moment the breath is
out of his body and salute the young Prince, the next Sensation, who
shall rule the realm for a day.

When she came in I saw her come up the bay. I saw her come down as she
departed. In the distance, blending with the spires of the city and the
lesser masts, there was the towering cluster rising above all. I
listened for the guns. I looked for the attendant craft. There were
neither, except a brief salute from the Cunarder in port. But the bay of
New York will be watched for many a year before so grand and stately a
sight will be seen again as that great ship making her way through the
Narrows to the sea. When she entered the bay she seemed majestic and
conciliatory; as she left it, she was majestic and disdainful. Yet this
was only the impression of a moment and of the distance. As she neared
the forts at the Narrows entirely alone, with no accompanying steam or
sail vessel, with all the hard luck of her life behind her and following
her even to the latest hour of her stay in America, with the fact that
she had utterly lost all hold upon public interest made glaringly
palpable by the absolute loneliness of her departure, she yet fired a
proud salute as she swept out of the upper bay--a stern farewell that
echoed coldly from unanswering shores--and with the stars and stripes
floating at her peak, magnificent and majestic, the _Great Eastern_
departed.

Gradually, as she passed far down the lower bay, she returned into the
same hazy vastness that I remembered when I first saw her--in which, in
the memories of all who saw her, she will forever remain.



CHURCH STREET


On the earliest of the really spring-like mornings as the Easy Chair
turned into Church Street it could not help perceiving that in some
romantic ways the New-Yorker has the advantage of the Londoner and
Parisian. Church Street does not, indeed, seem at the first mention to
be a promising domain of romance, nor a fond haunt of the Muses. Indeed,
it must not be denied that it has an unsavory name; and when the city
loiterer recalls Wapping, or a May morning on the Seine quais, he will
smile at Church Street as a field of romance, and the Easy Chair grants
him absolution. London, perhaps, does not strike the American
imagination, or, let us more truly say, the imagination of the
travelling American, as a romantic city. That citizen of the world
reserves for himself Venice, Constantinople, Grand Cairo. Yet if after
his arrival he will buy Peter Cunningham's _Hand-book for London_ at the
nearest book-store, and turn its pages slowly, he will discover that for
him, an American, he is in a very romantic city indeed. Mr. Hepworth
Dixon's _Tower of London_ will show him how copious a sermon may be
preached from one romantic text. Of course he can be expected to have no
feeling but pity for the unfortunates who fill the streets, and whose
fate it was to be born Britishers. Yet, let him reflect that it was not
their fault, and except for that precise unhappy fact of being
Britishers, which causes all the mischief, their parents too would have
lived elsewhere.

Then the American citizen of the world, pitying England, will cross to
France, to another country, a new world, and in Paris will breathe more
freely as being at last in the metropolis of the globe--always excepting
New York, Philadelphia, Boston, Cincinnati, or Chicago, as the case may
be. If he opens _Galignani's Guide_, the excellent and well-informed
traveller will immediately discover that he is in another romantic city,
and that there is something more to see and consider than the bal
d'opera, and the Château Rouge; and if some Easy Chair accidentally
encountered straying along the Boulevards, or seated at the door of a
café, should chance to ask whether the well-informed traveller had ever
taken a romantic stroll in Church Street, New York, he would be rewarded
with a smile for his admirable humor. By-and-by, after the coffee was
drunk and the pipe smoked out, the Easy Chair and his approving Mentor
would perhaps stroll about until they came far away from the haunts of
to-day to the respectable old Place Louis Quinze. It is always an
attractive spot for that well-informed traveller. He looks at it with
pensive emotion, and turns warmly to the Easy Chair and says:

"How delightful this is! Here dwelt the noblesse! This is the Fifth
Avenue--what do I say?--the Murray Hill of old Paris! And now all is
gone! Fashion is an emigré. Inquire in the Faubourg St. Germain. What a
pity we have nothing of this kind in America."

"But we have," replies the Easy Chair.

The incredulous well-informed traveller again smiles a mild, melancholy
smile at the inscrutable methods of Providence, which has provided no
Place Louis Quinze for the Yankees and aborigines.

"We certainly have," persists the Easy Chair.

"Where, pray?"

"Well, Church Street."

The reply seems to be beating out a jest very thin; but gradually the
Easy Chair contrives to explain.

The movement of life in New York is so rapid, fashion and trade sweep
from one point to another with such impetuosity, that the romance of
changed interest can be enjoyed in the same spot twice or thrice in a
lifetime. In older cities, in Paris or London, it is not the individual
experience, but history only which covers the change. The gentlemen and
dames of the Louis Quinze era do not moralize over the Place from which
the glory has departed, but only their descendants. The change is so
gradual that it is not within their personal experience. It is a tide
that rises and falls once in sixscore years, not in six hours. But the
fortunate New-Yorker has his romance making for him while he sleeps. The
sorry streets of to-day will disappear within a dozen years, and the
instant they are gone, or seen just at the moment of the final lapse,
they have passed into the realm of romance.

Here is Church Street, for instance; it is not very long, and you turn
into it from Fulton or from Canal. So turned the Easy Chair, and there
was the long, narrow vista walled by lofty buildings, the spacious
houses of trade, built yesterday, piled with dry goods, bold with
prosperous newness, but instantly suggesting the street of palaces in
Genoa. And a few rods off some old Knickerbocker is gravely stalking
down Broadway who has not turned aside into Church Street for many a
year, and who supposes Church Street is still a place not to be named,
an unspeakable Gehenna. So it was a dozen years ago. Once, also, it was
the Black Broadway. It was a kind of voluntary Ghetto of the colored
people. Then, again, it was an offshoot of the Five Points. There were
low ranges of dingy buildings. Dirty men and women slouched along on the
walks and lounged out of the windows, and their idle, ribald laughter
echoed along the street that few carriages travelled. Dens of every kind
were just around every corner. Slatternly women emptied slops upon the
pavement, and the stench was perpetual. Dirty little children screamed
and played, and sickly babies squalled unheeded. It was a street fallen
out of Hogarth; the street of worst repute in the city.

And now it is a double range of stately buildings--symmetrical, massive.
Horse-cars struggle on it with light carts of dry-goods dealers, with
the slow, enormous teams that shake the ground. At every corner there is
an inextricable snarl of wagons, and porters are heaving boxes, and
young clerks are directing, and huge windows are filled with huge
pattern cards, so that the narrow way is tapes-tried. "Look out,
there!" cries a porter-compelling clerk to the Easy Chair, which smiles
to think that only yesterday it was in Exchange Place, and Pearl Street,
and elsewhere that the peremptory youth was ordering him to mind his
eye. And if the employer who now sits in the spacious office opposite
had known that his clerk was familiar with Church Street, he would have
warned him of the gates of destruction, and have admonished him that
Church Street, though a narrow street, was a broad way.

The people that push and hurry and skip along this busy avenue are alert
and well dressed. The slouchers and loungers, the old slatterns with the
slop-pails, the fat, frouzy, jolly, dirty women with bare red arms and
loud voices, the sneaks, the thieves, and the unclean groups at the
grog-shop, where are they? No sneaks now, no thieves--honorable
gentlemen with clean collars everywhere. What a consolation! As you
watch the passers closely, as you read the signs, it occurs to you that
the population, with the universal tendency in our mental and spiritual
habits that Matthew Arnold sparklingly deplores, is clearly Hebraized.
Here, where this especially fine warehouse or handsome shop stands,
stood the French church. It has jumped up-town a few miles. Here was the
church of Dr. Potts. Could you believe that the people who go to meeting
in the snug, brown little edifice in an ivy mantle at the corner of
University Place and Tenth Street, which probably seems to the young
clerk coeval with the city, day before yesterday, as it were, came down
here among the merchants? Then they came once a week for an hour or two.
What did you say was the name of the deity to whom these temples were
dedicated?

And at this corner--why, if it were an April thicket it could not more
sweetly bubble with song, only this music is the spirit ditty of no
tone--here was the old National Theatre. Do you see that very
respectable old gentleman in the office who carries an ostrich egg in
his hat? for so his grandchildren describe grandpapa's baldness. He sits
and reads the paper, and is presently going down to the bank of which
he is a director, and of which he seems always to those grandchildren to
smell, so tenacious is the peculiar odor of a bank; that is the very
gentleman who in the temple of the Drama upon this spot used to lead the
loud applause, and at whom in his buckish costume of those merry days
and nights, the lovely Shirreff herself used to level her eyes and her
voice as she trilled: "Oh, whistle and I'll come to you, my lad." Can
you imagine that excellent grandparent kissing his hand rapturously to
the retiring prima donna, going off to sup at the Café de
l'Independence, and hieing home at two in the morning waking the echoes
of Murray Street with a reproduction of that arch song, followed by a
loud whistle to prove whether that vision of delight really will come to
him, and bringing only the gruff Charley, obese guardian of the night?
Will you find in your famous Place Louis Quinze any roisterer of the
regency grown old and careful of his diet?

Here is one wall which survives from the prehistoric days of thirty
years ago; it is the rear wall of the old hospital, that blessed green
spot in the midst of the city, which is to be green no more, but will
soon be piled with more palaces. And opposite this wall is a short
street running from Church to West Broadway. A few years ago this was
one of the worst of city slums. At the corner of West Broadway a wooden
building still remains--a sullen, sickly, defiant cur of a
building--that sits and snarls impotent over the savagery departed. And
there is one tall rookery still, a tenement-house, with a system of
fire-escapes in front, and the slattern slopping at the curb as in the
ancient day, and a cooper's shop, and a blacksmith's, and one, two,
three, how many whiskey shops? But they are all faint and feeble and
submerged in the lofty buildings, and to-morrow all trace of them will
be gone. And then who will remember the murder? The mysterious, awful,
romantic murder. The murder that filled all the newspapers, and fed
speculation at all the corner groggeries and in all offices. The murder
that was done into a romance, and of which the hero--that is the
murderer--was acquitted, after one of the famous eloquent criminal
appeals which are so effective because their power is measured by human
life. And this hero occasionally reappears in the newspapers even to
this day. Somebody writes from a remote somewhere that on a steamer far
away a mysterious man, after much mysterious conduct, imparts the awful
truth that he is the hero. Does he sometimes return to this spot? Does
he look at the site of the house where the deed was done? Does he appear
in the guise of a merchant, a jobber, a retailer from that remote
southwestern somewhere, and higgle and chaffer in the noble warehouse on
the very site of the wretched building where he murdered his mistress?
Good heavens! Do you see that man of about those years, looking about as
if to find a sign or number? (As if he didn't know the very place; as if
it were not burned and cut into his heart and conscience!) Do you think
it could possibly be he, or is it, after all, only the honest Timothy
Tape, the modest retailer from Skowhegan or Palmyra?... The
typhus-fever used to rage here; the cholera was fearful. The sanitary
reports say that there were always cases of the worst diseases to be
found here. The city missionaries also used to find their worst cases
here too, and now, what cleanliness of collar, what modishness of coat!
No more sin; what a consolation!

And so, as the Easy Chair strolled along, bumped and hustled and
severely looked upon by the eager throng in the narrow street, more
radically reconstructed than any doubtful State, it could not help
feeling that London with Her Majesty's Tower, and Paris with her
deserted Place Louis Quinze, are not the only romantic cities in the
world, and that a city of such rapid and incessant change as New York
offers even some poetic aspects which its elder sisters want. The Easy
Chair has pleaded formerly for some respect towards old historic
buildings, like the old State-house in Boston, for instance, and has
been indignantly laughed at for its pains. It will not deny that,
unabashed by such laughter, it contemplates the old Walton House with
satisfaction. It repairs, also, to the corner of Broad and Pearl
streets, and, reflecting upon General Washington's parting with his
officers, turns its eyes towards Wall Street, and beholds the Grecian
temple which has taken the place of the old City Hall, upon whose
balcony the first predecessor of President Grant was inaugurated. But
the romance of Church Street is of another kind. It is the romance of
striking and sudden change merely, not of historic interest, nor of
personal association. Perhaps the gentle reader may not find it when he
goes there. Then let him carry it.



HISTORIC BUILDINGS


A few months ago the Easy Chair, seeing that changes were making in the
old State-house in Boston, one of the few Revolutionary and truly
historic buildings that remain, modestly ventured to regret it, and to
deplore the rapid disappearance of the venerable relics that had come
down to us from former generations. It suggested, or meant to suggest,
or might, could, would, or should have suggested, and will now, under
correction, suggest that there are very few buildings in New York which
recall that earlier epoch of the country. With a national and pardonable
logic, or association of ideas, the Easy Chair enlarged upon the value
of historical relics, of monuments, of visible traditions; and urged
possibly that it made life a little barer, a little less poetic, here
than it would otherwise be.

The temerity of such a strain of remark does not seem very extravagant;
it might indeed be put forth without any secret hostility to human
rights, to liberty, to the equality of men, and even without a sigh for
the repose of effete despotisms, and the traditions of outworn
monarchies. But not in the opinion of a certain excellent journal, which
we will agree to call the _Bugle of Freedom_, and which blew a sonorous
blast and rallying cry against the sentiments of the Easy Chair's mild
and innocent suggestions. "Monuments!" blew the _Bugle of Freedom_,
"monuments! remains, traditions! Old lumber and rotten timber! What in
the name of humanity have all these to do with a manly and patriotic
sentiment? Look at Egypt; what have the Pyramids done for the
civilization of Egypt? and we hope they are monuments, and ancient
enough. Look at Greece; the very queen-mother of the noblest
architecture! Look at Italy, teeming with 'storied monuments,' and what
do we see?" played the _Bugle of Freedom_. "What do we see? Do we wish
to be Egyptians, or modern Greeks, or Italians? Heaven forbid!" And the
resounding _Bugle_ seemed to execute roulades and runs and trills of
contempt at the unhappy Easy Chair, which was gazing vacantly at Egypt,
Greece, and Italy, as the _Bugle_ had directed.

Has the _Bugle of Freedom_ no drawer, or box, or casket of any kind, in
which there is, possibly, a yellow rose-bud, faded years and years ago,
in the days when it was a mere raw, shrill, piping flageolet? Has it no
bundle of letters, worn and parted at the seam; no knotted handkerchief
hidden out of sight, that shall never be more unknotted; no glove,
delicate and perfumed, still holding the form gained by soft pressure
upon a hand that shall never again be pressed. Is there no tree in the
garden, in a public square, by the road-side, in a green field by a
brook, under which, at every hour of the day and night, whenever and
with whomsoever it is passed, there stand a youth and maid who shall be
seen of men no more. Is there no house in town or country from whose
windows long vanished faces look when the _Bugle_ passes by, and in
whose unchanged rooms there are figures of old and young whose presence
is infinitely tender and chastening? Would life be richer and better and
more manly and inspiring for the _Bugle_ if all these were swept away?
Would the rights of man and eternal justice be more secure if some
morning Biddy should throw old letters, old rose-buds, and old
handkerchiefs into the fire, and the woodman would not spare the old
tree, and the haunted old household be burned up or pulled down? That is
the whole question.

It is merely a matter of association. It is in human nature; the Easy
Chair did not put it there. The mysterious delight in the most ancient
and inarticulate remains of human skill is the recognition by the soul
of man of its identity and endless continuation; and when you descend
from that Cyclopean work in the foundation of the wall of the temple at
Jerusalem to the knotted handkerchief and the yellow bud, you have only
come, O _Bugle_, to the individual delight in one's own experience, to
the unsealing of sweet fountains forgotten, and the quickening of
sanitary emotions. Surely when you were travelling and delighting
yourselves in Greece you did not come upon the plain of Marathon with
the same emotion that you cross the Hackensack meadows in the
Philadelphia train. But what was the difference? Byron's lines sang
themselves out of your mouth:

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

Why did Byron's lines rise in your memory? Why did Byron write the
lines? Why was your glance eager and your mind pensive and your
imagination alert and your soul full of generous impulse when you stood
on the plain of Marathon? Because of the great conflict between two
civilizations long and long and long ago--the conflict of ideas of which
you are the child; the conflict of men essentially like you and your
brothers who fought at Gettysburg and Vicksburg.

But if there be this subtle and over-powering influence in association
with a place, although it is earth and trees and grass and stone, is
there not the same charm and power in association with a building, a
tree, a stream? And while Marathon has not saved Greece from decline,
has it not been one of the natural influences that have pleaded against
national decay? And could Marathon and Salamis and Platæa have been
swept out of mind, would not the decline have been a thousandfold
hastened? Are we not stronger and braver for Bunker Hill and Saratoga,
for the sunken _Alabama_ and the Wilderness?

For the same reason, O loud-blowing _Bugle of Freedom_, that it would be
a national injury to forget the great deeds, it is in a lesser degree a
misfortune, although an inevitable one, gradually to lose from sight the
objects that recall them. Would it be a pity to shovel Bunker Hill into
Boston Back Bay? The battle of Bunker Hill would still remain in
history, the advantages of the Revolutionary War which it began would
still survive; but something we should have lost, and the argument that
urged the sparing of the hill would be sound and natural. So with the
old State-house. To destroy it or essentially to change it was in a
lesser degree to shovel Bunker Hill into the Back Bay.

The town of Stratford-upon-Avon seemed not to be conscious of the great
truth which the Easy Chair is expounding when it seemed disposed to let
the house of Shakespeare be sold, and even moved away. But England at
least was wiser, and the house remains. Some day--and the Easy Chair
dedicates the remark as a conciliatory conclusion to the _Bugle of
Freedom_--some day the Bugles of that same honored name will gaze at the
present printing-office, where a sympathetic Easy Chair trusts the jobs
are many and profitable, and will say, with emotion, "There the parental
_Bugle of Freedom_ blew its melodious note." It will do the Buglets no
harm, as they return to their palatial mansions, to reflect upon the
simple and sturdy origin of their prosperity.

The Easy Chair has the more feeling upon this subject because directly
opposite to the vast and many-windowed building from which it surveys
the world stands the old Walton House. Eighty years ago it was one of
the finest houses in town. The Square, where now business hums and
roars, then softly murmured with fashion, and this was the Faubourg St.
Honoré of the republican city. The house still has the stately air of
the old régime. The stone pediment of the windows is elaborate and
arrests the idle eye. But it is now a sailors' boarding-house. The walls
are cracked, and the house has an indescribable aspect of shabbiness and
neglect. Surrounded by the mere mob of three-storied modern brick
buildings, it has evidently become reckless and lost to shame, like a
king's heir fallen into debauched and degraded courses. Long since
slighted and forgotten, its peers utterly gone, their descendants moved
miles away, and become a modern generation about the reservoir on Murray
Hill, the Easy Chair has yet more than once, late on a summer afternoon,
when trade had gone up-town, and silence and dreams were setting in,
beheld the old Walton House glancing covertly across the street at our
modern, many-windowed, bustling palace of busy traffic with a look of
high-born haughtiness and contempt. "There may be trade going on within
my walls," it seems to say as it gazes, "but I am innocent of it. I was
not built for trade, at least." And then the Easy Chair, with its own
eyes fixed upon the cracked and leaning walls, seems to see it reeling
away into its dingy obscurity.

It is a tradition of Franklin Square that Washington once lived in the
Walton House; and it is certain that Citizen Genet married there the
daughter of Governor George Clinton. Once indeed, some years since, the
Easy Chair, hearing an extraordinary and novel sound like the smooth
rolling of a stately chariot, thought, as the day was late and the
twilight was already beginning, that some of the fine old societies of
that fine old day had somehow forgotten themselves into somehow
returning to the scene of so much last-century festivity; and anxious to
see both them and their amazement at the transformation of the
fashionable square, rolled itself to the window, and, looking out--saw
the first horse-car rumbling gravely along to the neighboring ferry.

Remaining at the window, and mindful of Washington at the old Walton
House, the Easy Chair was aware of Mercury, who runs the editorial
errands and is a much-meditating young messenger, standing by his side
with one of the editorial brethren.

"Mercury," said the editorial brother, "do you know who Washington was?"

"The father of his country," promptly replied the messenger.

"And what did he ever do that was notorious and disreputable?"

Mercury was plainly indignant at this question, and answered, evasively:
"Well, he never told a lie, if he did chop down his father's
apple-tree."

"And what else did he do?"

With energy Mercury responded: "He whipped the bloody Britishers."

"And what became of him when he grew up?"

"He was President."

"Mercury," said the editorial brother, "do you see that house across the
street?"

"The old Walton House?"

"The old Walton House."

"Of course I do."

"Well, Mercury, he lived there."

"Who lived where?" demanded Mercury, with wide-opening eyes.

"George Washington lived in the old Walton House."

"But not the same George?" asked Mercury, doubtfully. "Not the first
President?"

"The first wood-chopper of fame, and the first President," replied the
brother quill.

Mercury gazed at the house earnestly for a little while and then warmly
demanded, "Why don't they keep his old sign-board up to let folks know?"

_Bugle of Freedom!_ out of the mouths of babes and sucklings the truth
proceeds. It was the same instinct that caused the Easy Chair to exclaim
a year ago, as it contemplated the prospect of changing the old and
famous State-house, "Why take the old sign down?"



THE BOSTON MUSIC HALL


It is not, of course, possible that New York feels any chagrin that
Boston has given the most colossal concert ever known upon the
continent; but it is observable that, as wind and fire finally levelled
the last timbers of the Boston Coliseum in the dust, the first step
taken was taken towards the Beethoven Centennial Celebration, in New
York. The project is not yet matured; but a vision of something very
large indeed, something "metropolitan," begins to allure expectation;
and Boston, having scored handsomely in the game, sits upon the ruins of
her Coliseum and the profits of her Jubilee to see what New York will
do.

If New York will build a proper hall for music and other public
purposes, she will do well, and the Beethoven Centennial will not be in
vain. The Cooper Institute hall is large enough for political meetings,
and Steinway Hall is good for many purposes; but it is not a beautiful
nor imposing room, as a great hall should be. The most impressive hall
in the country is still the Boston Music Hall, where the great height
and the two galleries, one above the other, with the organ and imposing
statue of Beethoven, give a feeling of dignity. But the Music Hall lacks
one of the chief characteristics of a noble room for the purposes to
which it is devoted, and that is brilliancy. It is too dark. There is no
smiling splendor of effect, which is always so enlivening. The darkness
of the hall may be agreeable to weak eyes, it may even be described as
"very much better than a glare of light," but brilliancy remains an
indispensable quality of a great hall devoted to popular enjoyment.

Yet, whether dark or light, how much has been enjoyed in that stately
room! What memorable figures have passed across that platform! What
exquisite strains of music, sung, played, or spoken, have died along
those walls! No one who is familiar with our history for the last twenty
years will sit in the hall for any purpose but suddenly he sees it
crowded with a silent and attentive throng; sees a reading-desk with
vases of flowers, and a man[A] of sturdy figure standing behind it,
whose voice is deep and penetrating and sincere; whose words are things;
who has a certain rustic shyness of movement; but whose sentences roll
and flash like volleys of trained soldiery, and who stands in the warmth
of his own emotion and the sympathy of his audience, an indomitable
gladiator, compelling the admiration even of his enemies as he fights
with the Ephesian beasts. Against him, as he stands there every Sunday
preaching to that vast multitude what seems to him the truth, and
breaking to them what he believes to be the very bread of life, other
men are preaching and praying, and the excommunications of the Vatican
against Luther, shorn of their thunder and lightning, are hurled. Who
is he that judges motives and sincerity? We do not know in this world
what is believed, but only what is said and done.

  [A] Theodore Parker.

This man, with bald head set low upon high square shoulders, who looks
firmly at the great audience through spectacles, and speaks in a low
half-nasal tone, visits the widows and fatherless, and keeps himself
unspotted from the world. What he believes, others may question. What he
is, every aspiring soul must admire. Although almost every one of them
would have theologically cast him out and have recoiled from him with
dismay, yet he preserves more than any other the traditional power and
individualism of the old New England clergy. He applies the eternal
truth and the moral law as he feels it to the life and times around him.
They are heated white, and his words are blows of a sledge-hammer to
mould them into noble form. That dauntless mien is the true symbol of
his mental aspect as he confronts the menacing principalities and
powers, and the man whose voice has so often charmed the crowded hall
is one of the few who distinctly see and foretell the terrible war.

Long since his tongue is silent. He who came of the toughest stock and
might have looked to live almost a century, died when it was half spent.
It may have seemed to the great throng easy to climb that platform and
preach a sermon every Sunday morning; but to study early and late as if
he would master all knowledge; to write books, lectures, and speeches;
to travel hard by night and day, losing his sleep and his food, and by
the dim light in the car still pushing out the frontiers of his
learning; to deny himself exercise and needful rest while the mental
tension was so constant and the moral warfare so intense--this was not
easy; this was to violate all the laws of life, which none knew better;
and suddenly the stretched harp-string snapped, and there was no more
music!

Not every one who knew his power knew into what sweetness and tenderness
it could be softened, nor suspected that in the gladiator there was the
loving and simple heart of the boy. Here, as the Easy Chair sits
listening to the orchestra, it recalls the preacher when he was the
minister of a rural parish, and used to come strolling through the
fields and patches of wood to measure his wit with the friendly scholar
who was the chief at Brook Farm, or to sit docile at his feet of counsel
and sympathy. Or, again, it sees him in his country pulpit, the same
sturdy, heroic athlete, trying and tempering the weapons with which he
was to fight upon this larger scene. It was a noble character; a
devoted, generous, inspiring life, a memory always hallowed in this
hall. The conductor waves his baton! The symphony thunders from a
hundred instruments, but through them all breathes the low tone of the
remembered voice.

    "Fled is that music. Do I wake or sleep?"

And as the concert proceeds--one of the series of the Harvard Musical
Association, whose concerts are the musical pride of Boston, at which
the performance is all of the purest classical music, so pure and so
severe that the profane sometimes secretly ask whether melody in music
is the unpardonable sin, and are peremptorily answered by the elect:
"No, but rub-a-dub-dub and tumti-id-dity are not music"--and as the
concert proceeds it is surely a striking spectacle. The great hall,
rather dimmer than ever because of the consciousness of daylight
outside, is full of people, gathered in the afternoon not only from the
city, but from all the environs within twenty miles, and they sit as
attentive and absorbed as a class of students at an interesting lecture.
If, in such a concert, melody is not the unpardonable sin, whispering
is. Woe betide the whisperer at a Harvard Musical. It were better for
him, or even her, that the money for the ticket had been expended at the
minstrels or the museum. You might as well be a forger, a swindler, a
perjurer, or a burglar in ordinary life as to be a whisperer at a
Harvard Musical. Yes, you might as well "speak right out in meetin'"
itself as whisper here.

Such a disciplined audience, so quiet, so attentive, so susceptible to
the slightest sigh of the oboe or wail of the violin, is a marvellous
spectacle. They are hearing the finest and much of the freshest music in
the world. They are not exactly sympathetic; perhaps the character of
the music does not permit it. They applaud calmly--as it were, with
reservations. It really seems sometimes as though they approve the music
rather than enjoy it. But the Easy Chair reflects with pride that the
organizer of these concerts, if such a word may be used, and certainly
with no exclusion of the co-operation which alone makes such concerts
possible, is a Brook-Farmer; and it complacently smiles upon the great
multitude as unconscious pupils of that Arcadian influence.

And, indeed, in other days in this same city of Boston, in the halcyon
days of the "Academy" concerts at the old Odeon, or still more ancient
Boston Theatre, many of the Brook-Farmers were present in the flesh.
Those were the days--or, rather, the nights--when Beethoven was truly
introduced to America. Preluded with the pretty "Zannetta" overture by
Auber, or with the "Serment" or the "Domino Noir," or with Herold's
shrill "Zanetta," or some strain which would not now be tolerated in the
Harvard concerts, the Fifth Symphony was played until it became
familiar. And the long, willowy Schmidt stood at the head directing,
proud as a general commanding his column. In the audience, earnest,
interested, attentive, sparkling with humor, was Margaret Fuller, not
hesitating, when the thoughtless girls whispered and tittered and
giggled in the most solemn adagio strains, to lean over when the
movement ended and to say to the offenders: "But let us have our turn,
too; some of us came to hear the music."

There, also, was the delegation from Brook Farm, in whose appearance it
was plain to see that in Arcadia the hair was worn long, that the stiff
collar and cravat were repudiated, and that woollen blouses were a mute
protest against the body coats of a selfish and competitive
civilization. Those young fellows walked in from Brook Farm and out
again. They made nothing of ten miles or so each way under the winter
stars. And with them and of them, already accomplished in the beautiful
science, already familiar with the great works of the great composers,
was the present tutelary genius of the Harvard concerts, whose life,
consecrated as critic and lover to this art, has been a true service to
his city, and, reflectively, to the country.

But even Boston does not deny the charm of Theodore Thomas's orchestra
and the delight of the New York Philharmonic music. Indeed, there was no
audience which, for its training, was more authorized to judge the great
excellence of the Thomas orchestra than that of the Harvard concerts.
But when he went to Boston it was not as a doubting Thomas. He did not
play Bach and Beethoven only, but he tickled the amazed multitude with
positive tunes. He raised his baton, and his varied orchestra, a single
instrument in his magic grasp, consented to waltzes; or, like a
cathedral choir becoming suddenly a lark, trilled airy roundelays, at
which the delighted (but not all assured of the propriety of delight)
audience smiled and shook, and the youngest catechumens even tapped time
faintly with their feet!--a sound which, could it be conceived audible
in the midst of one of the Harvards, would probably cause such a shudder
of horror that the hall itself would fall as by an earthquake.

Thus the Music Hall itself is a kind of symphony of memories. It is full
of delightful ghosts. Among the visible figures there are a host of the
unseen, and every singer, player, speaker, as he stands for an hour upon
the platform, is measured by the masters of his art. But in the famous
Peace Jubilee it had no part. Indeed, the musical taste of which it is
peculiarly the temple resisted the colossal and continuous concert with
bells, anvils, and cannon as something monstrous, and as repulsive to
true art as a huge and clumsy Eastern idol. But not even the finest
taste of the Music Hall denied the impressiveness and grandeur of the
result. New York, in the Beethoven Centennial, will have immense
advantages. The musical resources of the city are truly "metropolitan,"
and such should the festival be.



PUBLIC BENEFACTORS


There is a class of unrecognized public benefactors to which the Easy
Chair wishes to offer a respectful tribute of gratitude. Their service
is none the less because it is unconscious; and it is not confined to
either sex. It is, besides, a very varied service, as will be readily
seen as we advance in our description. Let us, then, without delay, and
to begin with, specify as benefactors of this kind the young and other
gentlemen who do duty at club windows, and the ladies who kindly appear
only in the latest fashions. Most men, intent upon the necessary
industry wherewith they maintain their families, are content to live
plainly, and can seldom escape their work. There is Sunday, indeed, and
a happy hour in the Park, and perhaps a run in the summer for a week or
two to Long Branch or the mountains. But black care generally attends as
a body-servant, not always or immediately recognizable, but like that
solemn waiter whom Mr. George Hadder describes at a dinner given by
Leech, the artist, who announced the feast with the air of an
undertaker, and who proved to be the clerk of the neighboring parish,--a
little story which may be found, with much other entertaining reading,
in a handy volume of Mr. Stoddard's "Bric-à-Brac Series."

But the busy man's imagination is still at play, and he fancies a life
which he does not know, a life of elegant and boundless leisure, which
hovers above and around his weary routine, and a life in which his home
is spacious and splendid, where he is clad in handsome clothes and never
troubled by his tailor's bill, because he has always a balance in the
bank; a life in which he opens his eyes in the morning, not to wonder if
he has overslept himself and to plunge out of bed and into his clothes
and through his breakfast, to hurry to the car or omnibus, dreading to
be too late--opens his eyes, we say, not for this, but languidly to
wonder, as he looks from under the hangings, how most easily and
pleasantly to while away the time. A wise author says that the beauty of
the landscape is only a mirage seen from the windows of a diligence. So
is the life of leisure which the busy man sees in fancy and in the tales
which in his hasty way he sometimes reads on a rainy Sunday or in the
evening. Yet it would be mere fable to him except for the benevolent
genii in the club window. As he hurries homeward when his day's work is
done, he lifts his eye as he passes upon the sidewalk, or he peers from
the omnibus window, and lo! there stands the man to whom this leisure of
his dreams is a daily reality.

The figure which is making these dreams real, and which he cannot but
regard as a benefactor, stands in the spacious window, and there is
often a group of such figures; always with the hat on, and generally
with a cane in the hand, and such garments as are seen only in the
plates of the fashions and upon the tailor's lay-figures. Why, being in
a warm house, he should wear his hat, when he takes it off upon entering
all other houses, doth not appear. But it is part of his office to wear
it. For this representative of leisure models himself upon the habits of
similar ministers in those tales which the busy man sometimes reads; and
as Fitz-Clarence Mortimer wears his hat in the club window upon Pall
Mall, so must the hat be worn in our own club windows. Do not think that
hatted figure gazing at the passing ladies and carriages rolling to the
Park is a useless dandy. Nature wastes nothing. Nature does not inspire
him to pay tailors and shoemakers and jewellers and hatters, and then to
stand sucking the head of a cane in a club window without a purpose. The
brilliancy and perfume of flowers and the song of birds, as science
shows, are not for our delight only; they serve the reproduction and
perpetuity of life. The final cause of that hatted figure is not the
advertising of a tailor; it is the effect upon the imagination. It
serves the end of all art. It makes real to the busy citizen that life
of leisure and of opportunity of which he reads and dreams.

Nor does it end with the suggestion. As the busy man goes by and beholds
the apparition, he reflects upon the use of such opportunity as is
revealed to him at the window. That man, he says, born to a fortune, or
having by faithful industry and sagacity early amassed it, is now master
of his life. He commands time and money, the two levers which are so
powerful in heaving the world forward. He has but to devise how he can
be of service to others, and obey the leading of his generous soul.
Think of the hearths and the hearts that he cheers! Think of the
knowledge that he acquires, the studies that he pursues, for the
enlightenment of legislation and the practical advantage of government!
Think how gladly he bears his part in the work of organized charities!
He has what so few of us have--time and money. He can do so much, so
much! What can he not do? So muses the busy man, who must give all his
day, and some of the night often, to earning the pittance upon which he
lives. And as he muses his good heart asks him why he should require
everything of the hatted figure of leisure in the club window, and
discharge his own debt of duty by thinking how easily another can
discharge his. Everything in its degree, he says, as his steps quicken
with the thought. One star differeth from another star in glory. Why,
because that man, born in the purple or winning it, can do so much, can
I do nothing? Because his whole life is that leisure of endless
opportunity of which I can only dream, have I no minutes, no chances?
Haunted by this thought, he finds even his full-stretched day elastic.
He pulls it out until he, too, cheers some hearth and heart that would
otherwise have been frozen! and the busy man is busier, indeed, but
happier, and the amount of human suffering is a little less. In this
light does not the hatted figure at the window become a real benefactor?
Nothing, indeed, is further from its mind. It does not even see the busy
citizen by whom it is seen. But Nature has attained the object for
which she placed it in a club window with a hat on and sucking the head
of a cane.



MR. TIBBINS'S NEW-YEAR'S CALL


Mr. Tibbins wishes that his experience in making New-Year's calls may be
made useful as an illustration of the deceitfulness of appearances. He
is one of the gentlemen who do not keep dogs, although he lives in the
country, and who decline social visits to persons who do. Mr. Tibbins
is, however, just and impartial. "My friends," he says, "shall not
complain of any obscurity in my conduct. I simply offer them the
alternative, me or your dog--not both. If your tastes and preferences
are such that you will have large or small animals lying within your
gates, yelping and growling at every person who enters, smelling at
ankles, and producing lively apprehensions which are not in the least
allayed by calling the beast a good fellow, and remarking that he was
never known to bite,--if," says Mr. Tibbins to his friends, "these are
your preferences, we will not quarrel. I respect your idiosyncrasies,
and I beg you to respect mine, while I embrace this occasion to mention
that among the most prominent of mine is an indisposition to have my
ankles smelled at by dogs of any breed or of any size, whether they are
good fellows or not, and an insuperable disgust with the barking of
beasts when I go to make a call. That it is very selfish in you or any
person to subject his friends to such ordeals I do not say; that I leave
entirely to your own judgment, only remarking that although black snakes
and green snakes are not venomous reptiles, and are probably 'good
fellows,' I do not think that those who delight in having them coiling
and gliding about their parlors ought to be vexed with their neighbors
for not calling. The line must be drawn somewhere," says Mr. Tibbins;
"you may not draw it until you come to snakes; I draw it at dogs."

When, therefore, you stroll about the delightful country in his
neighborhood and mark the abodes of the rich and great, and say to him,
"That is a charming place," Mr. Tibbins answers, "Yes, he has dogs; I
never go there." Mr. Tibbins was naturally very much exhilarated by the
hydrophobia excitement last summer, and hoped at one time that the
public feeling might be carefully kindled to a general crusade against
dogs. "I lately read in Mr. Warner's letter from the Nile," he said, "of
an African king who had never seen a horse until Colonel Long came
riding into his capital. Think, oh, my friend, of the happy island
valley of Avillon, where never a dog barked loudly or was ever seen." Of
course so severe a taste as Tibbins's in a world so largely canine
produces inconvenience, as a dislike to butter in a society which holds
to a natural and necessary relation between bread and butter will often
expose the dissenter to difficulty. Such a man, in a crowded and elegant
assembly, who at supper has incautiously bitten a heavily buttered
sandwich, in the midst of a bout of badinage with youth and beauty,
understands the emotion of those who, with Mr. Tibbins, dislike to have
their ankles smelled at by dogs, yet who suddenly, within a neighbor's
grounds and far from help, perceive that a dog is actually engaged in
that office.

But Mr. Tibbins went out merrily upon New-Year's morning, resolved at
least to pay one visit long neglected to a neighbor who had become his
neighbor the summer before, who had given no signs of dogs, and who, as
Tibbins assured himself, was much too sensible a man to allow them about
the house and grounds. Our friend began the day prosperously, finding
everybody cordial and gay, and doing, as he thought, his full share
towards the enlivenment of each call. At last he came to the new
neighbor's, and went humming gayly up the neat plank-walk from the gate,
when, turning briskly around the house--putting it, as it were, between
himself and retreat--he was advancing rapidly towards the front door
when he suddenly stopped, with a sickening sense of betrayal, as it
were, in the house of a friend, for directly before him, within easy
spring, so to speak, lay a large dog upon the door-mat and directly
under the bell. He was asleep, and upon perceiving him Mr. Tibbins, as
if upon tiptoe for silence, reconnoitred the situation. To advance and
ring the bell was simple madness, for the dog would of course awake the
moment a foot struck the step, and in the confusion of sudden awakening
and of close quarters with an intruder he would probably be very
reckless and sanguinary, and not in the least amenable to the "good
fellow" blandishment. Mr. Tibbins, therefore, without moving, looked at
the windows, hoping to see somebody looking out whom he might with
beaming pantomime summon to the door, and so save himself the contact
which seemed to be inevitable. But there was no one looking out, and the
closed windows seemed to him to stare with blank indifference, so that
he says he had had before no idea how cruel windows can be. It then
occurred to him that if he could open communication with the kitchen,
and entice some maid or man to the door without ringing, the difficulty
would disappear, because the maid or man would pacify the dog. But to
reach the kitchen required a lateral movement which would leave the
enemy directly across his line of retreat. Moreover, any movement
whatever exposed Mr. Tibbins to the risk of making a noise, which would
arouse the foe and precipitate the engagement. He therefore maintained
his position, looking hopefully towards the kitchen, but, seeing no one,
he reluctantly held a further counsel with himself.

The obvious heroic course was to step upon the piazza and ring the bell.
But he saw again that it was impossible to touch the bell without
bringing himself close to the dog, who would then, of course, awake and
snap immediately at the nearest object, which would be Tibbins his leg.
And what was the possible use of heroism under such circumstances? He
might as well advance and kick the dog. But was the dog asleep? Was he
not dead? Was he not--why shouldn't he be--a stuffed dog, an old family
favorite, perhaps, now placed upon his familiar resting-place as his
own monument? This thought cleared the prospect for a moment, but
instant gloom shut down again, as Mr. Tibbins saw a slight breathing
motion, and perceived that the beast still lived. One of the advantages,
or misfortunes, of New-Year's Day in the country, according to the point
of view, is the infrequency of visitors. To our friend this infrequency
seemed to be, upon this occasion, a misfortune. Had there only been a
merry group turning the corner at the moment, he would have joyously
joined it, and so long as he could see other legs between himself and
his enemy his soul would have been at rest.

But his position was peculiarly solitary, nor did any other visitor
appear, and Mr. Tibbins remained for some time motionless regarding the
situation. There was no sign of relief. No visitor came to go in, so
none came out. No friendly face shone at the windows, no helping hand
opened the door. At any moment the dog might open his eyes, and, in that
case, he would certainly not be content with a survey of the situation.
Mr. Tibbins, who is no mean classic, remembered Xenophon and various
other great and renowned commanders who retired in good order and not in
the least demoralized, and reflecting that the sage truly defined
prudence as the crown of wisdom, he gently turned and, careful by no
rude noise to disturb the peaceful slumbers of an innocent animal which,
some poets have suggested, might properly share our heaven, he tiptoed
quietly around the house, and rapidly descending the plank-walk, firmly
closed the gate behind him, and felt his heart swelling with gratitude
for a great mercy.

A few days afterwards he met his neighbor, and said to him that he had
designed to call upon him on New-Year's Day, but that he had discovered
a dog in the path, and as he never called where dogs were kept, he had
been compelled to lose the pleasure of a visit. He then told the story
of his attempt, in the midst of which the neighbor broke into the most
prolonged and immoderate laughter, and when Mr. Tibbins had ended, said
to him, "My dear sir, that dog is immemorially old and superannuated,
and he is blind, deaf, and toothless."

"Indeed!" replied Mr. Tibbins. "But he might not have been."

"And yet I will confess," he said to the Easy Chair, later, "that the
incident is a very pretty sermon upon the deceitfulness of appearances,
which I respectfully offer to your acceptance."



THE NEW ENGLAND SABBATH


There are still villages among the hills of New England--we cannot call
them remote hills, because the locomotive darts up every valley and
fills the woods upon the highest hill-side with the shrill, eager cry of
hurrying life and bustling human society, but even where the steam is
heard, softened and far away, there are yet villages nestling in the
hills in which also the old New England Sabbath lingers and nestles. The
village street, broad and arched with thick-foliaged sugar-maples, is
always still. In the warm silence of a summer noon, as you sit reading
upon the piazza or in the shade of a tree, the only moving object in the
street is a load of hay slowly passing under the maples, drawn by oxen,
or a group of loiterers in front of the village store pitching quoits.
The creak of the wagon, the ring of the quoits, or the laugh and
exclamation of the players are the only sounds, except, indeed, the
musical clangor of the blacksmith's anvil, as his quick hammer moulds
the sparkling horseshoe or beats out the bar.

These are drowsy summer sounds that only emphasize the stillness of the
week-day. But the stillness of Sunday is startling. A faint tinkle of
cows in the early morning filing to the pasture, the warning shout of
the barefooted boy who drives them, are the only sounds that break the
Sabbath silence, except, again, the chirp and song of birds in the
trees, which are no respecters of days, and which sing as blithely, even
in the deacon's maples, on "Sabbath morning" as in the tavern ash on the
Fourth of July. The cows pass and all is still. The street is deserted,
save by, at intervals, a solitary figure upon some small errand. The sun
lies hot upon the pastures and hill-sides. There is no mail on Sunday,
no newspaper, no barber to visit. Now and then men in their daily dress
are seen at the barn door or in the shed or yard doing their chores.
They are bringing wood, milking, feeding the cattle. But all is
spectral. There is no sound. Even the wind in summer fears to be a
Sabbath-breaker. It is an enchanted realm. Have the blue-laws such
vitality? Are we still held by their grim spell?

It is nine o'clock, and the meeting-house bell, with a bold voice of
authority, as if it had the sole right to disturb the silence and to
speak out, warns the village and the outlying farms that it is the
Sabbath, and everybody must prepare to come to meeting; and the little
children hear the bell with awe as if it were a living voice, and sacred
as a part of the Sabbath, and to be heeded under unknown penalties. Obey
thy father and mother; thou shalt not lie; thou shalt not steal; thou
shalt go to meeting--seem to them all commandments of the first table.
The sound of the bell lingers in their ears and hearts as a Thus saith
the Lord. And, lo! at the second bell, the men, who have changed their
daily dress and put on their Sabbath clothes, issue from the houses on
the village street with their wives and children, and through the
street, closely following each other and pounding along in a cloud of
dust, comes the long line of wagons from the farms. The sun beats down
remorselessly, and the man in heavy woollens, such as he wears in the
sleigh in January, sits between two women in their Sabbath garments, the
horses trot with a Sabbath jog, and all turn up to the stone platform by
the meeting-house, upon which the women alight, and the man drives the
horse under the shed, and then chats soberly with the others at the
door.

But the minister passes in, not clad in gown and bands and cocked hat of
the older day, but in plain black clothes. The chatting loiterers follow
him in. The bell which has gathered the village into the sacred fold
rests from its labors. There is no one in the street. There is no sound.
But after a few moments the music of "Old Hundred" pours out of the open
doors and windows of the meeting-house, sung by a well-balanced and
well-trained choir. It is the opening hymn, and it has a full,
vigorous, triumphant sound. Once more Thus saith the Lord. There is
another interval of silence, but at a little distance you can hear the
voice of reading and prayer. Hark! another hymn. It is "Federal Street,"
or "Coronation," or "Dundee," but whatever it is, it is a strain from
other years, and voices and faces and scenes and days that are no more
all blend in the familiar music, and a Sabbath benediction rests upon
the listener's soul.

A longer silence follows, broken by fragmentary sounds of energetic
speech. Is the preacher emphasizing and elucidating the five points? Is
he denouncing and alarming that tough regiment in woollen, or winning
the wondering and doubting mind? Is his sermon upon an official and
perfunctory discourse by which little children are soothed to sleep and
in which the elders like unqualified damnation and the hottest fire as a
toper likes "power" in his dram? Or is his pure and manly life and
conversation his true preaching, and the Sabbath sermon only a statement
of the principles of such holy living, and a revival of the colors in
the immortal portrait of the holy life of the Gospel?

Before we can answer there is a burst of music, then two strokes of the
bell to announce that "meeting is out;" then an issue of the
congregation, a procession homeward, a driving away of wagons, and soon
once more the solitary street. In the afternoon there is the
Sabbath-school, and the good pastor preaches at one of the school-houses
in a farther part of the town. But it is always the Sabbath, in every
sight and sound until the sun has set, and then from the neighboring
house upon the hill above the village street comes a clear, resonant
soprano voice singing hymns and prolonging the solemn spell of the holy
day.

The tithing-men are gone, and the deacons do not sit severe and
conspicuous in the meeting-house, and the minister has not the air of a
lord spiritual of the village; and the genius of modern times and the
spirit of the age are entertained with full consciousness of what they
are. But it is still the sober and constrained and decorous New England
Sabbath which recurs every seventh day; and the honest, industrious,
intelligent, self-respecting, plain-living village recalls remotely the
day of the severer dispensation, and illustrates the noble manhood that
the severe dispensation fostered.



THE REUNION OF ANTISLAVERY VETERANS. 1884


On a pleasant day and evening during the autumn a few venerable
graybeards and bald-heads met in a church in the city, and sang and
spoke, and told old tales of former meetings, and rejoiced that they had
not died before their eyes had seen the glory. The meeting produced no
ripple upon the surface of the city life. The newspapers printed brief
reports of it among the other city news. But the return of the
Philadelphia baseball players, and the "mill" between Sullivan and other
bruisers, challenged very much more space and a very much more public
attention.

Yet fifty years before, when those gray beards were brown, and those
bald heads were shaggy as Samson's, their meeting convulsed the city,
and occasioned a riot which was the precursor of similar desperate
disturbances, and the forerunner of one of the greatest of civil wars.
The meeting was then denounced in advance in double-leaded editorials,
which were the direct, and doubtless the intentional incitements to
bloodshed and the subversion of popular rights; for the popular right
which is the foundation of all other rights is that of free speech. The
mere announcement of the meeting drew a vast and excited throng to
prevent it. Men of standing in the community made themselves leaders of
the mob, and occupied in advance the entrance to the hall where it was
to take place. The proprietors of the hall, appalled by the evidences of
furious hostility to the meeting and its purposes, refused to open it to
those who had engaged it, and they went elsewhere.

But the obstructing mob did not relax their purpose. They hastened to
another hall where men of respected and even noted names harangued them
violently, introducing resolutions decrying the purpose of the original
meeting; and suddenly hearing that the projectors were assembled
elsewhere, the crowd rushed wildly to the place, which was a small
chapel, and, swarming in eager for crime, found the chapel deserted. The
holders of the meeting had accomplished their object and retired from
the rear of the building as the mob burst in through the front doors.
The press of the city, with one or two notable exceptions, the next
morning celebrated the intended suppression of a peaceful meeting by an
angry mob as if it had been a national victory over piratical invaders.
It denounced the leaders of the meeting with a malignant bitterness with
which the familiars of the Inquisition might have anathematized Luther
and his friends, and the few voices in the papers which protested
against treating the holders of the meeting with violence, yet spoke of
them in a strain of abhorrence which virtually branded them as public
enemies.

Who were these dangerous and desperate men whose mere proposal to meet
and organize themselves for a purpose which was plainly declared, and
which was to be sought by legal methods only, had so profoundly
disturbed the city and startled the press into sounding a furious alarm?
They were a few persons who asserted the principles of the Declaration
of Independence, and demanded that all Americans should enjoy the rights
which the Declaration affirmed to belong to all men. The object of the
meeting was the formation of a city antislavery society, and those who
assembled in October of this year were the survivors of that meeting.
Their object has been accomplished, and the views whose announcement
fifty years ago convulsed the city are now common-places of universal
acceptance. It would be incredible that the sentiment of the city within
easy memory of men living was so hostile to the American principle and
its fundamental guarantees if a still later experience had not
illustrated the same hostility.

It seems almost cruel to recall the names of those who spoke of the
purposes of men who proposed to appeal to public opinion against a
monstrous public wrong, and of the men themselves, as "the folly,
madness, and mischief of these bold and dangerous men," and as "persons
who owe what notoriety they have to their love of meddling with
agitating subjects." This was the way in which those who thought
themselves to be in the van of freedom and of civilization spoke of the
beginning of one of the great historic movements in the progress of the
race, and of men who took up the work of the fathers of the country only
to carry it further and logically forward. It was with this stupid and
insolent contempt that the press, which prided itself upon its liberty,
and in a country which guaranteed the right of free peaceful assembly
and free speech, struck at both of them as fatal to the common welfare.
Had Philip II. and the sanguinary Alva controlled a press in the
Netherlands three centuries ago, they would have denounced the beginning
of the great contest with the black despotism of the Inquisition in the
same tone of vindictive hatred and disdain with which that little
meeting at the Chatham Street chapel was assailed by the press of New
York in 1833.

It is no wonder that the pioneers of that famous evening wished to come
together upon its fiftieth anniversary to rejoice that they had entered
into the promised land. The fact that their meeting excited no general
interest, and was almost unobserved, was the evidence of the
completeness of their triumph. Their "folly, madness, and mischief" have
become patriotic wisdom. The "bold and dangerous men" have grown into a
mighty nation. And for the brethren of the press that anniversary has
some very significant suggestions. First and chief is the consideration
that the spirit of the newspapers, and not of the meeting in Chatham
Street chapel, was the dangerous spirit. There is no blacker traitor to
popular institutions than the man who incites an angry mob against
peaceful meetings and free speech. Free speech is precious not for
popular but for unpopular opinions. It is to secure in the land of the
Inquisition a voice against the inquisition; in the land of slavery, a
voice for liberty. That freedom has overthrown those two tyrants by
developing a public opinion which has made them impossible. The first
duty of a free press is to defend the right of the free assertion of
unpopular opinions, however dangerous they may seem to government or to
society; and it is but just to record that the only paper in New York
which, "when this old coat was new," stated clearly and conclusively the
true principle upon this subject was the _Journal of Commerce_.

If, among the exulting crowd that welcomed King William of glorious and
happy memory to England, a spectator had seen the flowing white locks of
some old soldier of Cromwell's Ironsides, as the men of Hadley were
fabled to have seen the venerable head of Goffe, the regicide, suddenly
appearing as their deliverer, he would have felt his heart throbbing
with gratitude at the vision of one of the heroes who founded the
liberty which William came to complete. So some musing observer in the
church where the reverend graybeards met to renew their friendship and
to tell their story might well have gazed with gratitude, amid the peace
and prosperity of the country, upon the thinned and thinning remnant of
that old guard whose constancy and devotion made that peace and
prosperity possible.



REFORM CHARITY


The State Board of Charities in New York would deal severely with Elia
if it found him upon the street, stammering out his admiration of the
fine histrionic powers of a beggar, and searching in his pocket for a
penny. Lamb said that it was shameful to pay a crown for a seat in the
theatre to enjoy the representation of woes that you knew to be
fictitious, and to grudge a sixpence to the street performer who was so
excellent that you could not tell whether his sufferings were real or
affected. He is undoubtedly responsible for a great deal of easy and
irresponsible alms-giving, which greatly increases human suffering and
the expense of society. It is not possible to conceive anything more
comical than Lamb's probable reception of a politico-economical or
scientific view of charity. He would have felt his genius for humor to
be hopelessly surpassed. His view would have been the ludicrous aspect
of the idea which is more solemnly held by those who regard ordinary
alms-giving as one of the cardinal virtues, and who have a vague
conviction that a liberal disbursement of money to the poor in this
world is a strong lien upon endless felicity in the next. There is,
indeed, something very affecting in the old picture of conventional
charity--the groups of disabled and destitute assembling at the great
gate or in the courtyard, and the benign priests distributing food and
clothing. And there is a similar picturesque interest in the ancient
English bounties--a trust which secures to every wayfarer who may demand
it a loaf of bread or a mug of beer.

That charity meant this, and nothing more, was long the conviction, as
it was the tradition, of society. It was thought to have the highest
Christian sanction. There were to be always poor among us. The poor were
to be relieved, and relief, or charity, consists in feeding the hungry
and clothing the naked. Yet out of that simple, unreflecting, seemingly
innocent faith, have sprung enormous suffering, demoralization, and
crime. The whole subject of charitable relief was as misunderstood as
that of penal imprisonment before John Howard. There will be criminals,
was the theory, and they must be punished. They must therefore be
secured in jails, and the object of imprisonment is intimidation from
crime, not the improvement of criminals. The result of this view was
that society dismissed the subject, and regarded prisoners as mere
outcasts, so that the inhumanity of their treatment was revolting.
Happily the neglect revenged itself. The jails became sores. They were
nurseries of loathsome disease. Judges and sheriffs were smitten by the
pestilence that exhaled from prisons, and John Howard, like a purifying
angel, in cleansing the prisons began also to cleanse society.

So alms-giving and the relief of the poor arrested the attention of
humane persons who were not content with Elia's philosophy. They had
sometimes watched the skilful street performer, and had seen him slip
round the corner and spend at the gin-palace in a dram the money which,
with some fine histrionic genius, he had besought for the sick wife and
the starving children. They found the wife was also an accomplished
histrione, and that the children were receiving parental instruction in
the same calling. They found that the amiable, careless, unquestioning
alms-giving was breeding a class of paupers, people who did not seek
work nor wish to work, but who lived, and who meant to live, by beggary,
who bred their children to do likewise, and whose haunts and
associations and habits became great nurseries of crime. The evil had
become enormous, and was most deeply seated before it was accurately
observed. But wise men and wise women everywhere are now, and for some
years have been, earnestly engaged in studying how to save society from
the curse of pauperism, while taking care that all helpless and innocent
suffering shall be relieved. This is what Elia and his amiable,
thoughtless friends denounce as "machine charity." But their amiability
is only selfishness. How many of those who decry "machine charity" ever
went home with a single street beggar to whom they gave, or ever
ascertained or cared whether his story was true, or told for any other
purpose than to get the price of a dram? What they call their Christian
charity and common humanity and apostolic alms-giving is often mere
fostering of lying, drunkenness, and crime, and the indefinite increase
of suffering.

It is upon this spirit that knaves and charlatans play and prey in
establishing great charitable agencies, of which they are managers, and,
in the vivid French phrase, touch the funds. There are thousands of
kind-hearted people in every city who devote a share of their income to
charity. They know that there is immense suffering, and they would
gladly do their share in relieving it. But they do not know how to do
it. They are conscious that there is deception upon all sides, and they
cannot spare the time to ascertain for themselves who, of the host of
the poor, are proper objects of charity. But it is only less difficult
to decide upon a trusty agency. Here is the chance of the ingenious and
plausible rascal. If he can only obtain the co-operation of those whose
names make societies respectable, and who will permit him to be the
society, and especially to disburse the moneys, he will be as satisfied
as Ferdinand Count Fathom with any of his "little games." It is not
always difficult for such a rascal to secure the conditions of his
success. The consequences are both lamentable and ludicrous. For under
this solemn form of a Christian charitable foundation the most selfish
purposes are served, and when the mischief is exposed it is denounced as
one of the abuses to which delegated or "machine" charity is inevitably
liable. To perfect the comedy, this criticism is usually made by those
whose own alms are generally transferred from their pockets directly to
the till of the dram-shop.

It is evident from the letters that have been written to the newspapers
during the winter that there are those who sincerely think that careful
inquiry regarding poverty, and regulations of relief based upon it, must
somehow deaden human sympathy and deepen the suffering of the poor. This
is so ingeniously incorrect a theory that it would be exceedingly
amusing if it were not so sincere and even general. The very first thing
that careful investigation accomplishes is to acquaint the comfortable
class with the real condition of the suffering, and to show the latter
that they are not forsaken or turned off with uninquiring alms. They are
conscious of an intelligent sympathy with which falsehood will be of no
avail. They are taught self-respect by the perception that they are not
forsaken, and self-respect is the main-spring of successful exertion.
When the street-beggar understands that his tale will be tested, that if
he needs succor he will receive it, and that if his plea is but asking
for a dram he will not receive it, the number of street-beggars will
sensibly decrease. And the sturdy tramp and professional pauper, when
they know that they must go to the work-house or starve, will often
conclude that even work is better than the poor-house, and they too
will cease to be a nuisance and a terror.

Nor need it be feared, on the other hand, that if irresponsible
street-giving is stopped nobody will investigate the actual situation of
the poor. What is asked of the street-giver is not that he will close
his pocket and his hand and his heart and his soul; but that, if he will
not take the trouble to inquire before giving, he will give his alms to
somebody who will take that trouble, that his alms may be true charity
and relieve suffering, instead of relieving nothing whatever, but
fostering vice and crime. He must see that he is not a good Christian
exercising the heavenly gift of charity, but an indolent and reckless
citizen who is promoting poverty and multiplying the public burden of
the honest poor. He is that lazy absurd boy who wishes to eat his cake
and have it. He would satisfy his soul that he is good because he gives,
without seeing that to give ignorantly is, socially, to be bad. Nobody
is exhorted to surrender inquiry to others. Every one may inquire for
himself. If a beggar stops you and asks for a penny in the name of God,
and says that his family is starving, go and see if it is so. If you
have not the time--O sophistical Sybarite! inclination--send him to
those who, as you know, will inquire. Will his family starve in the
meantime? That is something you do not believe yourself. Do you fear
that the visitor will not go? Then go yourself. Do your engagements
prevent? Then you know that it is a thousand to one the story is but a
plea for whiskey. Will you take the chance? Then you become an immediate
accomplice in the vast multiplication of hereditary pauperism and crime.
The pretence of your giving is Christian charity and humanity; the real
cause is indolent self-indulgence and saving yourself trouble.

The charity that is beautiful in the old stories is actual charity. It
is the friendly feeding of those who are really hungry, and the clothing
of those who shiver with the cold. The Elia's charity is only a refined
selfishness, a whim of humor. He rewarded the deceit, he did not
relieve the suffering. Of course, his plea was an exquisite jest, and
so he felt it to be. But his jest is made earnest and changed into a
sober rule of life by gentle Sybarites, who, if they have ever heard of
the Englishman Edward Denison, are lost in amazement and cigarette smoke
as they meditate his career. The story may be found in a tender and
graphic sketch in the entertaining volume of papers by the author of the
admirable _History of the English People_, J. R. Green. Edward Denison,
born in 1840, was the son of the Bishop of Salisbury, and nephew of the
Speaker, and was educated at Oxford. Then he travelled on the Continent,
and studied the condition of the Swiss peasantry. Returning to England,
he engaged practically in the work of poor relief as an almoner of a
charitable society. He soon learned the uselessness of relief by doles,
and, determined to deal with the subject thoroughly, he withdrew from
the clubs, Pall Mall, and Mayfair, and taking lodgings in Stepney, made
himself the friend of the poor, built and endowed a school, in which he
taught, gave lectures, and organized a self-helping relief. He went to
France and to Scotland to study their poor-law systems. In 1868 he was
elected to Parliament, where his knowledge of the general subject would
have been invaluable. But his health failed before he took his seat. He
sailed for Melbourne, still intent upon his life's purpose, and died
there seven years ago, in his thirtieth year. A little volume of his
letters has been published, and Mr. Green's affectionate and pathetic
sketch draws the outline of this true modern knight and gentleman, the
Sir Launfal of this time. The street-giver, seeking a rule of conduct,
may more profitably heed the counsel of Edward Denison than the
delicious humor of Charles Lamb.



BICYCLE RIDING FOR CHILDREN


There has been some joking over Mr. Gerry's proposal to bring Mr. Barnum
to legal judgment for violating the statute in exhibiting the young
riders upon the bicycle. Mr. Barnum invited a distinguished company,
including eminent physicians, to witness the performance; the physicians
added that it was no more than healthful exercise. Thereupon the cynics,
who have never given a thought or lifted a hand to relieve suffering or
to remedy wrong, sneer at superserviceable philanthropy. Mr. Bergh also
complained of the killing of the elephant Pilate, and when the matter
was explained there was contemptuous chuckling at the sentimental
tomfoolery of philanthropic busybodies, and the usual exhortation to
reformers to supply themselves with common-sense.

But meantime the mere knowledge that there is an association for the
protection of children from cruelty, and another for the defence of
animals against human brutes, is in itself a protection for both classes
of victims. No parent or employer can wreak his vengeance or ill-temper
upon a child, no driver or owner can torment an animal, without the
consciousness that some agent may learn of it, or perhaps see it, and
bring the offender to justice. Both of these movements, which at first
seemed to so many intelligent persons to be strange and impracticable
fancies, are among the greatest proofs of the deeper and wiser humanity
of the age. These are illustrations of the same spirit which organizes
charity and ameliorates penal systems. Mr. Bergh and Mr. Gerry are in
the right line of moral descent from John Howard and Sir Samuel Romilly
and Mrs. Fry and Miss Carpenter, and when Mr. McMaster brings his
history of the American people down to the last decade he will record
the purpose and work of the two modest societies as among the striking
illustrations of the actual progress of that people.

It is in Lecky's detailed account of the horrible carelessness and
suffering, and of the inhuman desertion of prisoners and the poor of the
last century in England that we get the true key to the actual condition
of the country. Mr. McMaster has thrown a similar light upon the same
inhumanity in this country a hundred years ago. Yet every endeavor to
correct that inhumanity, to remember the man in the criminal, and wisely
to succor a brother in the beggar, has been greeted as an effort to make
a silk purse of a sow's ear, to make water run uphill, as the rose-water
philanthropy and the coddling of scoundrels, by the same spirit which
sneers at the work of Mr. Gerry and Mr. Bergh. Left to that spirit
England would be to-day where it was a hundred and fifty years ago, and
the signal triumphs of the century would have been unwon. Such a spirit
is mingled of ignorance, cowardice, and stupid selfishness. It is always
the obstruction of advancing humanity, always the contempt of generous
and courageous minds.

It is true, undoubtedly, that every forward step is not wisely taken,
and that there are the most absurd parodies of philanthropy, as well as
a great deal of pseudo philanthropy, which is merely the mask of
knavery. We have taken great pleasure in these very columns in stripping
off sundry masks of such philanthropy which is pursued by impostors of
both sexes in this city. Common-sense, careful scrutiny, and
intelligence, are indispensable in every form of charity and
beneficence. But because of the conduct of Shepherd Cowley shall nothing
be done for the relief of wretched children? Because of the elaborate
system of fraudulent charity of the reverend knave who has been exposed
here and elsewhere shall the poor be left without succor?

Everything said and done by the friends of the societies for protecting
children and animals may not be wise; but there could be nothing more
exquisitely ridiculous than to deride the societies and their labors for
that reason. Those who lead the van of reforms are so much in earnest
that they must sometimes offend, sometimes mistake, or nothing would
ever be done. Emerson says that if Providence is resolved to achieve a
result it over-loads the tendency. This produces enthusiasm and
fanaticism, and also the indomitable devotion and energy which cannot be
defeated. It is when the new way to the Indies becomes his one idea that
Columbus discovers America. It is when Luther defies all the opposing
devils, although they are as many as the tiles upon the roofs, that he
establishes Protestantism.

The doctors and the distinguished company decide upon Mr. Gerry's
complaint that the bicycle-riding of the children at Barnum's is
healthful and not injurious; and to Mr. Bergh's remonstrance about
killing the elephant Pilot, Mr. Barnum replies that he is not likely to
inflict a serious loss upon himself by killing one of his animals unless
it were clearly necessary. All this may be conceded. But it is very
fortunate for the community that there are sentinels of humanity who
will summarily challenge and compel a clear and complete explanation. It
appears that the riding of the children is not harmful, and the court
dismisses Mr. Gerry's complaint. The result is not that Mr. Gerry is
"left in a questionable position," but that every circus manager and
every exhibitor of children knows that a vigilant eye watches his
conduct, and that a prompt hand will deal even with seeming cruelty and
severity and exposure. It is very possible that Pilot was despatched as
humanely as practicable. But Mr. Bergh's challenge was not an
impertinent intermeddling. It reminds every brute in the city that he
cannot lose his temper and kick his horse with impunity. Both acts
establish a moral consciousness of constant surveillance, which stays
the angry hand and succors the limping animal and the friendless child.
It is those who relieve pain and suffering, not those who laugh at their
zeal, whom history remembers and mankind blesses.



THE DEAD BIRD UPON CYRILLA'S HAT AN ENCOURAGEMENT OF "SLARTER"


The story of the butcher who looked out in the soft summer moonlight and
announced that something ought to be done on so fine a night, and he
guessed he would go out and "slarter," was told to Melissa, who
ejaculated pretty ohs and ahs, and said, "But how vulgar." Yet had some
dreadful Nathan heard the words, and beheld Melissa as she spoke, he
would have raised his voice and pointed his finger and said, "Thou art
the woman!" For the delicate Melissa was the wearer of dead birds in her
hat, and encouraged the "slarter" of the loveliest and sweetest of
innocent song-birds merely to gratify her vanity. The butcher, madam,
may be vulgar, but at least he does not kill in order to wear the horns
and tails of his victims.

"How hideous!" exclaims Belinda, as she sees the pictured head of the
savage islander, "rings in his nose! how hideous!" And the gentle
Belinda shakes the rings in her ears in protest against such barbarism.
Sylvia, too, laughs gayly at the wife of the Chinese ambassador stumping
along upon invisible feet; and Sylvia would laugh more freely except for
her invisible waist. "It is so preposterous to squeeze your feet," she
remarks; "it is a deformity, it outrages nature;" and the superb and
benignant Venus of Milo smiles from her pedestal in the corner, and with
her eyes fixed upon Sylvia's waist, echoes Sylvia's words, "It is a
deformity, it outrages nature."

The Puritan preacher who, somewhat perverting his text, cried, "Topknot,
come down!" declared war upon the innocent ribbons that, carefully
trained and twisted and exalted into a towering ornament, doubtless
nodded from the head of Priscilla to the heart of John Alden and melted
it completely, while the preacher could not even catch his wandering
eyes. The preacher's course was clear. Topknots must come down if they
allured to a sweeter worship than he inculcated. But those ribbons were
made for that pretty purpose of adornment; they were not victims. They
silenced no song; they hardened no heart; they rewarded no wanton
cruelty; they destroyed no charm of the field or wood. They were not
memorials of heartless slaughter. They were simply devices by which
maidenly charms were heightened, and a little grace and taste and beauty
lent to the sombre Puritan world.

But the topknots of to-day are bought at a monstrous price. Carlyle says
of certain enormous fire-flies on an island of the East Indies that,
placed upon poles, they illuminate the journeys of distinguished people
by night. "Great honor to the fire-flies!" he exclaims; "but--" It is a
great honor to the golden-winged woodpecker to be shot and then daintily
poised upon the hat of Cyrilla as, enveloped in a cloud of dudes, she
promenades the Avenue on Sunday afternoon; great honor to the
woodpecker; but--The naughty dog in the country who hunts and kills
chickens is made to wear a dead chicken hung around his neck, and is at
last shamed out of his murderous fancy. How if Cyrilla, strolling in the
summer fields, haply with young Laurence hanging enthralled upon her
sweet eyes, her low replies, should chance to meet the cur disgraced
with the dead chicken hung around his neck, she with the dead woodpecker
upon her head!

The lovely lady puts a premium upon wanton slaughter and unspeakable
cruelty. She incites the murderous small boy and all the idlers and
vagrants to share and shoot the singing bird, and silence the heavenly
music of the summer air. She cries for "slarter," and, like the white
cat enchanted into the Princess, who leaps to the floor in hot chase
when the mouse appears, the Queen of Beauty, with a feathered corpse for
a crown, begins to seem even to Laurence unhappily enchanted.



CHEAPENING HIS NAME


A distinguished public man once said to the Easy Chair that after an
election in which he had taken part, and in which his party had
succeeded, he always signed the recommendations of anybody who asked him
for any office he wished. And when the Easy Chair remarked that he must
have sadly cheapened his name with the appointing power, the excellent
statesman answered, "Not at all; because I wrote by mail that no
attention was to be paid to my request." Perhaps he thought that this
was not cheapening his name. But what must the appointing power have
secretly thought of a man who respected his own name so little? And an
eminent public officer of long service told the Easy Chair that a
recommendation was once delivered to him by an office-seeker from a
President of the United States; and when the officer, delaying the
applicant, asked the President if he really wished the person appointed,
the President replied, "Not in the least; but I gave the letter to him
to get rid of him."

Any Easy Chair must be often reminded of such incidents when it reads in
the papers the cards and notices and invitations and petitions to which
conspicuous names are attached. It discovers, for instance, that the
most eminent ministers, merchants, lawyers, and capitalists are very
anxious to hear Dr. Dunderhead upon the history of chaos. They
compliment the learned doctor's erudition and eloquence, and beg him to
name the evening when he will speak to them. The doctor replies in
blushing rhetoric, and will yield to their desires on Thursday evening,
the 32d. On that evening the Easy Chair, which has perused the
correspondence with eager expectation, and which has a profound interest
in chaos, repairs to the hall, finds a dozen surprised stragglers like
itself, but not one of the conspicuous clergymen, lawyers, merchants,
or capitalists, and goes home in bewilderment to read in the morning's
paper an elaborate report of Dr. Dunderhead's lecture, delivered at the
request of the following distinguished gentlemen--who are duly named;
and it slowly dawns upon the Easy Chair that it has been assisting at an
advertisement, that the invitation to Dr. Dunderhead was also written by
Dr. Dunderhead, that the gentlemen signed because they were asked to do
so, and that the whole proceeding is intended to impress the rural
districts, and to procure the learned and erudite Dunderhead invitations
to lecture in other places.

Have these gentlemen no respect for their names? They would not indorse
the note of a stranger for a thousand dollars because somebody asked
them to do it for good-nature. But it is just as dishonorable to indorse
a man's learning and eloquence when you know nothing of it as to indorse
a man's promise to pay of whose solvency you are equally ignorant.
Indeed, in the one case you could supply the money if the maker of the
note failed. But, dear sirs, can you supply the eloquence and erudition
which you indorsed in Dr. Dunderhead, for which many Easy Chairs paid
many dollars, and which Dunderhead failed to display? You cannot,
indeed, be sued at the City Hall, but you are prosecuted at another,
even loftier tribunal, and you are mulcted in damages. Your own good
name pays the penalty, and is thereafter less respected. If a man does
not respect his own name, who will? But if he publicly announces that
his name is of no weight, how can he complain if it becomes a jest?

There are every day great public meetings at which a long list of
familiar names appears as vice-presidents. Very often the gentlemen are
notified that their names are to be used, and that if they are unwilling
they may inform the managers. But very often, also, they know nothing of
the complicity until they read their names in the report of the meeting.
Upon this discovery most men shrug their shoulders, and wish impatiently
that people wouldn't do so. But they have a feeling that the occasion is
passed; that they will be derided as courting notoriety if they write
to the papers stating that their names were used without authority; so
they grumble and acquiesce. But they nevertheless connive at the abuse
of their names. They embolden to further abuse, and they weaken both the
power and the effect of disavowal. They condoned the abuse when they
were made vice-presidents of the immense and enthusiastic meeting in
favor of the annexation of Terra del Fuego; and why, sneers Mrs. Grundy
and Mrs. Candour--why should they be too nice to assist at the grand
demonstration of fraternity for the Philippine Islands? If the
correspondents of Dr. Dunderhead would show that they respected their
own names, they would soon find that other people would not trifle with
them.

But neither must they cheapen them by constant use. There are well-known
names that appear upon every occasion. They ask all the Dunderheads to
lecture; they petition for and against all public objects; they
recommend everything from a Correggio to a corn-plaster; they offer
benefits to actors; they are honorary directors of institutions of which
they are painfully ignorant; their names appear so universally and
indiscriminately that they have no more effect upon public attention or
confidence than the machines with which the Chinese bonzes grind out
prayers can be supposed to have upon the Divine intelligence. The
consequence is that all sensible men come to regard these signatures as
those of men of straw. And why not, since they give straw bail for the
appearance of that which does not appear, or for the excellence of that
of which, if it be excellence, they know nothing?

And so, says the old story, after crying wolf so long that the shepherds
no longer heeded him, one day the boy cried wolf lustily, for the wild
beast had really come. But the louder he cried, the louder they sneered:
"No, no; we've learned your tricks at last, you wicked boy, and you may
shout until you are hoarse!" And while they laughed the wolf devoured
the boy. Remember, then, dear Dunderhead correspondents, that, when
Plato himself comes, and some foolish touter obtains your names, or
even yourselves this time know that the truly seraphic doctor has
arrived, whose golden wisdom would make the whole world richer, it will
be in vain. You have invited discredit for your names; and we, who have
been deluded, when we see that you earnestly invite us all to hear
Plato, shall only smile incredulously--"Plato indeed! 'tis only
Dunderhead Number Twenty."



CLERGYMEN'S SALARIES


Whether we bear or forbear, it is difficult to appease Mrs. Candour. Her
responsibility is incessant, and the world always needs her correction.
A certain religious society recently decided to give their minister a
certain salary, which was apparently larger in the opinion of Mrs.
Candour than any minister should receive, and she expressed herself to
the effect that no society ought to offer and no clergyman ought to
accept so large a sum. Mrs. Candour's impertinence is certainly as
striking as her sense of responsibility. What business can it possibly
be of hers whether a clergyman, or a lawyer, or a carpenter, or a
physician, or a railroad superintendent, or a shoemaker, or a bank
president, is paid more or less for his services? It is a purely private
arrangement between private persons, and if Mrs. Candour had a quick
sense of humor, which we sincerely hope, but are constrained to doubt,
and were the editor of a paper, how she would smile if the Easy Chair
should gravely remark: "We learn with great pain that the proprietors of
the weekly _Green Dragon_ have decided to pay the editor, Mrs. Candour,
twenty thousand dollars a year. This is a sum much too large for the
proprietors of any journal to offer, and very much more than an editor
ought to receive." Does the laborer cease to be worthy of his hire when
he enters the editorial room or the pulpit?

The facts of the case make this remark of Mrs. Candour's the more
comical. The receipts of the society in question are very large indeed.
They enable it to do good works of many kinds, and upon the largest
scale--the Bethel, for instance, one of the wise charities of good men,
which gathers in the poor, young and old, and thoughtfully and tenderly
gives them glimpses of a bright and cheerful life. The large resources,
overflowing in benefactions, are perhaps chiefly due to the minister,
whose fame and eloquence constantly draw multitudes to the church. The
salary which he receives, therefore, is really but a part of the money
which he makes. And to put the argument as before, if Mrs. Candour,
editing the paper, "ran it up" and increased the profits, for instance,
by fifty thousand dollars, could she feel unwilling to receive ten
thousand dollars in addition to her present salary?

Or is she of those who think that clergymen ought not to be well paid?
Then she belongs to the class whose opinion is faithfully followed. The
clergy are the worst-paid body of laborers in the country. They work
with ability and zeal. They are educated, sensitive men, often carefully
nurtured, and they are expected to be everybody's servant, to hold their
time and talents at the call of all the whimsical old women of the
parish and of the selectmen of the town. They are to preach twice or
thrice on Sunday, to lecture and expound during the week, to make
parochial calls in sun or storm, to visit the poor, to be the confidant
and counsellor of a throng, and always in every sermon to be fresh and
bright, and always ready to do any public service that may be asked. Of
course the clergyman must be chairman of the school committee, and a
director of the town library, and president of charitable societies. He
cannot give a great deal of money for educational and charitable and
æsthetic purposes--not a very great deal--but he can always give time,
and he can always make a speech, and draw the resolutions, and direct
generally.

He is, in fact, the town pound, to which everybody may commit the truant
fancies that nobody else will tolerate upon the pastures and lawns of
his attention. He is the town pump, at which everybody may fill himself
with advice. He is the town bell, to summon everybody to every common
enterprise. He is the town beast of burden, to carry everybody's pack.
With all this he must have a neat and pretty house, and a comely and
attractive wife, who must be always ready and well-dressed in the
parlor, although she cannot afford to hire sufficient "help." And the
good man's children must be well-behaved and properly clad, and his
house be a kind of hotel for the travelling brethren. Of course he must
be a scholar, and familiar with current literature, and he may justly be
expected to fit half a dozen boys for college every year. These are but
illustrations of the functions he is to fulfil, and always without
murmuring; and for all he is to be glad to get a pittance upon which he
can barely bring the ends of the year together, and to know that if he
should suddenly die of overwork, as he probably will, his wife and
children will be beggars.

And when a man who does his duties of this kind so well that a great
deal of money gladly given is the result, and it is proposed that he
shall be paid as every chief of every profession is paid, Mrs. Candour
exclaims in effect that the alabaster box had better be sold and given
to the poor. If the good lady is of this opinion, let her advocate the
method of the Church of Rome. If she thinks that a minister is a priest
of the old dispensation, a part of a complete ecclesiastical system, let
his support be made part of the system. But if she prefers that a
minister shall be a man and a citizen, like the rest of us, discharging
all the duties of a parent and an equal member of society, and leading
the worship of those who invite him to that office--then let him have
the same chances and fair play with other men. Now one of the proper
aims of other men is a provision for their families; the possibility of
saving something for the day of inaction, of ill-health, of desertion.
If the reward of labor which is offered a clergyman is more generous
than Mrs. Candour thinks to be becoming for him--if she insists that,
like certain friars of the Roman Church, he shall take the vow of
poverty, let her, at least, be as just to her own communion as those of
that Church are to theirs. Let her also insist that he shall not marry,
that he shall not be left to the mercy of a congregation that may tire
of him, and that he shall be supported when he is not in service, or is
unable to serve longer.

Does it occur to Mrs. Candour why the cleverest men hesitate long before
they become clergymen? "Yes," said the great leader of a sect in this
country, a few years ago, in a convention of his fellow-believers--"yes,
you wonder why the standard of the profession seems to decline. I will
tell you why. If any brother has a son whom he does not know what to do
with, he makes a--minister of him." And if the good lady with whom the
Easy Chair is expostulating fears that if there are great prizes in the
pulpit the religious character of the teacher will decline, and that the
profession will become attractive to merely clever men, she states a
good reason for changing the voluntary system, but a very poor one for
starving ministers. Nor must she forget to ask herself, on the other
hand, whether religion itself gains by identifying its preaching with
feeble and timid men. There will, indeed, always be the great, devoted
souls who, under any circumstances, in riches, in poverty, in health or
sickness, in life or death, will give themselves to the work of the
evangelist. But Mrs. Candour is not speaking of them; she speaks of an
established profession like that of editing, in which she is, let us
hope, prosperously engaged. If she is morally bound to give her labor
for nothing, or to stint her family, when there is plenty of money made
by her honest work, she may speak with the fervor of conviction, indeed,
if not of persuasion, upon the impropriety of paying a minister well.

If Mrs. Candour ever looks into English history she will remember the
condition of the country curate and the squire's chaplain a century and
a half ago. She will recall the contemptuous manner in which he was
treated. Macaulay tells of him. Fielding describes him. The plays have
him. He is everywhere in the literature of the time, and everywhere a
pitiful figure. Whether the portrait of the chaplain be accurate or not,
it certainly faithfully shows the feeling with which he was regarded.
And if the feeling were justified by the character of the men, what was
the reason that the men were what they were? Because the general opinion
was then what Mrs. Candour's is now--that a clergyman should not be well
paid. The chaplain was a pauper, and he was treated accordingly. The
result was certain. Human nature always revenges itself. If you
arbitrarily set apart certain men as _ex-officio_ a peculiarly holy
class, and deny them the advantages and chances of other men, they will
become servile and mean, and lose the noble spirit of a true man. Mrs.
Candour may point to the fat English bishoprics--to such a shameful
correspondence as that which Massey records between William Pitt and Dr.
Cornwallis, Bishop of Lichfield--and ask if prizes of such a kind are a
good thing, and if anything could more corrupt good men than such
chances. Yes, one thing could; and that is sure penury and starvation.
But there is no need of fat pulpit appointments. Wherever they exist
they will be the objects of intrigue and chicanery. What has that to do
with a society giving their minister part of the money that he makes for
them?

If Mrs. Candour insists that the money should not be made, and that the
preaching should be free, the argument is still against her, because
infinitely more good can be done by the charitable organizations which
the money supports than by mere free preaching. Besides, the money to
which she objects founds free churches and sustains free preaching. If
she will fall back upon the other system, and have the churches built
and the pulpits supported by established funds, then, at least, she will
be consistent. But does she think it desirable for the welfare of
society that there should be huge ecclesiastical funds? Would she
restore the dead hand? Upon the whole, is it better that the priesthood,
or the Church as such, should hold great properties, and dispose of
unlimited money? The voluntary system has, at least, this advantage,
that the money is not ecclesiastically held, and while it is the system
of her choice, Mrs. Candour has no right to complain of those who are
willing to pay to hear a great preacher, and thereby enable countless
others to hear preaching, and to be taught and succored for nothing.

Her position, indeed, is that of those who sometimes invite a speaker to
lecture for the benefit of a charity, who agree to pay the lecturer what
he asks, and then ask him to take half as much, giving the rest to the
charity. They either think that the lecture is not worth the price
agreed upon, or that it is the lecturer's duty to bestow a sum equal to
half his fee. The reply to such gentlemen is short: It was a fair
bargain; you have profited by it; and what the lecturer does with his
part is none of your business. And there really is no other reply to
Mrs. Candour: Madam, the minister and his friends have made a fine sum
of money; and what they will do with it is none of your business, unless
they fall to corrupting the public.

But, indeed, there was no need, madam, to argue for the reduction of the
salaries of clergymen. We hear in no direction of any tendency to
excess; but we do hear everywhere of those abominations,
"donation-parties!" Do we make donation-parties to other people whom we
pay honestly for honest service? Are bakers and lawyers and tailors and
doctors surprised by donation-parties? They are public confessions of
our meanness. If we paid the minister adequately, why should we abuse
the language by "donating" the necessaries of life to the parsonage?
Some kind soul knows that we starve our shepherd, that he is pinched and
cramped in his household, that his wife is thinly clad and his children
shabby, and that the man of whom we demand that he should be a model of
all the cardinal virtues is torn with anxious doubts for his family; and
that generous soul proposes that we should club our sugar and butter and
help him out. If we do not do it next year, what is to become of him? If
we do, why not make it a certainty; why not, dear Mrs. Candour, raise
his salary? And if you, madam, would only issue a tariff or sliding
scale, so that we might know how much a religious teacher under
different circumstances might properly receive--in fine, whether all
boxes, or only the alabaster box, must be sold and given to the poor--it
would be the most valuable service you are ever likely to perform to
society.


THE END


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