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Title: Louisa May Alcott : Her Life, Letters, and Journals
Author: Alcott, Louisa May, 1832-1888
Language: English
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     Life, Letters, and Journals.



     _Copyright, 1889_,
     BY J. S. P. ALCOTT.



     This Memoir

     June, 1889.

  [Illustration: Portrait of Miss Alcott]


Louisa May Alcott is universally recognized as the greatest and most
popular story-teller for children in her generation. She has known the
way to the hearts of young people, not only in her own class, or even
country, but in every condition of life, and in many foreign lands.
Plato says, "Beware of those who teach fables to children;" and it is
impossible to estimate the influence which the popular writer of
fiction has over the audience he wins to listen to his tales. The
preacher, the teacher, the didactic writer find their audience in
hours of strength, with critical faculties all alive, to question
their propositions and refute their arguments. The novelist comes to
us in the intervals of recreation and relaxation, and by his seductive
powers of imagination and sentiment takes possession of the fancy and
the heart before judgment and reason are aroused to defend the
citadel. It well becomes us, then, who would guard young minds from
subtle temptations, to study the character of those works which charm
and delight the children.

Of no author can it be more truly said than of Louisa Alcott that her
works are a revelation of herself. She rarely sought for the material
of her stories in old chronicles, or foreign adventures. Her capital
was her own life and experiences and those of others directly about
her; and her own well-remembered girlish frolics and fancies were sure
to find responsive enjoyment in the minds of other girls.

It is therefore impossible to understand Miss Alcott's works fully
without a knowledge of her own life and experiences. By inheritance
and education she had rich and peculiar gifts; and her life was one of
rare advantages, as well as of trying difficulties. Herself of the
most true and frank nature, she has given us the opportunity of
knowing her without disguise; and it is thus that I shall try to
portray her, showing what influences acted upon her through life, and
how faithfully and fully she performed whatever duties circumstances
laid upon her. Fortunately I can let her speak mainly for herself.

Miss Alcott revised her journals at different times during her later
life, striking out what was too personal for other eyes than her own,
and destroying a great deal which would doubtless have proved very

The small number of letters given will undoubtedly be a
disappointment. Miss Alcott wished to have most of her letters
destroyed, and her sister respected her wishes. She was not a
voluminous correspondent; she did not encourage many intimacies, and
she seldom wrote letters except to her family, unless in reference to
some purpose she had strongly at heart. Writing was her constant
occupation, and she was not tempted to indulge in it as a recreation.
Her letters are brief, and strictly to the point, but always
characteristic in feeling and expression; and, even at the risk of the
repetition of matter contained in her journals or her books, I shall
give copious extracts from such as have come into my hands.

     E. D. C.
     JAMAICA PLAIN, Mass., 1889.



     INTRODUCTION                             iii


        I. GENEALOGY AND PARENTAGE             11
       II. CHILDHOOD                           16
      III. FRUITLANDS                          32
       IV. THE SENTIMENTAL PERIOD              56
        V. AUTHORSHIP                          75
       VI. THE YEAR OF GOOD LUCK              110
      VII. "HOSPITAL SKETCHES"                136
     VIII. EUROPE, AND "LITTLE WOMEN"         170
       IX. EUROPE                             204
        X. FAMILY CHANGES                     263
       XI. LAST YEARS                         329
      XII. CONCLUSION                         387



     PORTRAIT OF MISS ALCOTT                          _Frontispiece_

     Photogravure by A. W. Elson & Co., from a photograph by
     Notman (negative destroyed), taken in 1883. The facsimile
     of her writing is an extract from a letter to her
     publisher, written from her hospital retreat a few weeks
     previous to her death.

     1878                                                         93

     Engraved by John Andrew & Son Co., from a photograph.

     PORTRAIT OF MISS ALCOTT                                     140

     Photogravure by A. W. Elson & Co., from a photograph
     taken just previous to her going to Washington as a hospital
     nurse, in 1862.

     FAC-SIMILE OF MISS ALCOTT'S WRITING                         362

     Extract from a letter to her publisher, January, 1886.

     PRINTED                                                     380






     When I remember with what buoyant heart,
       Midst war's alarms and woes of civil strife,
     In youthful eagerness thou didst depart,
       At peril of thy safety, peace, and life,
     To nurse the wounded soldier, swathe the dead,--
       How piercèd soon by fever's poisoned dart,
     And brought unconscious home, with wildered head,
       Thou ever since 'mid langour and dull pain,
     To conquer fortune, cherish kindred dear,
       Hast with grave studies vexed a sprightly brain,
     In myriad households kindled love and cheer,
       Ne'er from thyself by Fame's loud trump beguiled,
     Sounding in this and the farther hemisphere,--
       I press thee to my heart as Duty's faithful child.

Louisa Alcott was the second child of Amos Bronson and Abba May
Alcott. This name was spelled Alcocke in English history. About 1616 a
coat-of-arms was granted to Thomas Alcocke of Silbertoft, in the
county of Leicester. The device represents three cocks, emblematic of
watchfulness; and the motto is _Semper Vigilans_.

The first of the name appearing in English history is John Alcocke of
Beverley, Yorkshire, of whom Fuller gives an account in his Worthies
of England.

Thomas and George Alcocke were the first of the name among the
settlers in New England. The name is frequently found in the records
of Dorchester and Roxbury, and has passed through successive changes
to its present form.

The name of Bronson came from Mr. Alcott's maternal grandfather, the
sturdy Capt. Amos Bronson of Plymouth, Conn. "His ancestors on both
sides had been substantial people of respectable position in England,
and were connected with the founders and governors of the chief New
England colonies. At the time of Mr. Alcott's birth they had become
simple farmers, reaping a scanty living from their small farms in

Amos Bronson Alcott, the father of Louisa, was born Nov. 29, 1799, at
the foot of Spindle Hill, in the region called New Connecticut. He has
himself given in simple verse the story of his quaint rustic life in
his boyhood, and Louisa has reproduced it in her story of "Eli's
Education" (in the Spinning-Wheel Stories), which gives a very true
account of his youthful life and adventures. He derived his refined,
gentle nature from his mother, who had faith in her son, and who lived
to see him the accomplished scholar he had vowed to become in his
boyhood. Although brought up in these rustic surroundings, his manners
were always those of a true gentleman. The name of the little mountain
town afterward became Wolcott, and Louisa records in her journal a
pilgrimage made thither in after years.[1]

Louisa Alcott's mother was a daughter of Col. Joseph May of Boston.
This family is so well known that it is hardly necessary to repeat its
genealogy here.[2] She was a sister of Samuel J. May, for many years
pastor of the Unitarian church at Syracuse, who was so tenderly
beloved by men of all religious persuasions in his home, and so widely
known and respected for his courage and zeal in the Antislavery cause,
as well as for his many philanthropic labors.

Mrs. Alcott's mother was Dorothy Sewall, a descendant of that family
already distinguished in the annals of the Massachusetts colony, and
which has lost nothing of its reputation for ability and virtue in its
latest representatives.[3]

Mrs. Alcott inherited in large measure the traits which distinguished
her family. She was a woman of large stature, fine physique, and
overflowing life. Her temper was as quick and warm as her affections,
but she was full of broad unselfish generosity. Her untiring energies
were constantly employed, not only for the benefit of her family, but
for all around her. She had a fine mind, and if she did not have
large opportunities for scholastic instruction, she always enjoyed the
benefit of intellectual society and converse with noble minds. She
loved expression in writing, and her letters are full of wit and
humor, keen criticism, and noble moral sentiments. Marriage with an
idealist, who had no means of support, brought her many trials and
privations. She bore them heroically, never wavering in affection for
her husband or in devotion to her children. If the quick, impatient
temper sometimes relieved itself in hasty speech, the action was
always large and unselfish.

It will be apparent from Louisa's life that she inherited the traits
of both her parents, and that the uncommon powers of mind and heart
that distinguished her were not accidental, but the accumulated result
of the lives of generations of strong and noble men and women.

She was well born.

_Mr. Alcott to Colonel May._

     GERMANTOWN, Nov. 29, 1832.

   DEAR SIR,--It is with great pleasure that I announce to you the
   _birth of a second daughter_. She was born at half-past 12 this
   morning, on my birthday (33), and is a very fine healthful child,
   much more so than Anna was at birth,--has a fine foundation for
   health and energy of character. Abba is very comfortable, and
   will soon be restored to the discharge of those domestic and
   maternal duties in which she takes so much delight, and in the
   performance of which she furnishes so excellent a model for
   imitation. Those only who have seen her in those relations, much
   as there is in her general character to admire and esteem, can
   form a true estimate of her personal worth and uncommon devotion
   of heart. She was formed for domestic sentiment rather than the
   gaze and heartlessness of what is falsely called "society." Abba
   inclines to call the babe _Louisa May_,--a name to her full of
   every association connected with amiable benevolence and exalted
   worth. I hope its _present possessor_ may rise to equal
   attainment, and deserve a place in the estimation of society.

   With Abba's and Anna's and Louisa's regards, allow me to assure
   you of the sincerity with which I am


The children who lived to maturity were--



[1] For further particulars of the Alcott genealogy, see "New
Connecticut," a poem by A. B. Alcott, published in 1887. I am also
indebted to Mr. F. B. Sanborn's valuable paper read at the memorial
service at Concord in 1888.

[2] For particulars of the genealogy of the May families, see "A
Genealogy of the Descendants of John May," who came from England to
Roxbury in America, 1640.

[3] For the Sewall family, see "Drake's History of Boston," or fuller
accounts in the Sewall Papers published by the Massachusetts
Historical Society.




     Welcome, welcome, little stranger,
     Fear no harm, and fear no danger;
     We are glad to see you here,
     For you sing "Sweet Spring is near."

     Now the white snow melts away;
     Now the flowers blossom gay:
     Come dear bird and build your nest,
     For we love our robin best.


Mr. Alcott had removed to Germantown, Penn, to take charge of a
school, and here Louisa was born, Nov. 29, 1832. She was the second
daughter, and was welcomed with the same pride and affection as her
elder sister had been. We have this pleasant little glimpse of her
when she was hardly a month old, from the pen of one of her mother's
friends. Even at that extremely early age love saw the signs of more
than usual intelligence, and friends as well as fond parents looked
forward to a promising career.

_Extract from a Letter by Miss Donaldson._

     GERMANTOWN, PENN., Dec. 16, 1832.

   I have a dear little pet in Mrs. Alcott's little Louisa. It is
   the prettiest, best little thing in the world. You will wonder to
   hear me call anything so young pretty, but it is really so in an
   uncommon degree; it has a fair complexion, dark bright eyes, long
   dark hair, a high forehead, and altogether a countenance of more
   than usual intelligence.

   The mother is such a delightful woman that it is a cordial to my
   heart whenever I go to see her. I went in to see her for a few
   moments the evening we received your letter, and I think I never
   saw her in better spirits; and truly, if goodness and integrity
   can insure felicity, she deserves to be happy.

The earliest anecdote remembered of Louisa is this: When the family
went from Philadelphia to Boston by steamer, the two little girls were
nicely dressed in clean nankeen frocks for the voyage; but they had
not been long on board before the lively Louisa was missing, and after
a long search she was brought up from the engine-room, where her eager
curiosity had carried her, and where she was having a beautiful time,
with "plenty of dirt."

The family removed to Boston in 1834, and Mr. Alcott opened his famous
school in Masonic Temple. Louisa was too young to attend the school
except as an occasional visitor; but she found plenty of interest and
amusement for herself in playing on the Common, making friends with
every child she met, and on one occasion falling into the Frog Pond.
She has given a very lively picture of this period of her life in
"Poppy's Pranks," that vivacious young person being a picture of
herself, not at all exaggerated.

The family lived successively in Front Street, Cottage Place, and
Beach Street during the six succeeding years in Boston. They
occasionally passed some weeks at Scituate during the summer, which
the children heartily enjoyed.

Mrs. Hawthorne gives a little anecdote which shows how the child's
heart was blossoming in this family sunshine: "One morning in Front
Street, at the breakfast table, Louisa suddenly broke silence, with a
sunny smile saying, 'I love everybody in _dis_ whole world.'"

Two children were born during this residence in Boston. Elizabeth was
named for Mr. Alcott's assistant in his school,--Miss E. P. Peabody,
since so widely known and beloved by all friends of education. A boy
was born only to die. The little body was laid reverently away in the
lot of Colonel May in the old burial-ground on the Common, and the
children were taught to speak with tenderness of their "baby brother."

When Louisa was about seven years old she made a visit to friends in
Providence. Miss C. writes of her: "She is a beautiful little girl to
look upon, and I love her affectionate manners. I think she is more
like her mother than either of the others." As is usually the case,
Louisa's journal, which she began at this early age, speaks more fully
of her struggles and difficulties than of the bright, sunny moods
which made her attractive. A little letter carefully printed and sent
home during this visit is preserved. In it she says she is not happy;
and she did have one trying experience there, to which she refers in
"My Boys." Seeing some poor children who she thought were hungry, she
took food from the house without asking permission, and carried it to
them, and was afterward very much astonished and grieved at being
reprimanded instead of praised for the deed. Miss C. says: "She has
had several spells of feeling sad; but a walk or a talk soon dispels
all gloom. She was half moody when she wrote her letter; but now she
is gay as a lark. She loves to play out of doors, and sometimes she is
not inclined to stay in when it is unpleasant." In her sketches of "My
Boys" she describes two of her companions here, not forgetting the
kindness of the one and the mischievousness of the other.

Although the family were quite comfortable during the time of Mr.
Alcott's teaching in Boston, yet the children wearied of their
extremely simple diet of plain boiled rice without sugar, and graham
meal without butter or molasses. An old friend who could not eat the
bountiful rations provided for her at the United States Hotel, used to
save her piece of pie or cake for the Alcott children. Louisa often
took it home to the others in a bandbox which she brought for the

This friend was absent in Europe many years, and returned to find the
name of Louisa Alcott famous. When she met the authoress on the street
she was eagerly greeted. "Why, I did not think you would remember me!"
said the old lady. "Do you think I shall ever forget that bandbox?"
was the instant reply.

In 1840, Mr. Alcott's school having proved unsuccessful, the family
removed to Concord, Mass., and took a cottage which is described in
"Little Women" as "Meg's first home," although Anna never lived there
after her marriage. It was a pleasant house, with a garden full of
trees, and best of all a large barn, in which the children could have
free range and act out all the plays with which their little heads
were teeming. Of course it was a delightful change from the city for
the children, and here they passed two very happy years, for they were
too young to understand the cares which pressed upon the hearts of
their parents. Life was full of interest. One cold morning they found
in the garden a little half-starved bird; and having warmed and fed
it, Louisa was inspired to write a pretty poem to "The Robin." The
fond mother was so delighted that she said to her, "You will grow up a
Shakspeare!" From the lessons of her father she had formed the habit
of writing freely, but this is the first recorded instance of her
attempting to express her feelings in verse.

From the influences of such parentage as I have described, the family
life in which Louisa was brought up became wholly unique.

If the father had to give up his cherished projects of a school
modelled after his ideas, he could at least conduct the education of
his own children; and he did so with the most tender devotion. Even
when they were infants he took a great deal of personal care of them,
and loved to put the little ones to bed and use the "children's hour"
to instil into their hearts lessons of love and wisdom. He was full of
fun too, and would lie on the floor and frolic with them, making
compasses of his long legs with which to draw letters and diagrams. No
shade of fear mingled with the children's reverent recognition of his
superior spiritual life. So their hearts lay open to him, and he was
able to help them in their troubles.

He taught them much by writing; and we have many specimens of their
lists of words to be spelled, written, and understood. The lessons at
Scituate were often in the garden, and their father always drew their
attention to Nature and her beautiful forms and meanings. Little
symbolical pictures helped to illustrate his lessons, and he sometimes
made drawings himself. Here is an example of lessons. A quaint little
picture represents one child playing on a harp, another drawing an
arrow. It is inscribed--



     Two passions strong divide our life,--
     Meek, gentle love, or boisterous strife.

Below the child playing the harp is--

     Love, Music,

Below the shooter is--

     Anger, Arrow,

Another leaflet is--



       Louisa loves--
       Have some then,

     Christmas Eve, December, 1840.

       *       *       *       *       *

     FOR ANNA.


     Beauty or Duty,--
       loves Anna best?
         from her

     Christmas Eve,
     December, 1840.

A letter beautifully printed by her father for Louisa (1839) speaks to
her of conscience, and she adds to it this note: "L. began early, it
seems, to wrestle with her conscience." The children were always
required to keep their journals regularly, and although these were
open to the inspection of father and mother, they were very frank, and
really recorded their struggles and desires. The mother had the habit
of writing little notes to the children when she wished to call their
attention to any fault or peculiarity. Louisa preserved many of them,

   [_Extracts_ from letters from Mother, received during these early
   years. I preserve them to show the ever tender, watchful help she
   gave to the child who caused her the most anxiety, yet seemed to
   be the nearest to her heart till the end.--L. M. A.]

   No. 1.--MY DEAR LITTLE GIRL,--Will you accept this doll from me
   on your seventh birthday? She will be a quiet playmate for my
   active Louisa for seven years more. Be a kind mamma, and love her
   for my sake.


_From her Mother._


   DEAR DAUGHTER,--Your tenth birthday has arrived. May it be a
   happy one, and on each returning birthday may you feel new
   strength and resolution to be gentle with sisters, obedient to
   parents, loving to every one, and happy in yourself.

   I give you the pencil-case I promised, for I have observed that
   you are fond of writing, and wish to encourage the habit.

   Go on trying, dear, and each day it will be easier to be and do
   good. You must help yourself, for the cause of your little
   troubles is in yourself; and patience and courage age only will
   make you what mother prays to see you,--her good and happy girl.

     CONCORD, 1843.

   DEAR LOUY,--I enclose a picture for you which I always liked very
   much, for I imagined that you might be just such an industrious
   daughter and I such a feeble but loving mother, looking to your
   labor for my daily bread.

   Keep it for my sake and your own, for you and I always liked to
   be grouped together.


   The lines I wrote under the picture in my journal:--


     I hope that soon, dear mother,
       You and I may be
     In the quiet room my fancy
       Has so often made for thee,--

     The pleasant, sunny chamber,
       The cushioned easy-chair,
     The book laid for your reading,
      The vase of flowers fair;

     The desk beside the window
       Where the sun shines warm and bright:
     And there in ease and quiet
       The promised book you write;

     While I sit close beside you,
       Content at last to see
     That you can rest, dear mother,
       And I can cherish thee.

   [The dream came true, and for the last ten years of her life
   Marmee sat in peace, with every wish granted, even to the
   "grouping together;" for she died in my arms.--L. M. A.]

A passage in Louisa's story of "Little Men" (p. 268) describes one of
their childish plays. They "made believe" their minds were little
round rooms in which the soul lived, and in which good or bad things
were preserved. This play was never forgotten in after life, and the
girls often looked into their little rooms for comfort or guidance in
trial or temptation.

Louisa was very fond of animals, as is abundantly shown in her
stories. She never had the happiness of owning many pets, except cats,
and these were the delight of the household. The children played all
manner of plays with them, tended them in sickness, buried them with
funeral honors, and Louisa has embalmed their memory in the story of
"The Seven Black Cats" in "Aunt Jo's Scrap-Bag."

Dolls were an equal source of pleasure. The imaginative children
hardly recognized them as manufactured articles, but endowed them with
life and feeling. Louisa put her dolls through every experience of
life; they were fed, educated, punished, rewarded, nursed, and even
hung and buried, and then resurrected in her stories. The account of
the "Sacrifice of the Dolls" to the exacting Kitty Mouse in "Little
Men" delights all children by its mixture of pathetic earnestness and
playfulness. It is taken from the experience of another family of

Miss Alcott twice says that she never went to any school but her
father's; but there were some slight exceptions to this rule. She went
a few months to a little district school in Still River Village. This
was a genuine old-fashioned school, from which she took the hint of
the frolics in "Under the Lilacs." Miss Ford also kept a little school
in Mr. Emerson's barn, to which the children went; and Mary Russell
had a school, which Louisa attended when eight or nine years old.
These circumstances, however, had small influence in her education.

During this period of life in Concord, which was so happy to the
children, the mother's heart was full of anxious care. She however
entered into all their childish pleasures, and her watchful care over
their moral growth is shown by her letters and by Louisa's journals.

The youngest child, Abba May, who was born in the cottage, became the
pet of the family and the special care of the oldest sister, Anna.

Louisa's childish journal gives us many hints of this happy life. She
revised these journals in later years, adding significant comments
which are full of interest. She designed them to have place in her
autobiography, which she hoped to write.

From three different sources--her journals, an article written for
publication, and a manuscript prepared for a friend,--we give her own
account of these childish years. She has not followed the order of
events strictly, and it has not been possible, therefore, to avoid all
repetition; but they give the spirit of her early life, and clearly
show the kind of education she received from her father and from the
circumstances around her.

_Sketch of Childhood, by herself._

   One of my earliest recollections is of playing with books in my
   father's study,--building houses and bridges of the big
   dictionaries and diaries, looking at pictures, pretending to
   read, and scribbling on blank pages whenever pen or pencil could
   be found. Many of these first attempts at authorship still remain
   in Bacon's Essays, Plutarch's Lives, and other works of a serious
   nature, my infant taste being for solid literature, apparently.

   On one occasion we built a high tower round baby Lizzie as she
   sat playing with her toys on the floor, and being attracted by
   something out-of-doors, forgot our little prisoner. A search was
   made, and patient baby at last discovered curled up and fast
   asleep in her dungeon cell, out of which she emerged so rosy and
   smiling after her nap that we were forgiven for our carelessness.

   Another memory is of my fourth birthday, which was celebrated at
   my father's school-room in Masonic Temple. All the children were
   there. I wore a crown of flowers, and stood upon a table to
   dispense cakes to each child as the procession marched past. By
   some oversight the cakes fell short, and I saw that if I gave
   away the last one I should have none. As I was queen of the
   revel, I felt that I ought to have it, and held on to it tightly
   till my mother said,--

   "It is always better to give away than to keep the nice things;
   so I know my Louy will not let the little friend go without."

   The little friend received the dear plummy cake, and I a kiss and
   my first lesson in the sweetness of self-denial,--a lesson which
   my dear mother beautifully illustrated all her long and noble

   Running away was one of the delights of my early days; and I
   still enjoy sudden flights out of the nest to look about this
   very interesting world, and then go back to report.

   On one of these occasions I passed a varied day with some Irish
   children, who hospitably shared their cold potatoes, salt-fish,
   and crusts with me as we revelled in the ash-heaps which then
   adorned the waste lands where the Albany Depot now stands. A trip
   to the Common cheered the afternoon, but as dusk set in and my
   friends deserted me, I felt that home was a nice place after all,
   and tried to find it. I dimly remember watching a lamp-lighter as
   I sat to rest on some doorsteps in Bedford Street, where a big
   dog welcomed me so kindly that I fell asleep with my head
   pillowed on his curly back, and was found there by the
   town-crier, whom my distracted parents had sent in search of me.
   His bell and proclamation of the loss of "a little girl, six
   years old, in a pink frock, white hat, and new green shoes," woke
   me up, and a small voice answered out of the darkness,--

   "Why, dat's me!"

   Being with difficulty torn from my four-footed friend, I was
   carried to the crier's house, and there feasted sumptuously on
   bread-and-molasses in a tin plate with the alphabet round it. But
   my fun ended next day when I was tied to the arm of the sofa to
   repent at leisure.

   I became an Abolitionist at a very early age, but have never been
   able to decide whether I was made so by seeing the portrait of
   George Thompson hidden under a bed in our house during the
   Garrison riot, and going to comfort "the poor man who had been
   good to the slaves," or because I was saved from drowning in the
   Frog Pond some years later by a colored boy. However that may be,
   the conversion was genuine; and my greatest pride is in the fact
   that I lived to know the brave men and women who did so much for
   the cause, and that I had a very small share in the war which put
   an end to a great wrong.

Another recollection of her childhood was of a "contraband" hidden in
the oven, which must have made her sense of the horrors of slavery
very keen.

   I never went to school except to my father or such governesses as
   from time to time came into the family. Schools then were not
   what they are now; so we had lessons each morning in the study.
   And very happy hours they were to us, for my father taught in the
   wise way which unfolds what lies in the child's nature, as a
   flower blooms, rather than crammed it, like a Strasburg goose,
   with more than it could digest. I never liked arithmetic nor
   grammar, and dodged those branches on all occasions; but reading,
   writing, composition, history, and geography I enjoyed, as well
   as the stories read to us with a skill peculiarly his own.

   "Pilgrim's Progress," Krummacher's "Parables," Miss Edgeworth,
   and the best of the dear old fairy tales made the reading hour
   the pleasantest of our day. On Sundays we had a simple service of
   Bible stories, hymns, and conversation about the state of our
   little consciences and the conduct of our childish lives which
   never will be forgotten.

   Walks each morning round the Common while in the city, and long
   tramps over hill and dale when our home was in the country, were
   a part of our education, as well as every sort of housework,--for
   which I have always been very grateful, since such knowledge
   makes one independent in these days of domestic tribulation with
   the "help" who are too often only hindrances.

   Needle-work began early, and at ten my skilful sister made a
   linen shirt beautifully; while at twelve I set up as a doll's
   dressmaker, with my sign out and wonderful models in my window.
   All the children employed me, and my turbans were the rage at one
   time, to the great dismay of the neighbors' hens, who were hotly
   hunted down, that I might tweak out their downiest feathers to
   adorn the dolls' headgear.

   Active exercise was my delight, from the time when a child of six
   I drove my hoop round the Common without stopping, to the days
   when I did my twenty miles in five hours and went to a party in
   the evening.

   I always thought I must have been a deer or a horse in some
   former state, because it was such a joy to run. No boy could be
   my friend till I had beaten him in a race, and no girl if she
   refused to climb trees, leap fences, and be a tomboy.

   My wise mother, anxious to give me a strong body to support a
   lively brain, turned me loose in the country and let me run wild,
   learning of Nature what no books can teach, and being led,--as
   those who truly love her seldom fail to be,--

     "Through Nature up to Nature's God."

   I remember running over the hills just at dawn one summer
   morning, and pausing to rest in the silent woods, saw, through an
   arch of trees, the sun rise over river, hill, and wide green
   meadows as I never saw it before.

   Something born of the lovely hour, a happy mood, and the
   unfolding aspirations of a child's soul seemed to bring me very
   near to God; and in the hush of that morning hour I always felt
   that I "got religion," as the phrase goes. A new and vital sense
   of His presence, tender and sustaining as a father's arms, came
   to me then, never to change through forty years of life's
   vicissitudes, but to grow stronger for the sharp discipline of
   poverty and pain, sorrow and success.

   Those Concord days were the happiest of my life, for we had
   charming playmates in the little Emersons, Channings, Hawthornes,
   and Goodwins, with the illustrious parents and their friends to
   enjoy our pranks and share our excursions.

   Plays in the barn were a favorite amusement, and we dramatized
   the fairy tales in great style. Our giant came tumbling off a
   loft when Jack cut down the squash-vine running up a ladder to
   represent the immortal bean. Cinderella rolled away in a vast
   pumpkin, and a long black pudding was lowered by invisible hands
   to fasten itself on the nose of the woman who wasted her three

   Pilgrims journeyed over the hill with scrip and staff and
   cockle-shells in their hats; fairies held their pretty revels
   among the whispering birches, and strawberry parties in the
   rustic arbor were honored by poets and philosophers, who fed us
   on their wit and wisdom while the little maids served more mortal


[4] Written at eight years of age.




     A little kingdom I possess,
       Where thoughts and feelings dwell,
     And very hard I find the task
       Of governing it well;
     For passion tempts and troubles me,
       A wayward will misleads,
     And selfishness its shadow casts
       On all my words and deeds.

     How can I learn to rule myself,
       To be the child I should,
     Honest and brave, nor ever tire
       Of trying to be good?
     How can I keep a sunny soul
       To shine along life's way?
     How can I tune my little heart
       To sweetly sing all day?

     Dear Father, help me with the love
       That casteth out my fear,
     Teach me to lean on thee, and feel
       That thou art very near,
     That no temptation is unseen,
       No childish grief too small,
     Since thou, with patience infinite,
       Doth soothe and comfort all.

     I do not ask for any crown
       But that which all may win,
     Nor seek to conquer any world
       Except the one within.
     Be thou my guide until I find,
       Led by a tender hand,
     Thy happy kingdom in _myself_,
     And dare to take command.

In 1842 Mr. Alcott went to England. His mind was very much exercised
at this time with plans for organized social life on a higher plane,
and he found like-minded friends in England who gave him sympathy and
encouragement. He had for some years advocated a strictly vegetarian
diet, to which his family consented from deference to him;
consequently the children never tasted meat till they came to
maturity. On his return from England he was accompanied by friends who
were ready to unite with him in the practical realization of their
social theories. Mr. Lane resided for some months in the Alcott family
at Concord, and gave instruction to the children. Although he does not
appear to have won their hearts, they yet reaped much intellectual
advantage from his lessons, as he was an accomplished scholar.

In 1843 this company of enthusiasts secured a farm in the town of
Harvard, near Concord, which with trusting hope they named Fruitlands.
Mrs. Alcott did not share in all the peculiar ideas of her husband and
his friends, but she was so utterly devoted to him that she was ready
to help him in carrying out his plans, however little they commended
themselves to her better judgment.

She alludes very briefly to the experiment in her diary, for the
experience was too bitter to dwell upon. She could not relieve her
feelings by bringing out the comic side, as her daughter did. Louisa's
account of this colony, as given in her story called "Transcendental
Wild Oats," is very close to the facts; and the mingling of pathos and
humor, the reverence and ridicule with which she alternately treats
the personages and the notions of those engaged in the scheme, make a
rich and delightful tale. It was written many years later, and gives
the picture as she looked back upon it, the absurdities coming out in
strong relief, while she sees also the grand, misty outlines of the
high thoughts so poorly realized. This story was published in the
"Independent," Dec. 8, 1873, and may now be found in her collected
works ("Silver Pitchers," p. 79).

Fortunately we have also her journal written at the time, which shows
what education the experience of this strange life brought to the
child of ten or eleven years old.

The following extract from Mr. Emerson proves that this plan of life
looked fair and pleasing to his eye, although he was never tempted to
join in it. He was evidently not unconscious of the inadequacy of the
means adopted to the end proposed, but he rejoiced in any endeavor
after high ideal life.

     JULY, 8, 1843.

   _Journal._--The sun and the evening sky do not look calmer than
   Alcott and his family at Fruitlands. They seemed to have arrived
   at the fact,--to have got rid of the show, and so to be serene.
   Their manners and behavior in the house and in the field were
   those of superior men,--of men at rest. What had they to conceal?
   What had they to exhibit? And it seemed so high an attainment
   that I thought--as often before, so now more, because they had a
   fit home, or the picture was fitly framed--that these men ought
   to be maintained in their place by the country for its culture.

   Young men and young maidens, old men and women, should visit them
   and be inspired. I think there is as much merit in beautiful
   manners as in hard work. I will not prejudge them successful.
   They look well in July; we will see them in December. I know they
   are better for themselves than as partners. One can easily see
   that they have yet to settle several things. Their saying that
   things are clear, and they sane, does not make them so. If they
   will in very deed be lovers, and not selfish; if they will serve
   the town of Harvard, and make their neighbors feel them as
   benefactors wherever they touch them,--they are as safe as the

_Early Diary kept at Fruitlands_, 1843.

_Ten Years Old._

   _September 1st._--I rose at five and had my bath. I love cold
   water! Then we had our singing-lesson with Mr. Lane. After
   breakfast I washed dishes, and ran on the hill till nine, and had
   some thoughts,--it was so beautiful up there. Did my
   lessons,--wrote and spelt and did sums; and Mr. Lane read a
   story, "The Judicious Father": How a rich girl told a poor girl
   not to look over the fence at the flowers, and was cross to her
   because she was unhappy. The father heard her do it, and made the
   girls change clothes. The poor one was glad to do it, and he told
   her to keep them. But the rich one was very sad; for she had to
   wear the old ones a week, and after that she was good to shabby
   girls. I liked it very much, and I shall be kind to poor people.

   Father asked us what was God's noblest work. Anna said _men_, but
   I said _babies_. Men are often bad; babies never are. We had a
   long talk, and I felt better after it, and _cleared up_.

   We had bread and fruit for dinner. I read and walked and played
   till supper-time. We sung in the evening. As I went to bed the
   moon came up very brightly and looked at me. I felt sad because I
   have been cross to-day, and did not mind Mother. I cried, and
   then I felt better, and said that piece from Mrs. Sigourney, "I
   must not tease my mother." I get to sleep saying poetry,--I know
   a great deal.

   _Thursday, 14th._--Mr. Parker Pillsbury came, and we talked about
   the poor slaves. I had a music lesson with Miss F. I hate her,
   she is so fussy. I ran in the wind and played be a horse, and had
   a lovely time in the woods with Anna and Lizzie. We were fairies,
   and made gowns and paper wings. I "flied" the highest of all. In
   the evening they talked about travelling. I thought about Father
   going to England, and said this piece of poetry I found in
   Byron's poems:--

     "When I left thy shores, O Naxos,
       Not a tear in sorrow fell;
     Not a sigh or faltered accent
       Told my bosom's struggling swell."

   It rained when I went to bed, and made a pretty noise on the

   _Sunday, 24th._--Father and Mr. Lane have gone to N. H. to
   preach. It was very lovely.... Anna and I got supper. In the eve
   I read "Vicar of Wakefield." I was cross to-day, and I cried when
   I went to bed. I made good resolutions, and felt better in my
   heart. If I only _kept_ all I make, I should be the best girl in
   the world. But I don't, and so am very bad.

   [Poor little sinner! _She says the same at fifty._--L. M. A.]

   _October 8th._--When I woke up, the first thought I got was,
   "It's Mother's birthday: I must be very good." I ran and wished
   her a happy birthday, and gave her my kiss. After breakfast we
   gave her our presents. I had a moss cross and a piece of poetry
   for her.

   We did not have any school, and played in the woods and got red
   leaves. In the evening we danced and sung, and I read a story
   about "Contentment." I wish I was rich, I was good, and we were
   all a happy family this day.

   _Thursday, 12th._--After lessons I ironed. We all went to the
   barn and husked corn. It was good fun. We worked till eight
   o'clock and had lamps. Mr. Russell came. Mother and Lizzie are
   going to Boston. I shall be very lonely without dear little
   Betty, and no one will be as good to me as mother. I read in
   Plutarch. I made a verse about sunset:--

     Softly doth the sun descend
       To his couch behind the hill,
     Then, oh, then, I love to sit
       On mossy banks beside the rill.

   Anna thought it was very fine; but I didn't like it very well.

   _Friday, Nov. 2nd._--Anna and I did the work. In the evening Mr.
   Lane asked us, "What is man?" These were our answers: A human
   being; an animal with a mind; a creature; a body; a soul and a
   mind. After a long talk we went to bed very tired.

   [No wonder, after doing the work and worrying their little wits
   with such lessons.--L. M. A.]

   A sample of the vegetarian wafers we used at Fruitlands:--

     Vegetable diet
     and sweet repose.
     Animal food and

     Pluck your body
     from the orchard;
     do not snatch it
     from the shamble.

     Without flesh diet
     there could be no
     blood-shedding war.

     Apollo eats no
     flesh and has no
     beard; his voice is
     melody itself.

     Snuff is no less snuff
     though accepted from
     a gold box.

   _Tuesday, 20th._--I rose at five, and after breakfast washed the
   dishes, and then helped mother work. Miss F. is gone, and Anna in
   Boston with Cousin Louisa. I took care of Abby (May) in the
   afternoon. In the evening I made some pretty things for my dolly.
   Father and Mr. L. had a talk, and father asked us if _we_ saw any
   reason for us to separate. Mother wanted to, she is so tired. I
   like it, but not the school part or Mr. L.

   Eleven years old. _Thursday, 29th._--It was Father's and my
   birthday. We had some nice presents. We played in the snow before
   school. Mother read "Rosamond" when we sewed. Father asked us in
   the eve what fault troubled us most. I said my bad temper.

   I told mother I liked to have her write in my book. She said she
   would put in more, and she wrote this to help me:--

   DEAR LOUY,--Your handwriting improves very fast. Take pains and
   do not be in a hurry. I like to have you make observations about
   our conversations and your own thoughts. It helps you to express
   them and to understand your little self. Remember, dear girl,
   that a diary should be an epitome of your life. May it be a
   record of pure thought and good actions, then you will indeed be
   the precious child of your loving mother.

   _December 10th._--I did my lessons, and walked in the afternoon.
   Father read to us in dear Pilgrim's Progress. Mr. L. was in
   Boston, and we were glad. In the eve father and mother and Anna
   and I had a long talk. I was very unhappy, and we all cried. Anna
   and I cried in bed, and I prayed God to keep us all together.

   [Little Lu began early to feel the family cares and peculiar
   trials.--L. M. A.]

   I liked the verses Christian sung and will put them in:--

     "This place has been our second stage,
       Here we have heard and seen
     Those good things that from age to age
       To others hid have been.

     "They move me for to watch and pray,
       To strive to be sincere,
     To take my cross up day by day,
       And serve the Lord with fear."

   [The appropriateness of the song at this time was much greater
   than the child saw. She never forgot this experience, and her
   little cross began to grow heavier from this hour.--L. M. A.]

   CONCORD, _Sunday_.--We all went into the woods to get moss for
   the _arbor_ Father is making for _Mr. Emerson_. I miss Anna so
   much. I made two verses for her:--

     TO ANNA.

     Sister, dear, when you are lonely,
       Longing for your distant home,
     And the images of loved ones
       Warmly to your heart shall come,
     Then, mid tender thoughts and fancies,
       Let one fond voice say to thee,
     "Ever when your heart is heavy,
       Anna, dear, then think of me."

     Think how we two have together
       Journeyed onward day by day,
     Joys and sorrows ever sharing,
       While the swift years roll away.
     Then may all the sunny hours
       Of our youth rise up to thee,
     And when your heart is light and happy,
       Anna, dear, then think of me.

   [Poetry began to flow about this time in a thin but copious
   stream.--L. M. A.]

   _Wednesday._--Read Martin Luther. A long letter from Anna. She
   sends me a picture of Jenny Lind, the great singer. She must be a
   happy girl. I should like to be famous as she is. Anna is very
   happy; and I don't miss her as much as I shall by and by in the

   I wrote in my Imagination Book, and enjoyed it very much. Life is
   pleasanter than it used to be, and I don't care about dying any
   more. Had a splendid run, and got a box of cones to burn. Sat and
   heard the pines sing a long time. Read Miss Bremer's "Home" in
   the eve. Had good dreams, and woke now and then to think, and
   watch the moon. I had a pleasant time with my mind, for it was

   [Moods began early.--L. M. A.]

   _January, 1845, Friday._--Did my lessons, and in the P.M. mother
   read "Kenilworth" to us while we sewed. It is splendid! I got
   angry and called Anna mean. Father told me to look out the word
   in the Dic., and it meant "base," "contemptible." I was so
   ashamed to have called my dear sister that, and I cried over my
   bad tongue and temper.

   We have had a lovely day. All the trees were covered with ice,
   and it shone like diamonds or fairy palaces. I made a piece of
   poetry about winter:--

     The stormy winter's come at last,
       With snow and rain and bitter blast;
     Ponds and brooks are frozen o'er,
       We cannot sail there any more.

     The little birds are flown away
       To warmer climes than ours;
     They'll come no more till gentle May
       Calls them back with flowers.

     Oh, then the darling birds will sing
       From their neat nests in the trees.
     All creatures wake to welcome Spring,
       And flowers dance in the breeze.

     With patience wait till winter is o'er,
       And all lovely things return;
     Of every season try the more
       Some knowledge or virtue to learn.

   [A moral is tacked on even to the early poems.--L. M. A.]

   I read "Philothea,"[6] by Mrs. Child. I found this that I liked
   in it. Plato said:--

   "When I hear a note of music I can at once strike its chord. Even
   as surely is there everlasting harmony between the soul of man
   and the invisible forms of creation. If there were no innocent
   hearts there would be no white lilies.... I often think flowers
   are the angel's alphabet whereby they write on hills and fields
   mysterious and beautiful lessons for us to feel and learn."

   [Well done, twelve-year-old! Plato, the father's delight, had a
   charm for the little girl also.--L. M. A.]

   _Wednesday._--I am so cross I wish I had never been born.

   _Thursday._--Read the "Heart of Mid-Lothian," and had a very
   happy day. Miss Ford gave us a botany lesson in the woods. I am
   always good there. In the evening Miss Ford told us about the
   bones in our bodies, and how they get out of order. I must be
   careful of mine, I climb and jump and run so much.

   I found this note from dear mother in my journal:--

   MY DEAREST LOUY,--I often peep into your diary, hoping to see
   some record of more happy days. "Hope, and keep busy," dear
   daughter, and in all perplexity or trouble come freely to your


   DEAR MOTHER,--You _shall_ see more happy days, and I _will_ come
   to you with my worries, for you are the best woman in the world.

     L. M. A.

_A Sample of our Lessons._

   "What virtues do you wish more of?" asks Mr. L.

   I answer:--




"What vices less of?"



     Love of cats.

       MR. L.          L.

   How can you get what you need? By trying.

   How do you try? By resolution and perseverance.

   How gain love? By gentleness.

   What is gentleness? Kindness, patience, and care for other
   people's feelings.

   Who has it? Father and Anna.

   Who means to have it? Louisa, if she can.

   [She never got it.--L. M. A.]

   Write a sentence about anything. "I hope it will rain; the garden
   needs it."

   What are the elements of _hope_? Expectation, desire, faith.

   What are the elements in _wish_? Desire.

   What is the difference between faith and hope? "Faith can believe
   without seeing; hope is not sure, but tries to have faith when it

     No. 3.

   What are the most valuable kinds of self-denial? Appetite,

   How is self-denial of temper known? If I control my temper, I am
   respectful and gentle, and every one sees it.

   What is the result of this self-denial? Every one loves me, and I
   am happy.

   Why use self-denial? For the good of myself and others.

   How shall we learn this self-denial? By resolving, and then
   trying _hard._

   What then do you mean to do? To resolve and try.

   [Here the record of these lessons ends, and poor little
   Alcibiades went to work and tried till fifty, but without any
   very great success, in spite of all the help Socrates and Plato
   gave her.--L. M. A.]

   _Tuesday._--More people coming to live with us; I wish we could
   be together, and no one else. I don't see who is to clothe and
   feed us all, when we are so poor now. I was very dismal, and then
   went to walk and made a poem.


           Silent and sad,
           When all are glad,
     And the earth is dressed in flowers;
           When the gay birds sing
           Till the forests ring,
     As they rest in woodland bowers.

           Oh, why these tears,
           And these idle fears
     For what may come to-morrow?
           The birds find food
           From God so good,
     And the flowers know no sorrow.

           If He clothes these
           And the leafy trees,
     Will He not cherish thee?
           Why doubt His care;
           It is everywhere,
     Though the way we may not see.

           Then why be sad
           When all are glad,
     And the world is full of flowers?
           With the gay birds sing,
           Make life all Spring,
     And smile through the darkest hours.

Louisa Alcott grew up so naturally in a healthy religious atmosphere
that she breathed and worked in it without analysis or question. She
had not suffered from ecclesiastical tyranny or sectarian bigotry,
and needed not to expend any time or strength in combating them. She
does not appear to have suffered from doubt or questioning, but to
have gone on her way fighting all the real evils that were presented
to her, trusting in a sure power of right, and confident of victory.

   CONCORD, _Thursday._--I had an early run in the woods before the
   dew was off the grass. The moss was like velvet, and as I ran
   under the arches of yellow and red leaves I sang for joy, my
   heart was so bright and the world so beautiful. I stopped at the
   end of the walk and saw the sunshine out over the wide "Virginia

   It seemed like going through a dark life or grave into heaven
   beyond. A very strange and solemn feeling came over me as I stood
   there, with no sound but the rustle of the pines, no one near me,
   and the sun so glorious, as for me alone. It seemed as if I
   _felt_ God as I never did before, and I prayed in my heart that I
   might keep that happy sense of nearness all my life.

   [I have, for I most sincerely think that the little girl "got
   religion" that day in the wood when dear mother Nature led her to
   God.--L. M. A., 1885.]

One of Louisa's strongest desires at this time was for a room of her
own, where she might have the solitude she craved to dream her dreams
and work out her fancies. These sweet little notes and an extract from
her journal show how this desire was felt and gratified.

   DEAREST MOTHER,--I have tried to be more contented, and I think I
   have been more so. I have been thinking about my little room,
   which I suppose I never shall have. I should want to be there
   about all the time, and I should go there and sing and think.

     But I'll be contented
       With what I have got;
     Of folly repented,
       Then sweet is my lot.

     From your trying daughter,

   MY DEAR LOUISA,--Your note gave me so much delight that I cannot
   close my eyes without first thanking you, dear, for making me so
   happy, and blessing God who gave you this tender love for your

   I have observed all day your patience with baby, your obedience
   to me, and your kindness to all.

   Go on "trying," my child; God will give you strength and courage,
   and help you fill each day with words and deeds of love. I shall
   lay this on your pillow, put a warm kiss on your lips, and say a
   little prayer over you in your sleep.


   MY LOUY,--I was grieved at your selfish behavior this morning,
   but also greatly pleased to find you bore so meekly Father's
   reproof for it. That is the way, dear; if you find you are wrong,
   take the discipline sweetly, and do so no more. It is not to be
   expected that children should always do right; but oh, how lovely
   to see a child penitent and patient when the passion is over.

   I thought a little prayer as I looked at you, and said in my
   heart, "Dear God, sustain my child in this moment of trial, that
   no hasty word, no cruel look, no angry action may add to her
   fault." And you were helped. I know that you will have a happy
   day after the storm and the gentle shower; keep quiet, read,
   walk, but do not talk much till all is peace again.



   DEAR,--I am glad you put your heart in the right place; for I am
   sure all true strength comes from above. Continue to feel that
   God is _near_ you, dear child, and He never will forsake you in a
   weak moment. Write me always when you feel that I can help you;
   for, though God is near, Mother never forgets you, and your
   refuge is her arms.

   Patience, dear, will give us content, if nothing else. Be assured
   the little room you long for will come, if it is necessary to
   your peace and well-being. Till then try to be happy with the
   good things you have. They are many,--more perhaps than we
   deserve, after our frequent complaints and discontent.

   Be cheerful, my Louy, and all will be gayer for your laugh, and
   all good and lovely things will be given to you when you deserve

   I am a busy woman, but never can forget the calls of my children.


   DEAREST,--I am sure you have lived very near to God _to-day_, you
   have been so good and happy. Let each day be like this, and life
   will become a sweet song for you and all who love you,--none so
   much as your


_Thirteen Years Old._


   _March, 1846._--I have at last got the little room I have wanted
   so long, and am very happy about it. It does me good to be
   alone, and Mother has made it very pretty and neat for me. My
   work-basket and desk are by the window, and my closet is full of
   dried herbs that smell very nice. The door that opens into the
   garden will be very pretty in summer, and I can run off to the
   woods when I like.

   I have made a plan for my life, as I am in my teens and no more a
   child. I am old for my age, and don't care much for girl's
   things. People think I'm wild and queer; but Mother understands
   and helps me. I have not told any one about my plan; but I'm
   going to _be_ good. I've made so many resolutions, and written
   sad notes, and cried over my sins, and it doesn't seem to do any
   good! Now I'm going to _work really_, for I feel a true desire to
   improve, and be a help and comfort, not a care and sorrow, to my
   dear mother.

 _Fifteen Years Old._

   _Sunday, Oct. 9, 1847._--I have been reading to-day Bettine's
   correspondence with Goethe.

   She calls herself a child, and writes about the lovely things she
   saw and heard, and felt and did. I liked it much.

   [First taste of Goethe. Three years later R. W. E. gave me
   "Wilhelm Meister," and from that day Goethe has been my chief
   idol.--L. M. A., 1885.]

The experiment at Fruitlands was (outwardly) an utter failure, and had
exhausted Mr. Alcott's resources of mind, body, and estate. Louisa has
not exaggerated the collapse which followed. But the brave, loving
mother could not give way to despondency, for she had her young to
care for. After a few days Mr. Alcott rose from his despair, and
listened to her counsel. They lived a short time at Still River, and
then returned to Concord; but not to the happy little cottage.

Mr. Alcott sought such work as he could find to do with his hands; but
it was scanty and insufficient. Mrs. Alcott subdued her proud heart to
the necessity of seeking help from friends. They had a few rooms in
the house of a kind neighbor, who welcomed them to her house, in
addition to her own large family; and there they struggled with the
poverty which Louisa for the first time fully realized.

Yet her journal says little of the hardships they endured, but is full
of her mental and moral struggles. It was characteristic of this
family that they never were conquered by their surroundings. Mr.
Alcott might retire into sad and silent musing, Mrs. Alcott's warm,
quick temper, might burst out into flame, the children might be
quarrelsome or noisy; but their ideal of life always remained high,
fresh, and ennobling. Their souls always "knew their destiny divine,"
and believed that they would find fitting expression in life some
time. "Chill penury" could not repress "their noble rage," nor freeze
"the genial current" of their souls.

The children escaped from the privations of daily life into a world of
romance, and in the plays in the old barn revelled in luxury and
splendor. This dramatic tendency was very strong in Louisa, and she
never outgrew it. It took various shapes and colors, and at one time
threatened to dominate her life.

The education of the children was certainly desultory and
insufficient; but it was inspiring, and brought out their powers. They
learned to feel and to think justly, and to express their thoughts and
feelings freely and forcibly, if they did not know well the rules of
grammar and rhetoric. Mr. Alcott always loved the study of language,
and became a master of it; while Mrs. Alcott had a rich and
well-chosen vocabulary, gained from the intelligent companions of her
youth and the best literature, which she read freely. Mr. Alcott made
great use of the study of language in his teaching, and often employed
the definition of a word to convey a lesson or a rebuke. The children
were encouraged, and even required, to keep their journals regularly,
and to write letters. Their efforts at poetry or the drama were not
laughed at, but treasured by their parents as indications of progress.
Mr. Alcott's records of his own theory and practice in the education
of children are full of valuable suggestion, and much yet remains
buried in his journals. The girls had full freedom to act out their
natures, with little fear of ridicule or criticism. An innate sense of
dignity and modesty kept them from abusing this liberty; and perhaps
nowhere in the world could it have been more safely indulged than in
the simple life of Concord, whose very atmosphere seemed then filled
with a spiritual presence which made life free, pure, and serene.

Louisa gives this interesting anecdote of their life at that time:--

   People wondered at our frolics, but enjoyed them, and droll
   stories are still told of the adventures of those days. Mr.
   Emerson and Margaret Fuller were visiting my parents one
   afternoon, and the conversation having turned to the ever
   interesting subject of education, Miss Fuller said:--

   "Well, Mr. Alcott, you have been able to carry out your methods
   in your own family, and I should like to see your model

   She did in a few moments, for as the guests stood on the
   door-steps a wild uproar approached, and round the corner of the
   house came a wheelbarrow holding baby May arrayed as a queen; I
   was the horse, bitted and bridled, and driven by my elder sister
   Anna; while Lizzie played dog, and barked as loud as her gentle
   voice permitted.

   All were shouting and wild with fun, which, however, came to a
   sudden end as we espied the stately group before us; for my foot
   tripped, and down we all went in a laughing heap; while my mother
   put a climax to the joke by saying, with a dramatic wave of the

   "Here are the model children, Miss Fuller."

They were undoubtedly very satisfactory to Miss Fuller, who partook
largely of the educational views of that time, and who loved to tell
anecdotes of this family. One of the sisters writes in her diary: "She
_said_ prayers; but I think my resolutions to be good are prayers."

In 1841 Colonel May, Mrs. Alcott's father, died and left her a small
amount of property. Mrs. Alcott decided to purchase with this a house
in Concord, and the addition of five hundred dollars from Mr. Emerson,
who was always the good Providence of the family, enabled her in 1845
to buy the place in Concord known as Hillside. This house is on the
road to Lexington, about one third of a mile from Mr. Emerson's home.
It was afterward occupied by Mr. Hawthorne.

In this house the girlish life of Louisa was passed, which she has
represented so fully in "Little Women," and of which she speaks in her
journal as the happiest time of her life. Yet she was not unmindful of
the anxiety of her parents; and the determined purpose to retrieve the
fortunes of the family and to give to her mother the comfort and ease
which she had never known in her married life became the constant
motive of her conduct. It is in the light of this purpose alone that
her character and her subsequent career can be fully understood. She
naturally thought of teaching as her work, and had for a short time a
little school in the barn for Mr. Emerson's children and others.

It was indeed a great comfort to be sure of the house over their
heads, but there were still six mouths to be fed, six bodies to be
clothed, and four young, eager minds to be educated. Concord offered
very little opportunity for such work as either Mr. or Mrs. Alcott
could do, and at last even the mother's brave heart broke down. She
was painfully anxious about the support of her household. A friend
passing through Concord called upon her, and Mrs. Alcott could not
hide the traces of tears on her face. "Abby Alcott, what does this
mean?" said the visitor, with determined kindness. The poor mother
opened her heart to her friend, and told the story of their privations
and sufferings.

"Come to Boston, and I will find you employment," said the friend.

The family removed to Boston in 1848, and Mrs. Alcott became a visitor
to the poor in the employ of one or more benevolent societies, and
finally kept an intelligence office. Her whole heart went into her
work; and the children, as well as the mother, learned many valuable
lessons from it. Her reports of her work are said to have been very
interesting, and full of valuable suggestion.

Mr. Alcott began to hold conversations in West Street. He attracted a
small circle of thoughtful men and women about him, who delighted in
the height of his aspirations and the originality of his thoughts. It
was congenial occupation for him, and thus added to the happiness of
the family, though very little to its pecuniary resources. His price
of admission was small, and he freely invited any one who would enjoy
the meetings although unable to pay for them. He was a great and
helpful influence to young minds. Besides the morally pure and
spiritually elevated atmosphere of thought to which they were
introduced by him, they found a great intellectual advantage in the
acquaintance with ancient poets and philosophers, into whose life he
had entered sympathetically. His peculiar theories of temperament and
diet never failed to call out discussion and opposition. One of my
earliest recollections of Louisa is on one of these occasions, when he
was emphasizing his doctrine that a vegetable diet would produce
unruffled sweetness of temper and disposition. I heard a voice behind
me saying to her neighbor: "I don't know about that. I've never eaten
any meat, and I'm awful cross and irritable very often."

On her fourteenth birthday her mother wrote her the following poem,
with a present of a pen. It was a prophetic gift, and well used by the

     Oh, may this pen your muse inspire,
       When wrapt in pure poetic fire,
     To write some sweet, some thrilling verse;
       A song of love or sorrow's lay,
     Or duty's clear but tedious way
       In brighter hope rehearse.
     Oh, let your strain be soft and high,
       Of crosses here, of crowns beyond the sky;
     Truth guide your pen, inspire your theme,
       And from each note joy's music stream.

   [Original, I think. I have tried to obey.--L. M. A., 1885.]

In a sketch written for a friend, Louisa gives this account of the
parents' influence on the children:--

   When cautious friends asked mother how she dared to have such
   outcasts among her girls, she always answered, with an expression
   of confidence which did much to keep us safe, "I can trust my
   daughters, and this is the best way to teach them how to shun
   these sins and comfort these sorrows. They cannot escape the
   knowledge of them; better gain this under their father's roof and
   their mother's care, and so be protected by these experiences
   when their turn comes to face the world and its temptations."
   Once we carried our breakfast to a starving family; once lent our
   whole dinner to a neighbor suddenly taken unprepared by
   distinguished guests. Another time, one snowy Saturday night,
   when our wood was very low, a poor child came to beg a little, as
   the baby was sick and the father on a spree with all his wages.
   My mother hesitated at first, as we also had a baby. Very cold
   weather was upon us, and a Sunday to be got through before more
   wood could be had. My father said, "Give half our stock, and
   trust in Providence; the weather will moderate, or wood will
   come." Mother laughed, and answered in her cheery way, "Well,
   their need is greater than ours, and if our half gives out we can
   go to bed and tell stories." So a generous half went to the poor
   neighbor, and a little later in the eve, while the storm still
   raged and we were about to cover our fire to keep it, a knock
   came, and a farmer who usually supplied us appeared, saying
   anxiously, "I started for Boston with a load of wood, but it
   drifts so I want to go home. Wouldn't you like to have me drop
   the wood here; it would accommodate me, and you needn't hurry
   about paying for it." "Yes," said Father; and as the man went off
   he turned to Mother with a look that much impressed us children
   with his gifts as a seer, "Didn't I tell you wood would come if
   the weather did not moderate?" Mother's motto was "Hope, and keep
   busy," and one of her sayings, "Cast your bread upon the waters,
   and after many days it will come back buttered."


[5] Emerson in Concord. By Edward Waldo Emerson.

[6] "Philothea" was the delight of girls. The young Alcotts made a
dramatic version of it, which they acted under the trees. Louisa made
a magnificent Aspasia, which was a part much to her fancy. Mrs. Child
was a very dear friend of Mrs. Alcott, and her daughters knew her




     Queen of my tub, I merrily sing,
       While the white foam rises high,
     And sturdily wash, and rinse, and wring,
       And fasten the clothes to dry;
     Then out in the free fresh air they swing,
       Under the sunny sky.

     I wish we could wash from our hearts and our souls
       The stains of the week away,
     And let water and air by their magic make
       Ourselves as pure as they;
     Then on the earth there would be indeed
       A glorious washing-day!

     Along the path of a useful life
       Will heart's-ease ever bloom;
     The busy mind has no time to think
       Of sorrow, or care, or gloom;
     And anxious thoughts may be swept away
       As we busily wield a broom.

     I am glad a task to me is given
       To labor at day by day;
     For it brings me health, and strength, and hope,
       And I cheerfully learn to say,--
     "Head, you may think; heart, you may feel;
       But hand, you shall work alway!"

The period of free, happy childhood was necessarily short, and at
about the age of fifteen Louisa Alcott began to feel the pressure of
thoughts and duties which made life a more solemn matter. In spite of
the overflowing fun which appears in her books, her nature was very
serious, and she could not cast aside care lightly. So many varying
tendencies existed in her character that she must have struggled with
many doubts and questions before finding the true path. But she always
kept the pole-star of right strictly in view, and never failed in
truth to that duty which seemed to her nearest and most imperative. If
she erred in judgment, she did not err in conscientious fidelity.

Her mother's rules for her guidance were--

     Rule yourself.
     Love your neighbor.
     Do the duty which lies nearest you.

She never lost sight of these instructions.

I will introduce this period in her own words, as written later for
the use of a friend.

   My romantic period began at fifteen, when I fell to writing
   poetry, keeping a heart-journal, and wandering by moonlight
   instead of sleeping quietly. About that time, in browsing over
   Mr. Emerson's library, I found Goethe's "Correspondence with a
   Child," and at once was fired with a desire to be a Bettine,
   making my father's friend my Goethe. So I wrote letters to him,
   but never sent them; sat in a tall cherry-tree at midnight,
   singing to the moon till the owls scared me to bed; left wild
   flowers on the doorstep of my "Master," and sung Mignon's song
   under his window in very bad German.

   Not till many years later did I tell _my_ Goethe of this early
   romance and the part he played in it. He was much amused, and
   begged for his letters, kindly saying he felt honored to be so
   worshipped. The letters were burnt long ago, but Emerson remained
   my "Master" while he lived, doing more for me,--as for many
   another,--than he knew, by the simple beauty of his life, the
   truth and wisdom of his books, the example of a great, good man,
   untempted and unspoiled by the world which he made better while
   in it, and left richer and nobler when he went.

   The trials of life began about this time, and happy childhood
   ended. One of the most memorable days of my life is a certain
   gloomy November afternoon, when we had been holding a family
   council as to ways and means. In summer we lived much as the
   birds did, on our fruit and bread and milk; the sun was our fire,
   the sky our roof, and Nature's plenty made us forget that such a
   thing as poverty existed.

In 1850 she heads her diary "The Sentimental Period." She was then
seventeen years old, but her diary gives no hint of the sentimental
notions that often fill the heads of young girls at that period. The
experiences of Jo with her charming young neighbor in "Little Women"
do not represent hers at all.

One bit of romance was suggested by Goethe's "Correspondence with a
Child." It may be difficult for readers of to-day to understand the
fascination which this book exercised upon young minds of the last
generation, yet it is certain that it led more than one young girl to
form an ideal attachment to a man far older than herself, but full of
nobility and intellectual greatness. Theodore Parker said of letters
addressed to him by a young New Hampshire girl, "They are as good as
Bettine's without the lies." This mingling of idealism and
hero-worship was strongly characteristic of that transcendental period
when women, having little solid education and less industrial
employment, were full of noble aspirations and longings for fuller and
freer life, which must find expression in some way.

The young woman of to-day, wearing waterproof and india-rubber boots,
skating, driving, and bicycling, studying chemistry in the laboratory,
exhibiting her pictures in open competition, adopting a profession
without opposition, and living single without fear of reproach, has
less time for fancies and more regard for facts.

Miss Alcott was safe in choosing her idol. Worship of Emerson could
only refine and elevate her thoughts, and her intimate acquaintance
with his beautiful home chastened her idolatry into pure reverent
friendship which never failed her. She kept her worship to herself,
and never sent him the letters in which she poured out the longings
and raptures which filled her girlish heart.

Her diary, which was revised by herself in later years, tells the
story of this period quite fully. The details may seem trifling, but
they help to illustrate this important formative period of her life.



   BOSTON, _May, 1850._--So long a time has passed since I kept a
   journal that I hardly know how to begin. Since coming to the city
   I don't seem to have thought much, for the bustle and dirt and
   change send all lovely images and restful feelings away. Among my
   hills and woods I had fine free times alone, and though my
   thoughts were silly, I daresay, they helped to keep me happy and
   good. I see now what Nature did for me, and my "romantic tastes,"
   as people called that love of solitude and out-of-door life,
   taught me much.

   This summer, like the last, we shall spend in a large house
   (Uncle May's, Atkinson Street), with many comforts about us which
   we shall enjoy, and in the autumn I hope I shall have something
   to show that the time has not been wasted. Seventeen years have I
   lived, and yet so little do I know, and so much remains to be
   done before I begin to be what I desire,--a truly good and useful

   In looking over our journals, Father says, "Anna's is about other
   people, Louisa's about herself." That is true, for I don't _talk_
   about myself; yet must always think of the wilful, moody girl I
   try to manage, and in my journal I write of her to see how she
   gets on. Anna is so good she need not take care of herself, and
   can enjoy other people. If I look in my glass, I try to keep down
   vanity about my long hair, my well-shaped head, and my good nose.
   In the street I try not to covet fine things. My quick tongue is
   always getting me into trouble, and my moodiness makes it hard to
   be cheerful when I think how poor we are, how much worry it is to
   live, and how many things I long to do I never can.

   So every day is a battle, and I'm so tired I don't want to live;
   only it's cowardly to die till you have done something.

   I can't talk to any one but Mother about my troubles, and she has
   so many now to bear I try not to add any more. I know God is
   always ready to hear, but heaven's so far away in the city, and
   I so heavy I can't fly up to find Him.

     Written in the diary.

     Oh, when the heart is full of fears
       And the way seems dim to heaven,
     When the sorrow and the care of years
       Peace from the heart has driven,--
     Then, through the mist of falling tears,
       Look up and be forgiven.

     Forgiven for the lack of faith
       That made all dark to thee,
     Let conscience o'er thy wayward soul
       Have fullest mastery:
     Hope on, fight on, and thou shalt win
       A noble victory.

     Though thou art weary and forlorn,
       Let not thy heart's peace go;
     Though the riches of this world are gone,
       And thy lot is care and woe,
     Faint not, but journey hourly on:
       True wealth is not below.

     Through all the darkness still look up:
       Let virtue be thy guide;
     Take thy draught from sorrow's cup,
       Yet trustfully abide;
     Let not temptation vanquish thee,
       And the Father will provide.

   [We had small-pox in the family this summer, caught from some
   poor immigrants whom mother took into our garden and fed one day.
   We girls had it lightly, but Father and Mother were very ill, and
   we had a curious time of exile, danger, and trouble. No doctors,
   and all got well.--L. M. A.]

   _July_, 1850.--Anna is gone to L. after the varioloid. She is to
   help Mrs. ---- with her baby. I had to take A.'s school of twenty
   in Canton Street. I like it better than I thought, though it's
   very hard to be patient with the children sometimes. They seem
   happy, and learn fast; so I am encouraged, though at first it was
   very hard, and I missed Anna so much I used to cry over my dinner
   and be very blue. I guess this is the teaching I need; for as a
   _school-marm_ I must behave myself and guard my tongue and temper
   carefully, and set an example of sweet manners.

   I found one of mother's notes in my journal, so like those she
   used to write me when she had more time. It always encourages me;
   and I wish some one would write as helpfully to her, for she
   needs cheering up with all the care she has. I often think what a
   hard life she has had since she married,--so full of wandering
   and all sorts of worry! so different from her early easy days,
   the youngest and most petted of her family. I think she is a very
   brave, good woman; and my dream is to have a lovely, quiet home
   for her, with no debts or troubles to burden her. But I'm afraid
   she will be in heaven before I can do it. Anna, too, she is
   feeble and homesick, and I miss her dreadfully; for she is my
   conscience, always true and just and good. She must have a good
   time in a nice little home of her own some day, as we often plan.
   But waiting is so _hard_!

   _August_, 1850.--School is hard work, and I feel as though I
   should like to run away from it. But my children get on; so I
   travel up every day, and do my best.

   I get very little time to write or think; for my working days
   have begun, and when school is over Anna wants me; so I have no
   quiet. I think a little solitude every day is good for me. In
   the quiet I see my faults, and try to mend them; but, deary me, I
   don't get on at all.

   I used to imagine my mind a room in confusion, and I was to put
   it in order; so I swept out useless thoughts and dusted foolish
   fancies away, and furnished it with good resolutions and began
   again. But cobwebs get in. I'm not a good housekeeper, and never
   get my room in nice order. I once wrote a poem about it when I
   was fourteen, and called it "My Little Kingdom." It is still hard
   to rule it, and always will be I think.

   Reading Miss Bremer and Hawthorne. The "Scarlet Letter" is my
   favorite. Mother likes Miss B. better, as more wholesome. I fancy
   "lurid" things, if true and strong also.

   Anna wants to be an actress, and so do I. We could make plenty of
   money perhaps, and it is a very gay life. Mother says we are too
   young, and must wait. A. acts often splendidly. I like tragic
   plays, and shall be a Siddons if I can. We get up fine ones, and
   make harps, castles, armor, dresses, water-falls, and thunder,
   and have great fun.

It was at this period of her life that she was violently attacked by a
mania for the stage, and the greater part of her leisure time was
given to writing and enacting dramas. Her older sister, Anna, had the
same taste, and assisted her in carrying out all her plans. A family
of great talent with whom they were intimate joined with them, and
their mother always allowed them to have all the private theatricals
they wished to perform.

Some of these early plays are preserved in manuscripts as she wrote
them. They are written in stilted, melodramatic style, full of
highstrung sentiments of loyalty, honor and devotion, with the most
improbable incidents and violent devices, and without a touch of
common life or the slightest flavor of humor. The idea of
self-sacrifice always comes into them; but they are thoroughly
girlish. It is so that girls dream and feel before they know life at
all. Their hearts are full of vague, restless longings, and they seek
some vent for the repressed energies of their natures away from the
prosaic realities of the present. While Louisa sat sewing the tedious
seams of her daily task what a relief it was to let her imagination
run riot among the wildest and most exciting scenes. Of course she had
a "Bandit's Bride" among her plays. "The Captive of Castile; or, The
Moorish Maiden's Vow," is preserved entire, and is a good specimen of
these girlish efforts. It is full of surprises and concealments, and
the denouement is as unnatural as could well be imagined. The dialogue
is often bright and forcible, and the sentiments always lofty, and we
have no doubt it seemed very grand to the youthful audience. It is
taken from her reading, with no touch of her own life in it. This is
not the same play described with such a ludicrous finale in "Little
Women," although the heroine bears the same favorite name of Zara. Her
own early amusement was, however, fully in her mind when she wrote
that scene, which is true to fact.

A friend and relative of the family living in Roxbury, Dr. Windship,
was much interested in the development of Louisa's dramatic talent.
The girls always enjoyed delightful visits at his house. He tried to
help the young dramatist to public success, and writes to her

   I have offered to Mr. Barry of the Boston Theatre Louisa's "Prima
   Donnas." He is very much pleased with it just as it is, and will
   bring it out this season in good style. He thinks it will have a
   fine run.

Mrs. Barry and Mrs. Wood consented to take the principal characters.
But from some difficulty in the arrangements "The Rival Prima Donnas"
was not produced. One great pleasure was gained, however, as Mr. Barry
gave her a free pass to the theatre, which proved a source of constant
refreshment and delight.

Of course Louisa was eager to go on to the stage herself. She had
indeed extraordinary dramatic power, and could at any time quickly
transform herself into Hamlet, and recite a scene with tragic effect.
But the careful mother knew better than the girl the trials and
dangers of the profession, and dissuaded her from it. She also knew
how little such youthful facility of expression indicates the power
which will make a great actress. Louisa has reproduced her dramatic
experience in "Work," which gives a picture faithful in spirit and in
many of its details to this phase of her life. She here indicates a
knowledge of her own limitation of talent. "Christie's gala" was a
part quite after her own heart.

A farce, called "Nat Batchelor's Pleasure Trip; or, The Trials of a
Good-natured Man," was brought out at the Howard Athenaeum. The papers
of the day said of it: "It is a creditable first attempt at dramatic
composition, and received frequent applause." Another critic says: "It
proved a full success." This performance, however, took place in
1860,--a later period than that of which I am now speaking.

An incident which occurred at this representation probably suggested
scenes which recur in "Work" and other of Miss Alcott's stories.

   Quite a hit was made by a little girl, a Miss Jones, who, having
   to speak but a few lines, spoke them so well that upon her exit
   she received the rare compliment of an enthusiastic recall from
   the audience, despite the fact that "some necessary question of
   the play was then to be considered." For the time being she
   certainly was the sensation of the piece.

Miss Alcott had in Dr. Windship a kind and judicious helper in her
dramatic undertakings, with whom she kept up a correspondence under
the names of Beaumont and Fletcher.

In 1851 Louisa had an experience which she has reproduced in her story
called "How I Went Out to Service." Her mother's work among the poor
of Boston led to her being applied to for employment, and at one time
she kept a regular intelligence office. A gentleman came to her
seeking a companion for his aged father and sister, who was to do only
light work, and to be treated with the greatest respect and kindness.
As Mrs. Alcott did not readily think of any who would fill the place,
the impulsive Louisa suggested, "Why couldn't I go, Mother?" She went,
and had two months of disappointment and painful experience which she
never forgot. She wrote out the story which was published later,
called "How I Went Out to Service."

The story has an important lesson for those who condemn severely young
girls who prefer the more independent life of the factory or shop to
what is considered the safety and comfort of service in families. If a
girl like Louisa Alcott, belonging to a well-known, highly esteemed
family, and herself commanding respect by her abilities and character,
could be treated with such indignity by a family in which no one would
have feared to place her, how much may not a poor unfriended girl be
called upon to endure!


   1851.--We went to a meeting, and heard splendid speaking from
   Phillips, Channing, and others. People were much excited, and
   cheered "Shadrack and liberty," groaned for "Webster and
   slavery," and made a great noise. I felt ready to do
   anything,--fight or work, hoot or cry,--and laid plans to free
   Simms. I shall be horribly ashamed of my country if this thing
   happens and the slave is taken back.

   [He was.--L. M. A.]

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

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

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

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

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

In "Little Women" (p. 174), she has told a story which has usually
been supposed to represent her first success in literature; but she
has transferred the incident from her sister to her own
representative, Jo. It was the quiet Anna who had secretly written a
story and fastened it inside of a newspaper. She read it to her mother
and sisters, as described in the book, and was very much delighted
with their approbation and astonishment.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

_L. in Boston to A. in Syracuse._

     THURSDAY, 27th.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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





     Sitting patient in the shadow
       Till the blessed light shall come,
     A serene and saintly presence
       Sanctifies our troubled home.
     Earthly joys and hopes and sorrows
       Break like ripples on the strand
     Of the deep and solemn river,
       Where her willing feet now stand.

     O my sister, passing from me
       Out of human care and strife,
     Leave me as a gift those virtues
       Which have beautified your life.
     Dear, bequeath me that great patience
       Which has power to sustain
     A cheerful, uncomplaining spirit
       In its prison-house of pain.

     Give me--for I need it sorely--
       Of that courage, wise and sweet,
     Which has made the path of duty
       Green beneath your willing feet.
     Give me that unselfish nature
       That with charity divine
     Can pardon wrong for love's dear sake,--
       Meek heart, forgive me mine!

     Thus our parting daily loseth
       Something of its bitter pain,
     And while learning this hard lesson
       My great loss becomes my gain;
     For the touch of grief will render
       My wild nature more serene,
     Give to life new aspirations,
       A new trust in the unseen.

     Henceforth safe across the river
       I shall see forevermore
     A beloved household spirit
       Waiting for me on the shore;
     Hope and faith, born of my sorrow,
       Guardian angels shall become;
     And the sister gone before me
       By their hands shall lead me home.

When only twenty-two years old Miss Alcott began her career of
authorship by launching a little flower bark, which floated gaily on
the stream. She had always written poems, plays, and stories for her
own and her friends' pleasure, and now she gathered up some tales she
had written for Mr. Emerson's daughter, and published them under the
name of "Flower Fables." She received the small amount of thirty-two
dollars for the book; but it gave her the great satisfaction of having
earned it by work that she loved, and which she could do well. She
began to have applications for stories from the papers; but as yet
sewing and teaching paid better than writing. While she sewed her
brain was busy with plans of poems, plays, and tales, which she made
use of at a later period.

The following letter to her mother shows how closely she associated
her with this early success:--

     20 PINCKNEY STREET, BOSTON, Dec. 25, 1854. (With "Flower

   DEAR MOTHER,--Into your Christmas stocking I have put my
   "first-born," knowing that you will accept it with all its
   faults (for grandmothers are always kind), and look upon it
   merely as an earnest of what I may yet do; for, with so much to
   cheer me on, I hope to pass in time from fairies and fables to
   men and realities.

   Whatever beauty or poetry is to be found in my little book is
   owing to your interest in and encouragement of all my efforts
   from the first to the last; and if ever I do anything to be proud
   of, my greatest happiness will be that I can thank you for that,
   as I may do for all the good there is in me; and I shall be
   content to write if it gives you pleasure.

     Jo is fussing about;
     My lamp is going out.

   To dear mother, with many kind wishes for a happy New Year and
   merry Christmas.

   I am ever your loving daughter


This letter shows that she had already begun to see that she must
study not only fairies and fancies, but men and realities; and she now
began to observe life, not in books, but as it went on around her. In
the intense excitement of the anti-slavery struggles of that period
she might well learn how full of dramatic situations and the elements
of both tragedy and comedy real human life is. She says: "I began to
see the strong contrasts and fun and frolic in every day life about
this time." She also considered her reading, and tried to make it more
thorough and profitable; and she did not "waste even _ink_ on poems
and fancies," but planned stories, that everything might help toward
her great object of earning support for her family.

In June, 1855, Miss Alcott went to Walpole, N. H., where she had a
free life among the hills for a few months. It must have been a great
refreshment to her after the winter's work in the city. In July the
family followed her thither, and occupied a small house. The country
life and joy soon began to find expression, and she wrote a little
story called "King Goldenrod," which she says "ought to be fresh and
true," as written at that beautiful time and place. But this pleasant
country life was for a short season only; and in chill November she
set out for the city, with brave heart and scanty outfit, to seek her
fortune once more. While still continuing to sew as a means of
livelihood, she began to try a great variety of literary ventures. She
wrote notices of books for the papers, and at one time got five
dollars for a story, besides twelve dollars for sewing. The following
year the publishers began to find out the value of her work, and to
call for more stories. Even her poems were accepted. Little Nell was
then the favorite heroine of Dickens, and Louisa's poem on that
subject was published in the "Courier." Although she at first enjoyed
the beautiful scenery of Walpole, she found the dull little town did
not offer her the opportunities for work that she needed; and leaving
her family there, she came down to Boston to seek her fortune, and
went to the well-known boarding-house of Mrs. David Reed on Chauncey
Street. The happy home which she had here during the winter is
represented as Mrs. Kirke's house in "Little Women," and Jo's garret
is the sky-parlor in which she lived and wrote. She had a rich
winter, hearing many of the finest lectures, and enjoying her free
pass to the theatre. One of her greatest helps, however, was the
friendship of Theodore Parker, who took great interest in her
struggles, and wisely strengthened and encouraged her. She loved to go
to his Sunday evening receptions, and sit quietly watching the varied
company who collected there; and a word or pressure of the hand from
her host was enough to cheer her for the whole week. She has
gratefully recorded this influence in her sketch of Mr. Power in
"Work;" but she has not given to that delineation the striking
personality of her subject which we should have expected of her. She
then perhaps looked up to him too much to take note of the rich
elements of wit and humor in his nature, and has painted him wholly
seriously, and with a colorless brush.


_Twenty-two Years Old._

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

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

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

   [A pleasing contrast to the receipts of six months only in 1886,
   being $8000 for the sale of books, and no new one; but I was
   prouder over the $32 than the $8000.--L. M. A., 1886.]

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

   if I am ever paid.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

   Dr. Bellows and Father had Sunday eve conversations.

   _October._--Pleasant letters from Father, who went on a tour to
   N. Y., Philadelphia, and Boston.

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

_To her Father, written from Mrs. Reed's._

     BOSTON, Nov. 29, 1856.

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

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

       *       *       *       *       *

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

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

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

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

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

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



_Twenty-four Years Old._

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

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

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

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

   _February._--Ran home as a valentine on the 14th.

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

   _April._--May did a crayon head of Mother with Mrs. Murdock; very
   good likeness. All of us as proud as peacocks of our "little

   Heard Mrs. Butler read; very fine.

   _May._--Left the L.'s with my thirty-three dollars, glad to rest.
   May went home with her picture, happy in her winter's work and

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

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

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

   _June._--All happy together. My dear Nan was with me, and we had
   good times. Betty was feeble, but seemed to cheer up for a time.
   The long, cold, lonely winter has been too hard for the frail
   creature, and we are all anxious about her. I fear she may slip
   away; for she never seemed to care much for this world beyond

So gradually the day seemed to be coming to which Louisa had long
looked forward. She found that she could be independent, could help
her family, and even indulge some of her own tastes.

About this time Miss Alcott mentions a young friend who died in her
arms, and speaks of going to console the sister in her loneliness.
This shows how warmly her heart beat for others while her head was so
busy with her ambitious plans. She speaks also of the hint of a new
story called "The Cost of an Idea." She never lost sight of this plan,
but did not carry it out. Her father's life and character were in her
mind, and she longed to portray the conflict between his high ideal
and the practical difficulties of his life; but it was an impossible
subject. The Fruitlands episode was told in "Transcendental Wild
Oats," and his early life in "Elis's Education." But although her
admiration and affection for him are abundantly shown in her journals,
she never perhaps understood him so thoroughly that she could
adequately portray his personality; neither could she do justice to
all related to him without trenching upon the privacy due to sacred

  [Illustration: ORCHARD HOUSE, CONCORD, MASS. Home of the Alcott
  Family, 1858.]

A great shadow fell over Louisa's heart and life from the increasing
illness of her dear younger sister Elizabeth. This young girl was
tenderly beloved by all the family, and was indeed as pure,
refined, and holy as she is represented as Beth in "Little Women."
Her decay was very gradual, and she was so patient and sweet that the
sad time of anxiety was a very precious one in remembrance.

This sickness added to the pecuniary burdens of the family, and eight
years afterward Louisa paid the bill of the physician who attended her

In October, 1857, the family removed again to Concord, and Louisa
remained at home to assist in the care of the beloved invalid. They
lived a few months in a part of a house which they hired until the
Orchard House, which they had bought, was ready for them. Here the
dear sister's life came to a close.

This was the first break in the household, and the mother's heart
never fully recovered from it. Louisa accepted death with strong,
sweet wisdom. It never seemed to have any terror for her.

In July they took possession of the Orchard House, which was hereafter
the permanent residence of the family. This was a picturesque old
house on the side of a hill, with an orchard of apple-trees. It was
not far from Mr. Emerson's, and within walking distance of the
village, yet very quiet and rural. Mr. Alcott had his library, and was
always very happy there; but Louisa's heart never clung to it.

The engagement of the elder sister was a very exciting event to
Louisa, who did not like having the old sisterly relation broken in
upon; but everything was so genuine and true in the love of the newly
betrothed pair that she could not help accepting the change as a
blessing to her sister and taking the new brother into her heart. The
entries in her journal show that the picture she has drawn in "Little
Women" of this noble man is from life, and not exaggerated.

Louisa went to Boston for a visit, and again had hopes of going on to
the stage; but an accident prevented it; and she returned to Concord
and her writing, working off her disappointment in a story called
"Only an Actress."

Among her experiences at this time was an offer of marriage, about
which she consulted her mother, telling her that she did not care for
the lover very much. The wise mother saved her from the impulse to
self-sacrifice, which might have led her to accept a position which
would have given help to the family.

Although this was not the only instance of offers of marriage, more or
less advantageous, made to her, Louisa had no inclination toward
matrimony. Her heart was bound up in her family, and she could hardly
contemplate her own interests as separate from theirs. She loved
activity, freedom, and independence. She could not cherish illusions
tenderly; and she always said that she got tired of everybody, and
felt sure that she should of her husband if she married. She never
wished to make her heroines marry, and the love story is the part of
her books for which she cared least. She yielded to the desire of the
public, who will not accept life without a recognition of this great
joy in it. Still it must be acknowledged that she has sometimes
painted very sweet and natural love scenes, although more often in
quaint and homely guise than in the fashion of ancient romance. "King
of Clubs and Queen of Hearts" is very prettily told; and "Mrs.
Todger's Teapot" is true to that quiet, earnest affection which does
not pass away with youth.

The writing went on, and she received five, six, or ten dollars apiece
for her stories; but she did not yet venture to give up the sewing and
teaching, which was still the sure reliance.

Her younger sister now began to exercise her talent, and illustrated a
little book of Louisa's called "Christmas Elves," which she says is
better than "Flower Fables."


   Read Charlotte Bronté's life. A very interesting, but sad one. So
   full of talent; and after working long, just as success, love,
   and happiness come, she dies.

   Wonder if I shall ever be famous enough for people to care to
   read my story and struggles. I can't be a C. B., but I may do a
   little something yet.

   _July._--Grandma Alcott came to visit us. A sweet old lady; and I
   am glad to know her, and see where Father got his nature.
   Eighty-four; yet very smart, industrious, and wise. A house needs
   a grandma in it.

   As we sat talking over Father's boyhood, I never realized so
   plainly before how much he has done for himself. His early life
   sounded like a pretty old romance, and Mother added the love

   I got a hint for a story; and some day will do it, and call it
   "The Cost of an Idea." Spindle Hill, Temple School, Fruitlands,
   Boston, and Concord, would make fine chapters. The trials and
   triumphs of the Pathetic Family would make a capital book; may I
   live to do it.

   _August._--A sad, anxious month. Betty worse; Mother takes her
   to the seashore. Father decides to go back to Concord; he is
   never happy far from Emerson, the one true friend who loves and
   understands and helps him.

   _September._--An old house near R. W. E.'s is bought with
   Mother's money, and we propose to move. Mother in Boston with
   poor Betty, who is failing fast. Anna and I have a hard time
   breaking up.

   _October._--Move to Concord. Take half a house in town till
   spring, when the old one is to be made ready.

   Find dear Betty a shadow, but sweet and patient always. Fit up a
   nice room for her, and hope home and love and care may keep her.

   People kind and friendly, and the old place looks pleasant,
   though I never want to live in it.

   _November._--Father goes West, taking Grandma home. We settle
   down to our winter, whatever it is to be. Lizzie seems better,
   and we have some plays. Sanborn's school makes things lively, and
   we act a good deal.

   Twenty-five this month. I feel my quarter of a century rather
   heavy on my shoulders just now. I lead two lives. One seems gay
   with plays, etc., the other very sad,--in Betty's room; for
   though she wishes us to act, and loves to see us get ready, the
   shadow is there, and Mother and I see it. Betty loves to have me
   with her; and I am with her at night, for Mother needs rest.
   Betty says she feels "strong" when I am near. So glad to be of

   _December._--Some fine plays for charity.

   _January, 1858._--Lizzie much worse; Dr. G. says there is no
   hope. A hard thing to hear; but if she is only to suffer, I pray
   she may go soon. She was glad to know she was to "get well," as
   she called it, and we tried to bear it bravely for her sake. We
   gave up plays; Father came home; and Anna took the housekeeping,
   so that Mother and I could devote ourselves to her. Sad, quiet
   days in her room, and strange nights keeping up the fire and
   watching the dear little shadow try to wile away the long
   sleepless hours without troubling me. She sews, reads, sings
   softly, and lies looking at the fire,--so sweet and patient and
   so worn, my heart is broken to see the change. I wrote some lines
   one night on "Our Angel in the House."

   [Jo and Beth.--L. M. A.]

   _February._--A mild month; Betty very comfortable, and we hope a

   Dear Betty is slipping away, and every hour is too precious to
   waste, so I'll keep my lamentations over Nan's [affairs] till
   this duty is over.

   Lizzie makes little things, and drops them out of windows to the
   school-children, smiling to see their surprise. In the night she
   tells me to be Mrs. Gamp, when I give her her lunch, and tries to
   be gay that I may keep up. Dear little saint! I shall be better
   all my life for these sad hours with you.

   _March 14th._--My dear Beth died at three this morning, after two
   years of patient pain. Last week she put her work away, saying
   the needle was "too heavy," and having given us her few
   possessions, made ready for the parting in her own simple, quiet
   way. For two days she suffered much, begging for ether, though
   its effect was gone. Tuesday she lay in Father's arms, and called
   us round her, smiling contentedly as she said, "All here!" I
   think she bid us good-by then, as she held our hands and kissed
   us tenderly. Saturday she slept, and at midnight became
   unconscious, quietly breathing her life away till three; then,
   with one last look of the beautiful eyes, she was gone.

   A curious thing happened, and I will tell it here, for Dr. G.
   said it was a fact. A few moments after the last breath came, as
   Mother and I sat silently watching the shadow fall on the dear
   little face, I saw a light mist rise from the body, and float up
   and vanish in the air. Mother's eyes followed mine, and when I
   said, "What did you see?" she described the same light mist. Dr.
   G. said it was the life departing visibly.

   For the last time we dressed her in her usual cap and gown, and
   laid her on her bed,--at rest at last. What she had suffered was
   seen in the face; for at twenty-three she looked like a woman of
   forty, so worn was she, and all her pretty hair gone.

   On Monday Dr. Huntington read the Chapel service, and we sang her
   favorite hymn. Mr. Emerson, Henry Thoreau, Sanborn, and John
   Pratt, carried her out of the old home to the new one at Sleepy
   Hollow chosen by herself. So the first break comes, and I know
   what death means,--a liberator for her, a teacher for us.

   _April._--Came to occupy one wing of Hawthorne's house (once
   ours) while the new one was being repaired. Father, Mother, and I
   kept house together; May being in Boston, Anna at Pratt Farm,
   and, for the first time, Lizzie absent. I don't miss her as I
   expected to do, for she seems nearer and dearer than before; and
   I am glad to know she is safe from pain and age in some world
   where her innocent soul must be happy.

   Death never seemed terrible to me, and now is beautiful; so I
   cannot fear it, but find it friendly and wonderful.

   _May._--A lonely month with all the girls gone, and Father and
   Mother absorbed in the old house, which I don't care about, not
   liking Concord.

   On the 7th of April, Anna came walking in to tell us she was
   engaged to John Pratt; so another sister is gone. J. is a model
   son and brother,--a true man,--full of fine possibilities, but so
   modest one does not see it at once. He is handsome, healthy, and
   happy; just home from the West, and so full of love he is
   pleasant to look at.

   I moaned in private over my great loss, and said I'd never
   forgive J. for taking Anna from me; but I shall if he makes her
   happy, and turn to little May for my comfort.

   [Now that John is dead, I can truly say we all had cause to bless
   the day he came into the family; for we gained a son and brother,
   and Anna the best husband ever known.

   For ten years he made her home a little heaven of love and peace;
   and when he died he left her the legacy of a beautiful life, and
   an honest name to his little sons.--L. M. A., 1873.]

   _June._--The girls came home, and I went to visit L. W. in
   Boston. Saw Charlotte Cushman, and had a stage-struck fit. Dr. W.
   asked Barry to let me act at his theatre, and he agreed. I was to
   do Widow Pottle, as the dress was a good disguise and I knew the
   part well. It was all a secret, and I had hopes of trying a new
   life; the old one being so changed now, I felt as if I must find
   interest in something absorbing. But Mr. B. broke his leg, so I
   had to give it up; and when it was known, the dear, respectable
   relations were horrified at the idea. I'll try again by-and-by,
   and see if I have the gift. Perhaps it is acting, not writing,
   I'm meant for. Nature must have a vent somehow.

   _July._--Went into the new house and began to settle. Father is
   happy; Mother glad to be at rest; Anna is in bliss with her
   gentle John; and May busy over her pictures. I have plans
   simmering, but must sweep and dust and wash my dish-pans a while
   longer till I see my way.

   Worked off my stage fever in writing a story, and felt better;
   also a moral tale, and got twenty-five dollars, which pieced up
   our summer gowns and bonnets all round. The inside of my head can
   at least cover the outside.

   _August._--Much company to see the new house. All seem to be glad
   that the wandering family is anchored at last. We won't move
   again for twenty years if I can help it. The old people need an
   abiding place; and now that death and love have taken two of us
   away, I can, I hope, soon manage to care for the remaining four.

   The weeklies will all take stories; and I can simmer novels while
   I do my housework, so see my way to a little money, and perhaps
   more by-and-by if I ever make a hit.

Probably owing to the excitement of grief for her sister's death, and
sympathy in Anna's happy betrothal, Louisa became in October more
discouraged than she had ever been, and went to Boston in search of
work. As she walked over the mill dam the running stream brought the
thought of the River of Death, which would end all troubles. It was
but a momentary impulse, and the brave young heart rallied to the
thought, "There is work for me, and I'll have it!" Her journal
narrates how Mr. Parker helped her through this period of anxiety. She
was all ready to go to Lancaster, to hard drudgery at sewing, when her
old place as governess was again offered to her, and her own support
was assured.

   _October._--Went to Boston on my usual hunt for employment, as I
   am not needed at home and seem to be the only bread-winner just

          *       *       *       *       *

   My fit of despair was soon over, for it seemed so cowardly to run
   away before the battle was over I couldn't do it. So I said
   firmly, "There _is_ work for me, and I'll have it," and went home
   resolved to take Fate by the throat and shake a living out of

   Sunday Mr. Parker preached a sermon on "Laborious Young Women."
   Just what I needed; for it said: "Trust your fellow-beings, and
   let them help you. Don't be too proud to ask, and accept the
   humblest work till you can find the task you want."

   "I will," said I, and went to Mr. P.'s. He was out; but I told
   Mrs. P. my wants, and she kindly said Theodore and Hannah would
   be sure to have something for me. As I went home I met Mrs. L.,
   who had not wanted me, as Alice went to school. She asked if I
   was engaged, and said A. did not do well, and she thought perhaps
   they would like me back. I was rejoiced, and went home feeling
   that the tide had begun to turn. Next day came Miss H. S. to
   offer me a place at the Girls' Reform School at Lancaster, to sew
   ten hours a day, make and mend. I said I'd go, as I could do
   anything with a needle; but added, if Mrs. L. wants me I'd rather
   do that.

   "Of course you had. Take it if it comes, and if not, try my
   work." I promised and waited. That eve, when my bag was packed
   and all was ready for Lancaster, came a note from Mrs. L.
   offering the old salary and the old place. I sang for joy, and
   next day early posted off to Miss S. She was glad and shook
   hands, saying, "It was a test, my dear, and you stood it. When I
   told Mr. P. that you would go, he said, 'That is a true girl;
   Louisa will succeed.'"

   I was very proud and happy; for these things are tests of
   character as well as courage, and I covet the respect of such
   true people as Mr. P. and Miss S.

   So away to my little girl with a bright heart! for with tales,
   and sewing for Mary, which pays my board, there I am fixed for
   the winter and my cares over. Thank the Lord!

She now found publishers eager for her stories, and went on writing
for them. She was encouraged by E. P. Whipple's praise of "Mark
Field's Mistake," and by earning thirty dollars, most of which she
sent home.


   Earned thirty dollars; sent twenty home. Heard Curtis, Parker,
   Higginson, and Mrs. Dall lecture. See Booth's Hamlet, and my
   ideal done at last.

   My twenty-sixth birthday on the 29th. Some sweet letters from
   home, and a ring of A.'s and J.'s hair as a peace-offering. A
   quiet day, with many thoughts and memories.

   The past year has brought us the first death and betrothal,--two
   events that change my life. I can see that these experiences have
   taken a deep hold, and changed or developed me. Lizzie helps me
   spiritually, and a little success makes me more self-reliant. Now
   that Mother is too tired to be wearied with my moods, I have to
   manage them alone, and am learning that work of head and hand is
   my salvation when disappointment or weariness burden and darken
   my soul.

   In my sorrow I think I instinctively came nearer to God, and
   found comfort in the knowledge that he was sure to help when
   nothing else could.

   A great grief has taught me more than any minister, and when
   feeling most alone I find refuge in the Almighty Friend. If this
   is experiencing religion I have done it; but I think it is only
   the lesson one must learn as it comes, and I am glad to know it.

   After my fit of despair I seem to be braver and more cheerful,
   and grub away with a good heart. Hope it will last, for I need
   all the courage and comfort I can get.

   I feel as if I could write better now,--more truly of things I
   have felt and therefore _know_. I hope I shall yet do my great
   book, for that seems to be my work, and I am growing up to it. I
   even think of trying the "Atlantic." There 's ambition for you!
   I'm sure some of the stories are very flat. If Mr. L. takes the
   one Father carried to him, I shall think I can do something.

   _December._--Father started on his tour West full of hope. Dear
   man! How happy he will be if people will only listen to and _pay_
   for his wisdom.

   May came to B. and stayed with me while she took drawing lessons.
   Christmas at home. Write an Indian story.

   _January_, 1859.--Send a parcel home to Marmee and Nan.

   Mother very ill. Home to nurse her for a week. Wonder if I ought
   not to be a nurse, as I seem to have a gift for it. Lizzie, L.
   W., and Mother all say so; and I like it. If I couldn't write or
   act I'd try it. May yet. $21 from L.; $15 home.

          *       *       *       *       *

   Some day I'll do my best, and get well paid for it.

   [$3,000 for a short serial in 1876. True prophet.--L. M. A.]

   Wrote a sequel to "Mark Field." Had a queer time over it, getting
   up at night to write it, being too full to sleep.

   _March._--"Mark" was a success, and much praised. So I found the
   divine afflatus did descend. Busy life teaching, writing, sewing,
   getting all I can from lectures, books, and good people. Life is
   my college. May I graduate well, and earn some honors!

   _April._--May went home after a happy winter at the School of
   Design, where she did finely, and was pronounced full of promise.
   Mr. T. said good things of her, and we were very proud. No doubt
   now what she is to be, if we can only keep her along.

   I went home also, being done with A., who went out of town early.
   Won't teach any more if I can help it; don't like it; and if I
   can get writing enough can do much better.

   I have done more than I hoped. Supported myself, helped May, and
   sent something home. Not borrowed a penny, and had only five
   dollars given me. So my third campaign ends well.

   _May._--Took care of L. W., who was ill. Walked from C. to B. one
   day, twenty miles, in five hours, and went to a party in the
   evening. Not very tired. Well done for a vegetable production!

   _June._--Took two children to board and teach. A busy month, as
   Anna was in B.

   _September._--Great State Encampment here. Town full of soldiers,
   with military fuss and feathers. I like a camp, and long for a
   war, to see how it all seems. I can't fight, but I can nurse.

   [Prophetic again.--L. M. A.]

   _October_, 1859.--May did a fine copy of Emerson's Endymion[7]
   for me.

   Mother sixty. God bless the dear, brave woman!

   Good news of Parker in Florence,--my beloved minister and friend.
   To him and R. W. E. I owe much of my education. May I be a worthy
   pupil of such men!

   _November._--Hurrah! My story was accepted; and Lowell asked if
   it was not a translation from the German, it was so unlike most
   tales. I felt much set up, and my fifty dollars will be very
   happy money. People seem to think it a great thing to get into
   the "Atlantic;" but I've not been pegging away all these years in
   vain, and may yet have books and publishers and a fortune of my
   own. Success has gone to my head, and I wander a little.
   Twenty-seven years old, and very happy.

   The Harper's Ferry tragedy makes this a memorable month. Glad I
   have lived to see the Antislavery movement and this last heroic
   act in it. Wish I could do my part in it.

   _December_, 1859.--The execution of Saint John the Just took
   place on the second. A meeting at the hall, and all Concord was
   there. Emerson, Thoreau, Father, and Sanborn spoke, and all were
   full of reverence and admiration for the martyr.

   I made some verses on it, and sent them to the "Liberator."

A sickness of Mrs. Alcott through which she nursed her makes Louisa
question whether nursing is not her true vocation. She had an
opportunity to try it later.

Much interest attaches to this period of Louisa's work, when she
dashed off sensational stories as fast as they were wanted, from the
account which she has given of it in "Little Women." She has
concentrated into one short period there the work and the feelings of
a much longer time. She certainly did let her fancy run riot in these
tales, and they were as sensational as the penny papers desired. She
had a passion for wild, adventurous life, and even for lurid passion
and melodramatic action, which she could indulge to the utmost in
these stories. Louisa was always a creature of moods; and it was a
great relief to work off certain feelings by the safe vent of
imaginary persons and scenes in a story. She had no one to guide or
criticise her; and the fact that these gambols of fancy brought the
much-needed money, and were, as she truly called them, "pot boilers,"
certainly did not discourage her from indulging in them. She is
probably right in calling most of them "trash and rubbish," for she
was yet an unformed girl, and had not studied herself or life very
deeply; but her own severe condemnation of them in "Little Women"
might give a false idea. The stories are never coarse or immoral. They
give a lurid, unnatural picture of life, but sin is not made
captivating or immorality attractive. There is often a severe moral
enforced. They did not give poison to her readers, only over-seasoned
unnatural food, which might destroy the relish for wholesome mental

We are inclined to ask, What did Louisa herself get out of this wild,
Walpurgis-Night ride among ghosts and goblins, letting her fancy run
riot, and indulging every mood as it rose? Did it not give her the
dash and freedom in writing which we find in all her books, a command
of language, and a recognition of the glow and force of life? She
finds life no mere commonplace drudgery, but full of great
possibilities. Did it not also give her an interest in all the wild
fancies and dreams of girls, all the longing for adventure of boys,
and make her hopeful even of the veriest young scamps that they would
work off the turbulent energies of youth safely if activities were
wisely provided for them?

No writer for children ever was so fully recognized as understanding
them. They never felt that she stood on a pinnacle of wisdom to
censure them, but came right down into their midst to work and play
with them, and at the same time to show them the path out of the
tangled thickets, and to help them to see light in their gloomiest

Yet she unquestionably recognized that she was not doing the best work
of which she was capable; and she looked forward still to the books
she was to write, as well as the fortune she was to make. She did not
like any reference to these sensational stories in after life,
although she sometimes re-used plots or incidents in them; and she was
very unwilling to have them republished.

_Boston Bulletin,--Ninth Issue._

     SUNDAY EVE, November, 1858.

   MY BLESSED NAN,--Having finished my story, I can refresh my soul
   by a scribble to you, though I have nothing to tell of much

   Mrs. L. is to pay me my "celery" each month, as she likes to
   settle all bills in that way; so yesterday she put $20.85 into my
   willing hands, and gave me Saturday P.M. for a holiday. This
   unexpected $20, with the $10 for my story (if I get it) and $5
   for sewing, will give me the immense sum of $35. I shall get a
   second-hand carpet for the little parlor, a bonnet for you, and
   some shoes and stockings for myself, as three times round the
   Common in cold weather conduces to chilblains, owing to
   stockings with a profusion of toe, but no heel, and shoes with
   plenty of heel, but a paucity of toe. The prejudices of society
   demand that my feet be covered in the houses of the rich and
   great; so I shall hose and shoe myself, and if any of my fortune
   is left, will invest it in the Alcott Sinking Fund, the Micawber
   R. R., and the Skimpole three per cents.

   Tell me how much carpet you need, and T. S. will find me a good
   one. In December I shall have another $20; so let me know what is
   wanting, and don't live on "five pounds of rice and a couple of
   quarts of split peas" all winter, I beg.

   How did you like "Mark Field's Mistake"? I don't know whether it
   is good or bad; but it will keep the pot boiling, and I ask no
   more. I wanted to go and see if "Hope's Treasures" was accepted,
   but was afeared. M. and H. both appeared; but one fell asleep,
   and the other forgot to remember; so I still wait like Patience
   on a hard chair, smiling at an inkstand. Miss K. asked me to go
   to see Booth for the last time on Saturday. Upon that ravishing
   thought I brooded all the week very merrily, and I danced, sang,
   and clashed my cymbals daily. Saturday A.M. Miss K. sent word she
   couldn't go, and from my pinnacle of joy I was precipitated into
   an abyss of woe. While in said abyss Mrs. L. put the $20 into my
   hands. That was a moment of awful trial. Every one of those
   dollars cried aloud, "What, ho! Come hither, and be happy!" But
   eight cold feet on a straw carpet marched to and fro so
   pathetically that I locked up the tempting fiend, and fell to
   sewing, as a Saturday treat!

   But, lo! virtue was rewarded. Mrs. H. came flying in, and took me
   to the Museum to see "Gold" and "Lend Me Five Shillings." Warren,
   in an orange tie, red coat, white satin vest, and scarlet
   ribbons on his ankles, was the funniest creature you ever saw;
   and I laughed till I cried,--which was better for me than the
   melancholy Dane, I dare say.

   I'm disgusted with this letter; for I always begin trying to be
   proper and neat; but my pen will not keep in order, and ink has a
   tendency to splash when used copiously and with rapidity. I have
   to be so moral and so dignified nowadays that the jocosity of my
   nature will gush out when it gets a chance, and the consequences
   are, as you see, rubbish. But you like it; so let's be merry
   while we may, for to-morrow is Monday, and the weekly grind
   begins again.


[7] A fine bas-relief owned by Mr. Emerson.




     _Tune._--"Wait for the Wagon."

     The world lies fair about us, and a friendly sky above;
     Our lives are full of sunshine, our homes are full of love;
     Few cares or sorrows sadden the beauty of our day;
     We gather simple pleasures like daisies by the way.

             _Chorus._--Oh! sing with cheery voices,
                        Like robins on the tree;
                      For little lads and lasses
                        As blithe of heart should be.

     The village is our fairyland: its good men are our kings;
     And wandering through its by-ways our busy minds find wings.
     The school-room is our garden, and we the flowers there,
     And kind hands tend and water us that we may blossom fair.

             _Chorus._--Oh! dance in airy circles,
                        Like fairies on the lee;
                      For little lads and lasses
                        As light of foot should be.

     There's the Shepherd of the sheepfold; the Father of the vines;
     The Hermit of blue Walden; the Poet of the pines;
     And a Friend who comes among us, with counsels wise and mild
     With snow upon his forehead, yet at heart a very child.

             _Chorus._--Oh! smile as smiles the river,
                        Slow rippling to the sea;
                      For little lads and lasses
                        As full of peace should be.

     There's not a cloud in heaven but drops its silent dew;
     No violet in the meadow but blesses with its blue;
     No happy child in Concord who may not do its part
     To make the great world better by innocence of heart.

             _Chorus._--Oh! blossom in the sunshine
                           Beneath the village tree;
                         For little lads and lasses
                           Are the fairest flowers we see.

After such long and hard struggles, it is pleasant to find the diary
for 1860 headed "A Year of Good Luck." The appointment of Mr. Alcott
as Superintendent of Schools in Concord was a great happiness to the
family. It was a recognition of his character and ability, and gave
him congenial occupation and some small pecuniary compensation.

Louisa was writing for the "Atlantic," and receiving better pay for
her work; Anna was happy; and May absorbed in her art.

In the summer Miss Alcott had an experience in caring for a young
friend during a temporary fit of insanity, which she has partially
reproduced in the touching picture of Helen in the story of "Work." It
is a powerful lesson; but it is almost cruelly enforced, and is an
artistic blemish in the book. While the great problem of heredity
should be studied and its lessons enforced, it is yet a mystery, whose
laws are not understood; and it is not wise to paint its possible
effects in the lurid light of excited imagination, which may too often
bring about the very evils which a wise and temperate caution might
prevent. For the physician and teacher such investigations are
important; but they are dangerous to the young and sensitive.

The following unusually long letter gives a pleasing picture of the
family life at this time:--

_To Mrs. Bond._

     APPLE SLUMP, Sept. 17, 1860.

   DEAR AUNTIE,--I consider this a practical illustration of one of
   Mother's naughty amended sayings, "Cast your bread upon the
   waters, and after many days it will return buttered;" and this
   "rule of three" don't "puzzle me," as the other did; for my
   venerable raiment went away with one if not two feet in the
   grave, and came back in the guise of three stout angels, having
   been resurrectionized by the spirit who lives on the other side
   of a Charles River Jordan. Thank you very much, and be sure the
   dreams I dream in them will be pleasant ones; for, whether you
   sewed them or not, I know they bring some of the Auntie influence
   in their strength, softness, and warmth; and, though a Vandal, I
   think any prayers I may say in them will be the better for the
   affectionate recollections that will clothe me with the putting
   on of these friendly gowns, while my belief in both heavenly and
   earthly providences will be amazingly strengthened by the
   knowledge of some lives here, whose beauty renders it impossible
   to doubt the existence of the life hereafter.

   We were very glad to hear that the Papa was better; for when
   paternal "Richards" ain't "themselves," everybody knows the
   anxious state of the domestic realms.

   I hope Georgie (last name disremembered) has recovered from the
   anguish of discontented teeth and berry-seeds, and that "the
   Mama" was as much benefited by the trip as the other parties
   were, barring the horse perhaps.

   This amiable town is convulsed just now with a gymnastic fever,
   which shows itself with great violence in all the schools, and
   young societies generally. Dr. Lewis has "inoculated us for the
   disease," and it has "taken finely;" for every one has become a
   perambulating windmill, with all its four sails going as if a
   wind had set in; and the most virulent cases present the
   phenomena of black eyes and excoriation of the knobby parts of
   the frame, to say nothing of sprains and breakage of vessels
   looming in the future.

   The City Fathers approve of it; and the city sons and daughters
   intend to show that Concord has as much muscle as brain, and be
   ready for another Concord fight, if Louis Napoleon sees fit to
   covet this famous land of Emerson, Hawthorne, Thoreau, Alcott, &
   Co. Abby and I are among the pioneers; and the delicate vegetable
   productions clash their cymbals in private, when the beef-eating
   young ladies faint away and become superfluous _dumb belles_.

   Saturday we had J. G. Whittier, Charlotte Cushman, Miss Stebbins
   the sculptress, and Mr. Stuart, conductor of the underground
   railroad of this charming free country. So you see our humble
   place of abode is perking up; and when the "great authoress and
   artist" are fairly out of the shell, we shall be an honor to our
   country and terror to the foe,--provided good fortune don't addle
   or bad fortune smash us.

   Father continues to stir up the schools like a mild
   pudding-stick, Mother to sing Hebron among her pots and pans,
   Anna and the Prince Consort to bill and coo in the little
   dove-cot, Oranthy Bluggage to launch chips on the Atlantic and
   make a gigantic blot of herself in working the vessel, Abby to
   teach the fine arts and play propriety for the family, and the
   old house to put its best foot foremost and hoot at the idea of
   ever returning to the chaos from which it came.

   This is a condensed history of "the pathetic family," which is
   also a "happy family," owing to the prevalence of friends and
   lots of kindness in the original packages, "which are always
   arriving" when the "Widow Cruise's oil-bottle" begins to give

   You know I never _could_ do anything in a neat and proper manner;
   so you will receive this topsy-turvy note as you do its writer,
   and with love to all from all, believe her, dear auntie,

     Ever lovingly yours,
     L. M. A.

This characteristic letter not only shows Louisa's affectionate
feelings and gives a picture of her life, but indicates that "The
Pathetic Family," which was the foundation of "Little Women," was
already shaping itself in her mind.

Mr. Alcott's career as Superintendent of Schools was a gratifying
success, and is still remembered by friends of education in the town.
The year closed with a school festival, for which Louisa wrote a poem,
and in which she took hearty delight.

In 1861 war was declared with the South. The Alcotts were all alive
with patriotic enthusiasm, and Louisa took an active part in fitting
off the boys for the army. But she also found time for much reading.
Mr. Alcott, in his sonnet, uses the expression about Louisa--

     "Hast with grave studies vexed a lively brain."

He may possibly have referred to this period, though she could never
properly be called a student. She was a rapid, intelligent reader,
and her taste was severe and keen. From her childhood she had browsed
in her father's library, full of the works of ancient philosophers and
quaint English poets, and had imbibed from them great thoughts and
noble sentiments; but her reading, like all her education, was
immethodical. Occasionally she would lay out courses of reading, which
she pursued for a time; but in general she followed the cravings of a
healthy appetite for knowledge, reading what came in her way. Later in
life she often read light literature in abundance, to drown the
sensations of pain, and to pass away the hours of invalidism.

She read French easily, and learned to speak it when abroad; she also
studied German, but did not acquire equal facility in that tongue. Of
ancient languages she had no knowledge. History could not fail to
interest such a student of life, and she loved Nature too well not to
enjoy the revelations of science when brought to her notice; but she
had never time to give to a thorough study of either.

In her journal at this time she speaks of her religious feelings,
which the experiences of grief and despair and reviving hope had
deepened. Louisa Alcott's was a truly religious soul; she always lived
in the consciousness of a Higher Power sustaining and blessing her,
whose presence was revealed to her through Nature, through the
inspired words of great thinkers and the deep experiences of her own
heart. She never held her life as an isolated possession which she was
free to use for her own enjoyment or glory. Her father truly called
her "Duty's faithful child," and her life was consecrated to the duty
she recognized as specially hers. But for outward forms and rites of
religion she cared little; her home was sacred to her, and she found
her best life there. She loved Theodore Parker, and found great
strength and help from his preaching, and afterward liked to listen to
Dr. Bartol; but she never joined any church. The Bible was not her
favorite reading, though her father had read it much to her in her
childhood, with his own peculiar charm of interpretation. Pilgrim's
Progress was one of the few religious books which became dear to her
in the same way.

Her sister Anna was married in May; this was of course a great event
in the family. While fully rejoicing in her sister's happiness, Louisa
felt her loss as a constant companion and confidant. The journal gives
a sufficient description of the event. Her strong affection for her
brother-in-law appears in "Little Women" and in "Jo's Boys." About
this time her farce was brought out at the Howard Athenæum.

The story-writing continued, as it helped to pay the expenses of the
family; but the continuous, hurried work had begun to affect her
health, and she occasionally suffered from illness.

In the summer of 1861 Miss Alcott began to write her first novel,
entitled "Moods;" this proved to be the least successful of her books,
and yet like many an unfortunate child, it was the dearest to the
mother's heart. It was not written for money, but for its own sake,
and she was possessed by the plot and the characters. Warwick
represented her ideal of a hero, while her sister preferred the type
of the amiable Moor; yet there is far less of her outward self
revealed in this than in her other stories. It is full of her thoughts
and fancies, but not of her life. The wilful, moody, charming Sylvia
does not affect us like the stormy Jo, who is a real presence to us,
and whom we take to our hearts in spite of her faults. The men are
such as she found in books, but had never known herself, and,
carefully as she has drawn them, have not the individuality of Laurie
and Professor Bhaer. The action takes place in an unreal world; and
though there are many pretty scenes, they have not the real flavor of
New England life. The principal incident, of a young girl going up the
river on a picnic-voyage for some days with her brother and two other
young men, was so contrary to common ideas of decorum, that the motive
hardly seems sufficient for the staid sister's consent; but in the
simple, innocent life which the Alcotts lived in Concord such scruples
were little felt.

Miss Alcott did not lay stress upon the marriage question as the
principal feature of the book; she cared more to describe the wilful
moods of a young girl, full of good feelings, and longing for a rich
and noble life, but not established in convictions and principles. She
meant to represent much of her own nature in Sylvia, for she was
always a creature of moods, which her family learned to recognize and
respect. But how unlike was the discipline of family work and love,
which saved Louisa from fatal caprices and fitful gusts of fancy
called passion, to the lot of the wealthy and admired Sylvia. Miss
Alcott says that the incidents of the marriage, although not drawn
from life, were so close to an actual case that the wife asked her how
she had known her secret; but such realism is a poor justification in
art. It is that which becomes true to the imagination and heart
through its vivid personation of character which is accepted, not the
bare facts. The great question of the transcendental period was truth
to the inward life instead of the outward law. But in "Moods" the
marriage question is not stated strongly; it does not reach down to
this central principle. It is only in tragedy that such a double
relation could be endured, when the situation is compelled by
fate,--the fate of character and overpowering circumstances,--and when
there is no happy solution possible. But Sylvia's position is made
only by her own weakness, and the love which stands in opposition to
outward duty has no right of existence. If her love for Warwick
_could_ be overcome, there was no question of her duty; and when she
accepts Faith's criticism of him, it is clear that it is a much
lighter spell than love which has fascinated her. We do not accept the
catastrophe which sacrifices a splendid life to make a comfortable
solution of the practical difficulty, and to allow Sylvia to accept a
happy home without a thorough regeneration of heart and mind. But
these were the natural mistakes of youth and inexperience; Louisa had
known but little of such struggles. Love and marriage were rather
uninteresting themes to her, and she had not yet found her true power.

Still the book has great literary merit. It is well written, in a more
finished style than any of her other work, except "Modern
Mephistopheles," and the dialogue is vigorous and sprightly. In spite
of her careful revision and pruning, there is something left of
youthful gush in it, and this perhaps touched the heart of young
girls, who found in Sylvia's troubles with herself a reflection of
their own.

The "golden wedding" scenes have some of her usual freedom and
vivacity. She is at home with a troop of mothers and babies and noisy
boys. But the "golden wedding" was a new importation from Germany, and
not at home in the New England farmhouse. Why might it not have been a
true wedding or a harvest feast?

Louisa never lost her interest in this early work, though it was the
most unlucky of books, and subjected to severe handling. It was sent
to and fro from publisher to author, each one suggesting some change.
Redpath sent it back as being too long. Ticknor found it very
interesting, but could not use it then. Loring liked it, but wanted it
shorter. She condensed and altered until her author's spirit rebelled,
and she declared she would change it no more.

After her other books had made her famous, "Moods" was again brought
forward and republished as it was originally written. It met with
warmer welcome than before, and a cheap edition was published in
England to supply the popular demand.

Miss Alcott learned the first painful lesson of over-work on this
book. She was possessed by it, and for three weeks labored so
constantly that she felt the physical effects keenly. Fortunately new
household tasks (for the daughters of John Brown came to board with
them), and the enthusiasm of the time, changed the current of her


   _February_, 1860.--Mr. ---- won't have "M. L.," as it is
   antislavery, and the dear South must not be offended. Got a
   carpet with my $50, and wild Louisa's head kept the feet of the
   family warm.

   _March._--Wrote "A Modern Cinderella," with Nan for the heroine
   and John for the hero.

   Made my first ball dress for May, and she was the finest girl at
   the party. My tall, blond, graceful girl! I was proud of her.

   Wrote a song for the school festival, and heard it sung by four
   hundred happy children. Father got up the affair, and such a
   pretty affair was never seen in Concord before. He said, "We
   spend much on our cattle and flower shows; let us each spring
   have a show of our children, and begrudge nothing for their
   culture." All liked it but the old fogies who want things as they
   were in the ark.

   _April._--Made two riding habits, and May and I had some fine
   rides. Both needed exercise, and this was good for us. So one of
   our dreams came true, and we really did "dash away on horseback."

   Sanborn was nearly kidnapped for being a friend of John Brown;
   but his sister and A. W. rescued him when he was handcuffed, and
   the scamps drove off. Great ferment in town. A meeting and
   general flurry.

   Had a funny lover who met me in the cars, and said he lost his
   heart at once. Handsome man of forty. A Southerner, and very
   demonstrative and gushing, called and wished to pay his
   addresses; and being told I didn't wish to see him, retired, to
   write letters and haunt the road with his hat off, while the
   girls laughed and had great fun over Jo's lover. He went at last,
   and peace reigned. My adorers are all queer.

   Sent "Cinderella" to the "Atlantic," and it was accepted. Began
   "By the River," and thought that this was certainly to be a lucky
   year; for after ten years hard climbing I had reached a good
   perch on the ladder, and could look more hopefully into the
   future, while my paper boats sailed gaily over the Atlantic.

   _May._--Meg's wedding.

   My farce was acted, and I went to see it. Not very well done; but
   I sat in a box, and the good Doctor handed up a bouquet to the
   author, and made as much as he could of a small affair.

   Saw Anna's honeymoon home at Chelsea,--a little cottage in a
   blooming apple-orchard. Pretty place, simple and sweet. God bless

   The dear girl was married on the 23d, the same day as Mother's
   wedding. A lovely day; the house full of sunshine, flowers,
   friends, and happiness. Uncle S. J. May married them, with no
   fuss, but much love; and we all stood round her. She in her
   silver-gray silk, with lilies of the valley (John's flower) in
   her bosom and hair. We in gray thin stuff and roses,--sackcloth,
   I called it, and ashes of roses; for I mourn the loss of my Nan,
   and am not comforted. We have had a little feast, sent by good
   Mrs. Judge Shaw; then the old folks danced round the bridal pair
   on the lawn in the German fashion, making a pretty picture to
   remember, under our Revolutionary elm.

   Then, with tears and kisses, our dear girl, in her little white
   bonnet, went happily away with her good John; and we ended our
   first wedding. Mr. Emerson kissed her; and I thought that honor
   would make even matrimony endurable, for he is the god of my
   idolatry, and has been for years.

   _June._--To Boston to the memorial meeting for Mr. Parker, which
   was very beautiful, and proved how much he was beloved. Music
   Hall was full of flowers and sunshine, and hundreds of faces,
   both sad and proud, as the various speakers told the life of love
   and labor which makes Theodore Parker's memory so rich a legacy
   to Boston. I was very glad to have known so good a man, and been
   called "friend" by him.

   Saw Nan in her nest, where she and her mate live like a pair of
   turtle doves. Very sweet and pretty, but I'd rather be a free
   spinster and paddle my own canoe.

   _August._--"Moods." Genius burned so fiercely that for four weeks
   I wrote all day and planned nearly all night, being quite
   possessed by my work. I was perfectly happy, and seemed to have
   no wants. Finished the book, or a rough draught of it, and put it
   away to settle. Mr. Emerson offered to read it when Mother told
   him it was "Moods" and had one of his sayings for motto.

   Daresay nothing will ever come of it; but it _had_ to be done,
   and I'm the richer for a new experience.

   _September._--Received $75 of Ticknor for "Cinderella," and feel
   very rich. Emerson praised it, and people wrote to me about it
   and patted me on the head. Paid bills, and began to simmer

   _October._--I went to B. and saw the Prince of Wales trot over
   the Common with his train at a review. A yellow-haired laddie
   very like his mother. Fanny W. and I nodded and waved as he
   passed, and he openly winked his boyish eye at us; for Fanny,
   with her yellow curls and wild waving, looked rather rowdy, and
   the poor little prince wanted some fun. We laughed, and thought
   that we had been more distinguished by the saucy wink than by a
   stately bow. Boys are always jolly,--even princes.

   Read Richter, and enjoyed him very much.

   Mother went to see Uncle S. J. May, and I was house-keeper. Gave
   my mind to it so energetically that I dreamed dip-toast, talked
   apple-sauce, thought pies, and wept drop-cakes. Read my book to
   Nan, who came up to cheer me in my struggles; and she laughed and
   cried over it and said it was "good." So I felt encouraged, and
   will touch it up when duty no longer orders me to make a
   burnt-offering of myself.

   _November._--Father sixty-one; L. aged twenty-eight. Our
   birthday. Gave Father a ream of paper, and he gave me Emerson's
   picture; so both were happy.

   Wrote little, being busy with visitors. The John Brown
   Association asked me for a poem, which I wrote.

   Kind Miss R. sent May $30 for lessons, so she went to B. to take
   some of Johnstone. She is one of the fortunate ones, and gets
   what she wants easily. I have to grub for my help, or go without
   it. Good for me, doubtless, or it wouldn't be so; so cheer up,
   Louisa, and grind away!

   _December._--More luck for May. She wanted to go to Syracuse and
   teach, and Dr. W. sends for her, thanks to Uncle S. J. May. I sew
   like a steam-engine for a week, and get her ready. On the 17th go
   to B. and see our youngest start on her first little flight
   alone into the world, full of hope and courage. May all go well
   with her!

   Mr. Emerson invited me to his class when they meet to talk on
   Genius; a great honor, as all the learned ladies go.

   Sent "Debby's Debit" to the "Atlantic," and they took it. Asked
   to the John Brown meeting, but had no "good gown," so didn't go;
   but my "pome" did, and came out in the paper. Not good. I'm a
   better patriot than poet, and couldn't say what I felt.

   A quiet Christmas; no presents but apples and flowers. No
   merry-making; for Nan and May were gone, and Betty under the
   snow. But we are used to hard times, and, as Mother says, "while
   there is a famine in Kansas we mustn't ask for sugar-plums."

   All the philosophy in our house is not in the study; a good deal
   is in the kitchen, where a fine old lady thinks high thoughts and
   does kind deeds while she cooks and scrubs.

   _January, 1861._--Twenty-eight; received thirteen New Year's
   gifts. A most uncommon fit of generosity seemed to seize people
   on my behalf, and I was blessed with all manner of nice things,
   from a gold and ivory pen to a mince-pie and a bonnet.

   Wrote on a new book--"Success" ["Work"]--till Mother fell ill,
   when I corked up my inkstand and turned nurse. The dear woman was
   very ill, but rose up like a phoenix from her ashes after what
   she gayly called "the irrepressible conflict between sickness and
   the May constitution."

   Father had four talks at Emerson's; good people came, and he
   enjoyed them much; made $30. R. W. E. probably put in $20. He has
   a sweet way of bestowing gifts on the table under a book or
   behind a candle-stick, when he thinks Father wants a little
   money, and no one will help him earn. A true friend is this
   tender and illustrious man.

   Wrote a tale and put it away,--to be sent when "Debby" comes out.
   "F. T." appeared, and I got a dress, having mended my six-year
   old silk till it is more patch and tear than gown. Made the
   claret merino myself, and enjoyed it, as I do anything bought
   with my "head-money."

   _February._--Another turn at "Moods," which I remodelled. From
   the 2d to the 25th I sat writing, with a run at dusk; could not
   sleep, and for three days was so full of it I could not stop to
   get up. Mother made me a green silk cap with a red bow, to match
   the old green and red party wrap, which I wore as a "glory
   cloak." Thus arrayed I sat in groves of manuscripts, "living for
   immortality," as May said. Mother wandered in and out with
   cordial cups of tea, worried because I couldn't eat. Father
   thought it fine, and brought his reddest apples and hardest cider
   for my Pegasus to feed upon. All sorts of fun was going on; but I
   didn't care if the world returned to chaos if I and my inkstand
   only "lit" in the same place.

   It was very pleasant and queer while it lasted; but after three
   weeks of it I found that my mind was too rampant for my body, as
   my head was dizzy, legs shaky, and no sleep would come. So I
   dropped the pen, and took long walks, cold baths, and had Nan up
   to frolic with me. Read all I had done to my family; and Father
   said: "Emerson must see this. Where did you get your
   metaphysics?" Mother pronounced it wonderful, and Anna laughed
   and cried, as she always does, over my works, saying, "My dear,
   I'm proud of you."

   So I had a good time, even if it never comes to anything; thing;
   for it was worth something to have my three dearest sit up till
   midnight listening with wide-open eyes to Lu's first novel.

   I planned it some time ago, and have had it in my mind ever so
   long; but now it begins to take shape.

   Father had his usual school festival, and Emerson asked me to
   write a song, which I did. On the 16th the schools all met in the
   hall (four hundred),--a pretty posy bed, with a border of proud
   parents and friends. Some of the fogies objected to the names
   Phillips and John Brown. But Emerson said: "Give it up? No, no;
   _I_ will read it." Which he did, to my great contentment; for
   when the great man of the town says "Do it," the thing is done.
   So the choir warbled, and the Alcotts were uplifted in their vain

   Father was in glory, like a happy shepherd with a large flock of
   sportive lambs; for all did something. Each school had its
   badge,--one pink ribbons, one green shoulder-knots, and one
   wreaths of pop-corn on the curly pates. One school to whom Father
   had read Pilgrim's Progress told the story, one child after the
   other popping up to say his or her part; and at the end a little
   tot walked forward, saying with a pretty air of wonder,--"And
   behold it was all a dream."

   When all was over, and Father about to dismiss them, F. H., a
   tall, handsome lad came to him, and looking up confidingly to the
   benign old face, asked "our dear friend Mr. Alcott to accept of
   Pilgrim's Progress and George Herbert's Poems from the children
   of Concord, as a token of their love and respect."

   Father was much touched and surprised, and blushed and stammered
   like a boy, hugging the fine books while the children cheered
   till the roof rung.

   His report was much admired, and a thousand copies printed to
   supply the demand; for it was a new thing to have a report,
   neither dry nor dull; and teachers were glad of the hints given,
   making education a part of religion, not a mere bread-making
   grind for teacher and an irksome cram for children.

   _April._--War declared with the South, and our Concord company
   went to Washington. A busy time getting them ready, and a sad day
   seeing them off; for in a little town like this we all seem like
   one family in times like these. At the station the scene was very
   dramatic, as the brave boys went away perhaps never to come back

   I've often longed to see a war, and now I have my wish. I long to
   be a man; but as I can't fight, I will content myself with
   working for those who can.

   Sewed a good deal getting May's summer things in order, as she
   sent for me to make and mend and buy and send her outfit.

   Stories simmered in my brain, demanding to be writ; but I let
   them simmer, knowing that the longer the divine afflatus was
   bottled up the better it would be.

   John Brown's daughters came to board, and upset my plans of rest
   and writing when the report and the sewing were done. I had my
   fit of woe up garret on the fat rag-bag, and then put my papers
   away, and fell to work at housekeeping. I think disappointment
   must be good for me, I get so much of it; and the constant
   thumping Fate gives me may be a mellowing process; so I shall be
   a ripe and sweet old pippin before I die.

   _May._--Spent our May-day working for our men,--three hundred
   women all sewing together at the hall for two days.

   May will not return to S. after her vacation in July; and being a
   lucky puss, just as she wants something to do, F. B. S. needs a
   drawing teacher in his school and offers her the place.

   Nan found that I was wearing all the old clothes she and May
   left; so the two dear souls clubbed together and got me some new
   ones; and the great parcel, with a loving letter, came to me as a
   beautiful surprise.

   Nan and John walked up from Cambridge for a day, and we all
   walked back. Took a sail to the forts, and saw our men on guard
   there. Felt very martial and Joan-of-Arc-y as I stood on the
   walls with the flag flying over me and cannon all about.

   _June._--Read a good deal; grubbed in my garden, and made the old
   house pretty for May. Enjoyed Carlyle's French Revolution very
   much. His earthquaky style suits me.

   "Charles Auchester" is charming,--a sort of fairy tale for grown
   people. Dear old "Evelina," as a change, was pleasant. Emerson
   recommended Hodson's India, and I got it, and liked it; also read
   Sir Thomas More's Life. I read Fielding's "Amelia," and thought
   it coarse and queer. The heroine having "her lovely nose smashed
   all to bits falling from a post shay" was a new idea. What some
   one says of Richardson applies to Fielding, "The virtues of his
   heroes are the vices of decent men."

   _July._--Spent a month at the White Mountains with L. W.,--a
   lovely time, and it did me much good. Mountains are restful and
   uplifting to my mind. Lived in the woods, and revelled in brooks,
   birds, pines, and peace.

   _August._--May came home very tired, but satisfied with her first
   attempt, which has been very successful in every way. She is
   quite a belle now, and much improved,--a tall blond lass, full of
   grace and spirit.

   _September._--Ticknor sent $50. Wrote a story for C., as Plato
   needs new shirts, and Minerva a pair of boots, and Hebe a fall

   _October._--All together on Marmee's birthday. Sewing and
   knitting for "our boys" all the time. It seems as if a few
   energetic women could carry on the war better than the men do it
   so far.

   A week with Nan in the dove-cot. As happy as ever.

   _November_ and _December_.--Wrote, read, sewed, and wanted
   something to do.

In 1862, at the suggestion of Miss Peabody, Miss Alcott opened a
Kindergarten school; but it was not successful, and she took a final
leave of the teacher's profession, and returned to her writing, which
she found to be her true calling. She wrote much; for "brain was
lively, and work paid for readily." Besides the occasional stories in
papers and magazines, her most important labor was the preparation of
the story called "Work," or, as she originally named it, "Success."
This story however was not published until ten years later. Here she
took the road that was later to lead to fame and fortune, by writing
from her own experience of life. Christie is Louisa herself under very
thin disguise; and all her own experiences, as servant, governess,
companion, seamstress, and actress are brought in to give vividness to
the picture; while many other persons may be recognized as models for
her skilful portraiture. The book has always been deservedly popular.

   _January, 1862._--E. P. Peabody wanted me to open a Kindergarten,
   and Mr. Barnard gave a room at the Warren Street Chapel. Don't
   like to teach, but take what comes; so when Mr. F. offered $40 to
   fit up with, twelve pupils, and his patronage, I began.

   Saw many great people, and found them no bigger than the rest of
   the world,--often not half so good as some humble soul who made
   no noise. I learned a good deal in my way, and am not half so
   much impressed by society as before I got a peep at it. Having
   known Emerson, Parker, Phillips, and that set of really great and
   good men and women living for the world's work and service of
   God, the mere show people seem rather small and silly, though
   they shine well, and feel that they are stars.

   _February._--Visited about, as my school did not bring enough to
   pay board and the assistant I was made to have, though I didn't
   want her.

   Went to lectures; saw Booth at the Goulds',--a handsome, shy man,
   glooming in a corner.

   Very tired of this wandering life and distasteful work; but kept
   my word and tugged on.

   Hate to visit people who only ask me to help amuse others, and
   often longed for a crust in a garret with freedom and a pen. I
   never knew before what insolent things a hostess can do, nor what
   false positions poverty can push one into.

   _April._--Went to and from C. every day that I might be at home.
   Forty miles a day is dull work; but I have my dear people at
   night, and am not a beggar.

   Wrote "King of Clubs,"--$30. The school having no real foundation
   (as the people who sent didn't care for Kindergartens, and Miss
   P. wanted me to take pupils for nothing, to try the new system),
   I gave it up, as I could do much better at something else. May
   took my place for a month, that I might keep my part of the
   bargain; and I cleaned house, and wrote a story which made more
   than all my months of teaching. They ended in a wasted winter and
   a debt of $40,--to be paid if I sell my hair to do it.

   _May._--School finished for me, and I paid Miss N. by giving her
   all the furniture, and leaving her to do as she liked; while I
   went back to my writing, which pays much better, though Mr. F.
   did say, "Stick to your teaching; you can't write." Being wilful,
   I said, "I won't teach; and I can write, and I'll prove it."

   Saw Miss Rebecca Harding, author of "Margret Howth," which has
   made a stir, and is very good. A handsome, fresh, quiet woman,
   who says she never had any troubles, though she writes about
   woes. I told her I had had lots of troubles; so I write jolly
   tales; and we wondered why we each did so.

   _June_, _July_, _August._--Wrote a tale for B., and he lost it,
   and wouldn't pay.

   Wrote two tales for L. I enjoy romancing to suit myself; and
   though my tales are silly, they are not bad; and my sinners
   always have a good spot somewhere. I hope it is good drill for
   fancy and language, for I can do it fast; and Mr. L. says my
   tales are so "dramatic, vivid, and full of plot," they are just
   what he wants.

   _September_, _October._--Sewing Bees and Lint Picks for "our
   boys" kept us busy, and the prospect of the first grandchild
   rejoiced the hearts of the family.

   Wrote much; for brain was lively, and work paid for readily.
   Rewrote the last story, and sent it to L., who wants more than I
   can send him. So, between blue flannel jackets for "our boys" and
   dainty slips for Louisa Caroline or John B., Jr., as the case may
   be, I reel off my "thrilling" tales, and mess up my work in a
   queer but interesting way.

   War news bad. Anxious faces, beating hearts, and busy minds.

   I like the stir in the air, and long for battle like a war-horse
   when he smells powder. The blood of the Mays is up!

_After Anna's Marriage._

     SUNDAY MORN, 1860.
     MRS. PRATT:

   MY DEAR MADAM,--The news of the town is as follows, and I present
   it in the usual journalesque style of correspondence. After the
   bridal train had departed, the mourners withdrew to their
   respective homes; and the bereaved family solaced their woe by
   washing dishes for two hours and bolting the remains of the
   funeral baked meats. At four, having got settled down, we were
   all routed up by the appearance of a long procession of children
   filing down our lane, headed by the Misses H. and R. Father
   rushed into the cellar, and appeared with a large basket of
   apples, which went the rounds with much effect. The light
   infantry formed in a semi-circle, and was watered by the matron
   and maids. It was really a pretty sight, these seventy children
   loaded with wreaths and flowers, standing under the elm in the
   sunshine, singing in full chorus the song I wrote for them. It
   was a neat little compliment to the superintendent and his
   daughter, who was glad to find that her "pome" was a favorite
   among the "lads and lasses" who sang it "with cheery voices, like
   robins on the tree."

   Father put the finishing stroke to the spectacle by going off at
   full speed, hoppity-skip, and all the babes followed in a whirl
   of rapture at the idea. He led them up and down and round and
   round till they were tired; then they fell into order, and with
   a farewell song marched away, seventy of the happiest little ones
   I ever wish to see. We subsided, and fell into our beds with the
   new thought "Annie is married and gone" for a lullaby, which was
   not very effective in its results with all parties.

   Thursday we set our house in order, and at two the rush began. It
   had gone abroad that Mr. M. and Mrs. Captain Brown were to adorn
   the scene, so many people coolly came who were not invited, and
   who had no business here. People sewed and jabbered till Mrs.
   Brown, with Watson Brown's widow and baby came; then a levee took
   place. The two pale women sat silent and serene through the
   clatter; and the bright-eyed, handsome baby received the homage
   of the multitude like a little king, bearing the kisses and
   praises with the utmost dignity. He is named Frederick Watson
   Brown, after his murdered uncle and father, and is a fair,
   heroic-looking baby, with a fine head, and serious eyes that look
   about him as if saying, "I am a Brown! Are these friends or
   enemies?" I wanted to cry once at the little scene the
   unconscious baby made. Some one caught and kissed him rudely; he
   didn't cry, but looked troubled, and rolled his great eyes
   anxiously about for some familiar face to reassure him with its
   smile. His mother was not there; but though many hands were
   stretched to him, he turned to Grandma Bridge, and putting out
   his little arms to her as if she was a refuge, laughed and crowed
   as he had not done before when she danced him on her knee. The
   old lady looked delighted; and Freddy patted the kind face, and
   cooed like a lawful descendant of that pair of ancient turtle

   When he was safe back in the study, playing alone at his mother's
   feet, C. and I went and worshipped in our own way at the shrine
   of John Brown's grandson, kissing him as if he were a little
   saint, and feeling highly honored when he sucked our fingers, or
   walked on us with his honest little red shoes, much the worse for

   Well, the baby fascinated me so that I forgot a raging headache
   and forty gabbling women all in full clack. Mrs. Brown, Sen., is
   a tall, stout woman, plain, but with a strong, good face, and a
   natural dignity that showed she was something better than a
   "lady," though she _did_ drink out of her saucer and used the
   plainest speech.

   The younger woman had such a patient, heart-broken face, it was a
   whole Harper's Ferry tragedy in a look. When we got your letter,
   Mother and I ran into the study to read it. Mother read aloud;
   for there were only C., A., I, and Mrs. Brown, Jr., in the room.
   As she read the words that were a poem in their simplicity and
   happiness, the poor young widow sat with tears rolling down her
   face; for I suppose it brought back her own wedding-day, not two
   years ago, and all the while she cried the baby laughed and
   crowed at her feet as if there was no trouble in the world.

   The preparations had been made for twenty at the utmost; so when
   forty souls with the usual complement of bodies appeared, we grew
   desperate, and our neat little supper turned out a regular "tea
   fight." A., C., B., and I rushed like comets to and fro trying to
   fill the multitude that would eat fast and drink like sponges. I
   filled a big plate with all I could lay hands on, and with two
   cups of tea, strong enough for a dozen, charged upon Mr. E. and
   Uncle S., telling them to eat, drink, and be merry, for a famine
   was at hand. They cuddled into a corner; and then, feeling that
   my mission was accomplished, I let the hungry _wait_ and the
   thirsty _moan_ for tea, while I picked out and helped the regular
   Antislavery set.

   We got through it; but it was an awful hour; and Mother wandered
   in her mind, utterly lost in a grove of teapots; while B.
   pervaded the neighborhood demanding hot water, and we girls sowed
   cake broadcast through the land.

   When the plates were empty and the teapots dry, people wiped
   their mouths and confessed at last that they had done. A
   conversation followed, in which Grandpa B. and E. P. P. held
   forth, and Uncle and Father mildly upset the world, and made a
   new one in which every one desired to take a place. Dr. B., Mr.
   B., T., etc., appeared, and the rattle continued till nine, when
   some Solomon suggested that the Alcotts must be tired, and every
   one departed but C. and S. We had a polka by Mother and Uncle,
   the lancers by C. and B., and an _étude_ by S., after which
   scrabblings of feast appeared, and we "drained the dregs of every
   cup," all cakes and pies we gobbled up, etc.; then peace fell
   upon us, and our remains were interred decently.




     We sighing said, "Our Pan is dead;
       His pipe hangs mute beside the river
       Around it wistful sunbeams quiver,
     But Music's airy voice is fled.
     Spring mourns as for untimely frost;
       The bluebird chants a requiem;
       The willow-blossom waits for him;--
     The Genius of the wood is lost."

     Then from the flute, untouched by hands,
       There came a low, harmonious breath:
       "For such as he there is no death;--
     His life the eternal life commands;
     Above man's aims his nature rose.
       The wisdom of a just content
       Made one small spot a continent,
     And tuned to poetry life's prose.

     "Haunting the hills, the stream, the wild,
       Swallow and aster, lake and pine,
       To him grew human or divine,--
     Fit mates for this large-hearted child.
     Such homage Nature ne'er forgets,
       And yearly on the coverlid
       'Neath which her darling lieth hid
     Will write his name in violets.

     "To him no vain regrets belong
       Whose soul, that finer instrument,
       Gave to the world no poor lament,
     But wood-notes ever sweet and strong.
     O lonely friend! he still will be
       A potent presence, though unseen,--
       Steadfast, sagacious, and serene;
     Seek not for him--he is with thee."

Miss Alcott could not help feeling deeply the excitement of the hour
when the war broke out. Her father had been one of the earliest
Abolitionists, having joined the Antislavery Society with Garrison,
and she well remembered the fugitive slave whom her mother had hidden
in the oven. Now this feeling could be united with her patriotic zeal
and her strong love of active life, and it was inevitable that she
should long to share personally in the dangers and excitement of the

Louisa had always been the nurse in the family, and had by nature the
magnetic power which encourages and helps the feeble and suffering;
therefore, since no other way of serving the cause opened to her, it
was most like her to take her own life in her hands and join the corps
of devoted nurses. She was accepted, and went to Washington. Her
journal gives an account of her situation in the Union Hospital at
Georgetown. It was a small hospital, much inferior in its appointments
to those which were afterward arranged. Although Louisa had never been
very ill up to that time, and thought herself exceptionally strong,
yet she had not the rugged constitution fit to bear the labors and
exposures of such a position; and the healthful habits of outdoor life
and simple food to which she had always been accustomed made the
conditions of the crowded, ill-ventilated hospital peculiarly perilous
to her. She says, "I was never ill before this time, and never well

But with all its hardships, Miss Alcott found in the hospital the
varied and intense human life she had longed to know. Her great heart
went out to all the men, black or white, the Virginia blacksmith and
the rough Michigander. She even tried to befriend the one solitary
rebel who had got left behind, and who was taken into the hospital to
the disgust of some of the men; but he was impervious to all kindness,
and she could find nothing in him for sympathy or romance to fasten

Miss Alcott remained in the hospital only about six weeks. Yet this
short period had a very strong influence, both for good and evil, on
her future life. The severe attack of fever which drove her from her
post left her with shattered nerves and weakened constitution, and she
never again knew the fulness of life and health which she had before.
The chamber in her quiet home at Concord was evermore haunted by the
fearful visions of delirium, and she could not regain there the peace
she needed for work. But the experience of life, the observation of
men under the excitement of war, the way in which they met the great
conqueror Death, the revelations of heroism and love, and sometimes of
bitterness and hate, brought her a deeper insight into human life than
she ever had before, and gave to her writings greater reality.

Louisa constantly wrote to the family of her experiences, and these
letters were so interesting that she was persuaded to publish them in
the "Commonwealth" newspaper. They attracted great attention, and
first made her widely and favorably known to a higher public than that
which had read her stories.

These letters were published by James Redpath in book form, and Miss
Alcott received $200 for the book,--a welcome sum to her at that time.
The sketches are almost a literal reproduction of her letters to her
family; but as they have been so extensively read, and are accessible
to every one, I shall give in preference to them extracts from her
journal kept at the hospital. Other stories growing out of her
experience in the hospital, or more remotely connected with it, have
been published in the same volume in later editions. "My Contraband"
is one of the most dramatic and powerful stories she ever wrote. She
portrays the intensity of hatred in a noble nature,--hatred justified
by the provocation, and yet restrained from fatal execution by the
highest suggestions of religion. This story called forth a letter of
commendation and frank criticism from Col. T. W. Higginson, which was
very encouraging to the young writer.

The beautiful lines on Thoreau's flute, the most perfect of her poems,
excepting the exquisite tribute to her mother, were first composed in
the watches of the night in the hospital, and afterwards recalled
during the tedious days of convalescence at Concord. This poem was
printed in the "Atlantic," and brought her a welcome ten-dollar bill.

"Hospital Sketches" were hastily written, and with little regard to
literary execution, but they are fresh and original, and, still more,
they are true, and they appeared at just the time the public wanted
them. Every heart was longing to hear not only from field and camp,
but from the hospitals, where sons and brothers were tenderly cared
for. The generous, hopeful spirit with which Miss Alcott entered into
the work was recognized as that which animated the brave corps of
women who answered so promptly to their country's call, and every
loyal and loving heart vibrated in unison with the strings she touched
so skilfully.

_Journal kept at the Hospital, Georgetown, D. C., 1862._

   _November._--Thirty years old. Decided to go to Washington as
   nurse if I could find a place. Help needed, and I love nursing,
   and _must_ let out my pent-up energy in some new way. Winter is
   always a hard and a dull time, and if I am away there is one less
   to feed and warm and worry over.

   I want new experiences, and am sure to get 'em if I go. So I've
   sent in my name, and bide my time writing tales, to leave all
   snug behind me, and mending up my old clothes,--for nurses don't
   need nice things, thank Heaven!

   _December._--On the 11th I received a note from Miss H. M.
   Stevenson telling me to start for Georgetown next day to fill a
   place in the Union Hotel Hospital. Mrs. Ropes of Boston was
   matron, and Miss Kendall of Plymouth was a nurse there, and
   though a hard place, help was needed. I was ready, and when my
   commander said "March!" I marched. Packed my trunk, and reported
   in B. that same evening.

  [Illustration: _From a photograph of Miss Alcott taken about

   We had all been full of courage till the last moment came; then
   we all broke down. I realized that I had taken my life in my
   hand, and might never see them all again. I said, "Shall I stay,
   Mother?" as I hugged her close. "No, go! and the Lord be with
   you!" answered the Spartan woman; and till I turned the corner
   she bravely smiled and waved her wet handkerchief on the
   door-step. Shall I ever see that dear old face again?

   So I set forth in the December twilight, with May and Julian
   Hawthorne as escort, feeling as if I was the son of the house
   going to war.

   Friday, the 12th, was a very memorable day, spent in running all
   over Boston to get my pass, etc., calling for parcels, getting a
   tooth filled, and buying a veil,--my only purchase. A. C. gave me
   some old clothes; the dear Sewalls money for myself and boys,
   lots of love and help; and at 5 P.M., saying "good-by" to a group
   of tearful faces at the station, I started on my long journey,
   full of hope and sorrow, courage and plans.

   A most interesting journey into a new world full of stirring
   sights and sounds, new adventures, and an ever-growing sense of
   the great task I had undertaken.

   I said my prayers as I went rushing through the country white
   with tents, all alive with patriotism, and already red with

   A solemn time, but I'm glad to live in it; and am sure it will do
   me good whether I come out alive or dead.

   All went well, and I got to Georgetown one evening very tired.
   Was kindly welcomed, slept in my narrow bed with two other
   room-mates, and on the morrow began my new life by seeing a poor
   man die at dawn, and sitting all day between a boy with pneumonia
   and a man shot through the lungs. A strange day, but I did my
   best; and when I put mother's little black shawl round the boy
   while he sat up panting for breath, he smiled and said, "You are
   real motherly, ma'am." I felt as if I was getting on. The man
   only lay and stared with his big black eyes, and made me very
   nervous. But all were well behaved; and I sat looking at the
   twenty strong faces as they looked back at me,--the only new
   thing they had to amuse them,--hoping that I looked "motherly" to
   them; for my thirty years made me feel old, and the suffering
   round me made me long to comfort every one.

   _January, 1863. Union Hotel Hospital, Georgetown, D. C._--I never
   began the year in a stranger place than this: five hundred miles
   from home, alone, among strangers, doing painful duties all day
   long, and leading a life of constant excitement in this great
   house, surrounded by three or four hundred men in all stages of
   suffering, disease, and death. Though often homesick, heartsick,
   and worn out, I like it, find real pleasure in comforting,
   tending, and cheering these poor souls who seem to love me, to
   feel my sympathy though unspoken, and acknowledge my hearty
   good-will, in spite of the ignorance, awkwardness, and
   bashfulness which I cannot help showing in so new and trying a
   situation. The men are docile, respectful, and affectionate, with
   but few exceptions; truly lovable and manly many of them. John
   Sulie, a Virginia blacksmith, is the prince of patients; and
   though what we call a common man in education and condition, to
   me is all I could expect or ask from the first gentleman in the
   land. Under his plain speech and unpolished manner I seem to see
   a noble character, a heart as warm and tender as a woman's, a
   nature fresh and frank as any child's. He is about thirty, I
   think, tall and handsome, mortally wounded, and dying royally
   without reproach, repining, or remorse. Mrs. Ropes and myself
   love him, and feel indignant that such a man should be so early
   lost; for though he might never distinguish himself before the
   world, his influence and example cannot be without effect, for
   real goodness is never wasted.

   _Monday, 4th._--I shall record the events of a day as a sample of
   the days I spend:--

   Up at six, dress by gaslight, run through my ward and throw up
   the windows, though the men grumble and shiver; but the air is
   bad enough to breed a pestilence; and as no notice is taken of
   our frequent appeals for better ventilation, I must do what I
   can. Poke up the fire, add blankets, joke, coax, and command; but
   continue to open doors and windows as if life depended upon it.
   Mine does, and doubtless many another, for a more perfect
   pestilence-box than this house I never saw,--cold, damp, dirty,
   full of vile odors from wounds, kitchens, wash-rooms, and
   stables. No competent head, male or female, to right matters, and
   a jumble of good, bad, and indifferent nurses, surgeons, and
   attendants, to complicate the chaos still more.

   After this unwelcome progress through my stifling ward, I go to
   breakfast with what appetite I may; find the uninvitable fried
   beef, salt butter, husky bread, and washy coffee; listen to the
   clack of eight women and a dozen men,--the first silly, stupid,
   or possessed of one idea; the last absorbed with their breakfast
   and themselves to a degree that is both ludicrous and provoking,
   for all the dishes are ordered down the table _full_ and returned
   _empty_; the conversation is entirely among themselves, and each
   announces his opinion with an air of importance that frequently
   causes me to choke in my cup, or bolt my meals with undignified
   speed lest a laugh betray to these famous beings that a "chiel's
   amang them takin' notes."

   Till noon I trot, trot, giving out rations, cutting up food for
   helpless "boys," washing faces, teaching my attendants how beds
   are made or floors are swept, dressing wounds, taking Dr. F. P.'s
   orders (privately wishing all the time that he would be more
   gentle with my big babies), dusting tables, sewing bandages,
   keeping my tray tidy, rushing up and down after pillows,
   bed-linen, sponges, books, and directions, till it seems as if I
   would joyfully pay down all I possess for fifteen minutes' rest.
   At twelve the big bell rings, and up comes dinner for the boys,
   who are always ready for it and never entirely satisfied. Soup,
   meat, potatoes, and bread is the bill of fare. Charley Thayer,
   the attendant, travels up and down the room serving out the
   rations, saving little for himself, yet always thoughtful of his
   mates, and patient as a woman with their helplessness. When
   dinner is over, some sleep, many read, and others want letters
   written. This I like to do, for they put in such odd things, and
   express their ideas so comically, I have great fun interiorally,
   while as grave as possible exteriorally. A few of the men word
   their paragraphs well and make excellent letters. John's was the
   best of all I wrote. The answering of letters from friends after
   some one had died is the saddest and hardest duty a nurse has to

   Supper at five sets every one to running that can run; and when
   that flurry is over, all settle down for the evening amusements,
   which consist of newspapers, gossip, the doctor's last round,
   and, for such as need them, the final doses for the night. At
   nine the bell rings, gas is turned down, and day nurses go to
   bed. Night nurses go on duty, and sleep and death have the house
   to themselves.

   My work is changed to night watching, or half night and half
   day,--from twelve to twelve. I like it, as it leaves me time for
   a morning run, which is what I need to keep well; for bad air,
   food, and water, work and watching, are getting to be too much
   for me. I trot up and down the streets in all directions,
   sometimes to the Heights, then half way to Washington, again to
   the hill, over which the long trains of army wagons are
   constantly vanishing and ambulances appearing. That way the
   fighting lies, and I long to follow.

   Ordered to keep my room, being threatened with pneumonia. Sharp
   pain in the side, cough, fever, and dizziness. A pleasant
   prospect for a lonely soul five hundred miles from home! Sit and
   sew on the boys' clothes, write letters, sleep, and read; try to
   talk and keep merry, but fail decidedly, as day after day goes,
   and I feel no better. Dream awfully, and wake unrefreshed, think
   of home, and wonder if I am to die here, as Mrs. R., the matron,
   is likely to do. Feel too miserable to care much what becomes of
   me. Dr. S. creaks up twice a day to feel my pulse, give me doses,
   and ask if I am at all consumptive, or some other cheering
   question. Dr. O. examines my lungs and looks sober. Dr. J. haunts
   the room, coming by day and night with wood, cologne, books, and
   messes, like a motherly little man as he is. Nurses fussy and
   anxious, matron dying, and everything very gloomy. They want me
   to go home, but I _won't_ yet.

   _January 16th._--Was amazed to see Father enter the room that
   morning, having been telegraphed to by order of Mrs. R. without
   asking leave. I was very angry at first, though glad to see him,
   because I knew I should have to go. Mrs. D. and Miss Dix came,
   and pretty Miss W., to take me to Willard's to be cared for by
   them. I wouldn't go, preferring to keep still, being pretty ill
   by that time.

   On the 21st I suddenly decided to go home, feeling very
   strangely, and dreading to be worse. Mrs. R. died, and that
   frightened the doctors about me; for my trouble was the
   same,--typhoid pneumonia. Father, Miss K., and Lizzie T. went
   with me. Miss Dix brought a basket full of bottles of wine, tea,
   medicine, and cologne, besides a little blanket and pillow, a
   fan, and a testament. She is a kind old soul, but very queer and

   Was very sorry to go, and "my boys" seemed sorry to have me.
   Quite a flock came to see me off; but I was too sick to have but
   a dim idea of what was going on.

   Had a strange, excited journey of a day and night,--half asleep,
   half wandering, just conscious that I was going home; and, when I
   got to Boston, of being taken out of the car, with people looking
   on as if I was a sight. I daresay I was all blowzed, crazy, and
   weak. Was too sick to reach Concord that night, though we tried
   to do so. Spent it at Mr. Sewall's; had a sort of fit; they sent
   for Dr. H., and I had a dreadful time of it.

   Next morning felt better, and at four went home. Just remember
   seeing May's shocked face at the depot, Mother's bewildered one
   at home, and getting to bed in the firm belief that the house was
   roofless, and no one wanted to see me.

   As I never shall forget the strange fancies that haunted me, I
   shall amuse myself with recording some of them.

   The most vivid and enduring was the conviction that I had married
   a stout, handsome Spaniard, dressed in black velvet, with very
   soft hands, and a voice that was continually saying, "Lie still,
   my dear!" This was Mother, I suspect; but with all the comfort I
   often found in her presence, there was blended an awful fear of
   the Spanish spouse who was always coming after me, appearing out
   of closets, in at windows, or threatening me dreadfully all night
   long. I appealed to the Pope, and really got up and made a
   touching plea in something meant for Latin, they tell me. Once I
   went to heaven, and found it a twilight place, with people
   darting through the air in a queer way,--all very busy, and
   dismal, and ordinary. Miss Dix, W. H. Channing, and other people
   were there; but I thought it dark and "slow," and wished I hadn't

   A mob at Baltimore breaking down the door to get me, being hung
   for a witch, burned, stoned, and otherwise maltreated, were some
   of my fancies. Also being tempted to join Dr. W. and two of the
   nurses in worshipping the Devil. Also tending millions of rich
   men who never died or got well.

   _February._--Recovered my senses after three weeks of delirium,
   and was told I had had a very bad typhoid fever, had nearly died,
   and was still very sick. All of which seemed rather curious, for
   I remembered nothing of it. Found a queer, thin, big-eyed face
   when I looked in the glass; didn't know myself at all; and when I
   tried to walk discovered that I couldn't, and cried because my
   legs wouldn't go.

   Never having been sick before, it was all new and very
   interesting when I got quiet enough to understand matters. Such
   long, long nights; such feeble, idle days; dozing, fretting about
   nothing; longing to eat, and no mouth to do it with,--mine being
   so sore, and full of all manner of queer sensations, it was
   nothing but a plague. The old fancies still lingered, seeming so
   real I believed in them, and deluded Mother and May with the most
   absurd stories, so soberly told that they thought them true.

   Dr. B. came every day, and was very kind. Father and Mother were
   with me night and day, and May sang "Birks of Aberfeldie," or
   read to me, to wile away the tiresome hours. People sent
   letters, money, kind inquiries, and goodies for the old "Nuss." I
   tried to sew, read, and write, and found I had to begin all over
   again. Received $10 for my labors in Washington. Had all my hair,
   a yard and a half long, cut off, and went into caps like a
   grandma. Felt badly about losing my one beauty. Never mind, it
   might have been my head, and a wig outside is better than a loss
   of wits inside.

   _March._--Began to get about a little, sitting up nearly all day,
   eating more regularly, and falling back into my old ways. My
   first job was characteristic: I cleared out my piece-bags and
   dusted my books, feeling as tired as if I had cleaned the whole
   house. Sat up till nine one night, and took no lunch at three
   A.M.,--two facts which I find carefully recorded in my pocket
   diary in my own shaky handwriting.

   Father had two courses of conversations: one at Mr. Quincy's,
   very select and fine; the other at a hall not so good. He was
   tired out with taking care of me, poor old gentleman; and typhus
   was not inspiring.

   Read a great deal, being too feeble to do much else. No end of
   rubbish, with a few good things as ballast. "Titan" was the one I
   enjoyed the most, though it tired my weak wits to read much at a
   time. Recalled, and wrote some lines on "Thoreau's Flute," which
   I composed one night on my watch by little Shaw at the hospital.

   On the 28th Father came home from Boston, bringing word that Nan
   had a fine boy. We all screamed out when he burst in, snowy and
   beaming; then Mother began to cry, May to laugh, and I to say,
   like B. Trotwood, "There, I knew it wouldn't be a girl!" We were
   all so glad it was safely over, and a jolly little lad was added
   to the feminine family.

   Mother went straight down to be sure that "mother and child were
   doing well," and I fell to cleaning house, as good work for an
   invalid and a vent for a happy aunt.

_First Birth in the Alcott and Pratt Branch, 1863._


   DEAREST LITTLE MOTHER,--Allow me to ask who was a true prophet.

   Also to demand, "Where is my niece, Louisa Caroline?"

   No matter, I will forgive you, and propose three cheers for my
   _nephew_. Hurrah! hurrah! Hurray!

   I wish you could have seen the performance on Saturday evening.

   We were all sitting deep in a novel, not expecting Father home
   owing to the snowstorm, when the door burst open, and in he came,
   all wet and white, waving his bag, and calling out, "Good news!
   good news! Anna has a fine boy!"

   With one accord we opened our mouths and screamed for about two
   minutes. Then Mother began to cry; I began to laugh; and May to
   pour out questions; while Papa beamed upon us all,--red, damp,
   and shiny, the picture of a proud old Grandpa. Such a funny
   evening as we had! Mother kept breaking down, and each time
   emerged from her handkerchief saying solemnly, "I must go right
   down and see that baby!" Father had told every one he met, from
   Mr. Emerson to the coach driver, and went about the house saying,
   "Anna's boy! yes, yes, Anna's boy!" in a mild state of

   May and I at once taxed our brains for a name, and decided upon
   "Amos Minot Bridge Bronson May Sewall Alcott Pratt," so that all
   the families would be suited.

   I was so anxious to hear more that I went up to town this A.M.
   and found John's note.

   Grandma and Grandpa Pratt came to hear the great news; but we
   could only inform them of the one tremendous fact, that Pratt,
   Jr., had condescended to arrive. Now tell us his weight, inches,
   color, etc.

   I know I shall fall down and adore when I see that mite; yet my
   soul is rent when I think of the _L. C._ on the pincushion, and
   all the plans I had made for "my niece."

   Now get up quickly, and be a happy mamma. Of course John does
   _not_ consider his son as _the_ most amazing product of the
   nineteenth century.

   Bless the baby!

     Ever your admiring LU.

   _April._--Had some pleasant walks and drives, and felt as if born
   again, everything seemed so beautiful and new. I hope I was, and
   that the Washington experience may do me lasting good. To go very
   near to death teaches one to value life, and this winter will
   always be a very memorable one to me.

   Sewed on little shirts and gowns for my blessed nephew, who
   increased rapidly in stature and godliness.

   Sanborn asked me to do what Conway suggested before he left for
   Europe; viz., to arrange my letters in a printable shape, and put
   them in the "Commonwealth." They thought them witty and pathetic.
   I didn't; but I wanted money; so I made three hospital sketches.
   Much to my surprise, they made a great hit; and people bought the
   papers faster than they could be supplied. The second, "A Night"
   was much liked, and I was glad; for my beautiful "John Sulie" was
   the hero, and the praise belonged to him. More were wanted; and I
   added a postscript in the form of a letter, which finished it
   up, as I then thought.

   Received $100 from F. L. for a tale which won the prize last
   January; paid debts, and was glad that my winter bore visible
   fruit. Sent L. another tale. Went to Boston, and saw "our baby;"
   thought him ugly, but promising. Got a set of furniture for my
   room,--a long-talked-of dream of ours.

   _May._--Spent the first week or two in putting the house in
   order. May painted and papered the parlors. I got a new carpet
   and rug besides the paper, and put things to rights in a thorough
   manner. Mother was away with Nan, so we had full sweep; and she
   came home to a clean, fresh house.

   Nan and the Royal Infanta came as bright as a whole gross of
   buttons, and as good as a hairless brown angel. Went to
   Readville, and saw the 54th Colored Regiment, both there and next
   day in town as they left for the South. Enjoyed it very much;
   also the Antislavery meetings.

   Had a fresh feather in my cap; for Mrs. Hawthorne showed Fields
   "Thoreau's Flute," and he desired it for the "Atlantic." Of
   course I didn't say no. It was printed, copied, praised, and
   glorified; also _paid for_, and being a mercenary creature, I
   liked the $10 nearly as well as the honor of being "a new star"
   and "a literary celebrity."

   _June._--Began to write again on "Moods," feeling encouraged by
   the commendation bestowed on "Hospital Sketches," which were
   noticed, talked of, and inquired about, much to my surprise and
   delight. Had a fine letter from Henry James, also one from
   Wasson, and a request from Redpath to be allowed to print the
   sketches in a book. _Roberts Bros. also asked, but I preferred
   the _Redpath_, and said yes; so he fell to work with all his

   Went to Class Day for the first time; had a pleasant day seeing
   new sights and old friends.

   G. H. came to the H.'s. Didn't like her as well as Miss H.; too
   sharp and full of herself; insisted on talking about religion
   with Emerson, who glided away from the subject so sweetly, yet
   resolutely, that the energetic lady gave it up at last.

   [1877.--Short-sighted Louisa! Little did you dream that this same
   Roberts Bros. were to help you to make your fortune a few years
   later. The "Sketches" never made much money, but showed me "my
   style," and taking the hint, I went where glory waited me.--L. M.

   _July._--Sanborn asked for more contributions, and I gave him
   some of my old Mountain Letters vamped up. They were not good,
   and though they sold the paper, I was heartily ashamed of them,
   and stopped in the middle, resolving never again to try to be
   funny, lest I should be rowdy and nothing more. I'm glad of the
   lesson, and hope it will do me good.

   Had some pleasant letters from Sergeant Bain,--one of my boys who
   has not forgotten me, though safely at home far away in Michigan.
   It gratified me very much, and brought back the hospital days
   again. He was a merry, brave little fellow, and I liked him very
   much. His right arm was amputated after Fredericksburg, and he
   took it very cheerfully, trying at once to train his left hand to
   do duty for both, and never complained of his loss. "Baby B."

   _August._--Redpath carried on the publishing of the "Sketches"
   vigorously, sending letters, proof, and notices daily, and making
   all manner of offers, suggestions, and prophecies concerning the
   success of the book and its author.

   Wrote a story, "My Contraband," and sent it to Fields, who
   accepted and paid $50 for it, with much approbation for it and
   the "Sketches." L. sent $40 for a story, and wanted another.

   Major M. invited me to Gloucester; but I refused, being too busy
   and too bashful to be made a lion of, even in a very small way.
   Letters from Dr. Hyde, Wilkie (home with a wound from Wagner),
   Charles Sumner, Mr. Hale, and others,--all about the little
   "Sketches," which keep on making friends for me, though I don't
   get used to the thing at all, and think it must be all a mistake.

   On the 25th my first morning-glory bloomed in my room,--a hopeful
   blue,--and at night up came my book in its new dress. I had added
   several chapters to it, and it was quite a neat little affair. An
   edition of one thousand, and I to have five cents on each copy.

   _September._--Redpath anxious for another book. Send him a volume
   of stories and part of a book to look at. He likes both; but I
   decide on waiting a little, as I'm not satisfied with the
   stories, and the novel needs time. "Sketches" sell well, and a
   new edition is called for.

   Dear old Grandma died at Aunt Betsey's in her eighty-ninth
   year,--a good woman, and much beloved by her children. I sent
   money to help lay her away; for Aunt B. is poor, and it was all I
   could do for the kind little old lady.

   Nan and Freddy made us a visit, and we decided that of all
   splendid babies he was the king. Such a hearty, happy, funny boy,
   I could only play with and adore him all the while he stayed, and
   long for him when he went. Nan and John are very fond of "our
   son," and well they may be. Grandma and Grandpa think him
   perfect, and even artistic Aunty May condescends to say he is "a
   very nice thing."

   "My Contraband; or, The Brothers," my story in the "Atlantic,"
   came out, and was liked. Received $40 from Redpath for
   "Sketches,"--first edition; wanted me to be editor of a paper;
   was afraid to try, and let it go.

   Poor old "Moods" came out for another touching up.

   _October._--Thought much about going to Port Royal to teach
   contrabands. Fields wanted the letters I should write, and asked
   if I had no book. Father spoke of "Moods," and he desired to see
   it. So I fell to work, and finished it off, thinking the world
   must be coming to an end, and all my dreams getting fulfilled in
   a most amazing way. If there was ever an astonished young woman,
   it is myself; for things have gone on so swimmingly of late I
   don't know who I am. A year ago I had no publisher, and went
   begging with my wares; now _three_ have asked me for something,
   several papers are ready to print my contributions, and F. B. S.
   says "any publisher this side of Baltimore would be glad to get a
   book." There is a sudden hoist for a meek and lowly scribbler,
   who was told to "stick to her teaching," and never had a literary
   friend to lend a helping hand! Fifteen years of hard grubbing may
   be coming to something after all; and I may yet "pay all the
   debts, fix the house, send May to Italy, and keep the old folks
   cosey," as I've said I would so long, yet so hopelessly.

   May began to take anatomical drawing lessons of Rimmer. I was
   very glad to be able to pay her expenses up and down and clothe
   her neatly. Twenty dollars more from Redpath on account.

   _December._--Earnings 1863, $380.

   The principal event of this otherwise quiet month was the
   Sanitary Fair in Boston, and our part in it. At G. G. B.'s
   request, I dramatized six scenes from Dickens, and went to town
   on the 14th to play. Things did not go well for want of a good
   manager and more time. Our night was not at all satisfactory to
   us, owing to the falling through of several scenes for want of
   actors. People seemed to like what there was of it, and after a
   wearisome week I very gladly came home again. Our six
   entertainments made twenty-five hundred dollars for the Fair.

   Rewrote the fairy tales, one of which was published; but owing to
   delays it was late for the holidays, and badly bound in the
   hurry; so the poor "Rose Family" fared badly.

   Had a letter from the publisher of a new magazine, called the
   "Civil Service Magazine," asking for a long tale. Had no time to
   write one; but will by and by, if the thing is good.

   While in town received $10 of F. B. S. and $20 of Redpath, with
   which I bought May hat, boots, gloves, ribbons, and other little
   matters, besides furnishing money for her fares up and down to

   _January, 1864._--New Year's Day was a very quiet one. Nan and
   Freddy were here, and in the evening we went to a dance at the
   hall. A merry time; for all the town was there, as it was for the
   Soldiers' Aid Society, and every one wanted to help. Nan and I
   sat in the gallery, and watched the young people dance the old
   year out, the new year in as the clock struck twelve.

   On looking over my accounts, I find I have earned by my _writing_
   alone nearly _six hundred dollars_ since last January, and spent
   less than a hundred for myself, which I am glad to know. May has
   had $70 for herself, and the rest has paid debts or bought
   necessary things for the family.

   Received from the "Commonwealth" $18 for "A Hospital Christmas."
   Wrote a fairy tale, "Fairy Pinafores." "Picket Duty" and other
   tales came out,--first of Redpath's series of books for the "Camp
   Fires." Richardson sent again for a long story for the "Civil
   Service Magazine." Tried a war story, but couldn't make it go.

   _February._--Nan quite sick again. Mother passed most of the
   month with her; so I had to be housekeeper, and let my writing
   go,--as well perhaps, as my wits are tired, and the "divine
   afflatus" don't descend as readily as it used to do. Must wait
   and fill up my idea-box before I begin again. There is nothing
   like work to set fancy a-going.

   Redpath came flying up on the 4th to get "Moods," promising to
   have it out by May. Gave it to him with many fears, and he
   departed content. The next day received a telegram to come down
   at once and see the printers. Went, and was told the story was
   too long for a single volume, and a two-volume novel was bad to
   begin with. Would I cut the book down about half? No, I wouldn't,
   having already shortened it all it would bear. So I took my
   "opus" and posted home again, promising to try and finish my
   shorter book in a month.

   A dull, heavy month, grubbing in the kitchen, sewing, cleaning
   house, and trying to like my duty.

   Mrs. S. takes a great fancy to May; sends her flowers, offers to
   pay for her to go to the new Art School, and arranges everything
   delightfully for her. She is a fortunate girl, and always finds
   some one to help her as she wants to be helped. Wish I could do
   the same, but suppose as I never do that it is best for me to
   work and wait and do all for myself.

   Mr. Storrs, D.D., wrote for a sketch for his little paper, "The
   Drum Beat," to be printed during the Brooklyn Sanitary Fair. A
   very cordial, pleasant letter, which I answered by a little
   sketch called "A Hospital Lamp." He sent me another friendly
   letter, and all the daily papers as they came out. A very
   gentlemanly D.D. is Dr. Storrs.

The "Hospital Sketches" were fully entitled to their wide and rapid
popularity; and for the first time perhaps Miss Alcott felt sure of
her vocation, and knew that it would bring at last the success which
would enable her to carry out her plans for the family. And yet the
battle was not over. She gained in reputation, was received with great
attention in society, and lionized more than she cared for. But she
still continued writing stories for the various papers at very low
prices. Some of them were refused by the publishers, as she thinks, on
account of the Antislavery sentiments expressed in them. Her "blood
and thunder" stories continued in demand, and she wrote them rapidly,
and was glad of the money they brought. But she had not yet found her
true path, and she suffered at times from keen depression of spirits;
for the way seemed long and dark, and she did not see the end. In more
than one sense she struggled with Moods; for that unhappy book was
still tossed from publisher to publisher, who gave her much praise,
but no satisfaction.


   A busy month getting settled. Freddy's birthday on the 28th, one
   year old. He had a dozen nice little presents laid out in a row
   when he came down to breakfast, and seemed quite overpowered with
   his riches. On being told to take what he liked best, he chose
   the picture of little Samuel which Father gave him, and the good
   pope was much delighted at that.

   Was asked for a poem for the great album at the St. Louis Fair,
   and sent "Thoreau's Flute" as my best. Also received a letter
   from the Philadelphia managers asking contributions for the paper
   to be printed at their Fair.

   Wrote nothing this month.

   _April._--At Father's request I sent "Moods" to T., and got a
   very friendly note from him, saying they had so many books on
   hand that they could do nothing about it now. So I put it back on
   the shelf, and set about my other work. Don't despair, "Moods,"
   we'll try again by and by!

   [Alas! we did try again.--L. M. A.]

   Wrote the first part of a story for Professor C. called "Love and
   Loyalty,"--flat, patriotic, and done to order. Wrote a new fairy
   tale, "Nelly's Hospital."

   _May._--Had a letter from Mrs. Gildersleeve, asking for my
   photograph and a sketch of my life, for a book called "Heroic
   Women" which she was getting up. Respectfully refused. Also a
   letter and flattering notice from "Ruth Hall," and a notice from
   a Chicago critic with a long extract from "Rose Family." My tale
   "Enigmas" came out, and was much liked by readers of sensation
   rubbish. Having got my $50, I was resigned.

   _June._--To town with Father on the 3d to a Fraternity Festival
   to which we were invited. Had a fine time, and was amazed to find
   my "'umble" self made a lion of, set up among the great ones,
   stared at, waited upon, complimented, and made to hold a "layvee"
   whether I would or no; for Mr. S. kept bringing up people to be
   introduced till I was tired of shaking hands and hearing the
   words "Hospital Sketches" uttered in every tone of interest,
   admiration, and respect. Mr. Wasson, Whipple, Alger, Clarke,
   Calthrop, and Chadwick came to speak to me, and many more whose
   names I forget. It was a very pleasant surprise and a new
   experience. I liked it, but think a small dose quite as much as
   is good for me; for after sitting in a corner and grubbing _à la_
   Cinderella, it rather turns one's head to be taken out and be
   treated like a princess all of a sudden.

   _August._--Went to Gloucester for a fortnight with May at the
   M.'s. Found a family of six pretty daughters, a pleasant mother,
   and a father who was an image of one of the Cheeryble brothers.
   Had a jolly time boating, driving, charading, dancing, and
   picnicking. One mild moonlight night a party of us camped out on
   Norman's Woe, and had a splendid time, lying on the rocks
   singing, talking, sleeping, and rioting up and down. Had a fine
   time, and took coffee at all hours. The moon rose and set
   beautifully, and the sunrise was a picture I never shall forget.

   Wrote another fairy tale, "Jamie's Wonder Book," and sent the
   "Christmas Stories" to W. & W., with some lovely illustrations by
   Miss Greene. They liked the book very much, and said they would
   consult about publishing it, though their hands were full.

   _September._--Mrs. D. made a visit, and getting hold of my old
   book of stories liked them, and insisted on taking "Moods" home
   to read. As she had had experience with publishers, was a good
   business woman, and an excellent critic, I let her have it,
   hoping she might be able to give the poor old book the lift it
   has been waiting for all these years. She took it, read it, and
   admired it heartily, saying that "no American author had showed
   so much promise; that the plan was admirable; the execution
   unequal, but often magnificent; that I had a great field before
   me, and my book must be got out."

   Mrs. D. sent it to L., who liked it exceedingly, and asked me to
   shorten it if I could, else it would be too large to sell well.
   Was much disappointed, said I'd never touch it again, and tossed
   it into the spidery little cupboard where it had so often
   returned after fruitless trips.

At last, in the excited hours of a wakeful night, Miss Alcott thought
of a way to curtail the objectionable length of the book, and she
spent a fortnight in remodelling it,--as she then thought improving it
greatly,--although she afterwards returned to her original version as
decidedly the best. The book was brought out, and she had the pleasure
of presenting the first copy to her mother on her sixty fourth
birthday. She had various projects in her mind, one of which was a
novel, with two characters in it like Jean Paul Richter and Goethe. It
is needless to say this was never carried out. Miss Alcott had great
powers of observation, and a keen insight into character as it fell
within her own range of life, but she had not the creative
imagination which could paint to the life the subtlest workings of
thought and feeling in natures foreign to her own experience. She
could not have portrayed such men: but who could?


   _October._--Wrote several chapters of "Work," and was getting on
   finely, when, as I lay awake one night, a way to shorten and
   arrange "Moods" came into my head. The whole plan laid itself
   smoothly out before me, and I slept no more that night, but
   worked on it as busily as if mind and body had nothing to do with
   one another. Up early, and began to write it all over again. The
   fit was on strong, and for a fortnight I hardly ate, slept, or
   stirred, but wrote, wrote, like a thinking machine in full
   operation. When it was all rewritten without copying, I found it
   much improved, though I'd taken out ten chapters, and sacrificed
   many of my favorite things; but being resolved to make it simple,
   strong, and short, I let everything else go, and hoped the book
   would be better for it.

   [It wasn't. 1867.]

   Sent it to L.; and a week after, as I sat hammering away at the
   parlor carpet,--dusty, dismal, and tired,--a letter came from L.
   praising the story more enthusiastically than ever, thanking me
   for the improvements, and proposing to bring out the book at
   once. Of course we all had a rapture, and I finished my work
   "double quick," regardless of weariness, toothache, or blue

   Next day I went to Boston and saw L. A brisk, business-like man
   who seemed in earnest and said many complimentary things about
   "Hospital Sketches" and its author. It was agreed to bring out
   the book immediately, and Mrs. D. offered to read the proof with

   Was glad to have the old thing under way again, but didn't quite
   believe it would ever come out after so many delays and

   Sewed for Nan and Mary, heard Anna Dickinson and liked her. Read
   "Emily Chester" and thought it an unnatural story, yet just
   enough like "Moods" in a few things to make me sorry that it came
   out now.

   On Mother's sixty-fourth birthday I gave her "Moods" with this
   inscription,--"To Mother, my earliest patron, kindest critic,
   dearest reader, I gratefully and affectionately inscribe my first

   A letter from T. asking me to write for the new magazine "Our
   Young Folks," and saying that "An Hour" was in the hands of the

   _November._--Proof began to come, and the chapters seemed small,
   stupid, and no more my own in print. I felt very much afraid that
   I'd ventured too much and should be sorry for it. But Emerson
   says "that what is true for your own private heart is true for
   others." So I wrote from my own consciousness and observation and
   hope it may suit some one and at least do no harm.

   I sent "An Hour" to the "Commonwealth" and it was considered
   _excellent_. Also wrote a Christmas Story, "Mrs. Todger's
   Teapot." T. asked to see the other fairy tales and designs and
   poems, as he liked "Nelly's Hospital" so much.

   On my thirty-second birthday received Richter's Life from Nan and
   enjoyed it so much that I planned a story of two men something
   like Jean Paul and Goethe, only more every-day people. Don't know
   what will come of it, but if "Moods" goes well "Success" shall

   Sewed for Wheeler's colored company and sent them comfort-bags,
   towels, books, and bed-sacks. Mr. W. sent me some relics from
   Point Look Out and a pleasant letter.

   _December._--Earnings, 1864,--$476.

   On Christmas Eve received ten copies of "Moods" and a friendly
   note from L. The book was hastily got out, but on the whole
   suited me, and as the inside was considered good I let the
   outside go. For a week wherever I went I saw, heard, and talked
   "Moods;" found people laughing or crying over it, and was
   continually told how well it was going, how much it was liked,
   how fine a thing I'd done. I was glad but not proud, I think, for
   it has always seemed as if "Moods" grew in spite of me, and that
   I had little to do with it except to put into words the thoughts
   that would not let me rest until I had. Don't know why.

   By Saturday the first edition was gone and the second ready.
   Several booksellers ordered a second hundred, the first went so
   fast, and friends could not get it but had to wait till more were

   Spent a fortnight in town at Mary's, shopping, helping Nan, and
   having plays. Heard Emerson once. Gave C. "Mrs. Todger's Teapot,"
   which was much liked. Sent L. the rest of his story and got $50.
   S. paid $35 for "An Hour." R. promised $100 for "Love and
   Loyalty," so my year closes with a novel well-launched and about
   $300 to pay debts and make the family happy and comfortable till
   spring. Thank God for the success of the old year, the promise of
   the new!

The sale of "Moods" was at first very rapid; for "Hospital Sketches"
had created an interest in the author, and welcome recognition came to
her from many sources. She received a handsome sum from the
copyright, and "the year closed with enough to make her feel free of
debt and the family comfortable." She ends the year's journal

The following year was spent mostly in Boston. Miss Alcott went into
society and enjoyed the friendly attentions of men and women of
ability. She continued to write stories for money, but now received
fifty, seventy-five, or a hundred dollars for them. She frequently
took part in theatrical performances for charities. She was always
brilliant and successful and enjoyed them with something of her early

Her long story of "Success," or "Work," as she afterwards named it,
was still in her mind, but she did not finish it at this time.


   _January, 1865._--The month began with some plays at the town
   hall to raise funds for the Lyceum. We did very well and some
   Scenes from Dickens were excellent. Father lectured and preached
   a good deal, being asked like a regular minister and paid like
   one. He enjoyed it very much and said good things on the new
   religion which we ought to and shall have. May had orders from
   Canada and England for her pretty pen-and-ink work and did well
   in that line.

   Notices of "Moods" came from all directions, and though people
   didn't understand my ideas owing to my shortening the book so
   much, the notices were mostly favorable and gave quite as much
   praise as was good for me. I had letters from Mrs. Parker,
   Chadwick, Sanborn, E. B. Greene, the artist, T. W. Higginson and
   some others. All friendly and flattering.

   Saw more notices of "Moods" and received more letters, several
   from strangers and some very funny. People seemed to think the
   book finely written, very promising, wise, and interesting; but
   some fear it isn't moral, because it speaks freely of marriage.

   Wrote a little on poor old "Work" but being tired of novels, I
   soon dropped it and fell back on rubbishy tales, for they pay
   best, and I can't afford to starve on praise, when sensation
   stories are written in half the time and keep the family cosey.

   Earned $75 this month.

   I went to Boston and heard Father lecture before the Fraternity.
   Met Henry James, Sr., there, and he asked me to come and dine,
   also called upon me with Mrs. James. I went, and was treated like
   the Queen of Sheba. Henry Jr. wrote a notice of "Moods" for the
   "North American," and was very friendly. Being a literary youth
   he gave me advice, as if he had been eighty and I a girl. My
   curly crop made me look young, though thirty-one.

   Acted in some public plays for the N. E. Women's Hospital and had
   a pleasant time.

   L. asked me to be a regular contributor to his new paper, and I
   agreed if he'd pay beforehand; he said he would, and bespoke two
   tales at once, $50 each, longer ones as often as I could, and
   whatever else I liked to send. So here's another source of income
   and Alcott brains seem in demand, whereat I sing "Hallyluyer" and
   fill up my inkstand.

   _April._--Richmond taken on the 2d. Hurrah! Went to Boston and
   enjoyed the grand jollification. Saw Booth again in Hamlet and
   thought him finer than ever. Had a pleasant walk and talk with

   On the 15th in the midst of the rejoicing came the sad news of
   the President's assassination, and the city went into mourning. I
   am glad to have seen such a strange and sudden change in a
   nation's feelings. Saw the great procession, and though few
   colored men were in it, one was walking arm in arm with a white
   gentleman, and I exulted thereat.

   Nan went to housekeeping in a pleasant house at Jamaica Plain,
   and I went to help her move. It was beautiful to see how Freddy
   enjoyed the freedom, after being cooped up all winter, and how
   every morning, whether it rained or shone, he looked out and
   said, with a smile of perfect satisfaction, "Oh, pretty
   day!"--for all days _were_ pretty to him, dear little soul!

   Had a fine letter from Conway, and a notice in the "Reader,"--an
   English paper. He advised sending copies to several of the best
   London papers. English people don't understand "transcendental
   literature," as they call "Moods." My next book shall have no
   _ideas_ in it, only facts, and the people shall be as ordinary as
   possible; then critics will say it's all right. I seem to have
   been playing with edge tools without knowing it. The relations
   between Warwick, Moor, and Sylvia are pronounced impossible; yet
   a case of the sort exists, and the woman came and asked me how I
   knew it. I did _not_ know or guess, but perhaps felt it, without
   any other guide, and unconsciously put the thing into my book,
   for I changed the ending about that time. It was meant to show a
   life affected by _moods_, not a discussion of marriage, which I
   knew little about, except observing that very few were happy

   _June._--Busy writing, keeping house, and sewing. Company often;
   and strangers begin to come, demanding to see the authoress, who
   does not like it, and is porcupiny. Admire the books, but let
   the woman alone, if you please, dear public!

   On the 24th Anna's second boy was born, at half-past three in the
   morning,--Lizzie's birthday. A fine, stout, little lad, who took
   to life kindly, and seemed to find the world all right. Freddy
   could not understand it at first, and told his mother that "the
   babee" had got his place. But he soon loved the "tunning sing,"
   and would stand watching it with a grave face, till some funny
   little idea found vent in still funnier words or caresses.

   Nan was very happy with her two boys, so was John, though both
   had wished for a daughter.

   _July._--While at Nan's Mrs. B. asked me if I would go abroad
   with her sister. I said "yes;" but as I spoke neither French nor
   German, she didn't think I'd do. I was sorry; but being used to
   disappointment, went to work for Nan, and bided my time, which
   came very soon.

_To Anna._

     [Date uncertain.]

   MY LASS,--This must be a frivolous and dressy letter, because you
   always want to know about our clothes, and we have been at it
   lately. May's bonnet is a sight for gods and men. Black and white
   outside, with a great cockade boiling over the front to meet a
   red ditto surging from the interior, where a red rainbow darts
   across the brow, and a surf of white lace foams up on each side.
   I expect to hear that you and John fell flat in the dust with
   horror on beholding it.

   My bonnet has nearly been the death of me; for, thinking some
   angel might make it possible for me to go to the mountains, I
   felt a wish for a tidy hat, after wearing an old one till it fell
   in tatters from my brow. Mrs. P. promised a bit of gray silk, and
   I built on that; but when I went for it I found my hat was
   founded on sand; for she let me down with a crash, saying she
   wanted the silk herself, and kindly offering me a flannel
   petticoat instead. I was in woe for a spell, having one dollar in
   the world, and scorning debt even for that prop of life, a
   "bonnet." Then I roused myself, flew to Dodge, demanded her
   cheapest bonnet, found one for a dollar, took it, and went home
   wondering if the sky would open and drop me a trimming. I am
   simple in my tastes, but a naked straw bonnet is a little too
   severely chaste even for me. Sky did not open; so I went to the
   "Widow Cruise's oil bottle"--my ribbon box--which, by the way, is
   the eighth wonder of the world, for nothing is ever put in, yet I
   always find some old dud when all other hopes fail. From this
   salvation bin I extracted the remains of the old white ribbon
   (used up, as I thought, two years ago), and the bits of black
   lace that have adorned a long line of departed hats. Of the lace
   I made a dish, on which I thriftily served up bows of ribbon,
   like meat on toast. Inside put the lace bow, which adorns my form
   anywhere when needed. A white flower A. H. gave me sat airily on
   the brim,--fearfully unbecoming, but pretty in itself, and in
   keeping. Strings are yet to be evolved from chaos. I feel that
   they await me somewhere in the dim future. Green ones _pro tem._
   hold this wonder of the age upon my gifted brow, and I survey my
   hat with respectful awe. I trust you will also, and see in it
   another great example of the power of mind over matter, and the
   convenience of a colossal brain in the primeval wrestle with the
   unruly atoms which have harassed the feminine soul ever since Eve
   clapped on a modest fig-leaf and did up her hair with a thorn for
   a hairpin.

   I feel very moral to-day, having done a big wash alone, baked,
   swept the house, picked the hops, got dinner, and written a
   chapter in "Moods." May gets exhausted with work, though she
   walks six miles without a murmur.

   It is dreadfully dull, and I work so that I may not "brood."
   Nothing stirring but the wind; nothing to see but dust; no one
   comes but rose-bugs; so I grub and scold at the "A." because it
   takes a poor fellow's tales and keeps 'em years without paying
   for 'em. If I think of my woes I fall into a vortex of debts,
   dishpans, and despondency awful to see. So I say, "every path has
   its puddle," and try to play gayly with the tadpoles in _my_
   puddle, while I wait for the Lord to give me a lift, or some
   gallant Raleigh to spread his velvet cloak and fetch me over dry

   L. W. adds to my woe by writing of the splendors of Gorham, and
   says, "When tired, run right up here and find rest among these
   everlasting hills." All very aggravating to a young woman with
   one dollar, no bonnet, half a gown, and a discontented mind. It's
   a mercy the mountains are everlasting, for it will be a century
   before _I_ get there. Oh, me, such is life!

   Now I've done my Jeremiad, and I will go on twanging my harp in
   the "willow tree."

   You ask what I am writing. Well, two books half done, nine
   stories simmering, and stacks of fairy stories moulding on the
   shelf. I can't do much, as I have no time to get into a real good
   vortex. It unfits me for work, worries Ma to see me look pale,
   eat nothing, and ply by night. These extinguishers keep genius
   from burning as I could wish, and I give up ever hoping to do
   anything unless luck turns for your





     Four little chests all in a row,
       Dim with dust and worn by time,
     All fashioned and filled long ago
       By children now in their prime.
     Four little keys hung side by side,
       With faded ribbons, brave and gay
     When fastened there with childish pride
       Long ago on a rainy day.
     Four little names, one on each lid,
       Carved out by a boyish hand;
     And underneath there lieth hid
       Histories of the happy band
     Once playing here, and pausing oft
       To hear the sweet refrain
     That came and went on the roof aloft
       In the falling summer rain.

            *       *       *       *       *

     Four little chests all in a row,
       Dim with dust and worn by time:
     Four women, taught by weal and woe
       To love and labor in their prime;
     Four sisters parted for an hour,--
       None lost, one only gone before,
     Made by love's immortal power
       Nearest and dearest evermore.
     Oh! when these hidden stores of ours
       Lie open to the Father's sight,
     May they be rich in golden hours,--
       Deeds that show fairer for the light,
     Deeds whose brave music long shall ring
       Like a spirit-stirring strain,
     Souls that shall gladly soar and sing
       In the long sunshine, after rain.

The years which followed the war and Miss Alcott's experience as a
hospital nurse were rather sad and anxious from many causes. Louisa
felt deeply the loss of one sister by death and the separation from
another by marriage. The success of "Hospital Sketches" and a few
other stories published about the same time had given her confidence
in her powers and hopes of a successful future. But for nearly five
years she accomplished nothing which met with equal favor. The
reception of the novel "Moods," in which she thought she had expressed
her best life, was not cheering to her; and she had become wholly
dissatisfied with the sensational stories, which formed the most ready
resource for earning money. Her health was seriously injured by the
fever from which she suffered in the hospital, and she had no longer
the physical energy to sustain the unceasing activity of her brain.

Under these difficulties she naturally desired a change of
circumstances; and the old longing for a journey to Europe--which she
had felt strongly in her youth, and which, like all Americans of
culture, she felt more and more as time passed on--became her ruling
desire. She was very fond of new scenes and variety of people, and she
often expressed a wish to live many years in Europe.

The circumstances of the family were not yet such as to justify
Louisa, in her own eyes, in taking her earnings for the desired trip.
But in 1865 an opportunity was offered her to go to Europe as
companion to an invalid lady. From her experience in nursing--for
which she had a natural gift--she and her friends thought her suited
to the position, and advised her acceptance of the offer.

Although devotedly kind, unselfish, and generous, Louisa had not the
temperament suited to the needs of a nervous invalid. She was
impetuous and impatient, and her own life was too strong within her
and too earnest in its cravings, for her to restrain her moods and
actions within the narrow limits of a companion's service. She found
even what she recognized as fair services wearisome and distasteful,
and sometimes chafed severely under what seemed unnecessary demands on
her time, strength, and patience. Looking back on this experience in
later years, she recognized these facts, and wrote in 1885: "Now,
being a nervous invalid myself, I understand what seemed whims,
selfishness, and folly in others."

Louisa finally decided to leave her companions and go on alone to
Paris and England, where she would find many of her own and her
father's friends. At Vevay she had made the acquaintance of a young
Polish lad, whom she found very interesting, and who was the original
of the charming Laurie in "Little Women." He met her again in Paris,
and contributed greatly to the pleasure of her stay there. He
afterwards came to America, and visited her; but finally returned to
his own country.

The journal gives a sufficient account of her life while on this
journey. I have no letters written at this time, as she wished all her
family letters destroyed. Her few weeks in London passed very happily.
Her wide reading in English history and in contemporary fiction,
especially the works of Dickens and Thackeray, filled London with
interesting associations, and she enjoyed thoroughly her free rambles
through the old city, as well as the interesting people, who received
her with great kindness.

That Louisa might have these few weeks of entire relaxation and
enjoyment, her mother had been obliged to borrow means for the support
of the family; and Louisa was very anxious to clear off this debt like
all others. She was very exact in pecuniary matters. Money to her was
not an end, but a most necessary means. She paid every debt that her
father had incurred, even though outlawed by time. It is often asked
whether she ever sold her beautiful hair, as represented in "Little
Women." The deed was never really done; but she and her sisters always
held this treasure as a possible resource in case of need; and Louisa
once says in her journal, "I will pay my debts, if I have to sell my
hair to do it." She even went so far as to inquire of a barber as to
its money value.


   _1865._--Mr. W., hearing that I was something of a nurse and
   wanted to travel, proposed my going with his invalid daughter. I
   agreed, though I had my doubts. But every one said "Go;" so after
   a week of worry I did go. On the 19th we sailed in the "China." I
   could not realize that my long-desired dream was coming true; and
   fears that I might not see all the dear home faces when I came
   back made my heart very full as we steamed down the harbor and
   Boston vanished.

   Was not very sick, but uncomfortable all the way, and found the
   Ladies' Saloon my only refuge till we were nearly across; enjoyed
   intervals of quiet, and had many fine glimpses of the sea in its
   various moods, sunsets and sunrises, fogs, icebergs, rain-storms,
   and summer calms. No very pleasant people on board; so I read,
   took notes, and _wiled_ away the long days as I best could.

   We had a very quiet and quick passage of nine days, and on
   Saturday, the 29th, steamed up the Mersey at dawn, and got to
   Liverpool at nine. I was heartily glad to set my feet on the
   solid earth, and thought I'd never go to sea again; rested, and
   looked about a little.

   _August._--Went up to London, and there spent four dull, drizzly
   days. I amused myself in my usual way, looking well about me, and
   writing down all I saw in my pocket-diary or letters. Went to the
   parks, Westminster Abbey, and some of the famous streets. I felt
   as if I'd got into a novel while going about in the places I'd
   read so much of; saw no one I knew, and thought English weather

   On the 5th to Dover through a lovely green country; took steamer
   there to Ostende; but was ill all the way, and saw nothing but a
   basin; spent two days at a queer hotel near the fine promenade,
   which was a very foreign and brilliant scene. To Brussels on the
   7th. Here I enjoyed much, for the quaint old city was full of
   interesting things. The ancient square, where the statues of
   Egmont and Horn stand, was my delight; for the old Dutch houses
   were still standing, and everything was so new and strange I
   wanted to stay a month.

   To Cologne on the 9th, and the country we passed through was like
   a big picture-book. The city was very hot, dirty, and
   evil-smelling. We saw the Cathedral, got eau de Cologne, and very
   gladly left after three days.

   On the 12th began a lovely voyage up the Rhine. It was too
   beautiful to describe, so I shall not try; but I feel richer and
   better for that memorable day. We reached Coblenz at sunset, and
   I was up half the night enjoying the splendid view of the
   fortress opposite the town, the moonlit river with its bridges of
   boats, and troops crossing at midnight.

   A second day, still more charming, took us through the famous
   parts of the Rhine, and filled my head with pictures that will
   last all my life.

   Before we reached Bieberich we stopped at a queer little Dutch
   town, and had a queer time; for no one spoke English, and we only
   a little bad French. Passed the night there, and next day reached
   Schwalbach after many trials and tribulations.

   The place is a narrow valley shut in by high hills, the town
   being divided into two parts: the lowest is the original
   town--queer ale-houses, churches, and narrow streets; the upper
   part, near the springs, is full of fine hotels, pleasure-grounds,
   and bath-houses.

   We took lodgings with Madame Genth, wife of the Forestmeister
   (forest master),--two rooms,--and began the water under Dr.
   Genth's care.

   We walked a little, talked a little, bathed and rode a little,
   worried a good deal, and I grubbed away at French, with no master
   and small success.

   _September._--Still at Schwalbach, A. doing her best to get well,
   and I doing mine to help her. Rather dull days,--bathing,
   walking, and quiddling about.

   A letter from home on the 20th. All well and happy, thank God. It
   touched and pleased me very much to see how they missed me,
   thought of me, and longed to have me back. Every little thing I
   ever did for them is now so tenderly and gratefully remembered;
   and my absence seems to have left so large a gap that I begin to
   realize how much I am to them in spite of all my faults. The
   letters made me very happy, and everything brightened immensely.
   A. got stronger, and when G. came on the 28th was able to start
   off next day on the way to Vevay, where we are to pass some weeks
   before we are to go to Nice.

   Went to Wiesbaden first, a pleasant, gay place, full of people.
   Saw the gambling hall and people playing, the fine grounds and
   drives, and then went on to Frankfort. Here I saw and enjoyed a
   good deal. The statues of Goethe, Schiller, Faust, Gutenberg, and
   Schaeffer are in the squares. Goethe's house is a tall, plain
   building, with each story projecting over the lower, and a Dutch
   roof; a marble slab over the front door recording the date of
   Goethe's birth. I took a look at it and wanted to go in, as it
   was empty, but there was no time. Some Americans said, "Who was
   Goethe, to fuss about?"

   Frankfort is a pleasant old city on the river, and I'm glad to
   have been there.

   _October._--On to Heidelberg, a charming old place surrounded by
   mountains. We went to the Castle and had a fine time roving about
   the ruins, looking at the view from the great terrace, admiring
   the quaint stone images of knights, saints, monsters, and angels,
   and visiting the big tun in the cellar by torchlight.

   The moon rose while we were there and completed the enchantment
   of the scene.

   The drive home was like looking at a picture-book, for the street
   was narrow, the carriage high, and we looked in at the windows,
   seeing pretty scenes. Here, men drinking beer in a Dutch-looking
   room; there, little children going to bed; a pair of lovers with
   a pot of flowers between them; an old woman brooding over the
   fire like a witch; and in one room some one lay dead surrounded
   by candles.

   From H. we went to Baden-Baden, a very fashionable place. The old
   château was my delight, and we passed a morning going up and down
   to visit it. Next to Freiburg, where the Cathedral delighted me
   extremely, being full of old carved images and grotesque designs;
   the market-place with the fountains, statues, water running
   beside the streets, and queer costumes.

   Basle came next, and a firemen's fête made the city very gay. The
   hotel was on the river, and moonlight made a Venetian scene for
   me with the lighted bridge, covered with gondola-like boats and
   music from both shores. I walk while A. rests, and enjoy sights
   from my window when she is asleep, as I cannot leave her at

   On our way to Berne I caught my first glimpse of the Alps,
   October 8th, mother's birthday. Tall, white, spectral-looking
   shapes they were, towering above the green hills and valleys that
   lay between. Clouds half hid them, and the sun glittered on the
   everlasting snow that lay upon their tops. Sharp, strange
   outlines against the sky they became as night came on, and in the
   morning I had a fine view of the Jungfrau, the Blümlis, the
   Wetterhorn, and Mönch from the terrace at Berne.

   B. was a queer old city, but I saw little of it except the bears
   and shops. No time.

   Freiburg No. 2 was the most romantic place we have been in. The
   town is built in a wide crevice or valley between two steep
   hills, so that suspension bridges are hung from height to height
   over a winding river and the streets of the town. Watch-towers
   stand all about on the hills, and give a very romantic air to the
   place. The hotel overhung the valley, and from our rooms we went
   out along a balcony to a wide, paved platform with a fountain in
   the middle, an aviary, and flowers all about. The view down the
   valley was charming,--the airy bridges, green or rocky slopes,
   busy squares below, cows and goats feeding on the hills, the
   towers, the old church, and a lovely blue sky overhead. I longed
   to sketch it.

   At Lausanne we stopped at the Hotel Gibbon and saw the garden
   where the great historian wrote his history. The view of the lake
   was lovely, with rocky mountains opposite, little towns at their
   feet, vineyards along the hillsides, and pretty boats on the
   lake, the water of which was the loveliest blue.

   To Vevay at last,--a pleasant hour's sail to a very pleasant
   place. We took rooms at the Pension Victoria.

   Our landlady was an English woman who had married a French
   courier. Very kind sort of people: rooms comfortable, meals good,
   and surroundings agreeable. Our fellow-boarders varied from time
   to time,--an English doctor and wife, a fine old lady with them
   who looked like Marie Antoinette; two Scotch ladies named
   Glennie, very pleasant, well-bred ladies who told me about
   Beattie who was their grandfather, and Walter Scott whom they
   knew; Colonel ---- and family, rebels, and very bitter and rude
   to us. Had queer times with them.

   I did not enjoy the life nor the society after the first novelty
   wore off, for I missed my freedom and grew very tired of the
   daily worry which I had to go through with.

   _November._--(Laurie) Took some French lessons with Mademoiselle
   Germain and learned a little, but found it much harder than I
   thought, and often got discouraged, I was so stupid. A. got much
   better, and some new people came. The doctor and his set left,
   and in their place came a Russian family, an Irish lady and
   daughter, and a young Pole with whom we struck up a friendship.
   Ladislas Wisinewski (Laurie) was very gay and agreeable, and
   being ill and much younger we petted him. He played beautifully,
   and was very anxious to learn English, so we taught him that and
   he taught us French.

   On my birthday A. gave me a pretty painting of Chillon. Ladislas
   promised me the notes of the Polish National Hymn, and played me
   his sweetest airs as a present after wishing me "All good and
   happiness on earth, and a high place in Heaven as my reward." It
   was a mild, windy day, very like me in its fitful changes of
   sunshine and shade. Usually I am sad on my birthday, but not this
   time; for though nothing very pleasant happened, I was happy and
   hopeful and enjoyed everything with unusual relish. I feel rather
   old with my thirty-three years, but have much to keep me young,
   and hope I shall not grow older in heart as the time goes on. I
   thought much of dear father on this his sixty-sixth birthday, and
   missed the little ceremony that always takes place on these
   occasions. Hope I shall be safely at home before another November

   _December._--Laurie very interesting and good. Pleasant walks and
   talks with him in the château garden and about Vevay. A lovely
   sail on the lake, and much fun giving English and receiving
   French lessons. Every one very kind, and the house quite
   home-like. Much indecision about going to Nice owing to the
   cholera. At last we decided to go, and started on the 6th to meet
   G. at Geneva. L. went with us to Lausanne, kissed our hands at
   parting, and went back to V. disconsolate. Sad times for all, but
   we journeyed away to Nice and tried to forget our troubles. A
   flat uninteresting country till we approached the sea.

   Nice very pleasant, climate lovely, and sea beautiful. We lived
   in our own rooms, and saw no one but the doctor and Consul and a
   few American callers. A pleasant drive every day on the
   Promenade,--a wide curving wall along the bay with hotels and
   Pensions on one side and a flowery walk on the other. Gay
   carriages and people always to be seen; shops full of fine and
   curious things; picturesque castles, towers, and walls on one
   hill; a lighthouse on each point of the moon-shaped bay; boats
   and our fleet on the water; gardens, olive and orange-trees,
   queer cacti, and palms all about on the land; monks, priests,
   soldiers, peasants, etc.

   A dull Christmas within doors, though a lovely day without.
   Windows open, roses blooming, air mild, and city gay. With
   friends, health, and a little money how jolly one might be in
   this perpetual summer.

   _January, 1866._--Nice. Rained all New Year's day, and I spent it
   sewing, writing, and reading an American newspaper which came in
   the morning, my only present. I hoped for letters but got none,
   and was much disappointed. A. was ill, so I had to receive in
   American style. Mr. Perkins, Cooper, and the Consul called. At
   dinner we drank the healths of all at home, and did not forget
   Laddie (Laurie).

   A quiet, dull time generally, driving sometimes, walking little,
   and writing letters. Now and then I got a pleasant walk by myself
   away among the vineyards and olive-trees or down into the queer
   old city. I soon tired of the fashionable Promenade, for every
   one was on exhibition. Sometimes before or after the fashionable
   hour I walked there and enjoyed the sea and sky.

   A ball was given at our Pension and we went. A queer
   set,--Russians, Spaniards, French, English, Americans, Italians,
   Jews, and Sandwich Islanders. They danced wildly, dressed gayly,
   and sounded as if the "confusion of tongues" was come again. A
   few pleasant Americans called on us, but we were very lonely and

   Decided to take an apartment No. 10 Rue Geoffredo, paying six
   hundred francs for ten weeks, six rooms, all large and handsome.
   Dr. P. got us a good maid, and on the 17th we went to our new
   quarters. Madame Rolande was French governess for six years to
   Victoria's children, and was a funny old party.

   Couldn't sleep at all for some nights, and felt very poorly, for
   my life didn't suit me and the air was too exciting.

   _February._--Got on excellently with our housekeeping, for Julie
   proved a treasure and we were very comfortable. Had many lovely
   drives, and saw something of Nice and its beauties. To Cimies, an
   old Franciscan monastery near the ruins of a Roman amphitheatre.
   The convent stands where a temple of Diana once stood, and is
   surrounded by ancient ilex trees. A monk in his cowl, brown robe,
   sandals, and rope girdle did the honors of the church, which was
   dark and full of bad pictures. San Andre with its château and
   grotto, Villa Franca in a lovely little bay, the wood of Var
   where the daisies grew, Valrosa, a villa in a rose garden, and
   the Porte were all interesting. Also Castle Hill, which overlooks
   the town.

   I decided to go home in May, though A. wants me to stay. I'm
   tired of it, and as she is not going to travel, my time is too
   valuable to be wasted.

   The carnival occurred. Funny, but not so fine a sight as I
   expected. Also went to the theatre to see "Lady Tartuffe." Had a
   pleasant time, though I couldn't understand much. The acting was
   so natural and good that I caught the plot, and with a little
   telling from Hosmer knew what was going on.

   Wrote a little on three stories which would come into my head and
   worry me till I gave them a "vent."

   Good letters from home. All well and busy, and longing for me in
   the spring.

   _March._--A tedious month, which might have been quite the
   reverse had I been free to enjoy it in my own way. Read French,
   walked to my favorite places, and wrote letters when I found

   Went often to Valrosa, a lovely villa buried in roses. Got a
   wheeled chair and a man to draw it, then with books, lunch, and
   work, I tempted A. out into the woods, and we had some pleasant

   _April._--Went to the Cathedral to see the Easter ceremonies.
   Fine music, the Gloria was sung, a Franciscan monk preached, the
   Bishop blessed every one, and was fussed over like a great doll.
   A very splendid scene.

   Saw Ristori twice, once in "Medea" and once in "Elizabeth." Never
   saw such acting; especially in Queen Bess, it was splendid, as
   she changes from the young, violent, coquettish woman to the
   peevish old crone dying with her crown on, vain, ambitious, and

   _May._--On the first day of the month left A. and Nice and
   started alone for Paris, feeling as happy as a freed bird.

   A pleasant journey, Laddie waiting for me in Paris to take me to
   my room at Madame Dyne's. A very charming fortnight here; the
   days spent in seeing sights with my Laddie, the evenings in
   reading, writing, hearing "my boy" play, or resting. Saw all that
   I wished to see in a very pleasant way, and on the 17th
   reluctantly went to London.

   Passed a fortnight at a lovely old place on Wimbledon Common with
   the Conways, going to town with them to see the lions, Royal
   Exhibition, Hampton Court, Kensington and British Museums,
   Crystal Palace, and many other pleasant places. But none were
   lovelier to me than the old farm-house with the thatched roof,
   the common of yellow gorse, larks going up in the morning,
   nightingales flying at night, hawthorne everywhere, and Richmond
   Park full of deer close by. Also Robin Hood's barn.

   _June._--Passed the first ten days of the month at Aubrey House
   with the Peter Taylors. A lovely English home with kind, pure,
   and friendly people. Saw many interesting persons,--Miss Cobbe,
   Jean Ingelow, Dr. Garrett, Madame Bodichon, Matilde Blinde, Mill,
   Bright, Gladstone, Hughes, and the rest at the House of Commons
   where Mr. T. took me.

   Went to a dinner-party or two, theatres, to hear Dickens read, a
   concert, _conversazione_ and receptions, seeing English society,
   or rather one class of it, and liking what I saw.

   On the 11th went to board with Mrs. Travers in Westbourne Grove
   Terrace. A pleasant little room, plain living, and for society
   Mrs. T. and daughter, two sisters from Dublin, and ten young
   men,--barristers, clerks, ministers, and students. A guinea a

   Very free and jolly, roaming about London all day, dining late
   and resting, chatting, music, or fun in the evening.

   Saw the Tower, Windsor, Parks, Gardens, and all manner of haunts
   of famous men and women,--Milton's house, Johnson's in Bolt
   Court, Lamb's, Sairy Gamp's, Saracen's Head, the Charter House
   where Thackeray was when a lad, Furnival's Inn where Dickens
   wrote Pickwick, Bacon's Walk, and endless memorable sights. St.
   Paul's I liked better than Notre Dame.

   _July._--At Mrs. Travers's till the 7th. Saw Routledge about
   "Moods." He took it, would like another book, and was very
   friendly. Said good-by all round, and at six A.M. on the 7th left
   for Liverpool with Mr. W., who saw to my luggage and went part
   way. Reached the "Africa" safely.

   A trip of fourteen stormy, dull, long, sick days, but at last at
   eleven at night we sailed up the harbor in the moonlight, and I
   saw dear John waiting for me on the wharf. Slept on board, and
   next day reached home at noon to find Father at the station, Nan
   and babies at the gate, May flying wildly round the lawn, and
   Marmee crying at the door. Into her arms I went, and was at home
   at last.

   Happy days, talking and enjoying one another. Many people came to
   see me, and all said I was much improved; of which I was glad, as
   there was, is, and always will be room for it.

   Found Mother looking old, sick, and tired; Father as placid as
   ever; Nan poorly, but blest in her babies; May full of plans, as
   usual; Freddy very stout and loving; and my Jack the dearest,
   prettiest, merriest baby boy that ever kissed and loved

   _August._--Soon fell to work on some stories, for things were, as
   I expected, behindhand when the money-maker was away. Found
   plenty to do, as orders from E., L., "Independent," "U. S. C. S.
   Magazine," and several other offers waited for me. Wrote two long
   tales for L. and got $200 for them. One for E. for which he paid
   $75, also a bit of poetry for $5. He wanted a long story in
   twenty-four chapters, and I wrote it in a fortnight,--one hundred
   and eighty-five pages,--besides work, sewing, nursing, and

   Sent S. E. S. the first $100 on my account; could have sent $300,
   but it was needed, so I gave it up unwillingly, and must work
   away for the rest. Mother borrowed the money that I might stay
   longer and see England, as I had missed much while condemned to
   "hard work and solitary confinement for nine months," as she
   expressed it.

   _September._--Mother sick, did little with my pen. Got a girl,
   and devoted myself to Mother, writing after she was abed. In this
   way finished a long tale. But E. would not have it, saying it was
   too long and too sensational!

   _November._--Mother slowly mending. A sensible Western woman
   "rubbed" her, and did her a great deal of good. She left her room
   and seemed more like herself. I never expect to see the strong,
   energetic Marmee of old times, but, thank the Lord! she is still
   here, though pale and weak, quiet and sad; all her fine hair
   gone, and face full of wrinkles, bowed back, and every sign of
   age. Life has been so hard for her, and she so brave, so glad to
   spend herself for others. Now we must live for her.

On Miss Alcott's return from Europe in July, 1866, she devoted herself
as earnestly as ever to the personal care of her mother and to
story-writing for the support of the family. She agreed to write a
fifty-dollar tale once a month, and besides this wrote many short
stories for other publishers. Her father's return from the West with
two hundred dollars, earned on his western trip, gave her some relief;
and she was cheered by hearing that "Moods" was selling well in
Europe. But she was not well, and she felt anxious and troubled about
many things. Her journal of these months is very meagre; and January,
1867, opens with the statement that she is "sick from too hard work."
Yet the account of stories furnished to publishers continues till
August, when she went to Clark's Island for a few weeks of recreation.
Here her spirits returned, and she spent, as she says, "a
harem-scarem fortnight," which must have given her great refreshment.
She says: "Got to work again after my long vacation, for bills
accumulate and worry me. I dread debt more than anything."

In the journal occurs this slight notice of the first step in one of
the most important achievements of her life, of which I shall speak
more fully hereafter:--


   _September, 1867._--Niles, partner of Roberts, asked me to write
   a girls' book. Said I'd try.

   F. asked me to be the editor of "Merry's Museum." Said I'd try.

   Began at once on both new jobs; but didn't like either.

   The Radical Club met at Sargent's. Fine time. Bartol inspired;
   Emerson chairman; Alcott on his legs; strong-minded ladies out in
   full force; æsthetic tea for refreshment.

   _October._--Agreed with F. to be editor for $500 a year. Read
   manuscripts, write one story each month and an editorial. On the
   strength of this engagement went to Boston, took a room--No. 6
   Hayward Place--furnished it, and set up housekeeping for myself.
   Cannot keep well in C., so must try Boston, and not work too

   On the 28th rode to B. on my load of furniture with Fred, feeling
   as if I was going to camp out in a new country; hoped it would
   prove a hospitable and healthy land.

This incident appears in "The Old-fashioned Girl" (p. 153), where the
country girl goes into the city in a farmer's cart, with a squash pie
in her hand given her at parting by an old friend. Her sister May had
a drawing class at her room every day, which gave Louisa the pleasure
of companionship.

Miss Alcott was an enthusiastic admirer of Dickens, and she entered
into the humor of his homely characters most heartily. She acted "Mrs.
Jarley displaying her waxwork" nine times this winter, and was always
successful in giving life and variety to the representation. She was
constantly called upon to act for charity. She enjoyed the fun, and as
she could not give money, it satisfied her generous nature to be able
to help in any way.

She wrote an article for Mr. B., called "Happy Women," in which she
gratified her love of single life by describing the delightful
spinsters of her acquaintance. Her sketches are all taken from life,
and are not too highly colored. The Physician, the Artist, the
Philanthropist, the Actress, the Lawyer, are easily recognizable. They
were a "glorious phalanx of old maids," as Theodore Parker called the
single women of his Society, who aided him so much in his work.

_To her Mother._

     JANUARY, 1868.

   Things look promising for the new year. F. $20 for the little
   tales, and wrote two every month; G. $25 for the "Bells;" L. $100
   for the two "Proverb" stories. L. takes all I'll send; and F.
   seems satisfied.

   So my plan will work well, and I shall make my $1,000 this year
   in spite of sickness and worry. Praise the Lord and keep busy,
   say I.

   I am pretty well, and keep so busy I haven't time to be sick.
   Every one is very clever to me; and I often think as I go larking
   round, independent, with more work than I can do, and
   half-a-dozen publishers asking for tales, of the old times when I
   went meekly from door to door peddling my first poor little
   stories, and feeling so rich with $10.

   It's clear that Minerva Moody is getting on, in spite of many
   downfalls, and by the time she is a used up old lady of seventy
   or so she may finish her job, and see her family well off. A
   little late to enjoy much maybe; but I guess I shall turn in for
   my last long sleep with more content, in spite of the mortal
   weariness, than if I had folded my hands and been supported in
   elegant idleness, or gone to the devil in fits of despair because
   things moved so slowly.

   Keep all the money I send; pay up every bill; get comforts and
   enjoy yourselves. Let's be merry while we may, and lay up a bit
   for a rainy day.

   With which gem from Aristotle, I am, honored Madam, your dutiful
   and affectionate

     L. M. ALCOTT.

   Regards to Plato. Don't he want new socks? Are his clothes
   getting shiny?

Although, as I have said, little direct European influence is
observable in Miss Alcott's writings from her journeys in Europe, yet
this first visit had a marked effect upon her life and writings. She
was unfavorably situated to gain the refreshment she sorely needed;
and yet she did get a great deal from the entire change of
surroundings, from the larger horizon into which she entered, from her
rich enjoyment of scenery, and from the variety of companions she
met. Probably she looked through new spectacles at her own work, as
she describes herself as looking through those of Professor Bhaer, and
she saw all the defects of the pot-boiling stories which she had been
pouring out one after another, without strong purpose, or regard for
artistic excellence. She had also the chance to look upon her own
early life and home from a distance; and as she thought of the
incidents of those years they grouped into more harmonious lines, and
she saw how much they contained of real life, of true poetry and
humor, as well as moral significance. So the old idea of "The Pathetic
Family" took shape anew in her mind.

In July, 1863, the enterprising firm of Roberts Brothers asked her for
the publication in book form of "Hospital Sketches," which were then
appearing in the "Commonwealth" newspaper, being struck by their
intense reality and originality. At the time, as she states in her
journal, she preferred to allow Mr. Redpath to publish them. Later, in
September, 1867, Roberts Brothers asked her to write a girls' book for
them, and in May, 1868, they repeated the request through her father,
who had brought to them a collection of short stories for publication.

Miss Alcott's fancy had always been for depicting the life of boys
rather than girls; but she fortunately took the suggestion of the
publisher, and said, like Col. Miller, "I'll try, sir." The old idea
of "The Pathetic Family" recurred to her mind; and she set herself to
describe the early life of her home. The book was finished in July,
named "Little Women," and sent to the publishers, who promptly
accepted it, making Miss Alcott an outright offer for the copyright,
but at the same time advising her not to part with it. It was
published in October, and the result is well known. She was quite
unconscious of the unusual merit of the book, thinking, as she says,
the first chapters dull, and so was quite surprised at her success.
"It reads better than I expected," she says; and she truly adds, "We
really lived most of it, and if it succeeds, that will be the reason
of it."

But that is not the whole secret of its success. Through many trials
and many failures Louisa had learned her literary art. By her
experience in melodrama she had proved the emptiness of sensational
writing, and knew how to present the simple and true,--seemingly
without art, but really with the nicest art of discrimination and
emphasis. All her previous training and experience were needed to fit
her for the production of her masterpiece; for in spite of all the
good work she did later, this remains her masterpiece, by which she
will be remembered and loved. Already twenty-one years have passed,
and another generation has come up since she published this book, yet
it still commands a steady sale; and the mothers who read it in their
childhood renew their enjoyment as they watch the faces of their
little girls brighten with smiles over the theatricals in the barn, or
moisten with tears at the death of the beloved sister. One of the
greatest charms of the book is its perfect truth to New England life.
But it is not merely local; it touches the universal heart deeply.

The excitement of the children was intense; they claimed the author as
their own property, and felt as if she were interpreting their very
lives and thoughts. The second series was anticipated with the
eagerness of a bulletin from the war and the stock market. But unlike
Miss Alcott herself, the children took especial interest in the
love-story, and when poor Laurie was so obstinately refused by Jo,
"they wept aloud, and refused to be comforted," and in some instances
were actually made ill by grief and excitement.

Miss Alcott had now secured publishers in whom she placed perfect
confidence, and who henceforth relieved her of the worry of business
matters, dealing directly and fairly by her, and consulting her
interests as well as their own. This is abundantly shown by her
private journals and letters.

The success of "Little Women" was so well assured that Miss Alcott at
once set about preparing the second part, which was eagerly demanded
by the little women outside, who wanted all the girls to marry, and
rather troubled her by wishing to settle matters their own way. She
finished writing the sequel, which had been rapid work, Jan. 1, 1869.

The success of "Little Women" was not confined to this country. The
book was translated into French, German, and Dutch, and has become
familiarly known in England and on the Continent. In Holland the first
series was published under the title "Under the Mother's Wings," and
the second part as "On Their Own Wings;" and these two books with
"Work" established her fame among the children, who still continue to
read her stories with fresh delight.

It is hardly necessary to analyze or criticise this happy production.
It is a realistic transcript of life, but idealized by the tenderness
of real feeling. It teaches the lessons of every-day conduct and
inculcates the simplest virtues of truth, earnest effort, and loving
affection. There is abundant humor, but no caricature, and tender,
deep feeling without sentimentality.

Miss Alcott herself did not wish her representative, Jo, to marry; but
the demand of the publisher and the public was so imperative that she
created her German professor, of whom no prototype existed. While some
of her romantic young readers were not satisfied at Jo's preferring
him to the charming Laurie, he is certainly a genuine, warm-hearted
man, who would probably have held her affections by his strong moral
and intellectual traits. That he became a very living personality to
the author is evident from his reappearance in "Jo's Boys," where he
has the same strong, cheery influence in the school and home that she
found from him in her girlhood. The style of the book is thoroughly
easy and colloquial; and the girls talk and act like girls, and not
like prim little women. The influence of the book has been wide and
deep, and has helped to make a whole generation of girls feel a deeper
sense of family love and the blessings to be gained from lives of
earnest effort, mutual sacrifice, and high aims.

Much interest has been expressed in regard to the originals of the
characters in "Little Women." This is the author's own statement:--

   Facts in the stories that are true, though often changed as to
   time and place:--

   "Little Women"--The early plays and experiences; Beth's death;
   Jo's literary and Amy's artistic experiences; Meg's happy home;
   John Brooke and his death; Demi's character. Mr. March did not go
   to the war, but Jo did. Mrs. March is all true, only not half
   good enough. Laurie is not an American boy, though every lad I
   ever knew claims the character. He was a Polish boy, met abroad
   in 1865. Mr. Lawrence is my grandfather, Colonel Joseph May. Aunt
   March is no one.


   _January, 1868. Gamp's Garret, Hayward Place, Boston._--The year
   begins well and cheerfully for us all. Father and Mother
   comfortable at home; Anna and family settled in Chelsea; May busy
   with her drawing classes, of which she has five or six, and the
   prospect of earning $150 a quarter; also she is well and in good

   I am in my little room, spending busy, happy days, because I have
   quiet, freedom, work enough, and strength to do it. F. pays me
   $500 a year for my name and some editorial work on Merry's
   Museum; "The Youth's Companion" pays $20 for two short tales each
   month; L. $50 and $100 for all I will send him; and others take
   anything I have. My way seems clear for the year if I can only
   keep well. I want to realize my dream of supporting the family
   and being perfectly independent. Heavenly hope!

   I have written twenty-five stories the past year, besides the
   fairy book containing twelve. Have earned $1,000, paid my own
   way, sent home some, paid up debts, and helped May.

   For many years we have not been so comfortable: May and I both
   earning, Annie with her good John to lean on, and the old people
   in a cosey home of our own.

   After last winter's hard experience, we cannot be too grateful.

   To-day my first hyacinth bloomed, white and sweet,--a good
   omen,--a little flag of truce, perhaps, from the enemies whom we
   have been fighting all these years. Perhaps we are to win after
   all, and conquer poverty, neglect, pain, and debt, and march on
   with flags flying into the new world with the new year.

   _Thursday, 7th._--A queer day. Up early, and had my bread and
   milk and baked apples. Fed my doves. Made May a bonnet, and cut
   out a flannel wrapper for Marmee, who feels the cold in the
   Concord snowbanks. Did my editorial work in the P.M., and fixed
   my dresses for the plays. L. sent $50, and F. $40, for tales. A.
   and boys came.

   To Dorchester in evening, and acted Mrs. Pontifex, in "Naval
   Engagements," to a good house. A gay time, had flowers, etc.
   Talked half the night with H. A. about the fast ways of young
   people nowadays, and gave the child much older-sisterly advice,
   as no one seems to see how much she needs help at this time of
   her young life.

   Dreamed that I was an opera dancer, and waked up prancing.

   _Wednesday, 15th._--Wrote all day. Did two short tales for F. In
   the evening with A. M. to hear Fanny Kemble read "The Merchant of
   Venice." She was a whole stock company in herself. Looked younger
   and handsomer than ever before, and happy, as she is to be with
   her daughters now. We went to supper afterwards at Mrs.
   Parkman's, and saw the lioness feed. It was a study to watch her
   face, so full of varying expression was it,--always strong,
   always sweet, then proud and fierce as she sniffed at nobodies
   who passed about her. Being one, I kept away, and enjoyed the
   great creature afar off, wondering how a short, stout, red woman
   _could_ look so like a queen in her purple velvet and point lace.

   Slipped behind a door, but Dr. Holmes found me out, and affably
   asked, "How many of you children are there?" As I was looking
   down on the top of his illustrious head, the question was funny.
   But I answered the little man with deep respect, "Four, sir." He
   seemed to catch my naughty thought, and asked, with a twinkle in
   his eye, looking up as if I were a steeple, "And all as tall as
   you?" Ha! ha!

   _18th._--Played again at D., and had a jolly time. Home early,
   and putting off my fine feathers, fell to work on my stories. F.
   seems to expect me to write the whole magazine, which I did not
   bargain for.

   To Nan's in p. m., to take care of her while the Papa and Freddie
   went to C. The dear little man, so happy and important with his
   bit of a bag, six pennies, and a cake for refreshment during the
   long journey of an hour.

   We brooded over Johnny as if he were a heavenly sort of fire to
   warm and comfort us with his sunny little face and loving ways.
   She is a happy woman! I sell _my_ children; and though they feed
   me, they don't love me as hers do.

   Little Tranquillity played alone all day, and made a pretty
   picture sitting in "marmar's" lap in his night-gown, talking
   through the trumpet to her. She never heard his sweet little
   voice in any other way. Poor Nan!

   _Wednesday, 22d._--To the Club with Father. A good paper on the
   "Historical View of Jesus." Father spoke finely. It amuses me to
   see how people listen and applaud _now_ what was hooted at twenty
   years ago.

   The talk lasted until two, and then the hungry philosophers
   remembered they had bodies and rushed away, still talking.

   [Hard to feed.--L. M. A.]

   Got a snow-slide on my bonnet, so made another in the P.M., and
   in the evening to the Antislavery Festival. All the old faces and
   many new ones. Glad I have lived in the time of this great
   movement, and known its heroes so well. War times suit me, as I
   am a fighting _May_.

   _24th._--My second hyacinth bloomed pale blue, like a timid hope,
   and I took the omen for a good one, as I _am_ getting on, and
   have more than I can do of the work that I once went begging for.
   Enjoyed the little spring my little flower made for me, and
   Buzzy, my pet fly, moved into the sweet mansion from his hanging
   garden in the ivy pot.

   Acted in Cambridge, Lucretia Buzzard and Mrs. Jarley.

   _Sunday, 31st._--Last day of the month, but I'm not satisfied
   with my four weeks' work. Acting for charity upsets my work. The
   change is good for me, and so I do it, and because I have no
   money to give.

   Four tales this month. Received $70; sent $30 home. No debts.

   _February 1st._--Arranged "Hospital Sketches and War Stories" for
   a book. By taking out all Biblical allusions, and softening all
   allusions to rebs., the book may be made "quite perfect," I am
   told. Anything to suit customers.

   _Friday, 14th._--My third hyacinth bloomed this A.M., a lovely
   pink. So I found things snug, and had a busy day chasing----who
   dodged. Then I wrote my tales. Made some shirts for my boys, and
   went out to buy a squash pie for my lonely supper. It snowed; was
   very cold. No one paid, and I wanted to send some money home.
   Felt cross and tired as I trudged back at dusk. My pie turned a
   somersault, a boy laughed, so did I, and felt better. On my
   doorstep I found a gentleman who asked if Miss A. lived here. I
   took him up my winding stair and found him a very delightful fly,
   for he handed me a letter out of which fell a $100 bill. With
   this bait Mr. B. lured me to write "one column of Advice to Young
   Women," as Mrs. Shaw and others were doing. If he had asked me
   for a Greek oration I would have said "yes." So I gave a receipt,
   and the very elegant agent bowed himself away, leaving my
   "'umble" bower full of perfume, and my soul of peace.

   Thriftily taking advantage of the enthusiastic moment, I planned
   my article while I ate my dilapidated pie, and then proceeded to
   write it with the bill before me. It was about old maids. "Happy
   Women" was the title, and I put in my list all the busy, useful,
   independent spinsters I know, for liberty is a better husband
   than love to many of us. This was a nice little episode in my
   trials of an authoress, so I record it.

   So the pink hyacinth was a true prophet, and I went to bed a
   happy millionaire, to dream of flannel petticoats for my blessed
   Mother, paper for Father, a new dress for May, and sleds for my

   _Monday, 17th._--Father came full of plans about his book. Went
   with him to the Club. P. read a paper, and the Rabbi Nathan
   talked. A curious jumble of fools and philosophers. The Club
   should be kept more select, and not be run by one person.

   _Tuesday, 25th._--Note from Lady Amberly as I sat sewing on my
   ninepenny dress. She wanted to come and see me, and I told her to
   do so, and I'd show her how I lived in my sky-parlor,--spinning
   yarns like a spider. Met her at the Club, and liked her, so
   simple and natural.

   Acted for Mr. Clarke's Church Fair in the evening. Did Mrs.
   Jarley three times. Very hoarse with a cold, but kept my promise.

   "Proverb Stories" suggested, and "Kitty's Class-Day" written.

   _Friday, 28th._--Packed for home, as I am needed there, and acted
   Jarley for the third evening. Have done it nine times this week,
   and my voice is gone.

   I am sorry to leave my quiet room, for I've enjoyed it very much.

   Written eight long tales, ten short ones, read stacks of
   manuscripts, and done editorial work. Acted for charity twelve

   Not a bad two months' work. I can imagine an easier life, but
   with love, health, and work I can be happy; for these three help
   one to do, to be, and to endure all things.

   _March, April, and May._--Had the pleasure of providing Marmee
   with many comforts, and keeping the hounds of care and debt from
   worrying her. She sits at rest in her sunny room, and that is
   better than any amount of fame to me.

   _May, 1868._--Father saw Mr. Niles about a fairy book. Mr. N.
   wants a _girls' story_, and I begin "Little Women." Marmee, Anna,
   and May all approve my plan. So I plod away, though I don't enjoy
   this sort of thing. Never liked girls or knew many, except my
   sisters; but our queer plays and experiences may prove
   interesting, though I doubt it.

   [Good joke.--L. M. A.]

   _June._--Sent twelve chapters of "L. W." to Mr. N. He thought it
   _dull_; so do I. But work away and mean to try the experiment;
   for lively, simple books are very much needed for girls, and
   perhaps I can supply the need.

   Wrote two tales for Ford, and one for F. L. clamors for more, but
   must wait.

   _July 15th._--Have finished "Little Women," and sent it off,--402
   pages. May is designing some pictures for it. Hope it will go,
   for I shall probably get nothing for "Morning Glories."

   Very tired, head full of pain from overwork, and heart heavy
   about Marmee, who is growing feeble.

   [Too much work for one young woman. No wonder she broke down.
   1876.--L. M. A.]

   _August._--Roberts Bros. made an offer for the story, but at the
   same time advised me to keep the copyright; so I shall.

   [An honest publisher and a lucky author, for the copyright made
   her fortune, and the "dull book" was the first golden egg of the
   ugly duckling. 1885.--L. M. A.]

   _August 26th._--Proof of whole book came. It reads better than I
   expected. Not a bit sensational, but simple and true, for we
   really lived most of it; and if it succeeds that will be the
   reason of it. Mr. N. likes it better now, and says some girls who
   have read the manuscripts say it is "splendid!" As it is for
   them, they are the best critics, so I should be satisfied.

   _September._--Father's book ["Tablets"] came out. Very simple
   outside, wise and beautiful within. Hope it will bring him praise
   and profit, for he has waited long.

   No girl, Mother poorly, May busy with pupils, Nan with her boys,
   and much work to be done. We don't like the kitchen department,
   and our tastes and gifts lie in other directions, so it is hard
   to make the various Pegasuses pull the plan steadily.

   _October 8th._--Marmee's birthday; sixty-eight. After breakfast
   she found her gifts on a table in the study. Father escorted her
   to the big red chair, the boys prancing before blowing their
   trumpets, while we "girls" marched behind, glad to see the dear
   old Mother better and able to enjoy our little fête. The boys
   proudly handed her the little parcels, and she laughed and cried
   over our gifts and verses.

   I feel as if the decline had begun for her; and each year will
   add to the change which is going on, as time alters the
   energetic, enthusiastic home-mother into a gentle, feeble old
   woman, to be cherished and helped tenderly down the long hill she
   has climbed so bravely with her many burdens.

   _October 26th._--Came to Boston, and took a quiet room in
   Brookline Street. Heard Emerson in the evening. Sent a report of
   it to A. P. for the "Standard" at his desire.

   Anna is nicely settled in her new house, and Marmee is with her.
   Helped put down carpets and settle things.

   _30th._--Saw Mr. N. of Roberts Brothers, and he gave me good news
   of the book. An order from London for an edition came in. First
   edition gone and more called for. Expects to sell three or four
   thousand before the New Year.

   Mr. N. wants a second volume for spring. Pleasant notices and
   letters arrive, and much interest in my little women, who seem to
   find friends by their truth to life, as I hoped.

   _November 1st._--Began the second part of "Little Women." I can
   do a chapter a day, and in a month I mean to be done. A little
   success is so inspiring that I now find my "Marches" sober, nice
   people, and as I can launch into the future, my fancy has more
   play. Girls write to ask who the little women marry, as if that
   was the only end and aim of a woman's life. I _won't_ marry Jo to
   Laurie to please any one.

   _Monday, 16th._--To the Club for a change, as I have written like
   a steam engine since the 1st. Weiss read a fine paper on "Woman
   Suffrage." Good talk afterward. Lunched with Kate Field, Celia
   Thaxter, and Mr. Linton. Woman's Club in P.M.

   _17th._--Finished my thirteenth chapter. I am so full of my work,
   I can't stop to eat or sleep, or for anything but a daily run.

   _29th._--My birthday; thirty-six. Spent alone, writing hard. No
   presents but Father's "Tablets."

   I never seem to have many presents, as some do, though I give a
   good many. That is best perhaps, and makes a gift very precious
   when it does come.

   _December._--Home to shut up the house, as Father goes West and
   Mother to Anna's. A cold, hard, dirty time; but was so glad to be
   off out of C. that I worked like a beaver, and turned the key on
   Apple Slump with joy.

   May and I went to the new Bellevue Hotel in Beacon Street. She
   doesn't enjoy quiet corners as I do, so we took a sky-parlor, and
   had a queer time whisking up and down in the elevator, eating in
   a marble café, and sleeping on a sofa bed, that we might be
   genteel. It did not suit me at all. A great gale nearly blew the
   roof off. Steam pipes exploded, and we were hungry. I was very
   tired with my hard summer, with no rest for the brains that earn
   the money.

   _January, 1869._--Left our lofty room at Bellevue and went to
   Chauncey Street. Sent the sequel of "L. W." to Roberts on New
   Year's Day. Hope it will do as well as the first, which is
   selling finely, and receives good notices. F. and F. both want me
   to continue working for them, and I shall do so if I am able; but
   my head-aches, cough, and weariness keep me from working as I
   once could, fourteen hours a day.

   In March we went home, as Mother was restless at Nan's, and
   Father wanted his library. Cold and dull; not able to write; so
   took care of Marmee and tried to rest.

   Paid up all the debts, thank the Lord!--every penny that money
   can pay,--and now I feel as if I could die in peace. My dream is
   beginning to come true; and if my head holds out I'll do all I
   once hoped to do.

   _April._--Very poorly. Feel quite used up. Don't care much for
   myself, as rest is heavenly even with pain; but the family seem
   so panic-stricken and helpless when I break down, that I try to
   keep the mill going. Two short tales for L., $50; two for Ford,
   $20; and did my editorial work, though two months are unpaid for.
   Roberts wants a new book, but am afraid to get into a vortex lest
   I fall ill.

_To her Publishers._

      BOSTON, Dec. 28, 1869.

   Many thanks for the check which made my Christmas an unusually
   merry one.

   After toiling so many years along the uphill road,--always a
   hard one to women writers,--it is peculiarly grateful to me to
   find the way growing easier at last, with pleasant little
   surprises blossoming on either side, and the rough places made
   smooth by the courtesy and kindness of those who have proved
   themselves friends as well as publishers.

   With best wishes for the coming year,

     I am yours truly,
     L. M. ALCOTT.

     AUGUST, 1871.

   DEAR MR. NILES,--Many thanks for the fortune and the kind note
   accompanying it. Please hand the money to S. E. S., and he will
   put it somewhere for me....

   You are very kind to find a minute out of your hurried day to
   attend to this affair.... I'm not sure but I shall try Dr. B. if
   my present and ninth doctor fails to cure my aching bones. I
   haven't a bit of faith in any of them; but my friends won't let
   me gently slip away where bones cease from troubling, so I must
   keep trying.

     Very gratefully your friend,
     L. M. A.

Written in 1871, just after the publication of "Little Men":--

      AUGUST 5TH.

   DEAR MR. NILES,--Thanks for the parcel and notes.

   ... The letters were very gushing from Nellie and Dollie and
   Sallie Somebody asking for pictures, autographs, family history,
   and several new books right away.

   I must give Dr. R. a fair trial, and if he fails I'll try Dr. B.,
   just to make up the number of doctors to a round ten.

   "Happy Thoughts" is very funny, especially the trip to Antwerp.

     Yours truly,
     L. M. A.




     Long ago in a poultry yard
       One dull November morn,
     Beneath a motherly soft wing
       A little goose was born.

     Who straightway peeped out of the shell
       To view the world beyond,
     Longing at once to sally forth
       And paddle in the pond.

     "Oh! be not rash," her father said,
       A mild Socratic bird;
     Her mother begged her not to stray
       With many a warning word.

     But little goosey was perverse,
       And eagerly did cry,
     "I've got a lovely pair of wings,
       Of course I ought to fly."

     In vain parental cacklings,
       In vain the cold sky's frown,
     Ambitious goosey tried to soar,
       But always tumbled down.

     The farm-yard jeered at her attempts,
       The peacocks screamed, "Oh fie!
     You're only a domestic goose,
       So don't pretend to fly."

     Great cock-a-doodle from his perch
       Crowed daily loud and clear,
     "Stay in the puddle, foolish bird,
       That is your proper sphere."

     The ducks and hens said, one and all,
       In gossip by the pool,
     "Our children never play such pranks;
       My dear, that fowl's a fool."

     The owls came out and flew about,
       Hooting above the rest,
     "No useful egg was ever hatched
       From transcendental nest."

     Good little goslings at their play
       And well-conducted chicks
     Were taught to think poor goosey's flights
       Were naughty, ill-bred tricks.

     _They_ were content to swim and scratch,
       And not at all inclined
     For any wild-goose chase in search
       Of something undefined.

     Hard times she had as one may guess,
       That young aspiring bird,
     Who still from every fall arose
       Saddened but undeterred.

     She knew she was no nightingale,
       Yet spite of much abuse,
     She longed to help and cheer the world,
       Although a plain gray goose.

     She could not sing, she could not fly,
       Nor even walk with grace,
     And all the farm-yard had declared
       A puddle was her place.

     But something stronger than herself
       Would cry, "Go on, go on!
     Remember, though an humble fowl,
       You're cousin to a swan."

     So up and down poor goosey went,
       A busy, hopeful bird.
     Searched many wide unfruitful fields,
       And many waters stirred.

     At length she came unto a stream
       Most fertile of all _Niles_,
     Where tuneful birds might soar and sing
       Among the leafy isles.

     Here did she build a little nest
       Beside the waters still,
     Where the parental goose could rest
       Unvexed by any _bill_.

     And here she paused to smooth her plumes,
       Ruffled by many plagues;
     When suddenly arose the cry,
       "This goose lays golden eggs."

     At once the farm-yard was agog;
       The ducks began to quack;
     Prim Guinea fowls relenting called,
       "Come back, come back, come back."

     Great chanticleer was pleased to give
       A patronizing crow,
     And the contemptuous biddies clucked,
       "I wish my chicks did so."

     The peacocks spread their shining tails,
       And cried in accents soft,
     "We want to know you, gifted one,
       Come up and sit aloft."

     Wise owls awoke and gravely said,
       With proudly swelling breasts,
     "Rare birds have always been evoked
       From transcendental nests!"

     News-hunting turkeys from afar
       Now ran with all thin legs
     To gobble facts and fictions of
       The goose with golden eggs.

     But best of all the little fowls
       Still playing on the shore,
     Soft downy chicks and goslings gay,
       Chirped out, "Dear Goose, lay more."

     But goosey all these weary years
       Had toiled like any ant,
     And wearied out she now replied,
       "My little dears, I can't.

     "When I was starving, half this corn
       Had been of vital use,
     Now I am surfeited with food
       Like any Strasbourg goose."

     So to escape too many friends,
       Without uncivil strife,
     She ran to the Atlantic pond
       And paddled for her life.

     Soon up among the grand old Alps
       She found two blessed things,
     The health she had so nearly lost,
       And rest for weary limbs.

     But still across the briny deep
       Couched in most friendly words,
     Came prayers for letters, tales, or verse,
       From literary birds.

     Whereat the renovated fowl
       With grateful thanks profuse,
     Took from her wing a quill and wrote
       This lay of a Golden Goose.

     BEX, SWITZERLAND, August, 1870.

The year 1869 was less fruitful in work than the preceding one. Miss
Alcott spent the winter in Boston and the summer in Concord. She was
ill and very tired, and felt little inclined for mental effort.
"Hospital Sketches," which had been first published by Redpath, was
now republished by Roberts Brothers, with the addition of six shorter
"Camp and Fireside Stories." The interest of the public in either the
author or the work had not lessened; for two thousand copies of the
book in its new form were sold the first week. In her weary condition
she finds her celebrity rather a burden than a pleasure, and says in
her journal:--

   People begin to come and stare at the Alcotts. Reporters haunt
   the place to look at the authoress, who dodges into the woods _à
   la_ Hawthorne, and won't be even a very small lion.

   Refreshed my soul with Goethe, ever strong and fine and alive.
   Gave S. E. S. $200 to invest. What richness to have a little not

Miss Alcott had some pleasant refreshment in travelling during the

   _July._-- ... Spent in Canada with my cousins, the Frothinghams,
   at their house at Rivière du Loup,--a little village on the St.
   Lawrence, full of queer people. Drove, read, and walked with the
   little ones. A pleasant, quiet time.

   _August._-- ... A month with May at Mt. Desert. A gay time, and a
   little rest and pleasure before the old pain and worry began

   Made up $1,000 for S. E. S. to invest. Now I have $1,200 for a
   rainy day, and no debts. With that thought I can bear neuralgia

In the autumn the whole family went to Boston, the father and mother
staying with Mrs. Pratt; while Louisa and her sister May, "the
workers," occupied rooms in Pinckney Street. Not being well enough to
do much new work, Louisa began using up her old stories, and found
that the little women "helped their rejected sisters to good places
where once they went a-begging." In January, 1870, she suffered from
loss of voice, for which she tried "heroic treatment" under a
distinguished physician. She got well enough to write a little, and in
February wrote the conclusion to "The Old-fashioned Girl," which was
published in March. She says:--

   I wrote it with left hand in a sling, one foot up, head aching,
   and no voice. Yet, as the book is funny, people will say, "Didn't
   you enjoy doing it?" I often think of poor Tom Hood as I
   scribble, rather than lie and groan. I certainly earn my living
   by the sweat of my brow.

The book does not reveal this condition; for nothing could be fresher,
brighter, and more wholesome than the heroine Polly, many of whose
adventures are drawn from the author's own experience. She steps out
of her usual surroundings into the fashionable life of the city, but
betrays her own want of sympathy with it. The book has always been
very popular.

In 1870, the success of "Hospital Sketches" and the continued receipts
from "Little Women" put their author in a pecuniary position which
enabled her to go abroad for the rest and refreshment which she sorely
needed. The younger sister was invited to go by her friend A. B. on
condition that Louisa would accompany them. This journey was very free
and independent. She has given an account--somewhat travestied
certainly, but very true to the general facts--in "Shawl Straps,"
although the reader would hardly suppose the old lady described in
that book had not yet reached her fortieth year. These sketches were
arranged after her return, at the request of Mrs. Stowe, for the
"Christian Union," and were published in a book forming one volume of
"Aunt Jo's Scrap-Bag" in 1872.

Fortunately we have many of Louisa's original letters preserved in her
father's copies, which have escaped the destruction of her
correspondence. With some extracts from her journals, they give a
sufficient account of this journey. In many respects the contrast to
her former visit to Europe is most pleasant. She has now become
pecuniarily independent by her own exertions, and has a popular
reputation which brings her welcome and recognition wherever she goes.
But she has paid a heavy price for these gains. Her health has become
seriously shattered. The long application to writing, sometimes even
for fourteen hours a day,--a pressure of excitement which kept her
from eating and sleeping,--added to sorrow and anxiety, have told upon
her nerves and strength, and she is often unfitted to enjoy the
pleasures which are open to her. Yet her journal and letters are as
full of wit and humor as ever; and she laid up stores of pleasant
memories which lasted her through life. Readers of "Shawl Straps" will
recognize the originals of those bright sketches in the series of
letters from Dinan.

_Second Trip to Europe._

   _April._--... On the first day of the month (fit day for _my_
   undertaking I thought) May and I went to N. Y. to meet A. B.,
   with John for escort. Every one very kind. Thirty gifts, a
   parting ball among our house-mates, and a great cake.
   Half-a-dozen devoted beings at the station to see us off. But I
   remember only Father and Mother as they went away the day before,
   leaving the two ambitious daughters to sail away, perhaps

   Marmee kept up bravely, and nodded and smiled; but at the corner
   I saw the white handkerchief go up to the eyes, after being
   gayly waved to us. May and I broke down, and said, "We won't go;"
   but next day we set forth, as young birds will, and left the nest
   empty for a year.

   Sailed on the 2d in a gale of wind in the French steamer
   "Lafayette" for Brest. Our adventures are told in "Shawl Straps."

   "O. F. G." came out in March, and sold well. Train-boy going to
   N. Y. put it into my lap; and when I said I didn't care for it,
   exclaimed with surprise,--

   "Bully book, ma'am! Sell a lot; better have it."

   John told him I wrote it; and his chuckle, stare, and astonished
   "No!" was great fun. On the steamer little girls had it, and came
   in a party to call on me, very sea-sick in my berth, done up like
   a mummy.

   Spent some charming weeks in Brittany.

   _June and July._--"O. F. G." was published in London by Sampson
   Low & Co. We left Dinan on the 15th, and had a lovely trip
   through France to Vevay and Bex.

   Talk of war between France and Prussia.

   Much excitement at Vevay. Refugees from Lyons come in. Isabella
   and Don Carlos were there, with queer followers.

   _September._--... On the 3d came news of the Emperor's surrender.
   Great wailing among the French here. All well at home. Books
   going finely; no debts.

   We decide to go to Rome for the winter, as May pines for the
   artist's Paradise; and war will not trouble us I hope.

     SHIP "LAFAYETTE," April 9, 1870.

   DEAREST MARMEE,--To-morrow we come to our long journey's end
   [Brest, France], thank the Lord. It has been a good one on the
   whole, and I have got along as well as I expected. But it is
   tiresome to be day after day doing nothing; for my head will not
   let me read. May has done well, and has been very kind to me and
   good, and is the life of the table, I guess. I never go up to
   meals, for Marie takes such good care of me; I lie and peck all
   sorts of funny messes, and receive calls in my den. People seem
   to think we are "guns," and want to know us; but as they are not
   interesting, we are on the reserve, and it has a fine effect.
   About three thousand miles away does not seem possible in so
   little while. How do you all get along,--Marmee, Father, the
   laddies, my lass, and dear old John? He was so good and kind all
   the way I had no care or worry, but just lopped round and let him
   do all the work. Bless the dear!

   I shall despatch a good long letter as soon as we arrive and have
   something to tell. We send this to ease your mind. Letters here
   are not prepaid, so pay for mine out of my money. Don't forget to
   tell the post-master in Boston about my letters.

   Bless you all, says your


     MORLAIX, April 14, 1870.

   DEAREST MARMEE,--Having got our "poise" a bit by a day and night
   on land, I begin at once to scribble to you, as I mean to keep a
   letter on hand all the time, and send them off as fast as they
   are done. We had a twelve days' passage, owing to a double screw
   which they were trying and which delayed us, though it is safer
   than one. The weather was cold and rainy, and the sea rough, so I
   only went up once or twice, and kept warm in my den most of the
   time. After the first two days I didn't feel sick, except my head
   as usual. I slept, ate, ruminated, and counted the hours. May
   poked about more, and was liked by all.

   We got to Brest about noon Wednesday. A. and I got our trunks
   through the custom-house, and after some squabbling with the men,
   got all aboard for Morlaix, which is a curious old place worth
   seeing. It was a lovely day, warm as our June, and we had a
   charming trip of three hours through a country already green and
   flowery. We reached our hotel all right, and after a nice dinner
   had baths and went to bed. May's room being some way from mine,
   she came and bunked in with me in my little bed, and we slept.

   To-day is lovely, warm, and I am sitting at an open window
   looking at the square, enjoying the queer sights and sounds; for
   the air resounds with the rattle of wooden shoes on the stones.

   Market-women sit all about selling queer things, among which are
   snails; they buy them by the pint, pick them out with a pin like
   nuts, and seem to relish them mightily. We went out this A.M.
   after breakfast, and took a stroll about the queer old town. May
   was in heaven, and kept having raptures over the gables, the
   turrets with storks on them, the fountains, people, and churches.
   She is now sketching the tower of St. Melanie, with a crowd of
   small boys round her enjoying the sight and criticising the work.
   It don't seem very new to me, but I enjoy it, and feel pretty
   well. We are to study French every day when we settle, and I am
   to do the mending, etc., for A., who is to talk for us, and make
   our bargains. So far we go well together.

   To-morrow we go on to Lamballe, where we take the diligence to
   Dinan, fourteen miles farther, and there settle for some weeks. I
   wish the boys could see the funny children here in little wooden
   shoes like boats, the girls in blue cloth caps, aprons, and
   shawls, just like the women, and the boys in funny hats and
   sheepskin jackets. Now I must go and get May, who can't speak a
   word of French, and has a panic if any one speaks to her. The
   beggars afflict her, and she wants to give them money on all
   occasions. This P.M. we go for a drive to see all there is, as
   neither A. nor I are good walkers; "adoo" till by and by. I wish
   I could send you this balmy day.

     DINAN, Sunday, April 17, 1870.

   Here we are, all settled at our first neat stopping-place, and
   are in clover, as you will see when I tell you how plummy and
   lovely it is. We left Morlaix Friday at 8 A.M., and were so
   amazed at the small bill presented us that we couldn't praise the
   town enough. You can judge of the cheapness of things, when I say
   that my share of the expenses from Brest here, including two days
   at a hotel, car, 'bus, and diligence fare, fees, and everything,
   was $8. The day was divine, and we had a fine little journey to
   Lamballe, where the fun began; for instead of a big diligence, we
   found only a queer ramshackle thing like an insane carryall, with
   a wooden boot and queer porch for the driver.

   Our four trunks were piled up behind and tied on with old ropes,
   our bags stowed in a wooden box on top, and ourselves inside with
   a fat Frenchman. The humpbacked driver "ya hooped" to the horses,
   and away we clattered at a wild pace, all feeling dead sure that
   something would happen, for the old thing bounded and swayed
   awfully, the trunks were in danger of tumbling off, and to our
   dismay we soon discovered that the big Frenchman was tipsy. He
   gabbled to A. as only a tipsy person could, quoted poetry; said
   he was Victor Hugo's best friend, and a child of Nature; that
   English ladies were all divine, but too cold,--for when he
   pressed A.'s hand she told him it was not allowed in England, and
   he was overwhelmed with remorse; bowed, sighed, rolled his eyes,
   and told her that he drank much ale, because it flew to his head
   and gave him "commercial ideas."

   I never saw anything so perfectly absurd as it was, and after we
   got used to it we laughed ourselves sick over the lark. You ought
   to have seen us and our turnout, tearing over the road at a
   breakneck pace, pitching, creaking, and rattling, the funny
   driver hooting at the horses, who had their tails done up in
   chignons, blue harness, and strings of bells, the drunken man
   warbling, exhorting, and languishing at us all by turns, while A.
   headed him off with great skill. I sat, a mass of English dignity
   and coolness, suffering alternate agonies of anxiety and
   amusement, and May, who tied her head up in a bundle, looked like
   a wooden image.

   It was rich; and when we took up first a peasant woman in wooden
   shoes and fly-away cap, and then a red-nosed priest smoking a
   long pipe, we were a superb spectacle. In this style we banged
   into Dinan, stopped at the gate, and were dumped bag and baggage
   in the square. Finding Madame Coste's man was not here for us, we
   hired a man to bring our trunks up. To our great amazement, an
   oldish woman, who was greasing the wheels of a diligence, came,
   and catching up our big trunks, whipped them into two broad
   carts, and taking one trotted down the street at a fine pace,
   followed by the man with the other. That was the finishing touch;
   and we went laughing after them through the great arched gate
   into the quaintest, prettiest, most romantic town I ever saw.
   Narrow streets with overhanging gables, distracting roofs,
   windows, and porches, carved beams, and every sort of richness.
   The strong old lady beat the man, and finally landed us close by
   another old gate at a charming house fronting the south,
   overlooking a lovely green valley, full of gardens, blooming
   plum and peach trees, windmills, and a ruined castle, at sight of
   which we all skipped. Madame Coste received us with rapture, for
   A. brought a letter from Mrs. L., who stayed here and was the joy
   of the old lady's soul. We were in great luck, for being early in
   the season she had three rooms left, and we nabbed them at
   once,--a salon with old oak walls and wardrobes, blue damask
   furniture, a fireplace, funny windows, and quaint furniture. A
   little room out of it for A., and upstairs a larger room for May
   and me, with two beds draped in green chintz, and carved big
   wardrobe, etc., and best of all, a sunny window toward the
   valley. For these rooms and our board we each pay $1 a day, and I
   call that cheap. It would be worth that to get the fun and air
   alone, for it is like June, and we sit about with open windows,
   flowers in the fields, birds singing, and everything spring-like.

   We took possession at once, and dressed for a dinner at six. We
   were then presented to our fellow-boarders,--Madame Forney, a
   buxom widow, her son Gaston, a handsome Frenchy youth of
   twenty-three, and her daughter, a homely girl of twenty, who is
   to be married here on the 3d of May. After a great bowing and
   scraping we had a funny fish dinner, it being Good Friday. When
   they found we didn't speak French they were "desolated," and
   begged us to learn at once, which we solemnly vowed to do. Gaston
   "knew English," so May at once began to teach him more, and the
   ice being broken we got gay and friendly at once. I could
   understand them pretty well, but can't talk, and A. told them
   that I was forbidden to say much on account of my throat. This
   will give me a chance to get a fair start. May pegs away at her
   grammar, and with that and the elegant Gaston, she will soon
   begin to "parlez-vous."

   After dinner we were borne to the great salon, where a fire,
   lights, and a piano appeared. Every one sat round and gabbled
   except the Alcotts, who looked and laughed. Mademoiselle Forney
   played, and then May convulsed them by singing some _Chants
   Amériques_, which they thought very lively and droll. They were
   all attention and devotion to Madame Coste,--a tall old lady with
   whiskers, who kept embracing A. and beaming at us in her great
   content at being friends of _chère_ Madame L. A. told them that I
   was a celebrated authoress, and May a very fine artist, and we
   were beamed at more than ever. Being tired, we turned in early,
   after a jolly time in our own little salon, eating chocolate and
   laying plans.

     DINAN, April 20, 1870.

   ... A. and I went shopping. A. got a little bird to enliven our
   parlor, a sort of sparrow, gray with a red head and a lively
   song. We named him Bernard du Guesclin (the hero of the town),
   and call him Bernie. I got some nice gloves for three francs
   (sixty cents), and a white sun-umbrella for May (forty cents).
   She needs it when she sketches, and there is always a crowd of
   children round her to watch and admire; she gives one of them a
   sou to hold the umbrella, and so gets on nicely.

   In the P.M. A. and I went to the little village of Lahou, in the
   valley where the ruined castle is, to a fair. It was a very
   picturesque sight, for the white-capped women, sitting about on
   the green hillside, looked like flowers, and the blue blouses of
   the men and wide-brimmed hats added to the effect. The little
   street was lined with booths, where they sold nuts, queer cakes,
   hot sausages, and pancakes, toys, etc. I got a funny cake, just
   the size and shape of a deep pie-dish, and a jack-knife, for a
   sou. We also indulged in nuts, and sat on our campstools in a
   shady place and ate them boldly in the public mart, while
   enjoying the lively scene. French and English people went by in
   droll parties, and we coolly sat and stared at them. May is going
   to sketch the castle, so I won't waste paper describing the
   pretty place with the ruined church full of rooks, the old mill
   with the waterwheel housed in vines, or the winding river, and
   meadows full of blue hyacinths and rosy daisies.

   Yesterday, A. and I had to return the call of Mademoiselle M.,
   and as she speaks English I got on very well. The stairs to her
   apartment were so steep that we held on by a velvet-covered rope
   as we climbed up. In the P.M. we had fun, for we took two donkey
   carriages and rode to the mineral spring. Gaston was sick and
   couldn't go, as we had planned, so May drove herself in one, and
   A. and I in the other. I wish the boys could have seen us, it was
   so funny. The carriages were bath-chairs with a wee donkey
   harnessed to each, so small, so neat, and looking so venerable
   with thin long ears and bits of feet that I felt as if I was
   driving my grandmother. May was a very imposing sight, alone in
   her chair under her new umbrella, in her gray suit, with bright
   gloves and a big whip, driving a gray rat who wouldn't trot
   unless pounded and banged and howled at in the maddest way. Our
   steed was bigger, but the most pig-headed old scamp you ever saw,
   for it took two big women to make him go. I drove, and A.
   thrashed away with all her might,--our joint efforts only
   producing occasional short trots which enraged us dreadfully.

   We laughed till we were sick, it was so very absurd; while May
   trundled serenely along, enjoying the fine views regardless of
   her rat, who paced along at his ease, wagging his ears and

   We had a nice trip, but didn't drink the water, as iron don't
   suit us. Coming home, we passed the home of the donkeys, and they
   at once turned in, and were with much difficulty persuaded to go
   on by two short girls in caps and short gowns, who ran and
   shouted "E! E! va oui!" and punched sticks into the poor asses,
   rattling us over the stones till our eyes danced in our heads. We
   found it rather hard work, and A. means to buy a horse and straw
   pony-chaise, so we can drive ourselves in peace where we like....

   A. is bargaining for a horse which an Englishman wishes to sell
   for $50, including harness and cart. We can't hire horses for
   less than $2 a drive, and donkeys are vile, so it is cheaper to
   buy, and sell when we go away, and so drive as much as we like.
   A. knows about such things, and takes all the responsibility....
   To-morrow we go on a little excursion in the steamboat down the
   river, and return _à la_ donkey with the English ladies, who have
   returned our call and are very friendly.

   Please forward this little note in an envelope to its address.
   The child wrote me a pretty letter, which N. sent, and the pa
   said I wouldn't answer. The child said, "I know she will, she is
   so nice." So I do. Best love to every one. Don't go home too
   soon. I shall write to Fred and Jack next time. Good-by.


_To M. S._

   ... They call each other pet names that convulse us,--"my little
   pig," "my sweet hen," "my cabbage," and "my tom-cat." A French
   lady with her son and daughter board here, and their ways amuse
   us mightily. The girl is to be married next week to a man whom
   she has seen twice, and never talked to but an hour in her life.
   She writes to him what her mother dictates, and says she should
   be ashamed to love him before they were married. Her wedding
   clothes absorb her entire mind, and her Jules will get a pretty
   doll when he takes Mademoiselle A. F. to wife. Gaston, the son,
   puts on _blasé_ airs, though only twenty-two, and languishes at
   May, for they can't talk, as he does not know English nor she

     April 27.

   I left my letter to drive to a ruined château, which we went all
   over, as a part is inhabited by a farmer who keeps his hog in the
   great banqueting hall, his grain in the chapel, and his hens in
   the lady's chamber. It was very picturesque; the old rooms, with
   ivy coming in at the windows, choking up the well, and climbing
   up the broken towers. The lady of the château was starved to
   death by her cruel brothers, and buried in the moat, where her
   bones were found long afterward, and her ghost still haunts the
   place they say. Here we had cider, tell Pa.

   Coming home we saw a Dolmen, one of the Druidical remains. It
   stood in a grove of old pines,--a great post of gray stone, some
   twenty-five feet high, and very big round. It leaned as if
   falling, and had queer holes in it. Brittany is full of these
   relics, which no one can explain, and I was glad to see the
   mysterious things.

   Yesterday we took a little trip down the river in a tiny steamer,
   going through a lock and skimming along between the green banks
   of the narrow river to Miss M.'s country-house, where we had new
   milk, and lay on the grass for an hour or so. Then May and Miss
   M. walked home, and A. and I went in a donkey cart.

   To-day the girls have gone to La Garaye with Gaston on donkeys.
   The weather has been cold for a day or two with easterly winds.
   So I feel it at once and keep warm. It is very unusual at this
   time, but comes, I suppose, because I've travelled hundreds of
   miles to get rid of them. It won't last long, and then we shall
   be hot enough.

   We lead such quiet, lazy lives I really have nothing to tell.

   Oh, yes, the _fiancé_ of Mademoiselle has arrived, and amuses us
   very much. He is a tiny man in uniform, with a red face, big
   moustache, and blue eyes. He thinks he talks English, and makes
   such very funny mistakes. He asked us if we had been to
   "promenade on monkeys" meaning donkeys, and called the Casino
   "the establishment of dance." He addresses all his attentions to
   the ma, and only bows to his future wife, who admires her
   diamonds and is contented. We are going away on the day of the
   wedding, as it is private.

   The girls have just returned in great spirits, for A.'s donkey
   kept lying down, and it took all three to get him up again. They
   sat in a sort of chair, and looked very funny with the four
   little legs under them and long ears flopping before. I shall go
   to Garaye some fine day, and will tell you about it.

   Adieu, love to all.


     _Dinan_, May 6, 1870.

   DEAR PEOPLE,--I have just got a fat letter full of notices from
   N.,--all good, and news generally pleasant.

   The great event of the season is over, and Miss F. is Mrs. C. It
   was a funny scene, for they had a breakfast the day before, then
   on Tuesday the wedding. We did not go, as the church is like a
   tomb, but we saw the bride, in white satin, pearls, orange
   flowers, and lace, very pretty, and like other brides. Her ma, in
   purple moire and black lace, was fine to see; and the little
   groom, in full regimentals, with a sabre as large as himself, was
   very funny. A lot of people came in carriages to escort them to
   church; and our little square was full of queer turnouts, smartly
   dressed people, and a great bustle. There was some mistake about
   the bride's carriage, and it did not drive up in time, so she
   stood on the steps till it came as near as it could, and then she
   trotted out to it on Gaston's arm, with her maid holding up her
   satin train. Uncle, ma, bride, and brother drove off, but the
   groom's carriage was delayed by the breaking of a trace, and
   there he sat, with his fat pa and ma, after every one had gone,
   fuming, and poking his little cocked hat out of the window, while
   the man mended the harness, and every one looked on with
   breathless interest.

   We went to D---- with Coste in the P.M., and had a fine view of
   the sea and San Malo. We didn't like D----, and won't go there.
   When we got home about eight o'clock the wedding dinner was in
   full blast, and I caught a glimpse of a happy pair at the head of
   the table, surrounded by a lot of rigged-up ladies and fine men,
   all gabbing and gabbling as only French folk can. The couple are
   still here, resting and getting acquainted before they go to
   Lamballe for a week of festivity. A church wedding is a very
   funny thing, and I wish you could have seen it.

   The dry season continues, and the people have processions and
   masses to pray for rain. One short flurry of hail is all we have
   had, and the cold winds still blow. When our month is out we
   shall go somewhere near the sea if it is at all warm. Nothing
   could be kinder than dear old Coste, and I couldn't be in a
   better place to be poorly in than this; she coddles me like a
   mother, and is so grieved that I don't get better.

   Send Ma a bit of the gorse flower with which the fields are now


     DINAN, May 13, 1870.

   DEAREST FOLKS,--We drove to Guildo yesterday to see if we should
   like it for July. It is a queer little town on the seashore, with
   ruins near by, bright houses, and lots of boats. Rooms a franc a
   day, and food very cheap. The man of the house--a big, brown,
   Peggotty sailor--has a sloop, and promised the girls as much
   sailing as they liked. We may go, but our plans are very vague,
   and one day we say we will go to one place and the next to
   another, and shall probably end by staying where we are.


     DINAN, May 17, 1870.

   DEAREST PEOPLE,--We run out and do errands in the cool before
   breakfast at ten, then we write, sew, and read, and look round,
   till four, when we go to drive. May and I in the cherry bounce
   with M. Harmon to drive us, and A. on horseback; for, after
   endless fuss, she has at last evoked a horse out of chaos, and
   comes galloping gayly after us as we drive about the lovely roads
   with the gallant hotel-keeper, Adolph Harmon. We are getting
   satiated with ruins and châteaux, and plan a trip by water to
   Nantes; for the way they do it is to hire a big boat and be towed
   by a horse in the most luxurious manner.

_To Anna._

     DINAN, May 25, 1870.

   DEAR BETSEY,[8]--All well. We have also had fun about the queer
   food, as we don't like brains, liver, etc. A. does; and when we
   eat some mess, not knowing what it is, and find it is sheep's
   tails or eels, she exults over us, and writes poems.

   I wander dreadfully, but the girls are racketing, birdie singing
   like mad, and nine horses neighing to one another in the place,
   so my ideas do not flow as clearly as they should. Besides, I
   expect Gaston to come in every minute to show us his rig; for he
   is going to a picnic in Breton costume,--a very French affair,
   for the party are to march two and two, with fiddlers in front,
   and donkeys bearing the feast in the rear. Such larks!

   Yesterday we had a funny time. We went to drive in a basket
   chair, very fine, with a perch behind and a smart harness; but
   most of the horses here are stallions, and act like time. Ours
   went very well at first, but in the town took to cutting up, and
   suddenly pounced on to a pile of brush, and stuck his head into a
   bake-shop. We tried to get him out, but he only danced and
   neighed, and all the horses in town seemed to reply. A man came
   and led him on a bit, but he didn't mean to go, and whisked over
   to the other side, where he tangled us and himself up with a long
   string of team horses. I flew out and May soon followed. A. was
   driving, and kept in while the man led the "critter" back to the
   stable. I declined my drive with the insane beast, and so we left
   him and bundled home in the most ignominious manner. All the
   animals are very queer here, and, unlike ours, excessively big.

   We went to a ruin one day, and were about to explore the castle,
   when a sow, with her family of twelve, charged through the
   gateway at us so fiercely that we fled in dismay; for pigs are
   not nice when they attack, as we don't know where to bone 'em,
   and I saw a woman one day whose nose had been bitten off by an
   angry pig. I flew over a hedge; May tried to follow. I pulled
   her over head first, and we tumbled into the tower like a routed
   garrison. It wasn't a nice ruin, but we were bound to see it,
   having suffered so much. And we did see it, in spite of the pigs,
   who waylaid us on all sides, and squealed in triumph when we
   left,--dirty, torn, and tired. The ugly things wander at their
   own sweet will, and are tall, round-backed, thin wretches, who
   run like race horses, and are no respecters of persons.

   Sunday was a great day here, for the children were confirmed. It
   was a pretty sight to see the long procession of little girls, in
   white gowns and veils, winding through the flowery garden and the
   antique square, into the old church, with their happy mothers
   following, and the boys in their church robes singing as they
   went. The old priest was too ill to perform the service, but the
   young one who did announced afterward that if the children would
   pass the house the old man would bless them from his bed. So all
   marched away down the street, with crosses and candles, and it
   was very touching to see the feeble old man stretch out his hands
   above them as the little white birds passed by with bended heads,
   while the fresh, boyish voices chanted the responses. This old
   priest is a very interesting man, for he is a regular saint,
   helping every one, keeping his house as a refuge for poor and old
   priests, settling quarrels among the people, and watching over
   the young people as if they were his own. I shall put him in a

   _Voilà!_ Gaston has just come in, rigged in a white embroidered
   jacket, with the Dinan coat-of-arms worked in scarlet and yellow
   silk on it fore and aft; a funny hat, with streamers, and a belt,
   with a knife, horn, etc. He is handsome, and as fond of finery as
   a girl. I'll send you his picture next time, and one of Dinan.

   You will see that Marmee has all she needs, and a girl, and as
   much money as she wants for being cosey and comfortable. S. E. S.
   will let her have all she wants, and make her take it. I'm sorry
   the chapel $100 didn't come, for she likes to feel that she has
   some of her very own.

   I have written to Conway and Mrs. Taylor, so that if we decide to
   take a run to England before we go to Italy, the way will be

   But Dinan is so healthy and cosey, that we shall linger till the
   heat makes us long for the sea. Roses, cherries, strawberries,
   and early vegetables are come, and we are in clover. Dear old
   Coste broods over us like a motherly hen, and just now desired me
   to give her affectionate and respectful compliments to my _bonne

   Now I'm spun out; so adieu, my darling Nan. Write often, and I
   will keep sending,--trusting that you will get them in time.

   Kisses all round.


     DINAN, May 30, 1870.

   DEAR FOLKS,--May has made up such a big letter that I will only
   add a line to give you the last news of the health of her
   Highness Princess Louisa. She is such a public character nowadays
   that even her bones are not her own, and her wails of woe cannot
   be kept from the long ears of the world,--old donkey as it is!

   Dr. Kane, who was army surgeon in India, and doctor in England
   for forty years, says my leg trouble and many of my other woes
   come from the calomel they gave me in Washington. He has been
   through the same thing with an Indian jungle fever, and has never
   got the calomel out of him.... I don't know anything about it,
   only my leg is the curse of my life. But I think Dr. K.'s iodine
   of potash will cure it in the end, as it did his arms, after
   taking it for three months. It is simple, pleasant, and seems to
   do something to the bones that gives them ease; so I shall sip
   away and give it a good trial.

   We are now revelling in big strawberries, green peas, early
   potatoes, and other nice things, on which we shall grow fat as

   We are beginning to think of a trip into Normandy, where the H.'s

   Love to all. By-by!

     Your loving

   No news except through N., who yesterday sent me a nice letter
   with July account of $6,212,--a neat little sum for "the Alcotts,
   who can't make money!" With $10,000 well invested, and more
   coming in all the time, I think we may venture to enjoy
   ourselves, after the hard times we have all had.

   The cream of the joke is, that we made our own money ourselves,
   and no one gave us a blessed penny. That does soothe my rumpled
   soul so much that the glory is not worth thinking of.

_To Anna._

     DINAN, June 4, 1870.

          *       *       *       *       *

   The present excitement is the wood which Coste is having put in.
   Loads keep coming in queer, heavy carts drawn by four horses
   each, and two men to work the machine. Two men chop the great oak
   stumps, and a woman puts it in down cellar by the armful. The men
   get two francs a day,--forty cents! (Wouldn't our $3 a day
   workmen howl at that sort of wages!) When several carts arrive at
   once the place is a lively scene. Just now there were three carts
   and twelve horses, and eight were all up in a snarl, while
   half-a-dozen ladies stood at their doors and gave advice. One
   had a half-dressed baby in her arms; one a lettuce she was
   washing; another her distaff; and a fourth her little bowl of
   soup, which she ate at on the sidewalk, in the intervals
   gesticulating so frantically that her sabots rattled on the
   stones. The horses had a free fight, and the man couldn't seem to
   manage one big one, who romped about like a wild elephant, till
   the lady with the baby suddenly set the half-naked cherub on the
   doorsteps, charged in among the rampant beasts, and, by some
   magic howl or jerk, brought the bad horse to order, when she
   quietly returned to her baby, who had sat placidly eating dirt,
   and with a calm _Voilà, messieurs_, she skipped little Jean into
   his shirt, and the men sat down to smoke.

   We are now in great excitement over Gaston, who has lately become
   so very amiable that we don't know him. We began by letting the
   spoiled child severely alone. This treatment worked well, and now
   he offers us things at table, bows when we enter, and to-day
   presented us with green tulips, violet shrubs, and queer medals
   all round. We have let little bits of news leak out about us, and
   they think we are dukes and duchesses in _Amérique_, and
   pronounce us _très spirituelles; très charmantes; très seductives
   femmes_. We laugh in private, and are used to having the entire
   company rise when we enter, and embrace us with ardor, listen
   with uplifted hands and shrieks of _mon Dieu! grand ciel!_ etc.,
   to all remarks, and point us out in public as _les dames
   Américaines_. Such is fame!

   An English lady arrived to-day--a Miss B.--dressed, with English
   taste, in a little green skirt, pink calico waist, a large
   crumpled frill, her hair in a tight knot, one front tooth
   sticking straight out, and a golden oriole in a large cage. She
   is about forty, very meek and pursy, and the old ladies have been
   sitting in a heap since breakfast, talking like mad.

   May has "sack" on the brain just now, and A. has "hose" on the
   brain; and at this moment they are both gabbling wildly, one
   saying, "I shall trim it with blue and have it pinked!" the other
   shrieking, "My hose must be red, with little dragons in black all
   over it, like small-pox!" and the bird flies to her upper perch
   in dismay at the riot, while I sit and laugh, with an occasional
   duennaish, "Young ladies, less noise if you please!"

   It rained last eve, and we are waiting for it to dry before going
   out in the donkey chaise to buy a warm bun and some strawberries
   for lunch, to be eaten as we parade the town and drink ale at

          *       *       *       *       *

   Do tell me how things are about my pictures. I see they are
   advertised, and if they sell I want my share of the profits. Send
   me one of those that are in the market, after taking off the
   heavy card.

   Love to all, and the best of luck.

     Ever your

     HOTEL D'UNIVERSE, TOURS, June 17, 1870.

   DEAREST PEOPLE,--Our wanderings have begun again, and here we are
   in this fine old city in a cosey hotel, as independent and happy
   as three old girls can be. We left Dinan Wednesday at 7 A.M.
   Gaston got up to see us off,--a most unusual and unexpected
   honor; also Mrs. B. and all the old ladies, whom we left
   dissolved in tears.

   We had a lovely sail down the river to St. Malo, where we
   breakfasted at Hotel Franklin, a quaint old house in a flowery
   corner. At twelve we went by rail to Le Mans,--a long trip,--and
   arrived at 6 P.M. so tired that we went to bed in the moonlight
   while a band played in the square before the hotel, and the
   sidewalks before the café were full of people taking ices and
   coffee round little tables.

   Next morning we went to see the famous cathedral and had
   raptures, for it is like a dream in stone. Pure Gothic of the
   twelfth century, with the tomb of Berengaria, wife of Coeur de
   Leon, stained glass of the richest kind, dim old chapels with
   lamps burning, a gorgeous high altar all crimson and gold and
   carmine, and several organs. Anything more lovely and divine I
   never saw, for the arches, so light and graceful, seemed to soar
   up one above the other like the natural curves of trees or the
   spray of a great fountain. We spent a long time here and I sat
   above in the quaint old chapel with my eyes and heart full, and
   prayed a little prayer for my family. Old women and men knelt
   about in corners telling their beads, and the priest was quietly
   saying his prayers at the altar. Outside it was a pile of gray
   stone, with towers and airy pinnacles full of carved saints and
   busy rooks. I don't think we shall see anything finer anywhere.
   It was very hot for there had been no rain for four months, so we
   desired to start for town at 5 and get in about 8 as it is light

   We had a pleasant trip in the cool of the day, and found Tours a
   great city, like Paris on a small scale. Our hotel is on the
   boulevard, and the trees, fountains, and fine carriages make our
   windows very tempting. We popped into bed early; and my bones are
   so much better that I slept without any opium or anything,--a
   feat I have not performed for some time.

   This morning we had coffee and rolls in bed, then as it was a
   fine cool day we dressed up clean and nice and went out for a
   walk. At the post-office we found your letters of May 31, one
   from Nan and Ma, and one from L. We were exalted, and went into
   the garden and read them in bliss, with the grand cathedral right
   before us. Cathedral St. Martin, twelfth century, with tomb of
   Charles XIII.'s children, the armor of Saint Louis, fine pictures
   of Saint Martin, his cloak, etc. May will tell you about it and I
   shall put in a photograph, if I can find one. We are now--12
   o'clock--in our pleasant room all round the table writing letters
   and resting for another trip by and by.

   The _Fête Dieu_ is on Monday,--very splendid,--and we shall then
   see the cathedral in its glory. To-day a few hundred children
   were having their first communion there, girls all in white, with
   scarlet boys, crosses, candles, music, priests, etc. Get a
   Murray, and on the map of France follow us to Geneva, _via_ St.
   Malo, Le Mans, Tours, Amboise and Blois, Orleans, Nevers, Autun.
   We may go to the Vosges instead of the Jura if Mrs. H. can go, as
   A. wants to see her again. But we head for the Alps of some sort
   and will report progress as we go.

   My money holds out well so far, as we go second class.

_To her Father._

     TOURS, June 20, 1870.

   DEAR PAPA,--Before we go on to fresh "châteaux and churches new,"
   I must tell you about the sights here in this pleasant, clean,
   handsome old city. May has done the church for you, and I send a
   photograph to give some idea of it. The inside is very beautiful;
   and we go at sunset to see the red light make the gray walls
   lovely outside and the shadows steal from chapel to chapel
   inside, filling the great church with what is really "a dim
   religious gloom." We wandered about it the other evening till
   moonrise, and it was very interesting to see the people scattered
   here and there at their prayers; some kneeling before Saint
   Martin's shrine, some in a flowery little nook dedicated to the
   infant Christ, and one, a dark corner with a single candle
   lighting up a fine picture of the Mater Dolorosa, where a widow
   all in her weeds sat alone, crying and praying. In another a sick
   old man sat, while his old wife knelt by him praying with all her
   might to Saint Gratien (the patron saint of the church) for her
   dear old invalid. Nuns and priests glided about, and it was all
   very poetical and fine, till I came to an imposing priest in a
   first class chapel who was taking snuff and gaping, instead of
   piously praying.

   The _Fête Dieu_ was yesterday, and I went out to see the
   procession. The streets were hung with old tapestry, and sheets
   covered with flowers. Crosses, crowns, and bouquets were
   suspended from house to house, and as the procession approached,
   women ran out and scattered green boughs and rose-leaves before
   the train. A fine band and a lot of red soldiers came first, then
   the different saints on banners, carried by girls, and followed
   by long trains of girls bearing the different emblems. Saint
   Agnes and her lamb was followed by a flock of pretty young
   children all in white, carrying tall white lilies that filled the
   air with their fragrance.

   "Mary our Mother" was followed by orphans with black ribbons
   crossed on their breasts. Saint Martin led the charity boys in
   their gray suits, etc. The Host under a golden canopy was borne
   by priests in gorgeous rig, and every one knelt as it passed with
   censors swinging, candles burning, boys chanting, and flowers
   dropping from the windows. A pretty young lady ran out and set
   her baby in a pile of green leaves in the middle of the street
   before the Host, and it passed over the little thing who sat
   placidly staring at the show and admiring its blue shoes. I
   suppose it is a saved and sacred baby henceforth.

   It was a fine pageant and quite touching, some of it; but as
   usual, I saw something funny to spoil the solemnity. A very fat
   and fine priest, who walked with his eyes upon his book and sung
   like a pious bumblebee, suddenly destroyed the effect by rapping
   a boy over the head with his gold prayer-book, as the black sheep
   strayed a little from the flock. I thought the old saint swore

   The procession went from the cathedral to Charlemagne's Tower, an
   old, old relic, all that is left of the famous church which once
   covered a great square. We went to see it, and the stones looked
   as if they were able to tell wonderful tales of the scenes they
   had witnessed all these hundreds of years. I think the
   "Reminiscences of a Rook" would be a good story, for these old
   towers are full of them, and they are long-lived birds.

     Tuesday, June 21, 1870.

   Here we go again! now in an utterly different scene from Tours.
   We left at 5 P.M., and in half an hour were here on the banks of
   the Loire in a queer little inn where we are considered duchesses
   at least, owing to our big trunks and A.'s good French. I am the
   Madame, May Mam'selle, and A. the companion.

   Last evening being lovely, we went after dinner up to the castle
   where Charles VIII. was born in 1470. The Arab chief,
   Abd-el-Kader, and family were kept prisoners here, and in the old
   garden is a tomb with the crescent over it where some of them
   were buried. May was told about the terrace where the Huguenots
   hung thick and the court enjoyed the sight till the Loire,
   choked up with dead bodies, forced them to leave. We saw the
   little low door where Anne of Brittany's first husband Charles
   VIII. "bumped his head" and killed himself, as he was running
   through to play bowls with his wife.

   It has been modernized and is now being restored as in old times,
   so the interior was all in a toss. But we went down the winding
   road inside the tower, up which the knights and ladies used to
   ride. Father would have enjoyed the _pleached_ walks, for they
   are cut so that looking down on them, it is like a green floor,
   and looking up it is a thick green wall. There also Margaret of
   Anjou and her son were reconciled to Warwick. Read Murray, I beg,
   and see all about it. We sat in the twilight on the terrace and
   saw what Fred would have liked, a little naked boy ride into the
   river on one horse after another, and swim them round in the deep
   water till they were all clean and cool.

   This morning at 7 o'clock we drove to Chenonceaux, the chateau
   given by Henry II. to Diane de Poictiers. It was a lovely day,
   and we went rolling along through the most fruitful country I
   ever saw. Acre on acre of yellow grain, vineyards miles long,
   gardens and orchards full of roses and cherries. The Cher is a
   fine river winding through the meadows, where haymakers were at
   work and fat cattle feeding. It was a very happy hour, and the
   best thing I saw was May's rapturous face opposite, as she sat
   silently enjoying everything, too happy to talk.

   The château built over the water is very interesting; Catherine
   de Medicis took it away from Diane when the king died, and her
   room is still seen as she left it; also a picture of Diane, a
   tall simpering woman in a tunic, with hounds, stag, cupids, and
   other rubbish round her. The gallery of pictures was fine; for
   here were old, old portraits and bas-reliefs, Agnes Sorel,
   Montaigne, Rabelais, many kings and queens, and among them
   Lafayette and dear old Ben Franklin.

   There is a little theatre where Rousseau's plays were acted. This
   place at the time of the Revolution belonged to the grandmother
   of George Sand, and she was so much respected that no harm was
   done to it. So three cheers for Madame Dupin! Among the pictures
   were Ninon D'Enclos, and Madame Sevigné holding a picture of her
   beloved daughter. The Guidos, etc. I don't care for so much as
   they were all grimy and convulsive, and I prefer pictures of
   people who really lived, to these impossible Venuses and
   repulsive saints,--bad taste, but I can't help it. The walls were
   hung with stamped leather and tapestry, carved chairs in which
   queens had sat, tables at which kings had eaten, books they had
   read, and glasses that had reflected their faces were all about,
   and I just revelled. The old kitchen had a fireplace quaint
   enough to suit Pa, with immense turn-spits, cranes, andirons,
   etc. The chapel, balcony, avenue, draw-bridge, and all the other
   pleasing bits were enjoyed, and I stole a sprig of jasmine from
   the terrace which I shall press for Mamma. Pray take extra care
   of the photographs, for if lost, we cannot replace them, and I
   want to make a fine album of pictures with flowers and
   descriptions after I get home.... But all goes well and we enjoy
   much every day. Love to all,


_To her Mother._

     BLOIS, June 24, 1870.

   DEAR MARMEE,--On this, Lizzie's and Johnny's birthday, I'll begin
   a letter to you. We found at the Poste Restante here two "Moods"
   and a paper for me, one book from L., and one from N. I think
   the pictures horrid, and sent them floating down the Loire as
   soon as possible, and put one book at the bottom of my trunk and
   left the other where no one will find it. I couldn't read the
   story, and try to forget that I ever wrote it.

   Blois is a noisy, dusty, soldierly city with nothing to admire
   but the river, nearly dry now with this four months' drought, and
   the old castle where Francis I., Louis XII., Catherine de
   Medicis, and other great folks lived. It has been very splendidly
   restored by the Government, and the ceilings are made with beams
   blazoned with coats-of-arms, the walls hung with cameos, painted
   with the same design as the stamped leather in old times, and the
   floors inlaid with colored tiles. Brown and gold, scarlet, blue,
   and silver, quaint dragons and flowers, porcupines and
   salamanders, crowns and letters, glittered everywhere. We saw the
   guard-room and the very chimney where the Duc de Guise was
   leaning when the king Henry III. sent for him; the little door
   where the king's gentlemen fell upon and stabbed him with forty
   wounds; the cabinet where the king and his mother plotted the
   deed; the chapel where the monks prayed for success; and the
   great hall where the body lay covered with a cloak till the king
   came and looked at it and kicked his dead enemy, saying, "I did
   not think he was so tall." We also saw the cell where the brother
   of the duke was murdered the next day, and the attic entire where
   their bodies were burnt, after which the ashes were thrown into
   the Loire by order of the king; the window out of which Marie de
   Medicis lowered herself when her son Louis XIII. imprisoned her
   there; the recess where Catherine de Medicis died; and many other
   interesting places. What a set of rascals these old kings and
   queens were!

   The _Salle des États_ was very gorgeous, and here in a week or so
   are to be tried the men who lately fired at the Emperor. It will
   be a grand, a fine sight when the great arched hall is full. I
   got a picture of the castle, and one of a fireplace for Pa. It is
   a mass of gold and color, with the porcupine of Louis XIII. and
   the ermine of his wife Anne of Brittany, their arms, in medallion
   over it.

   At 5 P.M. we go on to Orleans for a day, where I shall get some
   relics of Joan of Arc for Nan. We shall pass Sunday at Bourges
   where the great church is, and then either to Geneva or the Jura,
   for a few weeks of rest.

     GENEVA, June 29, 1870.

   It seems almost like getting home again to be here where I never
   thought to come again when I went away five years ago. We are at
   the Metropole Hotel right on the lake with a glimpse of Mount
   Blanc from our windows. It is rather fine after the grimy little
   inns of Brittany, and we enjoy a sip of luxury and put on our
   best gowns with feminine satisfaction after living in old
   travelling suits for a fortnight.

   I began my letter at Blois, where we spent a day or two. At
   Orleans we only passed a night, but we had time to see the famous
   statue of the Maid, put up in gratitude by the people of the city
   she saved. It is a fine statue of Joan in her armor on horseback,
   with her sword drawn. Round the base of the statue are bronzed
   bas-reliefs of her life from the girl with her sheep, to the
   martyr at the stake. They were very fine, but don't show much in
   the photograph which I got for Nan, remembering the time when she
   translated Schiller's play for me.

   At Bourges we saw the great cathedral, but didn't like it as well
   as that in Tours. We only spent a night there, and A. bought an
   antique ring of the time of Francis I.,--an emerald set in
   diamonds. It cost $9, and is very quaint and handsome.

   Moulins we reached Sunday noon, and at 3 o'clock went to vespers
   in the old church, where we saw a good deal of mumbo-jumbo by
   red, purple, and yellow priests, and heard a boy with a lovely
   voice sing in the hidden choir like a little angel among the
   clouds. A. had a fancy to stay a week, if we could find rooms out
   of town in some farm-house; for the handsome white cattle have
   captivated her, and we were rather tired. So the old lady at the
   hotel said she had a little farm-house out in the fields, and we
   should go see it with her in basket _chay_. After dinner we all
   piled in and went along a dusty road to a little dirty
   garden-house with two rooms and a few cabbages and rose-bushes
   round it. She said we could sleep and eat at the hotel and come
   down here for the day. That didn't suit at all, so we declined;
   and on Monday morning we set out for Lyons. It was a very
   interesting trip under, over, and through the mountains with two
   engines and much tunnelling and up-and-down grading. May was
   greatly excited at the queer things we did, and never knew that
   cars could turn such sharp corners. We wound about so that we
   could see the engine whisking out of sight round one corner while
   we were turning another, and the long train looked like a snake
   winding through the hills. The tunnels were so long that lamps
   were lighted, and so cold we put on our sacks while passing in
   the darkness. The scenery was very fine; and after we left Lyons,
   where we merely slept, the Alps began to appear, and May and I
   stared in blissful silence; for we had two tall old men opposite,
   and a little priest, so young that we called him the Rev. boy. He
   slept and said his prayers most of the time, stealing sly looks
   at May's hair, A.'s pretty hands, and my buckled shoes, which
   were like his own and seemed to strike him as a liberty on my
   part. The old boys were very jolly, especially the one with three
   chins, who smiled paternally upon us and tried to talk. But we
   were very English and mum, and he thought we didn't understand
   French, and confided to his friend that he didn't see "how the
   English could travel and know not the French tongue." They sang,
   gabbled, slept, and slapped one another at intervals, and were
   very amusing till they left, and another very handsome Booth-like
   priest took their places.

_To her Father._

     BEX, July 14, 1870.

   DEAR PA,--As I have not written to you yet, I will send you a
   picture-letter and tell you about the very interesting old Count
   Sz-- who is here. This morning he asked us to go to the hills and
   see some curious trees which he says were planted from acorns and
   nuts brought from Mexico by Atala. We found some very ancient
   oaks and chestnuts, and the enthusiastic old man told us the
   story about the Druids who once had a church, amphitheatre, and
   sacrificial altar up there. No one knows much about it, and he
   imagines a good deal to suit his own pet theory. You would have
   liked to hear him hold forth about the races and Zoroaster,
   Plato, etc. He is a Hungarian of a very old family, descended
   from Semiramide and Zenobia. He believes that the body can be
   cured often by influencing the soul, and that doctors should be
   priests, and priests doctors, as the two affect the body and soul
   which depend on one another. He is doing a great deal for Miss
   W., who has tried many doctors and got no help. I never saw such
   a kindly, simple, enthusiastic, old soul, for at sixty-seven he
   is as full of hope and faith and good-will as a young man. I told
   him I should like my father to see a little book he has written,
   and he is going to give me one.

   We like this quiet little place among the mountains, and pass
   lazy days; for it is very warm, and we sit about on our balconies
   enjoying the soft air, the moonlight, and the changing aspect of
   the hills.

   May had a fine exciting time going up St. Bernard, and is now
   ready for another....

   The Polish Countess and her daughter have been reading my books
   and are charmed with them. Madame says she is not obliged to turn
   down any pages so that the girls may not read them, as she does
   in many books, "All is so true, so sweet, so pious, she may read
   every word."

   I send by this mail the count's little pamphlet. I don't know as
   it amounts to much, but I thought you might like to see it.

   Love to every one, and write often to your

     Affectionate daughter
     L. M. A.

     BEX, July 18, 1870.

   DEAR PEOPLE,--The breaking out of this silly little war between
   France and Prussia will play the deuce with our letters. I have
   had none from you for a long time; and Alexandre, the English
   waiter here, says that the mails will be left to come as they
   can, for the railroads are all devoted to carrying troops to the
   seat of war. The French have already crossed the Rhine, and
   rumors of a battle came last eve; but the papers have not
   arrived, and no letters for any one, so all are fuming for news,
   public and private, and I am howling for my home letter, which is
   more important than all the papers on the continent....

   Don't be worried if you don't hear regularly, or think us in
   danger. Switzerland is out of the mess, and if she gets in, we
   can skip over into Italy, and be as cosey as possible. It will
   make some difference in money, perhaps, as Munroe in Paris is our
   banker, and we shall be plagued about our letters, otherwise the
   war won't effect us a bit; I dare say you know as much about it
   as we do, and Marmee is predicting "a civil war" all over the
   world. We hear accounts of the frightful heat with you. Don't
   wilt away before we come....

   Lady Amberley is a trump, and I am glad she says a word for her
   poor sex though she _is_ a peeress....

   I should like to have said of me what Hedge says of Dickens; and
   when I die, I should prefer such a memory rather than a tomb in
   Westminster Abbey.

          *       *       *       *       *

   I hope to have a good letter from Nan soon. May does the
   descriptions so well that I don't try it, being lazy.


_To Anna._

     SUNDAY, July 24, 1870.

   ... The war along the Rhine is sending troops of travellers to
   Switzerland for refuge; and all the large towns are brimful of
   people flying from Germany. It won't trouble us, for we have done
   France and don't mean to do Germany. So when August is over, we
   shall trot forward to Italy, and find a warm place for our
   winter-quarters. At any time twenty-four hours carries us over
   the Simplon, so we sit at ease and don't care a straw for old
   France and Prussia. Russia, it is reported, has joined in the
   fight, but Italy and England are not going to meddle, so we can
   fly to either "in case of fire."[9]

     BEX, July 27, 1870.

   We heard of Dickens's death some weeks ago and have been reading
   notices, etc., in all the papers since. One by G. Greenwood in
   the Tribune was very nice. I shall miss my old Charlie, but he is
   not the old idol he once was....

   Did you know that Higginson and a little girl friend had written
   out the Operatic Tragedy in "Little Women" and set the songs to
   music and it was all to be put in "Our Young Folks." What are we
   coming to in our old age? Also I hope to see the next designs N.
   has got for "Little Women." I know nothing about them.

_To her Mother._

     3 P.M., BEX, July 31, 1870.

   Papers are suppressed by the Government so we know nothing about
   the war, except the rumors that float about. But people seem to
   think that Europe is in for a general fight, and there is no
   guessing when it will end.

   The trouble about getting into Italy is, that civil war always
   breaks out there and things are so mixed up that strangers get
   into scrapes among the different squabblers. When the P.'s were
   abroad during the last Italian fuss, they got shut up in some
   little city and would have been killed by Austrians, who were
   rampaging round the place drunk and mad, if a woman had not hid
   them in a closet for a day and night, and smuggled them out at
   last, when they ran for their lives. I don't mean to get into any
   mess, and between Switzerland and England we can manage for a
   winter. London is so near home and so home-like that we shall be
   quite handy and can run up to Boston at any time. Perhaps Pa will
   step across to see us.

   All these plans may be knocked in the head to-morrow and my next
   letter may be dated from the Pope's best parlor or Windsor
   Castle; but I like to spin about on ups and downs so you can have
   something to talk about at Apple Slump. Uncertainty gives a
   relish to things, so we chase about and have a dozen plans a day.
   It is an Alcott failing you know....

   Love to all and bless you,

     Ever yours

     BEX, Aug. 7, 1870.

   DEAR MR. NILES,--I keep receiving requests from editors to write
   for their papers and magazines. I am truly grateful, but having
   come abroad for rest I am not inclined to try the treadmill till
   my year's vacation is over. So to appease these worthy gentlemen
   and excuse my seeming idleness I send you a trifle in rhyme,[10]
   which you can (if you think it worth the trouble) set going as a
   general answer to everybody; for I can't pay postage in replies
   to each separately,--"it's very costly." Mr. F. said he would pay
   me $10, $15, $20 for any little things I would send him; so
   perhaps you will let him have it first.

   The war makes the bankers take double toll on our money, so we
   feel very poor and as if we ought to be earning, not spending;
   only we are _so_ lazy we can't bear to think of it in earnest....

   We shall probably go to London next month if the war forbids
   Italy for the winter; and if we can't get one dollar without
   paying five for it, we shall come home disgusted.

   Perhaps if I can do nothing else this year I could have a book of
   short stories, old and new, for Christmas. F. and F. have some
   good ones, and I have the right to use them. We could call them
   "Jo March's Necessity Stories." Would it go with new ones added
   and good illustrations?

   I am rising from my ashes in a most phoenix-like manner.

     L. M.A.

_To her Mother._

     VEVAY, PENSION PARADIS, Aug. 11, 1870.

   DEAR MARMEE,--.... This house is very cosey, and the food
   excellent. I thought it would be when I heard gentlemen liked
   it,--they always want good fodder. There are only three now,--an
   old Spaniard and his son, and a young Frenchman. We see them at
   meals, and the girls play croquet with them....

   This is the gay season here, and in spite of the war Vevay is
   full. The ex-Queen of Spain and her family are here at the Grand
   Hotel; also Don Carlos, the rightful heir to the Spanish throne.
   Our landlady says that her house used to be full of Spaniards,
   who every day went in crowds to call on the two kings, Alphonse
   and Carlos. We see brown men and women with black eyes driving
   round in fine coaches, with servants in livery, who I suppose are
   the Court people.

   The papers tell us that the French have lost two big battles; the
   Prussians are in Strasbourg, and Paris in a state of siege. The
   papers are also full of theatrical messages from the French to
   the people, asking them to come up and be slaughtered for _la
   patrie_, and sober, cool reports from the Prussians. I side with
   the Prussians, for they sympathized with us in our war. Hooray
   for old Pruss!...

   France is having a bad time. Princess Clotilde passed through
   Geneva the other day with loads of baggage, flying to Italy; and
   last week a closed car with the imperial arms on it went by here
   in the night,--supposed to be Matilde and other royal folks
   flying away from Paris. The Prince Imperial has been sent home
   from the seat of war; and poor Eugénie is doing her best to keep
   things quiet in Paris. The French here say that a republic is
   already talked of; and the Emperor is on his last legs in every
   way. He is sick, and his doctor won't let him ride, and so
   nervous he can't command the army as he wanted to. Poor old man!
   one can't help pitying him when all his plans fail.

   We still dawdle along, getting fat and hearty. The food is
   excellent. A breakfast of coffee and tip-top bread, fresh butter,
   with eggs or fried potatoes, at 8; a real French dinner at 1.30,
   of soup, fish, meat, game, salad, sweet messes, and fruit, with
   wine; and at 7 cold meat, salad, sauce, tea, and bread and
   butter. It is grape time now, and for a few cents we get pounds,
   on which we feast all day at intervals. We walk and play as well
   as any one, and feel so well I ought to do something....

   Fred and Jack would like to look out of my window now and see the
   little boys playing in the lake. They are there all day long like
   little pigs, and lie around on the warm stones to dry, splashing
   one another for exercise. One boy, having washed himself, is now
   washing his clothes, and all lying out to dry together....

     Ever yours,

_To Anna._

     VEVAY, Aug. 21, 1870.

   I had such a droll dream last night I must tell you. I thought I
   was returning to Concord after my trip, and was alone. As I
   walked from the station I missed Mr. Moore's house, and turning
   the corner, found the scene so changed that I did not know where
   I was. Our house was gone, and in its place stood a great gray
   stone castle, with towers and arches and lawns and bridges, very
   fine and antique. Somehow I got into it without meeting any one
   of you, and wandered about trying to find my family. At last I
   came across Mr. Moore, papering a room, and asked him where his
   house was. He didn't know me, and said,--

   "Oh! I sold it to Mr. Alcott for his school, and we live in Acton

   "Where did Mr. Alcott get the means to build this great concern?"
   I asked.

   "Well, he _gave_ his own land, and took the great pasture his
   daughter left him,--the one that died some ten years ago."

   "So I am dead, am I?" says I to myself, feeling so queerly.

   "Government helped build this place, and Mr. A. has a fine
   college here," said Mr. Moore, papering away again.

   I went on, wondering at the news, and looked into a glass to see
   how I looked dead. I found myself a fat old lady, with gray hair
   and specs,--very like E. P. P. I laughed, and coming to a Gothic
   window, looked out and saw hundreds of young men and boys in a
   queer flowing dress, roaming about the parks and lawns; and among
   them was Pa, looking as he looked thirty years ago, with brown
   hair and a big white neckcloth, as in the old times. He looked so
   plump and placid and young and happy I was charmed to see him,
   and nodded; but he didn't know me; and I was so grieved and
   troubled at being a Rip Van Winkle, I cried, and said I had
   better go away and not disturb any one,--and in the midst of my
   woe, I woke up. It was all so clear and funny, I can't help
   thinking that it may be a foreshadowing of something real. I used
   to dream of being famous, and it has partly become true; so why
   not Pa's college blossom, and he get young and happy with his
   disciples? I only hope he won't quite forget me when I come back,
   fat and gray and old. Perhaps his dream is to come in another
   world, where everything is fresh and calm, and the reason why he
   didn't recognize me was because I was still in this work-a-day
   world, and so felt old and strange in this lovely castle in the
   air. Well, he is welcome to my fortune; but the daughter who did
   die ten years ago is more likely to be the one who helped him
   build his School of Concord up aloft.

   I can see how the dream came; for I had been looking at Silling's
   boys in their fine garden, and wishing I could go in and know the
   dear little lads walking about there, in the forenoon. I had got
   a topknot at the barber's, and talked about my gray hairs, and
   looking in the glass thought how fat and old I was getting, and
   had shown the B.'s Pa's picture, which they thought saintly, etc.
   I believe in dreams, though I am free to confess that
   "cowcumbers" for tea may have been the basis of this
   "ally-gorry-cal wision."...

   As we know the Consul at Spezzia,--that is, we have letters to
   him, as well as to many folks in Rome, etc.,--I guess we shall
   go; for the danger of Europe getting into the fight is over now,
   and we can sail to England or home any time from Italy.... Love
   to every one.

   Kiss my _cousin_ for me.

     Ever your

_To Mr. Niles._

     AUGUST 23, 1870.

   Your note of August 2 has just come, with a fine budget of
   magazines and a paper, for all of which many thanks.

          *       *       *       *       *

   Don't give my address to any one. I don't want the young ladies'
   notes. They can send them to Concord, and I shall get them next

          *       *       *       *       *

   The boys at Silling's school are a perpetual source of delight to
   me; and I stand at the gate, like the Peri, longing to go in and
   play with the lads. The young ladies who want to find live
   Lauries can be supplied here, for Silling has a large assortment
   always on hand.

   My B. says she is constantly trying to incite me to literary
   effort, but I hang fire. So I do,--but only that I may go off
   with a bang by and by, _à la mitrailleuse_.

     L. M. A.

_To her Family._

     VEVAY, Aug. 29, 1870.

   DEAR PEOPLE,--... M. Nicaud, the owner of this house,--a funny
   old man, with a face so like a parrot that we call him M.
   Perrot,--asked us to come and visit him at his _châlet_ up among
   the hills. He is building a barn there, and stays to see that all
   goes well; so we only see him on Sundays, when he convulses us by
   his funny ways. Last week seven of us went up in a big landau,
   and the old dear entertained us like a prince. We left the
   carriage at the foot of a little steep path, and climbed up to
   the dearest old _châlet_ we ever saw. Here Pa Nicaud met us, took
   us up the outside steps into his queer little salon, and regaled
   us with his sixty-year old wine and nice little cakes. We then
   set forth, in spite of clouds and wind, to view the farm and
   wood. It showered at intervals, but no one seemed to care; so we
   trotted about under umbrellas, getting mushrooms, flowers, and
   colds, viewing the Tarpeian Rock, and sitting on rustic seats to
   enjoy the _belle vue_, which consisted of fog. It was such a
   droll lark that we laughed and ran, and enjoyed the damp picnic
   very much. Then we had a tip-top Swiss dinner, followed by
   coffee, three sorts of wine, and cigars. Every one smoked, and as
   it poured guns, the old Perrot had a blazing fire made, round
   which we sat, talking many languages, singing, and revelling. We
   had hardly got through dinner and seen another foggy view when
   tea was announced, and we stuffed again, having pitchers of
   cream, fruit, and a queer but very nice dish of slices of light
   bread dipped in egg and fried, and eaten with sugar. The buxom
   Swiss maid flew and grinned, and kept serving up some new mess
   from her tiny dark kitchen. It cleared off, and we walked home in
   spite of our immense exploits in the eating line. Old Perrot
   escorted us part way down, and we gave three cheers for him as we
   parted. Then we showed Madame and the French governess and Don
   Juan (the Spanish boy) some tall walking, though the roads were
   very steep and rough and muddy. We tramped some five miles; and
   our party (May, A., the governess, and I) got home long before
   Madame and Don Juan, who took a short cut, and wouldn't believe
   that we didn't get a lift somehow. I felt quite proud of my old
   pins; for they were not tired, and none the worse for the long
   walk. I think they are really all right now, for the late cold
   weather has not troubled them in the least; and I sleep--O ye
   gods, how I do sleep!--ten or twelve hours sound, and get up so
   drunk with dizziness it is lovely to see. Aint I grateful? Oh,
   yes! oh, yes!

   We began French lessons to-day, May and I, of the French
   governess,--a kind old girl who only asks two francs a lesson. We
   _must_ speak the language, for it is disgraceful to be so stupid;
   so we have got to work, and mean to be able to _parlez-vous_ or
   die. The war is still a nuisance, and we may be here some time,
   and really need some work; for we are so lazy we shall be spoilt,
   if we don't fall to....

   I gave Count C. Pa's message, and he was pleased. He reads no
   English, and is going to Hungary soon; so Pa had better not send
   the book....


     VEVAY, Sept. 10, 1870.

   DEAR PEOPLE,--As all Europe seems to be going to destruction, I
   hasten to drop a line before the grand smash arrives. We mean to
   skip over the Alps next week, if weather and war permit; for we
   are bound to see Milan and the lakes, even if we have to turn and
   come back without a glimpse of Rome. The Pope is beginning to
   perk up; and Italy and England and Russia seem ready to join in
   the war, now that France is down. Think of Paris being bombarded
   and smashed up like Strasbourg. We never shall see the grand old
   cathedral at Strasbourg now, it is so spoilt.

   Vevay is crammed with refugees from Paris and Strasbourg. Ten
   families applied here yesterday....

   Our house is brimful, and we have funny times. The sick Russian
   lady and her old Ma make a great fuss if a breath of air comes in
   at meal times, and expect twenty people to sit shut tight in a
   smallish room for an hour on a hot day. We protested, and Madame
   put them in the parlor, where they glower as we pass, and lock
   the door when they can. The German Professor is learning English,
   and is a quiet, pleasant man. The Polish General, a little
   cracked, is very droll, and bursts out in the middle of the
   general chat with stories about transparent apples and golden
   horses.... Benda, the crack book-and-picture man, has asked May
   if she was the Miss Alcott who wrote the popular books; for he
   said he had many calls for them, and wished to know where they
   could be found. We told him "at London," and felt puffed up....

   May and I delve away at French; but it makes my head ache, and I
   don't learn enough to pay for the trouble. I never could _study_,
   you know, and suffer such agony when I try that it is piteous to
   behold. The little brains I have left I want to keep for future
   works, and not exhaust them on grammar,--vile invention of Satan!
   May gets on slowly, and don't have fits after it; so she had
   better go on (the lessons only cost two francs)....

     L. M. A.

_To her Mother._

     LAGO DI COMO, Oct. 8, 1870.

   DEAREST MARMEE,--A happy birthday, and many of 'em! Here we
   actually are in the long-desired Italy, and find it as lovely as
   we hoped. Our journey was a perfect success,--sunlight,
   moonlight, magnificent scenery, pleasant company, no mishaps, and
   one long series of beautiful pictures all the way.

   Crossing the Simplon is an experience worth having; for without
   any real danger, fatigue, or hardship, one sees some of the
   finest as well as most awful parts of these wonderful Alps.

   The road,--a miracle in itself! for all Nature seems to protest
   against it, and the elements never tire of trying to destroy it.
   Only a Napoleon would have dreamed of making a path through such
   a place; and he only cared for it as a way to get his men and
   cannon into an enemy's country by this truly royal road.

   May has told you about our trip; so I will only add a few bits
   that she forgot.

   Our start in the dawn from Brieg, with two diligences, a
   carriage, and a cart, was something between a funeral and a
   caravan: first an immense diligence with seven horses, then a
   smaller one with four, then our _calèche_ with two, and finally
   the carrier's cart with one. It was very exciting,--the general
   gathering of sleepy travellers in the dark square, the tramping
   of horses, the packing in, the grand stir of getting off; then
   the slow winding up, up, up out of the valley toward the sun,
   which came slowly over the great hills, rising as we never saw it
   rise before. The still, damp pine-forests kept us in shadow a
   long time after the white mountain-tops began to shine. Little by
   little we wound through a great gorge, and then the sun came
   dazzling between these grand hills, showing us a new world. Peak
   after peak of the Bernese Oberland rose behind us, and great
   white glaciers lay before us; while the road crept like a narrow
   line, in and out over chasms that made us dizzy to look at, under
   tunnels, and through stone galleries with windows over which
   dashed waterfalls from the glaciers above. Here and there were
   refuges, a hospice, and a few _châlets_, where shepherds live
   their wild, lonely lives. In the P.M. we drove rapidly down
   toward Italy through the great Valley of Gondo,--a deep rift in
   rock thousands of feet deep, and just wide enough for the road
   and a wild stream that was our guide; a never-to-be-forgotten
   place, and a fit gateway to Italy, which soon lay smiling below
   us. The change is very striking; and when we came to Lago
   Maggiore lying in the moonlight we could only sigh for happiness,
   and love and look and look. After a good night's rest at Stresa,
   we went in a charming gondola-sort of boat to see Isola
   Bella,--the island you see in the chromo over the fireplace at
   home,--a lovely island, with famous castle, garden, and town on
   it. The day was as balmy as summer, and we felt like butterflies
   after a frost, and fluttered about, enjoying the sunshine all

   A sail by steamer brought us to Luino, where we went on the
   diligence to Lugano. Moonlight all the way, and a gay driver, who
   wound his horn as we clattered into market-places and over
   bridges in the most gallant style. The girls were on top, and in
   a state of rapture all the way. After supper in a vaulted,
   frescoed hall, with marble floors, pillars, and galleries, we
   went to a room which had green doors, red carpet, blue walls, and
   yellow bed-covers,--all so gay! It was like sleeping in a

   As if a heavenly lake under our windows with moonlight _ad
   libitum_ wasn't enough, we had music next door; and on leaning
   out of a little back window, we made the splendid discovery that
   we could look on to the stage of the opera-house across a little
   alley. My Nan can imagine with what rapture I stared at the
   scenes going on below me, and how I longed for her as I stood
   there wrapped in my yellow bed-quilt, and saw gallant knights in
   armor warble sweetly to plump ladies in masks, or pretty peasants
   fly wildly from ardent lovers in red tights; also a dishevelled
   maid who tore her hair in a forest, while a man aloft made
   thunder and lightning,--and _I saw him do it_!

   It was the climax to a splendid day; for few travellers can go to
   the opera luxuriously in their night-gowns, and take naps between
   the acts as I did.

   A lovely sail next morning down the lake; then a carriage to
   Menaggio; and then a droll boat, like a big covered market-wagon
   with a table and red-cushioned seats, took us and our trunks to
   Cadenabbia, for there is only a donkey road to the little town.
   At the hotel on the edge of the lake we found Nelly L., a sweet
   girl as lovely as Minnie, and so glad to see us; for since her
   mother died in Venice last year she has lived alone with her
   maid. She had waited for us, and next day went to Milan, where
   we join her on Monday. She paints; and May and she made plans at
   once to study together, and enjoy some of the free art-schools at
   Milan and Naples or Florence, if we can all be together. It is a
   great chance for May, and I mean she shall have a good time, and
   not wait for tools and teachers; for all is in the way of her
   profession, and of use to her.

   Cadenabbia is only two hotels and a few villas opposite Bellagio,
   which is a town, and fashionable. We were rowed over to see it by
   our boatman, who spends his time at the front of the stone steps
   before the hotel, and whenever we go out he tells us, "The lake
   is tranquil; the hour is come for a walk on the water," and is as
   coaxing as only an Italian can be. He is amiably tipsy most of
   the time.

   To-day it rains so we cannot go out, and I rest and write to my
   Marmee in a funny room with a stone floor inlaid till it looks
   like castile soap, a ceiling in fat cupids and trumpeting
   fairies, a window on the lake, with balcony, etc. Hand-organs
   with jolly singing boys jingle all day, and two big bears go by
   led by a man with a drum. The boys would laugh to see them dance
   on their hind legs, and shoulder sticks like soldiers.

   ... All looks well, and if the winter goes on rapidly and
   pleasantly as the summer we shall soon be thinking of home,
   unless one of us decides to stay. I shall post this at Milan
   to-morrow, and hope to find letters there from you. By-by till


   _October_, 1870.--A memorable month.... Off for Italy on the 2d.
   A splendid journey over the Alps and Maggiore by moonlight.

   Heavenly days at the lakes, and so to Milan, Parma, Pisa,
   Bologna, and Florence. Disappointed in some things, but found
   Nature always lovely and wonderful; so didn't mind faded
   pictures, damp rooms, and the cold winds of "sunny Italy." Bought
   furs at Florence, and arrived in Rome one rainy night.

   _November 10th._--In Rome, and felt as if I had been there before
   and knew all about it. Always oppressed with a sense of sin,
   dirt, and general decay of all things. Not well; so saw things
   through blue glasses. May in bliss with lessons, sketching, and
   her dreams. A. had society, her house, and old friends. The
   artists were the best company; counts and princes very dull, what
   we saw of them. May and I went off on the Campagna, and
   criticised all the world like two audacious Yankees.

   Our apartment in Piazza Barbarini was warm and cosey; and I
   thanked Heaven for it, as it rained for two months, and my first
   view most of the time was the poor Triton with an icicle on his

   We pay $60 a month for six good rooms, and $6 a month for a girl,
   who cooks and takes care of us.

   _29th._--My thirty-eighth birthday. May gave me a pretty sketch,
   and A. a fine nosegay.

In Rome Miss Alcott was shocked and grieved by the news of the death
of her well-beloved brother-in-law, Mr. Pratt. She has drawn so
beautiful a picture of him in "Little Women" and in "Little Men," that
it is hardly needful to dwell upon his character or the grief which
his death caused her. With her usual care for others, her thoughts at
once turned to the support of the surviving family, and she found
comfort in writing "Little Men" with the thought of the dear sister
and nephews constantly in her heart.

In spite of this great sorrow and anxiety for the dear ones at home,
the year of travel was very refreshing to her. Her companions were
congenial, she took great delight in her sister's work, and she was
independent in her plans, and could go whither and when she would.

The voyage home was a hard one; there was small-pox on board, but Miss
Alcott fortunately escaped the infection. "Little Men" was out the day
she arrived, as a bright red placard in the carriage announced, and
besides all the loving welcomes from family and friends, she received
the pleasing news that fifty thousand of the books were already sold.

But the old pains and weariness came home with her also. She could not
stay in Concord, and went again to Boston, hoping to rest and work.
Her young sister came home to brighten up the family with her hopeful,
helpful spirit.

At forty years of age Louisa had accomplished the task she set for
herself in youth. By unceasing toil she had made herself and her
family independent; debts were all paid, and enough was invested to
preserve them from want. And yet wants seemed to increase with their
satisfaction, and she felt impelled to work enough to give to all the
enjoyments and luxuries which were fitted to them after the
necessaries were provided for. It may be that her own exhausted
nervous condition made it impossible for her to rest, and the demand
which she fancied came from without was the projection of her own


   1871.--_Rome._--Great inundation. Streets flooded, churches with
   four feet of water in them, and queer times for those who were in
   the overflowed quarters. Meals hoisted up at the window; people
   carried across the river-like streets to make calls; and all
   manner of funny doings. We were high and dry at Piazza Barbarini,
   and enjoyed the flurry.

   To the Capitol often, to spend the A.M. with the Roman emperors
   and other great men. M. Aurelius as a boy was fine; Cicero looked
   very like W. Phillips; Agrippina in her chair was charming; but
   the other ladies, with hair _à la sponge_, were ugly; Nero & Co.
   a set of brutes and bad men. But a better sight to me was the
   crowd of poor people going to get the bread and money sent by the
   king; and the splendid snow-covered hills were finer than the
   marble beauty inside. Art tires; Nature never.

   Professor Pierce and his party just from Sicily, where they had
   been to see the eclipse,--all beaming with delight, and well
   repaid for the long journey by a _two minutes'_ squint at the sun
   when darkest.

   Began to write a new book, "Little Men," that John's death may
   not leave A. and the dear little boys in want. John took care
   that they should have enough while the boys are young, and worked
   very hard to have a little sum to leave, without a debt anywhere.

   In writing and thinking of the little lads, to whom I must be a
   father now, I found comfort for my sorrow. May went on with her
   lessons, "learning," as she wisely said, how little she knew and
   how to go on.

   _February._--A gay month in Rome, with the carnival, artists'
   fancy ball, many parties, and much calling.

   Decided to leave May for another year, as L. sends $700 on
   "Moods," and the new book will provide $1,000 for the dear girl;
   so she may be happy and free to follow her talent.

   _March._--Spent at Albano. A lovely place. Walk, write, and rest.
   A troop of handsome officers from Turin, who clatter by, casting
   soft glances at my two blonde signorinas, who enjoy it very
   much.[11] Baron and Baroness Rothschild were there, and the W.'s
   from Philadelphia, Dr. O. W. and wife, and S. B. Mrs. W. and A.
   B. talk _all day_, May sketches, I write, and so we go on. Went
   to look at rooms at the Bonapartes.

   _April._--Venice. Floated about for two weeks seeing sights. A
   lovely city for a short visit. Not enough going on to suit brisk
   Americans. May painted, A. hunted up old jewelry and friends, and
   I dawdled after them.

   A very interesting trip to London,--over the Brenner Pass to
   Munich, Cologne, Antwerp, and by boat to London.

   _May._--A busy month. Settled in lodgings, Brompton Road, and
   went sight-seeing. Mrs. P. Taylor, Conway, and others very kind.
   Enjoyed showing May my favorite places and people.

   A. B. went home on the 11th, after a pleasant year with us. I am
   glad to know her, for she is true and very interesting. May took
   lessons of Rowbotham and was happy. "Little Men" came out in

   I decided to go home on the 25th, as I am needed. A very pleasant
   year in spite of constant pain, John's death, and home anxieties.
   Very glad I came, for May's sake. It has been a very useful year
   for her.

   _June._--After an anxious passage of twelve days, got safely
   home. Small-pox on board, and my room-mate, Miss D., very ill. I
   escaped, but had a sober time lying next door to her, waiting to
   see if my turn was to come. She was left at the island, and I
   went up the harbor with Judge Russell, who took some of us off in
   his tug.

   Father and T. N. came to meet me with a great red placard of
   "Little Men" pinned up in the carriage. After due precautions,
   hurried home and found all well. My room refurnished and much
   adorned by Father's earnings.

   Nan well and calm, but under her sweet serenity is a very sad
   soul, and she mourns for her mate like a tender turtle-dove.

   The boys were tall, bright lads, devoted to Marmee, and the life
   of the house.

   Mother feeble and much aged by this year of trouble. I shall
   never go far away from her again. Much company, and loads of
   letters, all full of good wishes and welcome.

   "Little Men" was out the day I arrived. Fifty thousand sold
   before it was out.

   A happy month, for I felt well for the first time in two years. I
   knew it wouldn't last, but enjoyed it heartily while it did, and
   was grateful for rest from pain and a touch of the old
   cheerfulness. It was much needed at home.

   _July, August, September._--Sick. Holiday soon over. Too much
   company and care and change of climate upset the poor nerves
   again. Dear Uncle S. J. May died; our best friend for years.
   Peace to his ashes. He leaves a sweeter memory behind him than
   any man I know. Poor Marmee is the last of her family now.

   _October._--Decided to go to B.; Concord is so hard for me, with
   its dampness and worry. Get two girls to do the work, and leave
   plenty of money and go to Beacon Street to rest and try to get
   well that I may work. A lazy life, but it seemed to suit; and
   anything is better than the invalidism I hate worse than death.

   Bones ached less, and I gave up morphine, as sunshine, air, and
   quiet made sleep possible without it. Saw people, pictures,
   plays, and read all I could, but did not enjoy much, for the
   dreadful weariness of nerves makes even pleasure hard.

   _November._--May sent pleasant letters and some fine copies of
   Turner. She decides to come home, as she feels she is needed as I
   give out. Marmee is feeble, Nan has her boys and her sorrow, and
   one strong head and hand is wanted at home. A year and a half of
   holiday is a good deal, and duty comes first always. Sorry to
   call her back, but her eyes are troublesome, and housework will
   rest them and set her up. Then she can go again when I am better,
   for I don't want her to be thwarted in her work more than just
   enough to make her want it very much.

   On the 19th she came. Well, happy, and full of sensible plans. A
   lively time enjoying the cheerful element she always brings into
   the house. Piles of pictures, merry adventures, and interesting
   tales of the fine London lovers.

   Kept my thirty-ninth and Father's seventy-second birthday in the
   old way.

   Thanksgiving dinner at Pratt Farm. All well and all together.
   Much to give thanks for.

   _December._--Enjoyed my quiet, sunny room very much; and this
   lazy life seems to suit me, for I am better, mind and body. All
   goes well at home, with May to run the machine in her cheery,
   energetic style, and amuse Marmee and Nan with gay histories. Had
   a furnace put in, and all enjoyed the new climate. No more
   rheumatic fevers and colds, with picturesque open fires. Mother
   is to be cosey if money can do it. She seems to be now, and my
   long-cherished dream has come true; for she sits in a pleasant
   room, with no work, no care, no poverty to worry, but peace and
   comfort all about her, and children glad and able to stand
   between trouble and her. Thank the Lord! I like to stop and
   "remember my mercies." Working and waiting for them makes them
   very welcome.

   Went to the ball for the Grand Duke Alexis. A fine sight, and the
   big blonde boy the best of all. Would dance with the pretty
   girls, and leave the Boston dowagers and their diamonds in the

   To the Radical Club, where the philosophers mount their hobbies
   and prance away into time and space, while we gaze after them and
   try to look wise.

   A merry Christmas at home. Tree for the boys, family dinner, and
   frolic in the evening.

   A varied, but on the whole a good year, in spite of pain. Last
   Christmas we were in Rome, mourning for John. What will next
   Christmas bring forth? I have no ambition now but to keep the
   family comfortable and not ache any more. Pain has taught me
   patience, I hope, if nothing more.

   _January_, 1872.--Roberts Brothers paid $4,400 as six months'
   receipts for the books. A fine New Year's gift. S. E. S. invested
   $3,000, and the rest I put in the bank for family needs. Paid for
   the furnace and all the bills. What bliss it is to be able to do
   that and ask no help!

          *       *       *       *       *

   Mysterious bouquets came from some unknown admirer or friend.
   Enjoyed them very much, and felt quite grateful and romantic as
   day after day the lovely great nosegays were handed in by the
   servant of the unknown.

   _February and March._--At Mrs. Stowe's desire, wrote for the
   "Christian Union" an account of our journey through France, and
   called it "Shawl Straps."... Many calls and letters and
   invitations, but I kept quiet, health being too precious to risk,
   and sleep still hard to get for the brain that would work instead
   of rest.

   Heard lectures,--Higginson, Bartol, Frothingham, and Rabbi
   Lilienthal. Much talk about religion. I'd like to see a little
   more really _lived_.

   _April and May._--Wrote another sketch for the "Independent,"--"A
   French Wedding;" and the events of my travels paid my winter's
   expenses. All is fish that comes to the literary net. Goethe puts
   his joys and sorrows into poems; I turn my adventures into bread
   and butter.

          *       *       *       *       *

   _June_, 1872.--Home, and begin a new task. Twenty years ago I
   resolved to make the family independent if I could. At forty that
   is done. Debts all paid, even the outlawed ones, and we have
   enough to be comfortable. It has cost me my health, perhaps; but
   as I still live, there is more for me to do, I suppose.


[8] Betsey Prig was a pet name for her sister, as she herself was
Sairey Gamp.

[9] This was a family joke as Mrs. Alcott always ended her
instructions to her children "in case of fire."

[10] This is the poem prefixed to the chapter.

[11] See Shawl Straps, p. 179.





Lines written by Louisa M. Alcott on the death of her mother.

     Mysterious death! who in a single hour
           Life's gold can so refine,
           And by thy art divine
     Change mortal weakness to immortal power!

     Bending beneath the weight of eighty years,
           Spent with the noble strife
           Of a victorious life,
     We watched her fading heavenward, through our tears.

     But ere the sense of loss our hearts had wrung,
           A miracle was wrought;
           And swift as happy thought
     She lived again,--brave, beautiful, and young.

     Age, pain, and sorrow dropped the veils they wore
           And showed the tender eyes
           Of angels in disguise,
     Whose discipline so patiently she bore.

     The past years brought their harvest rich and fair;
           While memory and love,
           Together, fondly wove
     A golden garland for the silver hair.

     How could we mourn like those who are bereft,
           When every pang of grief
           Found balm for its relief
     In counting up the treasures she had left?--

     Faith that withstood the shocks of toil and time;
           Hope that defied despair;
           Patience that conquered care;
     And loyalty, whose courage was sublime;

     The great deep heart that was a home for all,--
           Just, eloquent, and strong
           In protest against wrong;
     Wide charity, that knew no sin, no fall;

     The spartan spirit that made life so grand,
           Mating poor daily needs
           With high, heroic deeds,
     That wrested happiness from Fate's hard hand.

     We thought to weep, but sing for joy instead,
           Full of the grateful peace
           That follows her release;
     For nothing but the weary dust lies dead.

     Oh, noble woman! never more a queen
           Than in the laying down
           Of sceptre and of crown
     To win a greater kingdom, yet unseen;

     Teaching us how to seek the highest goal,
           To earn the true success,--
           To live, to love, to bless,--
     And make death proud to take a royal soul.

The history of the next six years offers little variety of incident in
Miss Alcott's busy life. She could not work at home in Concord as well
as in some quiet lodging in Boston, where she was more free from
interruption from visitors; but she spent her summers with her mother,
often taking charge of the housekeeping. In 1872 she wrote "Work," one
of her most successful books. She had begun it some time before, and
originally called it "Success." It represents her own personal
experience more than any other book. She says to a friend: "Christie's
adventures are many of them my own; Mr. Power is Mr. Parker; Mrs.
Wilkins is imaginary, and all the rest. This was begun at eighteen,
and never finished till H. W. Beecher wrote to me for a serial for the
'Christian Union' in 1872, and paid $3,000 for it."

Miss Alcott again sent May to Europe in 1873 to finish her studies,
and herself continued writing stories to pay the expenses of the
family. The mother's serious illness weighed heavily on Louisa's
heart, and through the summer of 1873 she was devoted to the invalid,
rejoicing in her partial recovery, though sadly feeling that she would
never be her bright energetic self again. Mrs. Alcott was able,
however, to keep her birthday (October 8) pleasantly, and out of this
experience came a story called "A Happy Birthday." This little tale
paid for carriages for the invalid. It is included in "Aunt Jo's

Louisa and her mother decided to spend the winter in Boston, while Mr.
Alcott was at the West. Her thoughts dwell much upon her father's
life, and she is not content that he has not all the recognition and
enjoyment that she would gladly give him. She helps her mother to
perform the sacred duty of placing a tablet on Colonel May's grave,
and the dear old lady recognizes that her life has gone down into the
past, and says, "This isn't my Boston, and I never want to see it any

Louisa was at this time engaged in writing for "St. Nicholas" and "The

The return of the young artist, happy in her success, brings
brightness to the home-circle. In the winter of 1875 Miss Alcott takes
her old place at the Bellevue, where May can have her drawing-classes.
She was herself ill, and the words, "No sleep without morphine!" tell
the story of nervous suffering.


   _July_, 1872.--May makes a lovely hostess, and I fly round behind
   the scenes, or skip out of the back window when ordered out for
   inspection by the inquisitive public. Hard work to keep things
   running smoothly, for this sight-seeing fiend is a new torment to

   _August._--May goes to Clark's Island for rest, having kept hotel
   long enough. I say "No," and shut the door. People _must_ learn
   that authors have some rights; I can't entertain a dozen a day,
   and write the tales they demand also. I'm but a human worm, and
   when walked on must turn in self-defence.

   Reporters sit on the wall and take notes; artists sketch me as I
   pick pears in the garden; and strange women interview Johnny as
   he plays in the orchard.

   It looks like impertinent curiosity to me; but it is called
   "fame," and considered a blessing to be grateful for, I find. Let
   'em try it.

   _September._--To Wolcott, with Father and Fred. A quaint, lovely
   old place is the little house on Spindle Hill, where the boy Amos
   dreamed the dreams that have come true at last.

   Got hints for my novel, "The Cost of an Idea," if I ever find
   time to write it.

   Don't wonder the boy longed to climb those hills, and see what
   lay beyond.

   _October._--Went to a room in Allston Street, in a quiet,
   old-fashioned house. I can't work at home, and need to be alone
   to spin, like a spider.

   Rested; walked; to the theatre now and then. Home once a week
   with books, etc., for Marmee and Nan. Prepared "Shawl Straps" for

   _November._--Forty on the 29th. Got Father off for the West, all
   neat and comfortable. I enjoyed every penny spent, and had a
   happy time packing his new trunk with warm flannels, neat shirts,
   gloves, etc., and seeing the dear man go off in a new suit,
   overcoat, hat, and all, like a gentleman. We both laughed over
   the pathetic old times with tears in our eyes, and I reminded him
   of the "poor as poverty, but serene as heaven" saying.

   Something to do came just as I was trying to see what to take up,
   for work is my salvation. H. W. Beecher sent one of the editors
   of the "Christian Union" to ask for a serial story. They have
   asked before, and offered $2,000, which I refused; now they
   offered $3,000, and I accepted.

   Got out the old manuscript of "Success," and called it "Work."
   Fired up the engine, and plunged into a vortex, with many doubts
   about getting out. Can't work slowly; the thing possesses me, and
   I must obey till it's done. One thousand dollars was sent as a
   seal on the bargain, so I was bound, and sat at the oar like a

   F. wanted eight little tales, and offered $35 apiece; used to pay
   $10. Such is fame! At odd minutes I wrote the short ones, and so
   paid my own expenses. "Shawl Straps," Scrap-Bag, No. 2, came out,
   and went well.

   Great Boston fire; up all night. Very splendid and terrible

   _December._--Busy with "Work." Write three pages at once on
   impression paper, as Beecher, Roberts, and Low of London all want
   copy at once.

   [This was the cause of the paralysis of my thumb, which disabled
   me for the rest of my life.--L. M. A.]

   Nan and the boys came to visit me, and break up the winter.
   Rested a little, and played with them.

   Father very busy and happy. On his birthday had a gold-headed
   cane given him. He is appreciated out there.

During these western trips, Mr. Alcott found that his daughter's fame
added much to the warmth of his reception. On his return he loved to
tell how he was welcomed as the "grandfather of 'Little Women.'" When
he visited schools, he delighted the young audiences by satisfying
their curiosity as to the author of their favorite book, and the truth
of the characters and circumstances described in it.

     BOSTON, 1872.

   DEAR MARMEE,--Had a very transcendental day yesterday, and at
   night my head was "swelling wisibly" with the ideas cast into it.

   The club was a funny mixture of rabbis and weedy old ladies, the
   "oversoul" and oysters. Papa and B. flew clean out of sight like
   a pair of Platonic balloons, and we tried to follow, but

   In the P.M. went to R. W. E.'s reading. All the literary birds
   were out in full feather. This "'umble" worm was treated with
   distinguished condescension. Dr. B. gave me his noble hand to
   press, and murmured compliments with the air of a bishop
   bestowing a benediction. Dear B. beamed upon me from the depths
   of his funny little cloak and said, "We are getting on well,
   ain't we?" W. bowed his Jewish head, and rolled his fine eye at
   me. Several dreadful women purred about me, and I fled.

   M. said what I liked,--that he'd sent my works to his mother, and
   the good old lady told him to tell me that she couldn't do a
   stroke of work, but just sat and read 'em right through; she
   wished she was young so as to have a long life in which to keep
   on enjoying such books. The peacock liked that.

   I have paid all my own expenses out of the money earned by my
   little tales; so I have not touched the family income.

   Didn't mean to write; but it has been an expensive winter, and my
   five hundred has made me all right. The $500 I lent K. makes a
   difference in the income; but I could not refuse her, she was so
   kind in the old hard times.

   At the reading a man in front of me sat listening and knitting
   his brows for a time, but had to give it up and go to sleep.
   After it was over some one said to him, "Well, what do you think
   of it?" "It's all very fine I have no doubt; but I'm blessed if I
   can understand a word of it," was the reply....

   The believers glow when the oracle is stuck, rustle and beam when
   he is audible, and nod and smile as if they understood perfectly
   when he murmurs under the desk! We are a foolish set!


   _January_, 1873.--Getting on well with "Work;" have to go slowly
   now for fear of a break-down. All well at home.

   A week at Newport with Miss Jane Stewart. Dinners, balls, calls,
   etc. Saw Higginson and "H. H." Soon tired of gayety, and glad to
   get home to my quiet den and pen.

   Roberts Brothers paid me $2,022 for books. S. E. S. invested most
   of it, with the $1,000 F. sent. Gave C. M. $100,--a
   thank-offering for my success. I like to help the class of
   "silent poor" to which we belonged for so many years,--needy, but
   respectable, and forgotten because too proud to beg. Work
   difficult to find for such people, and life made very hard for
   want of a little money to ease the necessary needs.

   _February and March._--Anna very ill with pneumonia; home to
   nurse her. Father telegraphed to come home, as we thought her
   dying. She gave me her boys; but the dear saint got well, and
   kept the lads for herself. Thank God!

   Back to my work with what wits nursing left me.

   Had Johnny for a week, to keep all quiet at home. Enjoyed the
   sweet little soul very much, and sent him back much better.

   Finished "Work,"--twenty chapters. Not what it should be,--too
   many interruptions. Should like to do one book in peace, and see
   if it wouldn't be good.

   _April_--The job being done I went home to take May's place. Gave
   her $1,000, and sent her to London for a year of study. She
   sailed on the 26th, brave and happy and hopeful. I felt that she
   needed it, and was glad to be able to help her.

   I spent seven months in Boston; wrote a book and ten tales;
   earned $3,250 by my pen, and am satisfied with my winter's work.

   _May._--D. F. wanted a dozen little tales, and agreed to pay $50
   apiece, if I give up other things for this. Said I would, as I
   can do two a day, and keep house between times. Cleaned and
   grubbed, and didn't mind the change. Let head rest, and heels and
   feet do the work.

   Cold and dull; but the thought of May free and happy was my
   comfort as I messed about.

   _June and July._--Settled the servant question by getting a neat
   American woman to cook and help me with the housework.

   Peace fell upon our troubled souls, and all went well. Good
   meals, tidy house, cheerful service, and in the P.M. an
   intelligent young person to read and sew with us.

   It was curious how she came to us. She had taught and sewed, and
   was tired, and wanted something else; decided to try for a
   housekeeper's place, but happened to read "Work," and thought
   she'd do as Christie did,--take anything that came.

   I was the first who answered her advertisement, and when she
   found I wrote the book, she said, "I'll go and see if Miss A.
   practises as she preaches."

   She found I did, and we had a good time together. My new helper
   did so well I took pale Johnny to the seaside for a week; but was
   sent for in haste, as poor Marmee was very ill. Mental
   bewilderment came after one of her heart troubles (the dropsy
   affected the brain), and for three weeks we had a sad time.
   Father and I took care of her, and my good A. S. kept house
   nicely and faithfully for me.

   Marmee slowly came back to herself, but sadly feeble,--never to
   be our brave, energetic leader any more. She felt it, and it was
   hard to convince her that there was no need of her doing anything
   but rest.

   _August, September, October._--Mother improved steadily. Father
   went to the Alcott festival in Walcott, A. and boys to Conway
   for a month; and it did them all much good.

   I had quiet days with Marmee; drove with her, and had the great
   pleasure of supplying all her needs and fancies.

   May busy and happy in London. A merry time on Mother's birthday,
   October 8. All so glad to have her still here; for it seemed as
   if we were to lose her.

   Made a little story of it for F.,--"A Happy Birthday."--and spent
   the $50 in carriages for her.

   _November and December._--Decided that it was best not to try a
   cold, lonely winter in C., but go to B. with Mother, Nan, and
   boys, and leave Father free for the West.

   Took sunny rooms at the South End, near the Park, so the lads
   could play out and Marmee walk. She enjoyed the change, and sat
   at her window watching people, horse-cars, and sparrows with
   great interest. Old friends came to see her, and she was happy.
   Found a nice school for the boys; and Nan enjoyed her quiet days.

   _January_, 1874.--Mother quite ill this month. Dr. Wesselhoeft
   does his best for the poor old body, now such a burden to her.
   The slow decline has begun, and she knows it, having nursed her
   mother to the same end.

   Father disappointed and rather sad, to be left out of so much
   that he would enjoy and should be asked to help and adorn. A
   little more money, a pleasant house and time to attend to it, and
   I'd bring all the best people to see and entertain _him_. When I
   see so much twaddle going on I wonder those who can don't get up
   something better, and have really good things.

   When I had the youth I had no money; now I have the money I have
   no time; and when I get the time, if I ever do, I shall have no
   health to enjoy life. I suppose it's the discipline I need; but
   it's rather hard to love the things I do and see them go by
   because duty chains me to my galley. If I come into port at last
   with all sail set that will be reward perhaps.

   Life always was a puzzle to me, and gets more mysterious as I go
   on. I shall find it out by and by and see that it's all right, if
   I can only keep brave and patient to the end.

   May still in London painting Turners, and doing pretty panels as
   "pot-boilers." They sell well, and she is a thrifty child. Good
   luck to our mid-summer girl.

   _February._--Father has several conversations at the Clubs and
   Societies and Divinity School. No one pays anything; but they
   seem glad to listen. There ought to be a place for him.

   Nan busy with her boys, and they doing well at school,--good,
   gay, and intelligent; a happy mother and most loving little sons.

   I wrote two tales, and got $200. Saw Charles Kingsley,--a
   pleasant man. His wife has Alcott relations, and likes my books.
   Asked us to come and see him in England; is to bring his
   daughters to Concord by and by.

   _March._--May came home with a portfolio full of fine work. Must
   have worked like a busy bee to have done so much.

   Very happy in her success; for she has proved her talent, having
   copied Turner so well that Ruskin (meeting her in the National
   Gallery at work) told her that she had "caught Turner's spirit
   wonderfully." She has begun to copy Nature, and done well. Lovely
   sketches of the cloisters in Westminster Abbey, and other
   charming things.

   I write a story for all my men, and make up the $1,000 I planned
   to earn by my "pot-boilers" before we go back to C.

   A tablet to Grandfather May is put in Stone Chapel, and one
   Sunday A.M. we take Mother to see it. A pathetic sight to see
   Father walk up the broad aisle with the feeble old wife on his
   arm as they went to be married nearly fifty years ago. Mother sat
   alone in the old pew a little while and sung softly the old
   hymns; for it was early, and only the sexton there. He asked who
   she was and said his father was sexton in Grandfather's time.

   Several old ladies came in and knew Mother. She broke down
   thinking of the time when she and her mother and sisters and
   father and brothers all went to church together, and we took her
   home saying, "This isn't my Boston; all my friends are gone; I
   never want to see it any more."

   [She never did.--L. M. A.]

   _April and May._--Back to Concord, after May and I had put all in
   fine order and made the old house lovely with her pictures. When
   all were settled, with May to keep house, I went to B. for rest,
   and took a room in Joy Street.

   The Elgin Watch Company offered me a gold watch or $100 for a
   tale. Chose the money, and wrote the story "My Rococo Watch"[13]
   for them.

   _October._--Took two nice rooms at the Hotel Bellevue for the
   winter; May to use one for her classes. Tried to work on my book,
   but was in such pain could not do much. Got no sleep without
   morphine. Tried old Dr. Hewett, who was sure he could cure the

   _November._--Funny time with the publishers about the tale; for
   all wanted it at once, and each tried to outbid the other for an
   unwritten story. I rather enjoyed it, and felt important with
   Roberts, Low, and Scribner all clamoring for my "'umble" works.
   No peddling poor little manuscripts now, and feeling rich with
   $10. The golden goose can sell her eggs for a good price, if she
   isn't killed by too much driving.

   _December._--Better and busier than last month.

   All well at home, and Father happy among his kind Westerners.
   Finish "Eight Cousins," and get ready to do the temperance tale,
   for F. offers $700 for six chapters,--"Silver Pitchers."

   _January_, 1875.-- ... Father flourishing about the Western
   cities, "riding in Louisa's chariot, and adored as the
   grandfather of 'Little Women,'" he says.

   _February._--Finish my tale and go to Vassar College on a visit.
   See M. M., talk with four hundred girls, write in stacks of
   albums and school-books, and kiss every one who asks me. Go to
   New York; am rather lionized, and run away; but things look
   rather jolly, and I may try a winter there some time, as I need a
   change and new ideas.

   _March._--Home again, getting ready for the centennial fuss.

   _April._--On the 19th a grand celebration. General _break-down_,
   owing to an unwise desire to outdo all the other towns; too many

Miss Alcott was very much interested in the question of Woman
Suffrage, and exerted herself to get up a meeting in Concord. The
subject was then very unpopular, and there was an ill-bred effort to
destroy the meeting by noise and riot. Although not fond of speaking
in public, she always put herself bravely on the side of the
unpopular cause, and lent to it all the argument of her heroic life.
When Mrs. Livermore lectured at Concord, Miss Alcott sat up all night
talking with her on the great question. She had an opportunity of
trying which was most exhausting, abuse or admiration, when she went
to a meeting of the Women's Congress at Syracuse, in October. She was
introduced to the audience by Mrs. Livermore, and the young people
crowded about her like bees about a honeycomb. She was waylaid in the
streets, petitioned for autographs, kissed by gushing young maidens,
and made emphatically the lion of the hour. It was all so genial and
spontaneous, that she enjoyed the fun. No amount of adulation ever
affected the natural simplicity of her manners. She neither despised
nor overrated her fame; but was glad of it as a proof of success in
what she was ever aiming to do. She spent a few weeks in New York
enjoying the gay and literary society which was freely opened to her;
but finding most satisfaction in visiting the Tombs, Newsboys' Home,
and Randall's Island, for she liked these things better than parties
and dinners.


   _June, July, August_, 1875.--Kept house at home, with two Irish
   incapables to trot after, and ninety-two guests in one month to
   entertain. Fame is an expensive luxury. I can do without it. This
   is my worst scrape, I think. I asked for bread, and got a
   stone,--in the shape of a pedestal.

   _September and October_, 1875.--I go to Woman's Congress in
   Syracuse, and see Niagara. Funny time with the girls.

   Write loads of autographs, dodge at the theatre, and am kissed to
   death by gushing damsels. One energetic lady grasped my hand in
   the crowd, exclaiming, "If you ever come to Oshkosh, your feet
   will not be allowed to touch the ground: you will be borne in the
   arms of the people! Will you come?" "Never," responded Miss A.,
   trying to look affable, and dying to laugh as the good soul
   worked my arm like a pump-handle, and from the gallery
   generations of girls were looking on. "This, this, is fame!"

   _November, December._--Take a room at Bath Hotel, New York, and
   look about me. Miss Sally Holly is here, and we go about
   together. She tells me much of her life among the freedmen, and
   Mother is soon deep in barrels of clothes, food, books, etc., for
   Miss A. to take back with her.

   See many people, and am very gay for a country-mouse. Society
   unlike either London or Boston.

   Go to Sorosis, and to Mrs. Botta's, O. B. Frothingham's, Miss
   Booth's, and Mrs. Croly's receptions.

   Visit the Tombs, Newsboys' Home, and Randall's Island on
   Christmas Day with Mrs. Gibbons. A memorable day. Make a story of
   it. Enjoy these things more than the parties and dinners.

_To Mrs. Dodge._

     NEW YORK, Oct. 5, 1875.

   DEAR MRS. DODGE,--So far, New York seems inviting, though I have
   not seen or done much but "gawk round" as the country folks do. I
   have seen Niagara, and enjoyed my vacation very much, especially
   the Woman's Congress in Syracuse. I was made a member, so have
   the honor to sign myself,

     Yours truly,
     L. M. ALCOTT, M. C.

_To her Father._

     NEW YORK, Nov. 26, 1875.

   DEAR SEVENTY-SIX,--As I have nothing else to send you on our
   joint birthday, I'll despatch a letter about some of the people I
   have lately seen in whom you take an interest.

   Tuesday we heard Gough on "Blunders," and it was very good,--both
   witty and wise, earnest and sensible. Wednesday eve to Mr.
   Frothingham's for his Fraternity Club meeting. Pleasant people.
   Ellen F.; Abby Sage Richardson, a very lovely woman; young Putnam
   and wife; Mrs. Stedman; Mattie G. and her spouse, Dr. B., who
   read a lively story of Mormon life; Mrs. Dodge; O. Johnson and
   wife, and many more whose names I forget.

   After the story the given subject for discussion was brought
   up,--"Conformity and Noncomformity." Mr. B., a promising young
   lawyer, led one side, Miss B. the other, and Mr. F. was in the
   chair. It was very lively; and being called upon, I piped up, and
   went in for nonconformity when principle was concerned. Got
   patted on the head for my remarks, and didn't disgrace myself
   except by getting very red and talking fast.

   Ellen F. was very pleasant, and asked much about May. Proudly I
   told of our girl's achievements, and E. hoped she would come to
   New York. Mrs. Richardson was presented, and we had some
   agreeable chat. She is a great friend of O. B. F., and is
   lecturing here on "Literature." Shall go and hear her, as she is
   coming to see me.

   O. B. F. was as polished and clear and cool and witty as usual;
   most gracious to the "'umble" Concord worm; and Mrs. F. asked me
   to come and see them.

   Yesterday took a drive with Sally H. in Central Park as it was
   fine, and she had no fun on her Thanksgiving. I dined at Mrs.
   Botta's, for she kindly came and asked me. Had a delightful time,
   and felt as if I'd been to Washington; for Professor Byng, a
   German ex-consul, was there, full of Capitol gossip about Sumner
   and all the great beings that there do congregate. Mr. Botta you
   know,--a handsome, long-haired Italian, very cultivated and

   Also about Lord H., whom B. thought "an amiable old woman," glad
   to say pretty things, and fond of being lionized. Byng knew Rose
   and Una, and asked about them; also told funny tales of Victor
   Emmanuel and his Court, and queer adventures in Greece, where he,
   B., was a consul, or something official. It was a glimpse into a
   new sort of world; and as the man was very accomplished, elegant,
   and witty, I enjoyed it much.

   We had music later, and saw some fine pictures. Durant knew Miss
   Thackeray, J. Ingelow, and other English people whom I did, so we
   had a good dish of gossip with Mrs. Botta, while the others
   talked three or four languages at once.

   It is a delightful house, and I shall go as often as I may, for
   it is the sort of thing I like much better than B. H. and

   To-night we go to hear Bradlaugh; to-morrow, a new play; Sunday,
   Frothingham and Bellows; and Monday, Mrs. Richardson and

   But it isn't all play, I assure you. I'm a thrifty butterfly,
   and have written three stories. The "G." has paid for the little
   Christmas tale; the "I." has "Letty's Tramp;" and my "girl paper"
   for "St. Nick" is about ready. Several other papers are waiting
   for tales, so I have a ballast of work to keep me steady in spite
   of much fun.

   Mr. Powell has been twice to see me, and we go to visit the
   charities of New York next week. I like to see both sides, and
   generally find the busy people most interesting.

   So far I like New York very much, and feel so well I shall stay
   on till I'm tired of it. People begin to tell me how much better
   I look than when I came, and I have not an ache to fret over.
   This, after such a long lesson in bodily ails, is a blessing for
   which I am duly grateful.

   Hope all goes well with you, and that I shall get a line now and
   then. I'll keep them for you to _bind_ up by and by instead of

   We can buy a carriage some other time, and a barn likewise, and a
   few other necessities of life. Rosa has proved such a good
   speculation we shall dare to let May venture another when the
   ship comes in. I am glad the dear "rack-a-bones" is a comfort to
   her mistress, only don't let her break my boy's bones by any
   antics when she feels her oats.

   I suppose you are thinking of Wilson just now, and his quiet
   slipping away to the heavenly council chambers where the good
   senators go. Rather like Sumner's end, wasn't it? No wife or
   children, only men and servants. Wilson was such a genial,
   friendly soul I should have thought he would have felt the
   loneliness very much. Hope if he left any last wishes his mates
   will carry them out faithfully....

   Now, dear Plato, the Lord bless you, and keep you serene and
   happy for as many years as He sees fit, and me likewise, to be a
   comfort as well as a pride to you.

     Ever your loving

_To her Nephews._

     NEW YORK, Dec. 4, 1875.

   DEAR FRED AND DONNY,--We went to see the news-boys, and I wish
   you'd been with us, it was so interesting. A nice big house has
   been built for them, with dining-room and kitchen on the first
   floor, bath-rooms and school-room next, two big
   sleeping-places,--third and fourth stories,--and at the top a
   laundry and gymnasium. We saw all the tables set for
   breakfast,--a plate and bowl for each,--and in the kitchen great
   kettles, four times as big as our copper boiler, for tea and
   coffee, soup, and meat. They have bread and meat and coffee for
   breakfast, and bread and cheese and tea for supper, and get their
   own dinners out. School was just over when we got there, and one
   hundred and eighty boys were in the immense room with desks down
   the middle, and all around the walls were little cupboards
   numbered. Each boy on coming in gives his name, pays six cents,
   gets a key, and puts away his hat, books, and jacket (if he has
   'em) in his own cubby for the night. They pay five cents for
   supper, and schooling, baths, etc., are free. They were a
   smart-looking set, larking round in shirts and trousers,
   barefooted, but the faces were clean, and the heads smooth, and
   clothes pretty decent; yet they support themselves, for not one
   of them has any parents or home but this. One little chap, only
   six, was trotting round as busy as a bee, locking up his small
   shoes and ragged jacket as if they were great treasures. I asked
   about little Pete, and the man told us his brother, only nine,
   supported him and took care of him entirely; and wouldn't let
   Pete be sent away to any home, because _he_ wished to have "his
   family" with him.

   Think of that, Fred! How would it seem to be all alone in a big
   city, with no mamma to cuddle you; no two grandpa's houses to
   take you in; not a penny but what you earned, and Donny to take
   care of? Could you do it? Nine-year-old Patsey does it capitally;
   buys Pete's clothes, pays for his bed and supper, and puts
   pennies in the savings-bank. There's a brave little man for you!
   I wanted to see him; but he is a newsboy, and sells late papers,
   because, though harder work, it pays better, and the coast is
   clear for those who do it.

   The savings-bank was a great table all full of slits, each one
   leading to a little place below and numbered outside, so each boy
   knew his own. Once a month the bank is opened, and the lads take
   out what they like, or have it invested in a big bank for them to
   have when they find homes out West, as many do, and make good
   farmers. One boy was putting in some pennies as we looked, and I
   asked how much he had saved this month. "Fourteen dollars,
   ma'am," says the thirteen-year-older, proudly slipping in the
   last cent. A prize of $3 is offered to the lad who saves the most
   in a month.

   The beds upstairs were in two immense rooms, ever so much larger
   than our town hall,--one hundred in one, and one hundred and
   eighty in another,--all narrow beds with a blue quilt, neat
   pillow, and clean sheet. They are built in long rows, one over
   another, and the upper boy has to climb up as on board ship. I'd
   have liked to see one hundred and eighty all in their "by-lows"
   at once, and I asked the man if they didn't train when all were
   in. "Lord, ma'am, they're up at five, poor little chaps, and are
   so tired at night that they drop off right away. Now and then
   some boy kicks up a little row, but we have a watchman, and he
   soon settles 'em."

   He also told me how that very day a neat, smart young man came
   in, and said he was one of their boys who went West with a farmer
   only a little while ago; and now he owned eighty acres of land,
   had a good house, and was doing well, and had come to New York to
   find his sister, and to take her away to live with him. Wasn't
   that nice? Lots of boys do as well. Instead of loafing round the
   streets and getting into mischief, they are taught to be tidy,
   industrious, and honest, and then sent away into the wholesome
   country to support themselves.

   It was funny to see 'em scrub in the bath-room,--feet and
   faces,--comb their hair, fold up their old clothes in the dear
   cubbies, which make them so happy because they feel that they
   _own_ something.

   The man said every boy wanted one, even though he had neither
   shoes nor jacket to put in it; but would lay away an old rag of a
   cap or a dirty tippet with an air of satisfaction fine to see.
   Some lads sat reading, and the man said they loved it so they'd
   read all night, if allowed. At nine he gave the word, "Bed!" and
   away went the lads, trooping up to sleep in shirts and trousers,
   as nightgowns are not provided. How would a boy I know like
   that,--a boy who likes to have "trommin" on his nighties? Of
   course, I don't mean dandy Don! Oh, dear no!

   After nine [if late in coming in] they are fined five cents;
   after ten, ten cents; and after eleven they can't come in at all.
   This makes them steady, keeps them out of harm, and gives them
   time for study. Some go to the theatre, and sleep anywhere; some
   sleep at the Home, but go out for a better breakfast than they
   get there, as the swell ones are fond of goodies, and live well
   in their funny way. Coffee and cakes at Fulton Market is "the
   tip-top grub," and they often spend all their day's earnings in a
   play and a supper, and sleep in boxes or cellars after it.

   Lots of pussies were round the kitchen; and one black one I
   called a bootblack, and a gray kit that yowled loud was a
   newsboy. That made some chaps laugh, and they nodded at me as I
   went out. Nice boys! but I know some nicer ones. Write and tell
   me something about my poor Squabby.

     By-by, your

_To her Family._

     SATURDAY EVENING, Dec. 25, 1875.

   DEAR FAMILY,-- ... I had only time for a word this A.M., as the
   fourth letter was from Mrs. P. to say they could not go; so I
   trotted off in the fog at ten to the boat, and there found Mr.
   and Mrs. G. and piles of goodies for the poor children. She is a
   dear little old lady in a close, Quakerish bonnet and plain suit,
   but wide-awake and full of energy. It was grand to see her tackle
   the big mayor and a still bigger commissioner, and tell them what
   _ought_ to be done for the poor things on the Island, as they are
   to be routed; for the city wants the land for some dodge or
   other. Both men fled soon, for the brave little woman was down on
   'em in a way that would have made Marmee cry "Ankore!" and clap
   her dress-gloves to rags.

   When the rotundities had retired, she fell upon a demure priest,
   and read him a sermon; and then won the heart of a boyish
   reporter so entirely that he stuck to us all day, and helped
   serve out dolls and candy like a man and a brother. Long life to

   Mr. G. and I discussed pauperism and crime like two old
   wiseacres; and it was sweet to hear the gray-headed couple say
   "thee" and "thou," "Abby" and "James," to one another, he
   following with the bundles wherever the little poke-bonnet led
   the way. I've had a pretty good variety of Christmases in my day,
   but never one like this before. First we drove in an old
   ramshackle hack to the chapel, whither a boy had raced before us,
   crying joyfully to all he met, "She's come! Miss G.--she's come!"
   And all faces beamed, as well they might, since for thirty years
   she has gone to make set after set of little forlornities happy
   on this day.

   The chapel was full. On one side, in front, girls in blue gowns
   and white pinafores; on the other, small chaps in pinafores
   likewise; and behind them, bigger boys in gray suits with cropped
   heads, and larger girls with ribbons in their hair and pink
   calico gowns. They sang alternately; the girls gave "Juanita"
   very well, the little chaps a pretty song about poor children
   asking a "little white angel" to leave the gates of heaven ajar,
   so they could peep in, if no more. Quite pathetic, coming from
   poor babies who had no home but this.

   The big boys spoke pieces, and I was amused when one bright lad
   in gray, with a red band on his arm, spoke the lines I gave
   G.,--"Merry Christmas." No one knew me, so I had the joke to
   myself; and I found afterward that I was taken for the mayoress,
   who was expected. Then we drove to the hospital, and there the
   heart-ache began, for me at least, so sad it was to see these
   poor babies, born of want and sin, suffering every sort of
   deformity, disease, and pain. Cripples half blind, scarred with
   scrofula, burns, and abuse,--it was simply awful and

   As we went in, I with a great box of dolls and the young
   reporter with a bigger box of candy, a general cry of delight
   greeted us. Some children tried to run, half-blind ones stretched
   out their groping hands, little ones crawled, and big ones
   grinned, while several poor babies sat up in their bed, beckoning
   us to "come quick."

   One poor mite, so eaten up with sores that its whole face was
   painted with some white salve,--its head covered with an oilskin
   cap; one eye gone, and the other half filmed over; hands
   bandaged, and ears bleeding,--could only moan and move its feet
   till I put a gay red dolly in one hand and a pink candy in the
   other; then the dim eye brightened, the hoarse voice said feebly,
   "Tanky, lady!" and I left it contentedly sucking the sweetie, and
   _trying_ to _see_ its dear new toy. It can't see another
   Christmas, and I like to think I helped make this one happy, even
   for a minute.

   It was pleasant to watch the young reporter trot round with the
   candy-box, and come up to me all interest to say, "One girl
   hasn't got a doll, ma'am, and looks _so_ disappointed."

   After the hospital, we went to the idiot house; and there I had a
   chance to see faces and figures that will haunt me a long time. A
   hundred or so of half-grown boys and girls ranged down a long
   hall, a table of toys in the middle, and an empty one for Mrs.
   G.'s gifts. A cheer broke out as the little lady hurried in
   waving her handkerchief and a handful of gay bead necklaces, and
   "Oh! Ohs!" followed the appearance of the doll-lady and the candy

   A pile of gay pictures was a new idea, and Mrs. G. told me to
   hold up some bright ones and see if the poor innocents would
   understand and enjoy them. I held up one of two kittens lapping
   spilt milk, and the girls began to mew and say "Cat! ah,
   pretty." Then a fine horse, and the boys bounced on their benches
   with pleasure; while a ship in full sail produced a cheer of
   rapture from them all.

   Some were given out to the good ones, and the rest are to be
   pinned round the room; so the pictures were a great success. All
   wanted dolls, even boys of nineteen; for all were children in
   mind. But the girls had them, and young women of eighteen cuddled
   their babies and were happy. The boys chose from the toy-table,
   and it was pathetic to see great fellows pick out a squeaking dog
   without even the wit to pinch it when it was theirs. One dwarf of
   thirty-five chose a little Noah's ark, and brooded over it in
   silent bliss.

   Some with beards sucked their candy, and stared at a toy cow or
   box of blocks as if their cup was full. One French girl sang the
   Marseillaise in a feeble voice, and was so overcome by her new
   doll that she had an epileptic fit on the spot, which made two
   others go off likewise; and a slight pause took place while they
   were kindly removed to sleep it off.

   A little tot of four, who hadn't sense to put candy in its mouth,
   was so fond of music that when the girls sang the poor vacant
   face woke up, and a pair of lovely soft hazel eyes stopped
   staring dully at nothing, and went wandering to and fro with
   light in them, as if to find the only sound that can reach its
   poor mind.

   I guess I gave away two hundred dolls, and a soap-box of candy
   was empty when we left. But rows of sticky faces beamed at us,
   and an array of gay toys wildly waved after us, as if we were
   angels who had showered goodies on the poor souls.

   Pauper women are nurses; and Mrs. G. says the babies die like
   sheep, many being deserted so young nothing can be hoped or done
   for them. One of the teachers in the idiot home was a Miss C.,
   who remembered Nan at Dr. Wilbur's. Very lady-like, and all
   devotion to me. But such a life! Oh, me! Who _can_ lead it, and
   not go mad?

   At four, we left and came home, Mrs. G. giving a box of toys and
   sweeties on board the boat for the children of the men who run
   it. So leaving a stream of blessings and pleasures behind her,
   the dear old lady drove away, simply saying, "There now, I shall
   feel better for the next year!" Well she may; bless her!

   She made a speech to the chapel children after the Commissioner
   had prosed in the usual way, and she told 'em that _she_ should
   come as long as she could, and when she was gone her children
   would still keep it up in memory of her; so for thirty years more
   she hoped this, their one holiday, would be made happy for them.
   I could have hugged her on the spot, the motherly old dear!

   Next Wednesday we go to the Tombs, and some day I am to visit the
   hospital with her, for I like this better than parties, etc.

   I got home at five, and then remembered that I'd had no lunch; so
   I took an apple till six, when I discovered that all had dined at
   one so the helpers could go early this evening. Thus my Christmas
   day was without dinner or presents, for the first time since I
   can remember. Yet it has been a very memorable day, and I feel as
   if I'd had a splendid feast seeing the poor babies wallow in
   turkey soup, and that every gift I put into their hands had come
   back to me in the dumb delight of their unchild-like faces trying
   to smile.

After the pleasant visit in New York, Miss Alcott returned to Boston,
where she went into society more than usual, often attending clubs,
theatres, and receptions. She was more lionized than ever, and had a
natural pleasure in the attention she received.

The summer of 1876 she spent at Concord, nursing her mother, who was
very ill. She here wrote "Rose in Bloom," the sequel to "Eight
Cousins," in three weeks. It was published in November.

Louisa was anxious that her sister should have a home for her young
family. Mrs. Pratt invested what she could of her husband's money in
the purchase, and Louisa contributed the rest. This was the so-called
Thoreau House on the main street in Concord, which became Mrs. Pratt's
home, and finally that of her father.

Louisa spent the summer of 1877 in Concord. Her mother's illness
increased, and she was herself very ill in August. Yet she wrote this
summer one of her brightest and sweetest stories, "Under the Lilacs."
Her love of animals is specially apparent in this book, and she
records going to the circus to make studies for the performing dog

During the winter of 1877, Miss Alcott went to the Bellevue for some
weeks, and having secured the necessary quiet, devoted herself to the
writing of a novel for the famous No Name Series published by Roberts
Brothers. This book had been in her mind for some time, as is seen by
the journal. As it was to appear anonymously, and was not intended for
children, she was able to depart from her usual manner, and indulge
the weird and lurid fancies which took possession of her in her
dramatic days, and when writing sensational stories. She was much
interested, and must have written it very rapidly, as it was published
in April. She enjoyed the excitement of her _incognito_, and was much
amused at the guesses of critics and friends, who attributed the book
to others, and were sure Louisa Alcott did not write it, because its
style was so unlike hers.

It certainly is very unlike the books Miss Alcott had lately written.
It has nothing of the home-like simplicity and charm of "Little
Women," "Old-Fashioned Girl," and the other stories with which she was
delighting the children, and, with "Moods," must always be named as
exceptional when speaking of her works. Still, a closer study of her
life and nature will reveal much of her own tastes and habits of
thought in the book; and it is evident that she wrote _con amore_, and
was fascinated by the familiars she evoked, however little charm they
may seem to possess to others. She was fond of Hawthorne's books. The
influence of his subtle and weird romances is undoubtedly perceptible
in the book, and it is not strange that it was attributed to his son.
She says it had been simmering in her brain ever since she read
"Faust" the year before; and she clearly wished to work according to
Goethe's thought,--that the Prince of Darkness was a gentleman, and
must be represented as belonging to the best society.

The plot is powerful and original. A young poet, with more ambition
than genius or self-knowledge, finds himself, at nineteen, friendless,
penniless, and hopeless, and is on the point of committing suicide.
He is saved by Helwyze, a middle-aged man, who has been severely
crippled by a terrible fall, and his heart seared by the desertion of
the woman he loved. A man of intellect, power, imagination, and
wealth, but incapable of conscientious feeling or true love, he is a
dangerous savior for the impulsive poet; but he takes him to his home,
warms, feeds, and shelters him, and promises to bring out his book.
The brilliant, passionate woman who gave up her lover when his health
and beauty were gone, returned to him when youth had passed, and would
gladly have devoted herself to soothing his pain and enriching his
life. Her feeling is painted with delicacy and tenderness.

But Helwyze's heart knew nothing of the divine quality of forgiveness;
for his love there was no resurrection; and he only valued the power
he could exercise over a brilliant woman, and the intellectual
entertainment she could bring him. A sweet young girl, Olivia's
protegee, completes the very limited _dramatis personæ_.

The young poet, Felix Canaris, under the guidance of his new friend,
wins fame, success, and the young girl's heart; but his wayward fancy
turns rather to the magnificent Olivia. The demoniac Helwyze works
upon this feeling, and claims of Olivia her fair young friend Gladys
as a wife for Felix, who is forced to accept her at the hands of his
master. She is entirely responsive to the love which she fancies she
has won, and is grateful for her fortunate lot, and devotes herself to
the comfort and happiness of the poor invalid who delights in her
beauty and grace. For a time Felix enjoys a society success, to which
his charming wife, as well as his book, contribute. But at last this
excitement flags. He writes another book, which he threatens to burn
because he is dissatisfied with it. Gladys entreats him to spare it,
and Helwyze offers to read it to her. She is overcome and melted with
emotion at the passion and pathos of the story; and when Helwyze asks,
"Shall I burn it?" Felix answers, "No!" Again the book brings success
and admiration, but the tender wife sees that it does not insure
happiness, and that her husband is plunging into the excitement of

The demon Helwyze has complete control over the poet, which he
exercises with such subtle tyranny that the young man is driven to the
dreadful thought of murder to escape from him; but he is saved from
the deed by the gentle influence of his wife, who has won his heart at
last, unconscious that it had not always been hers.

Helwyze finds his own punishment. One being resists his power,--Gladys
breathes his poisoned atmosphere unharmed. He sends for Olivia as his
ally to separate the wife from her husband's love. A passion of
curiosity possesses him to read her very heart; and at last he resorts
to a strange means to accomplish his purpose. He gives her an exciting
drug without her knowledge, and under its influence she speaks and
acts with a rare genius which calls forth the admiration of all the
group. Left alone with her, Helwyze exercises his magnetic power to
draw forth the secrets of her heart; but he reads there only a pure
and true love for her husband, and fear of the unhallowed passion
which he is cherishing. The secret of his power over the husband is at
last revealed. Canaris has published as his own the work of Helwyze,
and all the fame and glory he has received has been won by deceit, and
is a miserable mockery.

The tragic result is inevitable. Gladys dies under the pressure of a
burden too heavy for her,--the knowledge of deceit in him she had
loved and trusted; while the stricken Helwyze is paralyzed, and lives
henceforth only a death in life.

With all the elements of power and beauty in this singular book, it
fails to charm and win the heart of the reader. The circumstances are
in a romantic setting, but still they are prosaic; and tragedy is only
endurable when taken up into the region of the ideal, where the
thought of the universal rounds out all traits of the individual. In
Goethe's Faust, Margaret is the sweetest and simplest of maidens; but
in her is the life of all wronged and suffering womanhood.

The realism which is delightful in the pictures of little women and
merry boys is painful when connected with passions so morbid and lives
so far removed from joy and sanity. As in her early dramas and
sensational stories, we do not find Louisa Alcott's own broad,
generous, healthy life, or that which lay around her, in this book,
but the reminiscences of her reading, which she had striven to make
her own by invention and fancy.

This note refers to "A Modern Mephistopheles":--


   DEAR MR. NILES,--I had to keep the proof longer than I meant
   because a funeral came in the way.

   The book as last sent is lovely, and much bigger than I expected.

   Poor "Marmee," ill in bed, hugged it, and said, "It is perfect!
   only I do wish your name could be on it." She is very proud of
   it; and tender-hearted Anna weeps and broods over it, calling
   Gladys the best and sweetest character I ever did. So much for
   home opinion; now let's see what the public will say.

   May clamors for it; but I don't want to send this till she has
   had one or two of the others. Have you sent her "Is That All?" If
   not, please do; then it won't look suspicious to send only "M.

   I am so glad the job is done, and hope it won't disgrace the
   series. Is not another to come before this? I hope so; for many
   people suspect what is up, and I could tell my fibs about No. 6
   better if it was not mine.

   Thanks for the trouble you have taken to keep the secret. Now the
   fun will begin.

     Yours truly,
     L. M. A.

   P. S.--Bean's expressman grins when he hands in the daily parcel.
   He is a Concord man.

By Louisa's help the younger sister again went abroad in 1876; and her
bright affectionate letters cheered the little household, much
saddened by the mother's illness.


   _January_, 1876.--Helped Mrs. Croly receive two hundred

   A letter from Baron Tauchnitz asking leave to put my book in his
   foreign library, and sending 600 marks to pay for it. Said, "Yes,
   thank you, Baron."

   Went to Philadelphia to see Cousin J. May installed in Dr.
   Furness's pulpit. Dull place is Philadelphia. Heard Beecher
   preach; did not like him....

   Went home on the 21st, finding I could not work here. Soon tire
   of being a fine lady.

   _February and March._--Took a room in B., and fell to work on
   short tales for F. T. N. wanted a centennial story; but my
   frivolous New York life left me no ideas. Went to Centennial Ball
   at Music Hall, and got an idea.

   Wrote a tale of "'76," which with others will make a catchpenny
   book. Mother poorly, so I go home to nurse her.

   _April, May, and June._--Mother better. Nan and boys go to P.
   farm. May and I clean the old house. It seems as if the dust of
   two centuries haunted the ancient mansion, and came out spring
   and fall in a ghostly way for us to clear up.

   Great freshets and trouble.

   Exposition in Philadelphia; don't care to go. America ought to
   pay her debts before she gives parties. "Silver Pitchers," etc.,
   comes out, and goes well. Poor stuff; but the mill must keep on
   grinding even chaff.

   _June._--Lovely month! Keep hotel and wait on Marmee.

   Try to get up steam for a new serial, as Mrs. Dodge wants one,
   and Scribner offers $3,000 for it. Roberts Brothers want a novel;
   and the various newspapers and magazines clamor for tales. My
   brain is squeezed dry, and I can only wait for help.

   _July, August._--Get an idea and start "Rose in Bloom," though I
   hate sequels.

   _September._--On the 9th my dear girl sails in the "China" for a
   year in London or Paris. God be with her! She has done her
   distasteful duty faithfully, and deserved a reward. She cannot
   find the help she needs here, and is happy and busy in her own
   world over there.

   [She never came home.--L. M. A.]

   Finish "Rose."

       *       *       *       *       *

   _November._--"Rose" comes out; sells well.

   ... Forty-four years old. My new task gets on slowly; but I keep
   at it, and can be a prop, if not an angel, in the house, as Nan

   _December._--Miss P. sends us a pretty oil sketch of May,--so
   like the dear soul in her violet wrapper, with yellow curls piled
   up, and the long hand at work. Mother delights in it.

   She (M.) is doing finely, and says, "I am getting on, and I feel
   as if it was not all a mistake; for I have some talent, and will
   prove it." Modesty is a sign of genius, and I think our girl has
   both. The money I invest in her pays the sort of interest I like.
   I am proud to have her show what she can do, and have her depend
   upon no one but me. Success to little Raphael! My dull winter is
   much cheered by her happiness and success.

   _January, February, 1877._--The year begins well. Nan keeps
   house; boys fine, tall lads, good and gay; Father busy with his
   new book; Mother cosey with her sewing, letters, Johnson, and
   success of her "girls."

   Went for some weeks to the Bellevue, and wrote "A Modern
   Mephistopheles" for the No Name Series. It has been simmering
   ever since I read Faust last year. Enjoyed doing it, being tired
   of providing moral pap for the young. Long to write a novel, but
   cannot get time enough.

   May's letters our delight. She is so in earnest she will not stop
   for pleasure, rest, or society, but works away like a Trojan. Her
   work admired by masters and mates for its vigor and character.

   _March._--Begin to think of buying the Thoreau place for Nan. The
   $4,000 received from the Vt. and Eastern R. Rs. must be invested,
   and she wants a home of her own, now the lads are growing up.

   Mother can be with her in the winter for a change, and leave me
   free to write in B. Concord has no inspiration for me.

   _April._--May, at the request of her teacher, M. Muller, sends a
   study of still life to the Salon. The little picture is accepted,
   well hung, and praised by the judges. No friend at court, and the
   modest work stood on its own merits. She is very proud to see her
   six months' hard work bear fruit. A happy girl, and all say she
   deserves the honor.

   "M. M." appears and causes much guessing. It is praised and
   criticised, and I enjoy the fun, especially when friends say, "I
   know _you_ didn't write it, for you can't hide your peculiar

   Help to buy the house for Nan,--$4,500. So she has _her_ wish,
   and is happy. When shall I have mine? Ought to be contented with
   knowing I help both sisters by my brains. But I'm selfish, and
   want to go away and rest in Europe. Never shall.

   _May, June._--Quiet days keeping house and attending to Marmee,
   who grows more and more feeble. Helped Nan get ready for her new

   Felt very well, and began to hope I had outlived the neuralgic
   worries and nervous woes born of the hospital fever and the hard
   years following.

   May living alone in Paris, while her mates go jaunting,--a
   solitary life; but she is so busy she is happy and safe. A good
   angel watches over her. Take pleasant drives early in the A.M.
   with Marmee. She takes her comfort in a basket wagon, and we
   drive to the woods, picking flowers and stopping where we like.
   It keeps her young, and rests her weary nerves.

   _July._--Got too tired, and was laid up for some weeks. A curious
   time, lying quite happily at rest, wondering what was to come

   _August._--As soon as able began "Under the Lilacs," but could
   not do much.

Mrs. Alcott grew rapidly worse, and her devoted daughter recognized
that the final parting was near. As Louisa watched by the bedside she
wrote "My Girls," and finished "Under the Lilacs."

The journal tells the story of the last days of watching, and of the
peaceful close of the mother's self-sacrificing yet blessed life.
Louisa was very brave in the presence of death. She had no dark
thoughts connected with it; and in her mother's case, after her long,
hard life, she recognized how "growing age longed for its peaceful

The tie between this mother and daughter was exceptionally strong and
tender. The mother saw all her own fine powers reproduced and
developed in her daughter; and if she also recognized the passionate
energy which had been the strength and the bane of her own life, it
gave her only a more constant watchfulness to save her child from the
struggles and regrets from which she had suffered herself.


   _September_, 1877.--On the 7th Marmee had a very ill turn, and
   the doctor told me it was the beginning of the end. [Water on the
   chest.] She was so ill we sent for Father from Walcott; and I
   forgot myself in taking care of poor Marmee, who suffered much
   and longed to go.

   As I watched with her I wrote "My Girls," to go with other tales
   in a new "Scrap Bag," and finished "Under the Lilacs." I foresaw
   a busy or a sick winter, and wanted to finish while I could, so
   keeping my promise and earning my $3,000.

   Brain very lively and pen flew. It always takes an exigency to
   spur me up and wring out a book. Never have time to go slowly and
   do my best.

   _October._--Fearing I might give out, got a nurse and rested a
   little, so that when the last hard days come I might not fail
   Marmee, who says, "Stay by, Louy, and help me if I suffer too
   much." I promised, and watched her sit panting life away day
   after day. We thought she would not outlive her seventy-seventh
   birthday, but, thanks to Dr. W. and homoeopathy, she got
   relief, and we had a sad little celebration, well knowing it
   would be the last. Aunt B. and L. W. came up, and with fruit,
   flowers, smiling faces, and full hearts, we sat round the brave
   soul who faced death so calmly and was ready to go.

   I overdid and was very ill,--in danger of my life for a
   week,--and feared to go before Marmee. But pulled through, and
   got up slowly to help her die. A strange month.

   _November._--Still feeble, and Mother failing fast. On the 14th
   we were both moved to Anna's at Mother's earnest wish.

   A week in the new home, and then she ceased to care for
   anything. Kept her bed for three days, lying down after weeks in
   a chair, and on the 25th, at dusk, that rainy Sunday, fell
   quietly asleep in my arms.

   She was very happy all day, thinking herself a girl again, with
   parents and sisters round her. Said her Sunday hymn to me, whom
   she called "Mother," and smiled at us, saying, "A smile is as
   good as a prayer." Looked often at the little picture of May, and
   waved her hand to it, "Good-by, little May, good-by!"

   Her last words to Father were, "You are laying a very soft pillow
   for me to go to sleep on."

   We feared great suffering, but she was spared that, and slipped
   peacefully away. I was so glad when the last weary breath was
   drawn, and silence came, with its rest and peace.

   On the 27th it was necessary to bury her, and we took her quietly
   away to Sleepy Hollow. A hard day, but the last duty we could do
   for her; and there we left her at sunset beside dear Lizzie's
   dust,--alone so long.

   On the 28th a memorial service, and all the friends at
   Anna's,--Dr. Bartol and Mr. Foote of Stone Chapel. A simple,
   cheerful service, as she would have liked it.

   Quiet days afterward resting in her rest.

   My duty is done, and now I shall be glad to follow her.

   _December._--Many kind letters from all who best knew and loved
   the noble woman.

   I never wish her back, but a great warmth seems gone out of life,
   and there is no motive to go on now.

   My only comfort is that I _could_ make her last years
   comfortable, and lift off the burden she had carried so bravely
   all these years. She was so loyal, tender, and true; life was
   hard for her, and no one understood all she had to bear but we,
   her children. I think I shall soon follow her, and am quite
   ready to go now she no longer needs me.

   _January_, 1878.--An idle month at Nan's, for I can only suffer.

   Father goes about, being restless with his anchor gone. Dear Nan
   is house-mother now,--so patient, so thoughtful and tender; I
   need nothing but that cherishing which only mothers can give.

   May busy in London. Very sad about Marmee; but it was best not to
   send for her, and Marmee forbade it, and she has some very
   _tender friends_ near her.

   _February._--... Wrote some lines on Marmee.

_To Mrs. Dodge._

     CONCORD, June 3 [1877].

   DEAR MRS. DODGE,--The tale[14] goes slowly owing to
   interruptions, for summer is a busy time, and I get few quiet
   days. Twelve chapters are done, but are short ones, and so will
   make about six or seven numbers in "St. Nicholas."

   I will leave them divided in this way that you may put in as many
   as you please each month; for trying to suit the magazine hurts
   the story in its book form, though this way does no harm to the
   monthly parts, I think.

   I will send you the first few chapters during the week for Mrs.
   Foote, and with them the schedule you suggest, so that my infants
   may not be drawn with whiskers, and my big boys and girls in
   pinafores, as in "Eight Cousins."

   I hope the new baby won't be set aside too soon for my
   illustrations; but I do feel a natural wish to have one story
   prettily adorned with good pictures, as hitherto artists have
   much afflicted me.

   I am daily waiting with anxiety for an illumination of some sort,
   as my plot is very vague so far; and though I don't approve of
   "sensations" in children's books, one must have a certain thread
   on which to string the small events which make up the true sort
   of child-life.

   I intend to go and simmer an afternoon at Van Amburg's great
   show, that I may get hints for the further embellishment of Ben
   and his dog. I have also put in a poem by F. B. S.'s small
   son,[15] and that hit will give Mrs. Foote a good scene with the
   six-year-old poet reciting his verses under the lilacs.

   I shall expect the small tots to be unusually good, since the
   artist has a live model to study from. Please present my
   congratulations to the happy mamma and Mr. Foote, Jr.

     Yours _warmly_,
     L. M. A.

     AUGUST 21, 1879.

   DEAR MRS. DODGE,--I have not been able to do anything on the
   serial.... But after a week at the seaside, to get braced up for
   work, I intend to begin. The Revolutionary tale does not seem to
   possess me. I have casually asked many of my young folks, when
   they demand a new story, which they would like, one of that sort
   or the old "Eight Cousin" style, and they all say the latter. It
   would be much the easier to do, as I have a beginning and a plan
   all ready,--a village, and the affairs of a party of children. We
   have many little romances going on among the Concord boys and
   girls, and all sorts of queer things, which will work into "Jack
   and Jill" nicely. Mrs. Croly has been anxious for a story, and I
   am trying to do a short one, as I told her you had the refusal
   of my next serial. I hope you will not be very much disappointed
   about the old-time tale. It would take study to do it well, and
   leisure is just what I have not got, and I shall never have, I
   fear, when writing is to be done. I will send you a few chapters
   of "Jack and Jill" when in order, if you like, and you can decide
   if they will suit. I shall try to have it unlike the others if
   possible, but the dears _will_ cling to the "Little Women" style.

   I have had a very busy summer, but have been pretty well, and
   able to do my part in entertaining the four hundred philosophers.

     Yours truly,
     L. M. A.

     SEPTEMBER 17 [1879].

   DEAR MRS. DODGE,--Don't let me _prose_. If I seem to be declining
   and falling into it, pull me up, and I'll try to prance as of
   old. Years tame down one's spirit and fancy, though they only
   deepen one's love for the little people, and strengthen the
   desire to serve them wisely as well as cheerfully. Fathers and
   mothers tell me they use my books as helps for themselves; so now
   and then I like to slip in a page for them, fresh from the
   experience of some other parent, for education seems to me to be
   _the_ problem in our times.

   Jack and Jill are right out of our own little circle, and the
   boys and girls are in a twitter to know what is going in; so it
   will be a "truly story" in the main.

   Such a long note for a busy woman to read! but your cheery word
   was my best "starter;" and I'm, more than ever,

     Yours truly,
     L. M. A.


   Born at Concord, July, 1840. Died in Paris, December, 1879.

This younger sister became so dear to Louisa, and through the legacy
which she left to her of an infant child, exercised so great an
influence over the last ten years of her life, that it will not be
uninteresting to trace out the course of her life and the development
of her character. May was born before the experiments at Fruitlands,
and her childhood passed during the period when the fortunes of the
family were at the lowest ebb; but she was too young to feel in all
their fulness the cares which weighed upon the older sisters. Her
oldest sister--the affectionate, practical Anna--almost adopted May as
her own baby, and gave her a great deal of the attention and care
which the mother had not time for amid her numerous avocations. The
child clung to Anna with trust and affection; but with her quick fancy
and lively spirit, she admired the brilliant qualities of Louisa.
Hasty in temperament, quick and impulsive in action, she quarrelled
with Louisa while she adored her, and was impatient with her rebukes,
which yet had great influence over her. She had a more facile nature
than the other sisters, and a natural, girlish love of attention, and
a romantic fondness for beauty in person and style in living. Graceful
in figure and manners, with a fine complexion, blue eyes, and a
profusion of light wavy hair, she was attractive in appearance; and a
childish frankness, and acceptance of sympathy or criticism, disarmed
those who were disposed to find fault with her.

May is very truly described in "Little Women," and her character is
painted with a discerning but loving hand: "A regular snow maiden,
with blue eyes, and yellow hair curling on her shoulders, pale and
slender, and always carrying herself like a young lady mindful of her
manners." Many little touches of description show the consciousness of
appearance and love of admiration which she innocently betrayed, and
illustrate the relation of the sisters: "'Don't stop to quirk your
little finger and prink over your plate, Amy,' cried Jo." Her mother
says of this daughter in her diary: "She does all things well; her
capabilities are much in her eyes and fingers. When a child, I
observed with what ease and grace she did little things."

According to Louisa, "If anybody had asked Amy what the greatest trial
of her life was, she would have answered at once, 'My nose.' No one
minded it but herself, and it was doing its best to grow; but Amy felt
deeply the want of a Grecian nose, and drew whole sheets of handsome
ones to console herself." "Little Raphael," as the sisters called her,
very early developed a love and talent for drawing which became the
delight of her life. She covered her books with sketches, but managed
to escape reprimand by being a model of deportment. Always having in
her mind an ideal of elegant life, the many little trials of their
times of poverty were of course severe mortifications to her; and the
necessity of wearing dresses which came to her from others, and which
were ugly in themselves or out of harmony with her own appearance,
caused her much affliction. She was always generous and easily
reconciled after a quarrel, and was a favorite with her companions,
and the heroine of those innocent little love episodes which, as
Tennyson says,--

                 "Are but embassies of love
     To tamper with the feelings, ere he found
     Empire for life."[16]

While May was too young to take the part in the support of the family
which fell to Anna and Louisa, she was yet a blessing and comfort by
her kind, bright nature. After the death of Elizabeth in 1858, her
mother speaks of "turning to the little May for comfort," and her
father's letters show how dear she was to him, although she never
entered into his intellectual life.

May shared in the blessing of Louisa's first success, for she went to
the School of Design in 1859 for the lessons in her art, for which she
longed so eagerly. In 1860 an old friend sent her thirty dollars for
lessons in drawing, and she had the best instruction she could then
receive in Boston.

In 1863, Louisa procured for her the great advantage of study with Dr.
Rimmer, who was then giving his precious lessons in art anatomy in
Boston. Under his instructions, May gave some attention to modelling,
and completed an ideal bust. Although she did not pursue this branch
of art, it was undoubtedly of great service in giving her more
thorough knowledge of the head, and a bolder and firmer style of
drawing than she would have gained in any other way.

As will be seen from Louisa's journal, May was frequently with her in
Boston, engaged in studying or teaching. By the kindness of a friend,
she went to Europe in 1870, when Louisa accompanied her. Louisa sent
her to Europe for a year of study in 1873, and again in 1877. In
London and Paris she had good opportunities for study, and improved
rapidly in her art. She made some admirable copies from Turner which
attracted the attention of Ruskin; and a picture from still life was
accepted at the Paris Salon, which event gave great happiness to the
family circle and friends at home.

May was very generous in giving to others help in the art she loved.
While at home, in the intervals of her studies in Europe, she tried to
form an art centre in Concord, and freely gave her time, her
instruction, and the use of her studio to young artists. She wrote a
little book to aid them in prosecuting their studies abroad, called
"Studying Art Abroad, and How to do it Cheaply."

Like the rest of the family, May composed with great ease, and
sometimes wrote little stories. Her letters are very sprightly and

While residing in London, May had become acquainted with a young Swiss
gentleman, whose refined and artistic tastes were closely in unison
with her own. During the sad days of bereavement caused by her
mother's death he was a kind and sympathetic friend, soothing her
grief and cheering her solitude by his music. Thus, frequently
together, their friendship became love, and they were betrothed. The
course of this true love, which for a time ran swiftly and smoothly,
is most exquisitely depicted in May's letters to her family. The
charming pictures of herself and her young lover are so like Amy and
her Laurie in his happiest moods, that we almost feel as if Miss
Alcott had been prophetic in her treatment of these characters in
"Little Women."

I wish I could give her own natural, frank account of this event. May
had the secret of perpetual youth, at least in spirit; and in reading
her letters, one has no consciousness that more than thirty years had
passed over her head, for they had taken no drop of freshness from her

The union of this happy pair was not a surprise to the friends at
home, who had read May's heart, revealed in her frank, innocent
letters, more clearly than she had supposed. When the claims of
business called Mr. Nieriker from London, the hearts of the young
couple quailed before the idea of separation, and they decided to be
married at once, and go together. The simple ceremony was performed in
London, March 22, 1878; and May started on her journey, no longer
alone, but with a loving friend by her side.

May's letters are full of the most artless joy in her new life. The
old days of struggle and penury are gone; the heart-loneliness is no
more; the world is beautiful, and everybody loving and kind. Life in
the modest French home is an idyllic dream, and she writes to her
sisters of every detail of her household. The return of her husband at
sunset is a feast, and the evening is delightful with poetry and
music. Her blue dress, her crimson furniture, satisfy her artistic
sense. She does not neglect her art, but paints with fresh
inspiration, and waits for his criticism and praise. She says, "He is
very ambitious for my artistic success, and is my most severe critic."
In the morning she finds her easel set out for her, a fire burning
ready for her comfort, and her husband in the big arm-chair waiting to
read to her, or to take his violin and pose for his picture in gray
velvet paletot and red slippers.[17]

For the time conjugal love is all sufficient, and May wonders at
herself that the happiness of the moment can so drown every
remembrance of sorrow. Yet a pathetic note is occasionally heard, as
she mourns for the mother who is gone, or yearns for the sister who
has been such a strength to her through life. The picturesqueness and
ease of French life make America look stupid and forlorn, and she has
no wish to go home, but only to have her dear ones share in her
happiness. Her work in art was successful; and the money she received
for it was not unacceptable, although her husband's income sufficed
for their modest wants. She was justified in her grateful feeling that
she was singularly blessed. Her husband's family were German-Swiss of
high standing, artistic temperament, and warm affections. His mother
and sister came to visit them, and took May to their hearts with
cordial love.

Among the pictures painted by May at this time the most remarkable is
the portrait of a negro girl, which is a very faithful study from
life, and gives the color and characteristic traits of a beautiful
negro without exaggeration. The expression of the eyes is tender and
pathetic, well-suited to the fate of a slave girl. Such earnest study
would have borne richer fruit if longer life had been hers.

May's own nature seems to have blossomed out like a flower in this
sunny climate. In her youth at home she was impulsive, affectionate,
and generous, but quick in temper and sometimes exacting; but the
whole impression she made upon her husband and his family was of grace
and sweetness, and she herself declares that her sisters at home would
not recognize her, she has "become so sweet in this atmosphere of

We would gladly linger over these records of a paradisiacal home where
Adam and Eve renewed their innocent loves and happy labors. When
musing over the sorrows of humanity it refreshes us to know that such
joy is possible, and needs only love and simple hearts to make it

May's note of happiness is touchingly echoed from the heart of her
bereaved father, who recalls the days of his own courtship. He
cherished every tender word from her; and the respectful and loving
words of his new son, to whom he responds affectionately, were like
balm to his stricken heart.

May's joy was heightened by the expectation of motherhood. Her health
was excellent, and she had the loving care of her new mother and
sister. The anxious family at home received the news of the birth of a
daughter with heartfelt delight. It was a great disappointment to
Louisa that she could not be with her sister at this time; but her
health was not equal to the voyage, and she felt that May had most
loving and sufficient care. An American friend in Paris kindly wrote
to Louisa full details of the little niece and of the mother's
condition. "It is difficult," she says, "to say which of that happy
household is the proudest over that squirming bit of humanity."

For about two weeks all seemed well; but alarming symptoms began to
appear, and the mother's strength failed rapidly. The brain was the
seat of disease; and she was generally unconscious, although she had
intervals of apparent improvement, when she recognized her friends.
She passed away peacefully December 29, 1879.

An American clergyman in Paris took charge of the funeral service,
which according to May's expressed desire was very simple, and she was
laid in the tranquil cemetery of Montrouge outside of the

Foreseeing the possibility of a fatal termination to her illness, May
had made every preparation for the event, and obtained a promise from
her sister-in-law that she would carry the baby to Louisa to receive
the devoted care that she knew would be given it. The child became a
source of great comfort to Miss Alcott as will be seen from the
journals. After her death Mr. Nieriker visited his little girl in
America, and in June, 1889, her aunt took her to his home in Zurich,

Before the sad letters describing May's illness could reach America,
came the cable message of her death. It was sent to Mr. Emerson, the
never-failing friend of the family, who bore it to Louisa, her father
being temporarily absent. His thoughtfulness softened the blow as much
as human tenderness could, but still it fell with crushing weight upon
them all.

The father and sister could not sleep, and in the watches of the night
he wrote that touching ode, the cry of paternal love and grief
entitled "Love's Morrow."

_To Mrs. Bond._

     CONCORD, Jan. 1, 1880.

   DEAR AUNTIE,--It is hard to add one more sorrow to your already
   full heart, particularly one of this sort, but I did not want you
   to hear it from any one but us. Dear May is dead. Gone to begin
   the new year with Mother, in a world where I hope there is no
   grief like this. Gone just when she seemed safest and happiest,
   after nearly two years of such sweet satisfaction and love that
   she wrote us, "If I die when baby comes, remember I have been so
   unspeakably happy for a year that I ought to be content...."

   And it is all over. The good mother and sister have done
   everything in the most devoted way. We can never repay them. My
   May gave me her little Lulu, and in the spring I hope to get my
   sweet legacy. Meantime the dear grandma takes her to a home full
   of loving friends and she is safe. I will write more when we
   know, but the cruel sea divides us and we must wait.

   Bless you dear Auntie for all your love for May; she never forgot
   it, nor do we.

     Yours ever,

     JANUARY 4.

   DEAR AUNTIE,--I have little further news to tell, but it seems to
   comfort me to answer the shower of tender sympathetic letters
   that each mail brings us....

   So we must wait to learn how the end came at last, where the dear
   dust is to lie, and how soon the desolate little home is to be
   broken up. It only remains for May's baby to be taken away to
   fill our cup to overflowing. But perhaps it would be best so, for
   even in Heaven with Mother, I know May will yearn for the darling
   so ardently desired, so tenderly welcomed, bought at such a

   In all the troubles of my life I never had one so hard to bear,
   for the sudden fall from such high happiness to such a depth of
   sorrow finds me unprepared to accept or bear it as I ought.

   Sometime I shall know why such things are; till then must try to
   trust and wait and hope as you do.... Sorrow has its lonely side,
   and sympathy is so sweet it takes half its bitterness away.

     Yours ever,

After May's marriage and death Louisa remained awhile in Concord,
trying to forget her grief in care for others. She went to the prison
in Concord, and told a story to the prisoners which touched their
hearts, and was long remembered by some of them.

She wrote some short stories for "St Nicholas," among them "Jimmy's
Cruise in the Pinafore," called out by the acting of the popular opera
of that name by a juvenile troupe.

She spent some weeks at Willow Cottage, Magnolia, which she has
described in her popular story of "Jack and Jill." The scene of the
story is mostly laid in Concord, or "Harmony" as she calls it, and she
has introduced many familiar scenes and persons into the book.

This summer, too, the long-dreamed of School of Philosophy was
established. The opening of the School was a great event to Mr.
Alcott, as it was the realization of the dream of years. Louisa
enjoyed his gratification, and took pains to help him to reap full
satisfaction from it. She carried flowers to grace the opening
meeting, and was friendly to his guests. She occasionally attended
lectures given by her friends,--Dr. Bartol, Mrs. Howe, and
others,--and she could not fail to enjoy meeting many of the bright
people who congregated there; but she did not care for the speculative
philosophy. Her keen sense of humor led her to see all that was
incongruous or funny or simply novel in the bearing of the
philosophers. She felt that her father had too much of the trying
details, and perhaps did not appreciate how much joy of recognition it
brought him. She had not much faith in the practical success of the
experiment. Philosophy was much associated in her mind with early
poverty and suffering, and she did not feel its charms. She was
usually at the seashore at this season, as she suffered from the heat
at Concord. Frequent allusions to the school appear in her journal.
The following anecdote is given by a friend.

"It was at Concord on Emerson day. After a morning with Bartol and
Alcott and Mrs. Howe, I lunched with the Alcotts', who had for guest
the venerable Dr. McCosh. Naturally the conversation turned on the
events of the morning. 'I was thinking,' said the Doctor, 'as I looked
among your audience, that there were no young men; and that with none
but old men your school would soon die with them. By the way, madam,'
he continued, addressing Miss Alcott, 'will you tell me what is your
definition of a philosopher?'

"The reply came instantly, 'My definition is of a man up in a balloon,
with his family and friends holding the ropes which confine him to
earth and trying to haul him down.'

"The laugh which followed this reply was heartily joined in by the
philosopher himself."


   _March_, 1878.--A happy event,--May's marriage to Ernest
   Nieriker, the "tender friend" who has consoled her for Marmee's
   loss, as John consoled Nan for Beth's. He is a Swiss, handsome,
   cultivated, and good; an excellent family living in Baden, and E.
   has a good business. May is old enough to choose for herself, and
   seems so happy in the new relation that we have nothing to say
   against it.

   They were privately married on the 22d, and went to Havre for the
   honeymoon, as E. had business in France; so they hurried the
   wedding. Send her $1,000 as a gift, and all good wishes for the
   new life.

   _April._--Happy letters from May, who is enjoying life as one can
   but once. E. writes finely to Father, and is a son to welcome I
   am sure. May sketches and E. attends to his business by day, and
   both revel in music in the evening, as E. is a fine violin

   How different our lives are just now!--I so lonely, sad, and
   sick; she so happy, well, and blest. She always had the cream of
   things, and deserved it. My time is yet to come somewhere else,
   when I am ready for it.

   Anna clears out the old house; for we shall never go back to it;
   it ceased to be "home" when Marmee left it.

   I dawdle about, and wait to see if I am to live or die. If I
   live, it is for some new work. I wonder what?

   _May._--Begin to drive a little, and enjoy the spring. Nature is
   always good to me.

   May settles in her own house at Meudon,--a pretty apartment, with
   balcony, garden, etc.... I plan and hope to go to them, if I am
   ever well enough, and find new inspiration in a new life. May and
   E. urge it, and I long to go, but cannot risk the voyage yet. I
   doubt if I ever find time to lead my own life, or health to try

   _June and July._--Improving fast, in spite of dark predictions
   and forebodings. The Lord has more work for me, so I am spared.

   Tried to write a memoir of Marmee; but it is too soon, and I am
   not well enough.

          *       *       *       *       *

   May has had the new mother and brother-in-law with her, and finds
   them most interesting and lovable. They seem very proud of her,
   and happy in her happiness. Bright times for our youngest! May
   they last!

   [They did.--L. M. A.]

       *       *       *       *       *

   Got nicely ready to go to May in September; but at the last
   moment gave it up, fearing to undo all the good this weary year
   of ease has done for me, and be a burden on her. A great
   disappointment; but I've learned to wait. I long to see her happy
   in her own home.

   Nan breaks her leg; so it is well I stayed, as there was no one
   to take her place but me. Always a little chore to be done.

   _October, November._--Nan improved. Rode, nursed, kept house, and
   tried to be contented, but was not. Make no plans for myself now;
   do what I can, and should be glad not to have to sit idle any

   On the 8th, Marmee's birthday, Father and I went to Sleepy Hollow
   with red leaves and flowers for her. A cold, dull day, and I was
   glad there was no winter for her any more.

   _November 25th._--A year since our beloved Marmee died. A very
   eventful year. May marries, I live instead of dying, Father comes
   to honor in his old age, and Nan makes her home our refuge when
   we need one.

   _December._--A busy time. Nan gets about again. I am so well I
   wonder at myself, and ask no more.

   Write a tale for the "Independent," and begin on an art novel,
   with May's romance for its thread. Went to B. for some weeks, and
   looked about to see what I could venture to do....

   So ends 1878,--a great contrast to last December. Then I thought
   I was done with life; now I can enjoy a good deal, and wait to
   see what I am spared to do. Thank God for both the sorrow and the

   _January_, 1879.--At the Bellevue in my little room writing.

   Got two books well started, but had too many interruptions to do
   much, and dared not get into a vortex for fear of a break-down.

   Went about and saw people, and tried to be jolly. Did Jarley for
   a fair, also for Authors' Carnival at Music Hall. A queer time;
   too old for such pranks. A sad heart and a used-up body make play
   hard work, I find.

   Read "Mary Wollstonecraft," "Dosia," "Danieli," "Helène," etc. I
   like Gréville's books.

   Invest $1,000 for Fred's schooling, etc. Johnny has his $1,000
   also safely in the bank for his education and any emergency.

   _February._--Home to Concord rather used up. Find a very quiet
   life is best; for in B. people beset me to do things, and I try,
   and get so tired I cannot work. Dr. C. says rest is my salvation;
   so I rest. Hope for Paris in the spring, as May begs me to come.
   She is leading what she calls "an ideal life,"--painting, music,
   love, and the world shut out. People wonder and gossip; but M.
   and E. laugh and are happy. Wise people to enjoy this lovely

   Went to a dinner, at the Revere House, of the Papyrus Club. Mrs.
   Burnett and Miss A. were guests of honor. Dr. Holmes took me in,
   and to my surprise I found myself at the president's right hand,
   with Mrs. B., Holmes, Stedman, and the great ones of the land.
   Had a gay time. Dr. H. very gallant. "Little Women" often toasted
   with more praise than was good for me.

   Saw Mrs. B. at a lunch, and took her and Mrs. M. M. Dodge to
   Concord for a lunch. Most agreeable women.

   A visit at H. W.'s. Mission time at Church of the Advent. Father
   Knox-Little preached, and waked up the sinners. H. hoped to
   convert me, and took me to see Father K.-L., a very interesting
   man, and we had a pleasant talk; but I found that we meant the
   same thing, though called by different names; and his religion
   had too much ceremony about it to suit me. So he gave me his
   blessing, and promised to send me some books.

   [Never did.--L. M. A.]

   Pleasant times with my "rainy-day friend," as I call Dr. W. She
   is a great comfort to me, with her healthy common-sense and
   tender patience, aside from skill as a doctor and beauty as a
   woman. I love her much, and she does me good.

       *       *       *       *       *

   Happy letters from May. Her hopes of a little son or daughter in
   the autumn give us new plans to talk over. I _must_ be well
   enough to go to her then.

   _April._--Very poorly and cross; so tired of being a prisoner to
   pain. Long for the old strength when I could do what I liked, and
   never knew I had a body. Life not worth living in this way; but
   having over-worked the wonderful machine, I must pay for it, and
   should not growl, I suppose, as it is just.

   To B. to see Dr. S. Told me I was better than she ever dreamed I
   could be, and need not worry. So took heart, and tried to be
   cheerful, in spite of aches and nerves. Warm weather comforted
   me, and green grass did me good.

   Put a fence round A.'s garden. Bought a phaeton, so I might
   drive, as I cannot walk much, and Father loves to take his guests

   _May and June._--Go to B. for a week, but don't enjoy seeing
   people. Do errands, and go home again. Saw "Pinafore;" a pretty

   Much company.

   E.'s looked at the Orchard House and liked it; will hire it,
   probably. Hope so, as it is forlorn standing empty. I never go by
   without looking up at Marmee's window, where the dear face used
   to be, and May's, with the picturesque vines round it. No
   golden-haired, blue-gowned Diana ever appears now; she sits
   happily sewing baby-clothes in Paris. Enjoyed fitting out a box
   of dainty things to send her. Even lonely old spinsters take an
   interest in babies.

   _June._--A poor month. Try to forget my own worries, and enjoy
   the fine weather, my little carriage, and good friends. Souls are
   such slaves to bodies it is hard to keep up out of the slough of
   despond when nerves jangle and flesh aches.

   Went with Father on Sunday to the prison, and told the men a
   story. Thought I could not face four hundred at first; but after
   looking at them during the sermon, I felt that I could at least
   _amuse_ them, and they evidently needed something new. So I told
   a hospital story with a little moral to it, and was so interested
   in watching the faces of some young men near me, who drank in
   every word, that I forgot myself, and talked away "like a
   mother." One put his head down, and another winked hard, so I
   felt that I had caught them; for even one tear in that dry, hard
   place would do them good. Miss McC. and Father said it was well
   done, and I felt quite proud of my first speech. [Sequel later.]

   _July._--Wrote a little tale called "Jimmy's Cruise in the
   Pinafore," for "St. Nicholas;" $100.

   _14th._--The philosophers begin to swarm, and the buzz starts
   to-morrow. How much honey will be made is still doubtful, but the
   hive is ready and drones also.

   On the 15th, the School of Philosophy began in the study at
   Orchard House,--thirty students; Father, the dean. He has his
   dream realized at last, and is in glory, with plenty of talk to
   swim in. People laugh, but will enjoy something new in this dull
   old town; and the fresh Westerners will show them that all the
   culture of the world is not in Concord. I had a private laugh
   when Mrs. ---- asked one of the new-comers, with her superior
   air, if she had ever looked into Plato. And the modest lady from
   Jacksonville answered, with a twinkle at me, "We have been
   reading Plato in _Greek_ for the past six years." Mrs. ----
   subsided after that.

   [Oh, wicked L. M. A., who hates sham and loves a joke.--L. M. A.]

   Was the first woman to register my name as a voter.

   _August._--To B. with a new "Scrap Bag." "Jimmy" to the fore.
   Wrote a little tale.

   The town swarms with budding philosophers, and they roost on our
   steps like hens waiting for corn. Father revels in it, so we keep
   the hotel going, and try to look as if we liked it. If they were
   philanthropists, I should enjoy it; but speculation seems a waste
   of time when there is so much real work crying to be done. Why
   discuss the "unknowable" till our poor are fed and the wicked

   A young poet from New York came; nice boy.

   Sixteen callers to-day. Trying to stir up the women about
   suffrage; so timid and slow.

   Happy letters from May. Sophie N. is with her now. All well in
   the Paris nest.

   Passed a week in Magnolia with Mrs. H. School ended for this
   year. Hallelujah!

   _September._--Home from the seaside refreshed, and go to work on
   a new serial for "St. Nicholas,"--"Jack and Jill." Have no plan
   yet but a boy, a girl, and a sled, with an upset to start with.
   Vague idea of working in Concord young folks and their doings.
   After two years of rest, I am going to try again; it is so easy
   to make money now, and so pleasant to have it to give. A chapter
   a day is my task, and not that if I feel tired. No more fourteen
   hours a day; make haste slowly now.

   Drove about and drummed up women to my suffrage meeting. So hard
   to move people out of the old ruts. I haven't patience enough;
   if they won't see and work, I let 'em alone, and steam along my
   own way.

   May sent some nice little letters of an "Artist's Holiday," and I
   had them printed; also a book for artists abroad,--very useful,
   and well done.

   Eight chapters done. Too much company for work.

   _October 8th._--Dear Marmee's birthday. Never forgotten. Lovely
   day. Go to Sleepy Hollow with flowers. Her grave is green;
   blackberry vines with red leaves trail over it. A little white
   stone with her initials is at the head, and among the tall grass
   over her breast a little bird had made a nest; empty now, but a
   pretty symbol of the refuge that tender bosom always was for all
   feeble and sweet things. Her favorite asters bloomed all about,
   and the pines sang overhead. So she and dear Beth are quietly
   asleep in God's acre, and we remember them more tenderly with
   each year that brings us nearer them and home.

   Went with Dr. W. to the Woman's Prison, at Sherburne. A lovely
   drive, and very remarkable day and night. Read a story to the
   four hundred women, and heard many interesting tales. A much
   better place than Concord Prison, with its armed wardens, and
   "knock down and drag out" methods. Only women here, and they work
   wonders by patience, love, common-sense, and the belief in
   salvation for all.

   First proof from Scribner of "Jack and Jill." Mrs. D. likes the
   story, so I peg away very slowly. Put in Elly D. as one of my
   boys. The nearer I keep to nature, the better the work is. Young
   people much interested in the story, and all want to "go in." I
   shall have a hornet's nest about me if all are not _angels_.

   Father goes West.

   I mourn much because all say I must not go to May; not safe; and
   I cannot add to Mamma Nieriker's cares at this time by another
   invalid, as the voyage would upset me, I am so sea-sick.

   Give up my hope and long-cherished plan with grief. May sadly
   disappointed. I know I shall wish I had gone; it is my luck.

   _November._--Went to Boston for a month, as some solace for my
   great disappointment. Take my room at the Bellevue, and go about
   a little. Write on "J. and J." Anxious about May.

   _8th._--Little Louisa May Nieriker arrived in Paris at 9 p. m.,
   after a short journey. All doing well. Much rejoicing. Nice
   little lass, and May very happy. Ah, if I had only been there!
   Too much happiness for me.

   _25th._--Two years since Marmee went. How she would have enjoyed
   the little granddaughter, and all May's romance! Perhaps she

   Went home on my birthday (forty-seven). Tried to have a little
   party for Nan and the boys, but it was rather hard work.

   Not well enough to write much, so give up my room. Can lie round
   at home, and it's cheaper.

   _December._--May not doing well. The weight on my heart is not
   all imagination. She was too happy to have it last, and I fear
   the end is coming. Hope it is my nerves; but this peculiar
   feeling has never misled me before.

   Invited to the breakfast to O. W. H. No heart to go.

   _8th._--Little Lu one month old. Small, but lively. Oh, if I
   could only be there to see,--to help! This is a penance for all
   my sins. Such a tugging at my heart to be by poor May, alone, so
   far away. The N.'s are devoted, and all is done that can be; but
   not one of her "very own" is there.

   Father came home.

   _29th._--May died at 8 a. m., after three weeks of fever and
   stupor. Happy and painless most of the time. At Mr. W.'s funeral
   on the 30th, I _felt_ the truth before the news came.

   _Wednesday, 31st._--A dark day for us. A telegram from Ernest to
   Mr. Emerson tells us "May is dead." Anna was gone to B.; Father
   to the post-office, anxious for letters, the last being overdue.
   I was alone when Mr. E. came. E. sent to him, knowing I was
   feeble, and hoping Mr. E. would soften the blow. I found him
   looking at May's portrait, pale and tearful, with the paper in
   his hand. "My child, I wish I could prepare you; but alas, alas!"
   There his voice failed, and he gave me the telegram.

   I was not surprised, and read the hard words as if I knew it all
   before. "I _am_ prepared," I said, and thanked him. He was much
   moved and very tender. I shall remember gratefully the look, the
   grasp, the tears he gave me; and I am sure that hard moment was
   made bearable by the presence of this our best and tenderest
   friend. He went to find Father but missed him, and I had to tell
   both him and Anna when they came. A very bitter sorrow for all.

   The dear baby may comfort E., but what can comfort us? It is the
   distance that is so hard, and the thought of so much happiness
   ended so soon. "Two years of perfect happiness" May called these
   married years, and said, "If I die when baby comes, don't mourn,
   for I have had as much happiness in this short time as many in
   twenty years." She wished me to have her baby and her pictures. A
   very precious legacy! Rich payment for the little I could do for
   her. I see now why I lived,--to care for May's child and not
   leave Anna all alone.

   _January 1st_, 1880.--A sad day mourning for May. Of all the
   trials in my life I never felt any so keenly as this, perhaps
   because I am so feeble in health that I cannot bear it well. It
   seems so hard to break up that happy little home and take May
   just when life was richest, and to leave me who had done my task
   and could well be spared. Shall I ever know why such things

   Letters came telling us all the sad story. May was unconscious
   during the last weeks, and seemed not to suffer. Spoke now and
   then of "getting ready for Louy," and asked if she had come. All
   was done that love and skill could do, but in vain. E. is
   broken-hearted, and good Madame N. and Sophie find their only
   solace in the poor baby.

   May felt a foreboding, and left all ready in case she died. Some
   trunks packed for us, some for the N. sisters. Her diary written
   up, all in order. Even chose the graveyard where she wished to
   be, out of the city. E. obeys all her wishes sacredly.

   Tried to write on "J. and J." to distract my mind; but the wave
   of sorrow kept rolling over me, and I could only weep and wait
   till the tide ebbed again.

   _February._--More letters from E. and Madame N. Like us, they
   find comfort in writing of the dear soul gone, now there is
   nothing more to do for her. I cannot make it true that our May is
   dead, lying far away in a strange grave, leaving a husband and
   child whom we have never seen. It all reads like a pretty
   romance, now death hath set its seal on these two happy years;
   and we shall never know all that she alone could tell us.

   Many letters from friends in France, England, and America, full
   of sympathy for us, and love and pride and gratitude for May,
   who was always glad to help, forgive, and love every one. It is
   our only consolation now.

   Father and I cannot sleep, but he and I make verses as we did
   when Marmee died. Our grief seems to flow into words. He writes
   "Love's Morrow" and "Our Madonna."

   Lulu has gone to Baden with Grandmamma.

   Finish "J. and J." The world goes on in spite of sorrow, and I
   must do my work. Both these last serials were written with a
   heavy heart,--"Under the Lilacs" when Marmee was failing, and
   "Jack and Jill" while May was dying. Hope the grief did not get
   into them.

   Hear R. W. E. lecture for his one hundredth time. Mary Clemmer
   writes for a sketch of my life for a book of "Famous Women."
   Don't belong there.

   Read "Memoirs of Madame de Rémusat." Not very interesting.
   Beauties seldom amount to much. Plain Margaret Fuller was worth a
   dozen of them. "Kings in Exile," a most interesting book, a very
   vivid and terrible picture of Parisian life and royal weakness
   and sorrow.

   Put papers, etc., in order. I feel as if one should be ready to
   go at any moment....

   _March._--A box came from May, with pictures, clothes, vases, her
   ornaments, a little work-basket, and, in one of her own sepia
   boxes, her pretty hair tied with blue ribbon,--all that is now
   left us of this bright soul but the baby, soon to come. Treasures

   A sad day, and many tears dropped on the dear dress, the blue
   slippers she last wore, the bit of work she laid down when the
   call came the evening Lulu was born. The fur-lined sack feels
   like May's arms round me, and I shall wear it with pleasure. The
   pictures show us her great progress these last years.

   To Boston for a few days on business, and to try to forget. Got
   gifts for Anna's birthday on the 16th,--forty-nine years old. My
   only sister now, and the best God ever made. Repaired her house
   for her.

   Lulu is not to come till autumn. Great disappointment; but it is
   wiser to wait, as summer is bad for a young baby to begin here.

   _29th._--Town meeting. Twenty women there, and voted first,
   thanks to Father. Polls closed,--in joke, we thought, as Judge
   Hoar proposed it; proved to be in earnest, and _we_ elected a
   good school committee. Quiet time; no fuss.

     JANUARY 20, 1880.

   DEAR MRS. DODGE,--I have been so bowed down with grief at the
   loss of my dear sister just when our anxiety was over that I have
   not had a thought or care for anything else.

   The story is done; but the last chapters are not copied, and I
   thought it best to let them lie till I could give my mind to the

   I never get a good chance to do a story without interruption of
   some sort. "Under the Lilacs" was finished by my mother's bedside
   in her last illness, and this one when my heart was full of care
   and hope and then grief over poor May.

   I trust the misery did not get into the story; but I'm afraid it
   is not as gay as I meant most of it to be.

   I forgot to number the pages of the last two chapters, and so
   cannot number these. I usually keep the run, but this time sent
   off the parcel in a hurry. Can you send me the right number to go
   on with in chapter seventeen? I can send you four more as soon as
   I hear.

   I don't believe I shall come to New York this winter. May left
   me her little daughter for my own; and if she comes over soon, I
   shall be too busy singing lullabies to one child to write tales
   for others, or go anywhere, even to see my kind friends.

   A sweeter little romance has just ended in Paris than any I can
   ever make; and the sad facts of life leave me no heart for
   cheerful fiction.

     Yours truly,
     L. M. ALCOTT.


[12] This poem was first published anonymously in "The Masque of
Poets," in 1878.

[13] In Spinning-Wheel Stories.

[14] Under the Lilacs.

[15] Under the Lilacs, page 78.

[16] Gardener's Daughter.

[17] This interesting picture is in the possession of her sister.



     (Written October, 1886.)

     Courage and patience, these I ask,
       Dear Lord, in this my latest strait;
     For hard I find my ten years' task,
       Learning to suffer and to wait.

     Life seems so rich and grand a thing,
       So full of work for heart and brain,
     It is a cross that I can bring
       No help, no offering, but pain.

     The hard-earned harvest of these years
       I long to generously share;
     The lessons learned with bitter tears
       To teach again with tender care;

     To smooth the rough and thorny way
       Where other feet begin to tread;
     To feed some hungry soul each day
       With sympathy's sustaining bread.

     So beautiful such pleasures show,
       I long to make them mine;
     To love and labor and to know
       The joy such living makes divine.

     But if I may not, I will only ask
       Courage and patience for my fate,
     And learn, dear Lord, thy latest task,--
       To suffer patiently and wait.

The early part of the year 1880 was in the deep shadow of sadness,
from the death of Louisa's sister. Boxes full of May's pictures,
clothes, and books came home to call up anew all the memories of the
bright spirit who had blossomed into such beautiful life so quickly to
fade away.

Miss Alcott tried to rise above her grief and busy herself with new
interests. She took an active part in the voting of the women in
Concord, and rejoiced in the election of a good school committee. In
April she returned to her old rooms at the Bellevue, where she busied
herself with dramatizing "Michael Strogoff," which she never
completed. She kept up her interest in young girls, and received with
pleasure a visit from thirty pupils of the Boston University, and she
helped to give the children of the North End Mission a happy day at
Walden Pond. She went to York for rest and refreshment during the
summer. Her heart was filled with longing for the child, and
everything was done with reference to its coming.

As September brought cooler weather, over the sea came the little babe
to the warm hearts that were longing to welcome her. No woman as true
and loving as Louisa Alcott but has the mother-nature strong in her
heart; and she could not help feeling a new spring of love and life
when the child of one so dear was put into her arms to be her very
own. Rosy and healthy, full of life and energy,--not a model of
sainthood, but a real human nature, with a will to be regulated, not
broken, with impulses to be trained, talents and tendencies to be
studied, and a true, loving heart to be filled with joy,--Louisa
found the child a constant source of interest and pleasure. She
brought her up as she herself had been trained,--more by influences
than by rules,--and sought to follow the leadings which she found in
the young nature rather than to make it over after a plan of her own.
This new care and joy helped to fill up the void in her life from the
loss of the mother for whom she had worked so faithfully and the pet
sister to whom she had ever been a good providence.

The principal interest of the next few years was the care of this
child. It was a pleasant occupation to Louisa, occupying her heart,
and binding her with new ties to younger generations. The journal
tells all the simple story of the "voyage across the seas."

Miss Alcott was very attractive to children, especially to the little
ones, who thronged about her and pleaded for stories; but this was the
first one who ever really filled the mother-longing in her heart. She
was now truly a "marmee;" and remembering the blessing which her own
mother had been to her, her standard of motherhood must have been very
high. Much care was now also given to her father, and she speaks with
pride of her handsome old philosopher in his new suit of clothes.

Miss Alcott was gratified by a visit from one of the men to whom she
had spoken at Concord Prison. He told her his story, and she assisted
him to find work, and had the satisfaction of hearing of his

There is little record of writing done at this period, Louisa's time
and thoughts being absorbed by the child. In the autumn of 1881 she
wrote a preface to a new edition of the "Prayers of Theodore Parker,"
and also one to the new edition of "Moods."

Louisa kept the birthdays of November, though with saddened heart. She
wrote a tale for the Soldiers' Home,--"My Red Cap," in "Proverb
Stories,"--and another for the New England Hospital fair,--"A Baby's
Birthday;" and also one for her old publisher. Such was the feeling
toward her as a universal benefactor, that a poor woman wrote her
begging her to send some Christmas gifts to her children, as they had
asked her to write to Santa Claus for some. With Lulu's help she got
up a box for the poor family, and then made a story out of the
incident, for which she received a hundred dollars.

A new project was that of a temperance society, which was felt to be
needed in Concord.

Louisa occupied herself much in looking over her mother's papers, and
unfortunately destroyed them, instead of preparing a memoir of her as
she had intended to do. It is a matter of great regret that she did
not feel able to do this work, for Mrs. Alcott's letters would have
been a most valuable record of the life of her time, as well as a
treasury of bright thought and earnest feeling. Louisa was not willing
to commit the task to any other hand, and the opportunity is gone.

_To Mrs. Dodge._

     CONCORD, May 29.

   DEAR MRS. DODGE,--I was away from home, so your letter did not
   reach me till I got back yesterday.

   Thanks for your kind thought of me, and recollections of the
   pleasant week when the L. L.'s had a lark. I should like another;
   but in this work-a-day world busy folk don't get many, as we

   If I write a serial, you shall have it; but I have my doubts as
   to the leisure and quiet needed for such tasks being possible
   with a year-old baby. Of course little Lu is a _very_ remarkable
   child, but I fancy I shall feel as full of responsibility as a
   hen with one chick, and cluck and scratch industriously for the
   sole benefit of my daughter.

   She may, however, have a literary turn, and be my assistant, by
   offering hints and giving studies of character for my work. She
   comes in September, if well.

   If I do begin a new story, how would "An Old-Fashioned Boy" and
   his life do? I meant that for the title of a book, but another
   woman took it. You proposed a revolutionary tale once, but I was
   not up to it; for this I have quaint material in my father's
   journals, letters, and recollections. He was born with the
   century, and had an uncle in the war of 1812; and his life was
   very pretty and pastoral in the early days. I think a new sort of
   story wouldn't be amiss, with fun in it, and the queer old names
   and habits. I began it long ago, and if I have a chance will
   finish off a few chapters and send them to you, if you like.

     Yours cordially,
     L. M. ALCOTT.

_To Mr. Niles, about the new illustrated edition of "Little Women."_

     YORK, July 20, 1880.

   The drawings are all capital, and we had great fun over them down
   here this rainy day.... Mr. Merrill certainly deserves a good
   penny for his work. Such a fertile fancy and quick hand as his
   should be well paid, and I shall not begrudge him his well-earned
   compensation, nor the praise I am sure these illustrations will
   earn. It is very pleasant to think that the lucky little story
   has been of use to a fellow-worker, and I am much obliged to him
   for so improving on my hasty pen-and-ink sketches. What a dear
   rowdy boy Teddy is with the felt basin on!

   The papers are great gossips, and never get anything quite
   straight, and I do mean to set up my own establishment in Boston
   (D.V.). Now I have an excuse for a home of my own, and as the
   other artistic and literary spinsters have a house, I am going to
   try the plan, for a winter at least.

   Come and see how cosey we are next October at 81 Pinckney Street.
   Miss N. will receive.

     Yours truly,
     L. M. A.

_To Mrs. Dodge._

     81 PINCKNEY STREET, 1880.

   DEAR MRS. DODGE,--The editor of "Harper's Young People" asked for
   a serial, and I declined; then they wanted a short story for
   Christmas, and I sent one. But it was not long enough, though
   longer than most of my short $100 tales.

   So I said, "If you don't want it, send it to 'Saint Nicholas.'"

   Therefore if "How It Happened" comes straying along, you will
   know what it means. If you don't want it, please send it to me in
   Boston, 81 Pinckney Street; for Christmas tales are always in
   demand, and I have no time to write more.

   You will like to know that my baby is safely here,--a healthy,
   happy little soul, who comes like sunshine to our sad hearts, and
   takes us all captive by her winning ways and lovely traits.

   I shall soon be settled for the winter, and I hope have good
   times after the hard ones.

     Affectionately yours,
     L. M. A.


   _April_, 1880.--So sad and poorly; went to B. for a change. Old
   room at the Bellevue.

   Amused myself dramatizing "Michael Strogoff;" read, walked, and
   rested. Reporters called for story of my life; did not get much.
   Made my will, dividing all I have between Nan and the boys, with
   Father as a legacy to Nan, and to Lulu her mother's pictures and
   small fortune of $500.

   _May._--Thirty girls from Boston University called; told stories,
   showed pictures, wrote autographs. Pleasant to see so much
   innocent enthusiasm, even about so poor a thing as a used-up old
   woman. Bright girls! simple in dress, sensible ideas of life, and
   love of education. I wish them all good luck.

   Ordered a stone for May's grave like Marmee's and Beth's, for
   some day I hope to bring her dust home.

   Twenty-third is the anniversary of Mother's wedding. If she had
   lived, it would have been the golden wedding.

   Went to see St. Botolph's Club rooms. Very prim and neat, with
   easy chairs everywhere; stained glass, and a pious little _bar_,
   with nothing visible but a moral ice-pitcher and a butler like a
   bishop. The reverend gentlemen will be comfortable and merry, I
   fancy, as there is a smoking-room and card-tables, as well as a
   library and picture-gallery. Divines nowadays are not as godly as
   in old times, it seems.

   Mrs. Dodge wants a new serial, but I doubt if I can do it; boys,
   babies, illness, and business of all sorts leave no time for

   _June._--We all enjoy the new rooms very much, and Father finds
   his study delightful. Prepare the Orchard House for W. T. Harris,
   who is to rent it.

   North End Mission children at Walden Pond. Help give them a happy
   day,--eleven hundred of them. Get Anna and John off to Walpole.
   Cleaned house.

   Madame N. sends a picture of Lulu,--a funny, fat little thing in
   her carriage. Don't realize that it is May's child, and that she
   is far away in a French cemetery, never to come home to us again.

   It is decided that Baby is to come to us in September.

   _24th._--Lizzie's birthday and Johnny's. He is fifteen,--a
   lovely, good boy, whom every one loves. Got the Dean a new suit
   of clothes, as he must be nice for his duties at the School.
   Plato's toga was not so costly, but even he did not look better
   than my handsome old philosopher.

   _July and August._--To York with boys. Rest and enjoy the fine
   air. Home in August, and let Anna go down. Four hundred callers
   since the School began. Philosophy is a bore to outsiders.

   Got things ready for my baby,--warm wrapper, and all the dear can
   need on her long journey. On the 21st saw Mrs. Giles (who went
   for baby) off; the last time I went, it was to see May go. She
   was sober and sad, not gay as before; seemed to feel it might be
   a longer voyage than we knew. The last view I had of her, was
   standing alone in the long blue cloak waving her hand to us,
   smiling with wet eyes till out of sight. How little we dreamed
   what an experience of love, joy, pain, and death she was going

   A lonely time with all away. My grief meets me when I come home,
   and the house is full of ghosts.

   _September._--Put papers in order, and arrange things generally,
   to be in order when our Lulu comes. Make a cosey nursery for the
   darling, and say my prayers over the little white crib that waits
   for her, if she ever comes. God watch over her!

   Paid my first _poll_-tax. As my _head_ is my most valuable piece
   of property, I thought $2 a cheap tax on it. Saw my townswomen
   about voting, etc. Hard work to stir them up; cake and servants
   are more interesting.

   _18th._--In Boston, waiting for the steamer that brings my
   treasure. The ocean seems very wide and terrible when I think of
   the motherless little creature coming so far to us.

   _19th._--Lulu and Sophie N. arrived with poor G., worn out by
   anxiety. A stormy passage, and much care, being turned out of the
   stateroom I had engaged for them and paid for, by a rude New York
   dressmaker. No help for it, so poor G. went to a rat-hole below,
   and did her best.

   As I waited on the wharf while the people came off the ship, I
   saw several babies, and wondered each time if that was mine. At
   last the captain appeared, and in his arms a little
   yellow-haired thing in white, with its hat half off as it looked
   about with lively blue eyes and babbled prettily. Mrs. G. came
   along by it, and I knew it was Lulu. Behind, walked a lovely
   brown-eyed girl with an anxious face, all being new and strange
   to Sophie.

   I held out my arms to Lulu, only being able to say her name. She
   looked at me for a moment, then came to me, saying "Marmar" in a
   wistful way, and resting close as if she had found her own people
   and home at last,--as she had, thank Heaven! I could only listen
   while I held her, and the others told their tale. Then we got
   home as soon as we could, and dear baby behaved very well, though
   hungry and tired.

   The little princess was received with tears and smiles, and being
   washed and fed went quietly to sleep in her new bed, while we
   brooded over her and were never tired of looking at the little
   face of "May's baby."

   She is a very active, bright child, not pretty yet, being browned
   by sea air, and having a yellow down on her head, and a pug nose.
   Her little body is beautifully formed, broad shoulders, fine
   chest, and lovely arms. A happy thing, laughing and waving her
   hands, confiding and bold, with a keen look in the eyes so like
   May, who hated shams and saw through them at once. She always
   comes to me, and seems to have decided that I am really "Marmar."
   My heart is full of pride and joy, and the touch of the dear
   little hands seems to take away the bitterness of grief. I often
   go at night to see if she is really _here_, and the sight of the
   little head is like sunshine to me. Father adores her, and she
   loves to sit in his strong arms. They make a pretty picture as he
   walks in the garden with her to "see birdies." Anna tends her as
   she did May, who was her baby once, being ten years younger, and
   we all find life easier to live now the baby has come. Sophie is
   a sweet girl, with much character and beauty. A charming sister
   in love as in law.

   _October._--Happy days with Lulu and Sophie; getting acquainted
   with them. Lulu is rosy and fair now, and grows pretty in her
   native air,--a merry little lass, who seems to feel at home and
   blooms in an atmosphere of adoration. People come to see "Miss
   Alcott's baby," and strangers waylay her little carriage in the
   street to look at her; but she does not allow herself to be

   As Father wants to go West I decide to hire Cousin L. W.'s house
   furnished for the winter, so that Sophie and the boys can have a
   pleasant time. S. misses the gayety of her home-life in stupid
   Concord, where the gossip and want of manners strike her very
   disagreeably. Impertinent questions are asked her, and she is
   amazed at the queer, rude things people say.

   _November 8th._--Lulu's birthday. One year old. Her gifts were
   set out on a table for her to see when she came down in the
   afternoon,--a little cake with _one_ candle, a rose crown for the
   queen, a silver mug, dolly, picture-books, gay ball, toys,
   flowers, and many kisses. She sat smiling at her treasures just
   under her mother's picture. Suddenly, attracted by the sunshine
   on the face of the portrait which she knows is "Marmar," she held
   up a white rose to it calling "Mum! Mum!" and smiling at it in a
   way that made us all cry. A happy day for her, a sad one to us.

   _Thanksgiving._--Family dinner.

   Father at Syracuse, having conversations at Bishop Huntington's
   and a fine time everywhere.

   _December._--Too busy to keep much of a journal. My life is
   absorbed in my baby. On the twenty-third she got up and walked
   alone; had never crept at all, but when ready ran across the room
   and plumped down, laughing triumphantly at her feat.

   _Christmas._--Tried to make it gay for the young folks, but a
   heavy day for Nan and me. Sixty gifts were set out on different
   tables, and all were much pleased. Sophie had many pretty things,
   and gave to all generously.

   A hard year for all, but when I hold my Lulu I feel as if even
   death had its compensations. A new world for me.

   Called down one day to see a young man. Found it one of those to
   whom I spoke at the prison in Concord last June. Came to thank me
   for the good my little story did him, since it kept him straight
   and reminded him that it is never too late to mend. Told me about
   himself, and how he was going to begin anew and wipe out the
   past. He had been a miner, and coming East met some fellows who
   made him drink; while tipsy he stole something in a doctor's
   office, and having no friends here was sentenced to three years
   in prison. Did well, and was now out. Had a prospect of going on
   an expedition to South America with a geological surveying party.
   An interesting young man. Fond of books, anxious to do well,
   intelligent, and seemed eager to atone for his one fault. Gave
   him a letter to S. G. at Chicago. Wrote to the warden, who
   confirmed D.'s story and spoke well of him. Miss Willard wrote me
   later of him, and he seemed doing well. Asked if he might write
   to me, and did so several times, then went to S. A. and I hear no
   more. Glad to have said a word to help the poor boy.

   _March_, 1881.--Voted for school committee.

   _October._--Wrote a preface for Parker's Prayers, just got out by
   F. B. Sanborn.

   _November._--Forty-nine on 29th. Wrote a preface to the new
   edition of "Moods."

   _8th._--Gave my baby _two_ kisses when she woke, and escorted her
   down to find a new chair decked with ribbons, and a doll's
   carriage tied with pink; toys, pictures, flowers, and a cake,
   with a red and a blue candle burning gayly.

   Wrote a tale for the Soldiers' Home,--"My Red Cap,"--and one for
   the Woman's Hospital fair,--"A Baby's Birthday." Also a tale for

   _December._--A poor woman in Illinois writes me to send her
   children some Christmas gifts, being too poor and ill to get any.
   They asked her to write to Santa Claus and she wrote to _me_.
   Sent a box, and made a story about it,--$100. Lulu much
   interested, and kept bringing all her best toys and clothes "for
   poor little boys." A generous baby.

_To Mr. Niles._

     FEBRUARY 12, 1881.

   DEAR MR. NILES,--Wendell Phillips wrote me a letter begging me to
   write a preface for Mrs. Robinson's "History of the Suffrage
   Movement;" but I refused him, as I did Mrs. R., because I don't
   write prefaces well, and if I begin to do it there will be no

   Cannot you do a small edition for her? All the believers will buy
   the book, and I think the sketches of L. M. Child, Abby May,
   Alcott, and others will add much to the interest of the book.

   Has she seen you about it? Will you look at the manuscripts by
   and by, or do you scorn the whole thing? Better not; for we are
   going to win in time, and the friend of literary ladies ought to
   be also the friend of women generally.

   We are going to meet the Governor, council, and legislature at
   Mrs. Tudor's next Wednesday eve and have a grand set-to. I hope
   he will come out of the struggle alive.

   Do give Mrs. R. a lift if you can, and your petitioners will ever

     Yours truly,
     L. M. A.

     February 19, 1881.

   DEAR MR. NILES,--Thank you very much for so kindly offering to
   look at Mrs. R.'s book. It is always pleasant to find a person
   who can conquer his prejudices to oblige a friend, if no more.

   I think we shall be glad by and by of every little help we may
   have been able to give to this reform in its hard times, for
   those who take the tug now will deserve the praise when the work
   is done.

   I can remember when Antislavery was in just the same state that
   Suffrage is now, and take more pride in the very small help we
   Alcotts could give than in all the books I ever wrote or ever
   shall write.

   "Earth's fanatics often make heaven's saints," you know, and it
   is as well to try for that sort of promotion in time.

   If Mrs. R. does send her manuscripts I will help all I can in
   reading or in any other way. If it only records the just and wise
   changes Suffrage has made in the laws for women, it will be worth
   printing; and it is time to keep account of these first steps,
   since they count most.

   I, for one, don't want to be ranked among idiots, felons, and
   minors any longer, for I am none of the three, but very
   gratefully yours,

     L. M. A.

_To Mrs. Stearns._

     FEBRUARY 21, 1881.

   _Dear Mrs. Stearns_,--Many thanks for the tender thoughtfulness
   which sends us the precious little notes from the dear dead

   They are so characteristic that they bring both Mother and May
   clearly up before me, alive and full of patient courage and happy
   hopes. I am resigned to my blessed mother's departure, since life
   was a burden, and the heroic past made a helpless future very
   hard to think of. But May's loss, just when life was fullest and
   sweetest, seems very bitter to me still, in spite of the sweet
   baby who is an unspeakable comfort. I wish you could see the
   pretty creature who already shows many of her mother's traits and
   tastes. Her love of pictures is a passion, but she will not look
   at the common gay ones most babies enjoy. She chooses the
   delicate, well-drawn, and painted figures of Caldecott and Miss
   Greenaway; over these she broods with rapture, pointing her
   little fingers at the cows or cats, and kissing the children with
   funny prattlings to these dumb playmates. She is a fine, tall
   girl, full of energy, intelligence, and health; blonde and
   blue-eyed like her mother, but with her father's features, for
   which I am glad, for he is a handsome man. Louisa May bids fair
   to be a noble woman; and I hope I may live to see May's child as
   brave and bright and talented as she was and, much happier in her

   Father is at the West, busy and well. Anna joins me in thanks and
   affectionate regards.

     Ever yours,
     L. M. Alcott.


   _March_, 1882.--Helped start a temperance society; much needed in
   C. A great deal of drinking, not among the Irish, but young
   American gentlemen, as well as farmers and mill hands. Women
   anxious to do something, but find no interest beyond a few. Have
   meetings, and try to learn how to work. I was secretary, and
   wrote records, letters, and sent pledges, etc.; also articles in
   "Concord Freeman" and "Woman's Journal" about the union and town

   _April._--Read over and destroyed Mother's diaries, as she wished
   me to do so. A wonderfully interesting record of her life, from
   her delicate, cherished girlhood through her long, hard, romantic
   married years, old age, and death. Some time I will write a story
   or a memoir of it.

   Lulu's teeth trouble her; but in my arms she seems to find
   comfort, for I tell stories by the dozen; and lambs, piggies, and
   "tats" soothe her little woes. Wish I were stronger, so that I
   might take all the care of her. We seem to understand each other,
   but my nerves make me impatient, and noise wears upon me.

   Mr. Emerson ill. Father goes to see him. E. held his hand,
   looking up at the tall, sorry old man, and saying, with that
   smile of love that has been Father's sunshine for so many years,
   "_You_ are very well,--keep so, keep so." After Father left, he
   called him back and grasped his hand again, as if he knew it was
   for the last time, and the kind eyes said, "Good-by, my friend!"

April 27, 1882, Louisa speaks most tenderly of the death of Mr.
Emerson. He had been to her and to her family the truest and best of
friends; and her own profound reverence for him had been a strong
influence, from the time when she played games with his children in
the barn until she followed him to his honored grave. Let critics and
philosophers judge him by his intellect; in the hearts of this family,
and in many an humble home besides, he will always be remembered as
the tenderest, most sympathetic, most loyal of all friends, whose
bounty fell on them silently as the dew from heaven, and whose
presence could brighten the highest joy and soothe the keenest sorrow
they could ever know.


   _Thursday, 27th._--Mr. Emerson died at 9 P.M. suddenly. Our best
   and greatest American gone. The nearest and dearest friend Father
   has ever had, and the man who has helped me most by his life, his
   books, his society. I can never tell all he has been to me,--from
   the time I sang Mignon's song under his window (a little girl)
   and wrote letters _à la_ Bettine to him, my Goethe, at fifteen,
   up through my hard years, when his essays on Self-Reliance,
   Character, Compensation, Love, and Friendship helped me to
   understand myself and life, and God and Nature. Illustrious and
   beloved friend, good-by!

   _Sunday, 30th._--Emerson's funeral. I made a yellow lyre of
   jonquils for the church, and helped trim it up. Private services
   at the house, and a great crowd at the church. Father read his
   sonnet, and Judge Hoar and others spoke. Now he lies in Sleepy
   Hollow among his brothers, under the pines he loved.

   I sat up till midnight to write an article on R. W. E. for the
   "Youth's Companion," that the children may know something of him.
   A labor of love.

   _May._--Twenty-seven boys signed pledge. Temperance work.
   Meetings. I give books to schools. Wrote an article for Mrs.
   Croly on R. W. E.

   _June._--I visited A. B. in Mattapoisset for a week. A queer
   time, driving about or talking over our year in Europe. School
   children called upon me with flowers, etc.

   _24th._--John's seventeenth birthday. A dear boy, good and gay,
   full of love, manliness, and all honest and lovely traits, like
   his father and mother. Long life to my boy!

   _July._--School of Philosophy opens on the 17th in full force. I
   arrange flowers, oak branches, etc., and then fly before the
   reporters come. Father very happy. Westerners arrive, and the
   town is full with ideal speculators. Penny has a new barge; we
   call it the "Blue Plato" (not the "Black Maria"), and watch it
   rumble by with Margaret Fullers in white muslin and Hegels in
   straw hats, while stout Penny grins at the joke as he puts money
   in his purse. The first year Concord people stood aloof, and the
   strangers found it hard to get rooms. Now every one is eager to
   take them, and the School is pronounced a success because it
   brings money to the town. Even philosophers can't do without
   food, beds, and washing; so all rejoice, and the new craze
   flourishes. If all our guests paid we should be well off; several
   hundred a month is rather wearing. Father asked why we never
   went, and Anna showed him a long list of four hundred names of
   callers, and he said no more.

   _October._--To Hotel Bellevue with John.

   Missed my dear baby, but need quiet. Brain began to work, and
   plans for tales to simmer. Began "Jo's Boys," as Mrs. Dodge wants
   a serial.

In the autumn of 1882 Mr. Alcott was attacked by a severe stroke of
paralysis, from which he never fully recovered; and for the rest of
his life his daughters shared in the duty of tending and caring for
him in his enfeebled state. It had been the great reward of Louisa's
years of hard work that she could surround her mother with every
comfort that could make her happy in her last declining years. Not
less had she delighted to gratify every wish of her father. His
library was fitted up with exquisite taste, his books and manuscripts
bound, and he was "throned in philosophic ease" for the rest of his
days. What a relief it was now that she could have the faithful nurse
ready at his call; that she could give him the pleasant drives which
he enjoyed so much; and lighten her sister's labors with every
assistance that money could procure!

The Orchard House, which had been the family home for twenty-five
years, was sold to Mr. Harris, and Mrs. Pratt's house was the home of
all. Louisa spent part of the summer at the seashore, and finally
bought a small house at Nonquit, where the children could all spend
the summer, while she and her sister alternated in the care of her

In the autumn of 1885, Miss Alcott decided to take a furnished house
in Louisburg Square. Her nephews were established in Boston, and their
mother wished to be with them. Mr. Alcott bore the moving well, and
they found many comforts in the arrangement. Louisa's health was very
feeble. She had great trouble in the throat, and her old dyspeptic
symptoms returned to annoy her. Still she cannot give up work, and
busies herself in preparing "Lulu's Library" for publication, and
hopes to be able to work on "Jo's Boys."

"Lulu's Library" was a collection of stories which had been the
delight of the child. The first series was published in 1885, the
second in 1887, and the third in 1889. They are full of Louisa's
charming qualities, and have a special interest from the tender
feeling with which she gathered them up for her niece. The touching
preface to "Jo's Boys" tells of the seven years of occasional work on
this book, and reveals the depth of feeling which would not allow her
to write as formerly of Marmee and Amy, who were no longer here to
accept their own likenesses. During the latter part of her work on
this book, she could only write from half an hour to one or two hours
a day. This was published in September, 1886. It contains an engraving
of her from a bas-relief by Mr. Ricketson.

This book was written under hard circumstances, and cost its author
more effort perhaps than any other. It is evidently not the overflow
of her delight and fun in life like "Little Women," but it is full of
biographical interest. Her account of her own career, and of the
annoyances to which her celebrity exposed her, is full of her old
spirit and humor. She has expressed many valuable thoughts on
education, and her spirit is as hopeful for her boys as in her days of
youth and health. She has too many characters to manage; but we feel a
keen interest in the fortunes of Dan and Emil, and in the courtship by
the warm-hearted Tom of his medical sweetheart.

_Preface to "Jo's Boys."_

   Having been written at long intervals during the past seven
   years, this story is more faulty than any of its very imperfect
   predecessors; but the desire to atone for an unavoidable
   disappointment, and to please my patient little friends, has
   urged me to let it go without further delay.

   To account for the seeming neglect of Amy, let me add, that,
   since the original of that character died, it has been impossible
   for me to write of her as when she was here to suggest,
   criticise, and laugh over her namesake. The same excuse applies
   to Marmee. But the folded leaves are not blank to those who knew
   and loved them and can find memorials of them in whatever is
   cheerful, true, or helpful in these pages.

     L. M. ALCOTT.
     CONCORD, JULY 4, 1886.

_To Mr. Horace Chandler._

   DEAR MR. CHANDLER,--The corrections are certainly rather
   peculiar, and I fear my struggles to set them right have only
   produced greater confusion.

   Fortunately punctuation is a free institution, and all can pepper
   to suit the taste. I don't care much, and always leave
   proof-readers to quibble if they like.

   Thanks for the tickets. I fear I cannot come till Thursday, but
   will try, and won't forget the office, since I am not that
   much-tried soul the editor.

     Yours truly,
     L. M. A.

_To Mrs. Williams (Betsey Prig)._

     NONQUIT, August 25.

   DEAR BETSEY,--I am so sorry the darling Doll is ill! Brood over
   him, and will him well; for mother-love works wonders.

   My poppet is a picture of health, vigor, and delightful
   naughtiness. She runs wild in this fine place with some twenty
   other children to play with,--nice babies, well-bred, and with
   pleasant mammas for me to gossip with.

   It would be a good place for your little people, as the air is
   delicious, bathing safe and warm, and cottages to be quiet in if
   one cares to keep house. Do try it next year. Let me know early.
   I can get a nice little cot for you (near mine) for $100, or
   perhaps less, from June to October,--if you care to stay; I

   We have been here since July, and are all hearty, brown, and gay
   as larks.

   "John Inglesant" was too political for me. I am too lazy here to
   read much; mean to find a den in Boston and work for a month or
   two; then fly off to New York, and perhaps run over and see my
   Betsey. I shall be at home in October, and perhaps we may see you
   then, if the precious little shadow gets nice and well again, and
   I pray he may.

   Lulu has some trifling ail now and then,--just enough to show me
   how dear she is to us all, and what a great void the loss of our
   little girl would make in hearts and home. She is very
   intelligent and droll. When I told her the other day that the
   crickets were hopping and singing in the grass with their mammas,
   she said at once, "No; their Aunt Weedys." Aunty is nearer than
   mother to the poor baby; and it is very sweet to have it so,
   since it must be.

   Now, my blessed Betsey, keep a brave heart, and I am sure all
   will be well in the nest. Love and kisses to the little birds,
   and all good wishes to the turtle-dove and her mate.

     Yours ever,
     L. M. A.

   The older birthdays are 29th of November, Lulu's the 8th; so we
   celebrate for Grandpa, Auntie, and Lulu all at once, in great
   style,--eighty-three, fifty, and three years old.

   When I get on my pins I'm going (D. V.) to devote myself to
   settling poor souls who need a gentle boost in hard times.

_To Mr. Niles._

     JUNE 23, 1883.

   DEAR MR. NILES,--Thanks for the Goethe book. I want everything
   that comes out about him. "Princess Amelia" is charming, and the
   surprise at the end well done. Did the author of "My Wife's
   Sister" write it?

   I told L. C. M. she might put "A Modern Mephistopheles" in my
   list of books. Several people had found it out, and there was no
   use in trying to keep it secret after that.

   Mrs. Dodge begged me to consider myself mortgaged to her for
   tales, etc., and as I see no prospect of any time for writing
   books, I may be able to send her some short stories from time to
   time, and so be getting material for a new set of books like
   "Scrap-bag," but with a new name. You excel in names, and can be
   evolving one meantime....

     Yours truly,
     L. M. A.

     JULY 15, 1884.

   I wish I might be inspired to do those dreadful boys ["Jo's
   Boys"]; but rest is more needed than money. Perhaps during
   August, my month at home, I may take a grind at the old mill.


   _October_ 24, 1882.--Telegram that Father had had a paralytic
   stroke. Home at once, and found him stricken down. Anxious days;
   little hope.

   _November._--Gave up our rooms, and I went home to help with the
   new care. My Lulu ran to meet me, rosy and gay, and I felt as if
   I could bear anything with this little sunbeam to light up the
   world for me.

   Poor Father dumb and helpless; feeble mind slowly coming back. He
   knows us; but he's asleep most of the time. Get a nurse, and wait
   to see if he will rally. It is sad to see the change one moment
   makes, turning the hale, handsome old man into this pathetic
   wreck. The forty sonnets last winter and the fifty lectures at
   the School last summer were too much for a man of eighty-three.
   He was warned by Dr. W., but thought it folly to stop; and now
   poor Father pays the penalty of breaking the laws of health. I
   have done the same: may I be spared this end!

   _January_, 1883.--Too busy to keep a diary. Can only jot down a
   fact now and then.

   Father improving. Much trouble with nurses; have no idea of
   health; won't walk; sit over the fire, and drink tea three times
   a day; ought to be an intelligent, hearty set of women. Could do
   better myself; have to fill up all the deficiencies and do double

   People come to see Father; but it excites him, and we have to
   deny him.

   _February._--To B. for a week of rest, having got Mrs. H. settled
   with Father, and all comfortable for November.

   Began a book called "Genius." Shall never finish it, I dare say,
   but must keep a vent for my fancies to escape at. This double
   life is trying, and my head will work as well as my hands.

   _March._--To give A. rest I took Lulu and maid to the Bellevue
   for a month. Lulu very happy with her new world. Enjoys her
   walks, the canary I got her, and the petting _she_ gets from all.
   Showed her to friends; want them to know May's child. Had her
   picture taken by Notman; very good.

   _April 2d._--Town meeting. Seven women vote. I am one of them,
   and A. another. A poor show for a town that prides itself on its
   culture and independence.

   _6th._--Go home to stay; Father needs me. New nurse; many
   callers; Lulu fretful, Anna tired, Father feeble,--hard times for

   Wrote a story for "St. Nicholas" at odd moments. Nurses and
   doctors take a deal of money.

   _May._--Take care of Lulu, as we can find no good woman to walk
   and dress and play with her. The ladies are incapable or proud;
   the girls vulgar or rough; so my poor baby has a bad time with
   her little temper and active mind and body. Could do it myself if
   I had the nerves and strength, but am needed elsewhere, and must
   leave the child to some one. Long to go away with her and do as I
   like. Shall never lead my own life.

   _July._--Go to Nonquit with Miss H. and Lulu for the summer. A
   quiet, healthy place, with pleasant people and fine air. Turn
   Lulu loose, with H. to run after her, and try to rest.

   Lulu takes her first bath in the sea. Very bold; walks off toward
   Europe up to her neck, and is much afflicted that I won't let her
   go to the bottom and see the "little trabs;" makes a cupid of
   herself, and is very pretty and gay.

   The boys revel in the simple pleasures of Nonquit,--a fine place
   for them to be in.

   Wrote a tale for "St. Nicholas,"--"Sophie's Secret,"--$100.

   _August._--Home to C., and let A. come for her holiday. Much

   P. C. Mozoomdar preached, and had a conversation at Mrs.
   Emerson's; a most interesting man. Curious to hear a Hindu tell
   how the life of Christ impressed him.

   _November 27th._--Decide to lessen care and worry at home; so
   take rooms in Boylston Street, and with Lulu set forth to make a
   home of our own. The whole parlor floor gives my lady room to run
   in doors, and the Public Garden opposite is the out-door
   play-ground. Miss C. comes as governess, and we settle down. Fred
   boards with us. Heard Mathew Arnold.

   _29th._--Birthday,--fifty-one. Home with gifts to poor
   Father,--eighty-four. Found a table full for myself.

   _December 25th._--Home with gifts for all; sad day. See H.
   Martineau's statue; very fine.

   _January_, 1884.--New Year's Day is made memorable by my solemnly
   spanking my child. Miss C. and others assure me it is the only
   way to cure her wilfulness. I doubt it; but knowing that mothers
   are usually too tender and blind, I correct my dear in the
   old-fashioned way. She proudly says, "Do it, do it!" and when it
   is done is heartbroken at the idea of Aunt Wee-wee's giving her
   pain. Her bewilderment was pathetic, and the effect, as I
   expected, a failure. Love is better; but also endless patience.

   _February 2d._--Wendell Phillips died. I shall mourn for him next
   to R. W. E. and Parker.

   _6th._--Funeral at Hollis Street Church. Sat between Fred
   Douglas and his wife. A goodly gathering of all left of the old
   workers. Glad and proud to be among them.

          *       *       *       *       *

   _June._--Sell the Orchard House to W. T. Harris. Glad to be done
   with it, though after living in it twenty-five years, it is full
   of memories; but places have not much hold on me when the dear
   persons who made them dear are gone....

   Bought a cottage at Nonquit, with house and furniture. All like
   it, and it is a good investment I am told.

   _24th._--To Nonquit with Lulu and K. and John. Fixed my house,
   and enjoyed the rest and quiet immensely. Lulu wild with joy at
   the freedom....

   _July and August._--Restful days in my little house, which is
   cool and quiet, and without the curse of a kitchen to spoil it.

   Lulu happy and well, and every one full of summer fun.

   On the 7th of August I went home, and let A. go for her holiday.

   Took care of Father and house, and idled away the hot days with
   books and letters. Drove with Father, as he enjoyed it very

   _October._--To Boston with John, and take rooms at the Bellevue.
   Very tired of home-worry, and fly for rest to my old refuge, with
   J. and L. to look after and make a home for.

   Saw Irving. Always enjoy him, though he is very queer. Ellen
   Terry always the same, though charming in her way.

   _November._--Find Bellevue uncomfortable and expensive, so take
   rooms in Chestnut Street for self and boys.

   _8th._--My Lulu's birthday. Go home with flowers, gifts, and a
   grateful heart that the dear little girl is so well and happy and
   good. A merry day with the little queen of the house.

   _29th._--Our birthday,--Father eighty-five; L. M. A. fifty-two.
   Quiet day; always sad for thinking of Mother and John and May,
   who all left us at this season.

   _December._--Began again on "Jo's Boys," as T. N. wants a new
   book very much, and I am tired of being idle. Wrote two hours for
   three days, then had a violent attack of vertigo, and was ill for
   a week. Head won't bear work yet. Put away papers, and tried to
   dawdle and go about as other people do.

   Pleasant Christmas with Lulu and Nan and poor Father, who loves
   to see us about him. A narrow world now, but a happy one for him.

   Last day of the year. All well at home except myself; body
   feeble, but soul improving.

   _January_ 1, 1885.--Pleasant greeting from brother Ernest by
   telegram,--never forgets us. Opera in the evening,--Emma Nevada.
   Sent box home. Very cold.

   John had his first dress-suit. Happy boy! Several pleasant Sunday
   evenings at E. P. W.'s. See Mrs. Burnett, and like her.

   Visit Blind Asylum and North End Mission. Lulu passed a week with
   me for a change.

   _19th._--An old-fashioned party in an old-time house. All in
   antique costume; Lulu very pretty in hers. Country kitchen and
   country fare; spinning and weaving; old songs and dances;
   tally-ho coach with P. as an ancient Weller,--very funny.

          *       *       *       *       *

   _June._--Read Life of Saint Elizabeth by D'Alembert,--quaint and
   sweet; also French novels. Write out the little tales I tell Lulu
   for a new Christmas book, having nothing else. Send one, "The
   Candy Country," to "St. Nicholas."

          *       *       *       *       *

   _August 8th._--Go home, and A. goes to N. Take care of Father,
   arrange the little tales, and look at houses in B. Have a plan to
   take a furnished house for the winter, and all be together. A. is
   lonely in C.; boys must be near business. I want Lulu, and Father
   will enjoy a change.

   Sorted old letters, and burned many. Not wise to keep for curious
   eyes to read and gossip-lovers to print by and by.

   Lived in the past for days, and felt very old, recalling all I
   have been through. Experiences go deep with me, and I begin to
   think it might be well to keep some record of my life, if it will
   help others to read it when I'm gone. People seem to think our
   lives interesting and peculiar.

   _September._--After a lively time with house-brokers, I take a
   house in Louisburg Square for two years. It is a large house,
   furnished, and well suited to our needs,--sunny, trees in front,
   good air, and friends near by. All are pleased, and we prepare to
   move October 1st....

   Father drove down very nicely. Pleased with his new room; Lulu
   charmed with her big, sunny nursery and the play-house left for
   her; boys in clover; and Nan ready for the new sort of

   I shall miss my quiet, care-free life in B.; but it is best for
   all, so I shall try to bear the friction and the worry many
   persons always bring me.

   It will be an expensive winter; but T. N. tells me the books
   never sold better, so a good run in January will make all safe.

   "Lulu's Library" as a "pot-boiler" will appease the children, and
   I may be able to work on "Jo's Boys."

   _March_, 1886.--To Mrs. H.'s to hear Mr. Snyder read the "Iliad;"
   enjoyed it.

   Sixteen little girls call, and the autograph fiend is abroad.

   _27th._--Another attack of vertigo,--ill for a week; sleepless
   nights. Head worked like a steam-engine; would not stop. Planned
   "Jo's Boys" to the end, and longed to get up and write it. Told
   Dr. W. that he had better let me get the ideas _out_, then I
   could rest. He very wisely agreed, and said, "As soon as you can,
   write half an hour a day, and see if it does you good. Rebellious
   brains want to be attended to, or trouble comes." So I began as
   soon as able, and was satisfied that we were right; for my head
   felt better very soon, and with much care about not overdoing, I
   had some pleasant hours when I forgot my body and lived in my

   _April._--Went on writing one or two hours a day, and felt no ill

   _May._--Began to think of Concord, and prepare to go back for the
   summer. Father wants his books; Lulu, her garden; Anna, her small
   house; and the boys, their friends. I want to go away and rest.

   Anna goes up the last of the month and gets the house ready. We
   send Lulu and Father later, and the boys and I shut up No. 10....

   _June._--Home in C.,--sunny, clean, and pleasant. Put Lulu in
   order, and get ready for a month in Princeton with Mrs. H. Very

   A quiet three weeks on the hillside,--a valley pink with laurel
   in front, Mount Wachusett behind us, and green hills all round. A
   few pleasant people. I read, sleep, walk, and write,--get fifteen
   chapters done. Instinct was right; after seven years of rest, the
   old brain was ready for work and tired of feeding on itself,
   since work it must at something. Enjoyed Hedge's "Hours with
   German Classics," and "Baldwin," by Vernon Lee.

   Home in time to get Anna and Lulu off to N. for the summer. A.
   needs the rest very much, and Lulu the freedom. I shall revel in
   the quiet, and finish my book.

   _July._--The seashore party get off, and peace reigns. I rest a
   day, and then to work. Finish "Jo's Boys," and take it to T. N.
   Much rejoicing over a new book. Fifty thousand to be the first
   edition; orders coming in fast. Not good,--too great intervals
   between the parts, as it was begun long ago; but the children
   will be happy, and my promise kept. Two new chapters were needed,
   so I wrote them, and gladly corked my inkstand.

   What next? Mrs. Dodge wants a serial, and T. N. a novel. I have a
   dozen plots in my head, but think the serial better come first.
   Want a great deal of money for many things; every poor soul I
   ever knew comes for help, and expenses increase. I am the only
   money-maker, and must turn the mill for others, though my own
   grist is ground and in the barn.

   The School begins. Father feeble, but goes,--for the last time, I

A series of letters to her father's friend, Mrs. Stearns, show how
tenderly and carefully Louisa watched over the slow decline of the
stricken man, but they are too full of details of the sickroom for
publication. A few extracts will give her feeling.

     MAY 23 [1885].

   DEAR MRS. STEARNS,--Many thanks for the sweet nosegay you sent
   me. It came in good time, for to-day is the anniversary of
   Father's wedding-day and my sister's silver wedding. Rather sad
   for both mateless ones; but we have done our best to cheer them
   up, and the soft rain is very emblematic of the memories their
   own quiet tears keep green.

   Father remembered you, and smelled his flowers with pleasure. He
   is very tired of living, and wants to "go up," as he expresses
   it. A little more or little less light would make him happier;
   but the still active mind beats against the prison bars, and
   rebels against the weakness of body that prevents the old
   independent life. I am afraid the end is not to be peaceful
   unless it is sudden, as I hope it may be for all our sakes; it is
   so wearing to see this slow decline, and be able to do little but
   preach and practise patience.

          *       *       *       *       *

     Affectionately yours,
     L. M. A.


          *       *       *       *       *

   It is only a temporary change, perhaps; but I still hope that it
   will last, and his mind grow still clearer. These painless,
   peaceful days have a certain sweetness, sad as it is to see the
   dear, hale old man so feeble. If he can know us, and enjoy
   something of the old life, it is worth having, though the end may
   come at any moment....

   Now and then a word comes without effort. "Up!" was the first
   one, and seems very characteristic of this beautiful, aspiring
   soul, almost on the wing for heaven.

_To Mr. Niles._

     NONQUIT, July 13, 1885.

   DEAR MR. NILES,--I want to know if it is too late to do it and if
   it is worth doing; namely, to collect some of the little tales I
   tell Lulu and put them with the two I shall have printed the
   last year and the "Mermaid Tale" to match the pictures we bought,
   and call it "Lulu's Library"? I have several tiny books written
   down for L.; and as I can do no great work, it occurred to me
   that I might venture to copy these if it would do for a Christmas
   book for the younger set.

   I ache to fall on some of the ideas that are simmering in my
   head, but dare not, as my one attempt since the last "Jo's Boys"
   break-down cost me a week or two of woe and $30 for the doctor. I
   have lovely long days here, and can copy these and see 'em along
   if you want them. One has gone to "Harper's Young People," and
   one is for "St. Nicholas" when it is done,--about the
   Kindergarten for the blind. These with Lulu's would make a little
   book, and might begin a series for small folks. Old ladies come
   to this twaddle when they can do nothing else. What say you?...

     Yours truly,
     L. M. A.

     SEPTEMBER 18, 1885.

   DEAR MR. NILES,--I send you some funny sketches by Mrs. L. She
   seems to be getting on. How would it do to ask her to illustrate
   the fairy book? She has a pretty taste in elves, and her little
   girl was good. I hope to touch up the other stories this winter,
   and she can illustrate, and next Christmas (or whenever it is
   ready) we can have a little book out. This sort of work being all
   I dare do now, I may as well be clearing the decks for action
   when the order comes to "Up, and at 'em!" again, if it ever does.

  [Illustration: _Fac-simile of Miss Alcott's Writing._ ]

   I'd like to help Mrs. L. if I could, as we know something of her,
   and I fancy she needs a lift. Perhaps we could use these pictures
   in some way if she liked to have us. Maybe I could work them
   into a story of out "cullud bredren."

   Thanks for the books. Dear Miss ---- is rather prim in her story,
   but it is pretty and quite _correct_. So different from Miss
   Alcott's slap-dash style.

   The "H. H." book ["Ramona"] is a noble record of the great wrongs
   of her chosen people, and ought to wake up the sinners to
   repentance and justice before it is too late. It recalls the old
   slavery days, only these victims are red instead of black. It
   will be a disgrace if "H. H." gave her work and pity all in vain.

     Yours truly,
     L. M. A.


   DEAR MR. NILES,--Thanks for the book which I shall like to read.

   Please tell Miss N. that she will find in Sanborn's article in
   "St. Nicholas" or Mrs. Moulton's in the "Eminent Women" book all
   that I wish to have said about myself. You can add such facts
   about editions, etc., as you think best. I don't like these
   everlasting notices; one is enough, else we poor people feel like
   squeezed oranges, and nothing is left sacred.

   George Eliot's new life and letters is well done, and we are not
   sorry we have read them. Mr. Cross has been a wise man, and
   leaves us all our love and respect instead of spoiling them as
   Froude did for Carlyle,

     Yours truly,
     L. M. A.

     January 2, 1886.

   DEAR MR. NILES,--Thanks for the good wishes and news. Now that I
   cannot work, it is very agreeable to hear that the books go so
   well, and that the lazy woman need not worry about things.

   I appreciate my blessings, I assure you. I heartily wish I could
   "swamp the book-room with 'Jo's Boys,'" as Fred says, and hope to
   do it by and by when head and hand can safely obey the desire of
   the heart, which will never be too tired or too old to remember
   and be grateful.

     Your friend,
     L. M. Alcott.

     Monday, A.M. [1886].

   Dear Mr. Niles,--My doctor forbids me to begin a long book or
   anything that will need much thought this summer. So I must give
   up "Tragedy of To-day," as it will need a good deal of thinking
   to be what it ought.

   I can give you a girls' book however, and I think that will be
   better than a novel. I have several stories done, and can easily
   do more and make a companion volume for "Spinning-Wheel Stories"
   at Christmas if you want it.

   This, with the Lulu stories, will be better than the set of
   novels I am sure.... Wait till I can do a novel, and then get out
   the set in style, if Alcott is not forgotten by that time.

   I was going to send Mrs. Dodge one of the tales for girls, and if
   there is time she might have more. But nearly all new ones would
   make a book go well in the holiday season. You can have those
   already done now if you want them. "Sophie's Secret" is one, "An
   Ivy Spray: or Cinderella's Slippers" another, and "Mountain
   Laurel" is partly done. "A Garland for Girls" might do for a
   title perhaps, as they are all for girls.

     Yours truly,
     L. M. A.

In the spring of 1886, Dr. Rhoda Lawrence took charge of Miss Alcott's
health, and gave her treatment by massage and other appropriate
means, from which she received benefit. The summer was spent at
Concord with her father, and was varied by a pleasant trip to the
mountains. Miss Alcott finished "Jo's Boys," which was published in
September. She occupied herself also in looking over old journals and
letters, and destroyed many things which she did not wish to have come
under the public eye. She had enjoyed her life at Princeton, and said
that she felt better than for fifteen years; but in August she was
severely attacked with rheumatism and troubled with vertigo. She
suffered very much, and was in a very nervous condition.

Miss Alcott always looked bravely and calmly upon all the
possibilities of life, and she now made full preparations for the
event of her own death. Her youngest nephew had always been especially
beloved, and she decided to take out papers of adoption, to make him
legally her son and heir. She wished him to assume the name of Alcott,
and to be her representative.

Louisa's journal closes July, 1886, with the old feeling,--that she
must grind away at the mill and make money to supply the many claims
that press upon her from all sides. She feels the burden of every
suffering human life upon her own soul. She knew that she could write
what was eagerly desired by others and would bring her the means of
helping those in need, and her heart and head united in urging her to
work. Whether it would have been possible for her to have rested more
fully, and whether she might then have worked longer and better, is
one of those questions which no one is wise enough to answer. Yet the
warning of her life should not be neglected, and the eager brain
should learn to obey the laws of life and health while it is yet time.

In September, 1886, Miss Alcott returned to Louisburg Square, and
spent the winter in the care of her father, and in the society of her
sister and nephews and the darling child. She suffered much from
hoarseness, from nervousness and debility, and from indigestion and
sleeplessness, but still exerted herself for the comfort of all around
her. She had a happy Christmas, and sympathized with the joy of her
oldest nephew in his betrothal. In December she was so weary and worn
that she went out to Dr. Lawrence's home in Roxbury for rest and care.
She found such relief to her overtasked brain and nerves from the
seclusion and quiet of Dunreath Place, that she found her home and
rest there for the remainder of her life.

It was a great trial to Louisa to be apart from her family, to whom
she had devoted her life. She clung to her dying father, and to the
dear sister still left to her, with increasing fondness, and she
longed for her boys and her child; but her tired nerves could not bear
even the companionship of her family, and sometimes for days she
wanted to be all alone. "I feel so safe out here!" she said once.

Mr. Alcott spent the summer at Melrose, and Louisa went there to visit
him in June. In June and July, 1887, she went to Concord and looked
over papers and completed the plan for adopting her nephew. She
afterward went to Princeton, accompanied by Dr. Lawrence. She spent
eight weeks there, and enjoyed the mountain air and scenery with
something of her old delight. She was able to walk a mile or more, and
took a solitary walk in the morning, which she greatly enjoyed. Her
evening walk was less agreeable, because she was then exposed to the
eager curiosity of sight-seers, who constantly pursued her.

Miss Alcott had a great intellectual pleasure here in the society of
Mr. James Murdock and his family. The distinguished elocutionist took
great pains to gratify her taste for dramatic reading by selecting her
favorite scenes for representation, and she even attended one of his
public readings given in the hall of the hotel. The old pain in her
limbs from which she suffered during her European journey again
troubled her, and she returned to Dr. Lawrence's home in the autumn,
where she was tenderly cared for.

Miss Alcott was still continually planning stories. Dr. Lawrence read
to her a great deal, and the reading often suggested subjects to her.
She thought of a series to be called "Stories of All Nations," and had
already written "Trudel's Siege," which was published in "St.
Nicholas," April, 1888, the scene of which was laid at the siege of
Leyden. The English story was to be called "Madge Wildfire," and she
had thought of plots for others. She could write very little, and kept
herself occupied and amused with fancy work, making flowers and
pen-wipers of various colors, in the form of pinks, to send to her

On her last birthday Louisa received a great many flowers and pleasant
remembrances, which touched her deeply, and she said, "I did not mean
to cry to-day, but I can't help it, everybody is so good." She went in
to see her father every few days, and was conscious that he was
drawing toward the end.

While riding with her friend, Louisa would tell her of the stories she
had planned, one of which was to be called "The Philosopher's Wooing,"
referring to Thoreau. She also had a musical novel in her mind. She
could not be idle, and having a respect for sewing, she busied herself
with it, making garments for poor children, or helping the Doctor in
her work. She insisted upon setting up a work-basket for the Doctor,
amply supplied with necessary materials, and was pleased when she saw
them used. A flannel garment for a poor child was the last work of her
hands. Her health improved in February, especially in the comfort of
her nights, as the baths she took brought her the long-desired sleep.
"Nothing so good as sleep," she said. But a little too much excitement
brought on violent headaches.

During these months Miss Alcott wrote part of the "Garland for Girls,"
one of the most fanciful and pleasing of her books. These stories were
suggested by the flowers sent to her by different friends, which she
fully enjoyed. She rode a great deal, but did not see any one.

Her friends were much encouraged; and although they dared not expect
full recovery, they hoped that she might be "a comfortable invalid,
able to enjoy life, and give help and pleasure to others." She did
not suffer great pain, but she was very weak; her nervous system
seemed to be utterly prostrated by the years of work and struggle
through which she had passed. She said, "I don't want to live if I
can't be of use." She had always met the thought of death bravely; and
even the separation from her dearest friends was serenely borne. She
believed in their continued presence and influence, and felt that the
parting was for a little time. She had no fear of God, and no doubt of
the future. Her only sadness was in leaving the friends whom she loved
and who might yet need her.

A young man wrote asking Miss Alcott if she would advise him to devote
himself to authorship; she answered, "Not if you can do anything else.
Even dig ditches." He followed her advice, and took a situation where
he could support himself, but he still continued to write stories. A
little boy sent twenty-five cents to buy her books. She returned the
money, telling him it was not enough to buy books, but sent him
"Little Men." Scores of letters remained unanswered for want of
strength to write or even to read.

Early in March Mr. Alcott failed very rapidly. Louisa drove in to see
him, and was conscious that it was for the last time. Tempted by the
warm spring-like day, she had made some change in her dress, and
absorbed in the thought of the parting, when she got into the carriage
she forgot to put on the warm fur cloak she had worn.

The next morning she complained of violent pain in her head, amounting
to agony. The physician who had attended her for the last weeks was
called. He felt that the situation was very serious. She herself
asked, "Is it not meningitis?" The trouble on the brain increased
rapidly. She recognized her dear young nephew for a moment and her
friendly hostess, but was unconscious of everything else. So, at 3.30
P.M., March 6, 1888, she passed quietly on to the rest which she so
much needed. She did not know that her father had already preceded

The friends of the family who gathered to pay their last tribute of
respect and love to the aged father were met at the threshold by the
startling intelligence, "Louisa Alcott is dead," and a deeper sadness
fell upon every heart. The old patriarch had gone to his rest in the
fulness of time, "corn ripe for the sickle," but few realized how
entirely his daughter had worn out her earthly frame. Her friends had
hoped for renewed health and strength, and for even greater and nobler
work from her with her ripened powers and greater ease and leisure.

Miss Alcott had made every arrangement for her death; and by her own
wish the funeral service was very simple, in her father's rooms at
Louisburg Square, and attended only by a few of her family and nearest
friends. They read her exquisite poem to her mother, her father's
noble tribute to her, and spoke of the earnestness and truth of her
life. She was remembered as she would have wished to be. Her body was
carried to Concord and placed in the beautiful cemetery of Sleepy
Hollow where her dearest ones were already laid to rest. "Her boys"
went beside her as "a guard of honor," and stood around as she was
placed across the feet of father, mother, and sister, that she might
"take care of them as she had done all her life."

Of the silent grief of the bereaved family I will not speak, but the
sound of mourning filled all the land, and was re-echoed from foreign
shores. The children everywhere had lost their friend. Miss Alcott had
entered into their hearts and revealed them to themselves. In her
childish journal her oldest sister said, "I have not a secret from
Louisa; I tell her everything, and am not afraid she will think me
silly." It was this respect for the thought and life of children that
gave Louisa Alcott her great power of winning their respect and
affection. Nothing which was real and earnest to them seemed
unimportant to her.

       *       *       *       *       *


_To Mr. Niles._

     SUNDAY, 1886.

   DEAR MR. NILES,--The goodly supply of books was most welcome; for
   when my two hours pen-work are over I need something to comfort
   me, and I long to go on and finish "Jo's Boys" by July 1st.

   My doctor frowns on that hope, and is so sure it will do mischief
   to get up the steam that I am afraid to try, and keep Prudence
   sitting on the valve lest the old engine run away and have
   another smash-up.

   I send you by Fred several chapters, I wish they were neater, as
   some were written long ago and have knocked about for years; but
   I can't spare time to copy, so hope the printers won't be in

   I planned twenty chapters and am on the fifteenth. Some are long,
   some short, and as we are pressed for time we had better not try
   to do too much.

   ... I have little doubt it will be done early in July, but things
   are so contrary with me I can never be sure of carrying out a
   plan, and I don't want to fail again; so far I feel as if I
   could, without harm, finish off these dreadful boys.

   Why have any illustrations? The book is not a child's book, as
   the lads are nearly all over twenty, and pretty pictures are not
   needed. Have the bas-relief if you like, or one good thing for

   I can have twenty-one chapters and make it the size of "Little
   Men." Sixteen chapters make two hundred and sixteen pages, and I
   may add a page here and there later,--or if need be, a chapter
   somewhere to fill up.

   I shall be at home in a week or two, much better for the rest and
   fine air; and during my quiet days in C. I can touch up proofs
   and confer about the book. Sha'n't we be glad when it is done?

     Yours truly,
     L. M. A.

_To Mrs. Dodge_.

     JUNE 29.

   DEAR MRS. DODGE,--I will evolve something for December (D. V.)
   and let you have it as soon as it is done.

   Lu and I go to Nonquit next week; and after a few days of rest, I
   will fire up the old engine and see if it will run a short
   distance without a break-down.

   There are usually about forty young people at N., and I think I
   can get a hint from some of them.

   Had a call from Mr. Burroughs and Mr. Gilder last eve. Mr. G.
   asked if you were in B., but I didn't know.

   Father remains comfortable and happy among his books. Our lads
   are making their first visit to New York, and may call on "St.
   Nick," whom they have made their patron saint.

   I should like to own the last two bound volumes of "St.
   Nicholas," for Lulu. She adores the others, and they are nearly
   worn out with her loving but careless luggings up and down for
   "more towries, Aunt Wee-wee." Charge to

     Yours affectionately,
     L. M. A.

   P. S.--Wasn't I glad to see you in my howling wilderness of
   wearisome domestic worrits! Come again.

     CONCORD, August 15.

   DEAR MRS. DODGE,--I like the idea of "Spinning-Wheel Stories,"
   and can do several for a series which can come out in a book
   later. Old-time tales, with a thread running through all from the
   wheel that enters in the first one.

   A Christmas party of children might be at an old farm-house and
   hunt up the wheel, and grandma spins and tells the first story;
   and being snow-bound, others amuse the young folks each evening
   with more tales. Would that do? The mother and child picture
   would come in nicely for the first tale,--"Grandma and her

   Being at home and quiet for a week or so (as Father is nicely and
   has a capable nurse), I have begun the serial, and done two
   chapters; but the spinning-tales come tumbling into my mind so
   fast I'd better pin a few while "genius burns." Perhaps you would
   like to start the set Christmas. The picture being ready and the
   first story can be done in a week, "Sophie's Secret" can come
   later. Let me know if you would like that, and about how many
   pages of the paper "S. S." was written on you think would make
   the required length of tale (or tail?). If you don't want No. 1
   yet, I will take my time and do several.

   The serial was to be "Mrs. Gay's Summer School," and have some
   city girls and boys go to an old farm-house, and for fun dress
   and live as in old times, and learn the good, thrifty old ways,
   with adventures and fun thrown in. That might come in the spring,
   as it takes me longer to grind out yarns now than of old.

   Glad you are better. Thanks for kind wishes for the little house;
   come and see it, and gladden the eyes of forty young admirers by
   a sight of M. M. D. next year.

     Yours affectionately,
     L. M. A.


   DEAR MRS. DODGE,--A little cousin, thirteen years old, has
   written a story and longs to see it in print. It is a well
   written bit and pretty good for a beginner, so I send it to you
   hoping it may find a place in the children's corner. She is a
   grandchild of S. J. May, and a bright lass who paints nicely and
   is a domestic little person in spite of her budding
   accomplishments. Good luck to her!

   I hoped to have had a Christmas story for some one, but am
   forbidden to write for six months, after a bad turn of vertigo.
   So I give it up and take warning. All good wishes for the New

     From yours affectionately,
     L. M. ALCOTT.

_To Mr. Niles_.


   DEAR MR. NILES,--Sorry you don't like the bas-relief [of
   herself]; I do. A portrait, if bright and comely, wouldn't be me,
   and if like me would disappoint the children; so we had better
   let them imagine "Aunt Jo young and beautiful, with her hair in
   two tails down her back," as the little girl said.

     In haste,
     L. M. A.

_To Mrs. Bond._

     CONCORD, Tuesday, 1886.

   DEAR AUNTIE,--I want to find Auntie Gwinn, and don't know whom to
   ask but you, as your big motherly heart yearns over all the poor
   babies, and can tell them where to go when the nest is bare. A
   poor little woman has just died, leaving four children to a
   drunken father. Two hard-working aunts do all they can, and one
   will take the oldest girl. We want to put the two small girls and
   boy into a home till we can see what comes next. Lulu clothes
   one, and we may be able to put one with a cousin. But since the
   mother died last Wednesday they are very forlorn, and must be
   helped. If we were not so full I'd take one; but Lu is all we can
   manage now.

   There is a home at Auburndale, but it is full; and I know of no
   other but good Auntie Gwinn's. What is her address, please? I
   shall be in town on Saturday, and can go and see her if I know

   Don't let it be a bother; but one turns at once in such cases to
   the saints for direction, and the poor aunts don't known what to
   do; so this aunt comes to the auntie of all.

   I had a pleasant chat with the Papa in the cars, and was very
   glad to hear that W. is better. My love to both and S.

   Thanks for the news of portraits. I'll bear them in mind if G. H.
   calls. Lulu and Anna send love, and I am as always,


_To Mrs. Dodge._

     APRIL 13, 1880.

   DEAR MRS. DODGE,--I am glad you are going to have such a fine
   outing. May it be a very happy one.

   I cannot promise anything, but hope to be allowed to write a
   little, as my doctor has decided that it is as well to let me put
   on paper the tales "knocking at the saucepan lid and demanding to
   be taken out" (like Mrs. Cratchit's potatoes), as to have them go
   on worrying me inside. So I'm scribbling at "Jo's Boys," long
   promised to Mr. Niles and clamored for by the children. I may
   write but one hour a day, so cannot get on very fast; but if it
   is ever done, I can think of a serial for "St. Nicholas." I began
   one, and can easily start it for '88, if head and hand allow. I
   will simmer on it this summer, and see if it can be done. Hope
   so, for I don't want to give up work so soon.

   I have read "Mrs. Null," but don't like it very well,--too slow
   and colorless after Tolstoi's "Anna Karanina."

   I met Mr. and Mrs. S. at Mrs. A.'s this winter. Mr. Stockton's
   child-stories I like very much. The older ones are odd but

   Now, good-by, and God be with you, dear woman, and bring you
   safely home to us all.

     Affectionately yours,
     L. M. ALCOTT.

_To Mrs. Bond._

     DUNREATH PLACE, ROXBURY, March 15, 1887

   DEAR AUNTIE,--I have been hoping to get out and see you all
   winter, but have been so ill I could only live on hope as a
   relish to my gruel,--that being my only food, and not of a nature
   to give me strength. Now I am beginning to live a little, and
   feel less like a sick oyster at low tide. The spring days will
   set me up I trust, and my first pilgrimage shall be to you; for I
   want you to see how prettily my May-flower is blossoming into a
   fine off-shoot of the old plant.

   Lizzy Wells has probably told you our news of Fred and his little
   bride, and Anna written you about it as only a proud mamma can.

   Father is very comfortable, but says sadly as he looks up from
   his paper, "Beecher has gone now; all go but me." Please thank
   Mr. Bond for the poems, which are interesting, even to a poor,
   ignorant worm who does not know Latin. Mother would have enjoyed
   them very much. I should have acknowledged his kindness sooner;
   but as I am here in Roxbury my letters are forwarded, and often

   I was sorry to hear that you were poorly again. Isn't it hard to
   sit serenely in one's soul when one's body is in a dilapidated
   state? I find it a great bore, but try to do it patiently, and
   hope to see the why by and by, when this mysterious life is made
   clear to me. I had a lovely dream about that, and want to tell it
   you some day.

     Love to all.
     Ever yours,
     L. M. A.

Her publisher wished to issue a new edition of "A Modern
Mephistopheles," and to add to it her story "A Whisper in the Dark,"
to which she consented.

     MAY 6, 1887.

   DEAR MR. NILES.--This is about what I want to say. You may be
   able to amend or suggest something. I only want it understood
   that the highfalutin style was for a disguise, though the story
   had another purpose; for I'm not ashamed of it, and like it
   better than "Work" or "Moods."

     Yours in haste,
     L. M. A.

   P. S.--Do you want more fairy tales?


   "A Modern Mephistopheles" was written among the earlier volumes
   of the No Name Series, when the chief idea of the authors was to
   puzzle their readers by disguising their style as much as
   possible, that they might enjoy the guessing and criticism as
   each novel appeared. This book was very successful in preserving
   its incognito; and many persons still insist that it could not
   have been written by the author of "Little Women." As I much
   enjoyed trying to embody a shadow of my favorite poem in a story,
   as well as the amusement it has afforded those in the secret for
   some years, it is considered well to add this volume to the few
   romances which are offered, not as finished work by any means,
   but merely attempts at something graver than magazine stories or
   juvenile literature.

     L. M. ALCOTT.

  [Illustration: _Fac-simile of Preface to "A Modern

     SATURDAY A.M., May 7, 1887.

   DEAR MR. NILES,--Yours just come. "A Whisper" is rather a lurid
   tale, but might do if I add a few lines to the preface of
   "Modern Mephistopheles," saying that this is put in to fill the
   volume, or to give a sample of Jo March's necessity stories,
   which many girls have asked for. Would that do?

   It seems to me that it would be better to wait till I can add a
   new novel, and then get out the set. Meantime let "Modern
   Mephistopheles" go alone, with my name, as a summer book before
   Irving comes [Irving as Faust].

   I hope to do "A Tragedy of To-day" this summer, and it can come
   out in the fall or next spring, with "Modern Mephistopheles,"
   "Work," and "Moods."

   A spunky new one would make the old ones go. "Hospital Sketches"
   is not cared for now, and is filled up with other tales you

   Can that plan be carried out? I have begun my tragedy, and think
   it will be good; also a shorter thing called "Anna: An Episode,"
   in which I do up Boston in a jolly way, with a nice little
   surprise at the end. It would do to fill up "Modern
   Mephistopheles," as it is not long, unless I want it to be.

   I will come in next week and see what can be done.

     Yours truly,
     L. M. A.

_To Mrs. Bond._

     SUNDAY, Oct. 16, [1887].

   DEAR AUNTIE,--As you and I belong to the "Shut-in Society," we
   may now and then cheer each other by a line. Your note and verse
   are very good to me to-day, as I sit trying to feel all right in
   spite of the stiffness that won't walk, the rebel stomach that
   won't work, and the tired head that won't rest.

   My verse lately has been from the little poem found under a good
   soldier's pillow in the hospital.

     I am no longer eager, bold, and strong,--
         All that is past;
     I am ready not to do
         At last--at last.
     My half-day's work is done,
         And this is all my part.
     I give a patient God
         My patient heart.

   The learning not to do is so hard after being the hub to the
   family wheel so long. But it is good for the energetic ones to
   find that the world can get on without them, and to learn to be
   still, to give up, and wait cheerfully.

   As we have "fell into poetry," as Silas Wegg says, I add a bit of
   my own; for since you are Marmee now, I feel that you won't laugh
   at my poor attempts any more than she did, even when I burst
   forth at the ripe age of eight.

   Love to all the dear people, and light to the kind eyes that have
   made sunshine for others so many years.

     Always your

_To Mrs. Bond, with first copy of "Lulu's Library," second volume._

     OCTOBER, 1887.

   DEAR AUNTIE,--I always gave Mother the first author's copy of a
   new book. As her representative on earth, may I send you, with my
   love, the little book to come out in November?

   The tales were told at sixteen to May and her playmates; then are
   related to May's daughter at five; and for the sake of these two
   you may care to have them for the little people.

   I am still held by the leg, but seem to gain a little, and hope
   to be up by and by. Slow work, but part of the discipline I
   need, doubtless; so I take it as well as I can.

   You and I won't be able to go to the golden wedding of S. J. May.
   I have been alone so long I feel as if I'd like to see any one,
   and be in the good times again. L. W. reports you as "nicely, and
   sweet as an angel;" so I rejoice, and wish I could say the same

     Your loving

_To Mrs. Dodge._

     DECEMBER 22, 1887.

   DEAR MRS. DODGE,--I send you the story your assistant editor
   asked for. As it is needed at once I do not delay to copy it, for
   I can only write an hour a day and do very little. You are used
   to my wild manuscript, and will be able to read it. I meant to
   have sent the Chinese tale, but this was nearly done, and so it
   goes, as it does not matter where we begin.... I hope you are
   well, and full of the peace which work well done gives the happy

   I mend slowly, but surely, and my good Doctor says my best work
   is yet to come; so I will be content with health if I can get it.
   With all good wishes,

     Yours affectionately,
     L. M. A.

_To Mrs. Bond._

     FEBRUARY 7 [1888].

   DEAR AUNTIE,--My blessed Anna is so busy, and I can do so little
   to help her, I feel as if I might take upon me the pleasant duty
   of writing to you.

   Father is better, and we are all so grateful, for just now we
   want all to be bright for our boy.

   The end is not far off, but Father rallies wonderfully from each
   feeble spell, and keeps serene and happy through everything.

   I don't ask to keep him now that life is a burden, and am glad to
   have him go before it becomes a pain. We shall miss the dear old
   white head and the feeble saint so long our care; but as Anna
   says, "He will be with Mother." So we shall be happy in the hope
   of that meeting.

   Sunday he seemed very low, and I was allowed to drive in and say
   "good-by." He knew me and smiled, and kissed "Weedy," as he calls
   me, and I thought the drowsiness and difficulty of breathing
   could not last long. But he revived, got up, and seemed so much
   as usual, I may be able to see him again. It is a great grief
   that I am not there as I was with Lizzie and Mother, but though
   much better, the shattered nerves won't bear much yet, and quiet
   is my only cure.

   I sit alone and bless the little pair like a fond old
   grandmother. You show me how to do it. With love to all,

     Yours ever,

_Her last note. To Mrs. Bond._

     FEBRUARY 8, 1888.
     _Air_,-"Haste to the Wedding."

   DEAR AUNTIE,--I little knew what a sweet surprise was in store
   for me when I wrote to you yesterday.

   As I awoke this morning my good Doctor L. came in with the lovely
   azalea, her round face beaming through the leaves like a full

   It was very dear of you to remember me, and cheer up my lonely
   day with such a beautiful guest.

   It stands beside me on Marmee's work-table, and reminds me
   tenderly of her favorite flowers; and among those used at her
   funeral was a spray of this, which lasted for two weeks
   afterward, opening bud after bud in the glass on her table, where
   lay the dear old "Jos. May" hymn book, and her diary with the pen
   shut in as she left it when she last wrote there, three days
   before the end, "The twilight is closing about me, and I am going
   to rest in the arms of my children."

   So you see I love the delicate flower, and enjoy it very much.

   I can write now, and soon hope to come out and see you for a few
   minutes, as I drive out every fine day, and go to kiss my people
   once a week for fifteen minutes.

   Slow climbing, but I don't slip back; so think up my mercies, and
   sing cheerfully, as dear Marmee used to do, "Thus far the Lord
   has led me on!"

     Your loving





     Dear Pilgrim, waiting patiently,
       The long, long journey nearly done,
     Beside the sacred stream that flows
       Clear shining in the western sun;
     Look backward on the varied road
       Your steadfast feet have trod,
     From youth to age, through weal and woe,
       Climbing forever nearer God.

     Mountain and valley lie behind;
       The slough is crossed, the wicket passed;
     Doubt and despair, sorrow and sin,
       Giant and fiend, conquered at last.
     Neglect is changed to honor now;
       The heavy cross may be laid down;
     The white head wins and wears at length
       The prophet's, not the martyr's, crown.

     Greatheart and Faithful gone before,
       Brave Christiana, Mercy sweet,
     Are Shining Ones who stand and wait
       The weary wanderer to greet.
     Patience and Love his handmaids are,
       And till time brings release,
     Christian may rest in that bright room
       Whose windows open to the east.

     The staff set by, the sandals off,
       Still pondering the precious scroll,
     Serene and strong, he waits the call
       That frees and wings a happy soul.
     Then, beautiful as when it lured
       The boy's aspiring eyes,
     Before the pilgrim's longing sight
       Shall the Celestial City rise.

     _November_ 29, 1885.
     L. M. A.

Miss Alcott's appearance was striking and impressive rather than
beautiful. Her figure was tall and well-proportioned, indicating
strength and activity, and she walked with freedom and majesty. Her
head was large, and her rich brown hair was long and luxuriant, giving
a sense of fulness and richness of life to her massive features. While
thoroughly unconventional, and even free and easy in her manner, she
had a dignity of deportment which prevented undue liberties, and made
intruders stand in awe of her. Generous in the extreme in serving
others, she knew her own rights, and did not allow them to be trampled
on. She repelled "the spurns that patient merit of the unworthy
takes," and had much of the Burns spirit that sings "A man's a man for
a' that" in the presence of insolent grandeur.

Miss Alcott always took her stand not for herself, but for her family,
her class, her sex. The humblest writer should not be imposed upon in
her person; every woman should be braver and stronger from her
attitude. She was careless of outward distinctions; but she enjoyed
the attentions which her fame brought her with simple pleasure, and
was delighted to meet bright, intelligent, distinguished people, who
added to her stores of observation and thought. She had the rare good
fortune, which an heir of millions might envy, of living all her life
in the society of the noblest men and women. The Emersons, the
Thoreaus, the Hawthornes, and Miss Elizabeth Peabody were the constant
companions of her childhood and youth. It was from them that her
standard of character was formed, and she could never enter any circle
higher than that in which she had breathed freely from a child. She
was quite capable of hero-worship, but her heroes were few.

With all her imagination and romance, Miss Alcott was a tremendous
destroyer of illusions; she remorselessly tore them away from herself,
persisting in holding a lens before every fault and folly of her own,
and she did the same for those she loved best. Only what was
intrinsically noble and true could stand the searching test of her
intellectual scrutiny and keen perception of the incongruous and

This disposition was apparent in Louisa's relation to her father, whom
she did not always fully understand. Perhaps he had a perception of
this when he wrote--

     "I press thee to my heart, as Duty's faithful child."

She had little sympathy with his speculative fancy, and saw plainly
the impracticability of his schemes, and did not hesitate to touch
with light and kindly satire his little peculiarities; yet in her
deepest heart she gave him not only affection, but deep reverence. She
felt the nobility and grandeur of his mind and heart. In "Little
Women" the portrait of the father is less vivid and less literal than
that of any other member of the family, and is scarcely recognizable;
but it was impossible to make the student and idealist a part of the
family life as she painted it,--full of fun, frolic, and adventure. In
the second part she has taken pains to make up for this seeming
neglect, and pays homage to the quiet man at the end of the house,
whose influence was so potent and so sweet over all within it.

Mrs. Alcott was a rich and noble nature, full of zeal and impulse,
daily struggling with a temper threatening to burst out into fire,
ready to fight like a lioness for her young, or to toil for them till
Nature broke down under the burden. She had a rich appreciation of
heroism and beauty in all noble living, a true love of literature, and
an overflowing sympathy with all suffering humanity, but was also
capable of righteous indignation and withering contempt. To this
mother, royal in her motherhood, Louisa was bound by the closest ties
of filial love and mutual understanding. She early believed herself to
be her mother's favorite child, knew she was close to her heart, her
every struggle watched, her every fault rebuked, every aspiration
encouraged, every effort after good recognized. I think Louisa felt no
pride in this preference. She knew that she was dear to her mother,
because her stormy, wayward heart was best understood by her; and
hence the mother, wiser for her child than for herself, watched her
unfolding life with anxious care. Throughout the childish journal this
relation is evident: the child's heart lies open to the mother, and
the mother can help her because she understands her, and holds sacred
every cry of her heart.

Such a loving relation to a mother--so rich, so full, so enduring--was
the greatest possible blessing to her life. And richly did Louisa
repay the care. From her earliest years she was her mother's
confidante, friend, and comforter. Her dream of success was not of
fame and glory, but of the time when she could bring this weary
pilgrim into "that chamber whose name is Peace," and there bid her sit
with folded hands, listening to the loving voices of her children, and
drinking in the fulness of life without care or anxiety.

And it all came true, like the conclusion of a fairy story; for good
fairies had been busy at work for many years preparing the way. Who
that saw that mother resting from her labors, proud in her children's
success, happy in her husband's contentment, and in the love that had
never faltered in the darkest days, can ever forget the peace of her
countenance, the loving joy of her heart?

The relation of Miss Alcott to her older sister was of entire trust
and confidence. Anna inherited the serene, unexacting temper of her
father, with much of the loving warmth of her mother. She loved to
hide behind her gifted sister, and to keep the ingle-side warm for her
to retreat to when she was cold and weary. Anna's fine intellectual
powers were shown more in the appreciation of others than in the
expression of herself; her dramatic skill and her lively fancy,
combined with her affection for Louisa, made her always ready to
second all the plans for entertainment or benevolence. She appears in
her true light in the sweet, lovable Meg of "Little Women;" and if she
never had the fame and pecuniary success of her sister, she had the
less rare, but equally satisfying, happiness of wifehood and
motherhood. And thus she repaid to Louisa what she had so generously
done for the family, by giving her new objects of affection, and
connecting her with a younger generation.

Louisa was always very fond of boys, and the difference of nature gave
her an insight into their trials and difficulties without giving her a
painful sense of her own hard struggles. In her nephews she found
objects for all her wise and tender care, which they repaid with
devoted affection. When boys became men, "they were less interesting
to her; she could not understand them."

Elizabeth was unlike the other sisters. Retiring in disposition, she
would gladly have ever lived in the privacy of home, her only desire
being for the music that she loved. The father's ideality was in her a
tender religious feeling; the mother's passionate impulse, a
self-abnegating affection. She was in the family circle what she is in
the book,--a strain of sweet, sad music we long and love to hear, and
yet which almost breaks the heart with its forecasting of separation.
She was very dear to both the father and mother, and the picture of
the father watching all night by the marble remains of his child is
very touching. He might well say,--

     "Ah, me! life is not life deprived of thee."

Of the youngest of all,--bright, sparkling, capricious May,--quick in
temper, quick in repentance, affectionate and generous, but full of
her own plans, and quite inclined to have the world go on according
to her fancies,--I have spoken elsewhere. Less profound in her
intellectual and religious nature than either of her sisters, she was
like a nymph of Nature, full of friendly sportiveness, and disposed to
live out her own life, since it might be only a brief summer day. She
was Anna's special child, and Louisa was not always so patient with
her as the older sister; yet how well Louisa understood her generous
nature is shown by the beautiful sketch she has made of her in "Little
Women." She was called the lucky one of the family, and she reaped the
benefit of her generous sister's labors in her opportunities of

Miss Alcott's literary work is so closely interwoven with her personal
life that it needs little separate mention. Literature was undoubtedly
her true pursuit, and she loved and honored it. That she had her
ambitious longings for higher forms of art than the pleasant stories
for children is evident from her journals, and she twice attempted to
paint the life of mature men and women struggling with great
difficulties. In "Moods" and "A Modern Mephistopheles" we have proof
of her interest in difficult subjects. I have spoken of them in
connection with her life; but while they evince great power, and if
standing alone would have stamped her as an author of original
observation and keen thought, they can hardly be considered as
thoroughly successful, and certainly have not won the sanction of the
public like "Hospital Sketches" and "Little Women." Could she ever
have commanded quiet leisure, with a tolerable degree of health, she
might have wrought her fancies into a finer fabric, and achieved the
success she aimed at.

Much as Miss Alcott loved literature, it was not an end in itself to
her, but a means. Her heart was so bound up in her family,--she felt
it so fully to be her sacred mission to provide for their wants,--that
she sacrificed to it all ambitious dreams, health, leisure,--everything
but her integrity of soul. But as "he that loseth his life shall find
it," she has undoubtedly achieved a really greater work than if she
had not had this constant stimulus to exertion. In her own line of
work she is unsurpassed. While she paints in broad, free strokes the
life of her own day, represented mostly by children and young people,
she has always a high moral purpose, which gives strength and
sweetness to the delineation; yet one never hears children complain of
her moralizing,--it is events that reveal the lesson she would
enforce. Her own deep nature shines through all the experiences of her
characters, and impresses upon the children's hearts a sense of
reality and truth. She charms them, wisely, to love the common virtues
of truth, unselfishness, kindness, industry, and honesty. Dr. Johnson
said children did not want to hear about themselves, but about giants
and fairies; but while Miss Alcott could weave fairy fancies for them,
they are quite as pleased with her real boys and girls in the plainest
of costumes.

An especial merit of these books for young boys and girls is their
purity of feeling. The family affection which was so predominant in
the author's own life, always appears as the holiest and sweetest
phase of human nature. She does not refuse to paint the innocent love
and the happy marriage which it is natural for every young heart to be
interested in, but it is in tender, modest colors. She does not make
it the master and tyrant of the soul, nor does she ever connect it
with sensual imagery; but it appears as one of "God's holy
ordinances,"--natural and beautiful,--and is not separated from the
thought of work and duty and self-sacrifice for others. No mother
fears that her books will brush the bloom of modesty from the faces of
her young men or maidens.

Even in the stories of her early period of work for money, which she
wisely renounced as trash, while there is much that is thoroughly
worthless as art, and little that has any value, Miss Alcott never
falls into grossness of thought or baseness of feeling. She is
sentimental, melodramatic, exaggerated, and unreal in her
descriptions, but the stories leave no taint of evil behind them. Two
of these stories, "The Baron's Gloves" and "A Whisper in the Dark,"
have been included in her published works, with her permission. Her
friends are disposed to regret this, as they do not add to her
reputation; but at least they serve to show the quality of work which
she condemned so severely, and to satisfy the curiosity of readers in
regard to it. It would be easy to point out defects in her style, and
in some of her books there is evidence of the enforced drudgery of
production, instead of the spontaneous flow of thought. The most
serious defect is in her style of expression, which certainly passes
the fine line between colloquial ease and slang; it is her own
natural, peculiar style, which appears in her journals and letters.
That it is attractive to children is certain, but it offends the taste
of those who love purity and elegance of speech. It does not appear in
Louisa's more ambitious novels; here she sometimes falls into the
opposite extreme of labored and stilted expression. But much of these
books is written in a pure and beautiful style, showing that she could
have united ease with elegance if she had not so constantly worked at
high speed and with little revision. She was a great admirer of
Dickens's writings; and although she has never imitated him, she was
perhaps strengthened in her habit of using dashing, expressive
language by so fascinating a model.

I have placed at the head of each chapter one of Miss Alcott's own
poems, usually written at the period of which the chapter treats, and
characteristic of her life at that time. Her first literary essay was
the "Little Robin." But although her fond mother saw the future of a
great poet in these simple verses, Louisa never claimed the title for
herself. Her thoughts ran often into rhyme, and she sent many birthday
and Christmas verses to her friends and especially to her father. They
are usually playful. She always wrote to express some feeling of the
hour, and I find no objective or descriptive poetry. But a few of her
sacred poems, for we may certainly call them so, are very tender and
beautiful, and deserve a permanent place among the poems of
feeling,--those few poems which a true heart writes for itself.
"Thoreau's Flute" was originally published in the "Atlantic Monthly."
It is the least personal of her poems. The lines to her father on his
eighty-sixth birthday, the verses dedicated to her mother, and "My
Prayer," the last poem that she wrote, breathe her deepest religious
feeling in sweet and fitting strains. They will speak to the hearts of
many in the hours of trial which are common to humanity. The long
playful poem called "The Lay of the Golden Goose" was sent home from
Europe as an answer to many questions from her admirers and demands
for new stories. It has never been published, and is an interesting
specimen of her playful rhyming.

While to Miss Alcott cannot be accorded a high rank as a poet,--which,
indeed, she never claimed for herself,--it would be hard to deny a
place in our most select anthology to "Thoreau's Flute" or
"Transfiguration," the "Lines to my Father on his Eighty-sixth
Birthday" and "My Prayer." I have therefore thought it well to
preserve her best poems in connection with her life, where they
properly belong; for they are all truly autobiographical, revealing
the inner meaning of her life.

The pecuniary success of Miss Alcott's books enabled her to carry out
her great purpose of providing for the comfort and happiness of her
family. After the publication of "Little Women," she not only received
a handsome sum for every new story, but there was a steady income from
the old ones. Her American publishers estimate that they "have sold of
her various works a million volumes, and that she realized from them
more than two hundred thousand dollars." While her own tastes were
very simple, her expenses were large, for she longed to gratify every
wish of those she loved, and she gave generously to every one in need.
She had a true sense of the value of money. Her early poverty did not
make her close in expending it, nor her later success lavish. She
never was enslaved by debt or corrupted by wealth. She always held
herself superior to her fortune, and made her means serve her highest

Of Miss Alcott's own reading she says:--

   "Never a student, but a great reader. R. W. E. gave me Goethe's
   works at fifteen, and they have been my delight ever since. My
   library consists of Goethe, Emerson, Shakespeare, Carlyle,
   Margaret Fuller, and George Sand. George Eliot I don't care for,
   nor any of the modern poets but Whittier; the old ones--Herbert,
   Crashaw, Keats, Coleridge, Dante, and a few others--I like."

She gives this account of the beginning of her literary career:--

   "This gem ['The Robin'] my proud mother preserved with care,
   assuring me that if I kept on in this way I might be a second
   Shakespeare in time. Fired with this modest ambition, I continued
   to write poems upon dead butterflies, lost kittens, the baby's
   eyes, and other simple subjects till the story-telling mania set
   in; and after frightening my sisters out of their wits by awful
   tales whispered in bed, I began to write down these histories of
   giants, ogres, dauntless girls, and magic transformations till we
   had a library of small paper-covered volumes illustrated by the
   author. Later the poems grew gloomy and sentimental, and the
   tales more fanciful and less tragic, lovely elves and spirits
   taking the places of the former monsters."

Of her method of work she says:--

   "I never had a study. Any pen and paper do, and an old atlas on
   my knee is all I want. Carry a dozen plots in my head, and think
   them over when in the mood. Sometimes keep one for years, and
   suddenly find it all ready to write. Often lie awake and plan
   whole chapters word for word, then merely scribble them down as
   if copying.

   "Used to sit fourteen hours a day at one time, eating little, and
   unable to stir till a certain amount was done.

   "Very few stories written in Concord; no inspiration in that dull
   place. Go to Boston, hire a quiet room and shut myself up in it."

The following letter gives her advice to young writers:--

_To Mr. J. P. True._

     CONCORD, October 24.

   DEAR SIR,--I never copy or "polish," so I have no old manuscripts
   to send you; and if I had it would be of little use, for one
   person's method is no rule for another. Each must work in his own
   way; and the only drill needed is to keep writing and profit by
   criticism. Mind grammar, spelling, and punctuation, use short
   words, and express as briefly as you can your meaning. Young
   people use too many adjectives and try to "write fine." The
   strongest, simplest words are best, and no _foreign_ ones if it
   can be helped.

   Write, and print if you can; if not, still write, and improve as
   you go on. Read the best books, and they will improve your style.
   See and hear good speakers and wise people, and learn of them.
   Work for twenty years, and then you may some day find that you
   have a style and place of your own, and can command good pay for
   the same things no one would take when you were unknown.

   I know little of poetry, as I never read modern attempts, but
   advise any young person to keep to prose, as only once in a
   century is there a true poet; and verses are so easy to do that
   it is not much help to write them. I have so many letters like
   your own that I can say no more, but wish you success, and give
   you for a motto Michael Angelo's wise words: "Genius is infinite

     Your friend,
     L. M. ALCOTT.

   P. S.--The lines you send are better than many I see; but boys of
   nineteen cannot know much about hearts, and had better write of
   things they understand. Sentiment is apt to become
   sentimentality; and sense is always safer, as well as better
   drill, for young fancies and feelings.

   Read Ralph Waldo Emerson, and see what good prose is, and some of
   the best poetry we have. I much prefer him to Longfellow.

"Years afterward," says Mr. True, "when I had achieved some slight
success, I once more wrote, thanking her for her advice; and the
following letter shows the kindliness of heart with which she extended
ready recognition and encouragement to lesser workers in her chosen

     CONCORD, Sept. 7, 1883.

   MY DEAR MR. TRUE,--Thanks for the pretty book, which I read at
   once and with pleasure; for I still enjoy boys' pranks as much as

   I don't remember the advice I gave you, and should judge from
   this your first story that you did not need much. Your boys are
   real boys; and the girls can run,--which is a rare accomplishment
   nowadays I find. They are not sentimental either; and that is a
   good example to set both your brother writers and the lasses who
   read the book.

   I heartily wish you success in your chosen work, and shall always
   be glad to know how fast and how far you climb on the steep road
   that leads to fame and fortune.

     Yours truly,
     L. M. Alcott.

Roberts Brothers, Miss Alcott's publishers for nearly twenty years,
have collected all her stories in a uniform edition of twenty-five
volumes. They are grouped into different series according to size and
character, from her novels to "Lulu's Library" for very small
children, and may be enumerated as follows:--

   _Novels_ (four volumes).--Work, Moods, A Modern Mephistopheles,
   Hospital Sketches.

   _Little Women Series_ (eight volumes).--Little Women, An
   Old-Fashioned Girl, Little Men, Eight Cousins, Rose in Bloom,
   Under the Lilacs, Jack and Jill, Jo's Boys.

   _Spinning-Wheel Stories Series_ (four volumes).--Silver Pitchers,
   Proverb Stories, Spinning-Wheel Stories, A Garland for Girls.

   _Aunt Jo's Scrap-Bag_ (six volumes).--My Boys, Shawl-Straps,
   Cupid and Chow-Chow, My Girls, Jimmy's Cruise in the Pinafore, An
   Old-Fashioned Thanksgiving.

   _Lulu's Library_ (three volumes).

Many of these stories were originally published in various
magazines,--the popular "St Nicholas," for which Miss Alcott wrote
some of her best things in her later years, the "Youth's Companion,"
and others. Her works have been republished in England; and through
her English publishers, Messrs. Sampson Low and Company, of London,
she has reaped the benefit of copyright there, and they have been
translated into many languages. Her name is familiar and dear to the
children of Europe, and they still read her books with the same
eagerness as the children of her own land.

This extract from a letter written by the translator of Miss Alcott's
books into Dutch will show how she is esteemed in Holland:--

   "Miss Alcott was and is so much beloved here by her books, that
   you could scarce find a girl that had not read one or more of
   them. Last autumn I gave a translation of 'Lulu's Library' that
   appeared in November, 1887; the year before, a collection of
   tales and Christmas stories that appeared under the name of
   'Gandsbloempje' ('Dandelion'). Yesterday a young niece of mine
   was here, and said, 'Oh, Aunt, how I enjoyed those stories! but
   the former of "Meh Meh" I still preferred.' A friend wrote: 'My
   children are confined to the sickroom, but find comfort in
   Alcott's "Under the Lilacs."' Her fame here was chiefly caused by
   her 'Little Women' and 'Little Women Wedded,' which in Dutch
   were called 'Under Moedervleugels' ('Under Mother's Wings') and
   'Op Eigen Wieken' ('With Their Own Wings'). Her 'Work' was
   translated as 'De Hand van den Ploey' ('The Hand on the

How enduring the fame of Louisa M. Alcott will be, time only can show;
but if to endear oneself to two generations of children, and to mould
their minds by wise counsel in attractive form entitle an author to
the lasting gratitude of her country, that praise and reward belong to


     It is time to be old,
     To take in sail:
     The god of bounds,
     Who sets to seas a shore,
     Came to me in his fatal rounds,
     And said, "No more!
     No farther shoot
     Thy broad ambitious branches, and thy root;
     Fancy departs: no more invent,
     Contract thy firmament
     To compass of a tent.
     There's not enough for this and that,
     Make thy option which of two;
     Economize the failing river,
     Not the less revere the Giver;
     Leave the many, and hold the few.
     Timely wise, accept the terms;
     Soften the fall with wary foot;
     A little while
     Still plan and smile.
     And, fault of novel germs,
     Mature the unfallen fruit."

            *       *       *       *       *

     As the bird trims her to the gale,
     I trim myself to the storm of time;
     I man the rudder, reef the sail,
     Obey the voice at eve obeyed at prime:
     Lowly faithful, banish fear,
     Right onward drive unharmed;
     The port, well worth the cruise, is near,
     And every wave is charmed.



_Miss Alcott is really a benefactor of households._--H. H.

_Miss Alcott has a faculty of entering into the lives and feelings of
children that is conspicuously wanting in most writers who address
them; and to this cause, to the consciousness among her readers that
they are hearing about people like themselves, instead of abstract
qualities labelled with names, the popularity of her books is
due._--MRS. SARAH J. HALE.

_Dear Aunt Jo! You are embalmed in the thoughts and loves of thousands
of little men and women._--EXCHANGE.

     =Little Women; or Meg, Jo, Beth, and Amy.=
     With illustrations. 16mo     $1.50

     =Hospital Sketches, and Camp and Fireside Stories.=
     With illustrations. 16mo   1.50

     =An Old-Fashioned Girl.=
     With illustrations. 16mo    1.50

     =Little Men:= Life at Plumfield with Jo's Boys.
     With illustrations. 16mo      1.50

     =Jo's Boys and How they Turned Out.= A sequel to "Little Men."
     With portrait of "Aunt Jo." 16mo       1.50

     =Eight Cousins=; or, The Aunt-Hill.
     With illustrations. 16mo     1.50

     =Rose in Bloom.= A sequel to "Eight Cousins."
     16mo      1.50

     =Under the Lilacs.=
     With illustrations. 16mo        1.50

     =Jack and Jill.= A Village Story.
     With illustrations. 16mo      1.50

     =Work:= A Story of Experience.
     With character illustrations by Sol Eytinge. 16mo     1.50

     =Moods.= A Novel.
     New edition, revised and enlarged. 16mo       1.50

     =A Modern Mephistopheles, and A Whisper in the Dark.=
     16mo       1.50

     =Silver Pitchers, and Independence.= A Centennial Love Story.
     16mo       1.25

     =Proverb Stories.=
     New edition, revised and enlarged. 16mo      1.25

     =Spinning-Wheel Stories.=
     With illustrations. 16mo     1.25

     =A Garland for Girls, and Other Stories.=
     With illustrations. 16mo      1.25

     =My Boys, &c.= First volume of Aunt Jo's Scrap-Bag.
     16mo       $1.00

     =Shawl-Straps.= Second volume of Aunt Jo's Scrap-Bag.
     16mo       1.00

     =Cupid and Chow-Chow, &c.= Third volume of Aunt Jo's Scrap-Bag.
     16mo      1.00

     =My Girls, &c.= Fourth volume of Aunt Jo's Scrap-Bag.
     16mo      1.00

     =Jimmy's Cruise in the Pinafore, &c.=
     Fifth volume of Aunt Jo's Scrap-Bag. 16mo     1.00

     =An Old-Fashioned Thanksgiving, &c.=
     Sixth volume of Aunt Jo's Scrap-Bag. 16mo    1.00

     =Little Women.= Illustrated. Embellished
     with nearly 200 characteristic
     illustrations from original
     designs drawn expressly for this
     edition of this noted American
     Classic. One small quarto, bound
     in cloth, with emblematic designs     2.50

     =Little Women Series.= Comprising
     Little Women; Little Men;
     Eight Cousins; Under the Lilacs;
     An Old-Fashioned Girl; Jo's
     Boys; Rose in Bloom; Jack and
     Jill. 8 large 16mo volumes in a
     handsome box          12.00

     Miss Alcott's novels in uniform binding
     in sets. Moods; Work; Hospital
     Sketches; A Modern Mephistopheles,
     and A Whisper in the
     Dark. 4 volumes. 16mo         6.00

     =Lulu's Library.= Vols. I., II., III.
     A collection of New Stories.
     16mo       3.00

_These books are for sale at all bookstores, or will be mailed,
post-paid, on receipt of price, to any address._






With PORTRAITS and View of the ALCOTT HOME in Concord. One vol. 16mo.
Uniform with "Little Women." Price, $1.50.

Mrs. Cheney has allowed this popular author to tell the story of her
early struggles, her successes, and prosperity and life work, in her
own inimitable style, gracefully weaving the daily record of this
sweet and useful life into a garland of _immortelles_, in a manner at
once pleasing and within the comprehension of the thousands of readers
and admirers of Miss Alcott's books. It might truly be called the
biography of "Little Women."

   A most fascinating as well as a deeply pathetic book. The
   story,--the long, hard struggle for money to keep the household
   in comfort, and the well-earned success coming, alas, too late to
   save her health,--is delightfully told in her own words, from
   letters and journals, so that we have the bright, the witty, and
   the always charming personality of the children's author before
   us from the first page to the last. We have to thank Mrs. Cheney
   that she hid not from us the hard, grinding toil, nor spared us
   the record of one discouragement in the life so interesting to
   us; for in this narrative we have a valuable lesson for the young
   writer of our day.--_The Epoch._

   One who knew Miss Alcott well says: "Nobody can read of the
   struggles of the Alcott family, and of the tender yet resolute
   heroism with which Miss Alcott met and relieved them, without
   being touched to tears by the pathos and reality of the picture.
   Louisa Alcott was not a member of any church; but her belief in
   God, her loyalty to conscience, her fidelity to duty, her rescue
   of the Alcott family from its peculiar perils, place her among
   the women saints of the century, and it will be hard to find any
   one of her sex who has more faithfully responded to the duties of
   the position in which God had placed her."--_Cincinnati
   Commercial Gazette._

   Louisa May Alcott is without a rival as a writer for the young.
   The millions who have read her stories--and been made better by
   the reading--will want this book that they may get near the inner
   life, the fruitful source of their entertainment and profit. They
   will see that purity, simplicity, love, earnestness, and patience
   were so interwoven with her genius that her stories were the
   natural outgrowth of her beautiful character. The book needs no
   commendation from us. Every reader of her stories will be glad to
   know that they may now become intimately acquainted with that
   beautiful life which is here brought out of its long cherished
   seclusion.--_Saturday Evening Herald._



  [Illustration: "Sing, Tessa, Sing!" cried Tommo, twanging away with
  all his might.--PAGE 47.]

AUNT JO'S SCRAP-BAG: Containing "My Boys," "Shawl-Straps," "Cupid and
Chow-Chow," "My Girls," "Jimmy's Cruise in the Pinafore," "An
Old-Fashioned Thanksgiving." 6 vols. Price of each, $1.00.




  [Illustration: A CHRISTMAS DREAM.]



With Illustrations by JESSIE MCDERMOTT.

3 vols. 16mo. Cloth. Price, $1.00 per volume.






WORK. A Story of Experience. With Illustrations by SOL EYTINGE.

   This story relates, in many of its most important features and
   incidents, to actual experiences of its author; and in "Christie"
   we find the views and ideas of Miss Alcott herself expressed in
   such a way as to make them most interesting and valuable.

MOODS. A Novel.

   Although this story was originally written at a time when its
   author's powers and years were far from fully matured, it was in
   its first form indicative of great power. It was revised and
   partly rewritten after she had attained a full maturity, and
   after actual experience with life had broadened and rounded out
   her mental vision, so that it now stands as the first-born and
   dearest to her heart of her novels.


   This story was written for the "No Name Series," in which it
   originally appeared, and consequently was intended to be

   It is a surprise that Miss Alcott could have written this volume;
   not that it is inferior, but that it varies from her usual tone
   and theme so much. Yet her plot is ingenious, and there is
   dramatic design well worked out. As we read, knowing now who the
   author is (the story was first published anonymously), we
   recognize the grace of her style and the art of her workmanship.
   Its tone and, above all, its lofty moral purpose are hers. Plots
   differ, appearances are changed; but some of the deep traits of
   the true nature of Miss Alcott are in the book. Being dead she
   yet liveth.--_Public Opinion_.

HOSPITAL SKETCHES, and Camp and Fireside Stories. With Illustrations.

   These stories and sketches were written at the time of the Civil
   War, in which the author took part as a nurse in one of the
   hospitals, and show some of the many minor side scenes that help
   to make up that great conflict.

Four volumes. 16mo. Cloth. $1.50 per volume.

_Sold everywhere. Mailed, post-paid, on receipt of price by the



  [Illustration: "'I'm not hurt, all right in a minute,' he said,
  sitting up, a little pale and dizzy, as the boys gathered round him,
  full of admiration and alarm."--PAGE 2]




  [Illustration: WALTON RICKETSON, SCULP.]

JO'S BOYS, AND HOW THEY TURNED OUT. A sequel to "Little Men." With a
new portrait of "Aunt Jo." Price, $1.50.

Little, Brown, and Company,



   SUSAN COOLIDGE has always possessed the affection of her young
   readers, for it seems as if she had the happy instinct of
   planning stories that each girl would like to act out in
   reality.--_The Critic._

   Not even Miss Alcott apprehends child nature with finer sympathy,
   or pictures its nobler traits with more skill.--_Boston Daily

=THE NEW YEAR'S BARGAIN.= A Christmas Story for Children. With
Illustrations by ADDIE LEDYARD. 16mo. $1.25.

=WHAT KATY DID.= A Story. With Illustrations by ADDIE LEDYARD. 16mo.

=WHAT KATY DID AT SCHOOL.= Being more about "What Katy Did." With
Illustrations. 16mo. $1.25.

=MISCHIEF'S THANKSGIVING,= and other Stories. With Illustrations by
ADDIE LEDYARD. 16mo. $1.25.

=NINE LITTLE GOSLINGS.= With Illustrations by J. A. MITCHELL. 16mo.

=EYEBRIGHT.= A Story. With Illustrations. 16mo. $1.25.

=CROSS PATCH.= With Illustrations. 16mo. $1.25.

=A ROUND DOZEN.= With Illustrations. 16mo. $1.25.

=A LITTLE COUNTRY GIRL.= With Illustrations. 16mo. $1.25.

=WHAT KATY DID NEXT.= With Illustrations. 16mo. $1.25.

=CLOVER.= A Sequel to the Katy Books. With Illustrations by JESSIE
MCDERMOTT. 16mo. $1.25.

=JUST SIXTEEN.= With Illustrations. 16mo. $1.25.

=IN THE HIGH VALLEY.= With Illustrations, 16mo. $1.25.

=A GUERNSEY LILY=; or, How the Feud was Healed. A Story of the Channel
Islands. Profusely Illustrated. 16mo. $1.25.

=THE BARBERRY BUSH,= and Seven Other Stories about Girls for Girls. With
Illustrations by JESSIE MCDERMOTT. 16mo. $1.25.

=NOT QUITE EIGHTEEN.= A volume of Stories. With Illustrations by JESSIE
MCDERMOTT. 16mo. $1.25.

_Sold by all booksellers. Mailed, post-paid, on receipt of price, by
the publishers._

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