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Title: Caper-Sauce - A Volume of Chit-Chat about Men, Women, and Things.
Author: Fern, Fanny, 1811-1872
Language: English
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Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

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CAPER-SAUCE:

A VOLUME OF CHIT-CHAT ABOUT MEN, WOMEN, AND THINGS.

BY

FANNY FERN,

AUTHOR OF "FOLLY AS IT FLIES," "GINGER-SNAPS," "FERN LEAVES," ETC.

NEW YORK:
G. W. Carleton & Co., Publishers.

LONDON: S. LOW, SON & CO.

M.DCCC.LXXII.

Entered, according to Act of Congress, in the year 1872, by

G. W. CARLETON & CO.,

In the Office of the Librarian of Congress, at Washington.

Stereotyped at the
WOMEN'S PRINTING HOUSE,
56, 58 and 60 Park Street,
New York.

       *       *       *       *       *

NEW BOOKS

BY

FANNY FERN.

     I.--FOLLY AS IT FLIES     Price $1.50
     II.--GINGER-SNAPS               $1.50
     III.--CAPER-SAUCE               $1.50


These volumes are all elegantly printed and bound in cloth: are sold
everywhere, and will be sent by mail free of postage, on receipt of
price,

BY

Carleton, Publisher,
New York.



PREFACE.


Excuse me. None this time. There have already been too many big porticos
before little buildings.

FANNY FERN.

NEW YORK, 1872.



CONTENTS


PAGE

Editors                                                                9

My Notion of Music                                                    16

"Budding Spring"--In the City                                         20

A Peep at Boston                                                      23

Blackwell's Island                                                    29

Shall we have Male or Female Clerks?                                  37

Unknown Acquaintances                                                 40

Life and its Mysteries                                                44

Mrs. Washington's Eternal Knitting                                    47

The Woman Question                                                    50

Two Kinds of Wives                                                    55

Undertakers' Signs on Churches                                        58

A Voice from the Skating Pond                                         61

The Sin of being Sick                                                 64

Are Ministers Serfs?                                                  69

Blaming Providence for Our Own Faults                                 72

A Chapter on Nurses                                                   74

Do American Women Love Nature?                                        78

Rainy-day Pleasures                                                   82

Chit-Chat with Some of My Correspondents                              84

My Liking for Pretty Things                                           92

Unsought Happiness                                                    95

Dignity of Human Nature                                              100

All About Doctors                                                    104

Letter to Henry Ward Beecher                                         108

The Amenities of the Table                                           111

Many Men of Many Minds                                               115

My Notion of a Walking Companion                                     118

Men Teachers in Girls' Schools                                       121

My Call on "Dexter"                                                  125

The Poetry of Work                                                   128

Can't Keep a Hotel                                                   132

New Clothes                                                          136

How I read the Morning Papers                                        139

Betty's Soliloquy                                                    143

My Dreadful Bump of Order                                            146

"Every Family Should Have It"                                        153

Getting to Rights                                                    157

Modern Martyrs                                                       163

Writing "Compositions"                                               168

Nice Little Tea-Parties                                              173

A Sleepless Night                                                    176

Women's Need of Recreation                                           180

The Good Old Hymns                                                   185

A Stranger in Gotham                                                 189

My Journey to Quebec and Back Again                                  191

Idle Hours at Our Own Emerald Isle, the Gem of the Sea               215

Some City Sights                                                     223

Dog-days in the Mountains                                            229

Spring in the City                                                   235

Waifs                                                                238

Tact                                                                 240

The Infirmities of Genius                                            242

A Trip to the Caatskills                                             245

The Trip to Brompton                                                 258

Lake George Revisited                                                264

Cookery and Tailoring                                                269

Up the Hudson                                                        273

"Why Don't I Lecture"                                                278

In the Cars                                                          281

Petting                                                              284

My Grievance                                                         287

Cemetery Musings                                                     290

The Scrubbing-brush Mania                                            292

Sauce for the Gander                                                 295

My First Convert                                                     298

Country Housewives                                                   300

First Morning in the Country                                         303

Conscience Killing                                                   306

The Cry of a Victim                                                  308

Stones for Bread                                                     311



CAPER-SAUCE.



_EDITORS._


I am not disposed to pity Editors. On the whole, I think they have a
very good time. That national sugar-plum for American boys, "Maybe, my
son, you will be one day _President_," might be changed advantageously
for "My son, you may live some day to be an Editor." As for the
_present_ President, if he can sleep o' nights, he can live through
anything! I repeat it, Editors have a good time, no matter what they say
to the contrary. In the first place, I know that the position of an
editor, if honorably filled, is second to none in this country. He need
envy no one his influential power; would that in many cases it were more
conscientiously wielded. If an _Editor_ is an ignorant man, it is his
own fault, no matter from what small beginnings he may have risen.
Coming in contact, as he does, with information every instant, on all
the absorbing topics of the day, it is next to impossible he should not
be well informed. Read he must, whether he will or not. Think on what
he has read he must; tell his subscribers, in words, what he thinks
about it, and reflect and decide upon the submitted thoughts of others
for his columns, he must. Hence the mind of an Editor is, or may be, a
perfect Encyclopedia of information.

Of course he has his peculiar botherations; it would be a blessing if
his subscription list were large enough for him to say just what he
pleases right and left, without fear or favor. It would be a blessing if
his subscribers would always pay punctually, without dunning. It would
be a blessing, when he uses superhuman efforts to please them, if they
never would find fault or grumble, for the sake of grumbling. It would
be a blessing if they wouldn't stay so long when they come in to see him
"just a minute," and he is in a frenzied hurry to say do go, and can't.
It would be a blessing (to those who apply) if he could publish and pay
for, at the valuation of the writers, all the immortal trash that is
offered. It would be a blessing if other editors, "who can see nothing
in his paper," wouldn't steal his articles constantly--editorial and
contributed--without credit.

But, on the contrary, how came that beautiful bouquet on his desk? Where
that fine engraving on his office wall? How came that beautiful picture
and convenient inkstand there? I'd have you to know that the donors have
not always an axe they wish to grind in that office. I dare say you will
try to make me believe that Editors are human. Now I deny that, for I
myself have, in past days, had evidence to the contrary. But never mind
that now. You may tell me that Editors are not above the weakness of
publicly and slyly slipping in a good word for a good friend, when he
needs it, and that they are not above giving a bad "friend" a good,
satisfying dig when he needs it, and so would you. If a man is to be
overhauled for that, there's got to be a monstrous overturning of
matters in other places beside Editors' offices. I confess I sometimes
covet the quantities of books he accumulates free gratis for his
library, and I should like to be allowed to review some of 'em after a
fashion of my own, if nobody knew who did it; and I should like
occasionally to dust their horrible desks for the poor creatures, and
open those hermetically sealed windows, and advise them not to make
themselves prematurely bald by wearing their hats in their offices, week
in and week out, as if it were necessary their ideas should be kept warm
like chickens in order to hatch.

Only that I am convinced that everybody must work in his own way, and
that if Editors had to work in a clean place, they couldn't work at all.
Now if they opened their office windows of a hot day, they might
possibly be cooler, and a cool Editor, in times like these, when all the
fire and fury we could master would not begin to express our national
emotions, you see for yourself the thing wouldn't be tolerated. Beside,
some of them ought to be getting used to a hot place, and they might as
well begin now.

I wonder are Editors aware of how much importance is their Poet's
corner! I wonder if they know that the most inveterate pursuer of brooms
and gridirons that ever kept a good man's house tidy, likes a bit of
sentiment, in that shape, in the family paper. I wonder do Editors know,
how, when the day's work is done, she likes to pull that paper out from
some old tea-caddy, or broken flower-pot--that long ago fell into
disuse, and seating herself with a long-drawn breath of relief in the
old-fashioned chair, where all her Tommys and Marys have been rocked,
give herself up to the quiet enjoyment of its pages. Presently, as she
reads, a tear gathers in her eye; she dashes it quickly away with an
"ah--me," and laying her head back upon the chair, and closing eyes that
were once much bluer than now, she is soon far, far away from the quiet
home where her treadmill round of everyday duties has been for many
years so faithfully performed, and, perhaps, alas! so thanklessly
accepted. The cat comes purring round her feet, and Tray comes
scratching at the door, but she does not move, till the sound of a heavy
and familiar footstep is heard in the entry or hall; then, starting up,
and taking her scissors from the long pocket at her side, she clips the
precious verses from the paper and hides them in her bosom. Perhaps
_you_ might turn up your critical nose at those verses; never mind, they
have touched _her_ heart; and many times, when she is alone, she will
read them over; and so long as they hold together, she will keep them in
a little needle-case in her work-box, to read when "things go wrong,"
and a good, safe cry will ease the heart.

Her good man picks up the mutilated paper, and she says, "It was only a
bit of poetry, John." Now, there are more Johns than one in the world,
but he don't think of _that_, as turning to some political article he
says, "Oh, you are quite welcome to all that sort of stuff;" nor does he
know how much that other John had to do with her crying over those
verses, which somebody certainly must have written, who, like herself,
had married the wrong John.

Now, gentlemen Editors, crowd what else you may out of your papers, but
_don't crowd out the poetry, or think it of small consequence_. Take the
affidavit of one who has seen the clipped verses from your papers hid
away in pocket-books, tucked away in needle-cases, speared upon
pin-cushions, pinned up on toilet glasses, and murmured over in the
mystic hour of twilight, just before _"John comes home to tea;"_ and
always have a bit of poetry in your columns for her who has so potent a
voice in the choice of a family paper. I publicly promulgate this bit of
wisdom, though I am very well aware that you will pass it off for your
own, and neither credit _me_ nor my book for it!

A word on a practice too common in some newspapers. I refer to the
flippant manner in which the misfortunes and misdemeanors of certain
classes, brought to the notice of our courts, are reported for the
amusement of the community at large. Surely, it is melancholy enough
that a drunken mother should be picked up in the gutter with her
unconscious babe; or a young girl, scarcely in her teens, be found
guilty of theft; or, that a husband and father should beat or murder her
whom he had sworn to cherish, without narrating it after this heartless
fashion. For instance:

     John Flaherty, after beautifully painting a black and blue
     rim round his wife's eyes, was brought into court this
     morning to answer the question why he preferred that
     particular color; and not being able to give a satisfactory
     reason for the same, he was treated to a pleasant little
     ride to a stone building, where he was accommodated with a
     private room, board and lodging included.

Or thus:

     Mary Honoria, scarlet-lipped, plump, and sweet sixteen,
     being fond of jewelry on her pretty person, and having
     stolen her mistress's watch, was waited upon by a gallant
     policeman, who escorted her little ladyship into court, in
     the presence of an admiring crowd, before whom her black
     eyes sparkled with a rage that but added new beauty to their
     lustre.

Now, I protest against this disgusting, demoralizing, and heartless
mention of the sins and follies of poor wretches, the temptations of
whose lot are as the sands of the sea-shore for multitude; who,
ill-paid, ill-fed, worse-lodged, disheartened, discouraged, fall victims
to the snares, in the shape of low groggeries, set for them by the very
men who laugh over _their_ well-spread breakfast tables, at this
pitiful and revolting recital of their success. _Oh, write over against
the poor wretch's name, as God does, why he or she fell!_ or at least
cease making it the subject for a jeer. Make it _your_ son, _your_
daughter, and then pen that flippant, heartless paragraph if you can.
And yet, it was somebody's son, or daughter, or sister, or husband,
unworthy it may be, (who is not?) but alas! often forgiven, and still
dearly loved, to whose home that paragraph may come like a poisoned
arrow, wounding the innocent, paralyzing the hand which was powerless
enough before to struggle with its hapless fate; for not on the guilty
does such blight fall heaviest. The young boy--the toiling, unprotected
daughter--the aged mother--ah! what if they were _yours_?

       *       *       *       *       *

ABOUT DOCTORS.--We wish doctors could ever agree. One's head gets
muddled, reading their books on health, by antagonistic opinions on the
same subject, from eminent sources. Experience is an excellent doctor,
though he never had a diploma. What is good for you, you know is good
for _you_ although it may not be good for another. There is one point on
which doctors all agree, and that is, they very rarely give physic to
their own families. Why not? A friend suggests that it is from sheer
benevolence, in order that they may have more left for other people.



_MY NOTION OF MUSIC._


I've been defending myself from the charge of "not knowing what music
is." Perhaps I don't know. But when I go to a fashionable concert, and
the lady "_artiste_," I believe that is the regulation-word, comes out
in her best bib and tucker, with a gilt battle-axe in her back hair, and
a sun-flower in her bosom, led by the tips of her white gloves, by the
light of a gleaming bracelet, and stands there twiddling a sheet of
music, preparatory to the initiatory scream, I feel like screaming
myself. Now if she would just trot on, in her morning gown, darning a
pair of stockings, and sit naturally down in her old rocking-chair, and
give me "Auld Robin Gray," instead of running her voice up and down the
scales for an hour to show me how high and how low she can go without
dropping down in a fit, I'd like it. One trial of her voice that way, to
test its capacity, satisfies me. It is as good as a dozen, and a great
deal better. I don't want to listen to it a whole evening. I _will_
persist, that running up and down the scales that way isn't "_music_."
Then if you only knew the agony I'm in, when drawing near the end of one
of her musical gymnastics, she essays to wind up with one of those
swift, deafening _don't-stop-to-breathe finales_, you _would_ pity me. I
get hysterical. I wish she would split her throat at once, or stop. I
want to be let out. I want the roof lifted; I feel a cold perspiration
breaking out on my forehead. I know that presently she will catch up
that blue-gauze skirt and skim out that side-door, only to come and do
it all over again, in obedience to that dead-head encore. You see all
this machinery disenchants me. It takes away my appetite, like telling
me at dinner how much beef is a pound. I had rather the ropes and
pulleys of music would keep _behind_ the curtain.

Of course my "taste is not cultivated," and moreover, the longer I live
the less chance there is of it. On that point, I'm what country folks
call "sot." Sometimes, when passing one of these concert-rooms of an
evening, I _have_ caught a note that I took home with me. Caught it with
the help of the darkness and the glimmering stars, and the fresh wind on
my forehead, and a blessed ignorance of the distorted mouth and the
heaving millinery that sent it forth. But take me _in_, and you'll have
an hysterical maniac. The solemn regulation faces, _looking_ at that
"music," set me bewitched to laugh and outrage that fashion-drilled and
kidded audience. Bless you, _I_ can't help it. I had rather hear Dinah
sing "Old John Brown" over her wash-tub. I had rather go over to Mr.
Beecher's church some Sunday night and hear that vast congregation swell
forth Old Hundred, with each man and woman's _soul_ so in it, that
earthly cares and frets are no more remembered, than the old garments we
cast out of sight.

When the words of a favorite hymn are read from the pulpit, and I am
expecting the good old-fashioned tune, that has been wedded to it since
my earliest recollection, and instead, I am treated to a series of
quirks and quavers by a professional quartette, I can't help wishing
myself where the whole congregation sing with the heart and the
understanding, in the old-fashioned manner. I can have "opera" on
week-days, and scenery and fine dresses thrown in. Sunday I want Sunday,
not opera in _negligé_.

Of course it is high treason for me to make such an avowal; so, while I
am in for it, I may as well give another twist to the rope that is round
my neck. The other night I went to hear "The Messiah." The words are
lovely, and as familiar to my Puritan ears as the "Assembly's
Catechism;" but when they kept on repeating, "The Lord is in his
hol--the Lord is in--is in his hol--is in--the Lord is in his hol"--and
when the leader, slim, and clothed in inky black, kept his arms going
like a Jack in a box, I grew anything but devout. The ludicrous side of
it got the better of me; and when my companion, who pretends to be no
Christian at all, turned to me, who am reputed to be one, in a state of
exaltation, and said, "Isn't that grand, Fanny?" he could have wished
that the tears in my eyes were not hysterical, from long-suppressed
laughter. He says he never will take me there again, and I only hope he
will keep his word. All the "music" I got out of it was in one or two
lovely "solos."

Now what I want to know is, which has the most love for _genuine_
music--he or I?

The fact is, I like to find my music in unexpected, simple ways, where
the machinery is not visible, like the Galvanic gyrations of that
"leader," for instance. That kind of thing recalls too vividly my old
"fa-sol-la" singing-school, where the boys pulled my curls, and gave me
candy and misspelt notes.

There is evidently something wanting in my make-up, with regard to
"music," when I can _cry_ at the singing of the following simple verses,
by the whole congregation in church, and do the opposite at the
scientific performance of "The Messiah." Listen to the verses:

     "Pass me not, O gentle Saviour,
       Hear my humble cry;
     While on others Thou art smiling,
       Do not pass me by.
               Saviour, Saviour,
               Hear my humble cry.

     "If I ask Him to receive me,
       Will he say me Nay?
     Not till earth and not till heaven
       Shall have passed away."



_"BUDDING SPRING"--IN THE CITY._


We of the city do not appreciate the blessing of closed windows and
silence, until budding Spring comes. The terrific war-whoop of the
milkman inaugurates the new-born day long before we should otherwise
recognize it. Following him is the rag-man, with his handcart, to which
six huge jangling, terrific cow-bells are fastened, as an
accompaniment to the yet louder yell of "r-a-g-s." Then comes the
"S-t-r-a-w-b-e-r-r-y" man, with lungs of leather, splitting your head,
as you try to sip your coffee in peace. Close upon his heels, before he
has hardly turned the corner, comes the pine-apple man, who tries to
outscreech _him_. Then the fish-man, who blows a hideous tin trumpet,
loud enough to rouse the Seven Sleepers, and discordant enough to set
all your nerves jangling, if they had not already been taxed to the
utmost. You jump up in a frenzy to close the window, only to see that
the fish-man has stopped his abominable cart at the door of a neighbor,
who keeps a carriage and livery, and is therefore fond of cheap, stale
fish; where he is deliberately cleaning and splitting them, and throwing
the refuse matter in the street, as a bouquet for your nostrils during
the warm day. Then comes a procession of heavy carts, the drivers of
which are lashing their skeleton nags to fury, with loud cracks of their
whips, to see which shall win in the race, while every one of your
window-panes shakes as if an earthquake were in progress, as they rumble
over the stones. By this time comes a great mob of boys, with vigorous
lungs, tossing each other's caps in the air, and screeching with a power
perfectly inexplicable at only six, ten, or twelve years of practice.
Indeed, the smaller the boy the bigger is his war-whoop, as a general
rule. Then comes a wheezy organ-grinder, who, encouraged by the fatal
show of plants in your windows, imagines you to be romantically fond of
"The Morning Star," and immediately begins, in verse, to describe how he
"feels." Nothing short of fifty cents will purchase his absence, which
encouragement is followed by some miserable little rats of boys, anxious
to succeed him on the violin and harp.

By this time your hair stands on end, and beads of perspiration form
upon your nose. You fly for refuge to the back of the house. Alas! there
is a young thing of "sixteen summers" and no winters running up and down
the gamut on a tin-kettle piano. In the next house is a little dog
barking as if his last hour was coming; while upon the shed are two
cats, in the most inflamed state of bristle, glaring like fiends, and
"_maow_"-ing in the most hellish manner at each other's whiskers. You go
down into the parlor, and seat yourself there. Your neighbor, Tom
Snooks, is smoking at his window, and puffing it right through yours
over your lovely roses, the perfume of which he quite extinguishes with
his nasty odor.

Heavens! And this is "Spring!" "Budding Spring!" The poets make no
mention of these little things in their "Odes!"

Well--at least, you say to yourself, there will be peace and heavenly
quiet with the stars at midnight, by the open window. I will be patient
till then.

Is there?

What is that? A policeman's loud rap-rap on the pavement for assistance
to capture a burglar. Next a woman's scream; the brute who just accosted
the poor wretch has struck her a heavy blow upon the temple. And now
reels past a drunken man, zigzagging down the street, with a little
whimpering boy by one hand, old enough to know what a "Station-house"
means, and trembling lest "father" should be taken there.

You throw yourself upon your bed, weary and sick at heart. Even the
stars seem to glow with a red, unnatural light, as if they too were worn
with watching the wrongs and frets they nightly look down upon.

"Balmy night." What liars poets can be!



_A PEEP AT BOSTON._


Boston is a lovely place to be baptized in, and to go back to. My old
love, "_Boston Common_"--that good, old-fashioned, unspoiled,
unmodernized name--looks more lovely this summer than I ever remember to
have seen it. New York may well take a lesson from its order and
neatness, with regard to our ill-kept _city_ parks. I sat there, under
those lovely trees which used to wave over my school-girl head; and had
it not been for the little bright-eyed grandchild beside me picking
buttercups, I might have fancied it was Saturday afternoon, and no
school, and that I was to be back to my mother's apronstrings "by
sundown, without fail." I know I could not have enjoyed even then the
birds' song, or the sparkling pond, or the big trees more than at that
moment. Out of my dream-land, whither they had led me, I was awakened by
a jump into my lap, and the question, "And did you _really_ play with
buttercups here, when you were a little girl?" It was a long bridge that
question led me over, so long that I forgot to answer till the question
was repeated. I had to stop, and outgrow buttercups, and hold again by
my matronly hand a little creature, the counterpart of my questioner,
who long since closed her eyes forever, in this world, upon us both! It
took time, you see, before I could say, "Yes, dear; it was just in this
very lovely spot that both your mother and I picked buttercups when
children, on the bright Saturday afternoons of long ago; and six years
and a half of your little life I have waited, to see _you_ run down
those sloping paths, and to show you the 'Frog-Pond,' and to tell you to
look up into the branches that nearly touch the sky; and now here we
are! But there were no 'deer' feeding on this Common when I was a little
girl, but instead _cows_ to whom I gave plenty of room to pass as I went
along; and instead of that gay little hat, with mimic grasses and
daisies, such as I have put upon your head, my mother tied under my chin
a little sun-bonnet. And she didn't run to me if I sneezed, as I do to
you, for I had a heap of brothers and sisters, and we had to take care
of our own sneezing; but I know I had twenty-five cents to spend on
Fourth of July; and I know that, if any little girl's belt in Boston was
ever tightened by roast turkey and pie more than mine was on
'Thanksgiving day,' I pity her! I wonder what has become of all the
little children I used to play with here? We used to go up to the
tip-top of that State House, I know; but I don't care to try it now. Not
that it would tire me--of course not; but I've seen all that can be seen
from that dome, and a little farther too."

Oh, the peace and loveliness of sweet "Mount Auburn!" The new graves
since I was there, and the old graves now moss-grown that I remember so
well! I, too, shall sleep sweetly there some day; but the hardest pang I
shall know, between now and then, will be letting go the little hand
that clasped mine to-day, as I walked about there. And yet there were
_little_ graves all around us. _He_ knows best!

In Boston I saw the remains of "The Jubilee." I was asked, "Did I hear
and see the Jubilee?" I was supposed, as coming from New York, to grieve
at the success of "The Jubilee;" and being an adopted New Yorker, to
feel like skulking round the back streets in Boston, covered with
confusion that Manhattan had no "Jubilee." Lord bless you! I love every
_bean_ that was ever baked in Boston; every cod-fish-ball ever fried;
and every brown-bread loaf ever baked there. I know too, as well as any
Bostonian, that--

     "Zaccheus he
     Did climb the tree,
     His Lord and Master
     For to see;"

and I made a courtesy to the ground, when I came in sight of
"Park-street" steeple, and "Faneuil Hall!" so don't be pitching into me.
Hit some other fellow who isn't "up" in the Assembly's catechism, and
"total depravity," and brown bread. "Jubilee" as much as you want to;
the world is a big place. "Holler" away!

New England, all hail to thy peerless thrift! Thou art cranky and
crotchety; thou art "sot," uncommon "sot," in thy ways, owing doubtless
to the amiable sediment of English blood in thy veins. Thou wilt not be
cheated in a bargain, even by thy best friend; but, in the meantime,
that enableth thy large heart to give handsomely when charity knocks at
thy door. Thy pronunciation may be peculiar, but, in the meantime, what
thou dost not know, and cannot do, is rarely worth knowing or doing.
Thou never hast marble, and silver, and plate glass, and statuary, in
thy show-parlors, and shabby belongings where the world does not
penetrate. Thou hast not stuccoed walls, with big cracks in them, or
anything in thy domiciles, hanging as it were by the eyelids. Every nail
is driven so that it will stay; every hinge hung so that it will work
thoroughly. Every bolt and key and lock perform their duty like a
martinet, so long as a piece of them endures. If thou hast a garden, be
it only a square foot, it is made the most of with its "long _saace_"
and "short _saace_" and "wimmin's notions," in the shape of flowers and
caraway seed, to chew on Sunday, when the minister gets as far as
"seventeenthly," and carnal nature will fondly recur to the waiting pot
of baked beans in the kitchen oven. O! New England, here could I shed
salt tears at the thought of thy baked beans, for Gotham knows them not.
Alluding to that edible, I am met with a pitying sneer, accompanied with
that dread word to snobs--"_provincial!_" It is ever thus, my peerless,
with the envy which cannot attain to the perfection it derides. For you
should see, my thrifty New England, the watery, white-livered,
tasteless, swimmy, sticky poultice which Gotham christens "baked beans."
My soul revolts at it. It is an unfeeling, wretched mockery of the rich,
brown, crispy, succulent contents of that "platter"--yes, _platter_--I
will say it!--which erst delighted my eyes in the days when I swallowed
the Catechism without a question as to its infallibility. The flavor of
the beans "haunts memory still;" but as to the Catechism, the world is
progressing, and I am not one to put a drag on its wheels, believing
that

     Truth is sure
     And will endure,

and it is best to let "natur" caper, especially as you can't help it;
and after the dust it has kicked up has cleared away, we shall see what
we shall see, be it wheat or chaff. Beside, the most conservative must
admit, that though Noah's Ark was excellent for the flood, the "Great
Eastern" is an improvement on it; and _'tisn't_ pretty, _so they say who
oftenest practise it!_ to stand with the Bible in your hand in 1862, and
clamor for a private latch-key to heaven.

But I have wandered from my baked beans. I want some. Some New England
baked beans. Some of "mother's beans." But, alas, mother's oven is fast
disappearing. Mother's oven, where the beans stayed in all night, with
the brown bread. Alas! it has given way to new-fangled "ranges," which
"don't know beans." Excuse the vulgarity of the expression, but in such
a cause I shan't stand for trifles. If you want rose-leaf
sentimental-refinement, together with creamy patriotism, you may look in
the columns of the Whip-Syllabub-Family-Visitor. This is a digression.

When I started for a New England tour, it was my intention to get some
of those beans; but the hotels there are getting so "genteel" with their
paper-pantalettes on the roast-chicken's legs, and their paper frills on
the roast-pigs'-tails, that I was convinced, that only at a genuine
unsophisticated farm-house, where I could light down unannounced on
Sarah-Jane--could this edible in its native and luscious beauty be
found.

Next summer, if "strategy" and the rebels don't chew us up, I start on a
tour for those beans; nor am I to be imposed upon by any "genteel"
substitutes or abortions under that name!

       *       *       *       *       *

A HINT TO PARENTS.--When parents are considering the question of the
hours of study for growing children in our schools, let them do it
without any reference to the side question, how they can "bear those
noisy children, during the subtracted hours, at home." Perhaps they can
better bear this than to pay the doctor's bills. This is the way to look
at it, whether it be regarded in a selfish or a humanitarian point of
view.



_BLACKWELL'S ISLAND._


Prior to visiting Blackwell's Island, my ideas of that place were very
forlorn and small-pox-y. It makes very little difference, to be sure, to
a man, or a woman, shut up in a cell eight feet by four, how lovely are
the out-door surroundings; how blue the river that plashes against the
garden wall below, flecked with white sails, and alive with gay
pleasure-seekers, whose merry laugh has no monotone of sadness, that the
convict wears the badge of degradation; and yet, after all, one
involuntarily says to one's self, so instinctively do we turn to the
cheerful side, I am glad they are located on this lovely island. Do you
shrug your shoulders, Sir Cynic, and number over the crimes they have
committed? Are _your_ crimes against society less, that they are written
down only in God's book of remembrance? Are _you_ less guilty that you
have been politic enough to commit only those that a short-sighted,
unequal human law sanctions? Shall I pity these poor wrecks of humanity
less, because they are so recklessly self-wrecked? because they turn
away from my pity? Before I come to this, I must know, as their Maker
knows, what evil influences have encircled their cradles. How many
times, when their stomachs have been empty, some full-fed, whining
disciple, has presented them with a Bible or a Tract, saying, "Be ye
warmed and filled." I must know how often, when their feet have tried to
climb the narrow, up-hill path of right, the eyes that have watched,
have watched only for their halting; never noting, as God notes, the
steps that did _not_ slip--never holding out the strong right hand of
help when the devil with a full larder was tugging furiously at their
skirts to pull them backward; but only saying "I told you so," when he,
laughing at your pharisaical stupidity, succeeded.

I must go a great way back of those hard, defiant faces, where hate of
their kind seems indelibly burnt in; back--back--to the soft blue sky of
infancy, overclouded before the little one had strength to contend with
the flashing lightning and pealing thunder of misfortune and poverty
which stunned and blinded his moral perceptions. I cannot see that
mournful procession of men, filing off into those dark cells, none too
dark, none too narrow, alas! to admit troops of devils, without wishing
that some white-winged angel might enter too; and when their shining
eyeballs peer at my retreating figure through the gratings, my heart
shrieks out in its pain--oh! believe that there is pity here--only pity;
and I hate the bolts and bars, and I say this is _not_ the way to make
bad men good; or, at least if it be, these convicts should not, when
discharged, be thrust out loose into the world with empty pockets, and a
bad name, to earn a speedy "through-ticket" back again. I say, if this
_be_ the way, let humanity not stop here, but take one noble step
forward, and when she knocks off the convict's fetters, and lands him on
the opposite shore, let her not turn her back and leave him there as if
her duty were done; but let her _there_ erect a noble institution where
he can find a _kind_ welcome and _instant_ employment; before
temptation, joining hands with his necessities, plunge him again
headlong into the gulf of sin.

And here seems to me to be the loose screw in these institutions;
admirably managed as many of them are, according to the prevalent ideas
on the subject. You may tell me that I am a woman, and know nothing
about it; and I tell you that I _want_ to know. I tell you, that I don't
believe the way to restore a man's lost self-respect is to degrade him
before his fellow-creatures; to brand him, and chain him, and poke him
up to show his points, like a hyena in a menagerie. No wonder that he
growls at you, and grows vicious; no wonder that he eats the food you
thrust between the bars of his cage with gnashing teeth, and a vow to
take it out of the world somehow, when he gets out; no wonder that he
thinks the Bible you place in his cell a humbug, and God a myth. I would
have you startle up his self-respect by placing him in a position to
show that you trusted him; I would have you give him something to hold
in charge, for which he is in honor responsible; appeal to his _better_
feelings, or if they smoulder almost to extinction, fan them into a
flame for him out of that remnant of God's image which the vilest can
never wholly destroy. _Anything but shutting a man up with hell in his
heart to make him good._ The devils may well chuckle at it. And above
all, tear down that taunting inscription over the prison-hall door at
Blackwell's Island--"The way of transgressors is hard"--and place
instead of it, "Neither do I condemn thee; go and sin no more."

Now, you can step aside, Mrs. Grundy; what I am about to write is not
for your over-fastidious ear. _You_, who take by the hand the polished
_roué_, and welcome him with a sweet smile to the parlor where sit your
young, trusting daughters; you, who "have no business with his private
life, so long as his manners are gentlemanly;" you who, while saying
this, turn away with bitter, unwomanly words from his penitent, writhing
victim. I ask no leave of _you_ to speak of the wretched girls picked
out of the gutters of New York streets, to inhabit those cells at
Blackwell's Island. I speak not to _you_ of what was tugging at my
heart-strings as I saw them, that beautiful summer afternoon, file in,
two by two, to their meals, followed by a man carrying a cowhide in his
hand, by way of reminder; all this would not interest you; but when you
tell me that these women are not to be named to ears polite, that our
sons and our daughters should grow up ignorant of their existence, I
stop my ears. As if they could, or did! As if they can take a step in
the public streets without being jostled or addressed by them, or pained
by their passing ribaldry; as if they could return from a party or
concert at night, without meeting droves of them; as if they could, even
in broad daylight, sit down to an ice-cream without having one for a
_vis-à-vis_. As if they could ride in a car or omnibus, or cross in a
ferry-boat, or go to a watering-place, without being unmistakably
confronted by them. No, Mrs. Grundy; you know all this as well as I do.
You would push them "anywhere out of the world," as unfit to live, as
unfit to die; _they_, the weaker party, while their partners in sin, for
whom you claim greater mental superiority, and who, by your own finding,
should be much better able to learn and _to teach_ the lesson of
self-control--to them you extend perfect absolution. Most consistent
Mrs. Grundy, get out of my way while I say what I was going to, without
fear or favor of yours.

If I believed, as legislators, and others with whom I have talked on
this subject, pretend to believe, they best know why, that God ever made
one of those girls for the life they lead, for this in plain Saxon is
what their talk amounts to, I should curse Him. If I could temporize as
they do about it, as a "necessary evil," and "always has been, and
always will be," and (then add this beautiful tribute to manhood) "that
pure women would not be safe were it not so"--and all the other budget
of excuses which this sin makes to cover its deformity--I would forswear
my manhood.

You say their intellects are small, they are mere animals, naturally
coarse and grovelling, Answer me this--are they, or are they not
_immortal_? Decide the question whether _this_ life is to be _all_ to
them. Decide before you shoulder the responsibility of such a girl's
future. Granted she has only _this_ life. God knows how much misery may
be crowded into that. But you say, "Bless your soul, why do you talk to
_me_? I have nothing to do with it; I am as virtuous as St. Paul." St.
Paul was a bachelor, and of course is not my favorite apostle; but
waiving that, I answer, you _have_ something to do with it when you talk
thus, and throw your influence on the wrong side. No matter how
outwardly correct your past life may have been, if you _really believe_
what you say, I would not give a fig for your virtue if temptation and
opportunity favored; and if you talk so for talk's sake, and do not
believe it, you had better "tarry at Jericho till your beard be grown."

But you say to me, "Oh, you don't know anything about it; men are
differently constituted from women; woman's sphere is home." That don't
suspend the laws of her being. That don't make it that she don't need
sympathy and appreciation. That don't make it that she is never weary
and needs amusement to restore her. Fudge. I believe in no difference
that makes this distinction. Women lead, most of them, lives of unbroken
monotony; and have much more need of exhilarating influences than men,
whose life is out of doors in the breathing, active world. Don't tell me
of shoemakers at their lasts, and tailors at their needles. Do either
ever have to lay down their customers' coats and shoes fifty times a
day, and wonder when the day is over why their work is _not_ done,
though they have struggled through fire and water to finish it? Do not
both tailor and shoemaker have at least the variation of a walk to or
from the shop to their meals? Do not their customers talk their beloved
politics to them while they stitch, and do not their "confrères" run for
a bottle of ale and crack merry jokes with them as their work
progresses? Sirs! if monotony is to be avoided in man's life as
injurious, if "variety" and exhilaration must always be the spice to his
pursuits, how much more must it be necessary to a sensitively organized
woman? If home is not sufficient (and I will persist that any
_industrious, virtuous, unambitious_ man, may have a home if he
chooses); if home is not sufficient for him, why should it suffice for
her? whose work is never done--who can have literally _no_ such thing as
system (and here's where a mother's discouragement comes in), while her
babes are in their infancy; who often says to herself at night, though
she would not for worlds part with one of them, "I can't tell what I
have accomplished to-day, and yet I have not been idle a minute;" and
day after day passes on in this way, and perhaps for weeks she does not
pass the threshold for a breath of air, and yet men talk of "monotony!"
and being "differently constituted," and needing amusement and
exhilaration; and "business" is the broad mantle which it is not always
safe for a wife to lift. I have no faith in putting women in a pound,
that men may trample down the clover in a forty-acre lot. But enough for
that transparent excuse.

The great Law-giver made no distinction of sex, as far as I can find
out, when he promulgated the seventh commandment, nor should we. You
tell me "society makes a difference;" more shame to it--more shame to
the women who help to perpetuate it. You tell me that infidelity on the
wife's part involves an unjust claim upon the husband and provider; and
I ask you, on the other hand, if a good and virtuous wife has not a
right to expect _healthy_ children?

Let both be equally pure; let every man look upon every woman,
whatsoever her rank or condition, as a sister whom his manhood is bound
to protect, even, if need be, against herself, and let every woman turn
the cold shoulder to any man of her acquaintance, how polished soever he
may be, who would degrade her sex. Then this vexed question would be
settled; there would be no such libels upon womanhood as I saw at
Blackwell's Island, driven in droves to their cells. No more human
traffic in those gilded palaces, which our children must not hear
mentioned, forsooth! though their very fathers may help to support them,
and which our tender-hearted legislators "can't see their way clear
about." Then our beautiful rivers would no longer toss upon our island
shores the "dead bodies of unfortunate young females."



_SHALL WE HAVE MALE OR FEMALE CLERKS?_


The question whether male or female clerks in stores are preferred by
shopping ladies, has lately been agitated. I do not hesitate to say that
the majority of ladies would much prefer the former.

There are reasons for this, apart from the natural and obvious
preference which women entertain for a coat and vest, before a chignon
and panier. Male clerks, as a general thing, confine their attention to
business; in other words, "mind what they are about." Female clerks are
too often taking an inventory of the way you dress your hair; of the cut
and trimming, and probable cost of your sacque and dress. No lady who
shops much can be unaware of the coroner's inquest, favorable or
otherwise, thus held over the dry-goods on her back. When you add to
this the momentous computations, whether her jewelry is bogus or real,
and where she got that love of a bonnet, there is grave room for fear
lest by mistake she should roll you up two yards of ribbon instead of
three, involving a journey back, to the disgust of yourself and your
dress-maker; or, worse still, if the day be stormy, oblige you to coax
your _dear_ Charles to let you pin a sample on the lappel of his coat,
and beg him just to stop a minute--there's a dear fellow--as he comes up
town, and bring it to you. Of course, he gets talking with Tom Jones on
politics, and forgets all about it, and only ejaculates, "pshaw!" when
your horror-stricken dress-maker asks you for it.

That's how it is, although I get my ears boxed for saying it.

Mind you, I don't say that it is _always_ so, no more than it is true
that all male clerks attend strictly to the business in hand. Still it
is true: that is really the fly in the ointment. In the words of the
little hymn,

     "It is their nature to."

Women _always_ dissect each other the moment they meet, and never leave
so much as a hair-pin unmeasured. So, as you can't change their nature,
and as the instances are rare in which man, or woman either, can do two
things correctly at the same moment, what are you going to do about it?

Having said this much, I am happy to add that I have favorite stores for
shopping, where I am served by _female_ clerks with a promptness, a
politeness, an exactness and a dispatch, not to be exceeded by the
best-trained _male_ clerk in existence.

As to the silly girls and women who go shopping "for fun," and to make
eyes, and chatter with clerks, there is no question how _their_
preferences go on this question. We don't count their votes.

For myself, as my time is always limited, I desire _despatch_, first and
foremost, with an exactness involving no _postscript_ to my shopping;
and I would also prefer female clerks, if I could include this. In fact
I am willing, _in any case_, to give my vote for the female clerks, so
much do I desire that my own sex should be helped to help themselves.

       *       *       *       *       *

FASHIONABLE DISEASE.--The day when it was considered interesting and
lady-like to be always ailing has gone by. Good health, fortunately, is
the fashion. A rosy cheek is no longer considered "vulgar," and a fair,
shapely allowance of flesh on the bones is considered the "style."
Perhaps the great secret that good looks cannot exist without good
health, may have had something to do with the care now taken to obtain
it; whether this be so or not, future generations are the gainers all
the same. A languid eye and a waxy, bloodless complexion, may go begging
now for admiration. The "elegant stoop" in the shoulders, formerly
considered so aristocratic, has also miraculously disappeared. Women
walk more and ride less; they have rainy-day suits of apparel, too,
which superfluity never was known to exist aforetime, sunshine being the
only atmosphere in which the human butterfly was supposed to float. In
short, "the fragile women of America" will soon exist only in the acid
journal of some English traveller, who will, of course, stick to the
by-gone fact as a still present reality, with a dogged pertinacity known
only to that amiable nation.



_UNKNOWN ACQUAINTANCES._


You have none? Then I am sorry for you. Much of my pleasure in my daily
walks is due to them. Perhaps you go over the ground mechanically, with
only dinner or business in your eye when you shall reach your journey's
end. Perhaps you "don't see a soul," as you express it. Perhaps you have
no "soul" yourself; only a body, of which you are very conscious, and
whose claims upon you outweigh every other consideration. That is a
pity. I wouldn't go round that treadmill for all the mines of Golconda.
It always makes me think of that melancholy old horse one sees, pawing
rotatory wood, at the way stations, on the railroad tracks; and because
the sight makes every bone in me ache, my particular window-seat in the
car is always sure to command a view of him. Now, come what will, I'll
not be that horse. _You_ may if you like, and I will cling to my dreams.
I sha'n't live in this world forever, and I won't hurry over the ground
and never see a sweet face as it flits past me, or a grand one, or a
sorrowful one. I won't be deaf to the rippling laugh of a little child
or the musical voice of a refined woman. It may be only two words that
she shall speak, but they shall have a pleasant significance for me.
Then there are strange faces I meet every day which I hope to keep on
meeting till I die. Who was such an idiot as to say that "no woman ever
sees beauty in another"? I meet every day a face that no man living
could admire more than myself; soulful as well as beautiful. Lovely
blue, pensive eyes; golden hair, waving over a pure white forehead;
cheeks like the heart of a "blush rose;" and a grieved little rosy
mouth, like that of a baby to whom for the first time you deny
something, fearing lest it grow too wilful. I think that day lost in
which I do not meet that sweet face, framed in its close mourning
bonnet. Were I a man it is to that face I should immediately "make
love."

_Make_ love? Alas! I did not think how terribly significant was this
modern term when I used it. Let no man _make_ love to that face. But if
there _is_ one who _can_ be in dead earnest, and _stay so_, I give my
consent, provided he will not attempt to change the expression of that
mouth.

I have another acquaintance. I don't care to ask "Who _is_ that man?" I
know that he has _lived_ his life and not slept it away. I know that it
has been a pure and a good one. It is written in his bright, clear,
unclouded eye; in his springing step; in the smile of content upon his
lip; in the lift of his shoulders; in the poise of his head; in the
free, glad look with which he breathes in his share of the warm
sunshine. Were he taken to the bedside of a sick man, it seems to me
the very sight of him were health.

I used to have many unknown acquaintances among the little children in
the parks; but what with French nurses and silk velvet coats, I have
learned to turn my feet elsewhere. It gives me the heart-ache to see a
child slapped for picking up a bright autumn leaf, though it _may_
chance to be "dirty;" or denied a smooth, round pebble, on account of a
dainty little glove that must be kept immaculate. I get out of temper,
and want to call on all their mothers and fight Quixotic battles for the
poor little things, as if it would do any good; as if mothers who dress
their children that way to play, cared for anything _but_ their looks.

Then I have some unknown acquaintances in the yard of a large house in
the upper part of Broadway. I never asked who lived in the house; but I
thank him for the rare birds of brilliant plumage who walk to and fro in
it, or perch upon the window-sills or steps, as proudly conscious of
their gay feathers as the belles who rustle past. I love to imagine the
beautiful countries they came from, and the flowers that blossomed
there, and the soft skies that arched over them. I love to see them pick
up their food so daintily, and, with head on one side, eye their many
admirers looking through the fence, as if to say--beat _that_ if you can
in America! Ah! my birdies, stop your crowing; just wait a bit and see
how the "_American Eagle_" is going to come out, and how each time they
who have tried to clip his wings have only found that it made them grow
broader and stronger. Soft skies and sweet flowers are very nice things,
birdies; but rough winds and freedom are better for the soul.

I have said nothing of unknown acquaintances among my favorite authors.
How many times--did I not so hate the sight of a pen when "school is let
out"--have I longed to express to them my love and gratitude. Nor,
judging by myself, could I ever say, "they do not need it;" since there
are, or should be, moments in the experience of all writers when they
regard with a dissatisfied eye what they have already given to the
world, when sympathetic, appreciative words, warm from the heart, are
hope and inspiration to the receiver.

       *       *       *       *       *

A LINK BETWEEN HUSBANDS AND WIVES.--Blessed be the little children who
make up so unconsciously our life-disappointments. How many couples,
mutually unable to bear each other's faults, or to forbear the causes of
irritation, find solace for their pain in these golden links which still
continue to unite them. On that they are one. _There_ they can really
repose. Those fragile props keep them from quite sinking disheartened by
life's roadside. How often has a little hand drawn amicably together two
else-unwilling ones, and made them see how bright and blessed earth may
become in pronouncing that little word--"forgive."



_LIFE AND ITS MYSTERIES._


Was there ever a romance in that man or that woman's life? I _used_ to
ask myself, as I looked upon a hard face which stoicism seemed to have
frozen over, through the long years. Was there ever a moment when, for
that man, or woman, love transfigured everything, or the want of it
threw over the wide earth the pall of unrest? Have they ever wept, or
laughed, or sighed, or clasped hands in passionate joy or sorrow? _Had_
they any life? Or have they simply vegetated like animals? Did they see
any beauty in rock, mountain, sky, or river, or was this green earth a
browsing place, nothing more?

I never ask those questions now; for I know how much fire may be hidden
under a lava-crusted exterior. I know that though the treasure-chest
_may_ sometimes be locked when it is empty, oftener beneath the
fastening lies the wealth, which the right touch can at any moment set
free. There are divers masks worn in this harlequin world of ours. Years
ago I met, in travelling, a lady who seemed to me the very embodiment of
fun and frolic. Like a humming-bird, she never was still; alighting now
here, now there, wheresoever were sunshine, sweetness and perfume. One
day, as we were rambling in the woods, we sat down to rest under a tree,
after our frolicking. Some little word of mine, as I drew her head into
my lap, and smoothed the hair on her temples, transformed her. With a
sharp, quick cry of agony, she threw her arms about my neck, weeping as
I never saw a woman weep. When she was quiet came the sad story. The
trouble battled with, and bravely borne. The short, joyous years--then
the long days, and nights, and weeks, and months, so full of desolation
and bitterness, and life yet at its meridian. How should she meet the
long, slow-moving years? That was the question she asked me. "Tell me
how! you who know--tell me how!"

And this was the woman I thought frivolous and pleasure-seeking. Wearing
beneath that robe the penitential cross, reminding her at every moment
with its sharp twinge of pain, that try as she might, she could never
fly from herself.

How often, when I have been inclined to judge harshly, have I thought of
that Gethsemane cry. It is sorrowful how we misjudge each other in this
busy world. How very near we may be to a warm heart, and yet be frozen!
How carelessly we pass by the pool of Bethesda, with its waiting crowd,
without thinking that we might be the angel to trouble the waters? This
thought is often oppressive to me in the crowd of a city hurrying home
at nightfall. What burden does this man or that woman carry, known only
to their Maker? How many among them may be just at the dividing line
between hope and despair! And how some faces remind you of a dumb
animal, who bears its pain meekly and mournfully, yet cringing lest some
careless foot should, at any moment, render it unendurable; haunting you
as you go to your home as if you were verily guilty in ignoring it.

Have you never felt this? and, although you may have been cheated and
imposed upon seventy times seven, can you wholly stifle it? and _ought_
you to try, even though you know how well the devil can wear the livery
of heaven?

I think it is this that, to the reflecting and observing, makes soul and
body wear out so quickly in the city. These constantly recurring,
unsolvable problems, which cloud faith and make life terrible, instead
of peaceful and sweet; which lead us sometimes to look upon the little
child, so dear to us, with such cowardly fear, that it would be a relief
to lay it, then and there, in the arms of the Good Shepherd, lest _it_,
too, stray away from the fold.

       *       *       *       *       *

SWEARERS AND SWEARING.--Profanity is such a _cheap_ accomplishment!
"Damme!" "Damn it!" The idea that "_gentlemen_," so called, should use
these expletives, in which the commonest laborer, who can scarcely "make
his mark" to a document, can excel him! As a matter of taste, setting
aside any question of morality, the practice of it by "cultivated
persons" is our daily wonder.



_MRS. WASHINGTON'S ETERNAL KNITTING._

There are many-sided men and women, and there are men and women that are
one-sided, both in brains and body. There are men of business who have
no surplus left after attending to their business. There are women who
have no surplus left after attending to their kettles and pans and their
mending basket. On the other hand, there are men whom business does not
wholly absorb; who are interested intelligently, and actively, too, in
every great question of the day and hour. There are women who order
their houses discreetly, tastefully, and economically, and can yet
converse elegantly and with knowledge with the most cultured persons of
both sexes.

This is a preface to some little remarks of mine on an article lately
written by a gentleman in one of our Magazines, on the wife of General
(Cherry-Tree) Washington.

This writer says that Mrs. Washington's "knitting was never out of her
hands; that when callers came, the click of her needles was always an
accompaniment to her conversation. That she deemed it a privilege to
attend to the details of housekeeping, and regarded the days when her
official position required her presence in the drawing-room as _lost_."

Now she is a specimen of what I should call a one-sided woman. I am glad
she was an accomplished housekeeper, and better still, was not above
attending to her duty there. It was splendid, in her high position, that
she should set so good an example in this regard. But it was _not_ good
to keep her needles clicking when callers came, as if to say, You are an
intruder, and I can ill endure your presence. This, I maintain, was
neither necessary nor polite. It was _not_ good that she could consider
her "drawing-room days" as lost, and not perceive that they might be
turned to account in elevating, as an intelligent woman can, the tone of
the society she moved in. That she took the contrary view of it shows,
to my thinking, that she was _not_ truly an intelligent woman. I believe
her duty, as the wife of an American President, lay there quite as much
as in looking over her household economies. But that was _Then_, and
this is _Now_! In those days one-sided men and women were plenty, and
many-sided men and women rare. We can point to-day to many glorious
examples of the latter, thank Heaven.

It was once considered a disgrace to a woman to know enough to spell
correctly; and if, in addition to committing this indiscretion, she
happened to disgrace herself by a knowledge of French or Latin, let her
never speak of it, lest it should "destroy her chances of marriage." The
idea is losing ground that a woman's mentality perils puddings and
shirt-buttons. There have been too many shining, tasteful houses and
well-ordered tables presided over by cultivated women, for any man
nowadays to drag up that old fogyism, without raising a laugh for
himself.

When I read this article about Mrs. Washington, who, I admit, was
excellent as far as she went, I called the writer to an account. He
replied, "Oh, I knew you'd pitch into me, Fanny;" and not liking to
disappoint him, I have.

       *       *       *       *       *

RELIGIOUS TOLERANCE.--It would do no harm if Christians who are disposed
to judge harshly of each other, were to read occasionally the accounts
handed down to us of enormities committed some centuries ago, and even
in later years, in the name of religion, upon those of differing creeds;
the perpetrators sincerely believing at the time that they were doing
God service. When we are tempted to shut the gate of heaven in any
fellow-mortal's face, let us recall these things, at which humanity and
Christianity should alike shudder. Said a good old man, in dying, of a
son who had embraced another faith than that taught him, "Well, it
matters not by which road John gets to heaven, if he only reaches it at
last." It seems to us that this, taken rightly, is the true spirit.



_THE WOMAN QUESTION._


I have been sitting here, enjoying a quiet laugh all by myself, over a
pile of newspapers and magazines, in which the "Woman Question" was
aired according to the differing views of editors and writers. One
gentleman thinks that the reason the men take a nap on the sofa,
evenings at home, or else leave it to go to naughty places, is because
there are no Madame De Staëls in our midst to make home attractive. He
was probably a bachelor, or he would understand that when a man who has
been perplexed and fretted all day, finally reaches home, the last
object he wishes to encounter is a wide awake woman of the Madame De
Staël pattern, propounding her theories on politics, theology, and
literature. The veriest idiot who should entertain him by the hour with
tragic accounts of broken tea-cups and saucepans, would be a blessing
compared to her; not that he would like that either; not that he would
know himself exactly what he _would_ like in such a case, except that it
should be something diametrically opposite to that which years ago he
got on his knees to solicit.

Another writer asserts that women's brains are too highly cultivated at
the present day; and that they have lost their interest in the increase
of the census; and that their husbands, not sharing their apathy, hence
the disastrous result. I might suggest in answer that this apathy may
have its foundation in the idea so fast gaining ground--thanks to
club-life, and that which answers to it in a less fashionable strata of
society--that it is an indignity to expect fathers of families to be at
home, save occasionally to sleep, or eat, or to change their apparel;
and that, under such circumstances, women naturally prefer to be the
mother of four children, or none, than to engineer seventeen or twenty
through the perils of childhood and youth without assistance,
co-operation, or sympathy.

Another writer thinks that women don't "smile" enough when their
husbands come into the house; and that many a man misses having his
shirt or drawers taken from the bureau and laid on a chair all ready to
jump into at some particular day or hour, as he was accustomed when he
lived with some pattern sister or immaculate aunt at home. This preys on
his manly intellect, and makes life the curse it is to him.

Another asserts that many women have some female friend who is very
objectionable to the husband, in exerting a pugilistic effect on her
mind, and that he flees his house in consequence of this unholy
influence; not that this very husband wouldn't bristle all over at the
idea of his wife's court-martialing a bachelor or benedict friend, for
the same reason; but then it makes a difference, you know, a man not
being a woman.

Another writer asserts that nobody yet knows what woman is capable of
doing. I have only to reply that the same assertion cannot be made with
regard to men, as the dwellers in great cities, at least, know that the
majority of them are capable of doing anything that the devil and
opportunity favor.

It has been a practice for years to father every stupid joke that
travels the newspaper-round on "_Paddy_"--poor "Paddy." In the same way
it seems to me that for every married man now, who proves untrue to his
better nature, _his wife_ is to be held responsible. It is the old
cowardly excuse that the first man alive set going, and which has been
travelling round this weary world ever since. "The woman thou gavest to
be with me"--_she_ did thus and so; and therefore all the Adams from
that time down have whimpered, torn their hair, and rushed forth to the
long-coveted perdition, over the bridge of this cowardly excuse.

One of the sapient advisers of women ridicules the idea of a woman's
voting till she has learned to be "moderate" in following the fashions;
moderate in her household expenses; moderate in her way of dressing her
hair; moderate in the length of her party-robes and in the shortness of
her walking costume. Till woman has attained this desirable moderation
he declares her totally unfit for the ballot.

Granted--for the sake of the argument, granted; but as it is a poor rule
that won't work both ways, suppose we determine a man's fitness for the
ballot by the same rule. Let not his short-tailed coats refuse to be
sat upon by the fat owner thereof. Let not his pantaloons be so tight
that he cannot stoop without danger. Let not his overcoat flap against
his heels, because a new-fangled custom demands an extra inch or two.
Let not the crown of his hat pierce the skies, or be so ridiculously
shallow as to convey the idea that it belongs to his little son. Let him
smoke "moderately." Let him drink "moderately." Let him drive
"moderately." Let him stock-gamble "moderately." Let him stay out at
night "moderately." Let him, in short, prepare himself by a severe
training in the virtue of "moderation" for the privilege of casting a
vote.

Why, there is not a man in the land who wouldn't sniff at the idea! and
yet I suppose it never occurred to the writer of this advice to women
that he was uttering impertinent nonsense, or that the rules he laid
down were quite as well suited to his own sex as to ours.

Every day I see gentlemen who are as much walking advertisements of
their tailor's last exaggerated fashion as any foolish woman could be of
her dress-maker's newly fledged insanity. If Bismarck be the rage, or
Metternich green, their neckties and gloves slavishly follow Fashion's
behest. Hats, coats, trousers are long-tail or short, tight or loose, as
she bids; and that whether legs are straight or crooked, whether the
outline is round or angular, whether the owner looks like an
interrogation-point, or a tub on two legs. At least he is in the
fashion--that manly thought consoles him.

If "moderation" in smoking were the test of fitness for the ballot-box,
how many men do you think would be able to vote?

Oh, pshaw! Advice to women will go in at one ear and out at the other,
while male advisers are such egregious fools. The silliest woman who
ever cleaned the streets with her silken robe, or exhibited thick ankles
in a short one, or froze her ears in January in a saucer of a bonnet,
knows that she can find a parallel for all her nonsense in the male side
of the question. Men inhabit too many glass-houses for them at present
to hurl missiles of that sort at their fair neighbors. Reform
_yourselves_, gentlemen. _You_ who are so much mightier and stronger and
more competent, _by your own showing_, show us, poor, weak, "grown-up
children" how to behave pretty!

       *       *       *       *       *

A WORD FOR THE LITTLE ONES.--Have one rough suit for your little ones,
this summer, to tumble about the dirt in. The amount of happiness they
will get out of that rough suit, and their liberty in it, is not to be
computed by any parent's arithmetic. Only a child brought up to city
pavements and fine clothes can add up that sum. Will you do it, mothers?
Just for this one summer, if no more. Leave off for a time the sashes
and laces, and let the little ones get happily, and, what is better,
_healthily_ dirty.



_TWO KINDS OF WIVES._


Some writer remarks, "We blunder fearfully with our domesticity in
America. Our wives are only of two kinds: the family slave on one hand;
the frivolous woman of fashion on the other!"

"_Our_ wives!" As a _woman_ can't have a "wife," I may logically infer
that a man wrote the above paragraph, though without these two helping
words I should have come to the same conclusion. Now so far as my
limited knowledge goes, we generally find "in the market" that which is
oftenest called for. Put that down in your memorandum book, sir. Men are
but just beginning to find out that the two specimens of womankind
referred to are much more difficult to get along with, in the main, than
a woman of intelligence and mentality. I say they are just _beginning_
to understand it. Men are very fond of the results that the "family
slave" brings about, in the shape of good food and well-mended clothes,
but they dodge with a fox's cunning the creaking and jarring of the
machinery by which these results are obtained. They never want to be on
hand when any process of disentanglement is necessary that defies
temporarily the "family slave." Just then "business" is
imperative--very likely in the shape of a journey--till the household
machine runs smoothly again; nor does he care to hear how it is done, so
that he is not bothered about it. If the "family slave" gets thinner and
thinner, why, it is because "she takes everything _so hard_." She ought
not to take things hard! That's her fault! It is an unfortunate
nervousness which she ought to try to get rid of, because--it worries
_him_! She is "no companion" for him--not a bit! When he wants to be
amused, she is too tired to do it. In fact she don't see anything to be
amused at. That is another unfortunate peculiarity of hers, this looking
on the dark side of things. _He_ don't do so. Not he! He deplores it; he
sits down and writes just such a paragraph as I have just quoted above,
like the consistent man he is.

I once heard a man who was in excellent circumstances, and whose young
wife, just recovered from a severe illness, had taken her twelve-pound
baby in her weak arms, and gone into the country for a few days, remark,
as she left, "She _would_ take all my old trousers with her to mend--God
bless her!" adding, hallelujah-wise, "_There's a wife for you!_"

Now who made _that_ "family slave"? Because she was magnanimous and
self-forgetful, must he need be a brute? Women must take care of
themselves in these matters. They must husband their strength for future
demands, since their husbands won't husband it. That man was abundantly
able to pay a tailor or a seamstress to repair his clothes. Instead of
contenting himself with God-blessing this little meek wife, he should,
like a true man, have positively _forbidden_ her to work at all, in this
short reprieve from household care. When there is nothing left of her
but one front tooth, and a back, bent like the letter C, he will
contemplate some round, rosy woman, who has not yet met her doom, and
wonder how his wife came "to lose all her good looks so soon."

As to "fashionable women," were there no fashionable men, I don't
imagine that they would exist on this planet. "She is so dowdy!" "She is
so stylish!" Do you suppose the women who hear these masculine comments
forget them? And do you suppose when, to use an equine expression, you
have once given a wife "her head," by your admiration of "style" and
fashion, that you can rein her up short, whenever you take a notion?
Don't she hear you sneering at intelligent women, and don't she see you
flattering fashionable fools?

Of course she does. Now let every man ask himself, before he sits down
to write against the faults and follies of women, what he, individually,
has done to form and perpetuate them? And if ever, in his whole life,
when he saw a woman wronging her better self in _any_ way, he extended a
manly, brotherly hand to her, in the endeavor to lead her right? or, if
he did not, on the contrary, join her, and walk with her, _well
pleased_, in her own ill-selected path.



_UNDERTAKERS' SIGNS ON CHURCHES._


It may strike _you_ pleasantly, but when I am about to enter a church,
the conspicuous intelligence upon its outside walls, that the
"undertaker may be found at such a street," is anything but a pleasant
announcement. Now not being myself a theologian of that school which
compels a smiling countenance to be left at the _porch_ of the
"meetin'-house," I can, therefore, by no means indorse any gloomy
surroundings, outside or inside.

One of the principal articles of _my_ creed is, that Sunday should be
the pleasantest day of all the week. When I open my eyes to its dawn, I
always rejoice, if instead of a gray, cloudy sky, it be a lovely blue,
and the sun be shining brightly; I think upon the thousands to whom this
day is the only leisure day of all the seven; the thousands who, without
this blessed rest, would scarcely have time to look upon the faces of
wife or children; scarcely time to receive the regenerating caresses of
little twining arms, or hear the recital of little griefs and joys which
it is so blessed to share with one who never wearies in the hearing, and
to whose fatherly ear nothing a little child can say is "trifling." It
is blessed to me to think of the thousand humble homes where the
Sabbath sun shines upon just such a scene as this; preaching _through
the family_ this simple gospel: that the humblest have those for whom
they must strive to leave the legacy of a good and honest name. Now when
a working-man, with his heart full of love and happiness, walks forth on
a Sunday morning, do you think it wise when he approaches a church to
shake a coffin in his face? Had I my way, I would tear these
undertaker-placards all down to-morrow, and instead, I would write this,
"Strangers furnished with free seats here every Sunday." Were I a
clergyman, an undertaker should no more use my church walls to advertise
his business, than the upholsterer who furnished the pew-cushions, or
the bookseller who provided the hymn-books, or the man who found the
gas-fixtures. Ah! but you say it is very convenient to know where the
sexton lives. Very well, so it is; but let him advertise in the papers,
as other people do, who have no convenient church walls to save their
advertising fees. The truth is, that the whole undertaker business, as
at present managed, is monstrously mis-managed. The other day, in one of
our streets, I saw an oyster shop with heaps of bivalves curiously
arranged in the window, over which was written: "_Live and let live._"
Next door, being an undertaker, he had piled ostentatiously _his_ wares,
consisting of heaps of "fancy coffins," in his show-window. If he had
only copied his bivalve-neighbor, so far as to write over the window,
_Die and let die_, the farce would have been complete.

They who please may sniff at Sunday. To us it is a blessed reprieve from
care and business, and worry of every sort. The very putting on of the
fresh, clean, "best" raiment, is suggestive of best thoughts and best
feelings for all whom we meet, and more than all, for the dear ones at
home, whose happiness it is ours to make or to mar. Then the sweet,
soothing hymn and the pleading prayer; and the sermon, in which it were
hard, as a rule, to find nothing that we could not take home with us for
our improvement and self-help. Then the pleasant family group at table,
where the children _should_ be. Ah! _we_ are glad for this blessed
Sunday, let him who will, decry or pervert it.

       *       *       *       *       *

A PITIABLE SIGHT.--There is no more pitiable sight than that of a
husband and father reeling home at the end of the week, having left the
greater part of his week's wages at some drinking saloon. We think of
the patient, toiling wife and hungry children, and the miserable Sunday,
and the coming week in store for them, and the utter hopelessness of
their future lot, and can find no words of denunciation strong enough
for the man who grows rich by tempting a brother's weakness, knowing,
when he does so, that for his victim there is in this world no
redemption.



_A VOICE FROM THE SKATING POND._


Coats and trousers have the best of it _everywhere_, I exclaimed, for
the thousandth time, as I looked at the delightful spectacle of the male
and female skaters at the Central Park. Away went coat and trousers,
like a feather before the wind; free, and untrammelled by dry-goods, and
independent of any chance somerset; while the poor, skirt-hampered women
glided circumspectly after their much-needed health and robustness, with
that awful omnipresent sense of _the proprieties_, (and--horror of
horrors--a tumble!) which sends more of the dress-fettered sex to their
graves every year than any disease _I_ wot of. That a few women whom I
saw there had had the perseverance to become tolerable skaters, with all
that mass of dry-goods strung round their waists, is infinitely to their
credit. How much _longer_ and better they could have skated,
disembarrassed, as men are, of these swaddling robes, common sense will
tell anybody. I should like to see how long a _man's_ patience would
hold out, floundering round in them, while _he_ learned to skate! And
yet were a lady to adopt any other costume, how decent soever, or how
eminently soever befitting the occasion, what a rolling of eyes and
pursing of mouths should we see from the strainers at gnats and
swallowers of camels. All these thoughts passed through my mind as I
mixed in with the merry crowd on that bracing winter day, whose keen
breath was like rare old wine, so did it stir and warm the blood; and I
wondered, as I gazed at those dress-fettered women, whether those
heathen nations who strangled their female babies at birth were as
naughty as we had been told they were!

"Why don't _you_ get up a skating costume, Fanny, and set them an
example?" whispers a voice at my elbow. _Me_? why don't _I_? Because,
sir, custom has made me a poor, miserable coward in these matters, like
the rest of my sex, and because, moreover, sir, you would have no more
courage to walk by my side in such a costume, than I should have to wear
it. No, no: a crowd of curious men in my wake would be no more agreeable
in reality than it is in perspective. It is brave _talking_, I know, but
the time has not yet come when men, by refraining from rude remarks on a
female pioneer in such a cause, would remove one of the chief obstacles
to its advancement. They "like healthy women"--oh, of course they do!
but then, unfortunately, they like dainty prettiness of attire much
better. Else, why don't they encourage women when they try to do a
sensible thing? Why do they grin, and stroke their beards, and shrug
their shoulders, and raise their eyebrows, and go home to Jane Maria,
and say, "Let me catch _you_ out in such a costume"? Till all that is
done away with, we must be content to see puny, waxy-looking children,
and read in "Notes on America" the usual number of stereotyped pages on
"the fragility of our women." Now, let me say in closing that I don't
wish to be misunderstood on this matter. I approve of no costume which a
delicate-minded, self-respecting, dignified woman might not wear in
public. But I will insist that nothing _can_ be done in the way of
reform, while husbands and fathers and brothers _sniff_ the whole
subject "under the table" as soon as it is mentioned. May every one of
them have a yearly doctor's bill to pay as long as the moral law!

       *       *       *       *       *

BEARING TROUBLE.--There are persons who emerge from every affliction and
trouble and vexation, purified like fine gold from out the furnace.
There are others, and they are the more numerous, who are imbittered and
soured, and made despondent and apathetic. We think the latter belong to
the class who _try to stand alone_ during these storms of life, instead
of looking above for aid. When one can truly say, "He doeth all things
well," the sting is taken out of affliction, the tears are dried, and
the courage given to bear what the future has in store. This, we think,
makes the great difference between these two classes.



_THE SIN OF BEING SICK._


I wish women could be made to understand the importance of flannel
under-clothing, and warm outer-clothing, and common-sense generally in
food and exercise, when they talk about longing to have a "profession"
or a "career." Not that good health should not always be a sort of
religion with them; but they should remember that what failings soever
men may have, as a general thing they are not such fools as to shiver in
insufficient clothing when other may be had, or to go with wet or cold
feet, because thick stockings "fill up the boot," or reject thick-soled
boots because they make the feet look a size or two larger. They do not,
either, think it attractive to bare their throats and necks to a biting
wind in the street, thus inviting a blue nose and the pitying contempt
of every beholder. Woman's great foe, "headache," is surely invited and
perpetuated by these follies, even if no worse punishment follows. "I am
so shivery all over!" you will hear these silly creatures exclaim, and
the red and white located in the wrong spots in their faces attest the
truth of it. One would think that, as a matter upon which their
much-valued good looks depend, they would "consider their ways, and be
wise;" but no. After this they come in and call for some "hot, strong
tea." Tea! _that woman's dram!_ morning, noon, and night. It makes her
"feel like another being," she says. I'm sure it makes her _act_ like
one. This lasts an hour, perhaps; then she has such a "gnawing at her
stomach." Then follows depression after the exhilaration. Then she eats
nothing, because she has "no appetite." Then--another cup of tea, to
"set her up," as she calls it.

I should like to see such a woman having any "career," except fitting
herself speedily for a lunatic asylum. Such a course is reprehensible
and suicidal enough, when good food is at hand and enough of it, and the
women who practise it have money enough to pay a doctor to come and see
them, and tell them lies, and give them nice messes to make believe cure
them. But unfortunately our working girls and women, who have only a
hospital bed to look forward to when sick, go on after the same crazy
fashion. There is some shadow of excuse with them for their intemperate
use of _tea_; the horrible fare of their boarding-places being so
unpalatable and disgusting, and their long hours of labor so exhaustive
and discouraging that this stimulant has become _seemingly_ necessary to
their existence--the one bit of comfort and luxury that they look
forward to with eagerness in the interval of work. "I can't do without
it," said a young shop-girl to me, when I remonstrated with her on its
use, morning, noon, and night. "I couldn't do my work without it." And
how did she spend the wages received for "her work"? In a flimsy, showy
dress; in a gay hat; in a fashionable pair of boots with high heels.
Meantime she had no flannel; she had no _thick_ boots; she had no warm
outer garments; she had nothing to insure either health or comfort, and
she was in the same alternatives of exhilaration and depression as her
richer sisters of whom I have spoken. I don't know why, either, that I
should call them "richer," except that _they_ could have a rosewood
coffin with silver nails, and be buried in a fashionable cemetery, while
the working-girl would have a pine one, and sleep her long sleep in the
Potter's Field. Oh, dear! I see all these abuses, and I exclaim, Oh, the
rare and priceless blessings of good health and common-sense! How I wish
that every clergyman in our land--only that I know that in many cases
they are as great sinners themselves in the matter of health--would
preach on the _sin of being sick_.

Now _there's_ a topic for those of them who have the face to speak of
it, and a clear conscience to bear them out in it. For those of them who
don't sit in their libraries smoking till you can't see across it, when
they should be knocking about in the open air, cultivating a breezy,
sunny, healthful state of mind and body--just the same as if they were
laymen, instead of "ministers," whom the devil desires, of all things,
to see solemn and dyspeptic.

I lately read an article in one of our papers headed, "_Have we a
Healthy Woman among us?_" I fully indorse what the writer says as to
the marvellous amount of invalidism among our girls and women, and I
deplore it as sincerely as he does. But let us have fair play on this
subject. If there are few of them who ever ought to be wives and
mothers, I ask, how much better qualified--physiologically speaking--are
the young _men_ of the present day to be husbands and fathers? Go to any
physician of large practice and experience, and if he answers you
frankly and truthfully, you will learn that it is six of one and half a
dozen of the other. When boys of eight and twelve go to school with a
satchel in one hand and a cigar in the other, I wouldn't give much for
their future vitality, even without leaving a margin for other
violations of the laws of health. It would be well, while publicly
deploring "tight lacing" and "tight shoes" for girls, privately to
inquire about the practice of smoking for boys in short-jackets. To be
sure, I cannot see with what face a father, who is himself a bond-slave
to this habit, can ask his boy to refrain from doing that which he, as a
man, has not had self-control enough to accomplish. But don't let him
then write or speak dolefully about the miserable ill-health of our
girls and women, not, at least, till he moves out of his own
"glass-house." If the _truthful_ inscriptions were placed upon the
myriad little graves in our cemeteries, it would be _fathers_, not
_mothers_, in many cases, who could not read them without pangs of
remorse.

The day will, I hope, come, when the marriage question will cease to be
decided by Cupid or cupidity; when parents, and lovers, themselves, will
consider a sound, healthy body to be of primary importance. Oh! the
weary years of watching and dosing and misery for two, consequent upon
the neglect of this precaution! Oh! the army of puny and idiotic
children, doomed, if they live to adult years, to be a blight in
themselves and to all around them! And how distressing is it to see a
wife, made gloriously as a woman should be, with a broad chest, a free,
firm, graceful step and a beaming face, married to a man whose only
claim to be a living being is, that he has not yet ceased to breathe!
And still as mournful is it, to look at a kingly man, whose very
presence is so full of life that it is like stepping from a close room
into the glad, free, balmy sunshine even to come where he is, married to
a little pink-eyed, feeble dwarf of a creature, with little paws like a
bird's, and not life enough left even to chirp to him.

"Well, what are you going to do about it?" as the pre-Raphaelite friend
asked of a disconsolate widow who kept on crying for her dead husband.

That's just the point where I want to bring _you_, my reader. I want you
individually to look first for good health in the chosen wife who is to
be the mother of your children. And you, young girl, look first for that
rarity, a _clean bill of health_, with your future husband. A
brown-stone house and a carriage and livery are nothing to it. Take my
advice. Don't take copper for gold on the health question, and _don't
give it_.



_ARE MINISTERS SERFS?_


We hear a great outcry occasionally about "ministers who work outside of
their profession," as it is called--that is, in the lecture field, or in
writing newspaper or magazine articles for pay, or in editing
newspapers; and this although the ministers thus censured are faithful
to their pastoral duties, and bring forth every Sunday, and during the
week, fresh, vigorous thoughts for the profit and pleasure of these
complainers.

Now in our view this is a great impertinence.

Suppose a clergyman has a decrepit mother or sister, whose only
pecuniary reliance is himself? Suppose he is not willing, from delicacy
toward them, to turn his family affairs inside out, and explain _why_ he
does this "outside work," which may enable him to meet this or some
similar outside demand? _Is it_ properly anybody's business? If he do
not defraud his parish, have they any right to hold a coroner's inquest
over his "outside" earnings and their possible appropriation? How would
his deacons or church-members stand such a scrutiny over their own
private affairs? We think that the "old Adam" in them would soon rear
and plunge at it. Well, ministers are men too, though you sometimes
seem to forget it; and _they_ don't like it either. The parish has not
purchased their _souls_, as I understand it, no more than have husbands
those of their wives. Let us hope, in this enlightened age, that neither
are serfs. Let us hope that all ministers, and all wives too, all over
the land, may honestly and innocently earn money, and keep it in a
private purse too, without accounting to either the parish or their
husbands for the expenditure of the same; or without, in either case,
causing unfounded suspicion or breach of the peace, or officious
meddling, no more, in my opinion, to be justified, than as if the "boot
was on the other foot," where Mrs. Grundy would consider it a great
wrong to place it, or to insist upon its being worn, regardless of the
limping or contortions of the wearers.

Before either parishes or husbands complain of outside _honest_
earnings, let them inquire if the salaries they give are just and ample.
Let them both inquire whether the objection they have to outside earning
in both cases, does not mainly arise from the fear that the curious
public will imagine that they are not.

Of course, in saying all this, I am referring to those clergymen and
those married women who are sensible and judicious, as well as blessed
with ability, and it is my opinion that Mrs. Grundy has meddled long
enough with the proper independence and self-respect of both.

One thing I've forgotten, namely, parishes are not to suppose that an
increase of a clergyman's salary is to padlock his lips afterward, if
he is requested, or if he feels inclined, to deliver his sentiments,
even "for pay," on the platform, as well as in the pulpit they have
called him to fill. Nor after that, are they to handcuff him either,
lest he should write a line "for pay" in a paper or magazine? In short,
do try to be willing that your "minister" should stand up straight like
any other man, and not go cringing round the world a bought serf, with
his "white choker" for a badge of the same. I'm sick of seeing it. If I
were a minister, it would take all the religion I could muster to keep
me from saying wicked words about it.

"Our minister was away six weeks this summer," said a person
complainingly, the other day. Well, are not ministers human? Must they
not eat, drink, rest, sleep, sorrow and grieve, like other mortals? Have
they not, in addition to all this, a constant and exhaustive demand upon
their sympathies for the griefs of other people? And must they not
constantly be racking their brains, in and out of the pulpit, to have
all their words set fitly, like "apples of gold in pictures of silver"?
And is it not better that a minister should rest "six weeks" than be
laid useless upon the shelf for six months, or that his voice should be
silenced forever because of the exactions of the unthinking portion of
his hearers? And would it not be well if the persons thus complaining
spent the time instead in looking to it that they had profited by what
they had _already_ heard?

Whatever else you grudge, never grudge a good, faithful minister a
breathing spell.



_BLAMING PROVIDENCE FOR OUR OWN FAULTS._


Napoleon is said to have lost a battle on account of an underdone leg of
mutton. Now, there are many who, shaking their heads, would say, it was
"an overruling Providence." I have to smile sometimes at poor
"Providence"--that convenient scapegoat for all the human stupidity
extant;--who kills little babies, and puts a tombstone over young girls
who should have lived to be the healthy mothers of healthy sons and
daughters. This "All-wise Providence," who, as some would have us
believe, is malignantly and perpetually employed in tripping up the
heels of human beings for the benefit of the undertaker--what a
convenient theology for bad cooks, for unwise school-teachers, for
selfish, careless, ignorant parents!

Now "Providence" does no such things. Providence approves of live, fat,
rollicking babies; of deep-chested women; of round, healthy girls; of
muscular men; and sound physical specimens of every kind. Bless
you--_he_ don't bend spines, nor make drunkards, nor thieves, nor write
a shameful history on the pure brow of any woman who ever has or ever
shall live; _he_ don't ordain perpendicular ghosts of ministers, to
defile sepulchrally through creation, and scare people into heaven. _He_
don't smile on those suicidal mothers, who run breathlessly round and
round the nursery treadmill, thinking they are doing God service, till
they drop dead in the harness, and leave eight or nine children
motherless, at an age when they most need maternal guidance. _He_ don't
manufacture scrofulous constitutions out of unwholesome food, and bad
ventilation, and dissipated habits. It is _not_ one of the ten
commandments that babies should be taught Greek and Latin before they
have cut their teeth, that they may become idiots before maturity; or
that school-boys should smoke pipes and cigars; or that school-girls
should drink strong coffee for breakfast, and eat rich pastry and
pickles for luncheon. It is high time that people shouldered their own
sins, and called things by their right names, and told the truth at
funerals, and on tombstones, if they _must_ say anything there. In my
opinion, an "All-wise and inscrutable Providence" has borne quite
blasphemy enough in this way.



_A CHAPTER ON NURSES._


Can anybody tell why nurses are fat? Is there anything in the atmosphere
of a sick room, or in the sight of phials, pills, leeches, potions,
blisters, and plasters to give one an appetite? I solemnly affirm that I
never saw a bony nurse--never. There's a horrid mystery about it which I
have in vain tried to solve. With what a lazy waddle they roll round the
apartment, and how your flesh creeps as they fix their unsympathizing
eyes upon you; you are so sure that they had just as lief bring you your
shroud as a clean nightcap; that it is quite immaterial to them whether
the next thing that comes through the door is a bowl of gruel or your
coffin; in fact, that they would be immensely gratified if you'd hurry
up your dying, and let them off to the pleasurable excitement of a new
subject.

And then that professional sniffle when a visitor asks, "How is your
patient, nurse?" It is a poor satisfaction, to make faces at her under
the sheet, as she answers; but I have done it; I shouldn't be surprised
now, if you thought that was unamiable. Ah! you never had her twitch
down the curtain over a lovely sunset, that was soothing you like a
cool hand on your forehead, and light a little, nasty "nurse-lamp,"
merely because she knew you hadn't strength enough to say, "Please
don't." A nurse-lamp! that you have contemplated night after night in
the silent, dreary watches, till it seemed like an evil eye, glimmering
and glowing, fascinating you in spite of yourself, till the perspiration
stood in cold drops on your forehead, while the watch went "tick,"
"tick," and the fat, old nurse snored away, and each nerve in your body
seemed a separate and more perfect engine of torture. No wonder you hate
to see her unnecessarily shorten the daylight and repeat the horror. But
she'll do it; of course she'll do it. If you had not wanted her to, you
should have told her that of all sublunary things, you fancied a
night-lamp. Now I leave it to you, if, after that and kindred
crucifixions of momentary occurrence, you could stand that pious sniffle
with which she answers the question, "How is your patient, nurse?"

And then, if she wouldn't be so excruciatingly officious at such a time,
one might swallow one's disgust. If, when a visitor comes in, she
wouldn't twitch your pillow from under your head, just as you are
knowing your first comfortable moment, and giving it a shake and a pat,
thrust it under your head again, forcing your chin down into your
breastbone, and half dislocating your neck, just to show them how
attentive she is; if she wouldn't strip down the blanket, or pile on a
dozen quilts, when you are just the right temperature, for the same
reason, I think it would be more jolly. Then if, after all that, she
wouldn't stand, and _keep_ standing, so near the corner of your mouth,
that you couldn't call her some "rantankerous" name by way of relief;
though, at another time, when you were dying for a glass of water, she'd
leave you all alone and take half an hour to get it; if she wouldn't do
all these things; but she will. _She grows fat on thwarting her
patients: I know it._ Of course, if your strength equalled your disgust,
you wouldn't _be_ thwarted; you'd obstinately persist in admiring
everything she did, though she should comb your hair with a red-hot
poker, but being sick and babyish, one can only whimper; and there is
where they have us.

"Ill-natured article." Well, suppose it is an ill-natured article? Am I
to be the only saint in the world? Am I to pussy-cat round a subject,
and never show my claws, or stick up my back, when I catch sight of the
enemy! I cry you mercy; in that case I should have been devoured long
ago. Beside, wasn't the handle broken off a lovely little porcelain
"gift cup" this morning? and isn't it raining cats and dogs, though I
_must_ go out? and are not these as good reasons for making somebody
uncomfortable as _you_ had, Sir, or _you_, Madam, for that little thing
you did or said this morning to some poor soul in your power, who
couldn't resent it? Please get out of your own glass-house before you
throw stones at mine.

"But there are good, kind nurses." Well, I am glad to hear it. Upon my
soul, I believe it. Since you say so, and I have had my growl out, I
think I remember two or three. They'll go to heaven, of course. What
more do you want?

       *       *       *       *       *

A REASONABLE BEING.--If there's anything I hate, it is "a reasonable
being." Says the lazy mother to her restless child whom she has
imprisoned within doors and whose active mind seeks solutions of passing
remarks, "Don't bother, Tommy; do be _reasonable_, and not tease with
your questions." Says the husband to his sick or overtasked wife, when
she cries from mere mental or physical exhaustion, "How I hate tears; do
be a reasonable being." Says the conservative father to his son, whom he
would force into some profession or employment for which nature has
utterly disqualified him, "Are you wiser than your father? do be a
reasonable being." Says the mother to sweet sixteen, whom she would
marry to a sixty-five-year old money-bag, "Think what a thing it is to
have a fine establishment; do be a reasonable being."

As near as I can get at it, to be a reasonable being, is to laugh when
your heart aches; it is to give confidence and receive none; it is
faithfully to keep your own promises, and never mind such a trifle as
having promises broken to you. It is never to have or to promulgate a
dissenting opinion. It is either to be born a fool, or in lack of that
to become a hypocrite, trying to become a "reasonable being."



_DO AMERICAN WOMEN LOVE NATURE?_


I read an article in _The Nation_ the other day, in which the writer
deplores "that American women are not lovers of Nature." Now, sins
enough both of omission and commission are laid to their charge, without
adding to the list those that are baseless. "American women not lovers
of Nature!" Where does the writer keep his eyes, that he does not see,
even here in the city, in mid-winter, the parlor-windows of almost every
house he passes, decorated by the American ladies who preside over it,
with hanging baskets of flowering plants, with ivies and geraniums
tastefully arranged, besides bouquets of fresh-cut flowers always upon
the mantel? Even the humblest house will have its cracked pitcher filled
with green moss; as if unwilling to do without that little suggestion of
Nature, although the fingers which tend it are coarse with washing, or
sewing on shirts at six cents apiece. Did the writer never notice the
"American women" going up and down Broadway? How impossible it is for
them to resist stopping at the street corners to invest a few pennies in
the little fragrant bunch of pansies or tuberoses, for private
delectation, and the adornment of their own pretty rooms at home! Then,
too, I am a great haunter of green-houses and florists' shops generally;
whom, by the way, I consider in the light of missionaries in this
work-a-day world, to educate and stimulate our artistic propensities, by
the various and beautiful arrangements of form and color, in their
floral offerings; and I find there plenty of "American women"
enthusiastic in their praises and lavish in their expenditures in this
direction. Many of them are flowers themselves, bright, beautiful,
lovely, beyond all the buds and sprays and tinted leaves they hover
over, like so many humming-birds.

Then, again, when I go into the country each summer, I find "American
ladies" rambling in the woods, with a keen appreciation of Nature in all
its varied forms, from a lovely sunrise to the last faint chirp of the
sleepiest little bird who is safely nestled for the night in his leafy
little home. I meet them too in the odorous warm autumn noons, with
branches and garlands of gay-tinted leaves, so embarrassed with their
wealth of richness that they cannot carry more, and yet unwilling to
leave so many "_real beauties_" still trembling, unplucked, on the
boughs above them. I see them taking infinite pains to press these
bright leaves in books prepared for the purpose, that they may beautify
their homes for the cold winter days. Sometimes the result of this
painstaking is seen in the form of an ingenious lamp-shade, far more
beautiful than one could purchase for any amount of money. Then, again,
it will be in the leafy frame for a favorite picture; then again in a
vase, the grouping of branches and tints in such perfect taste, that the
most trained artistic eye could find no flaw or blemish.

Now, with all due deference to _The Nation_, in which this article
appeared, I beg leave most emphatically to express a difference in
opinion; the more so as this increasing interest in floral decorations,
particularly those of the parlor windows, has been a matter of great
congratulation with me; since the latter gives pleasure to many a
passer-by who has neither the means nor time to spend in aught save the
bare necessities of life. How many times I have seen some ragged little
shivering child stand, spell-bound, before some sunlit window, gay with
blossoming plants, and forgetting for the time the dirt and chill and
squalor of her own wretched home! How many times the weary seamstress,
resting her bundle upon the fence outside, while her eyes drank in their
freshness! How many times the laboring man, with his little child beside
him, have I seen, as he raised him upon his shoulder to "see the pretty
flowers." And _this_ is principally why I rejoice that American women
_do_ love Nature. Those people who stop to look from the outside, are
being educated the while to the beautiful, quite unknown to themselves;
and these ladies are providing them this pleasure without cost.

I was very much struck, while in Newport last summer, with the educating
effect of the superb floral decorations about the villas of the wealthy
in that place; for no house there, how humble soever, but had its
little emulative patch of bright flowers, or its climbing vines, or its
window bouquet. No, no; _The Nation_ must have been taking a Rip Van
Winkle nap, I think, when it made this unfounded charge against
"American Women."

       *       *       *       *       *

GOOD-NIGHT.--How commonplace is this expression, and yet what volumes it
may speak for all future time! We never listen to it, in passing, that
this thought does not force itself upon us, be the tones in which it is
uttered ever so gay. The lapse of a few fatal hours or minutes may so
surround and hedge it in with horror, that of all the millions of words
which a lifetime has recorded, these two little words alone shall seem
to be remembered.

Good-night!

The little child has lisped it, as it passed, smiling, to a brighter
morn than ours; the lover, with his gay dreams of the nuptial morrow;
the wife and mother, with all the tangled threads of household care
still in her fingers; the father, with the appealing eye of childhood
all unanswered.

Good-night!

That seal upon days passed, and days to come. What hand so rash as to
rend aside the veil that covers its morrow?



_RAINY-DAY PLEASURES._


I like a rainy day. None of your drizzling, half-and-half affairs, but
an uncompromising, driving, wholesale, gusty whirlwind of water, that
comes rattling, pell-mell, against the windows, that floods sidewalks,
and swells gutters, and turns umbrellas inside out, and gives the trees
a good shaking. I am sure on that day of slippers and a morning dress
till bedtime. I am sure of time to look over the piles of magazines and
newspapers that have been accumulating. I can answer some of those
haunting letters, or write autographs; I can loll and think; I can put
that wretched-looking desk to rights; I can polish up that time-worn
gold pen; I can empty and refill my inkstand. I can do a thousand
necessary things which a bright, sunshiny day would veto. Of course I
don't want it to keep on raining a month. I shall want to wake some day
and find a bright sky and clean pavements; but meanwhile I delight in
these rattling windows, which make the bright coal-fire look so
pleasant, and secure to me an uninterrupted morning; for whoso robs me
of my morning, robs me of that which does not enrich him, and leaves me
poor indeed. After midday, "come one, come all," etc. But how to make
anybody save a writer understand this, is the question. Why you can't
write at another portion of the day just as well; why you can't make an
exception in their particular case; why an interruption of half an hour
or an hour more or less in the morning should matter--this is
incomprehensible to persons who, at the same time, would think you quite
an idiot, should you undertake to explain to them why uncorked champagne
should be after a while flat and stale. "But I can't come at any other
time," once urged a person, with more frankness than consideration, who
came on her own personal business. Now it is very disagreeable to be
obliged to say "no" more than once to the same person; and yet when
one's necessary and imperative arrangements of time are disregarded, it
is manifestly pardonable. It is a curious fact, however, that authors
themselves, who better than anybody else should understand the
necessities of the case, are often culpable in this regard; they who,
more than anybody else, revel in rainy mornings, or any morning which
secures to them uninterrupted time and thought. I am not sure, after all
my preaching, of not doing the same thing myself. If I should, I trust
nobody will have any scruples about turning me out.



_CHIT-CHAT WITH SOME OF MY CORRESPONDENTS._


The epistles which public persons receive, if published, would not be
credible. Begging letters are a matter of course; often in the
highwayman style of, "hand over and deliver." I had one recently from a
perfect stranger, who wished a cool hundred or so, and mapped out the
circuitous way in which it was to be sent, so that "his folks needn't
know it," with a belief in my spooniness, which an acquaintance with me
would scarcely have warranted. Following close on the heels of this,
came another from a woman, whose ideas of my spare time and common-sense
were about equally balanced. This stranger of the female persuasion,
being hard-up for amusement, wished "a long, racy letter from me, such
as I alone could write, with no religion in it, because she got enough
of that from the minister's wife." It is unnecessary to add that both
these missives found a home in my waste-paper basket. Autograph letters
I do not object to, as they keep me in postage stamps, and my little
"Bright Eyes" in cards to draw dogs and horses upon.

A friend of mine has been delivered from manuscripts sent for perusal,
with the modest accompanying request to find a publisher for the same,
by stating her price to be $200. She has received no request of the kind
since this announcement.

These are some of the annoyances of authors; but, verily, they have
their rewards too. Here comes a letter from my native State, Maine, with
a box of wood mosses and berries to place round the roots of my
house-plants; and as an expression of affection from a stranger who
knows from my writings how well I love such things. She says, in
closing, that she hopes that myself and Mr. Beecher will continue to
write so long as she lives to read. Mr. Beecher may step up and take his
half of this sugar-plum, since he has announced himself a champion of
"candy."

Then before me on my desk is a smiling baby face sent by its parents,
who are strangers to me, if those can be strangers whose hearts warm
toward each other; sent me, they add, "not for a silver cup, but because
some chance words of mine touched their hearts, and so this little one
was named Fanny Fern."

She smiles down upon me whether my sky be cloudy or clear, and in the
light of that smile I will try to write worthily; for "their angels do
always behold the face of my Father."

Here lie two letters on my desk from strangers regarding an article of
mine. One warmly indorses the sentiments therein expressed, and calls
upon "God to bless me" for their expression. The other dissents
entirely, and commends me to the notice of a _far different Power_, for
disseminating such wrong-headed notions. Thank you both! I am used to
both styles of epistles. There's nothing I contend for more than
individuality of opinion; this would be a stupid world enough if we all
thought, felt, and acted after one universal programme; everybody must
see things from their own standpoint and through their own spectacles;
and, provided they use civil language, should "have the floor" in turn
to air their ideas. It might be well to suggest that, in commenting on a
newspaper article, care should be taken that it be first thoroughly
read, that the writer's meaning be not misinterpreted; if this were done
in many cases, the foundation for an adverse opinion would be quite
knocked from under. Authors must expect the penalties as well as the
rewards of their labors; but one of the most trying is to be accused of
sentiments and feelings which they hold in utter abhorrence. Still, he
would make small progress on a journey, who should stop to hurl a stone
at every barking creature at his heels; therefore, in such cases, let
patience have her perfect work, and let the victim keep steadily moving
on, with an eye fixed upon the goal in the distance. But when you have
unintentionally wounded a gentle spirit, which grieves all the more
because it conscientiously believes that you have done harm, ah! then,
none would be sorrier than the present writer; none would go farther to
soothe the hurt; none would try harder to agree in opinion, consistently
with self-respect. But if every writer stopped to consider whether his
readers would be pleased, or the contrary, with his sentiments, instead
of busying himself with the subject on hand for the moment, it would be
like the clouding in of the sun on a clear morning. Everything would be
reduced to one colorless level. The bright tints taken away, made
brighter by the sometime shadows, could give a landscape tame enough,
spiritless enough, to engender hypochondria. Surely the world of to-day
is more liberal than this. Surely it is learning "to agree to differ."
Surely it knows by this time that a good life is of more importance than
creeds or beliefs. Surely in this year of our Lord, 1867, the days of
the Inquisition are past both for editors and writers, and the watchword
of to-day--and, thank God, for to-morrow, and the day after--is
progress, not paralysis.

Having said this, I consider that I have cleared the deck for action, as
far as my own ship is concerned. A stray shot won't frighten or
discourage me; on the contrary, it only makes me step round the
livelier, to see that my guns are in working order. Then, again, any one
who wishes to hail me, and haul alongside in a friendly manner, shall be
always certain of a kind salute from me.

A lady whose life, like that of many others, has not run smoothly
through a bed of flowers, writes me "to tell her the secret of courage,
which she is sure I know."

I do not profess to speak for others, but the secret of all the courage
I ever had is a firm belief in immortality, and in its satisfactory
unriddling of this life of _seeming_ cross-purposes. Without this I can
never tell how either man or woman can learn to look their dead in the
face, or what is oftener much harder to do, to look their living in the
face. I can never tell how they can lay their distracted heads upon
their pillows at night, without praying that they may never wake to
another sunrise, or how they can stagger to their feet seventy times
seven, after prostrations of body and spirit, which come one after
another, like the blows of some avenging fiend. I cannot tell else how
they can see the good crushed and defeated and apparently extinguished,
and the unscrupulous and bad receiving all homage, and sitting
triumphant in high places. I cannot tell else how the wretched mother
can take, lovingly and patiently, to her heart _another_ little one,
when her failing strength is already tasked to the utmost to care for
little brothers and sisters, who, having a father, are yet fatherless.
It must be only because _her_ eyes can see clearly "Our Father who art
in heaven." I look with sorrowing wonder upon those who, passing in and
out of their pleasant, and as yet unbroken, homes, refuse to see the
marks of blood upon their door-post, betokening the death of the
first-born. I marvel that these steppers upon flowers childishly make no
provision for the pitfalls concealed beneath them. I wonder at those
who, laying their treasure all up in _one_ place, never think, in this
world of change, of the day of bankruptcy.

I do _not_ wonder, when their household gods are shivered, that such
exclaim, "Ye have taken away my idols, and _what have I left_?" or that
suicide or lunacy are often the results.

It is only they who, in such crises, believe in "Him who doeth all
things well," that have anything "left." It is only such who have
courage for what sorrow soever is yet in store for them, in a life which
for the moment seems robbed of all its sunshine. It is only they who
have learned to live out of themselves, and who can yield--tearfully it
may be, but unrepiningly--their earthly hopes and treasures up.

This is all the "courage" I know which will help us to look upon the
dear dead face with patient resignation, or take up again the next
morning the weary, vexed burden of life, until we are summoned to lay it
down.

LUCIA:--I am sorry that in your innocence you should have placed any
dependence upon the statements of "a New York Correspondent." It is a
pity to pull down any of the fine air-castles they are in the habit of
building; still it is my duty to inform you that these gentry often
describe, with the greatest minuteness, authors and authoresses whom
they have never seen, manufacturing at the same time little personal
histories concerning these celebrities, valuable only as ingenious
specimen "bricks, made without straw." It matters little to the writers
whether nature has furnished the authoress about whom they romance with
black eyes or blue, brown hair or flaxen; whether nature made her a
six-foot grenadier, or a symmetrical pocket edition of womanhood; the
description answers all the same for the provincial paper for which it
was intended, and these Ananias and Sapphira gentry find that a spicy
lie pays as well as the truth--at least till they are found out. No,
madam; notwithstanding the statements of your valuable "New York
Correspondent" for the ----, I have no "daughters married;" I never
"wear a black stocking on one foot and a white one on the other, at the
same time, to attract attention;" I never "rode on the top of an
omnibus;" I don't "smoke cigarettes or chew opium;" I have no personal
knowledge concerning the "mud-scow," "handcart," "cooking stove," and
"hotel," that you have his authority for saying have been severally
"named for me." I am not "married to Mr. Bonner," who has a most
estimable wife of his own. I "never delivered an address in public;" and
with regard to "the amount I have made by my pen," you and the special
"New York Correspondent" are quite at liberty to speculate about it,
without any assistance from me. As to my "religious creed," the first
article in it is, "Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy
neighbor."

A gentleman writes me to know "if it is true that I boldly, and
unwinkingly, and unblushingly stated, over my own signature, and
contrary to the usual custom of my sex, that I was fifty-eight years
old."

Well, sir, I did. Why not? I feel prouder of that fact, and of my being
the grandmother of the handsomest and smartest grandchild in this or any
other country, than of any other two facts I have knowledge of. I can't
conceive why men, or women either--for this squeamishness about one's
age, I find, is not at all a thing of sex--should care one penny about
it. I say again, I _am_ "fifty-eight," and I am glad of it. I have had
my day, and I am quite willing that every other woman should have hers.

       *       *       *       *       *

WILL PARENTS TAKE HEED?--On all hands complaints are made of the
increasing ill-health of our school-children. Now who is to take this
matter in hand? Who is to say there shall be absolutely _no_ lessons
learned out of school, unless the present duration of school hours shall
be shortened? It needs, we think, only that the parents shall themselves
_insist_ upon this to effect it. Why wait till brain-fever has set in?
Why wait till little spines are irretrievably crooked? And of what
mortal use is it to keep on pouring anything into a vessel when it is
incapable of holding any more, and is only wasted upon the ground?



_MY LIKING FOR PRETTY THINGS._


"Oh, you luxurious puss!" That remark was addressed to me, because I
said I would like to be lulled to sleep each night, and awoke each
morning by strains of sweet music. There's no harm in imagining things,
I hope, provided one goes quietly and ploddingly on in what the
ministers call "the path of duty." Now, for instance, sometimes I amuse
myself planning beautiful forms for dishes, and cups, and plates, and
glasses; beautiful patterns for carpets and wallpapers; beautiful and
odd frames for pictures; beautiful loopings and draperies for
window-curtains; and beautiful shapes for chairs and tables. Sometimes I
eat an imaginary breakfast in a room with long windows, opening out into
a lovely garden full of sweet flowers; like lilies of the valley and
roses and mignonette and heliotrope and violets--oh, yes! violets
_everywhere_. Then those lovely "pond lilies" should grow in the water,
at the bottom of the garden, and some of them should be brought in,
fresh, dewy, and cool, and placed on the breakfast-table; and little
birds should hop in, over the threshold of the breakfast-room, for
crumbs, and sing me a song of thanks; and a great, monstrous dog should
lie prone upon the piazza; and vines should wreathe themselves round the
pillars thereof; clematis and sweet pea, and honeysuckles, white and
red, and the gorgeous trumpet-flower; and nobody should be able to find
the chimneys at all, for the lovely blooming Wisteria that should
clamber over the roof. _Such_ trees and such velvet grass as I'd have
around the house! Giant horse-chestnuts and elms and oaks and maples;
and here and there a lovely statue peeping out in some unexpected place.
And then I'd invite you, and you, and you; not because I would like to
make a show-thing of it, but because I would like to see you enjoy it as
much as myself.

Wouldn't it be nice? I _do_ hate _ugly_ things--there's no use in
denying it. Sometimes Mr. Librario brings in one of his profound books,
and lays it, _pro tem._, on my parlor-table; he looks for it shortly,
and finds it not. "I knew it would be banished when I put it there," he
says, "because the binding was so homely."

He pretends, too, that water tastes just as cool poured out from an
ugly-shaped pitcher as out of my pet china one, with the graceful lip,
and vine-wreathed sides and handle; and when I send for "a
headache-cup-of-tea," and add, "Now be sure you bring it in my lovely
blue-tinted cup-and-saucer," he laughs, and asks, "if _that_ will make
my head any better?" Why, of course it will. Now, you see, if I, like a
coward, dodged work and bother, and the disagreeables of life, when they
had to be met, that would be one thing; but I don't; I just take 'em
vigorously by the horns till I get through with them; and so I maintain
that I have a right to my luxurious dreams and my _pretties_, if they do
me any good. Now haven't I? And speaking of that, as I was looking round
the other day, I saw such a dreadful waste of ingenuity that my heart
bled for the misapplied talent of the inventor. It was a straw-colored
butter-dish in the shape of a _man's hat_, ribbon and all complete. The
rim thereof did duty as a saucer, while the divorcible crown was clapped
over the butter. Horrible! Then I saw an egg dish, with an executive
_sitting_ hen, awfully natural, doing duty as a cover. I left the
locality abruptly, fearing I might see a meat-dish cover, in the form of
a pig--snout, tail, bristles and all.

Why, I ask in this connection, am I daily tortured with the sight of
lamps supported by bronze cherubs, appealing piteously to my wide-awake
maternal instincts? And why are my evenings at public places of
amusement spoiled by the sight of galleries of heartless people held up
whole evenings by wretchedly carved female figures, in every stage of
contorted legs, knees, heads, and arms.

"Didn't I tell you that it would be better if you hadn't quite so much
imagination," triumphantly retorts Mr. Cynic.

Very true, you did; but still I don't agree with you; because looking at
_some_ people through that glorified medium, I have been able to
discover virtues--which--otherwise----Yes, sir!



_UNSOUGHT HAPPINESS._


Old stagers know that the way to be happy is to give up all attempts to
be so. In other words, the cream of enjoyment in this life is always
impromptu. The _chance_ walk; the unexpected visit; the unpremeditated
journey; the unsought conversation or acquaintance.

Everybody feels more or less conscious in their "Sunday clothes." Who
does not know the blessing of comfortable everyday apparel, every fold
of which has made intimate acquaintance with the motions and postures of
the owner; and which can be worn without fear of being spoiled, or
rendering the wearer conspicuous. The bonnet which sets lightly on the
head and defies rain; the boots which do not constantly remind the foot
that a chair would be the greatest of all earthly blessings; in short,
that freedom which will let you forget _you_ yourself, is like laying
down a huge bundle which has fettered you weary miles on a dusty, sunny
road, and sitting down, unencumbered, in a shady spot to dream and rest
in a delicious, care-free coolness. It is just so with the mind. The
best things written or spoken have _not_ been written or spoken "to
order." They "_whistled themselves_," as the terror-stricken urchin
remarked to his irate school-ma'am. They came unbidden, in easy, flowing
raiment; not starched and stately, rustling, prim, and conscious. They
came without thought of "what people would say." They stepped out
because the time had come when they _couldn't stay in_. In a word, they
were _natural_ as little children are, and consequently delicious and
fresh.

I solemnly aver that, the moment anybody _tries_ to do or say a good
thing, that moment he shall never be delivered of it, but shall only
experience throes of mortal pain trying. If you build yourself a
beautiful house, and make it a marvel of taste and convenience, in one
of its lovely chambers shall your dead be laid; and you shall wander
heart-sick away from it, to rid yourself of a phantom that will always
follow you, till you turn boldly and face it, and with a strong heart
accept its company.

This incessant _striving_ to be happy! Never, never shall mortals be so
till they have learned to give it over. Happiness _comes_. It will not
be challenged. It glides in only when you have closed the door and
turned your back upon it, and forgot it. It lays a soft hand on your
face when you thought to be alone, and brings a joyful flush of surprise
to your cheek, and a soft light to your weary eye, and ineffable peace
to your soul.

It is a great thing when all that can possibly happen to a person, save
one's death, _has_ happened. It is a great thing to have been poor, and
friendless, and nameless, and to have been rich, and famous, and
flattered. It is a great thing to have been young and to have been old.
It is a great thing to have perforated the bubble, Fame, and seen it
collapse before a hungry heart. It is a great thing to have had dear
ones, who moulded every thought and action, from the rising to the
setting sun, and then to have seen them suddenly vanish like stars from
the sky, and to have folded one's paralyzed hands in the darkness
because there was no earthly future left. It is a great thing to have
suffered and agonized in your own Gethsemane on account of it, till that
very suffering brings you to be glad and contented that _they_ are in a
world where all tears are wiped from all eyes. It is a great thing to
rise slowly and take up the burden of life again and plod mechanically
on. It is a great thing to be calm and unmoved when brutal pens, to
point a coarse paragraph, unearth one's sacred dead. It is a great thing
to lock up chambers in one's soul, and sit down by the closed doors,
lest some apathetic or unkind ear should hear the pained cries you only
want time to smother. It is a great thing to have encountered all of
malice, and envy, and uncharitableness, that the world has to offer, so
that its repetition can only be to the ear a dull, unmeaning sound. It
is a great thing so to have weighed human judgment that its Aye or No is
a matter of indifference in the light of--_to come_.

True; before the sensitive and tender-hearted can reach that point,
rivers of tears must have been shed and millions of sighs heaved. Scores
of suns must have set on days of torturing length, and scores of
mornings _too many_ must have dawned. Uncounted hours must have been
spent reaching out in the darkness for that which the soul has never
found, or, finding, has lost; and thousands of times must the weary
hands have fallen to the side in utter helplessness.

But this churchyard of the soul passed through, where every step is upon
some buried hope, what is the petty noise and dust of the highway about
which others fume and complain? What is it to the unconscious if rudely
jostled in passing? What is it if a malicious whipster spatter mud? What
is it if a rude voice accost, or the right of the road be clamorously
contended? when all voices, all roads are alike; when delay or speed
matters not; when a choice about _anything_ seems utterly ridiculous,
and all one's faculties are lost in astonishment at the worry and fret
and perturbation of those who have not undergone the same ossifying
process as yourself.

After all, some great sorrow is surely essential to the humanizing of
every soul. Never till then can it offer anything but lip sympathy to
those who have gasped through the sea of trouble. How can he who has
known only days of comparative prosperity interpret the despairing sigh
of the friendless? How can he who has never dropped tears into the open
grave of _his own dead_ measure the agony of that last, lingering look,
as they are hidden forever from human sight? Till a vacant chair stands
by his own hearth, how can he ever understand why one should still keep
on grieving for that which can never be recalled? Till his heart turns
sickening away from some festive anniversary in which a missing voice
once made music, how can he see why one need be doleful on such a day as
that? Till he has closed his ears to some familiar strain which evoked
associations too painful to bear, how can he tell "Why you cannot forget
all that, since it makes you so miserable"? To answer such, is to talk
to the blind of colors, to the deaf of sounds, to the dead of life and
motion. Never, till his own house is darkened, till the badge of
desolation flutters from his own door, till sunshiny days return
merciless in their brightness, and stormy ones send his thoughts
shuddering to a shelterless grave; never till he has tried changing the
place, but still _always_ only to keep the old pain, can he understand
the desperation with which at last one sits helplessly down, to face
that which it can neither look upon nor flee from.



_DIGNITY OF HUMAN NATURE._


The philosopher is fond of talking to me about what he calls "the
dignity of human nature." The pains he takes to bolster himself up in
this shaky belief of his, would do credit to a better cause. Obstinacy
of course is at the bottom of it, for he no more believes in it than I
do. How can he, and he living and breathing in this sublunary sphere
_himself_? That's just what I said to him this morning; for, thank
Providence, I can generally speak my mind on most points. What did he
say? That's my affair; suffice it to say, he sticks to it. I made him
sit down; then I sat down on his knee, to make sure of a listener. Then
I took in my hand the morning papers. In the first place, there was a
man of sixty who had been coaxed in where he shouldn't go, and robbed
while there. Secondly, there was a justice of the peace sentenced to the
Penitentiary for robbery. Thirdly, there was a clergyman convicted of
bigamy. Fourthly, there was a husband, who had been trying, with an iron
shovel, to find out whether his wife had any brains. Fifthly, there was
another who had decided an argument by biting off a portion of his
antagonist's nose. Sixthly, there were two lads, of the respective ages
of eight and thirteen, who had been murderously perforating each other's
intestines with sharp penknives. Seventhly, there was a man in
Massachusetts who had lately numbered his twenty-fifth child. Eighthly,
there was a "gentleman" found, in the small hours, sitting on the cold
sidewalk in ---- street, hiccupping for a waiter "to bring him another
bottle of champagne."

"Well," says the philosopher, when I stopped to take breath, "these are
only the exceptions that prove the rule." Exceptions, quotha! when I
hadn't yet dug into the nauseous kennel of the advertising list!
_Exceptions_? but what's the use of talking? Does not every morning's
new issue furnish similar "exceptions"? Certainly. Besides, didn't I put
_this_ catechism to him? How came ---- to give the wife of an official
high in power that splendid grand piano? There's a _dignified_ way to
secure, through a wheedling female tongue, a fat office. Not to mention
a carriage and horses unexpectedly placed at the disposal of Senator
----'s wife. Last, but not least, look at "Jeff.," first and last, from
his attempted flight to his boyish refusal to eat his prison fare,
bestowing it gratuitously in the faces of his guards; and then kicking
and swearing, while his naughty little hands and feet were being
fastened together therefor. Dignity? when I look at human beings, and
think of what they daily and hourly do, I am seized with convulsions of
laughter at the idea. Sometimes the devil possesses me, in the presence
of some solemn "hark from the tombs" kind of an individual, to picture
it, till I am tied up with cramps trying to keep from laughing. Nobody
will ever know what I've suffered in this way. Dignity? You should see
it with its boots up on the window-sill of some hotel lounging-room
facing Broadway, with its mouth wide open, thus--O; its hat rakishly set
on one temple, and its eyes somnolently closed to the charms of the lady
pedestrians, who wouldn't miss the picture for sixpence. Dignity?
Yesterday I saw a man nearly cut in two with corsets. Another trying to
hop round hilariously in a pair of corn-murdering boots. Another roaring
out in an omnibus like a mad bull because the cold-fingered driver gave
him a "soiled stamp."

Dignity of human nature? Where is it when a man is in the dentist's
chair? Where, when a waiter spills coffee on his shirt-bosom or hot soup
on his trousers? One might as well not stiffen himself up against facts
like these, said I to the philosopher. We don't stop being children,
this side the grave, that ever I could find out. The toys we mostly
scramble for, like those that dangle from the Christmas-tree, suit but
the present hour, and, with all their gilding and glittering lights,
will one day be but broken rubbish on our hands. When a man is dead he
looks dignified; but while he is alive, with a pipe stereotyped to his
lips, or alternately dipping his _soup_-erfluous mustache in a plate of
soup and sopping it with a napkin; or, as the country-woman said of her
pet minister, "sitting down, spitting round socionable," I really can't
entertain the idea of "Dignity." The more I try the more I laugh.
Frivolous, I grant; but what were woman without frivolity? Not a man
would speak to us.

       *       *       *       *       *

WHAT MINISTERS NEED.--We have often thought that ministers need their
congregations as much, if not more, than congregations need their
ministers. Parishioners are not apt to look at it in this way. The
matter of salary nowadays, thank God, is, as a general thing, properly
considered; but the matter of "holding up his hands" spiritually, is
not. Remember, he is a man like yourselves, subject to discouragement,
and needs--oh, more often than you know who only look on his face once a
week--that affectionate relationship which you delight in between your
own children and yourself. You wish their respect, but would you be
satisfied with only that? Do you not delight in the beaming eye and
constant, kindly, heartfelt recognition of your presence? Just so your
minister feels toward you, else he were no minister. Then do not treat
him as you would a Fourth-of-July orator, or a stray lecturer, to be
paid and dismissed, and forgotten when his message is delivered,
careless after that whether he be crushed or shipwrecked on his way
home. Remember the phrase, "holding up his hands." It has a world of
significance, looked at in this light.



_ALL ABOUT DOCTORS._


There be many kinds of Doctors; allopathic--homoepathic--and mongrel.
Luckily every family swears by its own, and believes in no salvation
beyond _his_ dictum. There is your fashionable Doctor who lives in a
fine house; rides to his "cases" with a servant in livery; utterly
eschews all gutter localities, and never troubles himself to go out when
his head aches, or in bad weather. His manner of drawing off his gloves
is pompous and impressive. Nurse in the corner sinks down into her
slippers, utterly quenched by it. While he warms his hands silently at
the fire, he is impressing all present with an idea of his immense
profundity. This done, he fixes his eyes on the ceiling, and counts his
patient's pulse; then comes the tongue examination; after which he
relapses into another profound contemplation of the ceiling; during
which time every tick of the clock seems solemn as fate. Then follows
the cabalistic writing; a dead letter to everybody but this Grand Mogul
and the apothecary. The gloves are then drawn on, and bowing to the thin
air, our elegant Doctor delivers himself again into the care of his
liveried servant.

Then there is your old-fashioned Doctor; whose patients "will have him,"
though he has wanted gradually to leave off practice for several years,
in favor of new aspirants. The cut of his coat is a matter that don't
affect his practice. He smiles blandly as the other Doctor, with the
liveried servant, drives past, while he trudges independently on foot,
and mentally shakes his head at "new fashions." _He_ is civil without
regard to externals. A baby is a baby to him, whether it comes into the
world with a nice wardrobe ready for its back, or the contrary. He is
perfectly willing to tell a man who places his stomach in his hands what
he is going to put into it, and what he expects it to do to him. He is
interested philanthropically, as well as scientifically, in the most
minute symptom of the most ordinary patient, who is encouraged by the
sympathetic magnetism of his voice and eye to "tell him just how he
feels." He scribbles no unnecessary recipes for his own benefit, or the
apothecaries'; and speaks so cheerfully when he leaves, that the sick
man half doubts, after all, if anything is the matter with him.

Then there is your young, new-fledged Doctor, who gives physic as a
little boy touches off a firecracker, rather uncertain whether it will
blow him, or his neighbor, or both, sky-high.

Then there is your Ladies' Doctor, "the handsome creature," who lifts
his eyes with well-acted astonishment that these dear beings can endure
a pain, or an ache, and still live; who says just what they want him
to, in the way of prescribing "little journeys" and savory messes; and
coaxes all their little troubles over their lips till they are more
astonished at themselves than the Doctor is at them.

Then there is your blunt pop-gun Doctor, who has no time nor inclination
for nonsense, and jerks out his opinion as he would a mouthful of
tobacco; and they who don't like it, are welcome to move out of the way.
Who feels your pulse, and pronounces you a prospective dead man, or
woman, as coolly as if the intelligence concerned you no more than
himself.

Then there is the eccentric Doctor, who advertises himself by some
peculiarity of costume, like knee-breeches, or cocked hat, or long,
flowing hair, and is never better pleased than when everybody is saying:
"Who _can_ that be?"

Then there is your celebrated Surgeon, who has long since bade good-by
to his own nerves, and who looks at every man, woman, and child with a
view to their "cutting up." When about to commence an operation before a
class of gaping students, mark the gleaming, circling flourish of his
pet-knife in the air, before descending upon his chloroform-bound
victim! The operation properly and deftly performed, _his_ part is done.
The Almighty is responsible for the rest.

Finally, and lastly, it is all very nice to laugh at Doctors when one is
sound and well; but let a good smart pain come, and none so ready, as
those who do so, to send a telegraphic summons for their speedy
appearance. With this substantial proof of their power, let them snap
their fingers at criticism and be jolly.

       *       *       *       *       *

HOW TO PUT THE CHILDREN TO BED.--_Not_ with a reproof for any of that
day's sins of omission or commission. Take any other time _but_ bedtime
for that. If you ever heard a little creature sighing or sobbing in its
sleep, you could never do this. Seal their closing eyelids with a kiss
and a blessing. The time will come, all too soon, when they will lay
their heads upon their pillows lacking both. Let them then at least have
this sweet memory of a happy childhood, of which no future sorrow or
trouble can rob them. Give them their rosy _youth_. Nor need this
involve wild license. The judicious parent will not so mistake my
meaning. If you have ever met the man or the woman whose eyes have
suddenly filled when a little child has crept trustingly to its mother's
breast, you may have seen one in whose childhood's home "Dignity" and
"Severity" stood where Love and Pity should have been. Too much
indulgence has ruined thousands of children; too much _Love_ not one.



_LETTER TO HENRY WARD BEECHER._

     "There has been a very jolly set of children in my house
     since the box [of mixed candies] came. I have made a
     scientific analysis with such means as I had at hand--my
     tongue and palate--and am of opinion that it is pure, and am
     sure that it is _good_ (I know that Fanny Fern is sorry that
     she ever wrote a word against candy, and stands pouting, to
     think that I have all the sweets on my side)."--_Mr. Beecher
     in N. Y. Ledger._


Pouting? Not a bit of it. After I make up my mind a thing is past being
helped, I always turn my giant mind to something else.

Now, "your riverence," your love for "sweets" is not a thing of
yesterday. I mind me of a young man, of your name, who once came to a
boarding-school, where I, at sixteen, was placed for algebra and
safe-keeping, both of which I hated, and who invited me to take several
surreptitious rides with him, which I did; and which will probably first
come to the knowledge of his sister, my teacher, through this number of
the New York _Ledger_. What Plymouth church has escaped, in the way of
an infliction, by that young man's going to college about that time, and
my return to the "bosom of my family," to learn the "Lost Arts,"
bread-making and button-hole stitching, Plymouth church may now for the
first time learn.

And now, having paid you off for your little public dig at me, I proceed
magnanimously to admit, that I believe a bit of _pure_ candy, given to a
child as dessert after a wholesome meal, is perfectly harmless. But not
even the gifted pastor of Plymouth church, whose sermons, to me, are
like a spring of water in the desert, can ever make me believe that an
indiscriminate nibble of even _pure_ candy between meals is good for any
child.

Now, Mr. Beecher, we are both grandfathers--I mean, _you_ are a
grandfather, and I am a grandmother. I now propose to pit my grandchild
against yours on the candy question, and see which, in the future,
brings us the heaviest dentist and doctor's bills. We won't scratch each
other's eyes out now, both on account of "auld lang syne," and on
account of the dignity of our position--I mean the dignity of _yours_.

I have one thing against you besides candy, and that is, that I can
never get a seat at your church. As everybody is giving you advice, of
which, by the way, I too have plenty, I advise you to remove to New
York, that I may be able, without getting up in the middle of the night
in order to cross the ferry, to get a seat in one of your pews. You have
been in Brooklyn now for a long time, and if the people over there
haven't yet become angels, it is high time you tried your hand on the
other kind in New York.

I propose the site of the present Bible House, as being a nice walk from
my residence, which is the main thing to be considered. I will agree to
find your pulpit in flowers--(not of oratory; that is for you!)

Hoping that you will be able to turn from your beloved box of candy to
an early consideration of this question, I am--leaving out candy--

     Your faithful adherent,    FANNY FERN.

       *       *       *       *       *

ONE KIND OF FOOL.--It is very instructive sometimes, at a place of
country resort, to watch the woman who has come only to exhibit her
changes of wardrobe. For a day or two, possibly longer, she goes through
her solitary dress-rehearsals. Finding at last that the rest of the
boarders wear rubbers and water-proofs, and live out of doors in all
weathers, the woman who came to dress, gets weary of waiting for
admirers, and reluctantly joins the sensible majority, rather than be
left alone; but generally with an apologetic, "How odd it seems, not to
dress for dinner as one does in the city," by way of letting herself
gently down from her snobbish pedestal. We are happy to add, however,
that the number of women who go into the country to dress is becoming
fewer every year; folly in this regard having reached its ultimatum of
loathsomeness.



_THE AMENITIES OF THE TABLE._


Fastidiousness, in any regard, is a misfortune, as two-thirds of mankind
have no such word in their dictionary. But in matters of the table we
claim for every human being a large margin of license as to
peculiarities of taste. Now _helping at table_ is a science. To tact and
skill your helper must needs add benevolence. He or she must be capable
of comprehending that too large a slice, or too brimming a spoonful, may
save the trouble of helping twice, in more ways than one, as it may
effectually destroy the appetite. Your helper must not suppose that
safely to land a piece of meat on the plate, instead of the table-cloth,
his or her duty is done; on the contrary, the boundary line between
squash and spinach, cranberry sauce and cauliflower, may be distinctly
defined with advantage to many stomachs and palates. Nor must your
helper close his or her eyes to the fact that some specified joint, or
bone, or slice, may be disagreeable, through some unexplainable though
very decided antipathy. Nor must he or she disdain to be informed, if
ignorant of the fact, that a bit of butter has a better relish if it be
not flattened down on your plate, after the manner of an apothecary
spreading a plaster. Then gravy is undoubtedly a meritorious liquid when
one has a confidential physician, and money enough to fee him; but as
this is not always the case, one may be pardoned for not wishing to have
it taken for granted that it is to be soused over his food, without
permission. _Once_ I saw a philanthropic carver. His patience and
assiduity were beyond all praise; but in an evil day, in a philosophical
mood, inspecting him too closely with admiring eyes, I discovered the
fatal spring of his amiability. It was only a blind for the secretion of
his favorite titbits till, his labors over, the delicious process of
mastication should commence for _him_! That's what comes of looking too
closely into things. It has happened to me before.

The Smiths believe that edibles were made to eat; and that digestion is
a humbug invented by the doctors; and that milk and cider, and pastry
and vinegar, and candy and raisins, and flapjacks and pickles, and
jellies, can be eaten in successive strata at any hour in the
twenty-four, and in any condition of body or mind, and repose quietly
together like "the Happy Family." The Smiths believe in getting up in
the middle of the night to eat and then going to bed upon it; they
believe in taking a bath alike on a full or an empty stomach, and they
utterly despise exercise. If they are sick, it is never on account of
any of _these_ barbaric heresies.

Now, the Joneses, having studied physiology, look upon food as a
necessary evil. No Rabbi could more utterly sniff down pork. Grease in
every form is tabooed; preserves and pastry sent to Coventry, or only
set before company, who have an undoubted right to kill themselves if
fashion requires it. The Joneses, when helping you at table, always
prefix the offered morsel with, Pray take it, it is so healthful; or, It
will assist your digestion; or, It is an excellent corrective; till the
association between potatoes and physic, meat and medicine, is so
intimate, that one ceases to regard these edibles in the light of food.
You are cautioned against veal because of necessity it must be _young_
meat; against fish, lest it may aggravate a possible scrofulous
tendency; against tea, because the leaves may have been dried on copper;
against milk, because you are unacquainted with the pedigree of the cow
from whence it came. Bread is microscopically inspected for imaginary
adulterations, and after all these precautions the timid Joneses,
restricted to the simplest forms of two or three permissible and
monotonous eatables, swallow even these nervously, and with an eye to
the undertaker; and if attacked by headache, submit to it meekly, as a
penance for some unknown infringement of nature's law.

Now the Adamses believe in _quantity_, not _quality_. An ounce of
paving-stones is as good as an ounce of mutton; in other words, you may
eat your grandmother with impunity, if you only confine yourself to a
small piece, and are jolly over it. Luckily for butchers, confectioners,
grocers, doctors, and sextons, each of these hobbies finds its
followers.

I believe in eating. The person who affects to despise it either
comforts himself with private bites, or is unfitted by disease to eat at
all. It does not disenchant me, as it does some, to see "a woman eat." I
know that the dear creatures cannot keep up their plumpness on saw-dust,
or the last "Lady's Book." I look at them as the future mothers of
healthy little children; and I say mentally, Eat, my dears, and be
satisfied; but be sure that you take a good walk after you have digested
your food. Still there may be limits to one's tolerance even in this
regard. The other morning, at a hotel breakfast, I had been
contemplating with great interest a fair creature, who took her seat
opposite to me, in all the freshness of a maiden's morning toilette.
Smooth hair, tranquil brow, blue eyes, and a little neat white collar
finishing off a very pretty morning-robe; and here you will permit me to
remark that, if women did but know it, but they don't, and never will, a
ball-room toilette is nothing to a neat breakfast dress. Well, my fairy
read the bill of fare, while I admired the long eyelashes that swept her
cheek. Straightway she raised her pretty head, and lisped this order to
the colored waiter at her elbow:

"John! Coffee, Fried Pigs' Feet, Fried Oysters, Omelette, Pork Steak."



_MANY MEN OF MANY MINDS._


It is very curious with what different eyes different people may look
upon the same object. Not long since a lady and gentleman in travelling
arrived at the hotel of one of our largest watering-places just at the
dinner-hour. The lady, preferring a warm meal to an elaborate toilette,
proposed going in "just as they were." Seating themselves in the places
designated by that important personage, the head waiter, they inspected
the tempting bill of fare, gave their orders, and bided their time,
longer or shorter, for their completion; the hotel being overcrowded, it
proved to be _longer_. The lady solaced herself by reviewing the guests.
Presently, touching her companion's arm, she exclaimed: "Look! did you
ever see a more beautiful woman? Look at her throat, and the poise of
her head, and her lovely profile. See! how she smiles! hasn't she a
lovely mouth?" "Pshaw!" replied the gentleman, "I dare say she's well
enough, but do you suppose that boiled mutton I ordered will ever
arrive?"

The other day a beautiful child came into an omnibus with its nurse. It
commenced smiling at all the passengers, pointing its tiny forefinger at
this one and that, by way of making acquaintance. One old gentleman in
the far comer responded by a series of signals with a red-silk pocket
handkerchief, to which the social little baby made ready response.
Another gentleman near, upon whose newspaper the smiling child laid its
hand with trusting fearlessness, looked over his spectacles at it with a
frown, gave an ugly grunt, and shortly turned his back, to prevent a
repetition of the familiarity.

"How did you like the Rev. Mr. ----'s sermon?" asked a gentleman of
another, as they were leaving the church. "Solid gold, every word of
it," replied he; "sound doctrine eloquently presented." "Strange!"
replied the querist; "for my own part, I was so disgusted, that I could
with difficulty keep my seat." "What! a minister raise a smile on the
faces of his audience in such a solemn place! I wonder what my old
pastor, Dr. Dry-Starch would have thought of such a proceeding! _He_
always taught us that this was a solemn world; and that the man who
laughed in it might very likely be laughing over the very spot where in
time he might be buried."

"How do you like Mr. Theophilus Tennant's new novel?" asked one lady of
another. "Well, if you want my honest opinion," replied the latter, "I
consider it a shallow, egotistical, inflated affair, whatever paid
critics may assert to the contrary." "Possible?" exclaimed the querist;
"why, I was so delighted with it that I had serious thoughts of
addressing a letter of thanks to the owner for the pleasure he had
afforded me, although I never saw or spoke to him."

"What a splendid specimen of a man!" exclaimed Miss Twenty to Mrs.
Thirty-five. "It makes one feel stronger and better to be in the same
room with him." "Heavens!" exclaimed the matron; "I can think of nothing
when I see him but a great, lumbering, overgrown, Newfoundland dog. A
man with so much surplus body to look after can't have much time for
anything else."

And so we might multiply instances _ad infinitum_ (which is about all
the Latin I know). For my own part I don't quarrel with that diversity
of taste which finds pretty wives for ugly husbands, fine, smart
husbands for silly women, full congregations for prosy ministers,
overflowing audiences for flat lecturers, and a reading parish,
notwithstanding her faults, for Fanny Fern.



_MY NOTION OF A WALKING COMPANION._


Of all small miseries, an uncongenial _walking companion_ is the most
annoying. Some people take a walk as they would study the multiplication
table. It is a necessary performance, to be got over as soon as
possible. I am not alluding to that class of human oyster, but to those
who, after close application, or the exhausting wear and fret of
everyday life, feel as though the four walls about them were gradually
contracting, and their chance for breath growing fainter and fainter; to
whom fresh air and the blue sky are as necessary as is dew and sunshine
to flowers; and like them, without which, they as certainly droop and
die;--such will understand what I mean by that misused term--_a walk_.
Not a dawdle, not a feminine "calling" tour; nor an errand of any sort,
for any purpose under heaven, that can be construed into business; but a
dreamy lounge, irrespective of anything but the cool feel of the air on
the heated temples, and the great, ceaseless, murmuring wave of life
beating against the shore of time, bearing you and others on its bosom
wheresoever God willeth. People pass you like moving shadows, you hear
the pleasant hum of their voices, but do not know in your
somnambulistic mood whether they are familiar faces or not. You only
thank God for unfettered limbs, and fresh air, and motion; beyond that,
for the time being, you desire to know nothing. Ah, _then_--to be
unexpectedly linked to some human fidget! Whose limbs jerk this way and
that, as if they were pulled by invisible wires; who goes first fast,
then slow; then pulls you up with a short jerk to look at something; who
bothers you with infinitesimal small talk; who ceaselessly interlards
inquiries which chain you remorselessly to the tug-boat of his or her
ideas, without leave of mental absence for one reprieving moment; and
all this very likely accompanied with the most friendly and amiable
intentions on the part of your entertainer (?). To say "No" and "Yes"
recklessly--and laugh in the wrong place, and go home a million times
more weary than when you started, beside feeling that you have
hopelessly excluded yourself from the list of sane human beings--that's
what I call misery.

But, ah! the ecstatic bliss of walking with one who thinks with you, as
he moves dreamily on without speech--to be free to utter or to be
silent, and no offence given or taken. To be allowed to wander leagues
off, without fear of being rudely jerked back to time, at any
unpropitious moment.

To turn this corner and that, by some mutual magnetic understanding,
that you smile at afterward, when you come to think of it, as strangely
funny and agreeable. To reach your own door-step as rested and
refreshed, and with as cool and tranquil a brow, as if your own mother
had sung you to sleep with the old-time nursery lullaby. To go back with
fresh heart and spirit, to take up your burden of duty where weary
nature had lain it hopelessly down. That's _my_ kind of "walk."

There are certain persons whom to meet is like opening the window of a
close apartment on a delicious June day. The first breath is an
inspiration. You throw back your locks from your heated forehead, and
your weary eyes, and ask nothing but to sit down and let this soother
minister to you. All your cares, and frets, one by one creep away, and a
new life and vigor seem infused into every nerve and muscle. You are not
the same creature that you were ten minutes before. You are ready after
all to do valiant battle with life, though you had supposed yourself
quite surrendered to its everyday, petty, and harassing tyrant
necessities. Exuberant animal strength must needs carry with it
hopefulness and courage; and they whose nerves have been strained and
weakened by past trouble, welcome the breezy, fresh influence of such,
like Heaven's own dew and sunshine. It is a tonic, the blessing of which
the unconscious giver knows not how to appreciate perhaps, but oh how
invaluable to the receiver! A soulful face, an exultant word--a light,
springing step! We raise our weary eyes first in wonder, then in
admiration; and the sympathetic chord thus struck--the brow clears, the
eyes brighten, and life seems--not the curse we morbidly thought it--but
the blessing God intended it.



_MEN TEACHERS IN GIRLS' SCHOOLS._


I am inclined to think, with all due deference to the powers that be,
that _male_ teachers are not best for young girls. It takes a woman, who
understands all the witcheries of the sex, and off whom they glance
harmless, like water off a turtle's back, to deal with these young
kittens; they have more fun than geography can absorb, and are not to be
feruled like a great cub of a boy, whose whole future life will be
license after jacketdom, as decreed by society and the laws; while a
severe woman-discipline surely awaits the most frolicsome girl,
beginning from the moment when she first learns what her heart is made
of, till death stills its yearnings.

And yet I pity a male teacher of girls, whose studied dignity is in a
second dethroned by a single pantomimic gesture of some bright-eyed
young flirt, who _feels_ her power without yet being old enough to
understand it, and with an instinctive coquetry gets on his blind side,
turning all his foreordained frowns into ill-suppressed smiles. How can
he box those little round ears? How can he disfigure those soft, white
palms? How can he--sending all the other pupils home--trust himself,
after school, alone with those bright eyes, to put them through a
subduing tear process? Ten to one the "subduing" is on the other side!

Said I to a little girl, not many mornings since, who was getting ready
for school, "Why do you put on that bright new dress to go, when your
old brown one would do as well?" "Oh," was her reply, "I haven't got my
lesson to-day, and of course I must look pretty." There's
fourteen-year-old female knowledge of human nature for you! Imagine a
boy putting on his best jacket for such a purpose.

There must be discipline, that's certain; but, in my opinion, a man's
head must be gray, not brown or black, if he would enforce it; his blood
must be cold and sluggish, and his ear deaf to the charmer, charm she
never so cunningly, or, certes, his magisterial chair will be set at
naught. Don't I know! Answer me, thou now "Reverend" gentleman, who once
kept me after school for a reprimand, and spent the precious moments
rolling my curls over your fingers, while my comrade was bursting off
her hooks and eyes as she peeped through the key-hole. Not that I uphold
it, but every animal naturally fights with the weapons a good Providence
has given it--and somehow or other I had found that out; though whether
France was bounded south by Rhode Island or not was still a mystery that
I was not in a hurry to solve.

Still, for all that, I pity a male teacher who is set to the impossible
task of making girls "behave." I _should_ pity them more, did I not
know that they keep them in school about four or five hours longer than
they ought. Did I not know what they know, but will persist practically
in ignoring, that the fun has got to come out somehow, or turn to poison
in the blood, and that if teachers won't give it whizzing time _out_ of
school, they must needs have it fly in their faces _in_ school. I should
pity them more, did I not, every day, see their pupils staggering home
under a pile of stupidly written school-books, fit only to kindle the
kitchen fire--thank goodness their little beaux sometimes save their
arms from dislocation, by gallantly carrying them home for them. Do I
approve of boy-beaux? Why not? Don't every rosebud draw its
humming-bird? Did not God make them both for this harmless, innocent
delight? You had _your_ boy-beaux, madam; I had mine, by the score. Only
teach your daughter to love you well enough to conceal nothing, however
minute, from you; only show her that you have a heart, and don't want
her to pluck out her's, and my word for it, no harm will come of her
"boy-beaux." It is your repression that does the mischief--your ignoring
your own youth and hers. The child who has leave to pluck the apple
often leaves it untouched, _undesired_, on the tree.

Meantime our male teacher stands there, with his hands in his pockets,
waiting to see what is to be done with _him_. Well, his pockets are the
best place for his hands when he is keeping a girls' school; and with
this advice I leave him, until he is sixty or so, when, if he chooses
to open a girls' school, I promise him at least, that he will not go to
sleep during the services.

Now let no conservative accuse me of upholding school rebellion. It is
because I do _not_ do this that I express my preference for women
teachers, both principals and assistants, for girls; having an
understanding of, and impervious to, girl witcheries, whom the little
rogues know, having been girls themselves, can see through them, and for
whom pretty looks or dresses will never answer instead of well-digested
lessons.

       *       *       *       *       *

A SAFE AMUSEMENT.--All children are fond of animal pets, but it is so
difficult to manage such pets in a city that no family can indulge its
children's tastes in that respect to any great extent. No one can have
watched the children in the Central Park, as they gaze at and linger
over the bears and tigers and strange birds, without wishing that the
little zoologists had a wider field and better opportunities for
pursuing the study of natural history. There ought to be a permanent
collection of animals and birds in New York, in some good situation,
where children and young people could have ample opportunity, under
proper restrictions, to indulge their natural taste for natural history.
Every hour thus employed would be a safeguard against the myriad
temptations to vice and idleness which pervade the city.



_MY CALL ON "DEXTER."_


The other evening I went up to Fifty-sixth street to see the new stable.
Mr. BONNER was out, but his horses were not. Now I didn't go to see them
do their 2.40's, but to gaze at them artistically; and, of course, I
wanted them to stand long enough for me to do it, which I believe is
_not_ their normal condition. I had a fancy, too, for inspecting them
through the bars of their respective doors; for, you see, my nerves had
been thrown a little out of gear by a huge blood-hound, that made for me
as I was entering the stable-yard, but who, in consideration of my being
a _Ledger_ contributor, let me off easy in my boots.

Well, the first thing that struck my New England bred eyes was the
perfect neatness and polish and beauty, of every inch of floor and
ceiling in that stable. A place for everything, and everything in its
place, and Mrs. BONNER nothing to do with it either! Shining harness,
shining vehicles, big wheels and small seats, and nothing to hold on
to--but the natty reins; a perfectly awful reflection to me, but then
Mr. BONNER'S arm _is_ an arm! On the wall was something the size of a
full moon; _red_, with a fanciful oak frame. It looked like a huge
pincushion, and sure enough it was. Stuck full of wooden pins, to fasten
the blankets of those horses round their wicked, strong necks. If it
hadn't been for that blood-hound, which I heard sniffing round after me
from the outside, I should have inspected it more carefully; but it was
fastened to the wall near the door, and--well, I thought I'd pass on to
see _Dexter_. My dear! your new seal-skin sack isn't softer, browner,
nor more lovely than that creature's skin. And as to his tail, your
latest "switch" is nothing to it! Mr. BONNER not being present to
Rarey-fy him, he kicked out his hind leg at me in a very suggestive
manner; so, with an Oh, gracious! I requested to have his door closed,
for there was a glitter in his eye which was not at all Scriptural.
Besides, I once flew through Harlem Lane behind him, and didn't get the
color back into my lips for a week after. To compose myself I passed on
to _Lantern_, the Grandpa of the stable, though I _have_ known
Grandparents rather frisky in my day. He was reposing on his laurels,
and turned round his head to me as if to ask, Why don't you? Alas! I
have yet to earn them, and unlike him, I have to pin on my own blanket,
and comb my own hair, and buy my own shoes; that's why I don't, old
_Lantern_.

Then I went to see _Startle_, as if I needed startling any more, when I
had been muttering paternosters ever since I saw that horrid
blood-hound. Well, _Startle_ is a beauty, and he knew it too. Just like
a piece of satin, with his tail sweeping the floor. After I had looked
at the whole ten, I said to myself, if ever a man earned _the right_ to
all these beautiful creatures, ROBERT BONNER has, from the time he first
began to set types in a printing office, down, or rather _up_, to the
present day. Every proud moment that he enjoys them, in or out of that
handsome stable, he is fairly entitled to; and he is entitled to that
blood-hound, and I wouldn't rob him of that for the wide world!

       *       *       *       *       *

LADIES "WITHOUT AN OBJECT."--Ladies often give as a reason why they do
not take exercise, "Oh, I don't like to go out without an object." Now
nothing could prove more clearly their deplorable physical condition
than this remark; since, to a well-organized frame, motion and fresh air
are positive daily necessities; irrespective of any "object," save the
cool play of the wind on the temples, and the healthful glow which
follows a brisk walk. Medicine is a joke to it. No doctor, be his
diploma ever so pretentious, could effect with simple means a more
magical result. Considered only as "a beautifier," we marvel that the
female portion of the community neglect it. A little chilliness in the
air? A little sprinkling of rain? A high wind? An inability to display a
fine dress? What puerile reasons for growing sallow, irritable, and
sick.



_THE POETRY OF WORK._


Executive people have generally the reputation, from their opposites, of
being ill-tempered people. Self-trained to the observance of the
admirable old maxim, that "whatever is worth doing at all, is worth
doing well," they are naturally disgusted with dawdling inefficiency and
sloth in any shape. Chary of the precious flying moments, the most
intolerable of vexations to them is to have their time trespassed upon,
and wasted, in a million petty and unnecessary ways, by the stupidity or
culpable thoughtlessness of those about them. Now what is called "an
easy person," _i.e._, a person who is not self-contained, on whose hands
time hangs heavily, cannot be made to understand why a person of an
opposite description need make a fuss about a few minutes. Why, "what is
a few minutes?" they ask. Much, much in the course of a lifetime to
those who carefully husband them. Those "few minutes" may make all the
difference between an educated and an uneducated person; between a man
independent in his circumstances, and a man always under the grinding
heel of want; all the difference between intelligence, thrift, and
system on one hand, and ignorance, discomfort, and disaster on the
other. Those "few minutes," carefully improved as they occur, have
filled libraries with profound and choice volumes; those "few minutes,"
saved for mental cultivation, have enabled men, and women too, to shed
over a life of toil a brightness which made even monotonous duty a
delight. Such can ill afford to be robbed of them by those unable to
appreciate their value. Like the infinitesimal gold scrapings of the
mint, they may not be purloined, or carelessly brushed away by idle
fingers; but conscientiously gathered up and accounted for; to be molten
and stamped with thought, then distributed to bless mankind.

What a pleasure it is _to see anything perfectly done_. I never go
"shopping" that I do not look on with admiration while the storekeeper
so deftly does up my parcels. I believe no _woman_ who has not acquired
the professional shopkeeping touch, can do this decently. I like, too,
to watch a group of men painting a house, provided the platform upon
which they stand is so strong that my blood does not curdle lest their
merry song should never be finished. With what a dexterous, careful,
delicate touch they brighten up the unsightly wall; there is fascination
to the looker-on in their skilful progress. Carpentering, too, I like;
what pretty, silky, curled shavings they plane off; how many times, when
a child, I placed them on my head for ringlets, have I mentally resolved
to be a carpenter's wife, that I might always have plenty. How sure the
stroke of their hammer upon the nail which a woman would bend, or break
in pieces, beside jamming her fingers to a jelly. Mark the sturdy
porter, too, as he tosses a huge "Saratoga trunk" lightly as a feather
upon his back, and poising it, marches up uncounted stairs without
tripping or bumping.

I like to see a strong man holding a fiery horse by a slight rein and a
strong will. I like to see the oarsman in his red-shirt sleeves, pulling
away over the sparkling water; I like to see the rough, red-faced
omnibus driver making change, halting, gesticulating, hallooing to
passers-by, all in the same breath. I like anything that is wide-awake
and efficient, and if it be beautiful at the same time, so much the
better. I like to see the cook toss eggs into a foam so nicely, with
head turned the other way, watching pots, skillets, and frying-pans, and
at the same time giving orders to half a dozen subordinates. I like to
see a milliner twist a ribbon into a thousand fanciful shapes while
talking, or selecting a rose from one box, a green spray from another,
then a spear of wheat, a daisy and a poppy, twine them together with an
artist's taste and touch. I like to see the dressmaker fit the glossy
silk to the curve of limbs as soft as the silky fabric. I like to see
the flushed pressman sliding the damp newspapers from the "form" without
a flaw or a wrinkle. I like to see a mother strip her little, tender
babe, and bathe its fragile limbs with that wonderful delicacy of touch
which mothers only know, singing, caressing, patting, and soothing, till
the lovely task is done. I like to see those little imps of newsboys
running indiscriminately between the legs of man and beast, yelling out
their precocious wisdom about "accidents and arrivals;" dodging under
carts, and coming out safe in wind and limb; thriving, in spite of dirt
and rags, to turn up some day, ten to one, in a big marble store up
town, as bookseller or publisher.

I am not at all sure, now that blessed chloroform is discovered by which
my faith in the predicted millennium has had a most vigorous quickening
(why _don't_ they build a statue to the discoverer?) that I could not
look on admiringly while the surgeon's knife wound amid veins and
arteries with almost omnipotent skill, his patient lying calm as a
sleeping infant the while.

And now the thought comes over me with overwhelming force, how strange
that we, who so adore strength, power, beauty, and perfection, should be
content with its circumscribed _human_ progress; never look for it,
never worship it, where it is limitless, unchangeable, unfettered by
selfishness, caprice, or injustice. Alas! till we learn this, we shall,
vine-like, throw out our tendrils to the mercy of every passing breeze,
with nothing sure to twine around or cling to.



_CAN'T KEEP A HOTEL._


A man who has no call to keep a hotel had better not try it, unless he
can be certain that the horizon of his guests has always been bounded by
the village hay-scales. Noble scenery is a fine thing; but mountain, nor
lake, nor river, was ever enjoyable in company with an empty stomach, or
one which is in the talons of the fiend, _indigestion_. To come to one's
meal with loathing, and eat because we must, or starve, and then hurry
from grease and saleratus as soon as possible, is not the best receipt a
landlord can use to insure a good class of customers for another season.
He may think it of no consequence that his garden, if he have one, be as
full of nettles as of flowers; that the walks have more pig-weed than
gravel in them; that his out-buildings are more conspicuous than any
other object both to the eye and nose; and that the grass-plats about
the house are strewn with perpetual rags, paper, and old boots, which a
fervid August sun is not generally inclined to mitigate.

He may "take things easy" when his guests, having engaged the
hotel-carriage and horses for a ride are still standing on the piazza
waiting half an hour past the time; and when, on its dilatory
appearance, the harness is found giving out at the last minute, having
been patched and repatched in a slovenly manner on uncounted previous
rides; while the golden sunset, on which his guests had reckoned, is
spent in a fruitless search for _that_ hammer and _those_ nails, which
elude all pursuit. He may think it good policy to keep his _regular_
boarders waiting for their meals an hour past the appointed time, while
hungry children fret for sustenance, because new-comers will _then_
appear, and this stratagem will save the trouble of preparing _two_
meals. He may do all that if he will; but he must remember that every
disgusted guest who leaves his establishment will prevent many from
coming to it; and that with such a short-sighted policy he will soon
find "his occupation gone."

Keeping a hotel is a _gift_, as much as poetry, or sculpture, or
painting. I might name men whose hotels have attained perfection under
their wise, cleanly, and systematic ordering; but perfect as they are,
I, for one, am not employed to advertise them over the length and
breadth of the land in the New York _Ledger_. Suffice it to say, that I
have slept on their lovely beds, and had four towels a day to wash my
hands on. That I had a roomy wardrobe for such of my clothes as I
desired to set free from my trunk. That the looking glass was _not_
located in the _darkest_ corner of the room, or placed so high that I
had to stand on tip-toe, or so low that I had to get on my knees to
myself. That the coffee was not made of split peas. That the fried
potatoes even an angel like me might eat. That the meats were cooked in
a Christian manner, and the bread guiltless of any abominable
"Sal"--anything. That the pastry, which I never touch, _looked_ good for
those who like it; and that the ale--oh! the ale was "divine." That in
the spots where cleanliness might not be looked for, there it reigned.
That no chambermaid came with scraping broom against my door, at
daylight, to rouse me from my slumbers, and shuffle and flirt with the
boot-and-shoe collectors at the different doors. That no "pictures" of
ambitious artists upon the walls gave me the nightmare. And, oh!
more--far more than this, that the well-mannered landlord never made a
menagerie--show--of any "lion," or lioness, in his house, by labelling
the same, on the instant of their appearance, in dining-hall or parlor,
for the unwinking stare of the curious.

Of course, such a house needs money as well as an artist-master to carry
it on. Of course, guests who register their names there, must foot the
cost of all this outlay on their bills.

One can buy a bonnet at a pawn-shop, if one is satisfied only with
cheapness; but the dainty, artistic fingers, which blend colors and
fabrics with the lightness and brightness of inspiration, cannot be
expected to sell so much talent at a pawnbroker's price.

Your physician, who stays in your house only five minutes, charges you,
perhaps, fifteen dollars. You stare wildly at the amount; but you do not
take into account the human bodies he has overhauled, and the libraries
and lectures he has mastered to arrive at the knowledge which he has
concentrated for your benefit in that brief five minutes. In homely
phrase, "you pays your money and you takes your choice." Or, "he is a
good-natured man, but he can't keep a hotel," nor will people stay with
him long, though Paradise lies out-doors.

       *       *       *       *       *

WOMEN LOVERS.--Perhaps you don't know it, but there are women that fall
in love with each other. Woe be to the unfortunate she who _does the
courting_! All the cussedness of ingenuity peculiar to the sex is
employed by "the other party" in tormenting her. She will flirt with
women by the score who are brighter and handsomer than her victim. She
will call on them oftener. She will praise their best bonnet, and go
into ecstasies over their dresses. She will write them more pink notes,
and wear their "tin types;" and when despair has culminated, and
sore-hearted Araminta takes to her bed in consequence, then only will
this conquering she, step off her pedestal to pick up her dead and
wounded. But then women must keep their hand in. Practice makes
perfect.



_NEW CLOTHES._


It is curious with what different eyes human beings look upon new
clothes, at different stages of existence. Youth, which least needs
these auxiliaries, is generally the most clamorous for incessant change.
No discomfort in the way of perpetual guardianship over their freshness;
no uncomfortable sense of their weight or pressure on the limbs, is
heeded, so that the craving for them is satisfied. Nor is there any sex
to this foible. Young men are quite as apt to be caught tripping in this
regard as their sisters. The new coat may squeeze; the new collar may
strangle; the new boots may pinch; the new hat may leave its red mark on
the throbbing forehead, but perish the thought of not wearing either!
The self-immolation which is undergone in this way finds no mention in
"Fox's Book of Martyrs;" but its silent, tearless, uncomplaining heroism
exists none the less for all that. From the days when our foremothers
had their heads built up in turrets by the hurried hair-dresser, the
night previous to some great festive occasion, and sat bolstered upright
in bed all night, for fear of tumbling them--down to the present day of
ladies' "hair-crimpers," human nature has held its own in this respect.

Middle age, with few exceptions, looks upon new clothes with abated
interest. Old clothes, like old customs, fit easy. _Comfort_, anyhow,
says middle age--appearances as the gods please; so new shoes lie on the
shelf unworn for weeks, for fear of stiff heels or squeaky soles; and
new clothes look and feel so spick-and-span and glossy, that middle age
can no more say or do a natural thing in them, than the boy could spell
right "before he had got the hang of the new school-house;" middle age
resents this petty, fretting intrusion on its much-loved quiet. It is
irritable, till new clothes begin to _feel_ easy, which is not generally
the case till some seam grows threadbare, or some treacherous gap
horrifies the easy wearer with renewed visions of innovating fashions
and fabrics.

Now this is very natural and very well, too, to a certain extent; but
middle age sometimes forgets that something is due to affectionate young
eyes, which take a proper pride in seeing "father" or "mother" neatly
and becomingly dressed, according to their age and station in life.
Roses and snow, of course, nobody looks for; but the trim evergreen
shows well, even beside a snow-bank; and nature herself hangs glistening
pendants of icicles from the glossy leaves of the ivy.

It is a harrowing reflection how much money is "sunk" every day in new
clothes, in which the blissfully unconscious wearers look none the
better, but rather the worse. Still, if everybody had good taste in this
matter, there would be no foil to the well-dressed; and I am afraid the
heartless dry-goods merchants care little whether blondes dress in
orange color, or brunettes in sky-blue, so that their bills are paid.

But new clothes for the "baby." Ah! that is something worth while. I ask
you, did love ever find fabric soft enough, or nice enough, or pretty
enough, for "_the baby_"? Fathers and mothers may make as virtuously
economical resolutions as they please; but why, if they mean to carry
them out, do they linger at the shop-window where that dainty little
satin bonnet stares them innocently in the face, with that pert little
rosette, cocked upon one side, that "would look so cunning on baby." Why
do they contemplate the rows of bright little red-prunella boots, or the
embroidered little sacques and frocks? Why don't they cross right over
and travel home out of the way of temptation? Surely, no pink could
rival the rose of baby's cheek; no crimson the coral of its lips; no
blue the sapphire of its eyes. For all that, out comes the purse and
home goes the bonnet, or cloak, or frock. Just as if shopkeepers didn't
know that babies will keep on being born, and born pretty; and that
fathers and mothers are, and will be, their happy slaves all the world
over to the end of time!



_HOW I READ THE MORNING PAPERS._


If there is a time when I sigh for the "Cave of Adullam," whatever that
may be, it is when, my coffee swallowed, my fingers clutch my precious,
morning papers, for a blessed, quiet read.

I just begin an editorial, which requires a little thinking, when up
comes Biddy with "Ma'am, there's a hole in the _biler_." The "biler"
settled, I go back to the place indicated by my forefinger, where the
Editor was saying "that Congress--" when somebody upsets the coffee-pot
in an attempt to burlesque last night's public performance. The
coffee-pot set right end up, and the coffee pond drained off the
table-cloth, I return again to my beloved editorial;--when Biddy again
appears with "Ma'am, the man has come to mend the door-handle as is
broke." That nuisance disposed of, I take my paper and retreat in
self-defence to the top of the house, and commence to read again, "that
Congress--" when I am interrupted with loud shouts of "Where's mother?
Mother? where are you?" I disdain to answer. "Mother?" In despair, I
cry, in tragic tones, "Well, what _is_ it?" "A poor soldier is at the
door with pictures at thirty cents apiece, and he has but one arm."
"Well, I have but one life--but for mercy's sake take his pictures, and
don't let in anything else, man, woman, or child, till I read my paper
through." I begin again: "If Congress--" when Biddy, who is making the
bed in the next room, begins howling "Swate Ireland is the land for me."
I get up and very mildly request--in view of a possible visit to an
Intelligence Office--that she will oblige me by deferring her concert
till I get through my morning paper. Then I begin again: "If Congress--"
when up comes paterfamilias to know if it is to be beef, or chicken, or
veal, that he is to order at market for that day's dinner. "Possum, if
you like," I mutter, with both fingers on my ears, as I commence again,
"If Congress--" Paterfamilias laughs and retreats, exclaiming,
"Shadrachs! vot a womansh!" and I finish "Congress," and begin on the
book reviews. A knock on the door. "Six letters, ma'am." I open them.
Three for an "autograph," with the privilege of finding my own envelope
and stamp, and mailing it afterward. One with a request for me to
furnish a speedy "composition" to save a school-boy at a dead-lock of
ideas from impending suicide. One from a man who has made a new kind of
polish for the legs of tables and chairs, and wants me to write an
article about it in the _Ledger_, and send him an early copy of the
same. One from a girl "who never in her life owned a dress bonnet," and
would like, with my assistance, to experience that refreshing and novel
sensation.

I begin again my postponed list of "book reviews;" when in comes
paterfamilias to know "if I haven't yet done with that paper." That's
the last ounce on the camel's back! Mind you, _he_ has just read _his_
morning paper through, and it contains a different stripe of politics
from mine, I can tell you that. Read it in _peace_, too--with his legs
on the mantel, smoking his beloved pipe. Read it up and down; backwards
and forwards; inside out, and upside down; and disembowelled every shade
of meaning from live and dead subjects; and then coolly inquires of
me--me, with my hair on end in the vain effort to retain any ideas
through all these interruptions--"if I haven't _yet_ done with that
paper?" Oh, it's _too_ much! I sit down opposite him. I explain how I
never get a chance to finish anything except himself. I tell him my life
is all fragments. I ask him, with moist eyes, if he knows how the price
of board ranges at the different Lunatic Asylums. What is his unfeeling
answer? "Hadn't I better take some other hour in the day to read the
papers?"

Isn't that just like a man?

Has not bother and worry "all seasons for its own," as far as women are
concerned? Would it make any difference what "hour in the day" I took to
read the papers? _Can_ women _ever_ have any system about anything,
while a Biddy or a male creature exists on the face of the earth to
tangle up things? Have I not all my life been striving and struggling
for that "order" which my copy-book told me in my youth "was Heaven's
first law"? And is it my fault if "chaos," which I hate, is my
"unwilling portion"? I just propounded to paterfamilias these vital
questions. With eyes far off on distant, and untried, and possible
fields of literature, he absently replies: "Well, as you say, Fanny, I
shouldn't wonder if it _does_ rain to-day." Great Heavens!

       *       *       *       *       *

SMOKING BABIES.--It would not be amiss to call the attention of parents
and school-teachers to the fact that every morning, lads from seven
years old to twelve may be seen, satchel in hand, _smoking_ on their way
to school. Surely, between the parents and the teachers, some remedy
should immediately be devised to prevent this enormous tax upon the
vitality of youth. A great deal has very properly been written and
spoken upon the mismanagement of young girls who have not yet reached
their teens. Why not extend this philanthropic solicitude to their
brothers? Is it because smoking fathers, being themselves slaves to this
vile habit, have not the face to ask their sons to practise a
self-denial, of which their own manhood is incapable?



_BETTY'S SOLILOQUY._


Hard to live out? Well, that's just as you choose to take it. Some folks
have no faculty at getting along in this world. My name is Easy, and my
nature is ditto. When I go to a place I always say "yes" to everything
they ask me. I never make an objection to doing anything; of course, my
mistress likes that; as to really doing all I promise to do, leave me
alone to manage that, with as innocent a face as the baby I take care
of. Now, for instance, suppose she sends me up into the nursery to get
the child asleep. It is tiresome work; there's a great deal of coaxing,
and twisting, and wriggling, and rocking, and singing to be done, before
that can be brought about; and it tires me, and I don't like it. But of
course I reply, "Certainly, ma'am," when she bids me, and I take the
child upstairs. Then I sit down with it; and just hold it in some
uncomfortable position so that it will cry loud enough to fret its
mamma. Then she bears it awhile, thinking baby will stop by and by; but
baby somehow _don't_ stop. Then she comes up and says to me, "Betty what
do you think _can_ ail baby!" And I kiss it and hold it up to my face,
and say, "Poor little dear, I am afraid it has a bad stomach ache; it
won't be easy--anyhow I try;" and then she says, "Well, I'll take it
awhile, Betty, and see if I can't soothe it asleep;" and I say, "Oh no,
ma'am, it is a pity you should tire yourself with the child;" and she
seeing me so willing, just takes it--don't you see? _That's_ the way to
do. There's no use in _fighting_ one's way through the world, when a
little cunning answers just as well. Well, then my mistress likes baby
to go out of doors a great deal. Now, as a general thing, I never engage
to live with a lady who don't keep her own carriage, on that account.
It's very nice to be sent out in a carriage with the baby, for an
airing, with John, the coachman, particularly when John is agreeable,
which is sometimes the case. It makes a body feel like somebody to say,
"John, you may drive here, or, John, you may drive there." But of course
one cannot always get a place to one's mind; and so when my mistress
uses her feet instead of a carriage, she needn't think that I shall do
it any more than I can possibly help. So when she tells me to take baby
out, I say, "Yes'em," as I always do, respectfully, I hope--and out I
go, and make for the first kitchen where I have a pleasant acquaintance,
and baby can wait till we get through our gossip, which is not very
soon. Of course, I never take a little tell-tale of an older child with
me on such occasions. I tell mistress I'm so afraid of its getting run
over, or something, while I'm minding baby. Then as to my "privileges,"
I hope I know enough to have one of my friends sick or dead if I want an
evening out. There can't anything be said against that, you know, if
one is only judicious enough not to have it happen _too_ often.
Sometimes I come across a mistress who is too keen for me. Now I never
like to live with a lady who has gray eyes; in that case we have a
mutual inclination to part, of course; but as a general thing, I find my
way of managing "_fust-rate_," because I give no "impudence," you see,
which is what most ladies are so touchy about. As to "conscience,"
humph! where are _their_ "consciences," I'd like to know? It is a poor
rule that won't work both ways. I should be worn to a skeleton if I kept
a conscience.

       *       *       *       *       *

BRIDAL PRESENTS.--If brides could only hear the conversations that are
held over the "bridal presents" by the givers! Their weary yawns while
pondering how much _must_ be expended, and how little _may_; and wishing
heartily the whole system were exploded, in favor of their pockets. If
brides could hear this, they would quietly and with dignity announce,
"No presents received," even without any reservations as to
relationship. It is of no use talking of the "good old days," we
suppose; as well might one ask a confirmed epicure to adjure his
Cayenne, and highly spiced diet for plain, wholesome, nutritious food;
so, with a passing sigh for the days when sentiment, modesty, and
economy had not yet gone out of fashion, we give it up.



_MY DREADFUL BUMP OF ORDER._


I have just been reading a "sweet" article, headed "Coming Home After
the Summer Vacation," in which the writer looks through his "glory
spectacles" upon the delights of plenty of elbow-room in the dear old
house; good fare, and one's little personal hourly comforts generally.
_All very well._ But what of the carpets to be shaken and steamed, or
the new ones to be made? What of the painting and whitewashing, and
cleaning out of cellars and closets? What of the new kitchen-range, and
the new oilcloth for the floor? What of the plumbing and roof painting?
What of the winter's coal to get in, which _paterfamilias_ always
"forgets" to order till the fall house-cleaning is done? What of
upholsterers and painters and plumbers, who begin a job, and finish it
whenever the gods will? What of crisp, sunny, lovely autumn mornings
spent in the delightful atmosphere of an "Intelligence Office" six feet
by eight, while _answering_ the following questions: "Any children in
the family? Have you an English basement? Have you a servant's parlor?
Do you put out your washing? Does your cook wash the dishes? Do you use
such and such a kitchen-range?" All of which questions, answered in the
affirmative, giving you the inestimable boon of a poor cook, at sixteen,
eighteen, or twenty dollars a month, with liberty to have her "cousins"
visit her at will. After that comes your waitress, and if you want to
preserve your senses you had better end there, without encumbering
yourself with more "help."

There is nothing said about all _this_ in the "sweet" article alluded
to, called "Coming Home After the Summer Vacation." I didn't see
anything in it either about the children's dilapidated wardrobe, to be
then replenished, with dress-makers knee-deep in engagements, and
"Furnishing Stores for Children's Outfits," containing only lace and
ruffles, to wear to school. As to your own wardrobe, if you are
possessed of a black silk, or alpaca, or Cashmere walking-suit, blessed
are you among women--for then you at least are always presentable in
public.

Well, after all this, there is a chance that the new cook, not admiring
the new waitress, whom _you_ happen to like, may conclude to quarrel her
off, in order to fill the vacancy with a raw "cousin" just from
shipboard: and directly, when you think the family machine is at last
oiled, and in motion for the winter, and you are taking breath upon that
idea, in comes the irate waitress, and you are "to choose, ma'am, if you
please, between me and the cook, for indeed the house will not hold both
of us," and so on, and so forth.

Here most lady housekeepers come to the end of their calamities. But
suppose you help to earn the family bread and butter as a writer? Then
may the gods send you patience, or a new set of nerves and muscles and
brains! May the gods preserve you from reading yourself the crudities
you give to the public for base lucre! May the gods sustain you under
the torturing reflection, how much better literary work you know
yourself to be capable of, had you only a fair chance at your freshest
moments, and could you inaugurate that "system" in your household to
which Intelligence Offices are an insurmountable obstacle; which you,
New England born and bred, adore and understand, but yet can never bring
about with any "increase of wages," or even personal supervision; not,
at least, while the demand for household servants is always greater than
the supply, and they can make their own terms, and exhaust your vitality
much faster than they can their own vocabulary of abuse.

Knowing thoroughly _this_ side of "Coming Home After the Summer
Vacation," I perused the article with this heading, with the corners of
my mouth slightly drawn down, and the end of my nose slightly turned up.
And if any lady remarks, in reply, that _she_ "admires housekeeping in
all its details," I can only say, that I have observed that slack
housekeepers generally do, as their topsy-turvy cupboards bear witness.
And I also unhesitatingly affirm that no thorough housekeeper, in the
present day of incompetent, careless servants, who desires time for
anything else save the hourly needs of the body, can conscientiously
make such assertion; although, as wife and mistress, she may not at the
same time refuse to meet the consequent exhaustive demands upon her
vitality; that is, so long as she can possibly bear the strain.

It is a trying thing to have the bump of order too fully developed. Now
I have trotted across this room twenty times to pick up little bits of
thread and shining pins, that offended my eye, upon this floor. I
positively couldn't write till I had done it. Then that vase was placed
a little awry when the room was dusted, and I had to get up and settle
its latitude and longitude. The hearth, too, had some ashes upon it, and
there was a shawl on the sofa that should have been in the closet. Then
there was an ink-spot on my thumb that had to be removed, and my desk
had a speck or two of dust on the corner. All these things bothered me;
and then I fell thinking whether it were not, after all, better not to
have quite so sharp an eye for these things; that perhaps editors were
right who had their office windows so thickly crusted with dirt that
they could not tell whether it were a rainy or a sunshiny day from
indoor observation. That perhaps they were right in heaping breast-high
upon their office desks papers, books, MSS., letters, pencils, pens,
gloves, hats, and cigar-stumps, varied with engravings and dirty
pocket-handkerchiefs. Perhaps they were right in never sweeping their
floors, and leaving it to their visitors to dust their chairs with their
clothes. Really it is quite a question with me this morning, whether
the bump of order is not a nuisance, even to a woman. Now at any chance
table where I may lunch, I have regularly to re-locate the cups,
saucers, and dishes, before I begin, placing them where their
geographical relation will be most harmonious. If the folds in the
table-cloth run the wrong way, I assure you I am quite miserable; and a
missing stopper to the vinegar cruet drives me to despair. Then I
endeavor so to regulate my bureau drawers and closets that a visit to
them in the darkest night, without a light, for any article, would be
eminently successful. Till, "_Now, who has been here_," has come to be a
miserable joke against me, by the happy creatures who cannot comprehend,
that to misplace my gloves, or handkerchiefs, or ribbons, or veil, is to
cause my too susceptible heart an exquisite anguish, beside wasting my
precious time in fruitless hunts for the same.

Then I may be very tired when I return at twelve o'clock at night from
some visit or place of amusement; but no amount of reasoning could avail
to get me to bed till my bonnet, cloak, and dress were put away in their
appropriate places. I am sorry to confess that unless I did this,
visions of Betty and a broom in possible connection with them, the next
morning, would quite interfere with my slumbers. You may laugh at all
this; but 'tis I who would laugh at _you_ in the morning, when you are
spending the best hours of the day in flying distractedly round for some
missing article which you cannot do without, and which, of course,
_nobody has seen_. If "Order is Heaven's first law," as my school
copy-book used to assert, my initiatory carefulness here below may not
be, after all, without its value. Still, I do not forget that there was
once a Martha who was rebuked for "being careful and troubled about many
things."

But stay a bit: can you tell me _why_, when one's room is what they call
"put to rights," the table which has a drawer in it should always be so
left by Bridget that the drawer side faces the wall? Or why, when a
basin of water is in use, to cleanse spots from paint, it should always
be placed near the door, that the first comer may enjoy an impromptu
foot-bath? Why, in moving a vase, or any other fragile article, it is
always so located, that breakage is inevitable? Why should dust-pans be
left in dark entries, or stairways, to the sudden precipitation of some
unsuspecting victim? Why, when a broom is off duty, should it be "stood
up" where the handle is sure to make thumping acquaintance with one's
nose? Why should soiled towels be abstracted, before replacing them with
fresh ones, and you left to make the harrowing discovery with dripping
finger-ends? Oh! tell me why need your bonnet be put in the
coal-scuttle, and your muddy gaiter-boots in the bandbox? Why should
your "honey-soap" be used to wash the hearth? Why, when you beseech that
blankets, and sheets, and coverlets, should be tucked harmoniously in at
the bottom of the bed, should your toes make unwilling acquaintance,
every night, with the cold foot-board? Why, when you request that a
door should be kept shut, is it always left wide open? and why, when you
are in a gasping condition, should it be carefully closed, spite of
repeated remonstrance?

Gentle Shepherd, tell me, are pigs and Bridgets _the only_ creatures
whom heaven and earth can't stop from going east, if you desire them to
go west? And the Shepherd answers--_Man_.

       *       *       *       *       *

MOTHERS OF MANY CHILDREN.--"Ponder every subject with careful attention,
if you wish to acquire knowledge." What is then to be the mental status
of that mother who has a _perpetual_ baby in her arms, and only time to
"ponder" that baby, so weary is her body with its "ponder"-osity? Where
is the Solomon to answer this question? Baby knowledge she may indeed
have; but the baby will grow up by and by, and how is she to acquire
"knowledge" under such circumstances, and be a fit intellectual
companion for it then? That's what some people want to know, when little
brothers and sisters tread so fast on each other's heels, that the
mother has scarcely breathing time between.



"_EVERY FAMILY SHOULD HAVE IT._"


One actually gasps for breath in crowded, closetless New York to read
this frequent newspaper announcement, "Every family should have it."
Modern times having abolished the "garret of our forefathers with its
all-embracing omnium-gatherum eaves," the prospect of dire confusion is
terrible if "every family" does not turn a deaf ear to these
disinterested caterers for their benefit. Alas! for that old blessed
garret, the standing curiosity shop for the youngsters of a rainy or a
holiday afternoon; that mausoleum of "notions" cast aside by our
venerated ancestors, who undoubtedly had their little follies like their
descendants. Old boxes, old tins, old baskets, old hats, old bonnets,
old school-books, old bottles, did not then, as now, marshal themselves
on the sidewalks, in company with coal cinders, to the disgust of every
pedestrian, waiting the snail-like operations of the dirt-man, who is
off duty six days out of the seven, and spills half he carries away at
that, besides knocking the bottom out of every barrel when, having
essayed to disembowel it, he jerks it off one wheel of his cart to the
sidewalk. One needs to go to Boston or to Philadelphia occasionally to
air one's nostrils and temper after it. After this, to talk of more
things, each day, that "every family must have," is enough to drive one
to a druggist's for speedy oblivion. What a blessing to these public and
disinterested philanthropists, of "every family," are gullible
housekeepers and matrons who, though cheated and bamboozled seventy
times seven, are still on hand for the latest sham--"improvement."
Credulous souls! How do their husbands count over to them on warning
marital fingers the dismal amount thus uselessly expended! Not that
_they themselves_ do not, and have not, erred in the same way; but who
is going to have the superhuman courage to tell these sinless beings so?
But after all, far be it from me to say that there are not many things
that "every family must have;" and one of these is a baby. Not that
_they_ too are not occasionally dumped unceremoniously and heartlessly
on the sidewalk; but that don't alter the fact, that a house without a
baby is no house at all. Another thing that "every family must have," is
a Doctor; also a Minister. Who ever heard of a woman without these two
confidential friends--what would become of her if she couldn't make a
good cup of tea for the latter, and tell the other her real and
imaginary aches? And if she knows anything, can't she always choose her
own sanitary prescriptions, all the same as if there were no diploma in
her Doctor's pocket?

I will not stop to inquire whether this advertisement-heading is a
disinterested one, or whether they who deal in such things are
conversant with the respective sizes of our houses, or families, or
both; or whether new complications of pots and pans, and tea-kettles,
and gridirons, and egg-beaters, and clothes-wringers, and the like, will
only wring to utter extinction the already muddled heads of our
unscientific "help" and the depleted purses of housekeepers, consequent
upon their unthrift. We only wish to remind these disinterested
shopkeepers, who would fain take in verdant housekeepers, that houses
nowadays are mainly constructed without garrets, without cellars,
without closets, without any lumber place whatsoever, where the wrecks
of these articles "that no family can do without," can be ultimately
stranded. Their wares are, to be honest, often tempting enough to look
at; beautiful in their shining freshness, and deliciously suggestive of
good roasts and stews and broils--_awfully_ suggestive of the
latter!--but "terrible as an army with banners," when contemplating
"Intelligence offices"; though why "_intelligence_" when anything _but_
that is to be had there, I have heretofore failed to see.

Another question I would ask these disinterested persons who have so
many "articles no family can do without:" Did they ever hear of the
_First of May_? Have they a realizing sense of what it is to "move"?
Will they tell us, when moving carts are already bursting with "the
things no family can do without," and the sidewalk refuses to receive
the remainder, and the new tenant won't have them at any price, and you
are wild with despair that it is impossible for you to be divorced from
them--will they tell us, at that halcyon moment, if they really
contemplated, in the affluence of their desires to furnish our houses,
that they might be the means of sending us to a lunatic asylum?

Beggars are useful at such times, if they only wouldn't sort out the
horrid heap of broken and disabled things that "the family can" _now_ do
very well "without," directly in the path of the moving carts, and
before your afflicted eyes, that are quite ready to close on all things
here below, so intense is your disgust of them.

The words "do without" convey to me a very different meaning now than of
yore. A new dumping-ground must be invented in New York before _I_
patronize any more inventions. I'm for condensing instead of expanding
things, till our city masters find time to attend to that. Nobody need
ring my door-bell with "patent" anything, while it is so patent that
there is no vacant space in Manhattan for anything new under the sun. My
nature is not conservative; but one can't be pushed into the East river,
when it is so full of the "things that no family can do without," that
there is not room enough left there even to sink.



_GETTING TO RIGHTS._


There! I breathe again! The household is at last wound up--carpets down,
house-cleaning accomplished; all the "pretties" located in the most
effective places; my flowers and ivies luxuriant; my desk newly fitted
up; everything thriving save myself; but that's no consequence, I
suppose. My play-day is over, and now I must buckle down to realities.
Still one's home _is_ lovely after the jar of the creaking machinery
used in getting it in order has ceased. Your own chair, just fitted to
your weary back; your own convenient dressing-room and glass, with all
your little duds close to your hand; gas, instead of kerosene;
bell-wires ready to your hand, instead of having to descend stairs and
do your own errands; food cooked your own way, and just when you want
it; and over and above all, to be able to say what shall, and what shall
not, be _inside_ your front door. May the gods make us thankful so far!
But if I _could_ get a breath of dear Newport now, before I buckle down
to work; if I could have just _one_ drive more in my horse and phaeton
round the "ocean road," and smell the good salt breeze, and see the
crisp white foam of the dashing waves, I think it would quite set me up
for the winter campaign. As to my horse, I know he wants me as much as
I do him. I don't think he has made much, in exchanging my free and
go-easy "chirrup" for the lash of the whip. I wish I were a man, and
then I could drive here in the city; but I ain't, you see, and so I
shall have to get the snarl out of my tired nerves some other way.

Let us change the subject. Is it not funny how a man will go on
inspecting your efforts to get a house to rights? Is it not funny how he
never can tell how "a thing is going to look," till every accessory is
perfected? Now he says, "What made you choose that dull carpet, nobody
can tell." You reply, "Because it is capable of such brilliant contrasts
in color." He shakes his head, having no imagination to help him out,
and thinks it "a blunder." You smile serenely, knowing your ground, and
bide your time, while he croaks. By and by, some day, when he has gone
out, the little bits of color are added by you, here and there: a bright
vase, or a cushion, or a stand of flowers, or the color of a mat
judiciously chosen; and my gentleman walks in, and says, "Why, who would
have thought it? it is really lovely!" That, of course, is only setting
himself down for a goose; but when is ever a man anything else, when he
attempts to criticise a woman's housekeeping in any of its departments?
You despise his encomiums now, and with nose in air, walk round among
your flowers and pretties, as if to say, "In future, sir, confine
yourself to Grad-grind matters that you understand, and leave the
decorative part of your existence to one who--Hem!"

I ache from head to foot with my herculean efforts to bring things in
this house to a bright New England focus. But I am not sorry, because I
can now put to rout some articles lately written, by a very bright woman
too, on "the inexactness of hired women's work, as compared to the
fidelity and exactness of hired men's work." I am happy to state, that
after my new parlor carpets were nailed down, by _men_ too, I discovered
several little blocks of wood and other nuisances underneath, which
should have been first removed; thus perilling the future wear of my
pretty new carpet. I am happy to state too, that the papering done by
men was not to my mind, or _according to my order_, and had to be done
over again. I rejoice to say that my window-shades are not yet
forthcoming, according to a _man's_ promise; and that it was only by
personal supervision that my cellar was thoroughly cleansed by a _man_,
as he agreed it should be. In short, I don't want to hear any more on
the "_exactness_ of man's work," since he can fib, and slight things,
with an adroitness worthy of a woman, and I am sure I couldn't put the
case any stronger.

_Now_ I am going to fold my hands and be comfortable. I can't have my
horse this winter, and so I sha'n't sigh any more for _him_; but if I
live till the spring, that horse, or some other, has got to help me get
rid of this world's cares and perplexities every blessed sunny
afternoon. Let us trust that he is fattening up on oats paid and
provided for in the stable of some philanthropist unknown to me. I have
had so much of the _details_ lately, that I shall be quite satisfied
with _results_ without inquiring further.

       *       *       *       *       *

I wish I were a voter: I would vote for the officials who would take a
little interest in the household ash-barrel. It may be too much to ask
that the McGormicks, and McCormicks, and O'Flahertys, who are paid for
emptying these utensils--when it don't rain, and when they don't forget
it--should not empty the contents on the pavement, and then half shovel
them up, to save themselves the exertion of lifting the barrels, which
they always throw down upon their sides, to roll wheresoever the gods or
idle boys will. It may be too much to ask that they should amend their
ways in these particulars; but were every lady housekeeper a voter, as,
thank Providence, they are sure to be some day or other, these gentlemen
would either have to toe the mark, or be run over by the new wheel of
progress.

Meantime, it is of little use for Bridget to sweep the sidewalk, or keep
the gutter free, as she often pathetically remarks to me, when she goes
forth to perform this matutinal duty. Now, as the tools used in my
profession keep sharper and freer from rust, in the air of Manhattan,
than elsewhere, I cannot be expected to vacate for the dry-dirt-man. The
only alternative that I know of is, that _he_ shall vacate for me, and
make room for more executive officials. That's logic, if it is
feminine. In short, I want those men to take a little journey
somewhere--I'm not particular where, so that they don't come back.

It grows clearer to me, every day, as I observe these one-horse
arrangements, why women are not allowed to vote: there would be little
margin then for all this cheating, this pocketing of salaries without an
equivalent. The sidewalks, gutters, streets would be as clean as a
parlor floor. No old boxes, or kegs, or boots and shoes, past their
prime, would challenge our eyes, or our noses. The drinking-places would
be disgorged of husbands, fathers, lovers, and brothers; also the
billiard and gambling saloons. In short, the broom of reform would raise
such a dust in the eyes of the _how-not-to-do-its_, that, when their
vision was restored, they would ask, like the old woman whose skirts
were curtailed while taking her nap, if "this be I?"

Meantime I wait--not patiently--for this millennium. It galls me--this
dirt and thriftlessness--more in the Autumn than at any other time. In
the Spring it is sufficiently odious; but then one is on the wing for
the country, and that hope buoys a housekeeper under it. In the Winter
the friendly, pure white snow comes, with its heavenly mantle of
charity, to cover it sometimes. But who or what shall comfort the
housekeeper in the lingering, golden days of the Indian Summer, when
fresh from the pure air of the country, and the brilliant foliage of the
valleys, and the lovely shadows on the hillsides, she is doomed to see,
to smell, to breathe whatever of pollution and unthrift our city fathers
choose, without the power to cast the vote that shall give us a clean
city?

Meantime, as I say, I wait--_not_ patiently--for that desired
millennium; and shall continue, with a touching faith in it, to keep
flowering plants in my windows, and in other ways to signify, to the
passer-by, that dirt and unsightliness, and bad odors, are not and never
have been, the normal condition of _woman_.

       *       *       *       *       *

OUR MORNING MEAL.--Breakfast should be the most enlivening meal of the
whole day, for then we are to be nerved for another day's duties and
cares, and perhaps for great sorrows also. Let there be no exciting
argument, from which personalities may crop out, around the breakfast
table. Let there be, if possible, only pleasant topics, and affectionate
salutations, that all may go forth their separate ways with sweet,
peaceful memories of each other; for some foot may never again cross the
family threshold, some eye never witness another day's dawning. This
thought, if the busy world were not so clamorous as to stifle it, would
often arrest the impatient, fretful words that pain so many tender
hearts.



_MODERN MARTYRS._


Fox's cheerful "Book of Martyrs" strikes us as incomplete. He tells, to
be sure, of people who have been roasted alive, cut up, torn limb from
limb, disembowelled, and suffered various other trifling annoyances of
that kind; but though I have perused it carefully, I see no mention of
the unhappy wretch who, coming home at twelve o'clock at night, with
frozen fingers, gropes round his room, bumping his nose, and
extinguishing his eyes, in the vain search for his match-box, the
latitude and longitude of which some dastardly miscreant has changed.
Nor do I see any mention of him who, having washed his hands nicely,
looketh in vain for a towel, where a towel _should_ be, while little
rivulets of water run up his shirt-sleeves or drip from his extended
finger-tips. No allusion either is made to her who, sitting down to her
time-honored portfolio, misseth one sheet of MS. which somebody has
fluttered out, and straightway gone his heedless way. Nor yet of the
unhappy owner of a pen, whose pace answers only to one hand, and whose
nib has been tampered with by some idle scribbler, in multiplying the
name of "Laura," or "Matilda," to an indefinite extent, over a sheet of
paper as blank as his mind. I see no mention of her who, sitting down to
write, is made frantic by the everlasting grind of a hand-organ beneath
the window; that performer's welcome retreat being followed by a shaky
old man with a wheezy flute, or the more horrible bagpipe performance,
compared with which the shrieks of twenty cur-tailed cats were heaven's
own music. I have not noticed any mention of her who, giving her husband
a letter to drop into the post, finds the same a month afterwards in the
pocket of a vest, which he tosses her to mend. I see no mention of the
lady-victims of owners of shops, three miles long, who have always
"_just the article you want_" at the very farthest extremity of the
store; and whom they lure to traverse that distance only to find
something in the _shopman's_ view "infinitely superior," but about as
near the article wanted as is the North to the South pole. No mention
either is made of the gentleman with a bran new coat, who takes the last
seat in the car, next a child fond of wriggling, with a piece of soft
gingerbread or a moist stick of candy in its uncertain gripe. Nor is any
allusion made to the friend of the family, who furnishes all the
children with holiday toys, every one of which has either a crucifying
squeak or a stunning explosive power, which soon fits their amiable
mother for a lunatic asylum. Nothing is said, as I can find, of that
mistress of a family to whom the morning hours are as precious as gold
dust, and who is called down to see a gentleman, who (having read
_Jones_ on the door-plate) straightway, with sublime assurance, asks
"for _Mrs._ Jones, on particular business;" when that lady, descending,
finds a well-dressed, well-groomed individual, who, with a smirk and a
bow, straightway draws from his pocket "a bottle of furniture polish,"
which he exhausts all the dictionary and her patience in extolling; or
presents to her notice a "cement for broken china," or "samples of
needles." Scarcely has she rid herself of this nuisance, when "a boy
wishes also to see _Mrs. Jones_ on particular business," which turns out
to be the hoped-for sale of "six envelopes, two steel-pens, a pencil, a
brass breast-pin, a tin trumpet, a corkscrew, and four sheets of
letter-paper--all for sixpence--_and just sold three next door, mum_."

Is not the boarding-house public an army of martyrs? As to
boarding-house life, I detest it every way: its public feeding, its
scandal, its heterogeneousness, its tyrannical edicts against babies and
young children, its stifling atmosphere of roast, and boil, and stew,
and tobacco-smoke, its punctual delivery of your letters and parcels,
_on the entry table_; its way of sweeping your room at most inconvenient
hours, and dusting it with one summary whisk from a long-handled,
feather-tailed switch; its convenient deafness to the jerk of your
bell-wire; its homoeopathic coffee and pie; its towels, threadbare in
quality, and niggardly in quantity; its parlor, showy and shabby, with
its inevitable centre-table, with its perennial annuals, its hump-backed
rocking-chair, and distorted pictures--and apoplectic bills.

The necessity it entails of always wearing a mask; of fearing to speak,
lest you should tread on the toes of your neighbor's pet hobby, and
thereby deprive yourself of the convenient bridge over which the salt
and pepper must necessarily travel to your plate, waiters being stupid
and scarce; the bore of talking when you feel taciturn, or having your
neighbor provokingly insist upon it that you must be ill; the bore of
laughing when you feel sad, and hearing threadbare topics rediscussed,
and stale jokes resurrectionized; the misery of never being able to have
the first unfolding of your own morning-paper, or of having it
incontinently disappear, in company with some unprincipled boarder bound
on a daybreak journey, and that day sure to be aggravatingly dull and
rainy; the necessity of always turning your keys upon boxes and trunks,
and the certainty of losing or misplacing them when you are in a
double-twisted, insane hurry; your contracted, closetless space; your
inevitable city window prospect of back sheds, with ghostly garments
hanging on groaning clothes-lines; of distracted bachelors at upper
chamber-windows, vainly essaying to sew on missing buttons, and
muttering inaudible oaths at their clumsy, needle-pricked fingers.

Now, if you needs must board, go to the biggest and best hotel you can
find, where everybody is too much occupied to interfere with your
personal business; where waiters are plenty, and it is not high treason
to ask for salt with your meat. If your finances forbid this, then, in
mercy to yourself, rent a shanty where no third person is a fixture in
your family, where you can sneeze when your nose has a call that way,
and where your hopes and fears, joys and sorrows will not be leisurely
dissected by the cool fingers of malignity, and where that nightmare,
Paul Pry-ism, is not always astride of your heart and brain.

That's my opinion of boarding-houses, and may the gods have mercy on the
_bored_. Let us have a new edition of Fox at once.

       *       *       *       *       *

AN ERROR TO AVOID.--All writers do best who depict that which they have
seen with their own eyes, instead of their "mind's eye." It is very easy
to detect the difference. There is a glow, a naturalness, a fidelity to
life in the first, that is never to be found in the last. And yet how
many, stepping past their own legitimate points of observation, and
looking only through the fog of imagination, give us dim, distorted,
crude caricatures of life and human beings, the counterpart of which
never has and never will exist. This is especially the fault of
beginners, whose misdirected aim it is to startle and astonish.



_WRITING "COMPOSITIONS."_


I have lately received a letter which it would be well every teacher and
parent in the land should read. As I shall not betray the name or
residence of the distressed young writer, of whom I have no knowledge
except what is communicated by her letter, and as it may call attention
to the last-drop-in-the-bucket misery, inflicted upon children already
sufficiently overtasked, who are required to furnish ideas upon a given
subject, which it is utterly impossible their young minds should grasp,
I shall make no apology for transcribing it verbatim; calling particular
attention to the italicized passages:

       *       *       *       *       *

"DEAR AUNT FANNY:--You have said you are Auntie to all poor girls in
distress. I am in distress, if ever anybody was; and I know that you
will be kind to me. Let me tell you about it. I have expected to
graduate in about two weeks; and I have no essay to read, and if I don't
have one I can't graduate. I would not care so much for that myself, but
my father would be _so_ disappointed; and he has made so many sacrifices
to keep me at school, that I _can't_ disappoint him. Oh! I have worked
so hard to keep up with my class, for I am obliged to be absent so
much, and now if I can't go through, _I shall die, I know_. I am not
afraid of passing examination, for I know I can do that successfully,
but I never could write any kind of a decent composition; and now it
seems as though it was worse than ever, for _I have tried for four
months to write one, but I am farther off from it than ever_. I know
that you will think me very, _very_ dull, and I suppose I am; but, oh!
Aunt Fanny, _do, do_ pity me. Please, _please_ write me one to
read--_you_ can do it in a very short time. I know that it is a very
great favor to ask of you, and I should not dare to do it, but oh! I am
almost crazy, and I know by your writings that you will pity and help
me. I pray every night that God will help me, and I think He put it into
my heart to write to you about it. I have tried everything. Oh, dear! I
can't write on anything at all. _I have sat up all night, but I am as
dull as ever, and I dream about it when I go to sleep._ Oh! Aunt Fanny,
do, _do_ pity me, and write for me. I will do anything in this wide
world for you. Oh, please, do; I will never forget you. You can do
anything almost; I will bless you forever. _Oh, I shall die if I don't
have one!_ Do write me a line, anyway, and direct to ----, ----. Excuse
me for writing so, but I am nearly desperate. _Oh, for the love of God,
do write me one in two weeks, or at most three!_ I dare not even read
over what I have written to you. Oh! Aunt Fanny, don't refuse me."

       *       *       *       *       *

A better comment than this touching letter, upon the present forcing,
hot-house system of education, even I should not desire. Think of this
young girl, goaded to the very verge of insanity by those who _should
know_ that they are defeating the very object they are trying to attain
by forcing the young mind to string together to order, and by the page,
_words without ideas_. In my opinion this "composition" business is the
greatest possible nonsense. I believe it to be the baneful root of the
inflated style of writing so prevalent. I believe that there are
exercises in English, which would serve the purpose millions of times
better without driving pupils mad, and without offering them a premium
for deceit, in passing off as their own the thoughts of others. Not long
since, I received a letter from the principals of a school, enclosing "a
composition" to which "a prize" had just been awarded, and which some
person present at the reading had detected as stolen from one of my
books; with a request that I would look it over and pronounce upon the
same. I found it word for word as I had written it in my book! Perhaps
the _moral_ effect of this system may be worth inquiring into, even by
those who seem to be utterly insensible to the wretched spectacle of a
young head tossing feverishly, night after night, on the pillow, under
the brooding nightmare of an unwritten "_composition_." Let careless
parents, who are quite as much to blame as teachers, give this subject a
thought.

Now, girls, I fully sympathize with you in your distractions in this
dilemma, but this is not the way to help you out of it. I advise you to
ask your teacher to allow you to describe some scene or place you have
visited, which you could easily do; then write it out naturally, as if
you were telling it to some friend, without any attempt at fine
language. Also ask your teacher to allow you _to stop when you get
through_, instead of exacting so many lines or pages when your ideas
give out. That is the only way that good "compositions" can be written,
and I wish fervently all school-teachers knew it, and ceased bothering
poor young heads "to make bricks without straw," or resort in their
distress to the deception you propose to me.

"Composition day," it is true, in my school-days, was only a delight to
me. But you should have seen the idiot I was in arithmetic or algebra,
or historical dates! How I pinched the girl next me to help me out; and
how gratefully I remembered it, in after years, and embroidered my
gratitude on her first baby's little flannel petticoats!

Now, my dear young ladies, don't be discouraged because you are slow at
"composition." As I say, it is not your fault, for half the time the
most impossible subjects are given you to write about. Your minister
might just as well be asked to write a dissertation on French millinery.
Then, though your gift may not be "composition," it may lie in something
quite as important; so with this little consolation I leave you to
wriggle out of your dilemma the best way you can, without pilfering.

And, moreover, I think a meeting of school-teachers ought speedily to be
called to consider this composition subject and make it, as easily might
be done, a delight, instead of a bore and a cheat.

       *       *       *       *       *

THE LITTLE ONES.--Fortunate are those parents who have learned to
respect the _individuality_ of their children. Who are not madly bent
upon planting them in the family garden in set rows, and so closely that
their branches have no room to stretch out into the fair sunlight. Who
are not forever on hand with the pruning-knife or hoe, to lop off that
which, if left, would develop into sweet buds or flowers; or to dig the
earth prematurely from roots which were better left safely hidden till
their natural period of vigorous appearing. A gardener who should be
guilty of such folly would be a laughing-stock. What if all his flowers
were of one color? What if every twig and leaf were of the same size?
How weary should we be of this monotony. How we should long for the
delicate pink of the rose, and the royal purple of the violet, and the
pure snow of the lily, and the distinctive aroma of each! Why not in
this respect take a lesson from Nature, which is at once so bountiful
and so wise?



_NICE LITTLE TEA-PARTIES._


Hospitality seems to be an extinct virtue. Grand parties we have in
plenty of all kinds, where those who have vitality sufficient to attend
them, and purses long enough to compete with the vulgar show attending
them, may return such hollow civilities, and "have it over," as they
express it.

"_Have it over!_" There's just the fly in the ointment. The
old-fashioned, genuine hospitality never was "over." Nobody wanted it
"over." A simple, elegant little tea, a well-cooked, well-served, plain
family dinner, one's friend was always welcome to join, without a
printed card of invitation weeks beforehand, accompanied with a
whispered, "I hope to gracious they won't accept!" But that, alas! is
all in the past. Fashion has decreed an elaborate show of food, dishes,
and dress. Families pinch themselves a whole year for one grand display
of this kind, in the endeavor to compete with those whose means perhaps
may justify this barren style of entertaining, and where stupefaction
and a consequent lack of intelligent conversation are the only result,
save a long bill of expense. The consequence is, that people whose time
is valuable, and whose vitality is too precious to expend in this way,
refuse all such invitations. But the unfortunate part of it is, that
many of them do not revive the old simple hospitality; and when
expostulated with upon setting a better example, only reply, that the
prevailing taste for show has so vitiated everything, that there are few
who care to go where it is not the order of the entertainment.

Now we don't believe this. We have too often heard sensible, cultivated,
refined men and women deplore it, to credit this idea. But they are in
the mäelstrom; Mrs. So and So is a particular friend, and "she thinks
she must go through with this vulgar parade," or, "her husband likes
it;" and "they think every time that they accept, they never will do it
again, even for her," etc. Now it isn't that there are "few who don't
like it:" but it _is_ true that there are few who have the independence
to inaugurate a different state of things--to be _truly_ hospitable
without excessive upholstery, or gastronomy, or fine millinery.

To my mind, there is something better than sitting hours to see servants
dexterously place and take away dishes. One sees that at home in lesser
degree, and with less waste of time. One can converse with one's hostess
there, and she will not answer at random, because her mind is occupied
with processions of birds and sugar and wines. Little children's faces,
like flowers, are there, in place of a stiff bouquet of flowers and
silver pyramids obscuring one's _vis-à-vis_. _There_ is a home flavor
which puts the most modest guest at ease, and permits him or her to
bring forth something in the way of conversation that is not the
inflamed product of half a dozen kinds of wine--something to remember
and think of afterward with pleasure, instead of blushing next day to
associate with the speaker.

I say there are people, and the best kind of people too, who _much_
prefer this style of entertainment; but they should not rest there. They
should inaugurate something better in their place, instead only of
retiring in disgust under the shelter of their own roofs, and living
only for their own family circles. They owe a duty also to society, and
it should be paid by setting a sensible example of old-fashioned
simplicity in hospitality, which in time may reform this matter. People
who value their brains want them in decent condition for the next
morning, and the next morning after that, and cannot afford to waste
them in this manner. It is a matter of dollars and cents with them, I'd
have you to know, as well as a matter of taste; if, indeed, I may be
pardoned for putting forward an idea so practical. They wish to retire
early, for one thing; they prefer out-door air for another, when they
are off duty with the pen, instead that of a close, stifled room, and
the spectacle of feeding and drinking till sense and wit give out. This
is plain talking, but it won't hurt you, my friends, to have a little
occasionally.



_A SLEEPLESS NIGHT._


You know what it is to lie awake at night, I suppose, while every
lumpish human creature in the house is sleeping, regardless of the
perspiration standing in drops on your bewitched forehead; regardless of
your twitching fingers, and kicking toes, and glaring, distended eyes;
regardless of your increasing disgust at each miserable moment at the
monotonous tap, tap, tap, of solitary heels on the forsaken sidewalk;
regardless of your meditated vengeance on the morrow, should you
perchance survive to see it, upon the owner of that flapping-blind
across the way, which has been slamming fore-and-aft all night, and yet
never dropped, as you hoped it might, on somebody's or anybody's
head--you didn't care whose, so that you might have been delivered from
the nuisance.

In vain have you tried the humbugging recipe of saying the
Multiplication Table; in vain have you repeated poetry by the yard, or
counted one hundred; in vain have you conjugated verbs, or done any of
the foolish things recommended in such cases. _Two_ o'clock has just
struck, and no somniferous result has followed. Well--if you can't
sleep, you _won't_ sleep, that's all. You'll just get up, and strike a
light and read. You do it; but the fire is low, and cold shivers run up
and down your back-bone. You're hungry! yes--that must be it. You'll go
to the closet, and get a bit of cold chicken you wot of. Good heavens!
if those lumpish, snoring wretches haven't devoured it before going to
bed. You go look at the creature vindictively; _you_ know just who would
be capable of such a meanness. She has slept there these three hours, on
the strength of that bit of purloined chicken--_your_ chicken--while you
haven't closed an eyelash. She _will_ sleep comfortably till daylight;
and get up with a clear head, and refreshed limbs, to breakfast. Then
she will eat, like a great healthy animal, while food looks perfectly
nauseous to you, who will then be too exhausted to be hungry. You look
at the creature again, and think of Judith and Holofernes; and don't
wonder as you used at Judith. Indeed, she seems to you at that moment
rather an estimable person than otherwise; and as to pitying Holofernes,
why should _you_ pity anybody who could _sleep_?

You walk to the window. It is some comfort that the stars have to wink
all night as well as you. And there's a policeman, dragging up and down
in the cold, and clapping his hands across his breast to keep warm.
Good! you're glad of it. Four o'clock! Gracious! how you _will_ feel
to-morrow. If you only had a bottle of ale to make you stupid and
drowsy. And sure enough, now you think of it, there is just one left.
You seize it! Why--somebody has unwired the cork. Merciful man! it is
only _Ink_. Now, that's a little too much for a tired soul. Suppose you
should begin and run from the top of the stairs to the bottom, as fast
and as loud as you could, and wake up the whole family. And as the
vision of terrified night-gowns rises before your mental vision, you
commence grinning noiselessly like a maniac; then laughing hysterically;
then crying outright; and the next thing you know it is eight o'clock in
the morning, and coffee and rolls and beefsteak are awaiting your
advent.

And as to musquitoes. Ah! you too have suffered. You have lain, hour
after hour, listening to that never-ceasing war-song, till you were as
nervous as a hump-backed cat face to face with Jowler in a corner. You
have "turned over;" you have lain on your side, lain on your back, lain
on your face, spite of your prominent nose. You have doubled your fists
up under your arm-pits, and twisted your feet into hard knots under your
night-clothes, to no avail. You have then fallen back on your dignity
and the pigmy-ness of your tormentors, and folding your arms resolutely
over your chest, and looking fiercely up to the ceiling, exclaimed:

     "Come one--come all--this bed shall fly
     From its stout legs as soon as I!"

And yet, at that very moment, an "owdacious" bite has sent you, with a
smothered exclamation, into the middle of the floor, bewailing the day
you were born.

Next day you get a "musquito net." What a fool not to think of it
before. You festoon it round your bed. It looks pink-y and safe. You
explore it carefully that night before getting in, that no treacherous
crevice be left for the enemy. You put out the light, and oh! happiness
unutterable, listen to their howl of rage _outside_, which sounds like
the "music of the spheres," and fall asleep. Next morning you wake with
a splitting headache. Can it be the confined air of the net? _Horrible!_
You spend that day nursing your head and your wrath. Why were musquitoes
made? You find no satisfactory solution. What do they live on when not
devouring human beings? Why, in the same bed, is one bitten and the
other left? Why infest New York, and leave Brooklyn, whose inhabitants
deserve punishment for monopolizing Beecher? Why, if they _must_ bite,
not pitch in at once, instead of stopping to harrow you by giving a
concert.

That night you refuse to gasp under a net, for all the musquitoes that
ever swarmed. You even light your gas defiantly, open the windows, and
sneer at the black demons as they buzz in for their nocturnal raid. You
sit and read--occasionally boxing your own ears--till the small hours,
and then--to bed; only to dash frantically against the wall, throw your
pillows at the enemy, laugh hysterically, and rise at daylight a
blear-eyed, spotted, dismal wretch!



_WOMEN'S NEED OF RECREATION._


I read an article the other day on working-men's clubs, which set me
thinking. In it was set forth the necessity, after a man's hard day's
work, of an evening of rest, away from home, where he should find light
and warmth, and boon companionship, other than is to be found in the
corner grocery.

Now this is well, were there not a better way, as I believe. I am not
about to propose clubs for working-women, because our police reports
show every day that they have existed for a long time--thanks to "corner
groceries"--and that they are made of any implement that comes handy,
and result in bruised flesh and a broken head. This being the case, I
cannot see why the working-woman, as well as the working-man, does not
need, after a hard day's work, "light, warmth, and boon companionship of
an evening, away from home." Nay, all the more, since work, hard as her
husband may, it is often in the fresh, open air; or, if not, he has it
going and returning, and the boon companionship of his fellow-workmen
with it; while she, with "Ginx's last baby" to look after, in some
noisome tenement house, stands over the perpetual wash-tub or
cooking-stove, with two or three half-grown children hanging to her
draggled skirts, never exchanging her unwomanly rags, not even perhaps
to mass for a hurried prayer in the church which, God be thanked, is
free alike to poor and rich, and which suggests, in its own way, a
distant heaven for her.

Thinking over all this, I said why not Germanize this thing? Why not
have clubs for working-men and their families, with innocent amusement
minus the drink? Isn't it possible? Or if not, I wish it were, for the
poor harassed women's sake. I only see the millennial germ of it; but
this I know, that the wives need it more, far more, than their husbands,
the wide world over, and in every strata of society; by the pains of
motherhood, even in favorable conditions; by her intenser nervous
organization; by her indoor confinement and narrowing, petty
detail-worries; by the work that ends not at sundown as does his. By the
wakeful, unrestful nights, which every mother knows; _this_ is the
hardest, most wearing kind of work, no matter what may be said of the
husband, who has his sleep at least; who demands _that_ in every family
exigency as his right, and as the foundation of his ability to labor for
his family. Ah! what if the wife and mother, with less strength, feebler
organization, should make a stand for this? even when, in addition to
her other cares, she helps in some outside honest way to support the
family?

Does she not, too, need warmth, light, and boon companionship of an
evening? While it is true that

     "All work and no play
     Makes Jack a dull boy,"

remember it is just as true of Jack's wife as it is of Jack, and the
founders of "Working-men's Clubs" would do well to put this into their
foundation.

I wish that some of the pains taken to make human beings "_good_" were
expended in trying to make them _happy_. Particularly is this necessary
in regard to young people, though it is a fact that should be recognized
much more than it is, in the conditions of every human being. Let a
little sunshine into the outward circumstances surrounding them before
you begin to talk about a future state. There are children, and grown
people too, so cob-webbed over with care and misery, that all talk, how
"_good_" soever, is useless. _They want some brightness infused into
their lives._ It may be a wife--weary, body and soul; tired of plodding;
she needs some kind voice to say (alas! how little husbands think of
it!): "Come, leave all your cares just _now, this minute_, and if you
can't leave without I take your place, I'll take it, and it will be a
gain to both of us; for you have come just to that spot where you must
stop to rest, or fail entirely." It may be a little child under your
care, perhaps your own, perhaps another's; who is not really "_bad_,"
but only troublesome. It wants change; a ramble in the Park, or a ramble
somewhere; something to see and talk about, and _happify_ it; some new
objects to occupy its mind and thoughts; and the more intelligent the
child is, the more necessary this becomes. Many a child is punished
because its active mind, having no food, becomes a torment to itself and
others. _Give it food!_ Take it up to the Park and show it the animals
there. Tell it of their habits, and the way they live in the countries
from which they were taken. This is a _cheap_ pleasure, it is true, and
may, though it ought not to be, a very commonplace one to you; but you
have no idea how it freshens the mind and body of the little one.
_Sometimes I almost think that happiness is goodness._ Certainly, till
the hard and difficult lesson of life is thoroughly learned, it is wise
to lend a helping hand to those who are stumbling after, lest they fall
by the way to rise no more.

Perhaps you have some good servants in your house whose underground,
plodding life needs relief, who have grown sharp and querulous on
account of it; whose lot needs brightening a bit. Send them or take them
to some place of amusement; give them a holiday, or half a holiday if
you can do no better. You have no idea how this break in their wearisome
round will lighten toil for many a day; and more because _you thought of
it_, perhaps, than from the pleasure the amusement afforded.

Life presses heavily on most of us in one shape or another. They are not
always the greatest sufferers, whose barrel of meal and cruse of oil
fail. Therefore, when I open a church door, and the first sentence I
hear is about "An _Awful_ God," I sometimes want to invite the speaker
to rest himself a bit, and let me try my hand at it. I believe that most
people want soothing, and comforting, and encouraging, more than
denouncing or frightening, even though the latter be done with good
intentions. I know most _women_ have been "punished" enough during the
week, without being threatened with it in another world on Sundays. Take
that poor soul with a drunken husband, who tries to support him and
herself, and no end of children, by washing, and whose husband comes
home only to demand her money, and smash up her wash-tub and table and
chairs for his amusement. Would you talk to that woman about an "_awful
God_," when she stole away to church for a crumb of comfort on Sunday?
You had much better buy her a new wash-tub, and put her brute of a
husband where--but it won't do to say all one thinks, even out of
"meetin'."



_THE GOOD OLD HYMNS._


Did you never know any person who was brought up on the good old
_Zion-hymns_, whom they ever failed to move to the foundations when
heard? The feet moving on unholy errands linger on their way past the
church door, as the melody floats out upon the air. That man--who has
wasted life, and energy, and talent, which might have blessed mankind,
to reap only the whirlwind--he is back again with his little head upon
his mother's lap, while she sings that same hymn, which will never grow
old, about "the beautiful river." His eyes moisten as he thinks how
pained she would be, were she living, to know him now. The hymn ceases,
and the low benediction follows, and as the worshippers emerge, he
recollects himself, and with an impatient pshaw! passes on. What, _he_
moved at a "conventicle hymn"? _He_, who for years has never crossed the
threshold of a church! He? who believes neither in prayer nor priests,
Bible nor Sundays? He, who has "outgrown all that"? Ah! but he hasn't.
He _can't_ outgrow it. It is _there_. It _will_ come, whether he desires
it or no. Come in spite of all his efforts to laugh or reason it away.
Come, though he lives in open derision and mockery of that religion
whose divine precepts he cannot efface from his mind. Come, as it did
to John Randolph, who, after years of atheism and worldliness and
ambition, left on record, "that the only men he ever knew well and
approached closely, whom he did not discover to be unhappy, were sincere
believers of the Gospel, who conformed their lives, as far as the nature
of man can permit, to its precepts." "Often," he says, "the religious
teachings of his childhood were banished wholly by business or pleasure;
but after a while they came more frequently, and stayed longer, until at
last they were his first thoughts on waking and his last before going to
sleep." Said he, "I could not banish them if I would."

"Now and then I like to go into a church," said a young man
apologetically to a companion who was deriding the idea. "Priestcraft!
priestcraft!" exclaimed his companion. "Tell me what possible good can
it do you?" "Well," said the young man, "somehow, when I hear those
hymns it is like hearing the pleading voice of my mother as I left home
to become the graceless fellow I am now. I cannot tell you how they move
me, or how they make me wish I were better. If I ever do become better,
it will be because I cannot separate them from all that seems, in my
better moments, worth embodying in the word 'home.'" Walter Scott said
to his son-in-law, when he was on his death-bed, "Be a _good_ man,
Lockhart--be a good man; nothing else will give you any comfort when you
come to lie here." It were easy to multiply instances where earth's
gifted and greatest have borne similar testimony, after having tested
all that the world had to offer, as an equivalent for "that peace which
passeth all understanding."

Parents sometimes say with tears, my boy has forgotten all my teachings.
You don't _know_ that. You can't _say_ that till the grave closes over
him. Said a good mother I knew, who kept on singing those hymns, and
whose faith never faltered through long years, when her only son
disgraced the family by intemperance, "John will come right by and by.
He _must_." And day after day, when he was brought home helpless, the
mere wreck and libel of manhood, she smilingly repeated to all
cavillers: "John will come right. I _know_ it. Every day I ask God to
_give him back to himself_, and I _know_ He will do it."

And John _did_ come right. Out of that horrible pit of degradation he
emerged "clothed and in his right mind." He is now in good business
standing, owns the house he lives in, is the comfort and pride of the
patient wife who, with his mother, waited woman-like, _Christ-like_, all
those weary years for his return. I myself have seen him in church, when
the Sacramental wine was passed to him, bow his head reverently and
humbly over the cup without raising it to his lips.

Never despair of a child who strays away from _those hymns_. Somewhere
between the cradle and the tomb be sure those hymns will find him out.

Only he to whom heaven is a reality, can possibly preserve his self
poise in the jarring conflict of life. How can man, constantly
disheartened and disappointed as he is, by the _apparent_ triumph of
wrong over right, by the poverty of those of whom the world is not
worthy, in contrast with the gilded, full fed, honored wickedness which
seems to give the lie to everything to which our better natures cling,
how can man, under such circumstances, walk hopefully in the narrow
path, if beyond and through the mists of the valley he discerns not the
serene mountain-tops? No--only the Christian can say in view of earthly
loss and disappointments: "It is well--let _Him_ do what seemeth to Him
good." Only the Christian--nor need he be--nor is he--_of necessity_ a
"church member,"--can say--"Though He slay me, yet will I trust in Him."

       *       *       *       *       *

LADIES, DON'T DO IT.--Every modest woman should set her face against any
fashion which could for a moment identify her with those women who have
no claim to modesty, no matter how "stylish" that fashion may be termed.
This word "stylish" has much to answer for in this regard. Dr. Johnson's
rule was a good one: "Dress so that no person can possibly remember what
you have on." Unfortunately, the reverse of this rule is that which is
generally aimed at, even by women who in other matters command respect.



_A STRANGER IN GOTHAM._


This unfortunate is easily recognized in New York, by its frantic
bewilderment in attempting to cross Broadway; now standing still, now
leaping forward, now running back, in that agony of indecision which is
the best and surest recipe for a broken neck. Also by walking with its
mates three abreast, in that crowded thoroughfare, as if room was as
plenty there as in its native Frogtown. Another sure sign of its origin
is in its continuous and demonstrative waving of the handkerchief,
umbrella, parasol, basket, or any other weapon handy, at a desired
omnibus driver, who of course knows a native at once by the quiet
uplifted forefinger. Once inside the omnibus, the stranger may be known,
by ferreting anxiously in all his pockets for a five-dollar bill,
instead of handing up the ready sixpence with which the native avoids
eternal self-reproach and the maledictions of hurried fellow-passengers.
Also, the stranger may be known by his extreme and stunning toggery at
places of public amusement, where fashion chooses to sit in quiet
raiment.

If the stranger is a Bostonian, he may at once be recognized by
wearing--without regard to his profession--a sepulchral suit of solemn
black, with immaculately polished boots and bosom, and a
stand-aside-I-am-holier-than-thou air, intended to crush the sons of
Belial who behold it. Let it not be supposed, however, by the
uninitiated, that this, by any means, precludes him from joining any gay
or festive scene which New York holds out as a reward of merit, to any
inflated Pharisee, for a prolonged and painful spell of good behavior.

The stranger within the gate is sometimes the angel unawares; in which
case she may be seen innocently and promiscuously distributing pennies,
here and there, among bogus "objects of charity," and feeling good, as
she takes a last pitiful look at the painted ulcer on the l--imb as
sound as her own. Or she may be seen, verdantly buying one of those huge
cabbage bouquets, in alternate mutton-chop streaks of white and red, got
up for the delectation of strangers, and pensively applying it to her
gratified nose, when her head is not spinning a teetotum after some new
freak of fashion, as displayed in a new arrangement of passing feather,
ribbon, or bow.

As if the equilibrium of a New Yorker could be disturbed by any such
trifles! No. Omnibus horses may rise and fall, like the waves of the
sea. "Extra" boys may yell themselves black in the face. Regiments in
all the hues of the _reign-beau_, may come and go; but unless somebody
knocks the well-beloved cigar from his jaded lip, Satan may claim him
for his own, for aught he would move a muscle.



_MY JOURNEY TO QUEBEC AND BACK AGAIN._


If there is a feeling akin to Heaven, it is to reach home after a long
journey. And this I take to be quite consistent with great enjoyment of
all the beautiful things and places one has seen in one's absence--aye,
and people, too. To sit down in your own dear old chair, and kick your
slippers across the room; to talk without being overheard; to eat with
only those whom you love about you--for this promiscuous hotel-feeding
is repulsive to me beyond the power of expression. I think I am peculiar
on this point, but it seems to me as great an individual profanation as
to admit the same number of people to see you perform your toilette for
dinner. That there are people to whom it is one of the delights of
travel to sit down to such hecatombs of food with such a menagerie of
human beings, I am well aware. I am not one of them.

The first place we visited was Saratoga; don't be frightened. I leave
"New York correspondents" of newspapers all over the country to give
fabulous accounts of fabulous belles, and the number of their lovers,
which will very generally be found to correspond with the number of
their trunks. I am not going to venture on so hackneyed a theme, hotel
life being the same at Saratoga as anywhere else--simply one eternal
dress and eat. The _place itself_ was what I went to see--the
springs--the grounds--not the peacocks that were in them. The ornamental
grounds attached to the springs are very lovely and attractive, as well
as faultlessly kept, affording abundant opportunities to sighing lovers
and bread-and-butter maidens. Contrary to my expectations, I found the
waters very palatable, though, were I compelled by fashion to wash down
my morning orisons with ten or twelve tumblers full, I might change my
mind. It is curious how long they have bubbled up there, as freely as
now, the Indians having partaken of them a fabulous time back. The
fountain might be made more attractive, did some pretty girl do the
tumbler-dipping for visitors, instead of the matter-of-fact jacket and
trousers who handed it to us--I merely throw this in as a suggestion. We
stepped into a shop opposite the springs, to see the operation of
bottling and corking the waters performed by machinery; the celerity
with which this was accomplished was very gratifying to my Yankee
chain-lightning notion of things, and being a Yankee, of course it was
not out of my line to think what a very nice piece of property it must
be to hold, for this and other palpable reasons. I trust all the
sentimental Misses who have had "offers" over those tumblers of water
will forgive me.

Stepping into one or two shops in the village, to hunt up some
nick-nacks for a dear little girl at home, I encountered some familiar
New York shop faces. One woman told me that she hired a shop there every
year during the "season," and that many other New-Yorkers did the same,
retreating again when the tide of fashion set cityward. They calculate
rightly--the shopping mania never will be burned out of women while
there is a timber left of her; and were there nothing but an old
horse-blanket in the village, she would buy it, if she had to throw it
away the next minute. I wish it to be understood that I do not share
this furore of my sex, as I never enter a shop of my own free will,
until my clothes show signs of dropping off my back unless replaced.

The lady visitors at Saratoga get themselves up most stunningly, to walk
through the streets to the springs, with their white embroidered
petticoats peeping from beneath their rainbow-colored silk
morning-dresses, and black-lace veils thrown Spanish fashion over their
heads, making unhandsome faces, if only refined, look picturesque. This
annual wave of folly, said I, must send its ripples farther than the
circumference of this village. I had hardly made the remark, before two
barrel-shaped country lasses passed, with tawdry, cheap imitations in
delaine of the Saratoga silk morning-dress, and with coarse black veils
thrown round their sunburnt faces. It was a capital burlesque, though, I
assure you, the maidens themselves were far from regarding it in that
light.

The private cottages on the grounds of the hotel, for families and
parties who choose to live by themselves, are nice little cosey affairs.
This is a much pleasanter, and, to my mind, a much more civilized
arrangement than living at the public hotel; but, as the execrable
organ-grinder wouldn't stop playing for sixpence, so the landlord,
knowing well the value of peace and quietness, charges accordingly.

From Saratoga we went the usual route to Lake George, performing the
last miles by stage coach. That's nice, thought I,--a change of
conveyance wonderfully eases the limbs--_i.e._, if they are not past
easing. I was hasty;--a heavy rain set in, and came driving first into
the windows, through which, at the risk of dislocating our elbows, we
spread our umbrellas for spouts. Then the roof began to leak, and
gentlemen shrugged the shoulders of their linen travelling coats, and
whispered, "Rheumatism;" and ladies benevolently offered the corners of
their travelling cloaks and shawls to the victims; and temporary plugs
were made for the roof, of "The New York Times," which we found "would
not hold water;" and night came on, and the rain grew more persistent,
and we got accustomed to sitting in a puddle; and the wheels sank in the
mud, and the old coach "tetered"--as the children say--now this side,
now that, and the most inveterate joker of the party had long been dumb;
when the coachman, who had been jogging on in a helpless, despairing
way, gave his whip the professional crack, which sent our noses up to
the roof for a last final rub, and the wet, draggled, muddy, hungry,
dead-and-alive crew were dragged out piecemeal over the wheels of the
coach, on to the piazza of the "Fort William Henry Hotel," where were a
swarm of colored waiters, where was a band of music on the piazza, where
was a sumptuous parlor of interminable length--mirror, tête-à-tête, and
piano. But, unfortunately, none of all those could we eat or drink.
Woman wants but little here below, but I'll tell all you landlords what
she does want. After sitting in a puddle, beside enduring a shower-bath
at the same time through the roof of the coach, a _hot_ cup of tea it
_might_ not be unreasonable for her to expect. It is very well for men
to "pooh!"--they can afford to be philosophical--they who run to the
bar-room and get "set up," as they call it, on their arrival, or console
themselves for cold tea, sour berries, and tough beefsteak, with the
infallible cigar.

The question is how their philosophy would hold out if there were _no_
cigars to be had, and _no_ bar-room, and they were shaking in an ague of
cold? I hate a fussy woman who is always digging down to the bottom of
hotel salt-cellars, and microscopically inspecting potatoes; but I will
say, that when every thread of a woman's raiment is dripping, it takes a
more angelic being than I am to go shivering to bed on a cup of cold
tea, past an army of darkies whom you are too vexed with their employer
to bribe.

The next morning it still rained, and as there was no inducement
in-doors to remain, our breakfast being worse than our tea of the night
before, we made our escape into the little steamer "Minnehaha" to see
Lake George; and lovely it was, spite of fog, and mist, and rain, as we
glided away between its green shores, and past its fairy islands,
startling out the little birds from their leafy nests into short, swift
circles over our heads, then back again, where never perhaps, since the
creation, man's foot has trod.

Lake George is a little gem, though we saw it only through a vale of
mist, the sun absolutely refusing to brighten it up for one brief
moment. "Such a pity. It must be surpassingly lovely on a fine day," we
all kept saying to one another, as we anxiously watched the gray clouds.
Everybody seemed to be in good spirits, however, and some ladies, more
romantic than wise, took their stations on the upper deck, spite of the
slanting rain and mist, giving their gentlemen friends constant
employment in tucking shawls round their feet and shoulders, till they
looked like bandaged mummies. After a while they came down, and I saw
certain mysterious-looking flasks drawn from the aforementioned
gentlemen's pockets, and held to their blue lips, by which token I
concluded that brandy sometimes does for a woman what sentiment will
not.

And now again the old lumbering stage-coach is in requisition for a
seven-mile jog, and trot, and plough through the mud, and we pack in,
like layers of herring, and there is plenty of joking and laughing, for
many of the party are young and merry, and it was blessed to listen to
their ringing laughter, and look upon their bright eyes. Many a good
thing was said, though had it not been half as good, we were all
prepared to laugh upon the slightest provocation, for our legs and arms
were bundled up in such a way, as rendered "dignity" quite out of the
question, and gravity an impossibility. At last we arrived (I declare I
believe they called the thing a "hotel") at the foot of Lake Champlain,
where we were to dine. "Be advised by me," said one of the lady
passengers to me, "and don't go in to dinner. I did it once, and since,
when I stop here, I bring my own sandwiches." It is sometimes fun to sit
down to a two-pronged-fork dinner, and the rest of us were in the humor
for whatsoever the gods sent, so in we went. The staple commodities of
the table were soft huckleberries and fried fish. Two girls--daughters,
I suppose, of our host--waited upon table; that is to say, they rotated
in a certain ghostly fashion, with their arms hanging by their sides,
and their eyes fixed upon the floor, and were about as much use as two
statues on castors, as it was impossible to catch either their eyes or
attention. "What on earth is a fellow to call them?" asked one hungry
man. "Waiter!"--that didn't appeal to them. "Girl!" it was no use. "You,
there!" in a tone of impatience. The rock of Gibraltar couldn't have
stood it better.

Now, if this was a preconcerted bashfulness, it worked admirably, for we
could get nothing that was not immediately before us, unless some
philanthropic fellow-sufferer, in pity, sent a pie spinning à la Ravel,
down the table. Well, at any rate we had our money's worth of fun, and
could bear it much better than if the parlor had been resplendent with
mirrors, sofas, tête-à-têtes, and "grand pianos," which so often pave
the way for a terrible disappointment as to everything else. We expected
little, and got less; but those imperturbable, ghostly girls cost me,
many a time and oft during the rest of my journey, a button or a hook
and eye, as the picture came up before me.

Talk of Lake George. It is to Lake Champlain what a pretty, little,
simpering, pink-and-white doll of a girl is to a magnificent woman, the
royal sweep of whose robe about her faultless limbs as she moves, sets
all the pulses wild. In mercy to us the clouds parted, and the bright
sun broke through at last. You should have seen it then--the queenly
Lake Champlain--with the bold, dark islands that seemed to float upon
its silvery smoothness, with the heavy rain-clouds gathering up their
forces, and gliding majestically away in the distance, leaving a sky as
soft and blue as ever arched over Eden. On one side the broad, green,
cultivated fields, stretched away fair in the sunlight; on the other,
pile upon pile, were the huge, dark mountains, up whose steep sides the
soft mist was wreathing itself in a thousand fantastic, graceful shapes.
It was a moment such as all of us have sometimes known, when pleasure is
so intense as to become almost pain; when language fails; when the eye
fills, and there seems more "Bible" between the blue covers of sea and
sky than you ever looked upon, or listened to before, and everywhere you
turned, a voice--"the still small voice"--seemed saying, all this I made
for _you_--for _you_. Now you might thunder the "terrors of the law" in
my ears ten months, and it would not move me; but I feel like the
veriest wretch alive, when I so intensely enjoy that for which my daily
life is so paltry a return.

The boat in which we performed this trip was a Yankee boat, called "The
America," and it was enough to rouse one's patriotism to go through it;
the shining neatness of its decks and cabins; its efficient and
well-mannered stewardess, always on hand, yet never in the way,
understanding, as if by intuition, what everybody wanted; the nice, hot,
orderly supper, with waiters that had ears, and knew how to use their
feet. I was glad it was named "The America." I was as proud of the
beautiful boat as if I had laid her keel. But all pleasures must have an
end; and our destination being Montreal, we were soon to leave thrifty,
go-ahead Yankee-land and all its peculiarities behind. As we passed the
pretty town of Burlington, the residence of the poet "Saxe," we all
waved him our most cordial good wishes, which we trust the winds bore
him safely.

Upon leaving the boat for the cars, which were to take us to
Montreal--Imprimis, a hideous, cavernous looking depot, with one poor,
miserable lamp to help us break our necks by--a great talk of
"custom-house officers examining trunks," and "smuggling," etc. What a
jabbering of French when we took our seat in the cars! and what
exorbitant fares for travelling through such a gloomy, God-forsaken,
pine-stump, log-cabin looking country! Sleep came to my relief on a safe
shoulder, after I had relieved myself by the above speech. At last we
reached the funny, foreign, forlorn, cushionless ferry-boat that was to
land us in Montreal, and as true as preaching, in got that woman with
the _seven babies_, who had traveled with us all day, calm as an oyster
in its shell, though the whole seven were screeching alternately and
eternally, poor little toads, and still _continued_ screeching, with
some real or imaginary pain under their aprons. I did hope the poor
things were going to bed somewhere; but no, there they sat, bolt upright
in the ferry-boat, all in a row--those miserable seven--with their
mouths wide open, sending forth the discordant-est cries, and that
prolific female never even perspired! but sat with her fat hands folded
over her belt, calmly accepting her conjugal destiny! And this is
Montreal, said I, as they stood me up on the pier with the trunks, and
half deafened with the French jabber about me, I essayed to climb up
into a thing (a cross between a New York omnibus and a "Black Maria")
that was waiting to convey us to the hotel. And this is Montreal. Well,
I shouldn't care if it was Sodom and Gomorrah, if there's only a bed in
it. When I mention that our destination was "The Donegana House," every
traveller will understand that to be but another name for sumptuous fare
and the most assiduous attention at the hands of the handsome landlord
and his well-disciplined corps of servants.

In all honesty, I cannot say that I like Montreal. It may be a very
substantially built town--I believe that is what they say of it--but one
likes beauty as well as strength, and my eye ached for something
ornamental in the way of flower-gardens, or, in fact, in any other way.
Red coats there were in plenty, but they did not supply the deficiency.
Then the never-ceasing bell-ringing, from early dawn to sunset, would
soon drive me as mad as our "glorious Fourth" does every year, when
gunpowder and bells and cannon have it all their own way, till one is
tempted to wish one never had any "forefathers."

Of course the first thing that we saw at Montreal, as also at Quebec,
was "_New York Ledger Out_," all over the Canadian walls; and nobody can
compute the thousands they said were sold there, so that I may get a
boxed ear for saying what I have about Montreal, and as there is a
possibility of it, I might as well be cuffed for half a dozen things as
one, and so I'll go on and free my mind. And to begin with, I confess
that I never could understand that curious piece of female mechanism, an
English woman, who is shocked almost into fits at the way American women
move, act, and have their independent being generally; who can get along
with nothing but yea and nay, thee and thou, and the most formal,
walk-on-a-crack strait-lacedness of demeanor and speech, and iced at
that; who is ready to hold up hands of holy horror at the idea of an
American parent or guardian allowing a young girl to be left _alone_
with her lover one second before marriage; and yet these pattern icicles
will strip (I know it is a shocking word, but it is the only one that
will express my meaning), upon going to a ball, or the theatre, with a
freedom that would make any decent American woman crimson with shame. I
have seen this again and again, and yet the prudes lecture American
women upon the proprieties. Truly, great is English propriety! I saw the
same English latitude in dress at the theatre in Montreal, where were
assembled, with other ladies, many of the wives, daughters, and
sweethearts of the English officers. Of course, in a New York theatre
the awful voice of fashion would vote a ball-room dress "vulgar;" and
even at the opera, where fashion goes to yawn, and whisper, and ogle,
ladies, as a general thing, wear their bonnets and opera cloaks, but the
fair Montrealites, having but few places of public amusement, made the
most of this, and of their personal charms also, and the result was
stunning, even to the eye of that model of impropriety, an American
woman. Mesdames, let us have no more lectures from English lips on
"American female improprieties," till you pick this big beam out of your
own eyes. As to the English officers, they were magnificent specimens of
manhood; tall, broad-chested, straight-limbed, healthy, muscular,
lovable looking men, not at all dependent for their attractiveness
either upon epaulette or uniform, with fine bass voices, and a jolly
laugh that was a regular heart-warmer to hear.

Of course we saw _the_ magnificent cathedral in Montreal. I did not
think it necessary, as did a fellow-traveller, one Sir Statistic, who
forever had some unhappy wretch by the button, asking about "feet" and
"inches," with pencil, paper, and "guide-book"--how I hate a guide-book!
I did not think it necessary to inquire how many square feet there were
in this immense building; I knew that there was one pair of feet in it
that were _not_ square, and that had to support the body to which they
belonged till they ached for want of a seat, as heretic feet should, I
suppose, from a Montreal point of view, though the _locked_ empty pews
were very tantalizing. The sermon was in French, and if the eye of my
old teacher should fall on this, I beg to say to her ladyship, that
notwithstanding "she never could tell how _that_ girl was ever going to
learn French," and notwithstanding "that girl" has never rubbed up said
French since she left school, yet she was able to understand the sermon,
as also the French signs and labels so abundant in Montreal, as also
some French remarks about herself, all the while looking as stupid as
she very well knows "that girl" can. But to return to the cathedral. I
hold up both hands for the largest liberty of conscience for everybody,
and though I could not understand why one set of priests took such
tender care of the hind lappets of another set of priests, spreading
them reverently over the backs of their chairs for them, whenever they
sat down, or why candles were burned in broad daylight, or why some kept
sitting, and others kept kneeling, and bowing, and crossing themselves,
or why some glided perpetually in and out from behind the altar, or why
some swung incense, or why some were dressed in red and white, and some
in black, and some in black and white, yet I was glad that this was a
country where everybody could worship the way it best pleased him, and I
have seen quite too much to condemn in other sects and faiths, to wish
to interfere with this. The "confession boxes," some for English sins,
some for French sins, some for Spanish sins, labelled each with the name
of the human "father" into whose ears they were to be poured, gave me a
long fit of thinking. My sins are many, but it is not _there_ I would
unburden my soul. Still, let all these religious problems work
themselves out. For the priests, I must say, in all candor, that I have
never seen a body of men--and I scanned them closely whenever and
wherever I met them--with more purity, serenity, and perfect
good-humored content expressed in their faces. Their life being active
and out of doors, may in part explain this; but alas for the nuns!
immured in those tomb-like walls; their cheerfullest employment
listening to the moans of the sick and the groans of the dying, in the
hospital wards under their roofs. I saw them come into chapel two and
two, with downcast eyes, and pallid faces, shrouded by the black hood of
renunciation, and kneeling on the floor chant their prayers. Oh, the
unnaturalness of such seclusion for a woman! If they could but leave
outside the walls, upon entering, their human feelings, and really _be_
the cold statues they _look_; but God help them, they do not; they are
but women still, and some of them young, and one look into their faces
told the story. Nothing could exceed the neatness of the nunnery we
visited, or the apartments and bedding in them for the sick and
disabled. One man whom we saw there had been strapped into his chair
like an infant for _twenty-five_ years, and there he sat, with a rosary
between his helpless fingers, scarcely living, and yet, perhaps, with
many a year of patient waiting for release before him. The outer door of
the convent was opened for us by a young novice, whose sweet face,
framed in pure white muslin bands, was beautiful to see. Poor child,
sighed I, and in another moment I thought of the gay, bedizened misery
in Broadway, and I said to myself, as I lingered to take another look at
her, perhaps 'tis better so, and left her with a lighter heart.

I should not do justice to Montreal were I to omit to mention _the_
drive of the place, "round the mountain." A New York gentleman whom we
met in Montreal took us round, and I was glad I saw the city at parting
to such good advantage; distance brightened it up wonderfully, and the
St. Lawrence sparkled as gayly and as innocently in the sunlight, as if
its waters did not play the mischief with every traveller who tasted
them. There are many fine country-seats round the mountain. We saw,
too, a "haunted house" in this ride, and verily, the occupant was a
ghost of taste, and had selected for himself most comfortable quarters,
commanding as lovely a view as you or I or any other ghost would ever
wish to see. I proposed leaving my card for him, with a view to better
acquaintance, but the rest of the party were in flesh-and-blood humor,
and evidently preferred returning to the manifold creature comforts to
be had of our host of the Donegana House. We left next morning for
Quebec, of which more anon. My kingdom for a horse-blanket on that misty
morning over the ferry! Instead we had two priests, buttoned up to their
heels in long black robes, which I wanted most furiously to borrow, for
I was shaking with cold, and New York cold and Montreal and Quebec cold,
let me tell you, are two quite different things. When you get such a
cough fastened on your lungs there as I did, you may believe it.

I liked Quebec much better than Montreal. Of its splendid site it is
unnecessary to speak, everybody having either seen it or read of it, and
yet how tame seem all descriptions, when, standing upon the ramparts,
one tries to take in at a glance the splendid panorama before him. Every
inch of ground is historical, and imagination runs riot as you look at
the spot where the gallant Burr bore off from the enemy the dead body of
the brave Montgomery, or gaze at the monuments erected to Wolfe and
Montcalm. The sentinels, pacing up and down with their measured tread,
aid in keeping up the illusion; and as the wind whistles past, you start
involuntarily, as if expecting a shower of bullets past your ears. And
speaking of bullets, the little urchins who lie perdu on the
battle-field, watching for unwary travellers, have an inexhaustible
stock of them, which they assure you, with precociously grave faces,
funny to see, were "_actually_ found there," with their wan, dirty
little paws; also they exhibit some shining little pebbles, baptized by
them "diamonds," all of which we of course pocketed, and paid for, as if
there were no humbug in the little speculators; bigger boys than they
have told worse fibs in the same line of business--poor little Barnums!

The most unimaginative person could easily fancy himself in a foreign
country in Quebec. The motley population--the long, black-robed priests,
serving as a foil to the scarlet coats of the officers, and the white
uniform worn by the band; the loose-trousered, rolling sailors; the
Frenchy, peasant-looking country people, driving into market with their
produce in the most ancient of lumbering-looking vehicles, with bright
red raspberries, in shining little birch-bark baskets. The
healthy-looking female Quebec-ites, with their fanciful dark straw hats,
with a fall of black lace about their rosy faces, wonderfully enhancing
the brightness of bright eyes, and making even dull ones, if any such
there are, look coquettish under this pretty head-dress, so much more
comfortable than our little minikin bonnets, and worn alike by mothers
and daughters. Their dresses almost even with their ankles, and little
or no crinoline, but such healthy, rosy faces, such luxuriant locks, and
the universal little band of black velvet round the throat, of which the
French women are so fond. I am sure I did not see an ugly woman in
Quebec, nor one that, to my eye, was not sensibly and prettily habited,
and such little fat loves of children, chattering French with their
nurses. The people were as picturesque as the place, and nobody
scrutinized you as they do in New York, fixing a stony stare upon you (I
speak of the New York women), till they have found out everything you
have on, how it is made and trimmed, and then comment upon the same to
their next elbow neighbor. Every healthy and contented-looking female
soul of them seemed to have business of their own, and to mind it. Now
and then, to be sure, an officer or a private would take a look in
passing, and sometimes we heard them say "Anglice," and that is where
they did not hit it, at least with the ladies of the party, spite of
light hair and eyes. A gentleman at the hotel where we stayed, said,
"Those ladies are English," looking at myself and daughter. English!
when we talked and laughed, ate and drank, got up and sat down, without
ever once looking into a book of etiquette to see if it was "proper!"

A drive, which I shall long remember, we took to a little French village
just out of Quebec. I had always thought--shade of Napoleon, forgive
me--that the peasant French were an unthrifty, unneat people. My
delight was unbounded at their rows of neat little white-washed
cottages, standing sociably and cosily together, with long strips of
farms extending back; not an unsightly object about them; clean,
white-muslin window-curtains, with pretty pots of bright, flowering
plants at the casements; rosy little children, with their bright red
stockings--how I _like_ to see a little child in red stockings--and
clean, white aprons, and shiny hair, sitting on the door-step with the
family Towser, or running after the carriage, with bunches of flowers
for "the English ladies," as they persisted in calling us, keeping up
with our horses with a pertinacity which would have drawn out the
pennies were we less favorably inclined; and gay little bouquets they
gave us, too--roses just in bloom (for their summers are late and
fleeting), and pretty pinks and geranium leaves. In the fields, women
and girls were raking hay, with broad straw hats, which they pushed back
from their brown faces, as they leaned on their rakes to look as we
passed, quite unconscious how pretty they looked, helping their stout,
healthy-looking brothers, who, with strong, white teeth, and curly hair,
laughed merrily as they tossed the hay about. And yet this, like all
pictures, had its shadow, for _I_ saw, though they did not, the pale
procession of half-paid sewing girls coming up Nassau and Chatham
streets, in New York, at that very moment, home to some stifled attic,
or perhaps some more noisome place, of which those Canadians, in their
pure country seclusion, could not even dream. How I wished they were all
in those sweet hayfields, breathing that pure, untainted air!

Oh, it was a delicious picture; I could have looked at it forever; and
at every turn in the road some lovely view enchanted us--some new
blending of sea and sky, wood and valley, and each perfect of its kind;
and so we came at last to the famous Falls of "Montmorenci," where we
were to have twenty-five cents' worth of a miniature Niagara, with
root-beer and sponge-cake "to suit," for an additional fee; and truly
they might have been more extortionate as far as the Falls were
concerned, were it not such a damper to sentiment to pay for one's
ecstasy by the shilling. Beautiful were the Falls, tumbling, dashing,
and foaming down into their rocky bed beneath, where were patches of
velvet moss, of as vivid a green as your foot ever sank in while
wandering in the cool, fragrant woods. Of course we were pointed to the
remains of the "suspension bridge," which, about four years ago, broke
so treacherously over the Falls, precipitating a whole family to instant
death in the boiling torrent below. A great, hungry monster it looked to
us after that, as we went shuddering up the steep steps to sunlight and
safety, after viewing it from below. "Not one of them was ever heard of,
I suppose?" said I to our boy guide. "Not one, ma'am," replied my
juvenile oracle, with a solemn sniffle that would have done credit to a
camp-meeting.

Oh, these early breakfasts in "banquet halls deserted" of huge hotels,
waited upon by yawning servants scarce awake; no appetite for the food
you know you will be dying for five or six hours afterwards; meanwhile,
conscious only of an intense and unmitigated disgust for big trunks,
little trunks, bonnet-boxes, keys, carpet-bags, and reticules. The
morning foggy and chill; the hotel parlor, so pleasant the evening
before, as you sat upon its comfortable sofa with a party of friends
looking now quite as miserable as you feel, with its gay bouquets of
yesterday drooping and faded. Blue-looking men emerging from the
bar-room, twisting their travelling-shawls, in folds more warm than
graceful, over their chests and shoulders; ladies shivering as the chill
morning air strikes their but half-protected, shrinking figures. "All
ready" at last, and away we start for Portland. Yet, stay; what's this?
Heaven bless that ebony waiter, who, running after me, slid into my hand
a cold chicken, with a little package of salt inclosed, and with an
indescribable twist of his good-natured, shiny phiz, whispers, "Ladies
gets _so_ hungry on railroads, ma'am!" Now that's what I call a
compliment, and a substantial one, too; he should have seen me a few
hours after with one of the drumsticks, bless his soul. May he meet some
appreciative Dinah, and may they never want for a chicken!

Rain, rain, rain all day, in the most pitiless manner. Some solace
themselves with newspapers, some with novels, and some with sleep; the
latter sure to be broken in upon by the conductor's nudge, and "your
ticket, sir!" Directly in front of me sat two young men, strangers to
each other, who presently finding one of those convenient pretexts for
speaking which travel always affords, commenced conversation. Imagine
how long those two fellows kept it up without stopping to wink, or even
to look at the "way-stations"! _Sixty-five miles!_--I repeat
it--_sixty-five miles!_ Wouldn't the fact have been published from Dan
to Beersheba, had the conversationists happened to have been a couple of
women? And by the help of the limitless NEW YORK LEDGER, I'll send it
thus far. Mostly, these young men appeared to pity the Canadian nuns,
whom they seemed to have philanthropic desires to benefit, without the
opportunity. Then the vexed question of North and South was discussed,
that grindstone upon which every youngster must needs whet his
jack-knife. But time would fail to tell all the nonsense I was forced,
in the next seat, to hear, far transcending that of women, which, the
saints know, is ofttimes bad enough.

Well, we lived through that day's drizzle and rain, and reached Portland
in a most limp condition, just at night. Curious to be again in a
birthplace which I left when I was but six weeks old! "If the sun will
only shine out to-morrow," said I, as I cuddled under the blankets with
horrible forebodings. The fates were propitious. A warm, lovely morning;
every tree and shrub newly polished, and as fresh as if just made.
Within range of my window was a beautiful garden, gay as a rainbow with
all sorts of brilliant flowers. Two Quakers came along in solemn drab. I
smiled and held my breath. "Thank God," said I, as I saw them lean
delightedly over the fence to look at the gay flowers, "nature is, and
ever will be, stronger than creeds." A hasty breakfast, and forth I
started on my exploring tour. "I shall know the house where I was born,
if I pass it," said I; "some magnetic influence will surely arrest my
steps. Stay, that is Dr. Payson's church." "How do you know?" asked my
companions. "I _feel_ it; ask and see." And so it was. He who, by his
sweet, consistent, loving, holy life, came between me and the grim creed
which my very soul spurned, and which was driving me to disbelieve all
of which his Christ-like life was the beautiful exponent. _He_ who laid
holy hands of blessing on my baby-forehead, and knew God's creatures too
well to try to drive them, through fear of endless torment, to heaven. I
felt like crossing myself, as I passed the church where his feet had so
often entered, to tell, in that most musical of voices, of God's
infinite love to everything He had made--of God's infinite pity--but why
attempt to convey an idea of what must have been heard to be understood
and felt? Hundreds whom man's denunciatory self-righteousness had driven
to cursing, bitterness, and despair, are now stars in his crown.

Well, I passed on through the lovely streets of my native city, with
their green hedges and climbing plants, and bright flowers, and stately
trees, and most substantial, palatial stone houses, with shining
window-panes and massive entrances. Not there, not there, said I; it
must have been in some small wooden house, with an inch or two of
ground, and perhaps a few flowers that needed little care, for those
were humble days to her who, taking the baby-boy (poet that was to be)
in her arms, went daily to nurse him in the jail where his father was
confined. She who, if there _is_ a heaven of bliss, is in it to-day, as
one of those earth-martyrs whose mask of heavenly serenity a
short-sighted world never pierces. No, I feel no throb at my heart when
looking at these grand houses. Sure I am, it was not there that the baby
was baptized, whose little grave-clothes were well nigh bespoken. It was
not there that the little face purpled with what they said was the
death-agony. Would to God it had pleased Him to make it so. It was not
there that the little life began, from which that baby might well
struggle to escape. And so, wearily my feet passed up and down one
lovely street after another, admiring all, yet not drawn magnetically to
any. _Somewhere_--let it suffice--in that lovely, leafy city, with its
grand old drooping elms, and glimpses of the broad, blue sea, I first
opened eyes that will close far enough away from its Sabbath stillness
and quiet.



_IDLE HOURS AT OUR OWN EMERALD ISLE, THE GEM OF THE SEA._


Don't you wish you were here in Newport with me? the broad, blue ocean
in front of your window, and the crisp sea-breeze sending fresh life
through every vein? For a while we shall have Newport mostly to
ourselves, as at this present writing Fashion still lingers in the city,
searching for dry-goods to do this lovely spot fitting honor, according
to their idea of the same. Meantime we look at their lovely gardens and
velvety lawns, adorned like a bride for her expectant spouse, and
bewitching, with their flowery contrasts of vivid color, beyond any
words I can find to express them. Hanging baskets of ivy and scarlet
geranium, swinging like the censers of the Catholic churches, and
diffusing incense as we pass. Now and then some little white-robed child
springs out upon a door-step, with a frame of vine leaves above her
lovely, unconscious head, and the picture is complete. She will never,
in after years, have a more fervent worshipper at her feet than I, at
that moment. Turn where you will in Newport, all is beauty. If you weary
of the finish and elegance of these beautiful villas, there is the rocky
shore, where the sea dashes with tireless vigor; or you can contemplate
the bay that lies sparkling in the sunlight; or you can walk or ride in
the many lovely roads which give wonderfully beautiful glimpses of both,
and are as much "country" in their leafy and quiet seclusion, as if
Fashion were exiled to the North Pole, instead of the distance of a mile
of so. Then, if you are book-y, there are the well-stocked libraries of
the place; and for ladies whose shopping propensities no raging dog-star
allays or hinders, stores, where New York and other cities have freely
poured out their knicknacks, in the shape of ribbons, dress goods,
laces, and--dearer than all--"_embroidery worsted_!"

Think of the blasphemy of using this last, when nature has so far
outrivalled them! I wonder they are not afraid of being struck with
lightning for such presumption. But nobody knows the coquetry lurking in
a skein of bright worsted, held in lily, diamond-decked fingers, in the
corner of a vine-wreathed piazza. I declare that I will turn "state's
evidence," and expose it. _Blue_ worsted now, in the hands of a
sunny-haired, white-robed blonde; crimson or yellow on the lap of a
dark-haired brunette! And _you_, simple Theodore or Frank, never
dreaming that these effects are studied with the nicest diplomatic skill
by these "artless" creatures at whose feet you are willing slaves.
Whatsoever you do, don't offer to hold one of those skeins for winding.
That brings heads, and fingers, too, together in a manner--well, don't
you do it, that's all. Offer to kill caterpillars, if you will, or
rose-bugs; that's a safe employment; but in this worsted business, take
my word for it, you will be sure to get worsted yourself. It is quite
safe, however, for you to drive with them, if they invite you, in those
cunning little phaetons with the footman at your back, because flirting
in that case is under difficulties, not easily conquered unless you lose
him off upon the road. Meantime Newport remains the gem of summer
seaside resorts, combining, as it does, society or seclusion at your
pleasure, and city and country, with all the advantages of both.

If you only knew the delicious laziness that has taken possession of me
this bird-singing morning, you wouldn't poke me up to write. A soft mist
half veils the ocean, so turbulent last night, and butterflies in pairs
are wooing, now in the vines about my window, then darting out into the
bright meadows for a longer flight. I am fascinated with the graceful
circles they make. I am fascinated with that old cow, too indolent even
to whisk the flies off her back, standing as she has stood for an hour
under that big tree. I love to see the pretty maidens, with their fresh
young faces and saucy little hats, driving their cunning ponies past my
window. Now and then comes borne to my ear by this soft west wind a
child's silvery laugh, as musical as the ripple of a brook. I am away,
thank Heaven, from "riots" and murder, save in the chicken line; and I
hope nobody will debate "female suffrage" with me to-day, or ask my
opinion on anything, save the heavenliness of this beautiful Newport,
where the daily delightful surprises of Nature, by land and ocean, keep
me in a constant state of beatitude. Now and then I get wroth with the
over-dressed dames, who evidently have no eyes for it, or appreciation
of it, save to strike attitudes on the soft green lawn, or lounge
elegantly in the fashionable drive, with poodle and baby and husband and
carriage robe, arranged like a tableau to be gazed at; never driving
where it is dusty, for fear of the sacred dry-goods, though Nature woo
ever so sweetly. Talk of the "laboring classes"! The amount of "labor"
these women will take upon themselves in the languid summer days is past
my computation. I encountered one in a shop here the other day, trailing
after her, at eleven in the morning, a wonderful length of silk robe,
and wringing her tightly kidded fingers because a particular kind of
ribbon was not to be had, and with a gesture of despair exclaiming, "I
must telegraph instantly to New York for it." Poor thing! I say _poor_
advisedly. I had rather be the barefooted, blithe little girl who drives
the cows home, if I had to make my choice. What is woman without a shop?
Storekeepers here act on this principle, and spread their lures
accordingly. Not that ladies go to buy always, but it is a sort of
Exchange, where their toilets can be displayed, as well as a neat ankle,
while alighting from a gay carriage at the door.

I think there are more _Stars_ in Newport than in any other place. There
was a wonderful profusion out last evening. Not literary stars--though
Newport is full of them too, if the crazy kind of abstracted, _author_
look is any indication. Flowing hair upon the coat collar, and a scarlet
bit of necktie, and general sauciness of dress and demeanor, are
generally indicative of an artist. _I_ find no fault. Give us
individuality, or give us death. This world would be a sorry place
without it. There are worse people than "queer people" about. The
queerest I ever met, was a woman who prided herself on her surpassing
ugliness, and dressed up to the character, selecting always those colors
which intensified it. I am happy to state that her husband was a match
for her in this respect. But so witty was she, that no young beauty at
the hotel had so many followers and admirers. I really think she enjoyed
her own hideousness. After hearing her witticisms, you would go your way
and remember it no more, or if so, only to admire the wisdom of her
conquest over it.

Yes, I am idle here. But that reminds me--is anything more diverting
than the advice so lavishly tendered to women as to the "best mode of
passing their time in the country, during the summer months"?

One writer recommends that "they should take up the study of a new
language." That sounds well; but suppose a lady to have been a teacher
all the rest of the year? This would scarcely be an exhilarating,
restful occupation. Another wonders that "some one lady does not read
aloud to a group of lady friends." That sounds well too; but some
ladies like history, others biography; many, indiscriminate novels. Then
how few, even among so-called "educated" ladies, read well, or, reading
well, have power to read aloud for any length of time; or, these points
being favorable, can bring the other women to a focus as to the hour
agreed upon, or keep them at it, when they get them there, without
frequent yawning, unless, indeed, a gentleman be included in the party!
Some, again, propose "botany" to them; and there are ladies who,
preferring health to dry-goods, carry out this advice successfully. As
to the study of botany, for one, I would rather call fox-glove
fox-glove, than to call it _fox a borondibus ora gloribundus_! but then
that is a matter of taste and breath. I should be much more likely also
to look at its shape and coloring, than to search the encyclopædia for
its horticultural baptism. But then, as an eminent biographer is apt to
remark to me fifty times a day, "That's a peculiarity of _yours_,
Fanny." Who said it wasn't? Haven't I a right to my peculiarities, as
has a tree to its shape and foliage, and blossoms and fruit? And while
we are in the leafy line, why isn't a Fern as good as any other kind of
grass? I've seen pretty tall ferns in my day, especially up the Shaker
road, a little out of Stockbridge, Mass., where, I have no doubt, they
are waving in plumy luxuriance at this very minute.

This is a digression; but you would digress too, had you ever ridden
that road of a bright summer day.

To return to my subject. Wholesale giving of advice, on this or any
other point, is like administering medicine; none but quacks give it
without considering constitutional tendencies, as well as the age and
daily habits of the patient. Unfortunately, with advice-givers these
points are generally ignored: one and the same pill being supposed
remedial for all times, seasons, and complaints, especially where women
are concerned, who really need more classifying than any big lump of men
who were ever thrown together--such infinite variety and delicate
shading is there in their mental, moral, and physical make-up. But of
this, man is either wilfully or indifferently ignorant, since he never
mentions the subject without committing egregious blunders.

I never hear a man remark, "_you women!_" that I don't mentally send him
"_to the foot of the class_."

"_You_ women!" Why, a man may live with even _one_ woman all his life,
and yet really know no more about her, than I do why men were born at
all. I heard a husband once deplore that, being ignorant of the French
language, he could not know the meaning of a sentence in the book he was
reading.

"Give it to me," replied his wife, immediately translating it. "Why,"
exclaimed he, in astonishment, "I never knew you understood French!" And
yet he had lived with her fifteen years. It is just so with other and
still more important knowledge of a wife. Now I ask you, Mr. BONNER,
when you choose a horse, if you do not first find out what that horse
can do, especially how fast he can trot without damage?--which, by the
way, is the last question a married man thinks of asking about his wife.

Well, isn't a wife quite as important an animal as a horse? I would like
to see _Dexter_ put to dragging stones on the highway, or _Pocahontas_
to rotary sawing of wood at a railway station!

And yet thousands of men all over the country make stupider blunders
than these about their wives, every day in the year, partly, as I say,
through ignorance, which of course is culpable, and partly through
indifference.

Many women, if they were half as judiciously managed, as to their
physical needs and possible capabilities, as are horses, would be worth
much more to their owners; and I am sure I have seen men to whom this
argument would be the only one they would think worth listening to.
Also, in all fairness, I should add, that I have seen others who
remembered it first and always.



_SOME CITY SIGHTS._


More than in any other locality does a funeral passing through Broadway
seem impressive to me. There, while life is at the flood, and thousands
pass and repass you whose faces you do not recognize, save by the
universal stamp of eagerness and bustle and hurry, as if the goal in the
distance which they aim at was for eternity and not for fleeting time;
there, where bright eyes shine brightest, and silken locks and silken
dresses shimmer fairest in the dancing sunbeams; there, where all
nations, all interests are represented, and the panorama never halts,
day or night, but only substitutes one set of moving figures for
another; there, indeed, does Death _seem_ Death when it glides
stealthily in among the busy, surging crowd.

Once, walking there on a bright sunny day, I met four pall-bearers,
slowly bearing a coffin covered with black, with the clergyman in his
gown and bands, and the mourners following. Instinctively the gay crowd
parted upon the sidewalk, the men standing with uncovered heads; the
laugh died upon the lips of the young girl; the little children looked
on, wondering and awe-struck. Even she over whose own grave no loving
tear might ever fall, bowed her defiant head, and for one brief moment
faced that terrible thought. And so the slow procession passed, though
no one knew who slept so quietly amid all that din and noise; but
knowing only that some heart, some home was desolate. Then the eager
crowd closed in again, and new faces passed smilingly, new forms stepped
gayly, smart equipages dashed by, and the jest and the laugh fell again
upon my ear as before, while I seemed to move as one in a dream.

Once again, but in the country, fragrant with blossoms, and sweet with
the song of birds and the murmured whisper of leaves, just such a sombre
procession crossed the green fields, under the blue sky, with its quiet
burden. It is long years since I witnessed both; but they stand out in
my memory, each as distinctly as if it were but yesterday. I don't know
which was the more impressive. I only know that when I looked upon the
latter, I said to myself, when life's fret is over, just so would _I_ be
carried to my last rest.

One of the prettiest sights to be seen in the early morning is that of
the little girls going to school. I like them best of a rainy day,
because then their sweet little faces beam from out little close hoods,
drawn about their red cheeks; and their little fat calves have such a
tussle with the wind as they try to get round gusty corners; so that
what with battling with their sandwich-boxes, and what with their
geographies, their gleaming white teeth make a very lovely show between
their rosy lips. What policeman, with the heart of a father, but would
rather help a flock of these pretty birds across the street than a bevy
of paniered ladies who shrink from their touch, all the while they are
ready to scream with fright if they are _not_ taken by the arm.

Commend me to the little girls of six, eight, and twelve, who, not yet
having come to their wickedness, squeal out with delicious frankness,
"Mr. Policeman! Mr. Policeman! please come carry me over the street."
And so they swarm round him like a cloud of bees till they are all
safely landed on the other side.

Bless their little innocent faces! It is as good as a chapter of the
Bible to any policeman, to see such sweet white lilies blossoming amid
the physical and moral filth which they meet in their rounds in the New
York streets.

As it is rather an exception to find a little school-_boy_ who is not
either a little saintly prig or a little well-dressed ruffian and bully,
I have not contemplated their goings and comings with the same
satisfaction as I do that of their little sisters; though _why_ a little
_boy_ shouldn't be as well-mannered as a little girl I have always been
at a loss to know.

One is occasionally an eye-witness to scenes in New York which
momentarily paralyze one's faith in humanity, I had almost said in God.
One lovely afternoon of last week I determined to try the drive by the
"new Hudson River road to Fort Lee," which, by the way, I rapturously
commend, _en passant_, to every New Yorker, and stranger within our
gates who is fond of beautiful scenery. On the way we alighted, and
entered one of the numerous rural gardens, to enjoy from thence a fine
view of the river. Immediately our attention was arrested by loud
voices; among which we distinguished that of a woman, now in loud, angry
tones, then soft and pleading, as if deprecating personal violence. "Pay
up, then," vociferated a coarse, masculine voice, as a stout man
appeared, grasping a young girl of eighteen or twenty by the wrist,
dressed in a soiled tawdry bonnet and silk gown, and forcibly ejected
her from the piazza of a refreshment room into the garden. She was a
woman and young, and without understanding her offence, his brutality
roused me; but my blood froze in my veins, when gathering up her form to
its full height, raising her small hand in the air, and flashing her
dark eyes, she cursed him as only a woman _can_ curse who is lost for
this world and the next. And men stood by and heard it, who had mothers
and sisters, and laughed, and jeered, and maddened her already excited
blood, _for sport_, to fiercer words of unwomanly strife! A young man of
her own age, who appeared to have accompanied her there, and seemed
terrified at the turn of affairs, stepped to her side; but she sprang
upon him like a panther, then bounded past him, then seized a garden
stool, and hurling it at his head with blistering curses, ran through
the garden to the river. For the first time I found voice to say--Great
God--she will drown herself! and before the words were out of my
mouth--a leap--a splash--and she had disappeared. A boat was near, into
which two men jumped, and succeeded with her companion in catching hold
of her dress, after she had twice sunk. Pale, gasping, in her tawdry,
dripping finery, she was dragged on shore. One of the men turning to her
companion said, "another twenty-five cents due for fishing her out."
Then two or three men--I suppose they _called_ themselves men--took her
under the arm-pits with her face downward, and two went behind and
seized her by the heels, her drapery falling back from her knees, while
other men of the same stamp walked behind gazing at her exposed limbs.
Then they laid her upon a garden bench with her white face upturned to
the fair sky, and stood over the gasping, sobbing creature, with less
feeling than they would gaze upon a maimed horse or dog; her dress, torn
from her neck, revealing to their beastly gaze youth and beauty which
God never made for this desecration.

Oh! could I by a word have summoned the advocates of _Free Love_ to that
spot--then and there would I have given them my dumb, eloquent answer to
their nauseous, hell-begotten doctrines. I would have summoned thither
those women who have lately stood up in public as champions of their
sex's "rights" (Heaven defend us from their polluted, polluting
tongues), and bade them look upon what they _must_ know to be the
inevitable end of promiscuous "affinity." I would have summoned there
those men of position in the community, who sit in their carpeted,
well-stocked library, and in full view of their household gods--within
sound of the innocent prattle of their own children--by their own _yet_
undesecrated hearthstones--write fine-spun theories upon Free-Love,
claiming for its brazen female advocates the title of "modest" women! I
would have summoned thither the editors of those respectable daily
journals, who publish in their columns the sophistical effusions of such
men, and bade them, one and all, look upon that young, gasping girl, and
the coarse men who stood by and jeered at her.

As I turned soul-sick away, I saw a woman standing at a little distance
with an infant in her arms, her face white with fear. As she gave a last
glance at the girl she pressed her babe convulsively to her breast and
covered its innocent face with kisses. The action was suggestive. Alas,
just so must that lost young girl's mother _once_ have kissed _her!_

       *       *       *       *       *

HOW EASY TO SAY "BE CHEERFUL"!--"Be cheerful," says the man who is easy
in his circumstances, missing no loved face at the table, nor by the
hearth. But does he ever consider how hard it may be to be "cheerful"
when the heart aches, and the cupboard is empty, and there are little
fresh graves in the churchyard, and friends are few or indifferent, and
even God, for the time being, seems to have forgotten us, so desolate is
our lot? How difficult for one man to understand another, in such
different circumstances! How easy to _say_, "Be cheerful!" How hard he
would find it to practise it, were _he_ stripped of all life's
brightness!



_DOG-DAYS IN THE MOUNTAINS._


To whomsoever human nature is a pleasant study, I would recommend as an
inviting field a summer boarding-place. Wood, rocks, and lakes are
nothing beside human nature. We can form some sort of an idea on
geological, aquarian, and other principles, why _they_ exist. We quite
indorse the Scriptural statement at creation that they are all "very
good." But I am puzzled to know why a woman who can do nothing but
simper and fold her hands should be married and have children without
number, and another beneath whose large motherly heart no little one
ever has or ever will nestle, should go mourning all her days on account
of it. Why a man whose every impulse and feeling and purpose are
unswervingly in the right direction should have an empty pocket; and a
mean, narrow-minded, ignorant, miserable apology for a man, have his
tight fist on a full one. Why consumptives and scrofulous people should
insist on industriously increasing the census, and men and women made
physically on the right principles pertinaciously cling to celibacy. Why
the serving-maid should have more womanliness, intelligence, and
goodness, than the mistress whose irate voice makes her tremble. Why
the clergyman should pay such undeviating attention to the _soul_ of his
child that he cannot spare time to see that his body at twelve years of
age is "standing from under." Why a man marries a woman merely for her
beauty, and is disgusted in two weeks that she has not turned out an
intellectual companion. Why a good man, but _not_ an _intellectual_ one,
marries a "strong-minded woman," and instantly sets about teaching her
that obedience and silence are the first duties of wives. Why young men
should decline marriage on the score that "they cannot afford it," when
they spend more than would support a family, on their vices. Why a man
with the proportions of Hercules should have a voice like a squeaking
door-hinge, and a lovely girl deafen you every time she opens her
rosebud mouth. In short, why, when men and women are such natural
curiosities--singly or in groups, married or celibate--should showmen,
at such cost of outlay, stock their premises with anacondas and
giraffes, when their fellow-critters "would be so rich" an exhibition?

But think as long and as industriously as I may on these vexed
questions, no solution comes. I turn them over to some philosopher who
will unravel the skein while I take an evening sail upon the lake. In
fact, when I get _there_, I don't care what becomes of my kind so that
my sunset sail is not denied me. Nor is this as selfish as it seems,
since I should not be safe company for them in the dog-days without this
soothing process. Keep close to the shore now, oh, boatman: and above
all, keep silence. Pickerel are good in their way, but bony; and I would
fain listen dreamily to the plashing oar, and the twit-twit of the
little birds as they seek their nests in the trees, while my eye rests
on the changing clouds and their reflections in the smooth mirror below.
Vex me not with talk of "dead swells" and "whitecaps." I would sail here
till midnight in silence, and thence straight into the other world,
before a ripple of earthly fret came over my spirit.

But it is not to be. One of our party "wants to pick pond-lilies," slimy
and smell-less; _not_ like the dear old pond-lilies in Massachusetts,
though mockingly like in form and color. Another is yelling at an echo,
which answers back as persistently as if it were of the feminine gender;
but, unlike the feminine gender, always _agrees_ colloquially. Another
pokes me up from my reverie to know "why I am so stupid?" And now when
the shadows are loveliest and the moon beginning to silver the lake, the
universal voice is "to land." Let them go. Good riddance! Two of us stay
with the boatman. Now flash up the Northern lights! Now appears the
evening star, crowning yonder hill, and twinkling defiantly in the very
face of the new moon. Plucky star! That's right! to take for your motto
that of America--_Room and freedom for all_.

"What will we _ever_ do when we get back to New York?" dolefully asked
little Bright Eyes of me, the other day, as she came in with her apron
full of mosses and flowers. That's just it. That's what _I_ want to
know. No cool lake awaits me there at eventide, on whose broad expanse
one can float into serenity. But instead, gas-lighted, unventilated
public assemblies, where vexed questions are agitated: and in place of
bird-singing, inodorous streets, full of children whose "childhood" is a
myth. And for the lovely fresh morning, with its aromatic odors, the
whoop of milkmen, the rush of street cars, and the old mäelstrom whirl
of business, folly, and sin. My very soul sickens to think of it. I
_won't_ think of it. I'll lay off and dream.

Every summer vacation I ask myself, why people who have no relish for
country life doom themselves to yawn through six or eight weeks of it?
People who never move from a certain chair on the piazza save to migrate
to their beds, or to the dining-table; who have neither eyes to see
earth's glory, nor heart to be grateful for it, or ears open to its
myriad musical voices--living discords amid all its harmony. If
invalids, I can understand and pity their misfortune; but your fat,
well-to-do, buxom men and women, who have no earthly impediment to their
locomotion, and yet who live weeks in the vicinity of grand natural
objects, and are just as dead to them as the ox in the meadow--why do
they travel thousands of dusty miles to get to them? People who look
pityingly at you, as you return exhilarated from your delicious rambles,
as if to say, "_Poor lunatics!_" One turns from them to the children, to
whom every daisy and blade of grass is a bright heaven, and counts sadly
over their lost years. Also, I would like to ask, is there anything in
the climate of Vermont which turns out such huge trees, mountains, and
_men_, that dwarfs nearly all its womankind? Again: Do preserves and
pills, flapjacks and ipecac, plum-cake and castor-oil, jelly and jalap
have a natural affinity, that they are so often found in each other's
company? In other words: Why do the country-women of New England waste
their time in concocting the indigestible richness which everybody is
better without, and which renders these drugs necessary? Half the time
thus spent, if devoted to the manufactory of that rare commodity--sweet,
wholesome bread--or to the best way of cooking meat so as to preserve
its juices, would shut up the drug-shops, prolong their own lives and
good looks, and make them a credit to the glorious country in which they
are born. _Give us good bread_, my dear country-women. What else soever
you pass over, _don't slight the bread_. It is the crying sin of the
country, that if there are cakes and pies in plenty, the bread may be
sour, or filled with saleratus, or so stale that a dog would not swallow
it, or so "slack-baked" that one might as well eat dough. Now the
digestion of an ostrich would fail on such fare as this. A healthy
stomach revolts at it, and refuses to be put off with sweets and
preserves. It is a crime to set such bread before _little children_,
even if adult digestion were equal to it, which it is not. A great
reform is needed here, and if I can help it on, I care not who boxes my
ears for the attempt. To see human beings making and swallowing such
messes, and then sending physic after it, like a detective, to clear it
from the system, is a proceeding which should give them all a free pass
to the Lunatic Asylum. There--now I feel better! While I am catechising,
do you suppose there was ever an invalid who didn't button-hole
everybody, to recapitulate his or her symptoms, exhibit their tongues,
and discuss patent medicines? It gets monotonous after a while,
particularly when you know that they are bound personally to experiment
on every pill, powder, and plaster that any heartless quack may invent
to make a living. If half of them were to stop taking physic entirely,
live on wholesome food, take plenty of fresh air and sleep, they would
never know pain or ache. Don't the doctors know this, and laugh in their
sleeves at it? And _does a doctor ever give drugs to his own family_? I
think I have asked questions enough for the present, so we will consider
the meeting adjourned.



_SPRING IN THE CITY._


There are those who like to begin the day vociferously; with
demonstrative step and voice; with hurry and rush. I confess to a love
of the serene, soft-stepping way in which Nature heralds in the day.
Soft skies, softer music; the gradual rolling up of night's mantle, and
the genial warmth which steals imperceptibly about us. Oh, that sweet,
quiet, devotional coming in of the new-born day! How I long for it, as
the blades of grass begin to grow green, between the pavement-stones
of the crazy city! How I tire of its quips and pranks and
circus-clown-tumblings. How stale grow its jests! How I pant for freedom
outside its artificial, heated walls! How disgusting is the road woman
must travel to secure all this happiness! Woollens and furs to be put
safely out of reach of moths. House-cleaning and carpet-shaking to be
done. Dresses to be bought, and horror! worse than all, to be fitted.
Trunks to be packed--writing to be done, weeks ahead. My brain spins to
think what a purgatory one must travel through, to reach that serene
heaven, the bird-peeping-morning-hour of the country; when nobody comes
to me with horrible questions about meat and butter. When as soon as my
shoes and stockings are on, and before the dew is off, or the lovely
mist done creeping off the mountains, Nature's cool hand is laid on my
temples, and I give _her_ the best of me. With my head on her bosom, I
forget all that is askew in life and rest there contented with the
present; like the babe who dreams not that its mother will presently
loose its hand from her neck, and disappear while yet the trance
continues.

If I am sentimental, forgive me; but sometimes I sigh to think how much
of life goes to consideration of food and clothes. Now, while I
sojourned in a tent on the James river, during the war, I used to lie in
my cot, and consider these things among others. There were just the cot,
a rough pine table, and my trunk, for furniture. I had only to wash my
face and hands in the tin basin of water that Sambo slipped under the
tent every morning, and all those bothering, small considerations were
disposed of for the day.

There was no carpet there to be swept--there were no pictures or china
to look after. Sambo made my bed, while I went into another tent to
breakfast; and the fighting was going on outside, which was to leave it
optional with Sambo about handing tin-basins of water to white folks.
All that suited me. Life under these circumstances seemed to have
something in it. I felt dignified to be alive, and thanked my father and
mother for it.

We have finished the war since then. I am not sorry for that, but life
in that tent has spoiled me for parlor fripperies. That's the worst of
it. I keep all the time asking everybody if they don't think we should
be a great deal happier without all these artificial wants, that so wear
our spirits and souls out. Bless you, they all say, yes; but they keep
going on all the same, and I suppose I shall.

       *       *       *       *       *

A WOMAN'S MOTION.--I rise to make a proposition. It is this: that the
name and denomination, and the name of the pastor, of our respective
churches, should be neatly placed beside the principal entrance door,
that strangers may be able to find those churches they desire. Why not?
as well as the name of the sexton and his residence, which we find upon
nearly all our churches. I won't charge anything for the hint, provided
it is carried out. The thought came to me as I was touched upon the arm
by a stranger the other Sunday, in the porch of a New York church, and
asked, "Of what denomination is the pastor here?" I had to rub my head
to remember, for creeds and denominations find little lodgment there.
Provided I find Christianity, that's enough for me, and to my thinking,
no one church has the monopoly of that.



_WAIFS._


Did you ever try to rid yourself of a thing you did not want? An old
glove or a faded knot of ribbon, or a bit of lace? After Bettina has
picked it up, and with honest delight returned it as a missing valuable,
and every adult and minor in the house has taken his or her turn in
depositing it carefully on your table, were you ever driven "clean"
demented by the dust-man ringing the area bell, with the article in
question, thinking, deluded philanthropist, that he had performed a
virtuous action? Go where you may, can you rid yourself of it? Don't it
turn up between the covers of books, and stare at you from bureau
drawers, and appear simultaneously with your pocket-handkerchief on some
august occasion from your robe pocket? Will water quench it, or fire
burn it? Don't it always fly up chimney unharmed by the sparks, and
watch an opportunity to re-enter at the area door? When you go out,
don't it frisk along the gutter, timing itself to your steps, slow or
quick; or eddy round your head in a gust of wind, and finally get blown
back upon your door-step, where it persists in lodging, spite of brooms
and Bettys, till you get as nervous about it as if it were some
relentless enemy, dogging your every step? Perhaps all this while you
are hunting every nook and corner vainly to find some article you
_really_ want, and which persistently keeps out of your way, or at least
until you have given it up, and replaced it with a duplicate, when it
takes that occasion suddenly to appear, and innocently to confront you,
from a fold in an arm-chair, or sofa, or from the corner of a carpet.

When I experience these trials, I no longer marvel at the clutching
fingers thrust through the grated windows of lunatic asylums, or the
unearthly howls of rage or peals of wild laughter with which these
unfortunates give vent to their feelings. I no longer smile at the
annoyed man who, waking one fine spring morning, and looking at the
fresh grass, exclaimed, "What! _Green again!_ and--_blue_--his brains
(?) out."

       *       *       *       *       *

PARTIAL JUDGMENT.--How few people are gifted with the faculty of seeing
round a corner; in other words, looking at both sides of a question
before deciding! Those who have _not_ this gift are always sinning, and
always repenting; always asserting, and always retracting. They may have
many estimable qualities, and yet, their house being built on such a
sandy foundation, one hesitates before entering it; or, if he makes up
his mind to do so, it is with the deliberate expectation that he may
possibly be buried under its ruins.



_TACT._


I'm not particularly good at definitions, but I know what tact is not.
It is not tact to sit down by the side of a person grieving for the
dead, and tell them how much more comfortable life would now be to them,
did they not love so strongly; and how much wiser, could they only be
more diffusive in their attachments, and concentrate less; so that when
the crape flutters from the door, one could coolly say: "Yes, it is
true--he or she is dead and gone; and there's no help for it; let us
turn to something else and be jolly."

It is not tact to tell a mother, who has an idiotic or deformed child,
how smart, and sweet, and bright are your own; with what a zest they
enter into rollicksome sports; how apt they are to learn, and how
brilliant may be their own and your future.

It is not tact, if you have an acquaintance, who only by the most rigid
and painstaking economy can maintain a presentable appearance, to make a
call on such, in an elaborate toilet, with manners to match.

It is not tact to embarrass persons of limited education, and little
reading, by conversing upon topics of which they can by no possibility
know anything, save that you have the advantage of them in that regard.
It is not tact, in the presence of an invalid, to dilate upon savory
dishes, and the pleasures of the table. It is not tact to converse with
an editor upon a quiet, peaceful life; or with a compelled authoress
upon the safe and uninvaded sanctities of the fireside for women.

The most astounding instance of _tact_, is to listen, inwardly
crucified, with a pleased air, to an old--_old_ joke, and a poor one at
that: to improvise a laugh at the proper moment, and successfully to
resist the malicious instinct to flatter the narrator, at the close, by
saying: "Yes, I have heard that before."

       *       *       *       *       *

ANSWER YOUR CHILDREN'S QUESTIONS.--Education is erroneously supposed
only to be had at schools. The most ignorant children often have been
constant in their attendance there, and there have been very intelligent
ones who never saw the inside of a school-room. The child who always
asks an explanation of terms or phrases it cannot understand, who is
never willing to repeat, parrot-like, that which is incomprehensible,
will far outstrip in "education" the ordinary routine scholar.
"Education" goes on with children at the fireside--on the street--at
church--at play--everywhere. Do not refuse to answer their proper
questions then. Do not check this natural intelligence, for which
_books_ can never compensate, though you bestowed whole libraries.



_THE INFIRMITIES OF GENIUS._


"Poor Burns!" all exclaim after reading his life and his poems. Poor
Burns! _I_ too say; and the next minute I ask, impatiently, why _he_, so
conscious of his God-given powers, should have miserably shortened his
life one-half by ill-governed appetites and excesses. Why, if coining
his brain into dollars, for the widow and fatherless, proved impossible,
he should become so disgusted with manual labor, that even his filial,
fraternal, and conjugal love could not dignify its repulsive features,
since it needs _must be_. Why, with a loving, prudent, industrious,
faithful wife to help him, he could not emulate her everyday but sublime
heroism, not by paroxysms of effort, only to show us how well he _might_
have done, but that steady, determined persistence which seldom fails of
success. Why he, at once so great and so little, took pleasure and pride
in wallowing in the mire, merely because strait-laced hypocrisy stepped
daintily over it with white-sandalled feet. There was no greatness in
this. It was but the angry kick of the impatient urchin upon the chair
over which he had stumbled. Did his ambition to be written down a
publican and a sinner lessen the ranks of the Pharisee? Could he look
into the trusting faces of his innocent children, and feel no secret
pang that for so petty and unworthy a motive he was content to hazard or
forego their future respect? Had he none but himself to consult in such
unworthy disposition of his time and talents? Was it _manly_ in the
midst of that loving group coolly to look forward to the possibility of
an old age of beggary, and toleration by chance firesides, in the
undignified character of jester or clown? Because a man is a "genius,"
must one indorse these things and write them down as "eccentricities"
inseparable from it and to be lightly passed over? Must intellect
_necessarily_ be at variance with principle?

And yet--and yet--because I can say this, I do not fall a whit behind
the most ardent admirer of his genius. But I _do_ hold that he is to be
held as accountable for his errors as the most ordinary farmer's boy who
is unable to spell the name of the plough which he guides. Nor does this
interfere with the heart-aching pity with which I look upon the soiled
wings, so capable of soaring into a pure atmosphere, yet trailing their
beauty in the dust. Nor does this keep my eyes from overflowing when
some lofty or beautiful sentiment of his shines out diamond-like from
the rubbish.

_How could he? Why did he?_

Softly--reverently let us answer. We so full of faults--always
sinning--sometimes repenting. Softly let us answer. We who have not
sinned only because we were not tempted. Softly--we whom _pride_, not
_principle_, has saved. Softly--we whose lives the world writes fair,
and perhaps God's eye leprously foul.

       *       *       *       *       *

COUNTRY MATINS.--He who sleeps at early dawn in the country, stops his
ears to the prayers of Nature. That early tuneful waking! What can
compare with it? Evening is soothing and sweet, with its stars and its
calm; but the gradual brightness of the new day, softly stealing upon
us, as the tints deepen and the songs strengthen, till the full
orchestra is complete, oh! this is soul strengthening and sublime! We
were weak of purpose, we were dispirited, the night before. Yesterday
had overlapped its cares, and our tired shoulders shrank from the coming
burden. But this bright resurrection heralded so thrillingly by soulless
creatures! Shall _we_ immortals only be thankless and dumb? We join the
chorus! Care sits lightly at this blessed hour. All things for that day
are possible to us--hard duty sweet. Blessed be God, then, for the sweet
dawning of each new day!



_A TRIP TO THE CAATSKILLS._


Well--I've "done" the Caatskills! I've tugged up that steep mountain,
one of the hottest days in which a quadruped or a biped ever perspired,
packed to suffocation, with other gasping sufferers, in that crucifying
institution called a stage-coach, until I became resignedly indifferent,
whether it reached its destination, or rolled head over heels--or rather
head over wheels--over the precipice. Landing at last at the hotel, I
was conscious of only one want--a bedroom; which, when obtained, was
close enough, and which I shared with three other jaded mortals. The
next morning, thanks to a good Providence and the landlord, I emigrated
into unexceptionable quarters.

Ah--now I breathe! now I remember no more that purgatorial reeling
stage-coach, and its protracted jigglings--wriggling--joltings and
bumpings. Now I am repaid--now I gaze--oh, how _can_ I gaze with only
one pair of eyes, on all this beauty and magnificence? This vast plain
spread out so far below our feet like an immense garden, with its
luxuriant foliage--its little cottages, smaller than a child's toy: its
noble river, specked with white sails, lessened by distance to a silver
thread, winding through the meadows; and beyond--still other plains,
other streams, other mountains--on--on--stretching far beyond the dizzy
ken, till the eye fills, and the heart swells, and leaning in an ecstasy
of happiness on the bosom of "Our Father," we cry, "Oh! what is man that
Thou art mindful of him?"

Now--as if the scene were too gorgeous for mortal sight, nature gently,
compassionately drops a silvery veil of mist before it, veiling, yet not
hiding--withdrawing, yet not removing--giving us now sunshine, now
shadow; bringing out now the vivid green of a meadow, now the silver
sheen of the river; now the bold outline of a pine-girdled mountain. And
now--the scene changes, and fleets of clouds sail slowly--glide ghostly,
round the mountain's base; winding-sheets wrapped round the shapely
trees, from which they burst with a glorious resurrection; while over
and above all arches the blue heavens, smiling that it canopies a scene
so fair. See--village after village, like specks in the distance--where
human hearts throb to human joys and sorrows; where restless ambition
flutters against the barred cage of necessity, pining for the
mountain-top of freedom; when, gained, oh, weary traveller, to lose its
distant golden splendor, and wrap thee in the chill vapors of
discontent. What matter--if thou but accept this proof of thy
immortality? Yes--village after village; farmers plodding on, as farmers
too often will, turning up the soil for dollars and cents, seeing only
in the clouds the filter for their crops; in the lakes the refrigerator
for their fish; in the glorious trees their fuel; in the waving grass
and sloping meadows, feed for their cattle; in the sweet sunrise an
alarm bell to labor, in the little bird's vespers but a call to feed and
sleep.

Now--twilight steals upon the mountains, calm as heaven. The bright
valleys sleep in their deepening shadows, while on the mountain-tops
lingers the glory, as if loath to fade into the perfumed night. With a
graceful sweep the little bird mounts to the clouds, takes his last
circling flight, and sings his evening hymn, sweet and soft as the rapt
soul's whispered farewell to earth. And yet--O God!--this is but the
porch to the temple, before whose dazzling splendors even Thy seraphs
veil their sinless eyes.

In an article in a late weekly, I was shocked at a flippant and
unfeeling allusion to "the yellow invalids one meets at
watering-places." Surely, the sight of such, wandering forth with feeble
step and faded eyes, taking their last look at this beautiful earth,
side by side with the rosy cheek and bounding pulse of health, should
excite in us only feelings of tenderest love and compassion. Some such I
met; but I would not, if I could, that their pale faces should have been
banished from our merry circle. It was no damper on my enjoyment to gaze
at their drooping eyelids, and listlessly crossed hands. I would but
have yielded them the cosiest corner on the sofa, or the most
comfortable arm-chair, or the sunniest nook on the piazza, or tempted
their failing appetite with the daintiest bit at the table. I would like
to have taken their transparent hands in my healthy palm, and given them
a kindly grasp, by which they would recognize me in that better land,
which every day dawns clearer on my sight. It is well that we should
have such in our midst; and surely none whose hearts are drawn by
yearning, but invisible cords, to the dear ones who _once_ made sunlight
in our homes, can fail to recognize and respond to the tacit claims of
the stranger-invalid upon our tenderest sympathies.

And while upon this subject, I would speak a word, which, it seems to
me, needs to be spoken--upon a courteous recognition of the lonely,
unobtrusive traveller, who, for the time, makes one of the same family
under a hotel roof. It is easy for all to pay court to the
distinguished, the handsome, or the agreeable; to seek an introduction
to such, or manufacture a pretext for speaking. It is for the
unattractive I would plead, and the aged--for those who have nothing to
recommend them to notice, save that they are unnoticed. It seems to me
that one need study no book of etiquette to find out, that a passing
salutation to such, a kind inquiry after their health, an offer of a
flower--when one has been rambling where their weary feet may not go--is
the true politeness. One feels like spurning the civility received at
the hands of those who see not in these disregarded ones the lineaments
of the same Father. It gives me pleasure to say that I have witnessed
some noble examples of courtesy to such, extended with a graceful ease,
which would seem less to confer a favor than to receive one by their
acceptance.

It was very pleasant to see little children at the Caatskills; but they
were all too few. Children are generally supposed to be bad travellers:
this is a mistake. They have often more self-denial, fortitude, and
endurance than half your grown people. I can answer at least for one
little girl under my charge from whom no amount of burning sun, hunger,
or fatigue, extorted a syllable of complaint; in fact, I once saw her
endure a car collision with the same commendable philosophy, while men
old enough to be her father were frantic with affright. "Render unto
children their due," is on the fly-leaf of _my_ Bible.

Yes, it is good for them to go out of cities. A city child is a cruel,
wicked, shapeless, one-sided abortion. 'Tis a pale shoot of a plant,
struggling bravely for its little day of life in some rayless corner,
all unblest by the warm sunshine which God intended to give to it color,
strength, and fragrance. What wonder that the blight falls on it? Do you
say, Pshaw? Do you suppose a child, for instance, could appreciate the
scenery at the Caatskills? I ask you, do all the _adults_ who flock
there to gaze, appreciate it? Do you not hear the words
"divine,"--"enchanting,"--"beautiful,"--"magnificent,"--applied by them,
as often to costume as to clouds? Give me a child's appreciation of such
a scene, before that of two-thirds of the adult gazers. Its thought may
be half-fledged, and given with lisping utterance, but it _is_ a
thought. The eyes, while speaking, may suddenly change their look of
wondering awe, for one of elfish fun; what matter! The feeling was
sincere, though fleeting--genuine, though fragmentary. By and by that
little child, leaving its sports, will come back again to my side as I
sit upon the rocks; and any gray-haired philosopher who can, may answer
the question with which she seals my lips; any poet who can, may coin a
phrase which, more fitly than her's, symbols nature's beauty. Now she's
off to play again--leaving the deep question unanswered, but not for
that reason to be forgotten--no more than the rock, or mountain, or
river, which called it forth, and which is hung up like a cabinet
picture in that childish memory, to be clouded over, it may be, by the
dust and discolorations of after years, but never destroyed--waiting
quietly that master touch, which obliterating all else, as if trivial or
unworthy, restores only to the fading eye of age, in freshened beauty,
the glowing pictures of childhood.

The great charm of the Caatskills is its constant variety; look where
you may, you shall never see twice the same effect of light and shade.
Again, and again I said to myself, How, amid such prodigal, changeful
beauty, shall the artist choose? Life were all too short for the
decision. Ever the busy finger of Omnipotence, silently showing us
wonder upon wonder. "Silently," did I say? Ah, no; ever writing, on
cloud and valley, rock, mountain, and river--"all these as a scroll
shall be rolled away, but My Word shall never pass away."

I have not spoken of the lovely rides in the vicinity of the Caatskills,
of which we were not slow to avail ourselves. Turn which way we would,
all was beauty. And yet, not all--I must not forget among these
magnificent mountains the hateful, bare, desolate, treeless, vineless,
old-fashioned school-house, resembling a covered pound for stray calves.
What a sight it was, to be sure, to see the weary children swarm out
into the warm sunshine, shouting for very joy that they _might_ shout,
and trying their poor cramped limbs to see if they had not actually lost
the use of them in those inquisitorially devised seats. Alas! what an
alphabet might a teacher who was a _child-lover_ have deciphered,
_outside_ those purgatorial walls, on trees, and flowers, and mountains;
the teaching of which would have needed no quickening ferule, cramped no
restless limbs, overtasked and diseased no forming brain! What streams
of knowledge, waiting only the divining rod of the lover of God, and His
representatives--_little children_--to freshen and to beautify
wheresoever they should flow!

Yes--it was good to see those children kicking their reprieved heels in
the air--I only wish they could have kicked over that desolate old
school-house. _They_ didn't know why I nodded to them such a merry good
day; they never will know, poor victims, how royally well I sympathized
with their somersets on the grass--they thought, perhaps, that I knew
the "school-marm;"--Heaven forbid--I would rather know the incendiary
who should set fire to her school-house!

In one neighborhood--which is so small that an undertaker must be sorely
puzzled to find subjects--I noticed a hideous picture of a coffin stuck
on the front of a small dwelling-house, with a repulsive ostentation
that outdid even New York. This, to an invalid visiting the Caatskills
for health (and there are many such), must be an inspiriting sight!

This summer travel, after all, is a most excellent thing. It is well for
people from different parts of the country to rub off their local angles
by collision. It is well for those of opposite temperaments and habits
of thought, to look each other mentally in the face. It is well for the
indefatigable mother and housekeeper to remain ignorant, for one blessed
month, of the inevitable, "What shall we have for dinner?" It is well
for the man of business, whose thoughts are narrowed down to stocks and
stores, to look out on the broad hills, and let the little bird's song
stir memories of days when heaven was nearer to him than it has ever
been since. It is well for the ossified old bachelor to air his
selfishness in the genial atmosphere of woman's smile. It is well for
the overtasked clergyman, and his equally overtasked (though not equally
salaried) wife, to have a brief breathing spell from vestries and
verjuice. It is well for their daughter, who has been tied up to the
parish pillory of--"you must not do this," and "you must not do that,"
and "you must not do the other," till she begins to think that God did
not know what He was about when He made her, to bestow so many powers,
and tastes, and faculties, which must be forever folded up in a napkin,
for fear of offending "Mrs. Grundy." _It is well for the Editor, that he
may look in the faces of the women whose books he has reviewed, and
condemned, too, without reading a blessed word of them._ It is well for
everybody--even the exclusives who hesitate, through fear of plebeian
contamination, to sit down in the common parlor; because, were all the
world wise--which Heaven forbid--there would be nothing to laugh at!

A lack of competition is said to affect progress. That the traveller to
the Caatskills has no choice but "The Mountain House," should not, it
seems to me, act as an extinguisher to enterprise upon its
well-patronized landlord. I might make many suggestions as to
improvements, by which I am sure he would, in the end, be no loser. It
needs no great stretch of the imagination to fancy the carriage which
conveys victims to "The Falls," a relic of the Inquisition. I did not
know till I had tried it, how many evolutions a comfortably-fleshed
woman could perform in a minute, between the roof and floor of such a
ve-higgle! (Result--a villanous headache--and the black and blues.) I
noticed a small bookshelf in the very pleasant ladies' parlor. "Praise
God Barebones," I think, must have made the selection of the volumes.
But it is pleasanter to commend than to find fault. I could forgive
many shortcomings for the privilege of feasting on the wholesome light
bread, which to a saleratus-consuming--saleratus-consumed New Yorker,
was glory enough to nibble at. Blessings, too, on the skilful fingers
which stirred up those appetizing omelettes and sublime orange-puddings.
What an amusement it is, to be sure, to watch a man when he gets hold of
the dish he fancies! What fun to bother him with innumerable questions
while he is trying to eat it in undisturbed rapture--meanwhile wishing
you at the North Pole! How cynical the creatures are, the last
interminable half hour _before_ meals, and how sweetly amiable and lazy
_after_! Then is your time to try men's soles; to insist upon their
taking a walk with you, when they can scarce waddle; when visions of
curling Havana smoke invite them to two-legged piazza-chairs, digestion,
and meditation. _Then_ is your time to be suddenly seized with an
unpostponable longing for a brisk game of ten-pins, to test the
sincerity of all their disinterested speeches. My dears, the man who
continues amiable while you thus stroke his inclinations the wrong way,
may safely be trusted in any matrimonial crisis. I indorse him.

With regard to the Falls it may be a delusion, but I think it is rather
a damper to sentiment to fee a man to turn on the water for them! and I
know it is a damper to the slippers to go down into the ravine
beneath--which, joking aside, is very beautiful, and a great place for a
bear to hug you in. Instead of which, I met a young parson whom I knew
by token of his very black coat, and very white necktie; and who
actually pulled from his sacerdotal pocket a profane handkerchief which
I had carelessly dropped, presenting it with as much gravity as if he
had been giving me "the right hand of fellowship." Heaven help him--so
young--so well-made--and so solemn!--I felt immensely like a frolic. And
speaking of frolics--oh, the mountains I had to leave unclimbed, the
"campings out" foregone--and all because I was foreordained to
petticoats--hampering, bush-catching petticoats!--all because I hadn't
courage to put on trousers (in which, by the way, I have made several
unsatisfactory private rehearsal attempts to unsex myself, but nature
was too much for me), and wade knee-deep in moss to see what man alone,
by privilege of his untrammelled apparel, may feast his eyes upon. It is
a _crying_ shame. Ten-pins, too; who can get a "ten-strike" in
petticoats? See what I would do at it in a jacket and unmentionables,
though I really think nature had no eye to this game when she modelled a
woman's hand and wrist. Now I dare say there are straight-laced people
who will be shocked at the idea of a woman playing ten-pins. Well, let
them be shocked. I vote for it for two reasons; first, for the exercise,
when dripping grass and lowering skies deny it to us elsewhere;
secondly, because it is always a pleasant sight to see husbands sharing
this, or any other innocent recreation, with their wives and daughters,
instead of herding selfishly in male flocks. I like this feature of
domesticity in pleasure-seeking in our friends, the Germans. I like the
Germans. Their joy is infectious. A sprinkling of such spirits would do
much towards infusing a little life into the solemn business way in
which Americans too often pursue, but seldom overtake, pleasure. Yes, it
is a lovely sight to see them with their families! and oh, how much more
honorable and just, to a painstaking, economical wife and mother, than
the expensive meal, shared at a restaurant with some male companion,
while she sits solitary, to whom a proposal even for a simple walk would
be happiness, as an evidence of that watchful care which is so endearing
to a wife's heart.

Not the least among our enjoyments were our evenings at the Caatskills.
When warm enough, promenading on the ample piazza with pleasant friends;
when the out-door temperature forbade this, seated in the parlors,
listening to merry voices, looking on young and happy faces, or, what is
never less beautiful, upon those who, having reached life's summit, did
not, for that reason, churlishly refuse to cast back approving,
sympathizing glances upon the young loiterers who were still gleefully
gathering flowers by the way.

Then, too, we had music, _heart_ music, from our German friend; whose
artistic fingers often, also, gave harmonious expressions upon the piano
to our _sunrise_ thoughts, before we had left our rooms. Happy they,
whose full souls can lighten their secret burdens by the low musical
plaint, understood only by those who have themselves loved and
suffered! Of how many tried and aching hearts has music been the
eloquent voice? The ruffled brow grows smooth beneath its influence; the
angry feeling, calm as a wayward child, at a mother's loving kiss. Joy,
like a white-robed angel, glides softly in, and on the billows of
earthly sorrow she lays her gentle finger, whispering, "Peace, be
still!"

       *       *       *       *       *

A SHAM EXPOSED.--A great deal is said about young men "who are not able
to marry on account of the extravagance of women," when these very young
men often spend as much on their own superfluities, if not on their
vices, as would support a _reasonable_ wife. But the laugh comes in
here--that such young men don't _really_ want a _reasonable_ wife! They
pass by the industrious, self-denying young girl, who pluckily resolves
not to let an already overtasked father or brother support her, and pay
court to some be-flounced and be-jewelled pink-and-white doll, and then
whine that they "can't get married to her, because she is so
extravagant." That's the whole truth about it; and when young men face
and acknowledge it in a manly manner, it will be soon enough to listen
to them on the "marriage" question.



_THE TRIP TO BROMPTON._


"What a splendid day to go to Brompton!" exclaimed Mr. Smith, looking
out of the open window and breathing in the fresh air as only a man can
who has been pent up in a counting-room till his head feels as though it
had a full-sized windmill going inside. "Come, wife, pick up your traps,
and let's be off; the train starts in an hour, and there is a
return-train at nine this evening; just the time to come back." Mrs.
Smith looked lovingly at her baby, for weary as she was, it was a trial
to leave it behind. Who knew what perfidious pin might torture it, or
how hard it might sneeze without even a sympathizing "coo" to reassure
its startled timidity. Who knew but its milk might choke it, or a window
be left open that should be shut; or shut that should be opened. Who
knew but some passing fish-horn, or shad distributor, might scare it
into fits, with unearthly and prolonged whooping. Who knew that it might
not pull the sheet over its face in its sleep and smother itself, or be
laid too near the edge of the bed, and roll off. In short, come to think
of it, Mrs. Smith felt that she had better stay and attend to these
little matters. But an executive hand thrust her bonnet on her head,
and parasol in hand, she found herself on the way to the depot.

It _was_ pleasant, after one _did_ finally emerge from that smothering
depot. The smell of fresh earth and fresh-springing grass, and the
birds' song, and the vivid green of the trees, were all delicious. Mrs.
Smith felt as if she had but half existed for months, something as a
buried toad might, who had lain all winter under a big cold stone, and
crept out some fine morning to try his hopping powers in the June
sunshine. She took no heed of the oranges "five for a shill_in_" thrust
in her face, nor of that dreariest of all things, "a comic newspaper;"
nor packages of "refined candies," or "fig paste," or "Indian
moccasins," or any of the modern inventions to disturb the serenity of
quiet, reflective travellers. She looked steadily out of the window at
the glimpses of wood, and water, and blue sky to be seen therefrom; nor
noticed the flirtation on a side-seat between a young school-girl and
her juvenile beau; nor the fine bonnet that a lady in front thought it
good taste to be travelling in. It was all one to her, while that sweet,
soft wind soothed her heated temples, and she was borne along without
any effort of her own so deliciously. But all pleasures must have an
end, more's the pity; so had this. "Brompton Station," bawled the
conductor, breaking the spell; and with a conjugal reminding nudge of
Mr. Smith's elbow, Mrs. Smith found her feet, and alighted. "It was just
a mile," so the depot-master said, to the house where they were looking
for "Summer board." "_Only_ a mile--let's walk, then," said Mrs. Smith;
"what a nice road, and what big trees; and how sweet the air is." But
alas! Mrs. Smith was mortal, and she had before starting disdained
dinner. Her exclamations of delight began to grow fainter as they
proceeded, and in half an hour, a seat on the top of a stone wall was a
consummation devoutly to be wished. Perched there, with dangling
gaiter-boots, Mrs. Smith faintly inquired of a cow-boy, "how far to
Brompton?" "A mile, _mum_." "But they told us _that_ at the station, and
we've _been_ a mile," she gasped. "It's a good piece yet," he replied,
with a scratch of the head. "Do you think that man yonder would take me
up in his cart?" whispered Mrs. Smith confidentially to her husband.
"Perhaps so," he replied; "but there's no seat in it, and you'd be
horribly jolted." "So I should--dear me--I shall know what 'a mile' is,
next time," replied Mrs. Smith, as she rolled like a bag of wool from
the fence to the ground, and settling her bonnet, started again on her
travels. "Isn't that a splendid view, May?" asked Mr. Smith. "I suppose
so," replied his wife. "Oh, John, I'm awful hungry; and I cannot go any
farther; and I _won't_," said she, sitting down on a big, flat stone.
People don't always know what they will do; as Mrs. Smith said this she
sprang to her feet, and went down the road with the velocity of a
steam-engine. The innocent cow, who was the unconscious propelling
cause, looked as much astonished as Mr. Smith; but it is an ill wind
that blows nobody good, and the farm-house, thanks to that cow, was
finally reached. A cup of tea, and some "domestic bread," set all right
with Mrs. Smith. What was "a mile" now? She climbed fences, just as if
she had no baby at home; she pulled roses, and lilacs, and grasses, and
peeped into pig-sties, and ferreted little kittens out of the barn, and,
in short, one would scarcely have recognized her as the forlorn lady in
the dangling gaiter-boots perched on a wayside wall. And so the
afternoon wore away, and thoughts of "baby" began to clamor. Just then
appeared Mr. Smith, with a serious face. "What is it?" asked his wife,
with that conjugal free-masonry which beats "Lodges" all hollow.
"There's no train back to-night. May, I made a mistake, and read the
time-table wrong; I'm sorry; but it was nine _A.M._, instead of nine
_P.M._; so we shall have to stay till morning." "John," said Mrs. Smith,
solemnly, "is there a freight train that goes down any time during the
night?" "I don't know; I can ask," said her husband; "but you can't go
on a freight-train--it is so high, that you can't step in or out, even
if the conductor will take you; and then there will be cattle aboard,
perhaps, and you'll be cooped in a close, little pen, full of
tobacco-smoke;--just think! _tobacco-smoke!_" said Mr. Smith. "You know
you never can stand _that_, May." "Just ask if that cattle-train is
_really_ going, and _when_," replied his wife, with a far-off look in
her eyes, as if she could see her wailing baby in the distance. "Well,
it may go at one at night, and it may go at two; it stops to take in
milk for the city at the different stations, and it is often an hour
behind time."

An hour after this conversation, Mrs. Smith found herself reclining on
the sofa, in the parlor of the small country tavern, opposite the depot,
which latter was closed for the night, waiting the arrival of the
"cattle-train," while Mr. Smith consoled himself with a cigar on the
piazza. She was roused from a light nap by a tap on the window; a
marital nose was flattened against the window-pane, through which the
information was conveyed her that _she_ was locked _in_ for the night
and _he_ was locked out.

Mrs. Smith flattened _her_ nose against the window-pane and inquired,
"What was to be done?" "Open the window, of course." "I can't--I don't
understand it. I can't see how it goes. The thing is nailed down. It
won't stir an inch." "Pshaw! press your finger on that little knob, you
goose." And the goose did it; and directly a pair of gaiter-boots were
seen going through the window. That was nice; but the chill river-fog
soon began to penetrate cloak and dress, and slight shivers ensued: and
the bouquet of roses and lilacs was thrown away in disgust, for both
hands were needed to fold her drapery more closely round. The sad-voiced
"whip-poor-will" began his midnight serenade; and puffing bull-frogs
joined in the chorus, and watch-dogs barked, and little chickens peeped,
and roosters mistook the moonlight for broad day, and gave shrill,
premature crows--and still the cattle-train came not; and Mrs. Smith
sat crouched on a wheelbarrow-looking affair, used for trundling trunks
at the depot, thinking of "baby." Whoo--puff--puff--whoo! "There it is;
ask no questions, May, but run ahead, and get in somehow." It _was_
"somehow." May never knew how--for John and the conductor managed it
between them, much to the detriment of skirts and frills, and May found
herself in company with a kerosene lamp and a greasy cushion; and
through the partition friendly cows were greeting her; and the air was
odorous with tobacco-smoke; and the cars bumped and jolted and thumped
as if they were bewitched; and there was nothing to hold on to, or to
lean against; and sometimes her bonnet touched the wall, and sometimes
unexpectedly, she had no chair under her; and so, at two in the morning,
this pleasure-seeking couple were landed about three miles from their
city residence, and _not_ in the vicinity of a livery stable, and caught
by mere good luck an infrequent street car; and, reaching home, counted
the baby's toes and fingers and found them all right; and over their
early coffee laughed at the "trip to Brompton."



_LAKE GEORGE REVISITED._


Lake George has haunted me since I saw it. I thought to abide at peace
in mine easy-chair this summer, but Lake George was not visible from my
windows; and how could I let the summer days shine on its beauty and I
not by to see? and then that glorious Hudson! for a sight of which I am
_always_ longing. There was no help for it; I went through the packing
purgatory, and set sail. Commend me to steamboat travel over and above
all the cars that ever screeched under and above ground; but, alas!
steamboats have a drawback which cars have not. You get a comfortable
seat on deck, on the shady side; in a chair _with a back_ to it. You say
this is pleasant, as you fold your hands--Ugh! So does a man, or a group
of them near you, who have just lighted their cigars, or worse, their
pipes. Puff--puff--puff; straight into your face; right and left; fore
and aft. Is this the "fresh air" for which you were travelling? You
reluctantly change your place. You even take a seat in the sun, to rid
yourself of the smoke. Puff--puff; another smoker sits, or stands, near
you; you turn disgusted away, only to encounter another group, who
evidently regard the beautiful Hudson only in the light of an enormous
spittoon.

Now I protest against this lack of decency and chivalry. If no other
woman dare brave these gentlemen, (?) I will, though I know well what
anathemas I shall incur. I call, moreover, upon all _decent_
steamboat-captains to provide a den for these tobacco-absorbing,
tobacco-emitting gentry, in some part of the boat where women are _not_.
If they must smoke, which point I neither deny nor admit, do not suffer
them to expel ladies, to whom they are so profuse in----fine
speeches--to the stifling air of the ladies' cabin, to avoid it. This at
least seems but reasonable and fair. The only place where one is really
in no danger of this nuisance at present is in church; though I am
expecting every Sunday to see boots on the tops of pews, and lighted
cigars behind them. Oh, I know very well that some ladies _pretend_ to
"like it," because they had rather endure it than resign the attentions
of a gentleman who don't know any better than to ask them "if it is
disagreeable." _Of course_, it is disagreeable, for women are clean
creatures; and if they tell you it is _not_, know that they tell you a
good-natured but most unmitigated fib; and you should be ashamed of
availing yourself of it to make yourselves such nuisances.

That lovely midnight glide up the Hudson! Lying dreamily on one's
pillow; just asleep enough to know nothing disagreeable, and awake
enough to see with half-closed eyes through your little window the
white sails, and green shores, and listen to the plashing water.
Daylight and Albany, with its noisy pier, seem an impertinence.
"Breakfast?" ah, yes--we are human, and love coffee; but the melancholy
figures and faces, as we emerge from our state-room! Rosy mouths agape;
bright eyes half-veiled with heavy lids; cloaks and mantles tossed on
with more haste than taste; hair tumbled, bonnets awry. Pull down your
veils, ladies, and prepare yourselves for a general dislocation of every
bone in your body, as you thunder up to the hotel in _that_ omnibus,
which is bound back again in exactly three seconds, for another hapless
cargo.

Your "unprotected female" is to be met everywhere. Is my countenance so
benevolent that she should have singled me out, as I waited at the hotel
for my breakfast? There she was--with spectacles on nose, carpet-bag in
hand; alert--nervous--distracted.

"Was I travelling North or South?"

Was it for want of coffee, or geography, that I curtly replied: "I
haven't the least idea, Ma'am."

"Was I alone, dear?"

"Husband, Ma'am."

"Where's the ---- House, dear?"

"_This_ is it, Ma'am."

"Lord bless me--I thought it was the Depot!"

There may be individuals existing who have not ridden in _that_
stage-coach from "Moreau Station" to Lake George. If so, let him or her,
particularly _her_, bear in mind, in selecting her attitude on sitting
down, that it is final and irrevocable, spite of cramps, for thirteen
good miles of sunny, sandy, up-and-down-hill, bumping, thumping travel.
However, there's fun even in that. Jolts bring out jokes. After punching
daylight through the ribs of one's neighbor, one don't wait for an
"introduction." Your Cologne bottle becomes common property, also your
fan. If there is an unlucky wight on top, whose overhanging boots
betoken a due respect for the eighth commandment, of course he can have
the refusal of your sun umbrella to keep his brains from frying,
particularly as you don't know what to do with it inside. Yes--on the
whole, it is fun; but it isn't fun to arrive at a hotel faint, dusty,
hungry, and hear, "We are running over, but we can _feed_ you here, if
you'll _lodge_ in the village." May do for men, groan out the green
veils; try at another house. Ah, now it is _our_ turn; installed by some
hocus-pocus in two rooms commanding a magnificent view of the lake, we
can afford to pity hungry wretches who can't get in. Now we breathe! Our
feet and arms--yes, they are all right, for we just tried them. Now we
toss off our bonnet, and gaze at those huge mountains and their dark
shadows on the lake; now we see the little row-boats glide along, to the
musical, sparkling dip of the oar; now we hear the merry laughs of the
rowers, or perhaps a snatch of a song in a woman's voice. Now the clear,
fresh breeze sweeps over the hills, and ruffles the lake, bringing us
spicy odors. Oh, but this is delicious. Dress? What, _here_? No, indeed;
enough of that in New York. Who wants to see dresses may look in our
trunks. That hill is to be climbed, that shore to be reached, that boat
to be sailed in, and how is that to be done if one "dresses"? We are for
a tramp, a sail, a drive--anything but dressing.

Lake George by moonlight, at midnight! oh, you should see it, with its
shining, quivering path of light, as if for angel footsteps. I know not
whether another world is fairer than this; but I _do_ know that _there_
are no sighs, no weary outstretching of the hands for help, no smothered
cry of despair.

       *       *       *       *       *

SELF-HELP.--We pity those who do not and never have "labored." _Ennui_
and satiety sooner or later are sure to be their portion. Like the child
who is in possession of every new toy, and who has snapped and broken
them all, they stand looking about for something--_anything_ new and
amusing; and like this child, they often stoop to the mud and the gutter
for it. It is an understood principle of human nature, that people never
value that which is easily obtained. Bread which has been purchased with
unearned money has never the flavor and sweetness of that which is won
by the sweat of one's own brow.



_COOKERY AND TAILORING._


When male writers have nothing else to say they fall "afoul" of all
women for not being adepts in cookery. Now, one might just as well
insist that every man should know how to make his own trousers, as that
every woman should be a cook.

Suppose reverses should come, and the man who don't know how should not
be able to employ a tailor, where would he be then, not understanding
how to make his own trousers? And suppose reverses should _not_ come,
how much wiser and better for him to know practically all about
tailoring, so that he might _with knowledge_ be able to direct his
tailor? At present he thoughtlessly steps in and recklessly orders them.
How does he know whether the amount of cloth used is necessary, or the
contrary? How does he know that he isn't swindled fearfully on buttons,
lappets, and facings, and even the padding inserted to make his rickety
figure bewitching? I grieve when I think of this, and then of his asking
his wife afterward, "what she did with the twenty-five cents he gave her
yesterday to go shopping with." He ought to be master of tailoring in
all its branches, before he links his destiny with a woman, or else he
ought to wear a cloak, which, morally speaking, _is_ his normal
condition.

He may reply that he don't like tailoring; that he has no gift for
tailoring; that studying it ever so long he should only make a bad
tailor, to spoil the making of a good lawyer or doctor. That's nothing
to the purpose. I insist that he shall learn _tailoring_; not only that,
but I insist that he shall _like_ it too. His lawyering and doctoring
can come in afterward wheresoever the gods will, in the chinks of his
time, but breeches and coats he shall know how to make, or every editor
in the land shall be down on him whenever they are hard up for an
editorial, if, without this important branch of knowledge, he presumes
to address a political meeting. For not understanding breeches, how the
mischief can he understand politics, or be prepared to speak about them?

He may tell me that he don't intend to "link his destiny with woman,"
but instead, to be a gay bachelor, and have a latch-key, and one towel a
week at some boarding-house, and whistle "Hail Columbia" at midnight, at
his own sweet will, with variations, without the fear of waking some
wretched baby. _That's_ nothing to do with it. I insist that even
_then_, he, being obliged to wear breeches, should know how many yards
of different width cloth it takes to make them. I insist that, without
this knowledge, he is not even prepared to be a bachelor. Nobody can
tell, in this world, when misfortune may overtake one. Cigars may become
so dear, and his exchequer so low in consequence, that he may be
obliged to alter his little plan, and link his destiny to some woman who
will earn them for him. And suppose the twins should afterward interfere
with her earnings, then think how glorious it would be to turn his
knowledge of tailoring to account on this conjugal rainy day, and not
only make his own breeches, but those of the twins, who would
undoubtedly be boys, because men like boys, and therefore ought to have
them.

Now, having freed my mind on this point, I proceed to say that the
brightest and most gifted women I have known have perfectly understood
cookery, and have written some of their best things over the
cooking-stove, while they kept _two_ "pots boiling." Furthermore, that
the more brains a woman has, the less she will "look down upon," or
"despise," a knowledge so important as that of cookery. But because she
knows how, and because she does it, it need not of necessity follow that
she "hankers after it." And _when_ she does it, she should have the
credit of doing it; and if her husband be a literary man, he should know
and acknowledge--which is the thing he don't always do--that though she
resolutely performs her duty without shirking, while he quietly
scribbles, a sigh occasionally goes up chimney with the smoke, at the
thoughts which fly up with it, that she may never catch again, either
for fame or money. I say, when gobbling down the food she prepares, or
oversees the preparing, in these days of incompetent servants, he
should sometimes recognize this.

Then I would call attention to the fact that married men should
everywhere, and in all classes, remember, that it is very discouraging
for any wife and housekeeper, when, for the same efficient labor which
she expends under her own roof, she could earn for herself at least a
competence, to be obliged to go as a _beggar_ to her husband for the
money which is justly her _due_. Perhaps, if husbands were more just and
generous with regard to this matter, women might take their pleasure in
"cookery," which every man seems to think is her only "through ticket"
to Paradise, and to their affections, _viâ_ their stomachs.

       *       *       *       *       *

TAKE A VACATION.--It need not of necessity be an expensive one. Go away,
if only for a week, and shake off the drudgery of routine. Some people
are of the opinion that upon their return they will find work all the
more difficult. It is not so. The vacation judiciously spent, and
according to one's means, will give increased strength for the
performance of the duties awaiting us. Let those who cannot do this,
take now and then a car-ride into the country, for a day of fresh air. A
sight of the green grass and clover-blossoms will do them good.
Continuous, unremitting labor is not good either for man or beast.



_UP THE HUDSON._


I suppose nobody is to blame, but I feel indignant every time I take a
steamboat sail up the Hudson, that I was not born a New Yorker. I am not
particularly fond of sleeping on a shelf, or eating bread and butter in
that submarine _Tophet_, called the "Dining Cabin;" were it not for
these little drawbacks, I think I should engage board for a month on one
of our Hudson river steamboats (one that _doesn't_ patronize
"Calliopes").

As to a "residence on the banks of the Hudson," do you think I would so
sacrilegiously and audaciously familiarize myself with its glorious
beauty? I decline on the principle that the lover, who had pleasurably
wooed for years, refused to marry, "because he should have nowhere to
spend his evenings;" where, oh, where, _I_ ask, should I spend my
_summers_? Yes, a month's board on a Hudson river steamboat! _a floating
boarding-house!_ why not? I claim the idea as original. First
stipulation--meals and mattresses _on deck_, in fair weather.

What a curious study are travellers! How the human nature comes out!
There are your men and women, bound to get their money's worth, to the
last dime, and who imagine that bullying and bluster is the way, not
only to do this, but to deceive people into the belief that they are
accustomed to being waited upon at home. Of such are the men who wander
ceaselessly upstairs and downstairs and in my ladies' cabin, smoking and
yawning, poking their walking-sticks into every bundle and basket from
sheer ennui,--and ever and anon returning on deck, suspiciously wiping
their mouths. Of such are they who light a pipe or cigar in the
immediate proximity of ladies, who have just secured a comfortable seat
on deck, that they may revel in the much-longed-for fresh sea-breeze;
dogged, obstinate, "deil take the hindmost," selfish, ruffianly cubs,
who would stand up on their hind legs in a twinkling at the insinuation
that they were not "gentlemen."

Yes, there are all sorts on board a steamboat; there is your
country-woman in her best toggery; fancy bonnet, brass ear-rings, and
the inevitable "locket;" who, when the gong sounds, takes out a huge
basket to dine off molasses-cake, drop-cake, doughnuts, and cheese; who
coolly nudges some man in the ribs "to lend her the loan" of his
jack-knife, wherewith she dexterously cuts up and harpoons into a mouth
more useful than ornamental, little square blocks of "soggy"
gingerbread, with a trusting confidence in the previous habits of that
strange jack-knife, that is delicious to witness! Then there are
quicksilver little children, frightening mothers into fits, by peering
into dangerous places, and leaning over the deck into the water;
shaking their little flossy lap-dog-curls, and singing as they go,
asking you with innocent straightforwardness, as they decline your
offered cracker, "why you didn't buy candy instead." Then there are
great, puffy, red-faced Britons, with strong white teeth, most
astonishing girth of limb, and power of sleep in uncomfortable places;
broad in the shoulders and sluggish in the brain; "not thinking much of
America," but somehow or other keeping on coming here! Then there is
your stereotyped steerage-passenger, rubbing one eye with the corner of
her apron, who has "niver a penny to get to her daughter," and she
_might_ add niver a daughter, and come nearer the truth.

Then there is the romantic young-lady traveller, got up coquettishly,
and yet faultlessly, for the occasion in that ravishing little hat and
feather, becoming only to young beauty, or at least to fresh youth,
whose wealth of hair threatens instant escape from the silken net at the
back of her head, and of whose fringed eyes all bachelors should beware.
Let her have her little triumphs, ye that have had _your_ day, and let
no censorious old maid, or strait-laced matron, look daggers at her
innocent pleasure in being beautiful. Then there is a gentleman and
lady, cultivated and refined, if faces may be trusted, with a sweet boy,
whom you would never know to be blind, his face is so sunny, were it not
that they guide his steps so carefully; and why shouldn't his face be
sunny, when his infirmity calls forth such riches of love and
tenderness? How gently his mother smooths his hair, and places his
little cap upon it, and _how one loves his father_ for holding him so
long there upon his knee, and whispering to him all about the beautiful
places we are passing, instead of leaving him to his mother, and going
selfishly off to smoke uncounted cigars. Nor is our steamboat without
its wag, who has his own way of passing the time. Having possessed
himself of a large plate of ice-cream as bait for a group of youngsters,
who are standing expectant in a row before him, with imperturbable
gravity he maliciously feeds them with such _huge_ spoonfuls that little
feet dance up and down, and little hands are clapped to chubby cheeks,
to ease the ache, which they are not quite sure is pain or pleasure, but
which, anyhow, they have no idea of foregoing.

And now night comes on, and travellers one by one--or two by two, which
is far better--disappear in those purgatorial state-rooms, and peep like
prisoners through the grated windows, and try to sleep to the monotonous
plash-plash of the waves, while male nocturnal pedestrians walk _very_
slowly past the hurricane-deck state-room windows (innocent of curtain
or blind), while denunciatory epithets are being muttered at them by
their fair occupants.

Morning comes at last, and--Albany. I would respectfully inquire of its
"oldest inhabitant," if it _always_ rains torrents at Albany, at four
o'clock in the morning, on the arrival of the boats? Also, if _all_
their roads are as "hard to travel" as that through which steamboat
passengers are furiously bumped and thumped, by drivers who seem to be
on contract to Macadamize the bones of their passengers as well as the
roads. It takes one of mine host of the ----'s _very_ good breakfasts to
christianize one after it.

       *       *       *       *       *

VICTIMIZED BABIES.--Nothing is more distressing to contemplate than a
young baby in the hands of an ignorant mother. The way she will roast it
in warm weather with layers of clothes, and strip it in cold weather, if
fashion bids, and wash it when it is sleepy and tired, and put out its
eyes with sun or gas, and feed it wrongly, or neglect to feed it at the
proper time, and in every way thwart Nature and outrage common-sense, is
so harrowing a sight to the stranger who dare not intermeddle, that a
speedy retreat is the only course left, till he is perhaps summoned to
the poor little thing's funeral, not mine.



_"WHY DON'T I LECTURE?"_


The true reason is, that I've nothing to say, and no ambition to say it.
But as nobody ever gives the true reason for anything, why should I?
Well, then, it is owing to several other becauses. In the first place,
never being able to learn the multiplication table, how can I study Time
tables? How could I find out, without getting the headache, how long it
would take me to travel from Pumpkinville to Turnipville? How could I
tell whether it would rain or shine that day? and not knowing this, how
could I tell what to wear? As to what a woman lectures about, that is a
minor consideration; but as to _what she wears_, ask the reporters if
that does not constitute the staple of their newspaper accounts of her
public appearance. Then I am afraid of "committees." Committees are
composed of men. If I arrived late, and the expectant audience were just
on the point of exploding, I couldn't ask the committee how my "back
hair" looked. You see at once the difficulty of the thing, also its
importance, because they would be the fellows that would have to look at
my back hair from a _plat_-form view, you see. Well, then, again, I
couldn't lecture because I can't breathe without fresh air; and that is
a luxury that is always denied to lecturers. They'll applaud him, and
they'll ask him "what he'll drink," and they'll take him to execution in
a carriage, and take his corpse back in a carriage, but they won't let
him breathe, at least till they've done with him, and I shouldn't long
survive such politeness. Then the stereotyped pitcher of water would
close my lips instead of helping to open them. I hate a pitcher of
water. I got a boxed ear for saying that once; but I've got two ears,
that's a comfort, so I'll say it again. Then, I couldn't lecture because
I should feel cold shivers down my back, when that awful chairman rose
and said, "Ladies and gentlemen, allow me to introduce to you the
speaker for this evening, FANNY FERN." I hate that. I should want to hop
up and speak when I got ready--say--while the lovers in the audience
were whispering to each other, and the old ladies settling where to put
their "umberils," and the old gentlemen hunting their pockets for their
"spettacles" which they had left at home, and the old maids trying to
find a seat where "a horrid man" wasn't too near. I'd like to pounce on
them, like a cat, just then, and give my first scratch and draw blood;
and then they'd let me go on my own way; because, you see, I am one of
those persons who can't do anything "to order." I often see in the
papers advertisements of "shirts made--to order," but I never yet saw an
advertisement of a corresponding female garment made that way. Did you?
Well, that's a hint that females shouldn't be hampered by stupid rules
and precedents. But this is a digression.

Again, I couldn't lecture because I can't bear saleratus, and I suppose
all my engagements wouldn't be in cities. Then, nextly, I couldn't
lecture, because, after the lecture was over, I should be "dead beat;"
and that is just the time everybody would hurry into the committee-room
to tell me that I was; and to use a dozen dictionaries, to advise "me
not to talk," but to go right straight home and go to bed as soon--as
_they_ had got through talking with me!

Lastly, the reason I can't lecture is because I am the wife of a
lecturer. _He_ likes it; but two of that trade in one family is more
than human nature can stagger under. It is enough for me to see him come
home white about the gills, with a muddy valise, and a mousey horror of
a travelling blanket, that I always air the first thing, and with an
insane desire to indulge in a Rip Van Winkle nap, and dodge his kind.
Now I hope, in conclusion, it is sufficiently clear to you that I have
no call on the platform. My "sphere is home." I trust Dr. Holland will
make a note of this. "_My sphere is home_," especially when I'm asked to
do anything outside of it that I don't want to do!



_IN THE CARS._


"Palace cars" are a great invention for mothers with uneasy babies, for
invalids, and for lovers. But as I am in neither of the above positions,
allow me to express a preference for a seat in the common car. If I _am_
to eat in public out of my luncheon basket, I prefer a large audience,
with their backs to me, to a small one employed in looking down my
throat. Then if I wish to go to sleep, again the audience have their
backs to me. Or if I wish to read, they are not holding a coroner's
inquest on my politics, or my literary taste in books. Then, again,
although _I_ want to pass unnoticed, yet with the lovely consistency of
human nature generally, I like to observe life around me, and have
enough of it to observe, too.

One result of my observations in this line has been the necessity of
supporting a travelling missionary, to take from the necks of little
children, in a hot car, the woollen mufflers that are turning their
faces brick red, and the woollen mittens that are driving them wild,
while their fond parents are absorbed in looking at illustrated papers,
to get a snatched _free_ reading before the carrier returns for the
same. It is very funny how they will let these children wriggle and
twist and turn, like little worms, and never think that anything can be
the matter, save a lack of peanuts or painted lozenges, which they
procure with a fiendish haste, and bestow with a profusion astounding to
gods and _some_ women. Presently the little victims call for "a drink of
water," as well they may, with their feverish throats and mouths; but
that only makes matters worse; so, by way of assuagement, a wedge of
mince-pie is added, or a huge doughnut, supplemented by parched corn.

"Ye gods!" I mentally exclaim; and yet we keep on sending "missionaries
to the _heathen_." I am not there at the journey's end to see how those
children's ears are boxed for growing devilish on such fare, but I know
it is done all the same by these ignorant parents. It is refreshing
occasionally to hear a father or mother say to a child, "If you are
hungry, you can eat this nice piece of bread and butter, or this bit of
chicken, but you must not eat nuts, candy, pastry, and cake, when you
are travelling." It is refreshing to hear one say, "Eat _slowly_, dear."
It is refreshing to see one take off a child's hat or cap, and lay the
little owner comfortably down for the little nap, instead of letting the
child bob its tired, heated head vainly in every direction for rest. Now
papa understands well enough in his own case what to do, in the way of
alleviation; but children are bundled up like so many packages, on
starting--labelled, ticketed--and, like these packages, not to be untied
through any diversities of temperature till the bumping journey's end.
It is monstrous! I am glad they kick all night after it--if so be their
parents sleep with them!

But isn't it great, when, in addition to all these inflictions, a
book-vender comes round and tries to make you buy one of your own books?
That is the last ounce on the camel's back! How all its shortcomings and
crudenesses come up before you! How all its "Errata!" How short you cut
that wretched boy in his parrot panegyric! How you perspire with disgust
till he takes it out of your sight and hearing, and how you pray "just
Heaven" to forgive you for your sins of commission, all for bread and
butter.

Now--as the story writers say when they drag in a moral by the head and
shoulders, at the end of their narratives--"my object is accomplished,
if the perusal of this, etc., shall have induced but _one_ reader to
reform, and lead a different life!"

So _I_ say, if only one wretched little young one gets his dangling legs
put up on the seat; or his hot woollen tippet unwound from his strangled
neck, or is refused candy and lozenges, or is fed wholesomely at proper
intervals, instead of keeping up a continuous chewing all through the
day; or don't get spanked afterward for the inevitable results; or if I
have dissuaded but one individual from buying a book with "Fern" on its
covers, my object will have been accomplished!



_PETTING._


In the course of my reading, I came upon this sentence the other day:

     "I have thought a great deal lately upon a kind of petting
     women demand, that does not seem to me wholesome or well.
     Even the strongest women require perpetual indorsement, or
     they lose heart. Can they not be strong in a purpose, though
     it bring neither kiss nor commendation?"

It seems to me that this writer cannot have passed out of sight of her
or his own chimney, not to have seen the great army of women, wives of
drunken and dissipated husbands, who, not only lacking "kiss and
commendation," but receiving in place of them kicks and blows, and
profane abuse, keep steadily on, performing their hard, inexorable
duties with no human recognition of their heroism. Also, there are
wives, clad in purple and fine linen, quite as much to be pitied, whose
husbands are a disgrace to manhood, though they themselves may fail in
no wifely or motherly duty. Blind indeed must that person be who fails
to see all this every hour in the twenty-four.

So much for the truth of the remark. Now as to "petting." That woman is
no woman--lacks woman's, I had almost said, _chiefest_ charm--who does
not love to be "petted." The very women who stifle their hearts' cries,
because it is vain to listen for an answer where they had a sacred right
to look for it, and go on performing their duty all the same--if it be
their duty--are the women who most long for "petting," and _who best
deserve it too_; and I, for one, have yet to learn that it is anything
to be ashamed of. If so, men have a great sin on their souls; for they
cannot get along at all--the majority of them--without this very sort of
bolstering up.

Read any of the thousand and one precious books on "Advice to Women,"
and you will see how we are all to be up to time on the front door-step,
ready to "smile" at our husbands the minute the poor dears come home,
lest they lose heart and doubt our love for them; better for the twins
to cry, than the husband and father. Just so with advice to young girls.
They must always be on hand to mend rips in their brothers' gloves and
tempers, and coddle them generally; but I have yet to see the book which
enjoins upon brothers to be chivalric and courteous and gentlemanly to
their sisters, as they take pleasure and pride in being to other young
men's sisters.

"There is a time for everything," the good Book says, and so there is a
time and place to be "petted." None of us want it in public. In fact,
the men and women guilty of it render themselves liable to the suspicion
of _only_ being affectionate in public. But deliver me from the granite
woman who _prefers_ to live without it, who prides herself on not
wanting it. I wouldn't trust her with my baby were there a knife handy.
Thank God there are few such. The noblest and greatest and best women I
have ever known, have been big-hearted and loving, and have known how to
pet and _be_ "petted," without losing either strength or dignity of
character.

       *       *       *       *       *

FACING A THIN CONGREGATION.--It is comparatively easy for a clergyman to
preach to a full audience; but the test which shows whether one's heart
is in his work, is to get up and face a thin congregation, and yet
deliver his message with an earnestness which shows that he has a
realizing sense of the value of even _one_ soul. Only that clergyman who
keeps this at all times in view, can so utterly leave himself out of
consideration, that he will be just as eloquent and just as earnest when
speaking to a thin audience, as if he were addressing a large multitude,
from whose eager, upturned faces he might well draw inspiration.



_MY GRIEVANCE._


Some jilted bachelor has remarked that "no woman is happy unless she has
a grievance." Taking this view of the case, it seems to me that men
generally deserve great praise for their assiduity in furnishing this
alleged requisite of feminine felicity. But that is not what I was going
to talk about. _I_ have "a grievance." My _fly_ has come! I say _my_
fly, because, as far as I can find out, he never goes to anybody else;
he is indifferent to the most attractive visitor; what he wants is
_me_--alas! _me_--_only_ me! The tortures I have endured from that
creature, no pen, tongue, or dictionary can ever express. His sleepless,
untiring, relentless persecution of a harmless female is quite fiendish.
His deliberate choice, and persistent retention of agonizing titillating
perches, shows a depth of "strategy" unequalled in one so young. Raps,
slaps, exclamations not in the hymn-book, handkerchief waving, sudden
startings to the feet--what do they all avail me? He dogs me like a
bailiff, from one corner of the room to another. All the long, hot day
he attends my steps; all night he hovers over my couch, ready for me at
the first glimmer of daybreak. The marvellous life-preserving way he has
of dodging instant and vengeful annihilation, would excite my
admiration, were not all my faculties required to soothe my nose after
his repeated visits. In vain I pull my hair over my ears to shield them.
In vain I try to decoy him into saucers of sweet things while I write.
Down goes my pen, while my hands fly like the wings of a windmill in the
vain attempt to dislodge him permanently. In vain I open the door, in
the hope he may be tempted out. In vain I seat myself by the open
window, trusting he will join the festive throng of happy Christian
flies, whizzing in the open air in squads, and harming nobody. If he
would _only_ go, you know, I would clap down my window, and die of
stifling, rather than of his harrowing tickling. See there! he goes just
near enough to raise my hopes, and then lights on the back of my neck. I
slap him--he retires an instant--I throw my slipper after him--it breaks
my Cologne bottle, and he comes back and alights on my nostril. Look!
here! I'm getting mad; now I'll just sit calmly down in that arm-chair,
and fix my eyes on that Madonna, and _let_ him bite. _Some time_ he will
surely get enough, and now I'll just stand it as long as he can.
Heavens! no, I can't; he is _inside_ my ear! Now, as I'm a sinner, I'll
tell you what I'll do. Good! I'll go a journey, and lose him! I'll go to
Lake George. Saints and angels, don't he follow me there too? To
Niagara--do the rapids rid me of him? To the White Mountains? Don't he
ascend with me? To the sea-shore? Is he afraid of the seventh wave?
Look here! a thought strikes me. Do you suppose that fly would cross
Jordan with me? for I can't stand this thing much longer.

       *       *       *       *       *

STANDING ALONE.--Thank Heaven, _I_ can stand alone! Can you? Are you
yet at the end of your life journey? Have you yet stood over the dead body
of wife or child, snatched from you when life was at the flood-tide of
happiness? Did you ever close your weary eyes to the bright dawn of a
new day, and pray that you might never live to look at another? If a
woman, did you ever face poverty where luxury had been, and vainly look
hither and thither for the summer friends that you would never see again
till larder and coffer were replenished? Are you _sure_, when you boast
that you can "stand alone," that you have learned also how to _fall
alone_?



_CEMETERY MUSINGS._


When I am in a new place I always stroll into its principal cemetery. I
fancy that the average age of the dead tells its own story of the
healthfulness of the neighborhood, or the contrary. The style of
monumental inscription is also a good test of its educational and moral
progress. One delicious morning in July, I passed through the gateway of
the beautiful cemetery in the town of ----. Little birds were pluming
themselves on the moss-grown tombstones, or alighting, with eye askance,
on the pathway before me, or swaying on some light branch and singing as
if there were no such thing as sorrow or death in this bright world;
while the sunbeams slanted down through the trees, touching the
half-effaced inscriptions, as if lovingly, for the "stranger within the
gate." Now and then one heard the click of the chisel, as some new name
was being added to those already inscribed there; while in the distance
the mowers were busy, scythe in hand, laying low the tall grass, as they
carefully touched the many graves, and recited little homely histories
of those whom the Great Reaper had garnered. Little children were
playing innocently about, with eyes like gems, and flowing locks, and
graceful, gliding steps, now and then stooping to inhale the flowers,
or spell out with pretty blunders a passing inscription. Go not there,
my little ones--_that_ inscription is not for you--your God is love.
Into His hand yours is now placed confidingly, lead wheresoever He may,
to fall asleep on His bosom in His own good time. Why should _you_ read,
"Prepare each day the funeral shroud." Why should you fetter your
simple, sweet faith in "Our Father" by chains of _fear_, through which,
all your lifetime, you "should be subject to bondage"? Why for _you_
should skulls be disinterred and dry bones held up to startle and
affright? Step away, little children. Think not of "shrouds" and
"coffins;" _this_ is the lesson He taught you: "Little children, love
one another." When He giveth His beloved sleep, neither you nor I shall
know, nor does it matter.

And as I moved through this lovely place, breathing of beauty, and balm,
and the song of birds, and the scent of flowers, I said to myself, Oh
why, when the warm, throbbing heart of life is so slow to comprehend the
_unseen_, and so tenaciously clings to the things seen, should it have
_hindrance_, instead of help, in its efforts to spell out _immortality_!
Why fetter it from childhood with those gloomy clogs and burdens? How
many _good_ men and _good_ women have struggled vainly through a
lifetime with these physical, funereal terrors. And so I turned away to
the graves of the "Little Annies" and "Little Freddys," where love had
placed its freshly gathered flowers, and said: "_This is wiser; this is
better._"



_THE SCRUBBING-BRUSH MANIA._


Did you ever see a woman who was possessed by the house-cleaning fiend?
Not periodically, but at all times. Who would go about drawing her
finger over every lounge, and table, and chair, speering into cracks and
crannies for crooked pins and lint; holding tumblers up to the light for
finger marks; in short, so utterly absorbed in the pursuit of dirt that
every other pursuit was as nothing in comparison.

Now, being New England born, I know what neatness is, and value it as
only a New Englander can; but when it takes such shape as this, and robs
life of all its charms, I turn my back upon it with righteous disgust.
Who thanks these zealous furies for their self-imposed labors? Certainly
not their husbands, who flee into remote corners from dust-pans and
dust-brushes, and weary of the recitals of their prowess day by day.
Certainly not their children, who have no place to stow away their
little sacred property in the shape of bright bits of silk or paper, or
broken cups, which are dear and precious to them, and should always be
held in respect within proper, innocent limits.

Oh, ye careful and troubled Marthas of the household, stop and take
breath. Place a flower on the mantel, that you and your household may
perhaps have some in their lives. While you stop to rest, read. So shall
the cobwebs be brushed from your neglected brain, and you shall learn
that something else besides cleanliness is necessary to make home
_really_ home for those dependent on your care.

Throw your broom out of doors; take your children by the hand, and let
the fresh wind touch your wrinkled forehead. If your house is wound up
to such an immaculate pitch of cleanliness, it can run on a few hours
without your care. Laugh and talk with them, or better still, listen to
their foolish-wise talk. Bring home a bit of gingerbread for each of
them, and play some simple game with them. Put on the freshest dress you
have, and ask your husband, when he comes in, if he recognizes his wife.

"I wish my mother looked as pretty as you," said a little girl, one day,
to a neighbor.

"But your mamma is much prettier than I," replied the neighbor. The
truth was that the child's mother always was in a wrapper, unless
company was expected. The rest of the time she was under the dominion of
the house-cleaning fiend, and the children fled from such a joyless
utilitarian home, where no flower of beauty could ever get time to take
root and blossom.

There is little need to misinterpret my meaning. Many a ruined life has
come of a joyless home. Your children take to the sunlight as naturally
as do the flowers. Shut it out of your houses and they will go abroad
in search of it, you may be sure of that. Isn't this worth thinking
about, O ye mothers? careful and troubled about many things, and yet so
blind to your first and greatest duty.

       *       *       *       *       *

CO-OPERATIVE HOUSEKEEPING.--When the millennium comes, or when women
stand by one another as men do--though I'm free to say, the reason why
men do it is, that when one man does anything bad, all the rest defend
him, because _they don't know but they may want to do it too_--but, as I
was saying, when women will stand by each other, then we will talk about
"Co-operative Housekeeping." Or, when men will help their wives out of
scrapes with other women, instead of running away, or "pooh-poohing" it,
_then_ we will talk about a dozen families living in one house. At
present Mrs. Smith's boy John _will_ slap your little Sarah in the face,
just to show her that he is going to be a man some day. Now, there's but
one common staircase, and little Sarah can't go up and down after that
without a body-guard; and Johnny's pa and your daughter Sarah's pa are
business friends, and "What are you going to do about it?" coolly asks
Sarah's pa, of Sarah's irritated ma.

That's the idea; and Co-operative Housekeeping, allow me to tell you, is
planned by bachelors and single ladies, and to them we'll leave it.



_SAUCE FOR THE GANDER._


Every written or spoken sentence, not calculated to benefit mankind,
carries with it, I verily believe, its own antidote in the shape of
narrowness and bigotry.

This comforting thought occurred to me on leaving a lecture hall the
other evening, where the speaker, in saying some very good things, had
mentioned all female employments, save housekeeping, especially those of
writing and lecturing, with utter contempt, averring that the education
and training of children were the only things worthy their notice. He
did not stop to explain what was to become of all the old maids and
single women generally; or whether they might be excused for earning an
honest support by pen and ink, or even stepping upon the platform, when
they had no "home," and consequently no "home duties" to attend to; and
whether, if the lecture they should deliver were as narrow and illogical
as his own, the patient public might not, as in his case, be willing to
_pay_ and _listen_. Also, while insisting upon every woman being a
mother, and desiring nothing beyond her nursery walls, not even her own
intellectual progression, to qualify her to meet the questioning
_youth_, as well as the dependent _infancy_ of her children, I heard
not one syllable from him upon the home duty devolving on the _father_
and _the husband_, as to his share in their government and _home_
education, which, in my opinion, is more important than that of school;
nor of the cultivation of his companionable qualities, to assist in
making home pleasant. Not a word did he say on this head, no more than
as if these things were not binding equally on him as on the wife. As if
that _could_ be "home," in any true sense, where _both_ did not know and
practise these duties. He told us it was "of course more pleasant for
women to be like the noisy cascade, and to mount the platform, than to
imitate the gentle, silent rivulet, and stay quietly at home out of the
public eye." As the lecturer had a home himself, and was a husband and
father, and not particularly in need of any emolument from lecturing, it
occurred to me that the propriety of his own absence from the "gentle
rivulet" of home duties might admit of a doubt. It could not be possible
that he who could map out a wife's home duty by such strict latitude and
longitude, should himself have wearied of their tameness, and "mounted
the platform to keep in the public eye."

What nonsense even a male lecturer may utter! said I, as I left his
presence. As if there were no women, good and earnest as well as gifted,
who neglected no duties while mounting the platform, but who honored it
with their womanly, dignified presence, and made every large-souled,
large-brained man who listened to them rejoice that they were there.

This "vine and oak" style of talk is getting monotonous. There is more
"oak" to the women of to-day than there was to those of the past. Else
how could the great army of drunken, incompetent, unpractical, idle
husbands be supported as they are by wives, who can't stop to be
"gentle, silent rivulets," but have to "keep in the public eye" as
business women? Our lecturer didn't mention this little fact--not he!

       *       *       *       *       *

LEAVING HOME FOR THE SUMMER.--There is always a certain sadness in
leaving home for the pleasant summer jaunt in the country, however glad
we may be to get rid of our cares. As we close the door and turn the
key, the thought _will_ come: Shall we ever see this home again? Have we
really left it, not only for a time, but forever? Of course, new scenes
and new objects soon dissipate these thoughts; and it is well it is so,
or we should not gain the relief we seek; but we doubt if the thought
does not obtrude itself for the moment, even in the case of the most
habitually thoughtless.



_MY FIRST CONVERT._


I have just received a letter from a soldier, who was with us in our
late four-years struggle for the "Stars and Stripes," announcing himself
a convert to the renunciation of tobacco, through my ministrations on
this subject. He says that "he has to thank me for the kind
encouragement I have held out to him to persevere in this resolve, and
for the freedom he enjoys, now that he is no longer a slave to that
filthy habit; and that he shall, while he lives, hold me in grateful
remembrance for the same."

Now that's encouraging, even though I shouldn't add another member to my
congregation. If any other "brother" feels like "speaking out in
_meetin'_" and relating a similar experience, so much the better; but in
any event I shall not cease doing my best to make proselytes. "You ought
to let up on a poor fellow a little," said a smoker to me not long
since; "you ought to have a little charity for a fellow." Now I don't
think that. My charity is for those who silently suffer from this
selfish indulgence. For the poor girls, who stand on their weary feet
hours behind the counters of shops, where the master sits with his feet
up, smoking till their poor heads ache, and their cheeks crimson with
the polluted air, roaring for them to shut the door or window if they so
much as open a crevice for relief. My charity is for myself, when,
seated in a car or omnibus, some "gentleman" who has just thrown away
his cigar stump, places himself next to me, and compels me to inhale his
horrible breath and touch his noxious coat-sleeve. My charity is for
myself, when Mike O'Brien, who is in my cellar, getting in coal, sits
down on the top of it, lights his pipe, and sends up the nasty fumes
into the parlor and all over the house. My charity is for myself, when
the proofs of my forthcoming book are sent me to read, to be obliged to
hang them out of the window, like signals of distress, before I can
correct them without absolute nausea. Nor am I to be mollified by the
sample-package of "Fanny Fern Tobacco" once sent me. Now I felt
complimented, when a little waif of a black baby, picked up in the
streets of a neighboring city, was named for me; also when a handcart
was christened ditto; also a mud-scow; but tobacco--excuse me!

I read in a paper, the other day, of an ancient institution called
"smoking-tongs," constructed to hold a live coal so securely, as to
admit of its being passed round the room; _women_, at that time, as an
act of hospitality, used to approach their male guests with the same,
and light their pipes for them. I should have liked to have had that
office; but I _don't_ think I should have applied the live coal to the
_pipes_!



_COUNTRY HOUSEWIVES._


I think that between country housewives and their city boarders there is
a sort of antagonism, in the very nature of things, intensified, of
course, when there is unreasonableness on both sides.

The country housewife rises betimes, and betaking herself to a hot
kitchen, either prepares or oversees the preparing of the expected
breakfast; and this not only for the boarders, but the "help," men and
women, belonging to the establishment. Perhaps her husband, regarding
her only in the light of a "farm hand," never speaks to her except on
topics relating to the business of the household, and objects to the
baby crying, which her diverted attention necessitates, as a "nuisance,"
while he swallows his breakfast.

Heated and worried, she sees her city boarders come down to breakfast in
cool dresses and fresh ribbons, to enjoy the result of her toil, perhaps
to find fault with it. She sees them after breakfast driving out to
enjoy the delicious morning air, while she must iron clothes, or wash
dishes, or prepare their dinner. Now don't you see in the differing
positions of the two parties material for an explosion? It is no use to
reply, if they had each attained a proper and high degree of
civilization there would be no need of this. Remember you have to take
human nature as you _find_ it, and not as you _wish_ to find it.
_Incessant_ toil coarsens and roughens, especially woman nature. It
chokes the graces in the bud, and leaves only thorns and prickers. From
my heart I pity such women, with not a flower in their desert lives.
Still, you know city boarders had not the ordering of it; and should
not, as they often are, be disliked merely for being able to lead a life
of comparative ease. Ease does not always involve happiness; remember
this, discouraged country housewife. _Somebody_ has had to work hard for
that ease, and it may be the very woman you envy and dislike for it. She
has her Gethsemane with it, of which you know nothing, though she wear a
smiling face. The landscape upon which she gazes may bring tears to her
eyes instead of joy to her heart, as she drives away from your door,
where you stand thinking of her only as a heartless idler for whom you
are to toil.

Could you sit down together, woman and woman, and talk this all over,
how different often would be your judgment of each other! She thinks,
perhaps, of graves far away, or worse, _living_ sorrows, which she
cannot forget, and that will not bear thinking of, and may only be
poured into the ear of "Our Father." She has learned to shut them in,
and therefore you see no sign; but they are there all the same. I want
you to try and remember this, because else I think many, situated as
you are, make themselves unnecessary misery.

Then, again, do not call everything city boarders consider important
"only a notion." If you have done making bread because your folks like
pies better, try and understand that tastes and opinions may differ on
so vital a point of "vittles" and digestion. If your house and its
belongings are so constructed that the decencies of life are impossible,
remember that because _you_ "don't mind your husband or the men on the
farm," your lady boarders _may_, even at the risk of being called
"fussy."

To sum all up, there must be consideration on both sides. Still, the
cases are rare in which farm-houses can be the best boarding-places for
city people. The ideas of the two parties on the most vital questions
relating to the topics I have touched upon are so widely apart, that
assimilation is next to impossible. The country housewife knows much
more on many subjects than her city boarder. In return, the former might
often be enlightened by the latter, even on purely physical matters. But
while one side starts with the "I'm as good as you" motto, and the other
feels it necessary to fence this feeling at all points, the millennium
of peace and good-will must of course be indefinitely postponed.



_FIRST MORNING IN THE COUNTRY._


Peace, new-mown hay, and a sniff of the sea; I'm content. "Don't the
country make you sleepy?" asked a lady of me. Sleepy! why, every part of
me is so wide-awake to bliss, that I doubt whether it were not a sin to
sleep, lest I might lose some fine note of Nature the while. The music
of the shivering leaves, swelling, then dying away so softly; the
exquisite trill of some little bird near my window; the march of the
waves to the shore; the soft lights and shadows on the far hills; the
happy laugh of the little brown children in the hay! I'm afraid I shall
quite forget "female suffrage" here! The whirl out of which I have
emerged into this temporary heaven seems like a horrid nightmare, from
which I have been roused to find myself encircled in loving arms, and
looked down upon by a smiling face. I dare say omnibusses are still
thundering down Broadway, and piles of stone, and chaos generally, reign
therein; but I can scarce conceive it in this sweet hush and prayer of
Nature.

I have no doubt doctors may still be found there, giving nauseous pills
by the pound, and awful "mixtures" by the quart, when all their deluded
patients want is hay--and fresh milk. And I suppose ministers are there,
preaching about "hell," and I don't wonder at it; but if they came here,
I think heaven would come more naturally to their lips. But where _is_
"here"? you ask. As if I should tell you! I shall want all the fresh air
for myself. I need a great deal of breath, and the world is wide. The
Great Artist too decorates it all over; so that in every spot lovely
flowers shall be tinted all the same, though you may never chance to
light upon them; and the clouds shall be heavenly blue; and the giant
trees shall spread their sheltering, graceful arms, though you may never
happen to lie on the grass beneath; and the birds in their branches will
have as much melody in their throats as if you had promised to come and
listen. So, you see, I may be stingy of my little paradise, and not
defraud you either!

It is often very oppressive to me, the sight of so much beauty, the
sound of so much harmony, that none but God perhaps may ever hear or
see. Nothing expresses _Omnipotence_ so well to me as this: the perfect
finish of every leaf and blade; nothing left unworkmanlike; even the old
rocks coated with soft moss--even the decayed tree-trunk wreathed with a
graceful vine. I know there are good, lovely Quakers, but God is no
Quaker. The _red_ wild roses from yonder hedge, advertising their
presence with wafts of incense on every passing breeze, make that fact
patent. The richness of the red clover and yellow buttercups, and the
myriad rainbow hues on every field and hedge-row, are anti-Quaker. So
that, good as they are, I'm glad they didn't make this world. I'm sure
that glorious red and yellow oriole looks better on yonder branch than
would a _drab_ bird. I like his saucy little ways, too. But there's one
thing for which I will always shake hands with all Quakerdom: they allow
their women _to speak in_ "_meetin'_!" Nothing hurts a woman like
shutting down the escape-valves of talk; but men never learn that until
they find them getting dangerous, and then, when a terrible explosion
comes off, they wonder "_what's got into 'em_!"

       *       *       *       *       *

A HINT TO GENTLEMEN CRITICS.--It is a pity men don't praise women when
they _are_ sensible in dress. Now, notwithstanding the pressure which
fashion has brought to bear upon them to return to the long trailing
skirts for street wear, they have courageously resisted it, and sensibly
insisted upon the comfortable, cleanly, short walking skirt for the
street; and yet men keep on growling all the same about minor matters of
no consequence; so that women may well exclaim, "There's no suiting
them; so we will just please ourselves." A word to the wise is
sufficient.



_CONSCIENCE KILLING._


People seem to think that there is but one form of self-denial; and that
is the "_No_" form. Now we maintain that great self-denial is often put
forth, and intense mental pain incurred, in the "Yes" form; _i.e._, the
gradual acceptance of wrong-doing. Conscience killing is a slow,
torturing process, and the successful muffling of the protesting voice
of one's better nature is at the expense of days and nights of misery.
The son, whose every perverse step away from a loving home is on his
mother's heart-strings, cannot at first plant them firmly; many a
backward glance, many a sigh and tear, many a half-retraced foot-track
marks his downward progress. Is there no self-denial in these abortive
attempts? Can he forget at once all her pure aspirations and fond hopes
for her boy? Are there not kind words, more dreadful to remember than
would be the bitterest curses? Can he turn _any_ way, in which proofs of
her all-enduring love do not confront him, and shame him, and sting him
into acutest misery? Again, can the husband and father, who screens
himself behind the love of wife and children, to perpetrate acts, the
constant repetition of which wears away their hope and life in the
process--can he, while saying "yes" to the fiends who beckon him on, be
deaf to the despairing sighs that follow him, and blind to the wrecks of
broken promises that lie thickly strewn around him? Does he suffer
nothing in the attempt to extinguish all that is best and noblest in
him? can the mother, who, stifling the voice of nature, perjures her
daughter, for ambition, at the altar, face calmly that daughter's
future? Are there no misgivings, no terrible fears, no shrinking back at
the last retrieving moment, from a responsibility so dreadful? Can she
kiss her away from her own threshold, and forget the little trusting
eyes of her babyhood, and the clinging clasp of her fingers, and the
Heaven-sent thrill of happiness when she first pillowed that little head
upon her bosom? Can she _ever_ cut the cord, strive as she may, by which
the Almighty has solemnly bound her to that child for this world and for
eternity? Has it cost _her_ nothing in the process, this denial of her
better nature? And so, through all the relations of society, wherever a
sacred trust is abused, and a confidence outraged, and obligations rent
recklessly asunder, there this self-incurred species of suffering, in a
greater or less degree, exists accordingly as the moral sensibilities
are blunted, or the contrary. The Almighty has not ordained that this
path shall be trodden thornless. Coiled in it is many a deadly serpent;
the balmiest air it knows is surely death-laden. Following its tortuous
windings to the close, its devotee comes to no refuge, when his heart
and soul grow faint, and he casts a backward, yearning glance for the
holy "long ago."



_THE CRY OF A VICTIM._


There's eight dollars gone! If I thought it was the last time I should
be cheated, I shouldn't mind it; but I know it isn't. In this case it
was friendless eighteen--_female_ eighteen--sole support of widowed
mother and an indefinite number of small children, and all that; got her
money, and turned out a humbug. I hope the recording angel will remember
that in my favor. Not to speak of the man who rushed into the area to
tell me that he had just had a baby--I mean that his wife had--and that
they needed everything; when I immediately scooped up an armful of
whatsoever I could find; and, thanking me with grateful tears, he
hastened to pawn them for rum. Then there was the gifted but unfortunate
artist, who had been sketching at the White Mountains and wished me to
"lend him" a greenback to carry him home, because he had read my books,
and because he wanted it, and because there was not another person in
the world of whom he could possibly ask such a favor; oh, no! Then there
was the man who looked like the ten commandments on legs, and _must_ see
me, if only a few moments; whose sepulchral errand turned out to be a
desire to sell me some Furniture Polish, which I bought to get rid of
him, and which, when uncorked a few days after, caused the family to
rush into the street without the usual ceremonial hat and bonnet. Then
there was the interesting child whom I brought in to feed and warm, who
helped himself to several things without leave while I was looking for
others. And there was the old gentleman who sent me an illegible MS.
story to read and get published; whose i's I dotted, and whose t's I
crossed, and for whom I furnished commas and semicolons and periods ad
libitum; whose grammar I touched up, and whose capital letters in the
wrong place I extinguished; and who abused me like a pickpocket because
the Editor to whom I sent it thought that Dickens or Thackeray wrote
quite as well as he. Then there was the young man with a widowed mother,
for whom I wore out several pairs of boots "getting him a situation;"
who used to lie in bed till noon, and go to it when it didn't rain, and
spend all he earned in cherry-colored cravats.

Now, I'm going to stiffen myself up against all this sort of thing in
future. I've done giving pennies to the little street-sweepers to buy
cream-tarts with. I hand no more hot buckwheat cakes through the grating
of my basement window to red-nosed little boys with ventilator trousers.
I buy no more pounds of lucifer matches from frowsy-headed women at the
area door, or "Windsor soap" for sweet charity's sake, knowing it to be
only common brown, with a counterfeit label. I shall turn sternly away
from the Liliputian venders of flimsy boot-lacings and headless
shawl-pins. I wish it distinctly understood that I have no use for
corset-lacings, or home-made pomatum, or questionable "Lubin" perfumes
in fancy bottles.

I have looked upon the humanitarian side of the question till I don't
know whether to be most disgusted at my own credulity, or the perfidy of
my fellow-creatures. Now let somebody else take a turn at it.

       *       *       *       *       *

A HINT TO ORGAN-GRINDERS.--It is a curious fact that organ-grinders
prefer to select for their purpose that house whose windows are
ornamented with statues or flowers. There is philosophy in this; since
the lady who is fond of beauty and of sweet perfumes, is also fond of
music. And though some of our street strains are sufficiently wheezy and
harrowing, yet much of it also is sweet and soothing, and suggestive of
past luxurious evenings, and of happy faces, and of hours that flew all
too swiftly. But alas! for the uplifted pen, with its suspended drop of
ink, at such moments! Alas! for the printer's devil waiting on one leg
in the hall! Why won't organ-grinders learn where scribblers abide?



_STONES FOR BREAD._


Some of our papers publish, the latter part of every week--and a very
good custom it is--a list of different preachers, their places of
worship, and the topics selected for the ensuing Sunday. We often read
over this list with curiosity and interest, and lay it down with a sad
wonder at some of the topics selected for the sermons. We sometimes say,
why _don't_ they preach about something that will come home to the worn,
weary, tried heart--vexed enough already with its life-burthens--instead
of entangling it in theological nets, till the blessed voice that says
so sweetly, "Come unto Me," never reaches the perplexed ear? We say this
in no spirit of fault-finding, or dictation, but because we are _sure_
that hungry souls, who every Sunday beg for bread, receive only a stone;
and go away to take up their daily burden again on Monday, with
faltering, hopeless step, when they might and _should_ march--singing
the song of triumph!

If a mother weeps over her lost babe, if a wife mourns her husband, or a
father bends over a dead son, whom he thought would live to close _his_
aged eyes, do you choose that time to distress them with abstract
questions and transcendental theories? "No--you see before you an
aching, tried heart; and you yearn with all your sympathetic nature to
comfort it. Your words are few but earnest, and full of love. You go
softly with them and look at the dear, dead face, which perhaps you
never saw living, and say with quivering lips, "God help you, my
friend." Just so, we long sometimes to have clergymen look at the dead
faces of men's lost joys and hopes, and pity the bereaved, lonely hearts
that want something to lean upon besides cold, dull abstractions; that
yearn for the warm, beating, pulsating heart of Infinite Love, and yet
_cannot_ find it. Oh! what mission on earth as blessed as to teach them
where and how?"

"_Come unto Me._" These words, thousands of years old, and yet never
worn out! "Come unto Me." Oh, shake off the dust of your libraries, and
say, as _He_ said it, "Come unto Me!"


THE END.





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