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Title: Ginger-Snaps
Author: Fern, Fanny, 1811-1872
Language: English
As this book started as an ASCII text book there are no pictures available.
Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "Ginger-Snaps" ***

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    GINGER-SNAPS.

    BY
    FANNY FERN,
    AUTHOR OF
    "FERN LEAVES,"--"FOLLY AS IT FLIES," &c.


    NEW YORK:
    _Carleton, Publisher, Madison Square._

    LONDON: S. LOW, SON & CO.

    MDCCCLXX.


    Entered, according to Act of Congress, in the year 1870, by
    GEORGE W. CARLETON, In the Clerk's Office of the District Court
    of the United States for the Southern District of New York.


    Stereotyped at the
    WOMEN'S PRINTING HOUSE,
    Corner Avenue A and Eighth Street,
    New York.



    CONTENTS.


    Dinner-Parties
    The Bride's New House
    The Happy Lot of a Sexton
    Literary Aspirants
    What shall we do for the Little Children on Sunday?
    My House in the Country
    Why Wear Mourning?
    "Delightful Men"
    Choosing Presents
    A Bid for an Editorship
    A Sermon to Plymouth Pulpit
    Female Clerks
    Blue Monday
    The Fly in the Ointment
    Woman's Millennium
    English Notions about Women
    Rag-tag and Bob-tail Fashions
    Some Hints to Editors
    Help for the Helpful
    Women on the Platform
    Poverty and Independence
    The History of the Late War
    Two Kinds of Women
    Sunday Morning
    Justice for Clergymen
    The Old Maid of the Period
    The Nurse of the Period
    A Look Backward
    Varieties of Human Nature
    "A Good Mistress always makes a Good Servant"
    The Mother-Touch
    Some Gossip about Myself
    Hospitality
    Woman and Her Watch
    "My Doctor"
    A Woman at a Lecture
    Can't be Suited
    Autograph-Hunters
    The Etiquette of Hotel Piazzas
    Old Stockbridge in Massachusetts
    Sunday in the Village
    Sick in the Village
    Men and their Clothes
    Notes from Plymouth Rock
    No Beaux Anywhere
    Daniel Webster's Home
    A Trip to Richmond
    The Coming Landlord
    Out on the End of Cape Ann
    Country Diet
    From my Seat on the Rocks
    Wishings and Longings
    A Transition State
    What Mary thought of John
    Travel-Spoiled Americans
    Life's Illusions
    Jack Simpkins
    Biding the Lord's Time
    One Sort of Fool
    The First Baby



PREFACE.


When I was a little girl, I used to play "make ginger-snaps;" and I
always tossed in all the ginger in the spice-box, be it more or less;
so if you find these rather biting, attribute it to the force of early
habits. Beside, they are not intended for a "square meal;" only to
nibble at, in the steamboat, or railroad-car, or under the trees in
the country; or when your dear, but tardy John, is keeping you
waiting, with your gloves buttoned, and your bonnet-strings tied; or,
best of all, when you are sitting in your rocking-chair, nursing that
dear little baby. I do not think the milk of human kindness is wanting
in these Ginger-Snaps, and I trust they are--_kneaded_.

    FANNY FERN.



GINGER-SNAPS.



_DINNER-PARTIES._


To fasten as many drags as possible to the social machinery of to-day,
seems to be the first idea of hospitality, which, there is every
reason to fear, will gradually be smothered in the process.

Perhaps the lady who gives the dinner-party would really prefer a
plain dinner with her friend Mrs. Jones, than all the elaborate
dinners she is in the habit of giving and attending; but her husband
likes wines and French cookery, and would consider anything else a
poor compliment to a guest; and so there's an end.

And now, what are these fine dinners? Just this: a pleasant gleam of
silver and china; a lovely disposition of fruit and flowers; a great
deal of dress, or undress, on the part of the ladies; much
swallow-tail, and an exquisite bit of cravat and kid-glove, on the
part of the gentlemen. Brains--as the gods please; but always a
procession of dishes, marched on and marshalled off, for the requisite
number of tedious hours, during which you eat you know not what,
because you must be ready with your answer for your elbow neighbor, or
your _vis-a-vis_; during which, you taste much wine and nibble much
confectionery, and finish up with coffee; and under the combined
influence of all this you sink supinely into a soft chair or sofa, and
the "feed" is over.

Everybody there feels just as you do. Everybody would like to creep
into some quiet corner, and be let alone, till the process of
digestion has had a chance.

Instead--they throw a too transparent enthusiasm into the inquiry,
"How's your mother?" If the gods are kind, and there has been an
inroad of measles or fever, the narrator may possibly give you ten
minutes' reprieve from pumping up from beneath that dinner another
query about "the baby." But if he--or she, too--is laboring, like
yourself, with duck and quail, and paté and oyster, and wine and fruit
and bon-bons, then may a good Providence put it into the distracted
brain of the hostess to set some maiden a-foul of the piano!

Oh, but that is blessed! no matter what she plays, how hard she
thumps, or how loud she screeches. Blessed--to lean back, and fold
your kid gloves over your belt, and never move them till you applaud
the performance, of which you know, nor care, any more than who struck
Billy Patterson.

This over, you see a gentlemen coming towards you. You know by his
looks, he too is suffering the pangs of repletion. Good heavens! how
full of deceit is his smile, as he fastens on you, thinking _you_
will talk! Mistaken man! you smile too, and both together agree that
"the weather has been fine of late." This done, you look helplessly,
with the untold pain of dumb animals, in each other's faces, and then
glance furtively about to see if that piano-young-woman really means
to leave your anguish unassuaged. She does. Hum!--you make an errand
across the room to pick up a suppositious glove you dropped--and get
rid of the parasite.

At last!--relief--there is your husband. _How_ glad he is to see you!
It's really worth going to the dinner-party to witness that man's
affection for you at that moment. Now he can yawn behind his glove.
Now he takes a seat _so_ near, that no man or woman can interrupt his
lazy heaven. He even smiles at you from very gladness of heart, and in
thick utterance tells you, in order to keep you from going from his
side, that "he don't see but you look as well as any woman in the
room." You only needed that unwonted display of gallantry from the
hypocritical wretch, to rise immediately and leave him to his fate,
though you should, in doing it, rush madly on your own.

And this is "a dinner-party." For this men and women empty their
purses, and fill their decanters and wardrobes, and merge their brains
in their stomachs, and--are in the fashion!

Better is a leg of mutton and caper-sauce, and much lively talk,
whensoever and wheresoever a friend, with or without an invitation,
cares enough about you and yours with impromptu friendship to "drop
in." Best clothes, best dishes, best wine, best parlors!--what are
they, with rare exceptions, but extinguishers of wit and wisdom and
digestion and geniality. Who will inaugurate us a little common-sense?

Queen Victoria--how glad I am she had such a good, loving husband, to
compensate her for the misery of being a queen--tried her best to
abolish the custom, prevalent in England at dinner, of the gentlemen
remaining to guzzle wine after the ladies left. I am aware that guzzle
is an unladylike word; but, as no other fits in there, I shall use it.
Well--she succeeded only in shortening the guzzling period--not in
abolishing it; so those consistent men remained, to drink toasts to
"lovely women," whose backs they were so delighted to see retreating
through the door.

What of it? Why, simply this, that Queen Victoria did what she could
to civilize her own regal circle; and that she set a good precedent
for American women of to-day to follow. I fail to see why, when a
hostess has carefully watched the dishes and glasses come and go, at
her husband's dinner-party, to the obstruction of all rational
conversation, save by agonized spasms,--I fail to see why, when the
gentlemen guests have eaten to satiety, and conversation might be
supposed to be at last possible, why, at that precise, enjoyable
period, the lady of the house should be obliged to accompany the empty
plates to regions unknown and uncared for. This seems to me a
question well worthy of consideration in this year of our Lord, 1868.
It strikes me, rather an inglorious abdication for a woman of
intelligence, who may be supposed to understand and take an interest
in other things than the advance and retreat of salad, and ragouts,
oysters, and chicken. I call it a relic of barbarism, of which men of
intelligence should be ashamed. Then what advantage has the woman who
cultivates her mental powers, over the veriest fool? It is an insult
to her. But you say, all women are not thoughtful or intelligent. Very
true: and why should they be--save that they owe it to their own
self-respect--when gentlemen thus offer premiums for insipidity?--why
should they inform themselves upon any subjects but those of dressing
well and feeding well?

It is a satisfaction to know that there are gentlemen, who endorse the
other side of the question. There was lately a dinner given in New
York to a literary gentleman of distinction. One of the gentlemen
invited to attend it, said to his wife: "It is a shame that ladies
should not attend this dinner. _You_ ought to be there, and many other
ladies who are authors." Acting upon this impulse, he suggested to the
committee that ladies should be invited. The answer was: First--"It
would be so awkward for the ladies. Secondly--there were very few
literary ladies compared to the number of literary gentlemen." Now as
to the question of "awkwardness," the boot, I think, was on the other
foot; and if the ladies were awkward,--which was not a complimentary
supposition,--why should the gentlemen be to blame for it? And if
there were "few lady authoresses," why not ask the wives of the
_editors_ who were to be present?

No--this was not the reason.

What was it? _Tobacco_--yes, sir, tobacco! I don't add wine--but I
might. In short, these men would be obliged to conduct themselves as
gentlemen were ladies present; and they wanted a margin left for the
reverse. They preferred a bar-room atmosphere to the refining presence
of "lovely woman," about whom they wished to hiccup at a safe
distance.

Perhaps, in justice, I should add, that it was suggested that they
might perhaps see the animals feed from the "musicians' balcony," or
listen to the speeches "through the crack of a door," with the
servants, or in some such surreptitious and becoming and complimentary
manner, which a woman of spirit and intelligence would, of course, be
very likely to do.

To conclude, I trust those gentlemen who are in the habit of bemoaning
"the frivolity of our women, and their sad addictedness to long
milliner's bills," will reckon up the cost of cigars and wine at these
dinners, from which ladies are excluded; and while they are on the
anxious seat, on the economy question, ask themselves whether, putting
other reasons out of the question, the presence of ladies, on these
occasions, would not contribute greatly to _reduce their dinner
expenses_?

I lately read an article in a London paper, in which "the
woman-question" was treated in the following enlightened manner: The
writer avowed his dislike to the cultivation of woman's intellect;
since men had enough intellect, in their intercourse with each other;
and wanted only with woman that charming, childish prattle and
playfulness, which was so refreshing to the male creature, when he
needed relief and amusement!

The author of these advanced ideas didn't state whether he considered
these _childish_, _prattling_ women fit to be mothers and heads of
families; probably that was too puerile a question to consider in the
same breath with the amusement they might afford men by the total
absence of intelligence.

       *       *       *       *       *

It is a wonder that Christians of different denominations do not see,
that while they are spending the precious hours contending for the
non-essentials, which are but as the fringe to the "wedding-garment,"
that souls are slipping past them into eternity, uncared-for and
unprepared. One is often painfully struck with this thought, in
reading, or hearing, the acrid disputes of mistaken, but well-meaning,
zealots.



_THE BRIDE'S NEW HOUSE._


Spick and span, thorough and fresh, from attic to cellar. Pretty
carpets and pictures, and glass, and silver, and china, and
upholstery, and a pretty bride for the mistress! Receptions over, she
looks about her. Hark! what's that? A mutiny down stairs! She didn't
foresee so speedy a grapple with Intelligence offices, even if any at
all. She remembers, 'tis true, that the coachman came one day to
announce to mamma that "the cook was stiff drunk," and the dinner
consequently in a state of indefinite postponement; and she remembers
that a new cook soon took her place; and she has a misty recollection
of a chamber-maid who left suddenly because she was requested not to
use the cologne, and then fill up the bottle with water; and she knows
another chamber-maid arrived before night, who had so tender a
conscience that she couldn't say the ladies were "out," when they were
in the bath, or in bed, and yet would appropriate handkerchiefs and
ribbons and gloves without even winking. Still, she never thought of
being bothered in this way, when _she_ was married. It was all to be a
rosy dream of love and quiet and comfort, and immunity from vulgar
frets. "Well, she goes down into her kitchen, and inquires into the
mutiny, and finds that the chamber-maid has called the cook a 'nasty
thing;' and both are standing in the middle of the kitchen-floor like
two cats on top of a fence, neither of which will give way for the
other, snarling, spitting, and growling, and making the fur fly at
intervals. She tries to pacify them, but they out-scream each other,
till her head cracks, defending themselves. She goes up to George,
with both hands over her ears, and asks him 'if it isn't dreadful?'"
He says, with an executive wave of his conjugal hand, "Send them both
off, and go to an Intelligence-office, my dear, and get others." _He_
thinks "going to an Intelligence-office," and breathing the
concentration of "marasmus" in a little den ten feet square, for an
hour, is to be the end of it. He don't take into account the
"character" that is to be hunted up at the last place Sally lived in,
up in Twenty-thousandth street, the mistress of which will keep his
little wife waiting an hour to dress, before she comes down; while
Sally is meantime airing her heels in the Intelligence-office, whither
the new bride is to return and report, affirmatively or the reverse.
If affirmatively, George supposes again that there's an end of it. Not
a bit. Now, Biddy is to be instructed an hour or two every day, where
to find spoons, forks, knives, towels, napkins, brooms, dusters, and
where and how to use them, and at the end of a week's education, she
will never once set a table without harrowing mistakes, even if, at
the end of that time, her opinion of some other servant in the house
does not necessitate her "finding another place;" or because, though
ignorant of all she professed thoroughly to understand when she came,
she objects to being "followed 'round".

'Tis true the little bride might dodge the Intelligence(?) offices and
"advertise," thus holding a servant's levee for several days in her
parlors and hunting "characters" at immense distances afterwards; or,
she might take a list of advertisements, and scour the city in
disagreeable localities, up pairs of stairs innumerable, to find the
advertisers "just engaged," if she prefer that. Either way, _the
grapple_ is to be met, in the person of cook, chambermaid, or
waitress, or all three, every few weeks; and all this, though the
little bride may ask no questions of the speedy disappearance of the
household stores, or how many people unknown to her are fed at all
hours out of them. Although she may prefer not to see that her damask
table-napkins are used for dish-towels, or that the mattresses are
never turned over when the beds are made, or that the broom never
invades the corners of any apartment, but merely takes a _swish_
through the centre. She may also be silent when she is told that a
closet has been cleaned and put in order, although to her certain
knowledge it has never been touched; for is not the virtuous and
indignant rejoinder always ready, "D'ye think I'd _lie_, mum?"

Now, what comfort is her pretty silver, half cleaned, and bruised and
scratched in the process? What consolation her pretty dishes, with
the handles knocked off? What pleasure her china nicked at the edges?
Which way soever she turns, waste, ignorance, and obstinacy stare her
in the face. And is her life to be all this? Yes, except an interval
now and then, when she lies with a little one on her arm, with a
doctor and a nurse between her and the "grapple;" and the vision, as
she gets better, of hunting up a nurse-maid, who, horror of horrors!
will be "always under her nose."

I do not say there are not exceptions to this gloomy picture, but they
are rare. Sometimes a godsend of an aunt, or housekeeper, stands
between the mistress of the house and all this "how not to do it." But
till Intelligence-offices have something besides the raw material to
offer on the one hand, or on the other, servants who insist upon
performing your work "as Mrs. Jones did," and who resent as an insult
the mildest intimation that you prefer your own way, and object
totally to your going over your house in every part once a day, to see
if things are right--while this state of things continues, the
mistress, be she young or old, must needs take refuge from this
grapple in hotel life, or spend her existence watching the arrival of
emigrant ships.

No man has any call to speak or write on this subject, since they know
nothing about it. One of them recently explained the present
wastefulness of servants to be caused "by the extravagant way of
living indulged in by their mistresses." Waiving the truth or
falsehood of the charge, I rise to inquire, whether the dishonesty
and fast-living of clerks, be not attributable to the fashionable
vices and lavish expenditures of their business employers. Having
aired this little question, I proceed to say, that the dissatisfaction
with regard to servants is undoubtedly every day greatly on the
increase. In most instances, their utter disqualifications for the
high wages they demand, are patent to every observing housekeeper. If
the lady of the house wishes her work properly and systematically
done, she must, in addition to paying such wages, do half the work
herself; or, which amounts to the same thing, oversee these
incompetent servants; who, at the end of even two months' teaching,
either cannot, or will not, learn to do it faithfully. They who slight
their work the most, are of course most unwilling to have the
supervision. Indeed these very servants will often say, "that having
done chamber-work, or cooking, for such a number of years in New York,
they don't need _any_ lady to instruct them how!" So that the mistress
has to choose between a constant and irritating war of words, or a
mismanaged household. To preserve one's patience or serenity, under
such household friction, or to get time for anything else, is a very
difficult task indeed. Now every _right-minded_ mistress of a
household desires, not only to have it well ordered, but to feel an
interest in the welfare of those women who serve her: she would be
glad, if they have a sorrow, to lighten it; if they are sick, to nurse
them kindly; and in every way to help them to feel, that she does not
look upon them as "beasts of burden," but as human beings.

I affirm that the present generation of servants neither care for nor
understand this. All they want is, to be "let severely alone." Not to
be "followed up," as they phrase it. If you hear the area-bell ringing
punctually every day when your meals are served, they expect the fact,
quite ignored by you, that some big nephew, or cousin, or lover, or
uncle, with a robust appetite, comes at those times for his bowl of
tea, or coffee, or a bit of meat, with some warm vegetables. They
will, if found out, lie about it, with an unblushing effrontery which
is perfectly astounding; or, if well up to New York area ways, will,
with arms akimbo, inquire, "Well, what's a cup of tay, or a sup of
coffee, or a bit of mate, now and thin, to rich folks?" and that
although this may and does happen every day, and two or three times a
day. As to cultivating any good understanding, or feeling, with such
unscrupulous servants, it is simply impossible. There is no foundation
in them for any such superstructure. Not long since, one such servant
was requested at a time of sickness in the family, "to step about the
house softly in the morning, as the patient had a sleepless night."
She stared defiantly at the person making this gentle request, and
inquired in a loud voice, "_if this wasn't a free country?_" Not long
after this she smashed a very pretty butter-dish; and when told that
it just cost five dollars, she loftily inquired, "_Well, what's five
dollars?_"

Now what progress can even an intelligent, well-meaning,
kind-intentioned mistress make with such a savage element as this?

One replies, "Oh, don't keep them, of course; get others." Very
well--you wear out a pair of boots "_getting_ others." To your horror,
you discover that the new cook is subject "to attacks" which confine
her to her bed, with--a gin bottle! till she feels like convalescing.
The last lady she lived with, in the "recommendation" with which she
got her own neck out of the noose, put yours into it by omitting to
mention this little fact; so that again you must start on your travels
"_Intelligence_"-ward.

During these changes of programme, a house gets pretty well
demoralized; every servant who comes, expects to find nothing to do in
the way of putting it to rights; and often when her lazy dream in this
respect is realized, she will be very far, when _she_ leaves, from
putting her successor's mind, or bones either, at rest on this point.

All this is sufficiently rasping and vexatious. One lady remarked to
me, "Oh! as for me, I neither know nor see, anything that they do. I
have to choose between this or a lunatic asylum. I can't fight all the
time; and if you change, there's only a new _kind_ of misery."

"Your husband must have a long purse, my dear," I remarked. She
shrugged her shoulders, and asked me "where I bought my new bonnet?"

Now, this state of things is deplorable enough. I can very well
understand, and sympathize with, the disgust many right-minded women
arrive at, after a panorama of such Sallys and Betseys have passed
through their pretty houses, intent only on high wages, waste, and
plunder. To fight it, only sours one's temper, and wastes one's life.
There's no right feeling about them; they have neither conscience nor
industry. "I have done my best," said a lady to me, "to teach and
civilize and humanize them, but I tell you there's nothing to work
upon; so, after giving my orders in the morning, I will neither hear
nor see anything more about it."

Well, another lady will keep on her feet all day, trying to bring
things to a focus; trying the impossible task of putting brains where
there is nothing but a great void; trying to encourage--trying to
lighten burdens by shouldering half herself, or getting substitutes to
help; and thus by superhuman efforts she gets her husband's little
culinary comforts all attended to at the right time, and every
disagreeable thing put under lock and key before his return; but she
sits down opposite him at the table with no appetite, with not an idea
in her aching head; the well-ordered repast only representing
back-aches and vexation of spirit.

Now this is rather a steep price to pay for housekeeping, and that is
why the cunning little lady above referred to dodged it, and saved
incipient wrinkles.

In conclusion, I beg leave to suggest to ladies that they must stop
"recommending" dishonest or incapable servants, merely because "they
don't want a quarrel with them." In the next place, if it be true
that the keepers of intelligence-offices, for a stipulated sum, will
furnish "a character" for any kind of girl able to furnish the money,
is it not time something were done about this?

Finally, in the name of all the New York ladies, _I_ know, or have
heard speak, in private, on the subject, let China, or Africa, or
Professor Blot with his travelling cook-shop, and all the laundry
establishments, come speedily to the rescue, and find us a way of
escape. If you ask, by way of postscript, if there are _no_ exceptions
to the kind of servants I have described above, I answer by asking
you, how often you find a four-leaved clover, or a black holly-hock,
or a green rose?

       *       *       *       *       *

Let the poor wretch, smarting under the lash of the critic, remember
that indigestion has lent point and bitterness to many a sentence
which would else have been kindly. He can add to this, that critics
are subject, like others, to envy, ambition, and little
uncharitablenesses, which grow out of them. Also, that "mutual
admiration" societies are _not_ extinct. Also, that some critics look
through political, some through religious, and some through
atheistical spectacles; and if this don't assuage his anguish, let him
remember that a thousand years hence both the critic and himself will
have passed into happy oblivion.



_THE HAPPY LOT OF A SEXTON._


Not a bad thing to be the sexton of a church. In the first place, he
gets a conspicuous start in life, by advertising on the outer wall of
the church, his perfect willingness to bury all the parish in which he
carries on his cheerful business,--a business which can never be dull
with him, because somebody is always dying, and somebody else is
always being born for the same end. Then Sunday comes regularly once a
week, so that his "shop" never closes, and consequently always wants
his broom of reform. Then the sexton has his little alleviations, when
he has had enough of the sermon: he can make an errand out in the
vestibule, after imaginary bad children, who might disturb the
minister, or to see that the outer door don't creak or bang
un-Sabbatically. When he gets tired of that, he can sit comfortably
down on his stool near the door, which he can tilt back on its hind
legs, out of view of all critical worshippers (except _me_), and then,
and there, he can draw out that omnipresent and national jack-knife,
which is his ever-present solace in every time of need. First--he can
clean his nails, and pare them, varying the performance by biting off
their refractory edges. Then he can commence scratching off any
little spots on his trousers or coat with the point of the same. When
this little exercise is concluded, and the sermon is _not_, he can
draw from another pocket a case-comb, and put those fine touches to
his hair which the early church-bell had interfered with. It is
tiresome on him then for a few minutes, unless some impertinent
sunbeam gilds the minister's sacerdotal nose, and gives him an excuse
for going up in the gallery to lower a curtain, in that dexterous
manner which only a professional can compass. By this time
"seventeenthly" having been concluded by the minister, the sexton
hurries to the church-door, doubling up with a dexterous twist any
aisle-chairs which have done duty _pro tem_. and tucking them in their
appropriate corner, and then takes his position in the porch, the most
important personage present save the minister himself. To the
questions, "Is it the clergymen of this church who has just preached?"
addressed him by some stranger, and "Is there to be an afternoon or an
evening service?" and "Can you tell me where is the clergyman's
residence?" and "Will you hand this note to the clergyman?" etc.,
etc., he returns a prompt and proud answer. And, even when Miss
Belinda Jones steps to his elbow, and requests that he will pay a
little more attention to ventilating the church between the services,
and in fact during the week, in order that she may escape the
infliction of her usual Sunday headache; and when she expatiates
touchingly on the blessing and healthfulness and cheapness of fresh
air, and his Christian duty to apportion a sufficient quantity to
each individual to sustain life, and that meek and quiet spirit that
is enjoined; even then, he bows respectfully, nor mentions that, were
ventilation thus insured by open windows, and the life of the audience
prolonged, it might make him a little more trouble in dusting the
cushions, which he could by no means permit. The polite sexton does
not mention this, nor that he "hates fidgetty females" but he bows
politely and affirmatively, locks up the bad air in the church all the
same, and goes home to his roast-beef and his babies.

       *       *       *       *       *

Upon his box the hackman sits and reads the newspaper, while his
blanketed horses wait for the coming customer. In the cars the
mechanic holds it, hastily running over its columns at this his only
time for reading. Even in the ferry-boat the clerk and school-girl
bend their heads, absorbed and well pleased. At places of amusement,
before the curtain rises, the audience beguile the time by conning its
pages; and even early comers to church improve the minutes by perusing
the Sunday-school papers before the services begin. With these facts
before us, who shall estimate the influence, for good or evil, of the
newspaper? Who shall question the dignity of an editor's position, or
measure his responsibilities?



_LITERARY ASPIRANTS._


It is the most astonishing thing that persons who have not sufficient
education to spell correctly, to punctuate properly, to place capital
letters in the right places, should, when other means of support fail,
send MSS. for publication. Now before me lies just such a MS.,
accompanying which is a letter requesting me to read it, give the
writer my opinion of it, and hand the same to some publisher.

Now, here is my opinion. In the first place, every editor is crowded
with offered MSS. from all sources. Secondly, many of the writers
would not mind not receiving pay for the same, could they only see
that MS. in print in a certain journal that they have selected. In
fact, many times they would rather _pay for having it inserted_ than
to have it declined. This much for the glut in the market.

Then, after this, an editor makes his own selections. It may be he has
already a sufficient corps of contributors, and does not care for, and
will not entertain, any fresh applications. But suppose this is not
the case. Suppose he looks over, or employs a person to look over,
these various MSS. What chance, I ask you, among the myriads, has a
MS., every other word of which is misspelt, and which is wrongly
punctuated, and without paragraphs or capitals, and illegibly written
beside, and, _crowning bother of all_, written on _both_ sides of the
page, over those which are just the reverse; which are no trouble to
read, which require no revision, and which contain _ideas_ as well as
words?

Very well: after all that, an editor has to decide, among even these
_properly prepared_ MSS., which is best suited to _his_ individual
paper, about which he has, and very properly, his own notions and
ideas. Now an article may be well written, and yet not be the thing he
wishes for his paper, although it might be the very thing desired for
another. Well--he of course rejects it, as he has an undoubted right
to do. He could not carry on his paper or magazine successfully on any
other principle. You would not ask a grocer to buy a piece of calico
because you wanted money for that calico. He would immediately say,
"It is not in my line of business; I can make no use of it. I am sorry
you are in want of money; but business is business. I will make you a
_present_ of three or four dollars, as the case may be; but your
calico is of no use to me."

Now you could see the force of _that_: why can't you be made to
understand that it is just so, only a _great deal more so_, with an
editor?

Perhaps you say to me, "Ah, you forget the time when _you_ began." I
beg your pardon, but I do not. Many a weary tramp I had; much pride I
put in my pocket, and few pennies, even with the advantage of a good
education, and a properly prepared MS., and the initiation "of reading
proof"--for my father, who was an editor, when I was not more than
twelve years old--before I succeeded.

It is _because_ I know; it is because I have been behind the scenes,
that I tell you plainly the preliminary steps to be taken before you
"send MSS. for publication," to any one.

Then, don't you see, it is not agreeable to write thus to a person who
quite puts these preliminary steps out of sight, either through
ignorance or conceit: My Dear Sir, or my Dear Madam, this wont do! you
have neither education nor ideas. This appears to them unfeeling; but
it is not. It is doing such persons a much greater kindness than you
could do them by luring them on with the idea of reward, thus wasting
their time, which might be used _successfully_ in other directions,
only to end in mortification and disappointment.

History and Biography show--perhaps you say to me--that many great men
and great writers are deficient in spelling and chirography. Yes, that
is true; but have you not admitted that they were "_great_ writers"?
An editor may be content to keep on sifting, if he is sure of finding
_wheat_; but when the result is _only_ chaff, life is too short for
it; and his necessity to live, equally with your own, too pressing.

One specimen is as good as a thousand. My last was from a young
person, who tells me that she is tired of sewing for a living, and
wants to write; also, that she wants to write for a certain editor.
Also, that this editor would do much better, were he to take the large
sums he pays to his favorite contributors, who do _not_ need it, and
"assist struggling genius." Also, that "she wishes me to remember that
_I_ once struggled myself." Also, that she wishes me to inform her how
I went to work to get a publisher.

Now, to begin with, this young woman misspelt every other word in her
letter, besides entirely ignoring capitals and punctuation. This of
course settled in the outset the question of her present literary
possibilities. Editors do not expect to find these things for their
correspondents; at least I know one who don't; and when he "pays large
sums of money to his favorite contributors" for supplying this very
lack, with ideas included, I presume he knows what he is about, and I
think he has the same right to prefer good spelling in his paper that
the writer of this letter has to prefer literary work to sewing.

Now as to "how I got a publisher." _I didn't get him. He got me._ And
when this young woman produces anything a publisher wants, or thinks
he wants, she will probably have a call from one too.

Next, I don't forget "that I once struggled myself." It adds zest to
my life every hour to remember it. I love the little cosey house I
live in, as I never else could do, because I earned the money to buy
it myself; and I thank God that, if I lost it to-day, and coupons and
banks also gave out, that I am hale and strong enough, and have the
will and the courage, even at this late day, to begin anew. So much
for that. But I do _not_ believe it to be kindness to advise this
uneducated young woman to throw up her present means of support, how
disagreeable soever it may be, for one, that in her present illiterate
state is utterly hopeless.

Scores of such letters I get, so that I have sometimes thought I would
have a printed circular, embodying the above obvious difficulties in
the way of "literary aspirants," and mail it on receipt of their
epistles. To-day I concluded that I would, once for all, air my views
on the subject. After this, every letter from a "literary aspirant"
_which is misspelled_ goes into my waste-paper basket.

Having said all this, I may, in justice to myself, own up to the fact,
that time and again I have given up my own most imperative writing to
correct, and _try_ to make presentable, MSS. for which I was requested
to "_find a publisher_," and which I knew had not the ghost of a
chance, and all because _I did not_, as this young woman advises me,
"forget that I once struggled myself." I never received one word of
thanks for it, but instead dissatisfaction that "_somehow_" I had not
insured success. I remember, in one instance, having spent nearly a
month over a book in MS., laying aside a book of my own, then in
process of preparation; often sitting up late at night, because I
could not else get time enough to devote to it; the writer of this
MS. repaying me only with abuse and defamation, as I afterwards
learned.

So my conscience is quite clear on the subject of remembering, and in
the best way too, my own early struggles. I have tried, in this
article to express myself so as not to be misunderstood. Still I have
no doubt that some "literary aspirant," feeling himself or herself
aggrieved, will haste to set me down an unfeeling wretch. I can stand
it.

       *       *       *       *       *

The man with good, firm health is rich.

So is the man with a clear conscience.

So is the parent of vigorous, happy children.

So is the editor of a _good_ paper, with a big subscription list.

So is the clergyman whose coat the little children of his parish
pluck, as he passes them on their play.

So is that wife who has the whole heart of a good husband.

So is the maiden whose horizon is not bounded by the "coming man," but
who has a purpose in life, whether she ever meet him or not.

So is the young man who, laying his hand on his heart, can say, "I
have treated every woman I ever saw as I should wish my sister treated
by other men."

So is the little child who goes to sleep with a kiss on its lips, and
for whose waking a blessing waits.



_WHAT SHALL WE DO FOR THE LITTLE CHILDREN ON SUNDAY?_


"Take them to church, of course," says one. Now, I don't think it is
"of course," when I look about, and see little things of four and six
years old, and sometimes younger, fidgetting and squirming in their
out-door wrappings, in a hot, crowded, badly ventilated church, to
whom the services are a dead language, and who prevent those around
them from worship, through pity for their evident uncomfortableness. I
don't think it is "of course" when I see this. To be sure, there are
mothers whose pockets contain alleviations for this juvenile
restlessness, in the shape of sugar-plums, or picture-books; but all
the time they are being applied, the mother's eye must be on the child
instead of the clergymen, lest sticky fingers intrude upon silk or
velvet, or a too hasty rattling of leaves in reading the book drown
the sound of the preacher's voice. "They should be taught to behave,"
gravely asserts some person, who, perhaps, has forgotten his own
childhood, or has never been a parent. That is true: we only differ as
to the question whether church is the place to pursue that education.
"Well, suppose you keep a child of that age at home?" asks another.
"Of course he ought not to play with his toys as on other days, and
he can't read all day, and no one can read or talk all day to him, and
what are you going to do then?" In the first place, I, for one, should
never "take away its toys" before I could enable it to pass Sunday
pleasantly without them; and, of course, I should not allow them
directly to interfere with other persons' enjoyment of quiet on
Sunday. It is a very difficult problem to solve, I know; but I am
sure, to make Sunday a tedium and disgust, is not the way; we have all
known too many sad instances of the terrible rebound of adult years
from this un-wisdom. We have all known instances where "going to
meeting" was _not_ prematurely forced upon the restless little limbs
of children, who have, when a little older, asked to accompany the
family to worship, and been pleased to go. Nor would I deprive a child
of its accustomed walk in the fresh air on that day; on the contrary,
I should be most anxious that it should as usual enjoy the out-door
brightness. I would also always have for that day some little pleasure
which belonged especially to it. It may be some plain little cakes or
nuts of which it was fond. I would always have on hand some stories to
read, or to tell it, on that day. If possible, I would have flowers on
Sunday placed at the child's plate; I would strive that Sunday should
be the _cheerfullest_ day of all the week to it--not a bugbear. I
believe all this might be done, without disturbing any Christian's
church-membership, or perilling any child's salvation. In the country
it is much easier to make Sunday pleasant for children than in the
city. You have only to let them stray into the garden or field, and be
happy in the best way a little unformed mind can he. Or, if the
weather interferes with this, the barn and the animals are a
never-failing source of pleasure to it.

There are those who might think it "wicked" to do this. The
wickedness, to me, consists in making Sunday, which should be a
delight, such a tedium, that, in after years, whenever the word
strikes upon the ear, or the day returns, the first impulse is to shun
and evade it. Oh, let Sunday be what the memory of "mother's room" is
to us all--radiant with perfume of flowers and sunshine. The bright
spot to look back upon, when old age sits in the chimney-corner, with
the sweet psalm from voices hushed by death, or far removed, still
sounding in the ears; with the memory of happy faces over the Sunday
meal; the glad "Good-morning" and the soft "Good-night."

Surely the God who opens the flowers on Sunday, and lets the birds
sing, did not mean that we should close our eyes to the one or our
ears to the other, or that we should throw a pall over the little
children.



_MY HOUSE IN THE COUNTRY._


When I live in the country, the front door of my house shall be made
for use, and not for show; and the blinds and windows shall be thrown
wide open from sunrise until sunset; and I will issue invitations to
the bees and birds and butterflies to come in and out at their own
convenience, without fear of molestation from me, or of danger to my
furniture or belongings. If a few mosquitoes follow suit, I will
accept them as a necessary evil, and not to be compared, in the way of
annoyance, with that air of sepulchral gloom which, like a wet blanket
of mist, surrounds the exterior of most country dwellings, where the
men, women, and children skulk round like burglars to the _back_ of
the house to effect an entrance, and the closed door and blinds are
suggestive of a corpse awaiting burial. And yet I think I understand
how this bad custom came about. It was from many babies and much
darning and baking, and the dread of impending fly-specks on the gilt
frame encircling General Washington and the large looking-glass. But,
dear friends, put a mahogany frame round the General, and banish the
looking-glass, which will, in a few years, if you neglect all that
makes home cheerful, reflect only the imprint of life's cares,
instead of its pleasures and contents. "_They_ are so very few," you
say. Well, then the more necessity for letting in the sunshine. As I
walk about, I notice the careworn, pallid faces of the wives and
mothers about many of these country homes, and the careless untidiness
of dress which, in a woman, means that she has given the whole thing
up, either from overwork or lack of sympathy from the one person for
whom the shining hair was once neatly combed, and the strip of white
collar carefully pinned, although it might be late in the day before
time was found to do these things. When I see these women at
nightfall, in this neglectful dress, sitting alone upon the back
door-step, while the husband and father has strolled off to some
neighbor's, and lies flat on his stomach on the grass, with half a
dozen other husbands and fathers, browsing like so many cattle,
without a thought of those weary women, I fall to thinking how much
life would be worth to me reduced to this utilitarian standard of cow
and cabbage. Then I wonder if those women were to throw open the
blinds and doors and windows of the front of the house, and smooth
their hair a bit, and let one of the children pick some grasses and
wild flowers for the mantel, and then tell their respective Johns and
Toms to bring into the house the men they like to talk to at that
hour, so that all could be jolly together, whether it wouldn't change
things for the better. If that plan didn't work, do you know what I
would do? I would shoulder my baby, and trot down the road to the
nearest neighbor's, and let the old coffin of a house take care of
itself. I _wouldn't_ rust, anyhow.

Now, it may be that these women wouldn't know how miserable they were,
if I didn't tell them of it. So much the worse, then. I only know that
if life were _all work_ to me, it should go hard but I would try to
catch a sunbeam now and then, if it were only that the children might
not be demoralized by growing up to look at me in the light of a
dray-horse; if it were only that my boys need not expect _their_ wives
to close their eyes and ears to the beauty and harmony which God had
scattered so lavishly about them. Because there are rocks, shall there
be no roses? Because there is dust, shall there be no dew?

Do you do well, my sisters, to make your houses so gloomy that your
husbands would rather roost outside upon the stone fences, than stay
in them? Don't _have_ a "best carpet;" don't _have_ a "best sofa." Let
in the sun, and the birds, and the children, though it involve bare
floors and wooden chairs, and the total banishment of General
Washington and that best looking-glass. _Eat_ in your "best parlor,"
and laugh in it; don't save it up to be laid out in! Try it now, and
see if life isn't a different thing to you all. As to your "work," a
great deal of it is unnecessary. John and the children would be much
better without pies, cakes, and doughnuts. Make it your religion to
give them wholesome bread and meat, and then stop and take a little
breath. Nobody will thank you for turning yourself into a machine.
When you drop in your tracks, they will just shovel the earth over
you, and get Jerusha Ann Somebody to step into your shoes. They wont
cry a bit. You never stopped to say a word to them except "_get out of
my way_." To be sure, you were working hard for them all the while,
but that wont be remembered. So you just take a little comfort
yourself as you go along, and look after "No 1." Laugh more and darn
less; they will like you twice as well. If there is more work than you
can consistently do, _don't do it_. Sometimes there is a little
blossom of a daughter in a family who makes everything bright with her
finger-tips; if there is none in yours, do _you_ be that blossom.
Don't, even for John, let your children remember home as a
charnel-house, and you as its female sexton.



_WHY WEAR MOURNING?_


I wish that a few sensible, intelligent, _wealthy_ people would cease
draping and festooning themselves like engine-houses, when a death
occurs in the family. I use word "_wealthy_" advisedly; because it is
only that class who can really effect a reformation, for the reason
that _they_ will not be supposed unable "to pay a proper respect," as
the phrase runs, to the deceased. Proper respect! Do yards of crape
and bombazine never express the opposite emotion? Is real
heart-breaking grief to be gauged by the width of a hem, or the length
or thickness of a veil? Have not many a widow and orphan woke up, the
morning after a funeral, to find the little left by the deceased,
expended in funereal carriages, for people who would not lift a
helping finger if it would keep them out of the almshouse? We all know
that, or if we don't, we may wake up to the fact, some future day,
when the sunshine of prosperity is clouded over. That point disposed
of, it must also be remembered that a black dress now is hardly
"mourning;" since that color is so fashionable for street and home,
and even festive wear, that it is hard to distinguish the lady who
affects "all black," because "it is so stylish," from a bereaved
person. Another objection to "mourning" is, that it is the most
expensive dress that can be worn, because most easily spoiled by rain,
or dampness, or dust; and as "proper respect for the deceased"
requires such voluminous folds of it, and so often renewed to be
presentable, or else many changes of mourning to keep the "best suit"
up to the proper grief requirement, that the tax on a limited purse
may be easily calculated.

Said a lady to me one day, "This heavy crape-vail, over my face and
down to my knees, keeps out the air, and gives me a constant
sick-headache."--"Why, then, wear it?" asked I.--"Because it wouldn't
be _decent_ to omit it," she replied. This remark, of course, requires
no comment.

Then, again, the little children--death must be made as horrible as
possible to _them_ too, at the biding of custom! They must be swathed
in sackcloth although only two or three years of sunshine have put the
golden gleam in their hair. Is it not enough that papa or mamma, or
sister or brother, may never answer again when their bird-like voices
call them! Is it Christian or even humane, so to surround them with
gloom that "death" shall be a never-ceasing nightmare? I never see a
little creature so habited, that I do not long to hang a garland of
roses about its neck, and point to the blue heavens as an emblem of
that serene rest which has come to the sleeper.

But you may ask, "Would you give _no_ sign, _no_ token that the
footprints of the Destroyer are over your threshold?" Yes, the same
that is used by military men when their chief has departed--a crape
upon the arm. This simple token--no more; since, as I say, multiplied
bombazine and crape do _not_ always express either grief or respect;
since they often represent the contrary, and mostly an expense which
can ill be borne by the survivors even when grief is sincere; and
since this already recognized military badge of bereavement answers
all the purpose--why not?

The white ribbon tied upon the door-handle, with rosebuds attached,
when the baby's lids are forever closed--oh! that is beautiful. There
are, and must be, breaking hearts inside that door; but I know by
experience that the moment will surely come, after nature shall have
had its saving flow of tears, when, in the sense of perfect peace, and
safety for the little song-bird, now far above the clouds of earth,
they will forget themselves and remember only that.

Then away with all these heathenish insignia; they certainly stand no
more for grief or respect than a flashing diamond on the neck or
finger, denotes wealth or social position, or even respectability.
Above all, away with this bugaboo nightmare of little children, who
will have enough, God knows, to contend with, as they grow older,
without prematurely draping with the blackness of darkness, the
entrance to a portal through which they are certainly destined to
pass, and which the light of faith in their maturer years may gild, as
the shining gate to the Celestial City.



"_DELIGHTFUL MEN._"


Isn't he a delightful man? This question was addressed to me by a lady
in company concerning a gentleman who had rendered himself during the
evening, peculiarly agreeable. Before I answer that question, I said,
I would like to see him at home. I would like to know if, when he jars
his wife's feelings, he says, "Beg pardon" as willingly and promptly
as when he stepped upon yonder lady's dress. I would like to know if,
when he comes home at night, he has some pleasant little things to
say, such as he has scattered about so lavishly since he entered this
room this evening; and whether if the badly cooked dish, which he
gallantly declared to the hostess at the table, "could not have been
improved," would have found a similar verdict on his own table, and to
his own wife. _That is the test._ I am sorry to say that some of the
most agreeable society-men, who could, by no possibility, be guilty of
a rudeness abroad, could never be suspected in their own homes of ever
doing anything else. The man who will invariably meet other ladies
with "How very well you are looking!" will often never, from one day
to another, take notice of his own wife's appearance, or, if so, only
to find fault. How bright that home would be to his wife with one
half the courtesy and toleration he invariably shows to strangers.
"Allow me to differ"--he blandly remarks to an opponent with whom he
argues in company. "Pshaw! what do _you_ know about it?" he says at
his own fireside and to his wife. Children are "angels" when they
belong to his neighbors; his own are sent out of the room whenever he
enters it, or receive so little recognition that they are glad to
leave. "Permit me," says the gallant male _vis-a-vis_ in the omnibus
or car, as he takes your fare; while _his_ wife often hands up her own
fare, even with her husband by her side. No wonder she is not "looking
well" when she sees politeness is for every place but for
home-consumption.

"Oh, how men miss it in disregarding these little matters," said a
sad-eyed wife to me one day. And she said truly; for these little
kindnesses are like a breath of fresh air from an open window in a
stifled room; we lift our drooping heads and breathe again! "Little!"
did I say! _Can_ that be little which makes or mars the happiness of a
human being? A man says a rough, rude word, or neglects the golden
opportunity to say a kind one, and goes his selfish way and thinks it
of no account. Then he marvels when he comes back,--in sublime
forgetfulness of the past,--that the familiar eye does not brighten at
his coming, or the familiar tongue voice a welcome. Then, on inquiry,
if he is told of the rough word, he says: "O-o-h! _that's_ it--is it?
Now it isn't possible that you gave _that_ a second thought? Why, _I_
forgot all about it!" as if this last were really a palliation and a
merit.

It would be ludicrous, this masculine obtuseness, were it not for the
tragic consequences--were it not for the loving hearts that are
chilled--the homes that are darkened--the lives that are blighted--and
the dew and promise of the morning that are so needlessly turned into
sombre night.

"Little things!" There _are_ no little things. "Little things," so
called, are the hinges of the universe. They are happiness, or misery;
they are poverty, or riches; they are prosperity or adversity; they
are life, or death. Not a human being of us all, can afford to despise
"the day of _small_ things."

Yes, husbands, _be cheerful at home_. I daresay, sir, _your_ Bible may
belong to an expurgated edition; but this sentiment is in mine. I have
unfortunately loaned it to a neighbor, so that I cannot at this minute
point to the exact chapter, but that's neither here nor there.

In every "Guide for Wives" I find "cheerfulness" the first article set
down in the creed; with no margin left for crying babies, or sleepless
nights, or incompetent "help," or any of the small miseries which men
wave off with their hands as "not worth minding, my dear!" So when the
time comes for John's return from the shop or office, they begin the
cheerful dodge, just as they are bid, by the _single_ men and women,
who usually write these "Guides for Wives." They hurry to wash the
children's faces, or to have them washed, and stagger round, though
they may not have had a breath of fresh air for a week, to make things
"cheerful" for John. John's beef and vegetables and dessert are all
right. He accepts them, and eats them. Then he lies down on the sofa
to digest them, which he does silently--cow-fashion. The children, one
by one, are sent to bed. Now, does it occur to John that he might try
_his_ hand at a little "cheerfulness"? Not a bit. He asks his wife,
coolly, if there's anything in the evening paper.

She is so tired of the house and its cares, which have cobwebbed her
all over till she is half smothered, soul and body, that this question
seems the cruelest one that could be put, in her nervous condition.
She _ought_ to answer as he does, when she asks him what is in the
_morning_ paper, the while she is feeding Tommy--_his_ Tommy as well
as hers: "Read it, my dear; it is full of interest!"

Instead, she takes up the evening paper wearily; and though the
tell-tale, exhausted tones of her voice as she reads, are sufficiently
suggestive of her inability for reading aloud, yet he graciously
listens well pleased, and goes to sleep just as she gets down to the
advertisements, which is a good place!

Now that woman _ought_ just then, quietly to put on her bonnet and
shawl, and run into one of the neighbors', and stay till _she_ has got
a little "cheerfulness;" but the "Guide to Wives" insists that,
instead, she sit down and look at her John, so that no unlucky noise
may disturb his slumber; and half the wives do it too, and that's the
way they make, and perpetuate, these very Johns.

The way men nurse up _their_ frail bodies is curious to witness, in
contrast with the little care they take of their wives. Now it never
occurs to most wives that being "tired," is an excuse for not doing
anything that, half dead, they are drummed up to do. Now there's just
where I blame them. If they wait for their Johns to _see_ it, or to
_say_ it, they may wait till the millennium. There's no need of a
fight about it either. _He_ wants to lie there and be read to.
Well--let him lie there; but don't you read to him, or talk to him
either, when you feel that way. If he is so stupid or indifferent, as
not to see that you can't begin another day of worry like that,
without a reprieve of some kind, bid him a pleasant good-evening, and
go to some pleasant neighbor's, as he would do, if he felt like it,
for the same reason--as he _did_ do the evening before, without
consulting your preference or tiredness.

Now this may sound vixenish, but it is simply _justice_; and it is
time women learned that, as mothers of families, it is just as much
their duty to consult their physical needs, as it is for the fathers
of families to consult theirs, and more too, since the nervous
organization of women is more delicate, and the pettiness of their
household cares more exhaustive and wearing, than a man's can possibly
be; and this I will insist on, spite of Todd and Bushnell, and every
clerical pussy-cat who ever mewed "Let us have peace!" Peace, reverend
sirs, is of no sex. _We_ like it too; but too dear a price may be
paid even for "peace."

Now I know there are instances, for I have seen them, in which the
husband is the only cheerful element in the house--when his step, his
countenance, like the sunrise, irradiates and warms every nook and
corner. But ah! how rare is this! I know too that cheerfulness is
greatly a thing of temperament; but I also know, that it is just as
much a man's duty to cultivate it by reading to his wife, and
conversing with his wife, as it is hers to amuse and cheer him when
the day's cares are over. And in this regard I must say that men, as a
general thing, are disgustingly selfish. Absorbing, but never giving
out--accepting, but seldom returning. It is for women to assert their
right to fresh air, to relaxation, to relief from care, whenever the
physical system breaks down, just as men always do; for the
Johns seldom wake up to it till a coffin is ordered--and
pocket-handkerchiefs are too late!

And, speaking of that, nothing is more comical to me, in my
journeyings to and fro in the earth, than the blundering way in which
most men legislate their domestic affairs. Mr. Jones, for instance, is
attracted to a delicate, timid, nervous little lady, and moves heaven
and earth, and upsets several families who have a special objection to
her becoming Mrs. Jones, in order to bring about this desirable
result. After an immense besieging outlay, he gets her. We will leave
a margin for the honeymoon. Then commences life in earnest. The
little wife stands aghast to find that her husband's whole aim, is to
transform her into the direct opposite to that which he formerly
admired. In short, that to retain his love and respect, she must make
herself, by some process or other only known to herself, entirely
over. For instance, she is so constituted that the sight of blood has
always given her a deadly faintness, and she never was able to assist,
in any emergency or accident, where physicial pain was involved. Now
this is not an affectation with her--she _really can not_ do it. Now
Mr. Jones, with masculine acumen, immediately sets in motion a series
of little tyrannies, to force what a lifetime could never bring about,
no more than it could change his wife's hair from jet to flaxen color.
Does their child break a leg, or arm, he insists, although other aid
is at hand, that she shall not only be present, but assist in the
dressing and binding up of the same, by way of eradicating and
overcoming what he calls a "folly." To this end he uses sarcasm,
ridicule, threats, every thing which he thinks the "head of the
family" is justified in using, to force this child-woman's nature,
which once had such fragile attractions for him, into an up-hill
course, in which it is impossible for it ever to go, with all the
tyranny he can bring to bear upon it; and thus he keeps on
trying,--year after year,--with an amount of persistence which should
entitle him to a lunatic's cell, and which is gradually preparing his
wife for one, through mortification and wounded affection.

Again--a man is attracted to a woman of marked individuality of
character. He admires her decision and self-poise, her energy and
self-reliance, and stamps them, with one hand on his heart, with the
conjugal seal. Directly upon possession, that which seemed to him so
admirable conflicts with his opinions, wounds his self-love, and even
though gradually and properly expressed, seems to breathe defiance.
Now _this_ woman he, too, strives to _make over_. He disputes her
positions and opinions with acidity, because they differ from his own,
and therefore must be wrong. Perhaps he looks at her, and at them,
more through the eyes of impertinent outsiders who have nothing to do
with it, than through his own spectacles. Many a man will perpetrate a
great injustice in his own household, rather than bear the slightest
meddling imputation that he is not its master. So, year after year,
this fruitless effort goes on, to transform a full-grown tree to a
little sapling, capable of being bent in any and every direction,
according to the moulder's capricious whim or fancy, with not the
ghost of a result, so far as success is concerned.

I might cite many other instances to illustrate the absurd manner in
which men persist in marring their own happiness; committing those
flagrant injustices of which women either die, and make no sign, or
break into what is called "_unwomanly_" rebellion, when their sense of
justice is outraged, by the _love_ which has proved weaker than
_pride_.

It is pitiful to think how frequent are these life-mistakes, and more
pitiful still to think, that women themselves are responsible in a
great measure for them. Let parents see to it, especially let
_mothers_ see to it, that the little boy is to yield equally with his
sisters in their games and plays. Let the maxim, "Give it to your
_sister_," issue as often from your lips as "Give it to your
_brother_." Let the father say as often to his son, "Prepare to become
the excellent husband of some good woman," as the mother to her
daughter, "Prepare to be the worthy wife of some good man." In other
words, begin at the fireside. Remember that you are training that
little boy to make or mar the happiness of some woman, according as
you teach him self-government--justice--and the contrary. This is an
idea which even abused wives seldom think of. It might be well for
them, and some now happy girl, who may lose through that boy, heart
and hope in the future, did they do so.



_CHOOSING PRESENTS._


"Which would you prefer," asked a friend of me,--"a pretty useless
present, or an ugly useful one?" I had to stop and think before
replying. I knew it was a trap sprung for my halting; so, woman-like,
I dodged my weak side by saying, "There is no necessity, as I see, for
either extreme."

One of our first biographers has remarked of me, that if he brings
home an _ugly-looking_ book, and lays it upon the table, I very soon
transfer it to a less conspicuous locality. This may or may not be
true; meantime I am not going to blink the fact that I adore pretty
things. Butter tastes better to me from a dainty little dish. So do
vegetables. Nor, to compass this, does one need the purse of
Fortunatus. Pretty shapes in vases, pitchers, plates, and the like,
have commended themselves to me, though not of silver. In fact, since
the burglars relieved me of my silver while in the country last
summer, I resolutely set my face against any further invitations to
them in that shape. This is to certify that henceforth only plated
ware, but very _pretty_ plated ware, shall cross my threshold.

But, not to digress, what a "mess" people generally make of holiday
presents! Some houses contain only silver soup-ladles, others a
superabundance of butter-knives. Some babies, again, have silver cups
enough so furnish all their descendants, be they more or less. The
most harrowing present I know of is a "picture annual," all over gilt,
with wide margins inside, and with common-sense at a discount. It is a
type of a pretty mouth from whence issues only folly. Worsted cats and
dogs come next, in the shape of mats, chair-covers, etc. Now a dozen
of handkerchiefs or gloves, may be both pretty and sensible as a
present. So is a flower-stand, without which, in my opinion, no parlor
is furnished, how plentifully soever satin and gilt may abound. I am
frivolous enough to like rings, brooches, ear-rings, and bracelets, of
lovely, but above all, _odd_ forms and designs, if worn at the proper
time and place. But, dear! dear! I shouldn't make a good Quaker, for a
bit of scarlet somewhere in my room, is quite necessary to my peace of
mind. I look at that elaborate little bird-house for sparrows,
fronting the Quaker meeting-house, and I think I see a symptom of the
coming millennium for Quakers. I frankly own to exchanging a white
syrup-pitcher the other day, in favor of a white one with a scarlet
handle. I like these little touches of color to a degree, that, if
Heaven depended on their absence, might possibly peril my chances of
Paradise.

Now I am not apologizing for this--not a bit! I am only sorry
for those of you who trudge along whether from choice or
necessity--through life's dusty highway, without stopping to notice,
or to cull, the flowers hidden in its hedge-rows, and place them as
you go, in your hair, or in your bosom.

Pretty things are humanizing. I wish every work-room could have its
flowers and its pictures. _My_ God don't turn His back on either. Even
in the dull old yard of a tenement house, He sends up through the
chinks tiny blades of grass and dandelion, and chickweed blossoms. And
does not the pure white snow come sifting down over the garbage-heaps
and ash-barrels before the door of poverty which man, less merciful,
would doom to have all the year round before their disgusted vision?

Meantime, let us hope that "the minister's" holiday present may be a
pair of boxing-gloves instead of a hymn-book, of which latter he has a
surfeit. As to his wife--for goodness' sake, send her the same thing
you would, were she the wife of a layman. And if you order her a cake,
don't surmount it with a cross, of which ministers' wives have already
too many in their parishioners. Give an editor a new subscriber and
you can't miss it. Send a lawyer no bones to pick, unless--well
covered with meat! And don't make a _pup_ of your husband by giving
him a velvet dressing-gown. And as to you, sir, don't pick out for
_your_ wife just what your friend Jenkins does for _his_; because,
though men are all alike, and cigars are always acceptable to them,
yet a man can never be certain whether his wife, on the receipt of a
present from her husband, will box his ears, or fall to kissing him;
and since Variety is the god of most men, I suppose this is all right.

It must be owned, that of all perplexing things on earth, the greatest
is the perplexity of choosing a present. After you have considered,
first your purse; then the multifarious demands upon it; then the age,
desires, and taste of the recipient--comes the weary tramp in hot,
crowded stores for the desired article; comes the known incivility of
_most_ women bent on shopping errands, to their fellow-women; of
addressing the clerk, upon whom you, as first-comer, have a prior
claim, or even drawing from your and his fingers the very article you
have under distracted consideration. Of course I don't mean _you_, my
dear; didn't I say _most_ women? You will always find that I leave a
door of escape open, before I insinuate that my sex are not all
seraphs. Well--you make your purchase, and perspire in your furs,
while "cash" performs his gymnastics through feminine feet and hoops,
to get it _parcelled_ and return your change. But, alas! this is only
one present, and it has taken an entire morning to get it, and when
you get home Aunt Jemima whispers confidentially "that she overheard
John say that _he_ had bought that very article for the same person
for whom yours was intended;" and, what is worse, you can't transfer
it, because there is no other member of the family for whom it would
be suitable. You wonder if it wouldn't do to enclose so many dollars
to each member of the family, and let them make their own selection.
Sentiment would have to "go under," of course; but don't it when a
recipient wonders "how much you paid for your gift"? Time was, when a
present was acceptable, or on the contrary, according to the love
which prompted it, and not according to the value of the gift. Now,
young ladies expect diamonds, and pearls, and rubies, and quite turn
up their pretty noses at a book, or a work-box, or a writing-desk.
What with "golden weddings" and "silver weddings," and other bids for
gold and silver in various shapes, what with the bugbear word "mean"
in such connection, bankruptcy, or an inglorious exit, is the only
alternative to many. I have been some time coming to my moral, which
is this: that the "present" system is, to use a slang expression, "run
into the ground." I except the present a husband gives his wife, for
whom nothing of course is too good, or too tasteful, or too costly;
and who can, while receiving it, ask him to give her a hundred dollars
or so, to go out and _buy him one_! Also, in all heartiness, and
without joking, I except the little children, whose lovely dream of
Santa Claus vanishes with the flossy, golden-tipped curls of babyhood.
Pile up for them the dolls, and tops, and whistles, and wagons, and
kaleidoscopes, and velocipedes, that they may always when old age
seats them in the chimney-corner have this bright spot to look back
upon, over the graves of buried hopes and hearts, which could not else
bear thinking of.



_A BID FOR AN EDITORSHIP._


I think I should like to be an editor, if somebody would do all the
disagreeable, hard work for me, and leave me only the fancy touches. I
don't know how profound my political articles would be, but they would
be _mine_. I think my book reviews would be pleasant reading, at least
to everybody but some of the authors. I should have a high railing
round my editorial desk, and "through the lattice" microscopically and
leisurely regard the row of expectant men waiting outside for a
hearing. I should not need a spittoon in my office. Nobody should
contribute to my paper who smoked, or chewed, or snuffed tobacco; that
would diminish my contributors' list about right. I should discard
Webster and Walker, and inaugurate a dictionary of my own. I should
allow anybody who felt inclined to send me samples of big strawberries
and peaches, and bunches of flowers; and I should get a fine library,
free gratis, out of the books sent me to review. As to grinding the
axes of the givers in return, why that, of course, should always be
left to the option of the editor. Before I commenced an editor's life,
I should secure money enough in some way to be able to snap my
fingers in the face of that grim ogre, "Stop my Paper!" I tell you I
_wouldn't_ stop it. It is a free country. I'd keep on sending it to
him. I'd always have something in every number about him, so that he
couldn't do without having it, how much soever he might want to.

Then you should see my desk. It should be dusted once a year, to show
editors what a desk _might_ be. My editorial chair shouldn't pivot;
there should be no shadow of turning about that. Gibraltar should be a
circumstance to it. The windows of my editorial den should be scraped
with a sharp knife occasionally, to take off sufficient dirt to enable
me to write legibly. I should keep my best bonnet in a bandbox under
my desk, for any sudden dress emergency, as do editors their
go-to-meetin' hat. Like them, too, I should have a small looking-glass
for--visitors! also a bottle of--"medicine" for--visitors! I don't
think I should need a safe, as the principles upon which my paper
would be conducted would render it unnecessary. My object would be to
amuse _myself_, and say just what came uppermost, not by any means to
please or edify my species. Now, I have examined all the papers that
cross my threshold, and I am very sure that I have hit on quite an
original idea.

If it stormed badly on publication day, I wouldn't send the poor
devils in my employ out with my paper, just because my subscribers
fancied they wanted it. Let 'em wait. The first fair day they'd have
it, of course. In the meantime, the printer's devil, and the
compositors, and the rest of 'em, could play chequers till the sky
cleared up.

If anybody sued me for libel, I'd--I'd whine out, "Aint you
ashamed to annoy a female? Why don't you strike one of your
own size?" I should insist on being treated with the deference
due to a woman, though in all respects I should demand the
untrammeled-seven-leagued-boots-freedom of a man. My object would be
to hit everybody smack between the eyes, when I felt like it; and when
I saw brutal retribution coming, to throw my silk apron over my head
and whimper.

I have not yet decided upon the title of my paper. Children are not
generally baptized until after they are born. Nor do I know who will
stand sponsor. All that is in the misty future. As to the price, I
should nail up a cash-box at the foot of the stairs, and people could
drop in whatever they liked. I should, by that means, not only show my
unshaken confidence in human nature, but also learn in what estimation
the general public held my services. There's nothing so dear to my
heart as spontaneity.



_A SERMON TO PLYMOUTH PULPIT._


O Mr. Beecher! that you should recommend "candy," or "sugar plums," it
is all the same, for the youngsters. That _you_ should be quoted
through the length and breadth of the land as having done so, to the
delight of these youngsters, and the candy-merchants, and the
dentists, and the doctors generally! To be _candid_, I am ashamed of
you.

Do you suppose that you are the only grandparent in the land? The only
loving, the only proud grandparent? I am a grandparent. I can love as
hard as you can. I can show just as bewildering a grandchild as you
can. It is just as hard for me to say No to that grandchild as it is
for you to say No to yours; but--excuse me--_I_ can do it. She is five
years old, but never touches candy. When she was three, a lady in an
omnibus gave her a red and white peppermint stick, and she turned to
me and asked "if it were not a pretty _toy_?" She knows now that candy
is to eat; but when it is given her, whether in my presence or not,
she says, "I am not allowed to eat candy." Meantime, she loves
beefsteak, she loves potatoes, she drinks milk and eats bread, with a
relish that candy-fed children never know. Either you are very right,
or I am very wrong. You see I am touchy on this subject, having worn
out several pens and distributed much ink in the crusade against it;
and here _you_, in the _Ledger_, right under my very nose, with one
frisk of your magic pen, cover me with indelible ignominy!

"Mr. _Beecher_ says children should have candy;" and, what is more, he
thinks they should be _bought_ to be good by it! Oh, fie!

Well, now, I reply: Mr. Beecher is a _man_. If his grandchild has the
stomach-ache, it is the _women_ of the family who will soothe it, and
bear its cries and its wakeful nights. If the little teeth prematurely
decay and ache, it is _the women_ who will accompany it to the
dentist's for the heart-rending wrench of cold iron. Mr. Beecher, in
short, decided this candy question from a _man's_ standpoint. He took
the popular side of the question with the children, who will always
shout hosanna to him for the same. But, my dear sir, the mothers who,
going home after shopping through Broadway, stop each day for the
poisonous parcel of sweets for Johnny and Susy, need restraint, not
encouragement, from you. They "can't imagine what ails Susy or Johnny,
to be so fretful" after eating it. Of course they never for a moment
suppose it to be candy. Didn't _they_ eat candy? And are they buried
yet? _I_ ask another question: What is the state of their teeth and
digestion to-day? What their powers of endurance as mothers? What, in
short, do they annually contribute to enable the fat family doctor to
ride in his carriage and live in Fifth Avenue? _That's_ what _I_ want
to know.

O Mr. Beecher! well as I like you, I don't know what to say to you;
and what makes the case more aggravating, I know I shall keep on
liking you, whatever you say. That's the worst of it, and you know it.
And I am going to send this right off to the _Ledger_ office without a
second reading, lest I should qualify it, or trim it up, or make it
more respectful because you are "a minister."

No, sir; I won't do it; I'll take example by a rampant female at a
public meeting the other night, who was scolding her husband for not
getting her a better seat. The distressed man laid his hand on her
arm, saying, "Hush! here's Fanny Fern; she will hear you." With
distended nostrils, that admirable woman replied, "I don't care for
six hundred Fanny Ferns!"

My dear sir, your hand is too well accustomed to drawing a moral, for
me to presume to do it for you in this case! Adieu.



_FEMALE CLERKS._


I have heard the objection made, by women, to female clerks in stores,
that they are less civil and attentive to their own sex than are male
clerks. I can only answer for myself, that I have never found any
reason to complain of them in this regard. In fact, I often wonder at
their patience and civility under very trying circumstances. I suppose
gallantry supplies the place of patience in male clerks. With so many
fresh, pretty, dimpled young faces to look at, a young man need not be
so very churlish, though he be not christened Job.

Female clerks, it always seemed to me, must necessarily give out first
_in their feet_. That incessant standing, from morning to night, must
be more trying to them than to men. Many women, I know, can _walk_
miles more easily than they could stand for half an hour.

After making a purchase at a store quite late in the afternoon, I said
to the young girl who waited upon me,--

"How very tired you must get of us women, day after day!"

"There is a great difference in them," she civilly replied.

"But don't your feet ache sadly?" I asked. "That always seemed to me
the most trying part of it."

She smiled as she pulled from under the seat, behind the counter, a
stool.

"I thought that mitigation of weariness was against all regulations in
stores," I replied.

"Not in _this_," was her answer. "Mr. ---- has always allowed his
female clerks to sit down when they were tired."

Now, I was so pleased at this that I should like to give that
employer's name in full on this page. Here was a man who was wise
enough, and, above all, humane enough, to look on _their_ side of the
question. In doing so, of course, he did not overlook his own. In
doing so, he may also have known that there is a point when even a
woman's india-rubber patience, may be stretched too far. He may have
known that, when soul and body gave out, and a customer came in at
that trying moment, and the "last ounce" having been "laid on the
camel's back," the article inquired for _they_ "_did not keep_!" I say
he _might_ have been keen enough to have known this. _I_ prefer to
believe, that being a good, kind-hearted man, he tried to make service
for these young girls as light as he would wish it made for his own
young daughters, were they in that position. It is very certain that,
which way soever we look at it, it is an example which other employers
would do well to follow.

It wont do the male clerks any harm to stand still; but I would be
very glad to have inaugurated this humane consideration for the young
women. I heard one of them tell a friend, the other day, that she had
to go directly to bed each evening on her return home, because her
feet and back ached so intolerably.

Another suggestion: When employers have any occasion to reprove these
young women, if they would not mortify them by doing it in the
presence and in the hearing of customers, it would not only be more
pleasant for the latter, but would be more likely to have its proper
effect on the offender. I have sometimes heard such brutal things said
by employers to a blushing young girl, whose eyes filled with tears at
her helplessness to avert it, or to reply to it, that I never could
enter the store again, for fear of a repetition of the distressing
scene, although, so far as I personally was concerned, I had nothing
to complain of.

The moral of all this is, that men in the family, and in the store
too, must look upon women in a different light from that to which they
are accustomed; before, to use a detestable phrase, but one which will
appeal most strongly to the majority, they "can get the most work out
of them." Physicians understand this. Every man is not a physician,
but he ought at least to know that backaches and headaches, and
heartaches too, are not confined to his own sex.



_BLUE MONDAY._


"Blue Monday." By this name clergymen designate the day. Preaching as
they do, two sermons on the Sabbath, sometimes three--not to mention
Sunday-school exhortations, and possible funerals and marriages; of
course, I take no account of what may have happened, on Sunday, in
_their own_ families, no more than does the outside world. "The
minister" must, like a conductor of a railroad train, be "up to
time,"--hence "Blue Monday." Flesh and blood is flesh and blood,
although covered by a surplice or a cassock, and will get _tired_,
even in a good cause. Therefore the worn-out clergyman takes Monday
for a day of rest, for truly the Sabbath is none. He wanders about and
tries to give his brains a holiday--I say _tries_, because he often
misses it by wandering into the book-stores, or going to see a
publisher, instead of taking a drive, or a ramble in the fields, or
wooing nature, who never fails to lay a healing hand on her children.

But Blue Monday does not belong exclusively to clergymen--oh, mother
of many children! as you can testify. True, you call it by another
name--"Washing-day,"--but it is all one, as far as exhaustion is its
characteristic. May the gods grant that on that day, when your
assistant in nursery-labor must often make up the deficiencies
involved in the terrible "family-wash," that no "plumber" or
"gas-fitter" send in his bill, to "rile" the good man of the house, to
exclaim against the "expenses of housekeeping," and send you into your
Babel of a nursery, with moist eyes and a heavy heart? It is poor
comfort, after you have cried it out, to try to pacify yourself by
saying, Well, he didn't _mean_ to say I'm sorry I ever was married,
yet it hurts me all the same; men are so thoughtless about such
things, and they go out after hurling such a poisoned arrow, and
forget, even if they ever knew it, that they have left it there to
rankle all day; and are quite astonished, and, perhaps, disgusted when
they come back that the good lady is not in excellent spirits, as they
are, and wonder what _she_, with a comfortable home, and nothing but
house matters to attend to, can find to worry her. Now, Mrs. Jones,
and Mrs. Jenkins, and Mrs. Smith, I'll lay a wager with each of you,
that your husbands have done that very thing, more times than you can
count, and on "Blue Monday" too.

Ah! these "chance words," and the _thick_-skinned utterers of them.
Ah! the pity that the needle is no hindrance to the bitter thoughts
they bring; but that over the little torn apron or frock, the tears of
discouragement fall; the bitterest of all--that _he_ hasn't the least
idea "he has said anything," but is, very likely, inviting some fellow
that very minute to "take a drink" with him, or to smoke a dozen
cigars more or less, spite the "expense." My dears, wipe your eyes. If
you look for consistency in the male creature, you'll need a
microscope to find it. _Your_ expenses hurt him dreadfully; when I say
yours, I mean not only your _personal_ expenses, but the _house_
expenses; for don't you see, had he staid a bachelor, he wouldn't have
had a plumber's bill to pay--and that's all your fault, because you
said "yes," when he got on his knees to implore you that he _might_
have the felicity of paying your mutual plumber's bill.

But _that_ was _then_, and _this_ is _now_!

But isn't it perfectly delicious when those men come home, after
making some such blundering speech, the innocent way, after hanging up
their hats, that they'll walk into your presence, rubbing their hands,
and fetch up standing in the middle of the room with, "Why! _what's_
the matter?" as they catch sight of their wives' lugubrious faces. I
tell you, Mr. Smith, and Mr. Jones, and Mr. Jenkins, whatsoever else
you do, _don't_ hold your _wives_ responsible for that which they are
no more to blame for than yourselves. Or if you will insist upon going
over their hearts with a cart-wheel, in this manner, have the
manliness when you come home, not to pooh-pooh the resentful tears you
have caused.

The fact is, you are but blunderers as far as women are concerned. You
are elephants trying with your huge paws to pat humming-birds. Nine
out of every ten you demolish. Only physicians understand a woman; and
they don't always act up to the light they have.

I would like to write a book on some kinds of legal murder; that is if
really _good_ people had not such moonshine notions about "delicacy."
This class are really the drags on the wheel of reform. I don't say
that sometimes it is not necessary, and even right, to drive
rough-shod right over them, if they will persist in walking in such a
narrow path; but one does it after all with regret, because they so
sincerely believe themselves to be in the "path of duty," as they call
it. Dear me! if there ever was a perverted phrase, this is one! It
makes me sick to hear it.

What do I mean by "legal murders"? Well, if a woman is knocked on the
head with a flat-iron by her husband and killed, or if arsenic is
mixed with her food, or if a bullet is sent through her brain, the law
takes cognizance of it. But what of the cruel words that just as
surely kill, by constant repetition? What of the neglect? What of the
diseased children of a pure, healthy mother? What of the ten or
twelve, even healthy children, "who come," one after another, into the
weary arms of a really good woman, who yet never knows the meaning of
the word _rest_ till the coffin-lid shuts her in from all earthly care
and pain? Is the self-sacrifice and self-abnegation all to be on one
side? Is the "weaker" always to be the stronger in this regard? I
could write flaming words about "the inscrutable Providence which has
seen fit to remove our dear sister in her youth from the bosom of her
young family," as the funeral prayer phrases it.

Providence did nothing of the sort. Poor Providence! It is astonishing
how busy people are making up bundles to lay on _His_ shoulders! I
imagine Providence meant that women, as well as men, should have a
right to their own lives. That they, equally with men, should rest
when they can go no further on the road without dying. That while the
father sits down to smoke the tobacco which "Providence" always seems
to furnish him with, although his family may not have bread to eat,
his wife should not stagger to her feet, and try to shoulder again her
family cares and expenses.

Sometimes--nay, often--in view of all this, I rejoice in regarding the
serene Mrs. Calla-Lily. _She_ goes on just like a man. When she is
tired she lies down, and stays there till she is rested, and lets the
domestic world wag. If she don't feel like talking, she reads. If the
children are noisy, she sweetly and cunningly gets out of the way, on
that convenient male pretext, "putting a letter in the post-office."
She don't "smoke," but she has her little comforts all the same, and
at the right time, although the heavens should fall, and little
Tommy's shoes give out. She looks as sleek and smooth and fair as if
she were _really_ a lily; and everybody says, "What a delightful
person she is! and how bright and charming at all times!"

Now this spectacle soothes me, after seeing the long procession of
bent, hollow-eyed, broken-spirited women who are _legally_ murdered.

I exclaim, Good! and think of the old rhyme:

    "Look out for thyself,
    And take care of thyself,
      For nobody cares for thee."

Of course this is very "unamiable" in me, but amiability is not the
only or the best quality in the world. I have seen people without a
particle of it, as the phrase is often understood, who were the
world's real saviours; and I have seen those human oysters, "amiable"
people, till sea-sickness was not a circumstance to the condition of
my mental and moral stomach.

What a millennial world this would be, if every one were placed in the
niche for which he or she were best fitted. Now I know a capital
architect who was spoiled, when he became a minister. A dreadful mess
he makes of it working on the spiritual temple, as pastor of a country
church; whose worshippers each insist upon shaping every brick and
lath to their minds before he puts them together; and then they doubt
if his cement will do. Poor man!--I know of a merchant, helplessly
fastened to the yardstick, who should be an editor. I know of a
lawyer, who has _peace_ written all over him, and yet whose life is
one interminable fight. I know scores of bright, intelligent women,
alive to their finger-tips to everything progressive, good and noble,
whose lives, hedged in by custom and conservatism, remind me of that
suggestive picture in all our Broadway artist-windows, of the woman
with dripping hair and raiment, clinging to the fragment of rock
overhead, while the dark waters are surging round her feet. I know
little sensitive plants of children, who are no more understood by
those who are daily in their angel presence, than the Saviour was by
his crucifiers. Children who, mentally, morally, and physically, are
being tortured in their several Gethsemanes to the death; and I know
sweet and beautiful homes, where plenty, and intelligence, and
Christianity dwell, where no little child's laugh has ever been heard,
and no baby smile shall ever fill it with blessed sunshine. I know
coarse-natured men and women who curse the earth with their presence,
whose thoughts and lives are wholly base and ignoble, and yet who fill
high places; and I know heaven's own children--patient, toiling,
hopeful--sowing seeds which coarse, hurrying feet trample in the earth
as they go, little heeding the harvest which shall come after their
careless footsteps.

_Life's discipline!_ That is all we can say of it.

How any one with eyes to see all this, can doubt Immortality, and yet
bear their life from one day to another, I cannot tell. How persons
can say, in view of all these cross-purposes, I am satisfied with
_this_ life, and--had I my way--would never leave it, is indeed, a
mystery. It must be that the soul were left out of them.

But this doleful talk wont do--will it? I should not dispel
illusions--should I? Now, that last is a question I can't settle:
whether it were better, if you see a friend crossing a lovely meadow,
rejoicing in the butterflies, and flowers, and lovely odors, to warn
him that there is a ditch between him and the road, into which he will
presently fall; or to let him enjoy himself while he can, and plump
into it, without anticipatory fears? What do you think? Anyhow, it is
no harm to _wish_ you all a happy summer.

       *       *       *       *       *

Would it not be well for those who report the "dress" of ladies at a
public dinner to instruct themselves in advance as to _color_? One can
always tell whether a man or a woman is the reporter, by the blunders
of the former in mistaking blue for green, lilac for rose, and black
for pink. The world moves on, to be sure, in either case; but since
reporting must be done on such infinitesimal matters, it were better
it were well done. A lady who studiously avoids flashy apparel does
not care to read in the morning paper that "she appeared in a yellow
gown trimmed with pink." Perhaps the avoidance of the "flowing bowl"
by male reporters would conduce to greater correctness of millinery
statement.



_THE FLY IN THE OINTMENT._


I do not know who writes the editorials on the "Woman Question" in its
various aspects, in our more prominent New York papers. I read them
from day to day, with real disappointment at their immaturity, their
flippancy, their total lack of manliness, and respect for, or
appreciation of, true womanhood. I say this in no spirit of
bitterness, but of real sorrow, that men stepping into the responsible
position they hold on those papers, have not better considered the
subjects of which they treat. That the writers are not known outside
the office, seems to me a very unmanly reason for their
misrepresentations. Every morning I ask, over my coffee, Have these
men mothers, sisters, wives, who so persistently misrepresent the
doings of self-respecting, self-supporting, intelligent women? Does
_Congress_ make no mistakes, that women should be expected, in their
pioneering, to have arrived at absolute perfection? Is there no heat,
in debate, on _its_ floor; no uncourteousness of language? Did not one
member, a short time since, call out there to have another member
"spanked"? Does the speaker's mallet never call to order, men selected
by their constituents, because supposed most intelligently to
represent the various local and other interests of the country? Does
the cut of a man's hair or coat injuriously or approbatively affect
his speech upon the floors? Does anybody care what color it is, or how
worn? I ask myself these questions when I read reports of
"strong-minded women's meetings," as they are sneeringly termed, which
consist mainly on the absence of a "long train" to their dresses, or
the presence of it; on the straightness of their hair, or the frizzing
of it; on the lack of ornamentation, or the redundance of it. This
mocking, Mephistopheles-dodging of the real questions at issue, behind
flimsy screens, seems to me not only most unworthy of these writers,
but most unworthy of, and prejudicial to, the prominent journals in
which they appear.

If they think that women make such grave mistakes,--mistakes
prejudicial to the great interests they seek publicly to promote, the
great wrongs they seek to right,--would it not be kinder and more
manly, courteously to point them out, if so be that they themselves
know "a more excellent way"? Among all these women, are there _none_
who are intelligent, intellectual, earnest, _and modest withal_? Have
the editors of these very papers in which these attacks appear, never
gladly employed just such, to lend grace, wit, and spirit to their own
columns, that they have only sneers and taunts for the cause they
espouse, and never a brave, kind, sympathetic recognition of their
philanthropic efforts? Is the cause so utterly Quixotic, espoused by
such women, who make their own homes bright with good cheer,
neatness, taste, and wholesome food, that they cannot gallantly extend
a manly hand after it and help them _over_ those bright thresholds,
and out into a world full of pain and misery, to lift the burden from
their less favored sisters?

If they have the misfortune not to know such women among "the
strong-minded," would it not be well to seek them out, and better
inform themselves on the subjects upon which they daily write?

The pioneer women who have bravely gone forward, and still keep
"marching on," undaunted in the face of this unmanly and ungenerous
dealing, have, doubtless, counted the cost, and will not be hindered
by it. I do not fear that; but I _do_ regret that any editor of a
prominent paper in New York should belittle it and himself, by
allowing any of his employés to keep up this boyish pop-gun firing
into the air.

The other night, I attended a lecture, the proceeds of which were to
be devoted to a charitable institution for women.

Now here was a man willing to do this for the particular women's
charity to be benefited by it, but he couldn't do it without stepping
out of his way to sneer at female suffrage and kindred movements which
are advocated and engineered by pure, intelligent, cultivated, earnest
women, or fixing his seal of approbation on this particular branch of
philanthropy, as the only remedy for all the ills that come of an
empty purse and a grieved heart.

And just here is the fly in all these philanthropic ointments. Mix
your medicines in _my_ shop, or they will turn out poisons. That is
the spirit. Now I don't believe that one society, or one man or woman,
is the pivot on which this universe turns; and wishing well, as I do
every progressive, humanitarian movement, I deplore that its leaders
will not keep this fact in mind. I don't say that I wish _women_ would
keep it in mind, for I am a diligent reader of newspapers, and I see
men every day ignoring this broad foundation of civilization. I see
them making mouths at each other over a political bone or religious
fence; or I hear naughty names called, because one man grabbed a bit
of news for his paper, and scampered off with it to the dear public,
before his editorial neighbor got scent of it. Oh, women don't do all
the gossip and slander and back-biting in the world. They don't make
all the silly or stupid speeches either. Nor do they "rush into
print," any oftener than certain unquiet male spirits, "thirsting for
notoriety," as the phrase goes, who think they know when a colt is a
horse, and _vice versa_, better than any other man, because they
studied Greek at Oxford. Humbug is not always a female, but when
humbug _is_ a female, she generally hails from the top round of the
ladder! I am happy to say that, though I may be putting a stone into
the hands of mine adversary by the admission!

Human nature might be improved, even in the year 1869. How glad the
pop-gun clergyman of a small parish is, when some clerical big-gun is
supposed to make a false move on the sacerdotal chequer-board! How he
rushes publicly to "deplore" that his "dear brother in Christ should
lay himself open to the world's censure in this manner"! His "dear
brother's" popularity and big salary were not the animus of _that_
criticism--oh, no! Now I'm not one of those who believe that "a
minister" is certainly a saint, above his fellows; or that
Christianity is benefited by refusing to admit the shortcomings of
church-members. I once heard Rev. Dr. Hall preach a sermon on this
subject, every word of which was pure gold and ought to be printed in
pamphlet form and placed in the pews of all our churches.

"Mix your medicines in my shop, or they will be poisons"! How sick I
am of it! There is so much elbow room in the world, why fight only for
one corner? But men, set us "weak women" such a terrible example,
fighting and squabbling about straws, and whining when they are
defeated. Now, if instead of wasting their time this way, or idling it
away as fashionable loungers,--I speak after the manner of the New
York--to women,--if instead of belonging to useless up-town clubs,
where with the heads of their canes in their mouths, they sit in the
day-time, measuring passing female ankles, or drinking and talking
male scandal, or betting;--if instead they would--each butter-fly son
of them--take some good, interesting book, and finding some tenement
house, sit down of an evening and amuse some laboring man, who would
else flee from the discomforts of such a place to the nearest
grog-shop, how noble would this male butterfly of Fifth Avenue then
appear! In fact, this particular form of benevolence commends itself
to me as the only one that could rescue him from the butterfly
existence of up-town clubs.

A thought strikes me! As the "New York ----" remarks, when advising
women to teach sewing to poor girls, "but perhaps these female
butterflies of Fifth Avenue don't know themselves how to sew." Alas!
should these male butterflies of the Fifth Avenue club-houses not know
how to read, when they get to the tenement house of their poor
brother!

Now, to conclude, I see nothing antagonistic to a sewing-machine in a
woman's vote, but the Editor of the New York ---- is always throwing a
blanket over a woman's head, for fear she will see a ballot-box. You
may make soup, my dear, graciously says he, for poor women; or flannel
shirts for very little paupers, if you'll promise not to burn your
fingers in politics. That never'll do, my dear! It is _not_ coarse for
you to scramble at a matinee for seats, and elbow and jostle, and push
men's hats awry--oh, no! that's legitimate--but to subject yourself to
this kind of thing at the ballot-box, would be to forfeit man's love,
and soil both your skirts and reputation.



_WOMAN'S MILLENNIUM._


Hurrah for Massachusetts! Read this:

     "Chief Justice Bigelow, of Massachusetts, made short work with
     a divorce case which came before him at Springfield a day or
     two ago. It was an application of a wife for a divorce from her
     husband, on the ground of extreme cruelty. It coming up in
     testimony that the woman had been beaten and otherwise ill-used
     by her husband, the Judge at once decided the case in her
     favor, taking occasion to remark that in case of any violence
     by a husband to the wife, he should not hear all the points
     before deciding in favor of the latter. The woman might forgive
     cruelty toward herself, but the court would not."

Now _that's_ what I call a righteous decision. Let all the wives with
bruised shoulders, and arms, and backs, and eyes, (bruised _hearts_
are too common to talk about!) emigrate forthwith to this enlightened
State. Here's a man who is _just_ to a woman. Think of the rarity of
the thing! Compliments, and flattery, and gifts we can all have, till
we get to be old women, and some of us afterwards; but _justice_,
Messieurs! ah! that's quite another thing. Female eyes have grown dim
looking for _that_, all through the ages. Men start up from their
tobacco-torpor nowadays and ask, angrily, what means this present
restlessness of American women? This wide and deep-spread discontent,
which heaves to and fro, developing itself in a thousand different
forms? _My_ grandmother was contented enough. _My_ aunt never looked
beyond her own family. Are you quite sure of the first, and does the
latter deserve praise or blame for the pin-measure view of the world
to which she, the God-appointed instructor and guide of future men and
women, chooses to limit herself? Has she a _right_ to launch them on
the turbulent ocean of life, with only one poor miserable broken oar
to paddle their way? Such women are not praiseworthy; no more than
they who, busying themselves in public affairs, leave their children
to "come up" as chance or accident dictates. Are you quite sure, too,
that because only lately this "wail of discontent" has reached your
ear, that it has not been stifled under thousands of tombstones? Ah,
well I remember when too young to know what life _meant for a woman_,
hearing one who I have since learned had suffered and forgiven much,
murmur to herself as she wearily laid her head upon her pillow, "God
be thanked for sleep and forgetfulness!" and yet not one who saw her
smiling face, or heard her cheerful voice, or was charmed with her
intelligent conversation, ever dreamed that she was not "a contented
wife," as the phrase runs.

And just in this connection I would quote a remark which, for its
truth, should be inscribed on the _pipe_ (for there he would oftenest
meet it) of every man in the land.

"Only so far as a man is happily _married to himself_ is he fit for
married life, and family life in general. Unless he has 'cleared
himself up,' as the Germans say, he can at best but enter into
ambiguous relations to another. When a man is discordant in himself,
he makes all that he comes in contact with discordant."

Now, candidly I ask you, oughtn't that remark to be in the Holy
Scriptures? Perhaps you ask if the same is not true of women? I am not
such an idiot as to deny that, either; but what I marvel at is
this--that it should be such a perfectly natural and eminently
righteous thing for a _man_ to halloo to high heaven that _his_ mate
is not to his mind, after he has compassed heaven and earth to get
her, and such a crime for a woman to be "discontented and restless
under similar circumstances".

Nevertheless, I think woman's millennium is to come out
of all this unquiet and chaos. Here's a remark made at a
royal-literary-fund-dinner in England,--as true as I live, in
_England_, and in London at that,--and by Charles Kingsley at
that,--in response to a toast:

"As for imaginative literature," he said, "if the world continued to
go on as it was proceeding, _ladies_ must be called upon to fulfil
this duty. Where would they find among men such poets as Mrs.
Rossetti, Mrs. Jean Ingelow, or Miss A. Procter? Or who could write
such works of prose fiction as the authors of 'John Halifax' or
'Romola'? In former times _men_ only dealt with literature, but the
more delicate the weapon became, the more delicate were the hands
which wielded it. If he could give any advice to young men how they
might escape the trials and troubles that might beset their path in
the literary profession--how escape Whitecross Street prison and the
workhouse--it would be by marrying a literary lady, and setting
himself down to the humble and chivalrous duty of reviewing his wife's
books."

The picture of that sublime bit of majesty, a _British husband_,
performing such a feat, is so impossible to contemplate, that I must
stop, that my readers and myself may take breath.

I am inclined to believe that there are a great many kinds of women,
both in England and America. This idea seems to be lost sight of, by
the writers of both nations, who have lately undertaken to describe
the feminine element, under such titles as "the Girl of the Period,"
or "The Woman of the Time;" presenting to our view monstrosities,
which no doubt exist, but which are no more to be taken specimens of
the whole, than is the Bearded Woman, or the Mammoth Fat Girl.

New York, for instance, is not wholly given over to the feminine
devil. Angels walk our streets, discernible to eyes that _wish_ to
see. Noble, thoughtful, earnest women; sick of shams and pretence;
striving each so far as in her lies, to abate both, and to diminish
the amount of physical and moral suffering. Then, I never go into the
country for a few weeks' summer holiday, that I do not find
large-hearted, large-brained women, stowed away among the green
hills, in little cottages, which are glorified inside and outside by
their presence; women who, amid the press of house and garden work,
find time for mental culture; whose little book-shelves hold well-read
copies of our best authors. Women--sound physically, mentally,
morally; women, whom the _Man of the Period_, who most surely exists,
has never found. Now and then, some man, fit to be her mate, in his
rambles in the sweet summer time, is struck as I am by these gems
hidden amid the green hills, and appropriates them for his own. But
for the most part, the more sensible a man is, the bigger the fool he
marries. This is especially true of biographers! What a wrong, then,
to the great army of sensible, earnest women in either country to pick
out a butterfly as the national type. Because a few men in New York
and London and Paris wear corsets, and dye their whiskers and hair,
and pad out their hollow cheeks and shrunken calves, it does not
follow that Victor Hugo, and John Bright, and the great army of brave
men who won our late victory, are all popinjays. For every female fool
I will find you a male mate. So when the inventory of the former is
taken, the roll-call of the latter might as well be voiced. Are women
so "fond of gossip"? Pray, what is the staple of after-dinner
conversation when the wine comes on and the women go off? Do women
"lavish money on personal adornment"? How many men are there who would
be willing to tell on what, and on whom, their money was worse than
lavished? Do women "leave their nursery altogether to hirelings"? How
many corresponding men are there, whose own children under their own
roofs, are almost entire strangers to their club-frequenting fathers?
And yet what good, noble men are to be seen for the looking? Faithful
to their trusts, faithful to themselves, unmoved by the waves of folly
and sin that dash around them, as is the rock of Gibraltar.

I claim that justice be done by these writers on both sides of the
water, to both sexes. Fools, like the poor, we shall have always with
us; but, thank God, the "just" man and the "just" woman "still live"
to redeem the race. Men worthy to be fathers, and large-brained women,
who do not even in this degenerate day, disdain to look well after
their own households.

       *       *       *       *       *

It is but seldom that a child needs the rod, especially if taken from
the time it is able to understand language, and firmly yet kindly
treated, and given to know that No and Yes _mean_ No and Yes, without
any shadow of turning. It is a question, too, whether those who have
unfortunately _come up_, instead of being judiciously _brought up_,
are ever made better by harshness, under the name of discipline.



_ENGLISH NOTIONS ABOUT WOMEN._


Our neighbors over the water, judging from an article in one of their
leading papers, seem to be greatly exercised at present on "The Woman
Question." The old model Englishwoman who sneezed exactly at the same
hour her great grandmother did, and sat down, and rose up, and went
out, and came in whenever her husband bade her,--and made no
objection, at the same time, to any irregularity either in his hours
or habits,--it seems, has disappeared. Instead, we have that
horror,--the English female-physician; the English female would-be
voter; in short, the English female who asserts her right to
individuality, in action and opinion, equally with her husband.

John Bull sets down his mug of beer, and says that the thing is
monstrous. He says that he no longer can lounge off by himself, as in
bachelor days, although he is a married--and, therefore, a more
important--member of society. He says that he is not allowed, as
formerly, to spend every evening with his bachelor cronies,--Tom,
Dick, and Harry. He says that his wife positively expects him to act
as if he were married. He says that, when he tells her decidedly that
he wont do this, that she pays no more attention to this refusal than
as if he hadn't made it; but quietly returns to the same point of
disputation the next day, and every day, and every month, and all
through the year, with a terrible and feline pertinacity. He says that
it is like the slow dropping of water on some sensitive part of the
frame; he says he don't like it, and don't know what to do about it.
He says, besides, that marriage is not at all favorable to largeness
of mind, or breadth of view, which is very obvious, in his own case,
in the remarks above quoted! He says that all she says and does "has
the stamp of Lilliput;" and that should she even have the right of
suffrage, she would barter away her vote for a new gown. He says
justice is a quality unknown to woman; which is very true, and I want
him to understand that is just what she is contending for. He says, to
make a long matter short, that when he married he expected to live
just exactly the same life that he did before, and that he finds he
can't; and, moreover, he says, with a sweeping wave of his John Bull
hand, that no husband was ever made more large-hearted, or tolerant,
or in any way benefited by marriage.

Now if a man will marry, with such absurd ideas of what marriage ought
to be, and if he will marry a _fool_, I advise him not to go whining
round the world about it: he deserves the consequences. But let him
not insist that _all_ women are fools, because he got on his knees to
obtain one. I will always maintain that there are twenty bad husbands
to one bad wife; and that, that one would seldom continue bad if her
husband were just and kind to her. As to marriage "narrowing a man's
mind," that which never had any breadth cannot be narrowed. And
history abundantly shows how wise in counsel, how judicious in
influence, how helpful in sympathy and co-operation have been many
such wives.

Now it is often said that a wife, to a literary man, is only a
hindrance. Provided she is not a fool, it would pay him, in my
opinion, to give her a regular salary, if he could not obtain it
otherwise, to give him the _feminine side_ of every great question of
the day, as it comes up--which by the way, she does unconsciously, and
which has anything but a "narrowing" effect either on his mind or his
writings, whether he acknowledges it or not.

It is no small thing to be able to toss her a book and say, "I want to
know what is in that book, but I haven't time to read it; run it over,
will you, and tell me what you think of it?"--or to get from her the
condensation of newspapers, magazines, and pamphlets, in the same way;
or translations; or to have her assistance in answering letters,
without prompting, when pressed for time; to ask her where such and
such a passage may be found in certain authors, which have escaped
_his_ memory. Is contact with such a woman narrowing?

It is horrible for a man of sense to be yoked to a fool, and _vice
versa_. No one denies it. But the whole kernel of the woman matter is
just this: Men no longer are what they were. There _are_ no _young_
men now. Before they have ceased to be young men, the majority of
them, by a total disregard of Nature's laws, have unfitted themselves
for contact with, and companionship and appreciation of, pure, _good_
women. It is as if a baby should be fed from birth with highly-spiced
condiments; and then, at maturity, be expected to have a relish for
pure, wholesome food. The fault is _not_ in women, but in the men, who
bring to the healthful, simple, sweet pleasures of matrimony, diseased
minds and dilapidated bodies.

It is perfectly amazing the quantity of insulting advice volunteered
in this day to women. Now here is an extract, I am happy to say, in
this instance, from an English journal; the land, _par excellence_, of
wife-beating, and kindred abominations in "high" and "low" life, in
which the wife is advised if she would "wind her husband around her
finger,"--though why that amusement is particularly desirable I fail
to see,--if she would do this, "she must carefully study the
cookery-book; so that his meals need not be monotonous." How many of
his children she must attend to, during this interesting perusal, and
while perfecting the results of such study, our writer does not state;
nor does he throw any light upon the question--whether, when this
delicate animal is gorged like the anaconda, he will, as does the
anaconda, go immediately into a state of stupor, and be comparatively
harmless until other re-enforcements are needed.

Also he tells the wife that "opposition and contradiction always make
him furious; then he stamps and roars and becomes dangerous: she must
by all means avoid that." It is so strange, this Solomon says, "that
when a wife _knows_ that a certain line of conduct is sure to produce
this effect, she will do it, though victory is easy provided"--well,
in short, provided she allows him to stamp and roar and become
dangerous, like his son Tommy, when he can't have another stick of
candy, and whom he himself would severely punish, for imitating his
gentlemanly papa.

Are there no lines of conduct a husband persistently pursues towards
his wife, though he "knows they are sure to wound and give offence?"
And would he think "stamping and roaring and being dangerous" any
excuse for a dislike of it? Is the man who sends his dear little child
for that which will intoxicate him, or takes that child to bar-rooms
and drinking-places to obtain it, never to be remonstrated with by the
mother, lest he should be "angry"? Is the man who allows his relatives
constantly to interfere with and slander his wife, who never write him
letters without containing sly insinuations, intended--howsoever they
may fail--to disturb conjugal and family harmony; who institute a
court of inquiry into family expenses, probable journeys, &c.,
location of residence, and insist upon all these things being settled
according to _their_ means and standard, is this husband never to be
told that such interference is insufferable, "because he will be
angry"?

Is there a husband living who would permit a wife's father or brother
to insist on managing his business affairs in such a clandestine,
down-cellar, surreptitious manner through the wife? If he preferred
going to spend the summer at one place rather than another, how would
he like that matter settled by a conclave of his wife's relatives, and
determined by _their_ probable locality? I do not say that the latter,
too, has not happened. In either case, it is a monstrous impertinence,
and to be resented. I might multiply other instances of abuse to
women, but these will suffice.

_Let men, above all, ask themselves with regard to women--to
wives--this question--and answer it in a manly, honest manner, whether
it is condemnatory of their own "line of conduct" or the contrary:
Should I be willing to endure what I expect my wife to bear, were I a
woman and a wife?_ If not--is it just, or right, or manly, then, for
me to expect it of her?

It is needless to say that this is the last question asked; and this
is the root of all the evil. This making by men a broad easy road of
license for themselves, while women are clogged, fettered, penned in,
worried, harassed and unjustly treated, till even they--"become
dangerous." And though the author above quoted seems to entertain no
such possibility, our lunatic asylums and tomb-stones, if they stated
the actual causes of insanity and death, might convince the most
skeptical.

       *       *       *       *       *

There is a kind of sentimental preaching to which an audience is
sometimes treated, which is very repulsive to the hearty, sincere
worshipper. Preaching which is full of poetical quotations; preaching
where some of the words are clipped of their syllables, and others
_chewed_, so to speak, indefinitely. Egotistical, drawling preaching,
under which people go to sleep, or smile derisively, according to
their humor; but from which none come away with the good seed which
will spring up and bear fruit a hundred-fold. Essay preaching--walking
gingerly round duty, and flattering self-love; milk-and-water
preaching--colorless, flavorless, and thin.



_RAG-TAG AND BOB-TAIL FASHIONS._


When I say that the street-dress of the majority of _respectable_
women of New York today is disgusting, I but feebly express my
emotions. I say the _respectable_ women, and yet, save to those who
know them to be such, their appearance leaves a wide margin for doubt.
The clown at a circus wears not a more stunning or parti-colored
costume; in fact, his has the advantage of being sufficiently
"taut,"--to use a nautical phrase,--not to interfere with locomotion;
while theirs--what with disgusting humps upon their backs, and big
rosettes upon their sides and shoulders, and loops, and folds, and
buttons, and tassels, and clasps, and bows upon their skirts, and
striped satin petticoats, all too short to hide often clumsy
ankles,--and more colors and shades of colors heaped upon one poor
little fashion-ridden body than ever were gathered in one rainbow--and
all this worn without regard to temperature, or time, or place--I say
this presents a spectacle which is too disheartening even to be
comical.

One cannot smile at the young girls who are, one day--Heaven help
them!--to be wives and mothers. _Wives and mothers!_ I say to myself,
as I see the throat and neck with only the protection of a gold
locket between itself and the cold autumnal winds. Wives and mothers!
I say, as I see them ruining their feet and throwing their ankles out
of shape, in the vain endeavor to walk on heels like corks, fastened
far into the middle of the soles of their boots; and those boots so
high upon the calf of the leg, and so tightly buttoned across it, that
circulation is stopped, and violent headaches follow. Wives and
mothers! I say, as I see the heating and burdensome panier tackled on
the most delicate portion of a woman's frame, to make still surer
confirmed invalidism. What fathers, husbands, brothers, lovers can be
thinking about, to be willing that the women they respect and love,
should appear in public, looking like women whom they despise, is a
marvel to me. Why they do not _say_ this to them, and _shame_ them
into a decent appearance--if their glasses cannot effect it--I do not
know. Oh, the relief it is to meet a _lady_, instead of a ballet-girl!
Oh, the relief it is to see a healthy, firm-stepping, rosy,
broad-chested, bright-eyed woman, clad simply and free from bunches
and tags! I turn to look at such an one with true respect, that she
has the good sense and courage and _good taste_ to appear on the
street in a dress befitting the street; leaving to those poor wretched
women whose business it is to advertise their persons, a free field
without competition. If I seem to speak harshly, it is because I feel
earnestly on this subject. I _had_ hoped that the women of 1868 would
have been worthy of the day in which they live. I had hoped that
_all_ their time would not have been spent in keeping up with the
chameleon changes of fashions too ugly, too absurd for toleration. It
is because I want them to _be_ something, to _do_ something higher and
nobler than a peacock might aim at, that I turn heart-sick away from
these infinitesimal fripperies that narrow the soul and purse, and
leave nothing in their wake but emptiness. Nor is it necessary, in
avoiding all this, that a woman should look "strong-minded," as the
bugbear-phrase goes. It is not necessary she should dress like her
grandmother, in order to look like a decent woman. It is not necessary
she should forswear ornamentation, because it were better and more
respectable to have it confined to festal and home occasions and less
to the public promenade. She is not driven to the alternative of
muffling herself like an omnibus driver in January, or catching
consumption with her throat protected only by a gold locket!

Oh, how I wish that a bevy of young, handsome girls, of good social
position, would inaugurate a plain lady-like costume for street and
_church_ wear. I say young and handsome, because if an old woman does
this, the little chits toss their heads and say, "Oh! she has had
_her_ day, and don't care now--and we want ours."

Now that's perfectly natural, and right too, that you should have your
youth; that you should, as girls say, "make the most of yourselves;"
but in doing so don't you think it would be well not to _lessen_ or
cheapen yourselves? and I submit, with all deference to your
dress-makers and mammas, that every one of you who appear in public in
the manner I have described, are doing this very thing--are defiling
womanhood, and are bringing it into derision and contempt, whether you
believe it or not.

       *       *       *       *       *

Blessed be sleep! We are all young then; we are all happy. _Then_ our
dead are living. Then, the flowers bloom, though the snow may at that
moment be beating against our windows. Then, the ships that have been
wrecked are gaily sailing on the seas. Then houses are built and
furnished, and, above all, bills are paid. Then, editors have full
subscription lists and clergymen big salaries, and scribblers plenty
of ideas. Then, ladies have "something to wear," although they may not
have it on. Then, Sammy has his coveted velocipede, and Susy her big
doll, and Frank his boat, and Fanny a lover, and Grandpa has no
rheumatism, and Grandma has _not_ lost her spectacles. Blessed be
sleep!



_SOME HINTS TO EDITORS._


What a pity when editors review a woman's book, that they so often
fall into the error of reviewing the _woman_ instead. For instance,
"she is young and attractive, and will probably before long find her
legitimate sphere in matrimony; or she is an old maid--what can she
know of life except through a distorted medium? Let her wait, if so
she be able, till some man is deluded into inviting her to change her
name. That appears to be her present need. Or she has the affectation
of writing over a _nom de plume_--and must, perforce, be a fool. Or
she _did_ write a preface to her book; or she _omitted_ writing a
preface to her book, as one might expect of a woman. Or we hear she is
a widow; and notoriety is probably her object in writing."

I introduced this article by saying what a pity that editors in
reviewing a woman's book should so often only review the woman.
Perhaps I should have said, what a pity all editors are not
_gentlemen_. It is very easy to determine this question, if one keeps
the general run of editorial articles. Not that it does not sometimes
happen that, in the editor's necessary absence, some substitute may
get him into "hot water;" or, as a foreigner who once tried to use
this expression, called it "_dirty water_,"--but taking the general
tone of editorial articles, from one day or one week to another, the
want of courtesy and self-respect, or the lack of it, are patent to
the intelligent reader.

It is a pity that an editor should not be a gentleman, _for his own
sake_, and because no position can be more honorable than his, if he
choose to make it so, nor more influential for good or evil. Think of
the multitude he addresses--the thinking men and women who pass his
columns under critical review. Surely, this is a career not to be
lightly esteemed, not to be slurred over bunglingly. Surely, this
messenger crossing the sacred threshold of home, might well step
carefully, reverentially, discreetly, and discuss fairly, justly,
all topics especially connected with home duties and home
responsibilities. Surely, his advertising list, if he have one, should
be a _clean_ one, such as any frank-browed, hitherto innocent young
boy, might read. Surely, the maiden, whose horizon is not bounded by a
strip of ribbon or silk, or even the marriage altar; should have the
great questions of the day, relating to the future of her sex, not
brushed aside with a contemptuous sniff, or treated with flippant
ridicule, because this is the shortest and easiest way of disposing of
that which requires thought and fair deliberation.

It seems so strange to me, who hold in such exalted estimation an
editor's calling, that one should ever be found willing to belittle
it; it is also a great comfort to know that there are those who hold
this their position, for honor and interest second to none, and in
this light conscientiously conduct their paper, so far as their
strength and means allow.

This would be a very stupid world, I grant, if individuality were not
allowed in the editorial chair as well as elsewhere; but leaving a
wide margin for this, is there not still room in many newspapers for
more justice, manliness, courtesy, and, above all, respectful mention
of woman, even though the exigencies of her life may compel her to
address the public.

There is a practice of certain penny-a-liners which cannot be too
severely reprehended. We do not refer to their personal descriptions
of public persons, male and female, which are often wholly false--they
having mistaken some one else for the individual they wished to
describe; and if certain of the identity, generally "doing" the
description in the worst possible taste. All this is bad enough; but
we refer now to cases where a forgery or a murder is committed. Not
contented with working up these cases in all their harrowing and often
disgusting details, your barren penny-a-liner, catching at the least
straw of an idea to secure another penny for another line, states that
the criminal in question is son of the Hon. Samuel So-and-so, nephew
of Mr. So-and-so, a gentlemen well known in the fashionable world, and
brother of the beautiful Miss Smith who was so much admired in society
last winter. Now, to say that a man who would recklessly carry
distress to innocent persons, already sufficiently crushed by their
calamity, should be horse-whipped, is a mild way of putting it. No
dictionary could do such cold-blooded atrocity justice. Of course such
items help sell a paper; but, alas, how low must be that editor's
standard of journalism who permits his employés to pander to so
corrupt and ghoul-like a taste! I think, could he sometimes look in
upon the sorrowing family circle, which he has assisted to drag into
this kennel publicity, or if he could suffer in his own family that
which he so remorselessly deals out to another, he might realize the
deadly nature of these poisoned arrows which he aims at his neighbor's
heart.

Again, because the victims so assailed have not the prefix of "Hon."
to their names, and have no "fashionable and beautiful sister," or
"prominent and wealthy uncle," shall we therefore excuse this cowardly
attack upon their poor hearths and homes? Let any one run over certain
police reports of the day, if he would see how misery and misfortune
are treated as a jest, by these small, brainless wits hard up for a
subject. One's blood boils, that the human being exists who could
regard such things from the standpoint of a circus clown. In fact, a
circus clown is respectable in comparison, since his jests are
legitimate and harmless.

These gentry never did me any personal harm.

True, black hair has often been awarded me, instead of light, by these
scribblers, "who were on very intimate terms with me," and I have
measured six feet in height, instead of four and a half; and I have
"a stylish carriage and footmen," which I fervently wish the
international copyright law would drive up to my door, bating the
usual vulgar livery; also, half the things which they have asserted I
"waste my earnings upon" would be agreeable to possess, and of course
I grieve to take them down a single peg on all these statements; but
lying did not die with the serpent in Eden, for his slimy trail is all
through newspaperdom, save and except the ---- now don't you wish you
knew?

No humane or decent person, can read the police reports in some of the
papers in New York, without feeling unutterable loathing and contempt
for the writers. Is it not enough that these poor wretches, in their
downward course, have lost almost the faintest impress of immortality,
that one who at least bears the semblance of manhood, can stand over
them and manufacture coarse jibes by the yard, to be perused by young
people at the family hearth-stone? It is a disgrace to our
civilization, and to the paper in whose columns they appear.

How would these writers like it, if the sister who once shared their
cradle--having, in some mad moment, thrown away all in life that is
pure and sweet to women--should she be brought up among that wretched
crowd for sentence, how would he like it, to have her spoken of in
this manner?--

"Miss Josephine Jones, a frail sister, with a bruised nose that once
had been prettier, and a bonnet that did _not_ originate in Paris, was
charged with getting drunk, and tearing the hair from Miss Alice
Carr's red head. The hair was produced in court, but for some
inexplicable reason the clerk of the court seemed disinclined to touch
it. Miss Josephine was found guilty, and gathering up the remnant of a
greasy silk gown in her fair hand, she walked gracefully forth, to be
provided with lodgings and grub, free of expense, on Blackwell's
Island, where so many of her sex rusticate for the pleasant winter
months."

Or, suppose he had a young brother, who had recklessly thrown off home
influences, and, before reaching maturity, was brought into court as a
common drunkard, how would he relish, having him spoken of in this
manner?--

"An infant of twenty-one, named Harry Dexter, with blear eyes, and
torn hat slouched over his swollen mug, was next called up. His boots
and the blacking-brush seemed not to have had a very intimate
acquaintance of late, and the laundress had evidently, for some cause
or other, neglected his linen. His youthful hands also would have been
improved by a dexterous use of soap and water. Young Harry had no
occasion to inquire the way to his future boarding house, having often
ridden down on previous occasions in that accommodating omnibus called
the Black Maria, to take a sail at the city's expense to Pauper's
Island."

We might multiply instances of this heartless and disgusting way of
speaking of the faults and vices of our fellow-creatures, but this
specimen will suffice to show the spirit in which they are penned.
Nor is it any excuse, that many of the friends of these wretched
beings can neither read or write, nor by any possibility ever be
wounded by these so-called _jocular_ allusions. I insist that the
effect on the young people of our community is demoralizing. God knows
that in the crowded city, with its whirling life, we have hard work
enough to avoid jostling aside the urgent claims of the erring and
unfortunate around us, without such help as this from the devil. It is
bad enough "to pass by on the other side" when Christian charity
challenges pity and help; but what must that man be made of, who would
stand over a crushed fellow-being, and, for a few dollars, make merry
with his misery? Surely, it seems to me, that the editors of the
papers where these disgraceful items appear, cannot be aware how
disgusting they have become, to those who would else gladly welcome
their daily issues in the family.

       *       *       *       *       *

Burlesquing a drunkard! Why not burlesque a funeral? with the coffin
and the mourners, with their sobs and tears and grieving hearts? Do
those who get up such a painful exhibition ever think that there may
be amid their audience some persons who have had, day after day, their
lives saddened and imbittered by the dreadful reality? Is it a
legitimate theme for mirth or ridicule? We think not.



_HELP FOR THE HELPFUL._


I have never, in any temperance discussion, written or spoken, heard
or seen any mention of this class of inebriates; and yet the drunkards
on tea are just as surely sapping the foundations of life, as the
devourers of whiskey or gin. That women only, or mostly, are the
victims, does not lessen the importance of my statement. I say mostly,
for I have in my recollection at least two literary men of note, who
primed themselves on strong green tea, without sugar or milk, for any
literary effort, when overtasked nature flagged. One of them became in
consequence subject to distressing fits, and has since deceased.

But it is the women who practise this form of inebriation of whom I
would now speak. The working-girls, the sempstresses, the tenders in
shops, who, being able to pay but slender price for board, get
badly-cooked, poor food, and, in consequence, often three times a day,
call for the fatal "cup of tea," which, for the moment, "sets them
up," as they call it, and enables them to shoulder again the load they
have dropped, till another fit of exhaustion overtakes them, worse
than the preceding, to be followed by a repetition of the same
_pro-tem._ remedy. Then follow indigestion, headaches, sleepless
nights, and the usual long train of miseries, which any physician who
has ever been called upon to prescribe for these overworked, underfed
unfortunates, will immediately endorse. Tea to the working-girl, taken
in this way, is like the "corner-grocery-drink" to the working-man,
and just as deadly in its results as if it sent her reeling through
the streets, as rum does him; although she neither sees, knows, nor
would admit it, any more than he would. Sometimes, when you speak to
them about it, they reply, "But I must have something to keep me up; I
have no appetite for food; I am so tired all the time, and tea makes
me feel so good."

The old plea of the drunkard the world over. Look at these weary
women, with dark circles about their eyes, nervous almost to insanity,
ready to "cry" at the slightest notice, the blue veins on their
temples looking as if they were painted _outside_ the skin. Look at
their long, thin, _sick_-looking fingers, and their slow, weary steps,
from which all the spring and elasticity of youth has long since
departed. See them swallowing "pills" by the dozen, and trying every
quack medicine afloat, instead of resisting the enemy which has done
all or two-thirds the mischief.

Of course, the world over, _bad food_ is the sworn ally of drunkenness
in every shape, and these poor girls have much to contend against in
that shape.

Then, again, I think few women can long preserve their self-respect
amid dirty surroundings. One often sees with a pained pleasure--if
this expression is not paradoxical--their faint attempts to make light
out of darkness, and beauty out of deformity, in the solitary plant,
struggling for life, and its one slant ray of sunshine, outside some
tenement-house window. Or, if you enter, a rude print upon the soiled
wall, of some saint, or child, or some scene in nature; upon which
latter the weary eyes often turn with a vain longing at realization.
These sights, to the humanitarian, who is trying to solve life's great
problem for the benefit of those on whom it bears so heavily, are
suggestive. It is clear, at least, that woman, from choice, would not
be amid dirt or noisome odors. What _man_ would become, without her
refining influence, and the touch of her reformatory fingers, and her
unpolluted sense of smell, of which tobacco has deprived him, it is
not my purpose now to consider, although I have very firmly rooted
ideas on this subject. But there is a class of women among those whom
adverse circumstances have thrown into such places, upon whom it bears
the more hardly, because they have been accustomed all their life to
the reverse of this.

Hundreds so situated, sunk out of sight of former acquaintances by
cruel want, bear it bravely, heroically, while struggling hopefully
and one-handed, against discouraging odds, for better days. Some,
alas! go _down_, soul-sick, body-weary, under the unequal contest, as
we who live in this great, swarming city know. Benevolent ladies in
New York are awake to this; and the question arising, What can we do
for such? has been answered, by energetic and Christian ladies, by the
establishment of boarding-houses, in respectable and pleasant
neighborhoods; with board at prices but little higher than those which
they were obliged to pay in the disagreeable localities above
mentioned. Indeed, in some urgent and genuine cases, upon application,
the applicant has been received upon merely nominal board, in
recognition of the Bible fact that "bricks cannot be made without
straw." In one such institution, I lately spent a most profitable and
delightful morning. It is located on Washington square--one of the
most delightful as well as central spots in New York City--by ladies
of wealth and position in society, and, better still, ladies of
intelligence and piety,--executive ladies, who do something beside
_talk_, and know how, and when, and where to act for this great and
humane object.

With such a good and solid foundation, they have moved on, as their
strength and means have permitted. I passed from one to another of the
pleasant rooms of the young ladies, who occupied apartments here, and
who were, at that hour in the forenoon, scattered far and wide over
the city; some as teachers in schools and in families, some as pupils
in the School of Design, or the ward schools, while many were occupied
as dress-makers, sempstresses, copyists, &c. I looked around me at the
clean white little beds, at the books, at the prints upon the walls,
at the climbing ivy and flowering plants, upon which the sun was
shining as if in blessing, at the innumerable little tokens of
personality, which are so suggestive to the stranger on entering an
unoccupied apartment; those _little_ things which say to you as you
read the title of a genuine and well-thumbed book, "Ah! here lives one
who _thinks_;" or you see by the thousand little refined touches, and
orderly and wise arrangement of clothing and furniture, the neat
thrift of woman expressed, and you feel thankful that they will not
come home, when the day's toil is over, to unholy sounds, and unclean
sights, and bad air, and loathsome food. You thank God that such women
can keep up heart for their exhaustive and unaccustomed toil, by the
_certainty_ of a safe and respectable shelter over their heads, when
night draws its curtain over the temptations and the wickedness of
this great city. You are thankful that their self-respect is not only
preserved in this most important way, but by intercourse and contact
with the ladies of worth and refinement who have the institution in
charge and at heart.

If this is not a noble institution, what is? I do not call it a
charity. It were wrong so to designate it. From out that threshold
pass noble, _self-supporting_ girls, putting to shame the useless
lives of the idle, paniered ladies who remorselessly wear out the
souls of husbands, fathers, and brothers, in the vain struggle for
fashionable supremacy. No: this Institution is a _help_, not a
_charity_. Its object is to help those who wish to help themselves.

Upon one of the walls of a little room there I saw a representation of
the "Grecian Bend." I looked on this picture, and on that, and my eyes
were moist with gratitude for one, and with womanly shame for the
other.

       *       *       *       *       *

Do you ever think how much work a little child does in a day? How,
from sunrise to sunset, the dear little feet patter round--to us--so
aimlessly. Climbing up here, kneeling down there, running to another
place, but never still. Twisting and turning, rolling and reaching and
doubling, as if testing every bone and muscle for their future uses.
It is very curious to watch it. One who does so may well understand
the deep breathing of the rosy little sleeper, as, with one arm tossed
over its curly head, it prepares for the next day's gymnastics. A busy
creature is a little child.



_WOMEN ON THE PLATFORM._


     "Miss Marianna Thompson, now a student at the Theological
     school, received, during her summer vacation two invitations to
     settle with good societies, each of which offered her twelve
     hundred dollars per year. Pretty good for a school-girl, I
     think."

     Yes, that is very good; and we trust Miss Thompson will accept
     one of these (or a better) and do great good to her hearers.
     And, should some excellent young man ask her to "settle" with
     him as wife, _at no salary at all_, we advise her to heed that
     "call" as well.--_N. Y. Tribune._

Well, now, Mr. _Tribune_, I don't. I have seen too many women, quite
as capable as Miss Thompson of being self-supporting individuals,
exhausting the last remnant of their strength in the family, and
carefully saving every penny for a husband, who never doled out
twenty-five cents, without asking the purpose for which it was needed,
and reiterating the stale advice to spend it judiciously. I have seen
such women, too proud to complain or remonstrate, turn away with a
crimson cheek, and a moist eye, to dicker, and haggle, and contrive
for this end, when the husband who gave this advice, had effectually
blotted out the word self-denial from his own dictionary.

No, Mr. _Tribune_, I differ from you entirely. I advise no woman to
refuse twelve hundred independent dollars a year for good, honest
labor, to become such a serf as this.

And while we are on this subject, I would like to air the disgust with
which I am nauseated, at the idea of any decent, intelligent,
self-respecting, capable wife, ever being obliged _to ask_ for that
which she so laboriously earns, and which is just as much hers by
right, as the money that her husband receives from his customers is
_his_, instead of his next-door--dry-goods--neighbor's.

No man should thus humiliate a woman; no woman should permit herself
to be thus humiliated. I am not now speaking of those foolish women,
to whom a ribbon, or a necklace, is dearer than their husband's
strength, life, or mercantile honor. I put such women entirely out of
the question; only remarking, that if a man marries a fool in the hope
of her being pliant, and easily ruled by him, he will find too late
that he is mistaken. But that's his affair. Men always have, and
always will keep on admiring their own perspicacity in reading female
character, when not one in ten knows any more what his wife is
spiritually made of, than what sheep furnished the coat for his own
back.

Sary Gamp advised her comrade--nurse--to put the mutual bottle on the
shelf, and "_look the other way_!"

That's just what I would advise the husbands of intelligent wives to
do with regard to the money which they "allow" them, and which one
would imagine was rightly theirs, by virtue of risking their lives
every Friday to become the mother of twins; by virtue of, when lying
faint and weak beside them, giving out orders for the comfort and
well-being of the family down-stairs before they are able to get
about; by virtue of _never_ being able for one moment, day or night,
sick or well, to drop, or to shake, off the responsibility which a
_good_ wife and mother must always feel, whether present or absent
from her family.

Oh! treat such a woman generously. Make up your mind what in justice
she should receive in the money way, and don't above all things, wait
for her to _ask_ you for it, and never, never be mean enough to charge
a woman of this kind "to spend it carefully."

I daresay you have done it, and _you_, and _you_; I daresay you are
real good fellows too, and _mean_ to do what is right. And I know you
"love" your wives--_i.e._, as _men_ love--thus--wounding a sensitive
spirit, without the least notion you are doing it; thus--charging the
tear that follows to a coming toothache or stomach-ache! Great
blundering creatures! I sometimes don't know whether to box your ears
or hug you. Because the very next minute you will say, or do, some
such perfectly lovely thing, that, woman fashion, I exclaim,
"Well--well;" but I wont tell you what I do say, because you'll hop
right off the stool of repentance, and go to your normal occupation of
crowing and bragging.

But, seriously, I do wish you would consider a little this same money
question, and when the time comes for payment, don't, as I tell you,
open your pocket-book, heave a deep sigh, as you spread a bill on your
knee, and give it a despairing glance of love, as you dump it in your
wife's outstretched hand. No, sir! follow Sary Gamp's advice: "Put it
on the shelf, and look the other way, and don't trouble yourself to
tell her to '_make it go as far as she can_,'" because she will
naturally do that, and there's where you are a fool again. I should
think you'd know by this time, that it will go so far _you_ wont see
it again your natural lifetime. And why shouldn't it? Does she require
to know whether you pay fifteen cents apiece for your cigars; whether
you couldn't buy a cheaper kind, and how many a day you smoke? Come
now, be honest--would _you_ like that?

As I have always declined all requests to lecture, or to speak in
public, I may be allowed to make a few remarks on the treatment of
those who do.

Can anybody tell me why reporters, in making mention of lady speakers,
always consider it to be necessary to report, fully and _firstly_, the
dresses worn by them? When John Jones or Senator Rouser frees his mind
in public, we are left in painful ignorance of the color and fit of
his pants, coat, necktie and vest--and worse still, the shape of his
boots. This seems to me a great omission. How can we possibly judge of
his oratorical powers, of the strength or weakness of his logic, or
of his fitness in any way to mount the platform, when these important
points are left unsolved to our feeble feminine imaginations? For one,
I respectfully request reporters to ease my mind on these subjects--to
tell me decidedly whether a dress, or a frock-coat, or a bob-tailed
jacket was worn by these masculine orators; whether their pants had a
stripe down the side, and whether the dress lapels of their coats were
faced with silk, or disappointed the anxious and inquiring eye of the
public by presenting only a broadcloth surface. I have looked in vain
for any satisfaction on these points.

I propose that the present staff of male reporters should be
remodelled, and that some enterprising journal should send to Paris
for the man-milliner Worth, in order that this necessary branch of
reportorial business be more minutely and correctly attended to.

Speaking of reporters, I was present the other night at a
female-suffrage meeting, where many distinguished men made eloquent
speeches in favor thereof. At the reporters' table sat two young lady
reporters side by side with the brethren of the same craft. Truly,
remarked I to my companion, it is very well to plead for women's
rights, but more delicious to me is the sight of those two girls
_taking them_! But, rejoined my cautious male friend, you see, Fanny,
a woman couldn't go to report a rat-fight, or a prize-fight, or a
dog-fight. _But_, replied I, just let the women go "marching on" as
they have begun, and there will soon _be_ no rat-fights, dog-fights,
or prize-fights to report. It will appear from this, that I believe in
the woman _that is to be_. I do--although she has as yet had to
struggle with both hands tied, and then had her ears boxed for not
doing more execution. Cut the string, gentlemen, and see what you
shall see! "Pooh! you are afraid" to knock that chip off our shoulder.

How strange it all seems to me, the more I ponder it, that men can't,
or don't, or wont see that woman's enlightenment is man's millennium.
"My wife don't understand so and so, and it's no use talking to
her."--"My wife will have just so many dresses, and don't care for
anything else."--"My wife wont look after my children, but leaves them
to nurses, she is so fond of pleasure." So it would seem that these
Adams and the "wife thou gavest to be with me," even now find their
respective and flowery Edens full of thorns, even _without_ that
serpent, female suffrage, whose slimy trail is so deprecated.

Put _this_ in the crown of your hats, gentlemen! _A fool of either sex
is the hardest animal to drive that ever required a bit. Better one
who jumps a fence now and then, than your sulky, stupid donkey, whose
rhinoceros back feels neither pat or goad._



_POVERTY AND INDEPENDENCE._


"I don't like those sewing-girls," remarked a friend to me. "Why don't
they go into some respectable family as chamber-maids, or nurses, or
cooks? If they are too proud to to do this, I have no pity for them."
Now there is just where the speaker and myself differ. _I_ pity them,
_because_ they are too proud to do this. Besides, I do not think it is
altogether because the name or position of "servant" is so obnoxious
to them. It is the confinement of their position. It is the duration
of their hours of labor--extending into the evening, and often till
late in the evening, week after week, to which they object; whereas
the working-girl in most other departments of service is released at
nightfall, and is her own mistress till another day of toil begins.
Now, answer me: Were you, and you, similarly placed, would you not
desire, even in the face of the drawbacks attending it, your
_evenings_ to yourself? I think so. It is true, from "these evenings
to themselves," have dated the perdition of many of this class. Still,
_young_ eyes will never see with old spectacles. Young blood will
never course so sluggishly that all work, and no respite, will be
accepted without nature's strong protest. "_One_ evening out in a
week," that is the general holiday for a house servant: would not
_your_ youth have rebelled, madam, at this? even though your remainder
evenings were passed in the bright parlor, with loving eyes resting
upon you, instead of the underground kitchen, rebelliously watching
the bell-wire? You must look at this subject with their eyes, instead
of your own; through their privations, instead of through your
privileges, if you would be just.

Said a merry matron, apologetically, to me, who had passed life's
meridian, "I never had any youth, and I am taking it now." That is
just it! _The heart demands its youth, and, some time or other, it
must and will have it._ God grant that to these poor girls, it may
come harmlessly,--innocently! But I, for one, can never wonder or
condemn, though I often deplore, that, driven at bay, like hunted
animals, and many of them with limited knowledge and intelligence,
they should snatch at the passing sunbeam, lest another should never
gild their lonesome path.

We need a wider charity for these girls; for all those on whom life
bears so hardly. We who are well-fed, well-clothed, well-educated, how
illy do we, with all these helps to virtue and goodness, perform our
part. Let us remember this in our hasty judgment of them, in our
disgust that they do not choose for themselves more wisely. Let us not
in church, or elsewhere, ask to be forgiven _our_ shortcomings, with
all these helps, when, if one less enlightened stumbles and falls by
the way, we "do not pity them,"--nay, more, because they have done so,
we refuse to help them again to their feet.

I have alluded, in a former article, to the cheap and comfortable
boarding-houses, as a refuge to the working-girl from the horrors of
their tenement-house home. I was descanting upon their advantages not
long since to one who has herself been through many of the most
distressing phases of the sewing-girl's life. She heard me silently,
and to my surprise, without enthusiasm, when I spoke of the wholesome
food, pure air, refreshing baths, free reading-room, and laundry.
"What?" asked I--"do you not consider this a blessed asylum for these
girls?"

With an emphasis which I cannot convey on paper, she said, as her eye
kindled, "Give me rather my poor room, even in the tenement-house,
where, if I had a grief, I could cry it out, with no eye but that of
my Maker to witness it. I could never be happy to go to my bed at
night in company with a dozen others, in ever so clean or spacious an
apartment, where there was no privacy. I had rather work ever so hard,
and _earn_ all I had, than to feel that I was in any measure a
recipient of charity,--that I _was in an Institution_, and labelled as
an inmate when I passed in and out."

Now there are those who, reading this, will only express disgust. I
confess, although it surprised me, that I have a strong sympathy with
the self-respect which prompted this frank avowal; and, excellent as
is the embryo Institution above alluded to, I yet hope that as its
means increase each inmate may have an apartment to herself, be it
ever so small, that the poor heart which "knoweth its own bitterness"
may not be "intermeddled with" by any stranger.

       *       *       *       *       *

Never apply the word "tomboy" to a girl who is taking healthy and
innocent exercise. Are there not mincing misses enough about us, who
pervert girlhood by adult nonsense, till the whole head is sick, and
the whole heart is faint? Better, a thousandfold, be "tomboys" than
such _things_ as these. "Tomboys" have lungs and chests and rosy
cheeks, and grow up to be healthy mothers of healthy children.
_Doctors_ may not like them, but common-sense and husbands do; though,
truth to say, these terms are not always synonymous.



_THE HISTORY OF OUR LATE WAR._


Many able works have already appeared on this subject, and many more
will doubtless follow. But _my_ History of the War is yet to be
written; not indeed _by_ me, but _for_ me. A history which shall
record, not the deeds of our Commanders and Generals, noble and great
as they were, because these will scarcely fail of historical record
and prominence; but _my_ history shall preserve for the descendants of
those who fought for our flag, the noble deeds of our _privates_, who
shared the danger but missed the glory. Scattered far and wide in our
remote villages--hidden away amid our mountains--struggling for daily
bread in our swarming cities, are these unrecognized heroes.
Travelling through our land, one meets them everywhere; but only as
accident, or chance, leads to conversation with them, does the plain
man by your side become transfigured in your eyes, till you feel like
uncovering your head in his presence, as when one stands upon holy
ground. Not only because they were brave upon the battle-field, but
for their sublime self-abnegation under circumstances when the best of
us might be forgiven our selfishness; in the tortures of the ambulance
and hospital--quivering through the laggard hours, that might or
might not bring peace and rest and health. Oh! what a book might be
written upon the noble unselfishness _there_ displayed; not only
towards those who fought _for_ our flag, but _against_ it. The coveted
drop of water, handed by one dying man to another, whose sufferings
seemed the greater. The simple request to the physician to pass _his_
wounds by, till those of another, whose existence was unknown to him a
moment before, should have been alleviated. Who shall embalm us these?

Last summer, when I was away in the country, I was accustomed to row
every evening at sunset on a lovely lake near by. The boatman who went
with me was a sunburnt, pleasant-faced young man, whose stroke at the
oar it was poetry to see. He made no conversation unless addressed,
save occasionally to little Bright-Eyes, who sometimes accompanied me.
One evening, as the sun set gloriously and the moon rose, and the
aurora borealis was sending up flashes of rose and silver, I said,
"Oh, this is too beautiful to leave. I _must_ cross the lake again." I
made some remark about the brilliance of the North Star, when he
remarked simply, "That star was a good friend to me in the war." "Were
you in the war?" asked I; "and all these evenings you have rowed a
loyal woman like me about this lake, and I knew nothing of it!" Then,
at my request, came the story of Andersonville, and its horrors, told
simply, and without a revengeful word; then the thrilling attempt at
escape, through a country absolutely unknown, and swarming with
danger, during which the North Star, of which I had just spoken, was
his only guide. Then came a dark night, when the friendly star, alas!
disappeared. But a watch, which he had saved his money to obtain, had
a compass on the back of it. Still of what use was that without a
light? Our boatman was a Yankee. He caught a glowworm and pinched it.
It flashed light sufficient for him to see that he was heading for one
of our camps, where, after many hours of travel, he at last found
safety, sinking down insensible from fatigue and hunger, as soon as he
reached it. So ravenously did he eat, when food was brought, that a
raging fever followed; and when he was carried, a mere skeleton, to
his home on the borders of the lovely lake where we were rowing, whose
peaceful flow had mocked him in dreams in that seething, noisome
prison pen, he did not even recognize it. For months his mother
watched his sick-bed, till reason and partial health returned--till by
degrees he became what he then was.

When he had finished, I said, "Give me your hand--_both of 'em_--and
God bless you!"--and--then I _mentioned_ his jailers! Not a word of
bitterness passed his lips--only this: "I used to gasp in the foul air
at Andersonville, and think of this quiet, smooth lake, and our little
house with the trees near it, and long so to see them again, and row
my little boat here. But," he added, quietly, "_they_ thought they
were as right as we, and they _did_ fight well!"

I swallowed a big lump in my throat--as our boat neared the shore, and
he handed me out--and said, penitently, "Well, if _you_ can forgive
them, I am sure I ought to; but it will be the hardest work I ever
did."--"Well, it is strange," said he: "I have often noticed it, since
my return, that you who stayed at home feel more bitter about it, than
we who came so near dying there of foul air and starvation."

       *       *       *       *       *

A rich man, just stepping into the grave, burdened with more money
than he has known all his life what to do with, is extolled to the
skies for his legacies and bequests here and there--at home and
abroad. Now, why all this laudation? Is not the poor servant girl, who
can scarce keep herself comfortably clothed, and yet every Sunday puts
her pittance religiously into the contribution box, more deserving of
praise? And yet who ever takes this other than as a matter of course,
save Him who seeth even the widow's mite?



_TWO KINDS OF WOMEN._


Mrs. Jones--do you know her? She looks well to the ways of her
household. She knows how every ounce of butter, and every spoonful of
tea and coffee are disposed of. She is posted as to the sugar, and
milk and potatoes, and calculates to a moment how long-lived must be a
joint of meat, or what is the weight of a loaf of bread. She
understands what should be the perpetuity of kindling wood, and knows
when it is diverted from its original purpose as an _auxiliary_, by a
dilatory cook, and used as a principal, to hurry up a late breakfast.
You can't cheat Mrs. Jones. Every pot, pan, basin, knife, fork, spoon,
in her establishment, serves its legitimate purpose, and no other; and
never loses its edge or polish, or disappears "unbeknownst" into the
ash-barrel. She scorns to buy preserves or pickles, how well soever
made, and though she may encounter no pecuniary loss in doing so; she
thinks it an excellent use of her time, although they are "well off,"
to prepare them with her own deft hands. She is at home when her
husband leaves, and she is at home when her husband comes back. She
does much of the sewing and fitting of family garments, and all the
mending; and she often calls upon the minister to baptize a new baby.
She is cheerful and content in her snuggery of a house, and every
saucepan in it is surrounded with a halo. "Woman's Rights" simply sets
her giggling, when mentioned. Her own family tub sets firm on its
bottom--isn't that enough? Year after year passes. The freshness has
left her face, and the features have sharpened, as she whirls round
and round in this little maelstrom, with no desire to catch breath for
one single moment. Occasionally she goes outside of her own door, but
feels better inside, and hurries home as if she had committed a crime,
in letting up her martinet superintendence for one moment.

As to books and newspapers, she never looks at either. "She says she
has no time." I don't know whether she ever thinks that her children
will some day grow up, and may ask questions which it were a pity
their mother should be too ignorant to answer. I don't know whether
she ever thinks her husband may weary at evening, of the history of
the family potato. Since it is cooked invariably to his liking, it may
be that is all he requires. But after he has eaten his dinner, and is
satisfied--such is man--that I wouldn't like to dismiss Mrs. Jones to
the nursery and put a bright woman in her place, unless "ma" lived
round the corner.

Now Mrs. Smith lives opposite Mrs. Jones. The devil might fly away
with _her_ saucepans, and she wouldn't care. Why does she hire
servants, if she herself is to superintend saucepans? Is Mr. Smith
always home to dinner, that _she_ need be? Has a woman no rights? Is
it for her to be absorbed by the miserable family potato, when many
women have no potato at all? Her answer is on the public platform.
Smith indeed turns pale to think of it; but who or what is Smith? He's
only a man,--a tyrannical, overbearing man, possibly of the worst
type, who believes in "whipping females." Her "mission" is to reform
such men--peaceably, if she can; belligerently, if she must; but it
has got to "come off" somehow. Meantime the nurse rubs her children's
noses _up_ instead of down; fills their eyes with soap-suds, and then
boxes their ears for "whining about it;" eats _their_ lunch and tosses
them _hers_. She tells the youngest child of the "black man who
swallows little children whole" when she wants it to be still in bed,
so that she may converse with her "cousin" in the area; and then
wonders "what _can_ ail the little dear," when its progressive mother
returns from her public speech-making, to find it in a stiff fit. As
to Mr. Smith, he hates women's rights--he wants something to eat.

Now here are two female extremists. I don't see the necessity of
either; but after saying this, I frankly declare that, had I to
choose, Mrs. Jones has my preference. _Her_ children have a home at
least. They have good wholesome food, and clothes suitable to the
weather. If they are sick, they have watchful care. And no mother,
unless she first secure all this to their helplessness, has any right,
in my opinion, on the public platform. This much Mrs. Jones hath
done. Possibly Jones, her husband, takes it, like sunshine, as a
matter of course, and needing no special thanks. Men are more stupid,
and ignorant, than ugly, on this and kindred points. _They_ don't
dream, unless in very exceptionable cases, how a wife longs sometimes
to have a husband testify his pleasure at her invariable good cheer in
some other way than by gobbling it up, till he is as torpid as an
anaconda, until next feeding time. _He_ never feels the need of such
recognition; and so, if his attention is called to it by a
half-smothered, weary sigh from some little wife who can't do without
it, why, he thinks it "babyish." _Such a man ought to marry a
man_--that's my verdict. Where's the sense of plucking a flower to put
your foot on it? Better take a stone post for better, or worse, and
have done with it. You can't dam--n up a woman's feelings as you would
a village stream. You can't choose her for her tender, womanly ways,
and then expect when you get her home that she will "heads up" with an
unwinking stare at you for further orders the rest of her life. If
that's the wife you wanted, why not take one of those figures outside
the store-doors in Broadway, with a dress pinned on, which, when
twirled round, stand stock still till they get another twirl? _They_
are _headless_, to be sure, but they are _so_ docile!



_SUNDAY MORNING._


How many pleasant breakfast-tables it looks down upon! No need to
hurry away to office, or store, or counting-room. Fathers come
leisurely down in dressing-gown and slippers, and sip their coffee
without danger of choking. They have time to look round and see how
tall the children are growing, and that nothing in this world is so
beautiful as a rosy baby fresh from slumber. Mother, too, has the old
girlish smile, that comes not often on a week-day, or if it does,
father has not time to notice it, and that, perhaps, after all, is the
reason it comes so seldom. It is pleasant, after eggs and coffee, to
sit comfortably down, the centre of a ring of happy faces, and hear
the church-bells chime. Time enough yet to go, for this is the first
bell.

Church-bells are not, to my ear, an "impertinence." One is a free
agent. I am free to go, which I like to do; you are free to stay, if
you prefer; though I may think you make a mistake. I don't say that I
should go every Sunday to hear a man who was always binding doctrines
together like bundles of dry sticks, and thrusting them at his yawning
hearers. I want to hear a sermon that any poor soul who straggles
into church, from any by-lane or alley, can understand, and carry home
with him to his cellar or garret; not a sermon that comes on chariot
wheels, but afoot, and with a warm, life-like grasp for every honest,
aye, and _dis_honest, hand in the assembly, defaulter or Magdalen; for
who bade you slam heaven's gate in their faces?

I want a _human_ sermon. I don't care what Melchisedek, or Zerubbabel,
or Kerenhappuk did, ages ago; I want to know what _I_ am to do, and I
want somebody besides a theological bookworm to tell me; somebody who
is sometimes tempted and tried, and is not too dignified to own it;
somebody like me, who is always sinning and repenting; somebody who is
glad and sorry, and cries and laughs, and eats and drinks, and _wants_
to fight when they are trodden on, and _don't_! That's the minister
for me. I don't want a spiritual abstraction, with stony eyes and
petrified fingers, and no blood to battle with. What credit is it to
_him_ to be proper? How can he understand _me_? Were there only such
ministers in the pulpit, I wouldn't go to church either, because my
impatient feet would only beat a tattoo on the pew floor till service
was over: but, thank God! there are! and while they preach I shall go
to hear them, and come home better and happier for having done it.

So I pray you don't abolish _my_ Sunday, whatever you may do with
yours. Don't take away my blessed Sunday breakfast, when we all have
time to love one another. Don't take away the Sabbath bells, which I
so love to hear. Don't take away my human minister, whose God is no
tyrant, and is better pleased to see us go smiling home from church,
than bowing our heads like a bulrush, and groaning back to our
dinners, till all you anti-Sabbatarians are mad to abolish
Sunday,--and no wonder.

Our Catholic brethren have set us, at least one good example; their
churches are not silent as the tomb on week-days. Their worshippers do
not do up all their religion on Sunday. It may be only for a few
moments they step in through that open church-door, on a week-day, to
kneel and lay down burdens too heavy else to be borne. I like the
custom. I should rather say, I like the reminder, and the opportunity
thus afforded them; and I heartily wish that all our Protestant
churches could be thus opened. If rich Christians object to the
promiscuous use of their velvet cushions and gilded prayer-books, at
least let the aisles and altar be free for those who need God on the
week-days; for the poor, the tried, the tempted; for those who shrink,
in their shabby habiliments, from the Sunday exhibition of fine
toilettes and superfine Christianity. Were I a minister, and obliged
to preach to paniers and diamonds and satins, on Sunday, I think I
should _have_ to ease my heart in some such way as this, to make my
pastoral life endurable, else my office would seem to me the most
hollow of all mockeries. "The rich and the poor meet together, and
the Lord is the Maker of them all," should be inscribed outside my
church door, had I one. I could not preach to those paniers and their
owners. My tongue would be paralyzed at those kneeling distortions of
womanhood, bearing such a resemblance to organ-grinders' monkeys. I am
not sure that I should not grow hysterical over it, and laugh and cry
in the same breath, instead of preaching. I can never tell what vent
my disgust would take; but I am sure it must have some escape-valve.
You may say that such worshippers (Heaven save the mark!) _need_
preaching to. I tell you that women, so given over to "the devil and
all his works," are past praying for; "having eyes, they see not;
having ears, they hear not." They are ossified, impervious; they are
Dead-Sea apples, full of ashes. There! now I feel better.

Having alluded to our Roman Catholic friends, allow me to ask leave of
them to have the cross surmount all our _Protestant_ churches, unless
they have taken out a patent for the same. It is lovely to me, this
symbol, as I pass along our streets. It rests my heart to look at it,
amid the turmoil, and din, and hurry, and anxious faces, and sorrowful
faces, and, worse than all, empty faces, that I meet. I say to myself,
there is truth _there_; there is hope and comfort there, and this
tangle of life is _not_ the end. When I am a Protestant minister, the
dear cross shall be on my church, and nobody shall stay away from it
because they are ragged or poor, or because the cushions are too nice.
Oh, I like Catholicism for _that_. They are nearer heaven than
Protestants on this point.

I am very glad for the Protestant noonday prayer-meetings, wheresoever
held. One may have a great spiritual need on other days than Sunday.
One may happen in here--if such things ever _happen_, which I
doubt--and _there_ learn that need, and the way to satisfy it. The
devil is cunningly and wisely busy _every day_ and every night in the
week. Why should good Christians think to circumvent this skilful
diplomatist in one?--on _Sunday_ only? The devil makes _easy_ all the
paths leading to perdition. Christians make hard and difficult the
road to heaven, with their fine churches, and fine worshippers, and
empty preaching once a week. And all around us pitiful hands are
outstretched, and hungry hearts are waiting for the loving Christian
word of help, temporal and spiritual; and men and women go down into
the maelstrom of despair, folly, and sin; and we open our churches and
let _well-dressed_ Christians in to pray for them on Sunday. Sunday!
the word has no meaning. Call it Monday or Tuesday, or Fourth of July,
or anything you will, but not "Sunday." _That_ once meant something.

Let me give you a postscript to a sermon I once heard. "Middle age is
inevitable routine, but keep your _souls_ above it," I heard a
clergyman remark the other night. He "knew that it was difficult," he
said, "not to merge one's self at that crisis in the shop, in the
store, in the office; difficult _not_ to become a mere drudge and a
machine; but still, avoiding it was the only hope for this life." Oh,
how my heart echoed these words--not for men, but for my own sex, of
whose routine life the clergyman said nothing. I wanted to get up and
say to him, "My dear sir, your address is eloquent, and true,
scholarly, and sound, so far as it goes. It _is_ the only hope for
this life that these men of business should not become mere tools."
But I wanted to ask him if men, with their freedom of action--men who,
out in the world, inevitably come into collision with _stirring_, not
_stagnant_ life--find this difficult, what of their wives? With twenty
nerves where men have one to be jarred and agonized, with the pin and
needle fret, of every minute, which they may never hope to escape or
get away from; tied hand and foot, day and night, week after week,
with the ten thousand cords, invisible often to the dull eye of
husband and father, who accepts at evening the neat and pleasant
result, without a thought of how it was accomplished--without a
thought of the weariness of that inexorable grind of detail necessary
to it--without a thought that a change of scene is either necessary or
desirable for the wife and mother who is surely under its benumbing
influence, merging _her_ "soul" till she is a mere machine.

I wanted to hear this clergyman say something about that. I wanted to
know of him whether these women were doing God and their husbands
service, by so sinking the spiritual part of them that one could
hardly tell that it had existence. I wanted to ask him whether, if
their husbands, through indifference or selfishness, or both, gave no
thought to this matter, if he--set in a high place to teach the
people--had no word of advice to such men, that they look as well to
the spiritual deterioration of the _mothers_ of their children as to
their own--the fathers. Nay, I insist that for the mother it is of
_more_ consequence, as having infinitely more to do with the forming
years of these children. And what time, pray, have many of these
"routine" mothers for "thought," properly so called? What time for
reading even the daily papers, to keep up intelligently with the great
issues of the day, of which it is a shame and disgrace for any
American wife and mother to be ignorant? How can they in this way be
fit companions for their children's future? How can they answer their
questions, on this subject and on that, while their vision is for ever
bounded by the horizon of the physical wants of the household? You may
preach "woman's duty" to me till you are hoarse; and I will preach to
you the lust and the selfishness, which is ever repeating the dilemma
of "the old woman in the shoe," till she has not an interval to think
whether she or her brood _have_ souls. "Routine life" of _men_! Men
can and do get out of it--"business takes them away from home on
journeys." "Business" takes him out pleasant evenings; on rainy ones,
he never has "business;" then he goes early to bed, to prepare for a
long evening of "business" when the sky clears.

His wife--well, "she don't seem to need it; or if she does, she don't
say so;" and I might add, in the language of Dickens's nurse, Sary
Gamp, "it is little she needs, and that little she don't get," at
least from him.

Routine men! Oh, bah! "Routine men" have a result to show for their
"routine." They have clerks--not from Intelligence-offices either--who
have to do as they bid them. They also lock up shop at dark. They also
walk or ride home in the fresh air, and talk with their male friends
while doing it. They also are not dependent on the whim or caprice of
any man to take them out for a breath of fresh air at night, after an
exhaustive day of indoor stifling detail. And so, though the sermon to
which I listened was excellent _from a man to men_, I made up my mind
to add this little Appendix to women, from a woman, on the
routine-woman's side of the question. You may talk of the selfishness
of women till your head is white; there never lived that selfish woman
so execrably selfish as a selfish man can be. I don't say _you_ are
so, sir: though at this distance, I venture to inquire whether, were
you in your wife's place, you wouldn't occasionally like to climb up
on the edge of the peck-measure in which she daily revolves, and look
about outside, even if it should tip over on the whole brood of young
ones in the process?



_JUSTICE FOR CLERGYMEN._


Can anybody tell why clergymen should not receive fees for attending
funerals? They receive fees, and generous ones often, for performing
the marriage-ceremony, which is very unnecessary in comparison; a
wedding being a joyful, happy, inspiriting occasion, with its bright
faces, sweet flowers, and happy congratulations of friends; the
exceptions to which are so few as not to need enumerating; and it must
needs rest a man instead of wearying him, cobwebbed all over with
theological tangles as he is, to witness all this; for no matter what
vicissitudes fate and the future have in store for the two he has made
one, at least for _that_ hour they are supremely blessed, and he has
made them so. But a _funeral_! with all its present unnecessary and
dreadful accumulation of horrors; with its closed blinds, its piling
up of sable garments, its pale dead face, which needs no such
auxiliaries of gloom. Imagine a clergyman, already worn out, mentally
and physically, entering such a room, filled with mourning friends, to
whom even the Saviour's own sweet words would seem cold, who must each
for himself tread the wine-press _alone_, till such time as they can
find _Him_. Imagine this minister trying, by prayer and exhortation,
to lift that heavy load of sorrow which all who have grieved know,
that time and faith alone can lighten. Then he goes and looks into the
face of the dead--oh! how many dead faces has he looked at, through
the eyes of others, in the same way!--then he offers a friendly hand
to the widow, or the orphan, as the case may be, and then with this
immense draft on his sympathies, with those heart-rending sobs still
sounding in his ears, perhaps within that very hour, he is called to a
repetition of the sad scene. I am very sure that any clergymen of
experience and sensibility will say, that I have not overstated this
wear and tear of feeling in the delicate endeavor to say just the
right thing, to the differing faiths of the craving, sorrowing hearts
present.

Now why, I ask, should clergymen, in addition to their other
exhaustive duties, be expected to go through this most exhaustive
service of all, without remuneration? More especially, when one
considers the often danger of contagious atmospheric influences, at
such times and places, upon his tired frame.

I have often pondered, without yet being able to find a shadow of a
reason for this unjust demand upon clerical strength. If you say it is
the custom, I only say it is time that, with other bad customs, it
were reformed; and more--since clergymen themselves have their lips
delicately closed on this especial subject, while on others they might
be considered at liberty to speak. That's why _I_ have spoken for
them.

I like ministers. I was brought up with them. My father's house was a
minister's tavern, lacking the sign swinging before the door. I was a
wild slip in those days; that's why they always "wanted a little
conversation with Sarah." It was philanthropic, but thrown away. I had
been told so often that I was "a child of wrath," that I had it at my
fingers' ends--I might have said, at my toes' ends, for it was they
who helped me out the nearest door after meals, lest I should hear the
stale announcement again. I persisted I "loved God," when I was asked.
Why shouldn't I? for no bugaboo of anybody's raising could have made
me believe I was born by him to be tormented. The flowers, the clouds,
the ocean, the sun, moon, and stars--what priceless gifts were they!
No "doctrine" or "creed" could rob me of them; and didn't _he_ make
them, and give me a soul to enjoy them? It was of no use telling me I
was a "child of wrath" under circumstances like these! One soft sweet
breath from my flower-garden knocked that idea "all to smithereens."

Now I didn't hate those ministers for trying to darken what should
have been, and what _was_, in spite of them, youth's festival hour. I
knew they _thought_ they were right, and I believe them to be truly
good, though mistaken, men. They didn't know that, child as I was, if
_I_ ever went to Heaven, it would be taking hold of my Heavenly
Father's hand, not cowering before him through fear of "hell." So
they fired over my curls, when they got me in a corner, and talked to
me that way. They didn't make me hate "meetin'" either; though I was
driven there to hear so many "seventeenth-lies" at the point of the
bayonet; and when skewered up on the seat between rows of big folks, I
felt as if little ants were creeping out from under my finger-nails,
so fidgety did I get for the blessed outdoors.

But I have not outgrown "meetin'" yet, and I count no Sunday a Sunday
when I don't go there some part of the day. Oh, had they only known
_how_ to talk to me, instead of driving me within myself, and making
me put my worst religious foot foremost. But clergymen have found a
better way since, thank God! Still I often smile at the bits of the
old leaven in the ministerial make up. How they will wonder at it all,
when eternity's light shines down on their life-path, and shows them
these mistakes. For I make no apology here for boldly asserting that a
minister can, and does, and always will, make an occasional mistake;
although I was once pounced down upon by an evangelical critic, who
talked to me about "wounding the Lord in the house of his friends,"
when I said so. It is just such stuff as that, that drives everybody
_from_ the "Lord." Better face the music, and own up, that even
ministers are _human_. For my part, were I a minister, and fenced in,
and badgered about, and cross-questioned and interfered with, and
expected to be a sound, rounded, well-disposed human being, morally,
mentally, and physically, all the same as if a coroner's inquest
wasn't squatting on my free-agency every hour in the day, I'll warrant
you I should make a great many more mistakes than they do. Old Adam in
me, would soon see that they didn't want material for a verdict to
suit their narrowness.

And now I hope I have shown you that I am a friend to ministers. So
that without getting a boxed ear, I must tell you here, what a laugh I
got out of a lot of them yesterday. You see, I was in an omnibus
alone, save one lady, when a meeting of some sort in one of our
churches "bust up,"--excuse the expression--"bust up." Five ministers
emerging from the church porch, hailed the omnibus and got in, and
decorously seated themselves. Now, some ministers look jolly, and as
if they were alive. These were thin, cavernous, and had the ten
commandments written all over them. They had heard of New York
Delilahs evidently, for they wouldn't see the _fare_ of the lady or
myself between our gloved fingers waiting for the driver--not a bit of
it! Catch them at it! They looked straight past us both, safely out
the window at an innocent brick wall. Oh, heavens! how I laughed! It
carried me back to the days I was a curly-headed little sinner,
rebelling at being called "a child of wrath." I wanted to say,
"Brethren, I too am a Christian"--and I will persist that I am; so
don't be afraid of my innocent female pennies, nor "cross" yourselves
because your foot accidentally touched the hem of my robe when you got
in; for though I believe in ministers, I _don't_ like to have the
devil laugh in his sleeve at their queer, poky, solemn ways, and say
to himself, "Aha! so would I have it."

May clergymen sneeze? Well--not exactly that; but a question quite as
foolish, I saw gravely propounded and treated, the other day, in a
religious paper. The debate was upon this highly important point:
"Whether it was right for ministers to play croquet." Now I really
_had_ hoped that the day had gone by when the only amusement allowed
to ministers was counting the scores of little heads that surrounded
their table. I did hope that they might wash their faces on a towel,
though it had not a funereal urn embroidered in the corners. And that
they need not of necessity plant a cypress, or weeping willow, at
their front door, to designate their raven-like calling; or banish
every plant from their garden save the funereal rue and rosemary. It
seems I was mistaken; more's the pity. Now if there is anything the
devil likes, it is fine-spun, wire-drawn distinctions, on unimportant
questions like these. If there is anything he likes, it is this
ascetic rendering of religious things, to disgust the young, and throw
a pall over that which _should_ attract them by a wise recognition of
their human needs. When we place a young plant down cellar and shut
out light and sunshine, though it may put out shoots, we all know that
they are white, sickly, and destined early to perish; just so with
this misnamed "godliness" which the well-meaning but over-zealous
religionist would thrust upon us and persuade us was doing
God-service. I tell you it is _not_. I tell you that a minister, above
all others, needs innocent and proper recreation, like croquet. Every
summer, in my travels to and fro, I meet "ministers" enjoying their
brief respite of a summer-vacation; most of them bearing unmistakable
evidence in their pale faces and narrow chests, of their great
necessity for it. I have watched them, sympathetically, as they sat on
the piazzas of the hotels and boarding-houses where we were thrown
together. I have seen them commit this unpardonable sin of "playing
croquet" on a nice green lawn, while the fresh mountain air tinged
their pale cheeks, and their eyes grew brighter, and their tones grew
cheerful, and I blessed God for the sight. I said to myself, _that's_
the way to foil the devil, when the young people found, day after day,
that even a "_minister_" could be cheerful himself and promote
cheerfulness; and that religion, after all, was not death to innocent
happiness. I have been with ministers to the ten-pin alley, in company
with their wives, children, and friends; I have climbed mountains with
them, when I had a better frolic than I ever had with any of the
laymen; and after a three-hours climb, and we all sat upon the top and
enjoyed the view of the surrounding country, and, seated upon the
grass, ate our luncheon, I never perceived that religion suffered by
it. I _have_ often, on the contrary, heard young people of the party
say, "Well, this is the first time I ever _really_ liked a minister. I
thought they were all stiff and solemn, and--to use a juvenile but
expressive epithet--'poky'"! Nor when the following Sunday, sweet as
Sunday always dawns on the hills and valleys, dawned on us, in some
such lovely spot, and these same clergymen were requested to preach,
sometimes in the parlor of the hotel, sometimes, which was better, in
a grove near the house, did _I_ for one perceive anything incongruous
in his doing so, though the audience was the very same merry party of
the day before. And when they have joined in the sweet hymn under the
trees, where he stood with uncovered head, as in God's best temple, I
confess to much more devotion than I am apt to feel, when surrounded
and hedged in, and, allow me to say, sometimes _stifled_ with all the
clerical city paraphernalia, whose husk often seems to me so to shut
in and compress the kernel, that one almost doubts if it has
existence.

Ministers play croquet? I wish every minister had a violin and a brisk
saddle-horse. Away with this bogus sanctity. Take a lesson from our
Roman Catholic friends in the virtue of cheerfulness. Drive not _from_
you, but draw soothingly, caressingly to you the lambs of the flock.
Terror never yet made a true Christian. Frigidity never yet glorified
God. The world is not a charnel-house. Else the blue sky would have
been as black as some of these ascetics fain would make it. No! It is
full of perfume and song and color, and you can never shut the eyes
of young people to it with your distorted views of life. Oh, be wiser,
lest the sad rebound of the atheist come, and they find only at the
end of a life misspent, that in their zeal to prove your detested
"religion" a sham, they had overlooked the fact that the counterfeit
presupposes the _true coin_.

       *       *       *       *       *

How seldom, in judging of those who excite our anger or contempt, do
we judge them, as the Almighty does, by the extenuating circumstances
of birth and education, and the lack of spiritual light! "Nobody ever
told me;" "I did not know it was wrong;" "Nobody cared whether I was
good or bad." What pitiful words are these! The Saviour recognized
these facts when he said, "Neither do I condemn thee; go and sin no
more."



_THE OLD MAID OF THE PERIOD._


She don't shuffle round in "skimpt" raiment, and awkward shoes, and
cotton gloves, with horn side-combs fastening six hairs to her
temples; nor has she a sharp nose, and angular jaw, and hollow cheeks,
and only two front teeth. She don't read "Law's Serious Call," or keep
a cat, or a snuff-box, or go to bed at dark, save on vestry-meeting
nights, nor scowl at little children, or gather catnip, or apply a
broomstick to astonished dogs.

Not a bit of it. The modern "old maid" is round and jolly, and has her
full complement of hair and teeth, and two dimples in her cheek, and
has a laugh as musical as a bobolink's song. She wears pretty, nicely
fitting dresses too, and cunning little ornaments around her plump
throat, and becoming bits of color in her hair, and at her breast, in
the shape of little knots and bows; and her waist is shapely, and her
hands have sparkling rings, and no knuckles; and her foot is cunning,
and is prisoned in a bewildering boot; and she goes to concerts and
parties and suppers and lectures and matinees, and she don't go alone
either; and she lives in a nice house, earned by herself, and gives
jolly little teas in it. She don't care whether she is married or not,
nor need she. She can afford to wait, as men often do, till they have
"seen life," and when their bones are full of aches, and their blood
tamed down to water, and they have done going out, and want somebody
to swear at and to nurse them--then marry!

Ah! the modern old maid has her eye-teeth cut. She takes care of
herself, instead of her sister's nine children, through mumps, and
measles, and croup, and chicken-pox, and lung fever and leprosy, and
what not.

_She_ don't work that way for no wages and bare toleration, day and
night. No, sir! If she has no money, she teaches, or she lectures, or
she writes books or poems, or she is a book-keeper, or she sets types,
or she does anything but hang on to the skirts of somebody's else
husband, and she feels well and independent in consequence, and holds
up her head with the best, and asks no favors, and "_Woman's Rights_"
has done it!

That awful bugbear, "Woman's Rights"! which small-souled men, and, I
am sorry to say, narrow _women_ too, burlesque and ridicule, and wont
believe in, till the Juggernaut of Progress knocks them down and rides
over them, because they will neither climb up on it, nor get out of
the way.

The fact is, the _Modern_ Old Maid is as good as the Modern Young
Maid, and a great deal better, to those who have outgrown bread and
butter. She has sense as well as freshness, and conversation and
repartee as well as dimples and curves.

She carries a dainty parasol, and a natty little umbrella, and wears
killing bonnets, and has live poets and sages and philosophers in her
train, and knows how to use her eyes, and don't care if she never sees
a cat, and couldn't tell a snuff-box from a patent reaper, and has a
bank-book and dividends: yes, sir! and her name is Phoebe or Alice;
and Woman's Rights has done it.

       *       *       *       *       *

A newspaper lately announced that the fashion of blue coats and brass
buttons for gentlemen had received its death-blow. Now, listen, ye men
who are constantly preaching to us women, about our "slavery to
fashion." It was done by Prince Arthur, who _didn't_ wear it at a
recent great public ball. Deadly stab! We hope the gentlemen who did
appear in that costume will not commit suicide. But if we might give
them a little bit of advice, it would be, that they should keep on
wearing blue coats and brass buttons, just _because_ "the Prince"
didn't. Show yourself superior to fashion, gentlemen, as you so often
advise ladies to do. Try the boot on _that_ foot. Don't throw aside a
good coat for the puerile reason that it is out of fashion! Oh, no!



_THE NURSE OF THE PERIOD._


All honor to Mr. Bergh for his remedial measures to prevent cruelty to
animals. Cats, they say, have nine lives; so, with this in their
favor, will the gentleman above mentioned let them wriggle a while,
and devote that portion of his time to an animal which has only one
life. I refer to the New York child--the _rich_ New York child. If he
will take a walk through any of our city parks with his eyes open, he
cannot fail to see suffering enough among this class to enlist his
warmest sympathies. I often stroll through the parks to hear the birds
sing, and to see the children. One day last week I saw a bright little
boy of four years amusing himself by picking up little twigs that had
fallen from the trees, while his nurse was engaged in interminable
gossip with one of her class. Turning her head suddenly, she perceived
him engaged in this harmless and natural amusement. Snatching them
from his hand, she took each little twig separately and struck him
with each across his happy little face; then, throwing them away out
of his reach, left him standing there, sobbing, with nothing to do,
while she continued her chapter of gossip. Walking on a little
farther, I saw a little girl who had strayed across the path to look
at a "dolly" which another child was drawing in a little wagon. It was
a wonderful "dolly;" with flaxen curls, and pink boots, and a muslin
dress; and its eyes were closed in slumber, after the fashion of the
doll of the period, while in a recumbent position. Oh! the sweet
little face, as it peered into the tiny wagon, and the precocious
_mother_ look of adoration at the "dolly"! Instantly came darting
after her the Gorgon nurse, and with a smart slap upon her head and a
shake of her little shoulders, till her bright hair flew quite over
the frightened little face, she tore her violently away, and seating
herself upon a bench, where she had been talking with a coarse-looking
man, set the sobbing child so hard upon her knee that I could
distinctly hear it catch its breath. I mention here only these two
instances of brutal treatment, which I could multiply by dozens. Why
do not mothers take pains to follow their nurses occasionally, to see
if all is right with their children when out of doors? And why could
not Mr. Bergh order some _backs_ placed to the torturing benches in
our parks where the little children sit? The Central Park benches are
a good model in this regard, as many a weary pedestrian can testify.
And while he is up there looking at them with a view to this, if he
will just pass under the damp bridges, and rout out those self-same
nurses, who sit there talking with their beaux, instead of taking
their little charges out into the sunshine, and among the flowers, as
they were told to do, _this_ also would be a humanitarian act.

In fact, _the rich child of the period_ is at present an object for
_his_ especial consideration. Deserted apparently by its natural
protector, the mother, except so far as its dress is concerned, it is
peculiarly helpless and friendless, at least when out of doors. I
speak advisedly; for not a day passes that my blood does not boil at
the cruelty it endures; at the innocent little instincts, for the
gratification of which it is immediately slapped, as if they were
crimes; just as if we should stone a bird for warbling, or a bee for
humming, or a leaf for fluttering in the sweet south wind.

Oh! the harsh Juggernaut wheel which crushes out all this sweetness
into the dust!

And what of the _temper_ permanently spoiled and soured by such
roughness and injustice? What of the aching little head, which is
slapped and shaken? What of the tired little feet, while the nurse and
her comrades occupy the seat, and the little ones, forbidden to play,
lean wearily against the nurse's knee, and cry for "mamma"? Surely,
where is mamma? Good Mr. Bergh, do _you_ be the rich children's
"mamma," and let the cat with her "nine lives" look out for herself!



_A LOOK BACKWARD._


Oh! to be a child again. My only treasures, bits of shell and stone
and glass. To love nothing but maple sugar. To fear nothing but a big
dog. To go to sleep without dreading the morrow. To wake up with a
shout. Not to have seen a dead face. Not to dread a living one. To be
able to _believe_. Does life give us anything, in after years, as
compensation for the lack of all this; I asked, as I watched the busy
little feet about me, never weary of chasing some butterfly of the
minute. But then when this thought overshadowed me it was a blue day.
Things had somehow got "contrary." My shoe might have pinched, or my
belt have been too tight; or I had been up too long without my coffee;
or I had forgotten the touch of my first baby's velvet cheek, or my
mother's praise of my first pie, or my exultation when I cut and
fitted down a carpet all myself, sewing on the thick seams till my
fingers were swollen and sore, because help was not to be had. I
remember, when it was finished, how intensely I admired myself and
that carpet. Then I have strutted round very proudly in dresses of my
own fitting, that "were fits." And once I roasted a piece of beef, and
seasoned it with saleratus, instead of salt; think of the triumph of
that moment! But that was owing to a too-fascinating novel under my
cooking-apron, in a day when novels were forbidden fruit. And once, at
the romantic age of twelve years, I gave a little blue-eyed boy one of
my long, yellow curls, and he threw it in the gutter, and said "he
hated girl's hair," but then another boy was standing by at the time,
and the world's jeer was too much for him; but I may mention in this
connection, that the next handful of "three-cornered nuts" he offered
me, when we were alone, followed that curl into the gutter!

I have also dim recollections of "seating" a pair of trousers, to see
if I had any undeveloped talent in that line; but I have a lurking
suspicion that I must have interfered with their original shape, for
though my efforts received due commendation, I am confident those
breeches were never worn afterward. But I think my failure came of my
always running away, in my girlhood, whenever the family tailoress
came to reside with us for a period, to make innumerable vests,
jackets, etc., for my little brothers. In revenge she prophesied that,
when I was married, I should have always boys, and be very glad of her
presence. When she learned years after, that I had three _girls_, she
remarked, in a limp and crestfallen state, that "it beat all I should
have my own way _in such a matter as that_!"

Oh, yes, I suppose there is something to be got out of the world
besides dolls and sugar-candy; but whether it is worth while to go
through all we do to secure it, remains yet the unsolved problem.

Grown people, doubtless, have their crucifixions. Women, I know, "die
daily." But I am certain, from observation and reflection, that some
children, and very small ones too, suffer quite as much as it is
possible for adults to do. I shall never forget a punishment measured
out to me, when a fat little chub at school. I had committed the
heinous offence of "whispering to one of the boys." I don't recollect
what it was about. I only remember that Georgie smiled kindly at me on
that first terrible day when I took my seat on a narrow bench, without
any back, to "keep very still;" which was then, and is now, the most
fiendish torment that can be devised for me.

Directly my name was called to "stand up in the middle of the floor."
_His_ name, "Georgie," was also called. With very red faces, out of
which all the smile had gone, we confronted each other. Miss Birch
then turned us back to back, and with a string of twine tied our
elbows together, saying to me as she did so, "Since you like boys, you
shall have enough of 'em." Now Georgie, true to the instincts of his
sex, no sooner felt himself "bound" to the little creature, whom he
the moment before adored, than he began to pull at the cruel string,
till it cut into my fat bare arm, with torturing sharpness; his jacket
sleeve protecting him from the pain he inflicted on me. There we
stood, "the boys" _laughing_ at Georgie. What little man could stand
being "hen-pecked," even at that tender age? For me, I would not have
shed a tear, had he cut my arm in two. I let him pull and tweak, and
bore it with Spartan endurance till our penance was over, and school
was "let out."

"Did you care?" asked the girls of me, going home. "No," answered I,
huskily, with my chin in the air, twitching nervously at my white
pinafore. I said nothing about it when I got home, but went up garret
to cry it out. That Georgie should have hurt me _on purpose_, when I
was in disgrace! That he should not have walked home with me from
school, as before; or that he--a _boy_--should be "afraid," though a
thousand of "the boys" looked on, to speak to a girl--to speak to
_me_! _His_ reign was over from that moment, spite of his curly black
hair and glittering white teeth. I staid up garret till I had it all
out among the rafters, and then washed my face and went down to my
dinner.

The next morning I took my satchel and went to school. When I got as
far as the corner of the street, Georgie was there waiting for me. I
didn't see him. I looked straight at the lamp-post. He said softly,
"Sarah!" I didn't hear. I planted my little boots firmly on the
sidewalk and trotted on. He had _not_ been my friend in my trouble.
Failing in _that_, he had failed in everything. This was my first
life-battle. I have had others since, with greater capacity for
suffering; but I thought then, nothing could be worse than little
Georgie's defection.

One day I was walking, with my two little girls beside me, and met
"Georgie," to whom I had never spoken since our childish falling out.
He was a physician then, in good practice, and as handsome as a man,
as he had been as a child.

We each laughed, and passed on. For one, I was glad that I was not
"tied" to him, save only for those few moments.

I may add, however, by way of postscript, that if Miss Birch imagined
that she then and there cured me of "whispering to the boys," it was a
fallacy.

       *       *       *       *       *

Have you a habit of "putting off till a better time"--through an
indolence inexplicable even to yourself--little matters that may seem
trifling, but which you should really consider as tests of character?
To such we say, _fight_ this inclination with a persistent strength
which will take no denial, if you ever wish to be or to accomplish
anything in this world; for rest assured, it is the little fox at the
foot of the vine, which will nibble away till every bud and blossom of
the future shall be covered with mildew and blight.



_VARIETIES OF HUMAN NATURE._


Show me an "easy person," and I will show you a selfish one.
Good-natured he may be; why not? since the disastrous consequences of
his "easiness" are generally shouldered by other people. He always
"guesses it is all right," though he knows it is all wrong. None so
blind as they who don't wish to see. To right an abuse, is to tread on
somebody's corns, and then that Somebody might turn and tread on his.
For instance, some boys in the street are pelting a poor, drunken
woman. "Well--boys _will_ do such things." He takes a journey with his
family and stops at a hotel in the dog-days, and the hotel clerk
assigns him a room which is right over a fiery kitchen. He "guesses"
there was no other to give; if so, why didn't the clerk say so? That
might possibly do if the clerk didn't _always_ give him the room over
the hotel kitchen. He gets up from his seat in the car to step out
upon the platform; a very _odorous_ individual takes his seat, much to
the disgust of his family. When asked to eject him, he replies, that
he is not sure that the law in such cases is in his own favor; so he
takes another seat, and leaves to them the new and uncongenial
neighbor. The grocer sends him bad butter, instead of the good for
which he bargained; but he thinks it was the grocer's boy who did it,
and that _he_ didn't do it _purposely_, and that he wont do it again.
The milkman overcharges in his bill: well, very likely grass was
scarce, or there was some good reason for it; beside, he can give his
family a dollar or two less, the next time money is wanted,--and it is
always wanted,--and that will make it all square; thus proving the
adage, "that nobody can be generous without doing an injustice to
somebody." Mr. Easy orders a coat; and when it comes home the sleeves
are too short; but he don't like to send it back. He guesses the
cutter understood the order to be just so; besides it is paid for and
settled. Mr. Easy always pays for things before they come home;--he
thinks it looks like distrust of your fellow-creatures if you
don't;--and so he has perpetual short sleeves in his coats, and
perpetually his trousers come home too long in the leg; and his wife
has to keep on fibbing, and tell him they are just right, and it is
the latest fashion; for fear he will ask her, as she goes by the
tailor's store, just to step in and mention it, because _she_ is so
good at such things, you know, and don't mind speaking up; which
accomplishment, desirable as it is, he prefers her to exercise
_outside_ the house; _in_-doors it must be kept in pickle.

The cook sends up the meat underdone. Mr. Easy remarks,
apologetically, that it was a larger piece than usual; as if just
there, the cook's judgment, if she had any, was not expected to come
in, by putting it on to roast a little earlier, else what is the use
of a cook?

Now, _Mr._ Easy's wife believes in eternal justice--obedience or the
guillotine. _She_ thinks that the person who, through indolence,
offers a premium for carelessness or incompetency, commits a crime
against society. She believes that he has no right to shirk a
disagreeable duty because it is disagreeable; or because he is lazy,
or because it is pleasant to be popular, and to appear amiable to the
outside world. She believes that executive people are the hinges upon
which alone the world turns--creaking awfully sometimes, it is true,
but, thank God! _turning!_ not _rusting_. She believes in using the
dictionary, and plenty of it, when people need waking up to their
duty; and, this accomplished, she believes in laying it on the shelf
till again called for. A wrong _un_-righted pains _Mrs._ Easy; rouses
her fiery indignation. _Mr._ Easy is never quite sure it _is_ wrong;
and, till he is, it is not necessary, in his opinion, to clear the
deck for action.

Now, I have no doubt that both styles of persons have their mission in
the world, else they wouldn't be here: I have known wasps and snails
each to have their admirers. Some day I'll write a book of fables for
you, to which Æsop's shall be no circumstance.

I wonder is a man justified, to his own conscience or his Maker, in
allowing himself to be so absorbed by "business," beyond what is
necessary to the comfortable support of his family, that he is as much
a stranger to his own wife and children as if he were only a boarder
in the family,--bodily present indeed at two or three meals a day, but
totally ignorant of the ponderosity of the domestic machinery, or at
what cost of health, or mental and moral deterioration, to his wife,
this unrelieved strain is being carried out from day to day.

Perhaps you will answer, Who is to decide what _is_ "a necessary and
comfortable support for a family"? I can only ask, if there is not a
great wrong unredressed, when a man knows nothing of the different
mental or moral characteristics of the children he has launched into a
world of temptation and trial, and is also quite content to remain
ignorant. I think all intelligent, thinking persons will agree on this
point. Also when a man, professional or other, seldom or never
addresses a word to his wife about anything but the family expenses,
or his favorite mode of cooking any pet article of food. Sure I am
that any wife who is not a hopeless idiot, will chafe under such
treatment, until, at last, her fate being too much for her, mental and
moral deterioration fairly set in, and she hopelessly revolves in her
narrow bounds without even a desire that the children, once so dear to
her, should ever peep over and beyond them. The friends whom she
_might_ and ought to have retained for herself and them, she has
gradually, one by one, lost sight of; her husband being never at home
to care whether they came or stayed away--his interests, and his
friends, being quite separate and apart. Meantime his house shines,
his meals are well prepared, and his "buttons" are in place.

This picture is not overdrawn. I can produce you its counterparts any
hour in the twenty-four. By and by, the oldest boy outgrows pinafores
and jackets, and steps round in long-tails. No father has been at
hand, to point out the quicksands he should have avoided, or to
encourage him by his sympathy or love to do right. But the devil in
all his Protean shapes _has_ been at his elbow, delighted at that
father's indifference. Presently some wild oat sown, brings to that
home, as yet _publicly_ undisgraced, its full-grown harvest of shame.
_Now_ come storms of reproach, under which the loving mother weeps and
cowers, as if _she_, God help her! were guilty. Alas! and alas! were
such young wayward feet _ever_ turned right by such injudiciousness
and injustice? Does not that boy _know_ that it is the disgrace alone
that father feels, and not the shipwreck of his child's soul? Does
that father say, even to himself, "Oh, Absalom! my son! my son!" Not
at all: he feels only a blind rage, a vexatious thwarting and
hindering of his own affairs, which _his son_ has brought about.

"_His_ son?"

It is about the first time he ever regarded him in that relationship.

There is another kind of father and husband, quite the antipodes of
this. _He_ devotes himself entirely to the domestic side of the
question. He has no "business" to occupy him, nor does he desire to
have. He loves his wife devotedly, and the more children he has the
better he is pleased. Their mother and themselves are enveloped in a
warm atmosphere of love. Never was a harsh, pettish, or fretful word
heard from his amiable lips. He plays with the children all day; he
fixes kites and balls without stint for them; he tends the baby; and
when a crisis comes, and the maid-of-all-work disappears, discouraged
at the eleventh baby, he washes the dishes, if need be, as serenely as
if he were born to it. Meantime these really bright children, loving
and loved, grow apace. The mother is growing old. Love is a good
thing, but there is a far-off questioning look in her gentle eyes,
vainly searching those children's future. _Her_ hands are now
helplessly tied, and she sees no _outward_ tendency toward business in
his. She "loves him"--how can she help it?--_thus far_; but the years
move on so quickly, and her children grow so tall! She remembers sadly
the advantages of education _she_ had, as she looks into the fair
faces of her girls. Ah! how long will she continue to "love" their
father? And how will those children, in after years, gauge that "love"
which placed such obstacles between them and their best advancement?
At what point in their young lives will they, chafing, let go the
irresolute hand, that could only lead them up and down that narrow
garden-path, when the broad highway of development lay in sight, and
untrodden?

I am fully persuaded that if _even I_ had created human beings, I
couldn't have improved upon the original programme. I used to think
that I should like to sweep the whole pussy-cat tribe of my
fellow-creatures out of existence, with one wave of my wand. I am
convinced now, that as a means of grace, they had better remain. Their
sublime indifference as to the period in which the most momentous
questions are to be settled, is instructive to hurricane natures. The
fatalistic way in which they subside into their own comfortable
chimney-corner, while all the moral elements are in a wild tornado
outside, is calming to the spirit. The placidity with which they can
eat, and sleep, and drink, and be merry, side by side with the corpses
of dead hopes and abortive projects, over which humanity stands
weeping and wringing her hands, is as good as a dose of opium. We look
at them, and, wiping the cold perspiration from our brow, we ask, Is
it possible, then, that we have been lashing ourselves into all this
fury, when there is _really_ to be no shipwreck? _Are_ we really on
the high road to lunacy without knowing it, and in the near proximity
to such sublime self-poise and calmness? We slink into our corner to
reflect; and get that much breathing-time and wind to go at the demon
again. So you see they are of use, as I told you.

Then there are your critical people, like John Randolph, who actually
stopped his dying, to correct the pronunciation of a friend who was
waiting to close his eyes. So they will stop you in the midst of a
ravishing bit of poetry, or the narration of a story, to dissect the
sentiment of it by some glaring Drummond light, that they keep
remorselessly on hand for such purposes, while you, poor wretch,
dropped suddenly from your sublime height, lose both your place and
your temper.

Now you can't say this isn't educational.

Then there is your human chameleon, who takes its color from the last
leaf it feeds on. You quote one of its yesterday-expressed opinions,
with full assurance of faith, as exactly coinciding with your own. Up
comes a third party, and demands how you can so misrepresent the
chameleon's views, because that very day it expressed a totally
different opinion to this third party. You ask the chameleon for an
explanation; when it coolly informs you that consistency is the vice
of little minds; and that to unsay to-day what you said yesterday, is
a proof of progress. You retire with a muttered wish that the
chameleon would furnish you with a pair of seven-league boots, with
which to overtake his "progress."

Then there is that social wasp, "I told you so;" who, vulture-like,
hovers over the fallen, ready to insert his cruel beak at any sore
place one has made, tripping. The guillotine is nothing to the bits of
quivering flesh _he_ tears out.

Then there is your routine person, who sneezes precisely at six, and
sits down precisely at seven, and rises precisely at eight, and looks
out of the window precisely at nine, and keeps this up month after
month, and year after year, without the shadow of turning, and in the
teeth of imperative exigencies, and with a stony stoicism, and
pettiness of purpose, which is exasperating enough to bring on a fit
of apoplexy in the beholder.

Nobody can say that this is not equal to any authorized penance in the
church, to the sufferer, whose blood has not turned to milk and water.
In fact, I have often wondered why our Roman Catholic friends, who
have so many excellencies, need trouble themselves to suggest or
appoint anything of the kind, when life is so full of crosses and
discipline in the raw. When it is so teeming with cross-purposes, that
every person you meet seems obstinately bent either upon forming a
partnership which, like oil and water, will forever be opposed to
mingling, or throwing pebble after pebble into some ocean, expecting
that the little circle it makes, will reach to the farthest shore of
worldly fame or ambition. In fact, when I have visited lunatic
asylums, it has really seemed to me that mad as their inmates
undoubtedly are, there is little need to dissever them from their
comrades on the outside.

You will perceive from this that I consider life a discipline. _I do._
No response was ever heartier. When one bubble after another bursts,
this, you see, is a comforting reflection to settle down upon. There
was once a man who read the lists of deaths every day, hoping to see
that of some woman, the whole sisterhood of whom he hated. When he
came to one, he always exclaimed, "Thank God, there's another of 'em
gone!" My moral is obvious.

Commend me to the person who can say No with a will, when it is
needed; who is not deterred from it for fear of being called
"disagreeable," or "being thought to be always in hot water." Any
water but lukewarm water for me! One of my favorite passages in the
Good Book is this: "I would that thou wert either cold or hot; but
because thou art neither cold nor hot, I will spew thee out of my
mouth." The joke comes in here: that your timid conservative is always
the first to raise the signal of distress on any emergency for the
speedy arrival of "that disagreeable person who is always in hot
water." He likes him marvellously as such crises of his existence?
Now, beyond dispute, everybody likes to travel on a smooth-beaten road
without jolting, if possible; but in order for this, somebody must
make a great turn-over generally, in clearing away the stones that
obstruct it. Now, I consider it a cowardly piece of business for
either man or woman, to travel miles around that road, rather than
take hold and do their fair share of the disagreeable work, either
from indolence, or from fear that they might offend one who might
possibly prefer that the road should remain in its normal condition.
Oh, how glad they are when somebody else has taken this troublesome
pioneership off their shoulders! How they rub their lazy hands, and
smirk, and say, "You see _you_ do these things _so_ well! I never was
constituted for it"! Which translated, means, that they prefer
sacrificing a principle to sacrificing their ease or popularity; as if
anybody liked to keep all the time fighting--as if other people didn't
love ease too!



"_A GOOD MISTRESS ALWAYS MAKES A GOOD SERVANT._"


Now I beg leave to place a very sizable interrogation-point just here;
at any rate, until I receive an intelligible definition of "a good
mistress." A servant's definition of one, in these days, is, "A lady
who never comes down-stairs, poking her nose into things;" one who
never is so "mean" as to calculate the time that elapses since the
last batch of tea, coffee, sugar, or flour was bought, and the
possibility, when these stores run short of their proper limit, that
they have not been applied wholly to the use of the family. "A good
mistress," to their idea, is one who is totally oblivious as to the
time the gas is turned off at night, in the lower part of the house,
or whether, indeed, it is turned off at all, or how many superfluous
burners are constantly swelling up the gas-bill, where one would
answer the purpose. "A good mistress," in servants' parlance, is one
who scorns to look after any amount of chicken, or turkey, or beef,
which may not be all eaten the first time it is set upon the table,
and who will cheerfully purchase steaks for breakfast instead. "A good
mistress," with many of them, is one who, beside paying good wages,
gives them half-worn clothes enough to enable them to spend their
money in other directions, and who yet is willing that these clothes
should be worn only when they go out visiting, while they are
constantly untidy at work.

"A good mistress," with the master of the house, is one who is just
the reverse of all this. She is one who is constantly fighting waste
and unnecessary outlay, and stupidity, and ignorance, and obstinacy,
and impertinence, and unthrift. She is one who, with a constant
panorama of Bridgets, and Betseys, and Marys, and Sallys, through her
lower domains, at the expense of her own strength, and patience, and
temper, and brain, and with no prospect of an end to the same until
intelligence-offices contain more intelligence, is yet perfectly
seraphic at the idea of being at the head of a training-school for
servants, the remainder of her natural life; and smiles constantly at
the same time under reminders of the necessity of greater economy in
the household department. This is the husband's idea of "a good
mistress."

Now I maintain that, with the present _average_ material, ever so good
a mistress, with the best intelligence and intentions, cannot "make a
good servant." _Passable_ they may be; but not "_good_."

The truth is--_brain_ is wanted to make a good servant; and at present
there is only muscle. Hence our gas is half turned off. Hence our
water is wholly turned _on_, till a flood comes. Hence bits of stick
and string and dirt are thrown into pipes--for the benefit of the
plumber, and the depletion of our pockets. Hence the devil is to pay
generally, till the distracted good lady of the house considers it the
last drop in the bucket, when "her Sam" or John is unreasonable enough
to expect her, with such brainless material, to present him with
workmanlike results.

In America, the word "servant" is hateful to them; they much prefer
the word "domestic" to express the same idea. Every servant in
America, with few exceptions, dresses to suit herself; and a very bad
thing she generally makes of it. Some few families insist on the
muslin cap for their "nurses," and the regulation black dress and
white apron. But this dress is obnoxious to the majority of servants;
nor do I, for one, blame them for it. A most excellent colored woman,
in a family of my acquaintance, whose Northern mistress had purchased
her freedom before the war, and who was beloved by every member of the
family, refused to wear the colored turban-handkerchief at request of
her mistress, who had a taste for the picturesque in costume, saying,
with much spirit, "I cannot do it, madam,--not even for you;--it is
hateful to me; it is the badge of the servitude I suffered so much
under." Of course, she was excused.

Now I can understand why so few servants, in this country, white or
black, are willing to wear anything that bears the interpretation of
"a livery." At the same time, there is hardly a housekeeper or
mistress in the land who is not annoyed by the big hoop, and the long
dress, which knocks over articles, and catches in doors, and trips up
the unlucky wearer in doing her housework, or waiting on table.

Of course, if she understood managing her crinoline as she moved
about, as does her "mistress," these things might not happen; but she
does not; and it is the biggest and stiffest that she can find that
she generally prefers and wears. This is unfortunate for another
reason; because it often exposes dilapidated and soiled underclothing,
and a very questionable state of shoe and stocking. That her mistress,
though cleanly, often dresses in questionable taste, both as regards
the adaptability of her dress to the state of her husband's purse, and
the artistic selection of colors, does not make these glaring mistakes
of her servants less palpable, or less injurious to the servant's
morality; for where the passion for show, joined to narrow means,
effaces that of decency and cleanliness, the downward road to ruin,
for a woman in any station, is already entered upon. It needs only a
very slight impetus to determine the final result.

Alas! the showy bonnet and gay dress, which must be had by cook or
chamber-maid, although they have not a decent change of underclothing,
or a whole pair of stockings, a warm shawl, or a pair of
India-rubbers, or the least hint of flannel for cold weather! Now,
they "have a right," as they say, so to expend their wages, if they
choose. They have a right also to languish on a hospital bed, among
strangers, when sickness and poverty overtake them. _But is it wise?_

In England, the dress of servants has not hitherto, as I understand
it, been a matter of choice to them. I know of an English lady who,
not long since, forbade her nurse to wear a dress, which the latter
had purchased, because it was like that which one of her own children
wore. Servants, in England, have leaped over this form of restriction,
it would seem. Among the "reforms" now proposed, there is one
respecting domestic servants, whose extravagance in dress, whose
depravity of morals, and unreliability of conduct is, they say,
becoming "unendurable." A clergyman's wife has started a reform
movement, and calls upon the ladies of England to help her carry it
out. She proposes "that no servant, under pain of dismissal, shall
wear flowers, feathers, brooches, buckles, or clasps, ear-rings,
lockets, neck-ribbons, velvets, kid gloves, parasols, sashes, jackets,
or trimming of any kind, on dresses, and, above all, no _crinoline_.
No pads to be worn, or frizettes, or chignons, or hair ribbons. The
dress is to be gored, and made just to touch the ground, and the hair
to be drawn closely to the head, under a round, white cap, without
trimming of any kind. The same system of dress is recommended for
Sunday-school girls, school-mistresses, church-singers, and _the lower
orders generally_." I think "the Sunday-school girls, church-singers,
school-mistresses, _and lower orders," in America, generally_, would
have to undergo a most wonderful _peeling_, according to this
programme! I think an American "servant" would scarcely be content to
be deprived of her "parasol," of a hot Sunday, when she went to
church.

No, no, ladies; that's not the way to do it; not even in England,
where flunkeys abound. The "lower orders" are waking up there, thank
God! and I hope, to their best interests. True, it is mournful to see
all a servant's wages on her head, in the shape of a gay dress-bonnet.
I hate it; but I hate it for her own sake, because she needs so many
comfortable things that the sum so expended would buy. And I hate,
just as much, to see her mistress in a velvet cloak, which represents
all her husband's earnings for one month, while there is a shabby
carpet on her front entry or chamber, and "nicked" cups and saucers on
her table. In fact, I think, that while the _parlor_ sets so bad an
example, the _kitchen_ will never be swept with a clean broom.



_THE MOTHER-TOUCH._


How soon the house shows its absence! How little the lack of her
executive watchfulness is realized till, like her plants that droop
for want of water, everything about the house has somehow a wilted
look! For was it not "mother" who moved about, instinctively placing a
bright-colored vase just where the light would most effectually fall
on it, and raised a curtain, or drew it aside, from the same artistic
impulse?--who opened a window here or closed it there, just at the
right moment, to make the temperature of the house agreeable?--who,
passing into one room, straightened a cloth that was ever so little
awry upon the table, or put out of the way some carelessly placed
footstool, over which some stranger foot might have stumbled; or put
sofas and chairs in such neighborly and comfortable proximity, that it
was really quite wonderful how they could help carrying on a
conversation with each other?

Was it not "mother," who, seating herself at the table, saw on the
instant if the proper geographical positions of the dishes were
respected? And did she not, how weary soever with her frittering life
of detail, see to it that the unities were harmoniously preserved, in
spite of Erin's unteachable proclivities to the contrary, and all with
a glance of her eye, or a whispered word, or a touch of her magic
finger-tips?

And the children! The button is never missing at the throat of the
little garment, where insidious croup essays to creep in. The tiny
mittens are nicely mended, and no shoulder-strap is so tight as to
impede motion or cut the tender skin, till the justly irritated child
gets a boxed ear at school, which should by right have been
administered to the person who planned and put on its abominable
clothes--ruffled, mayhap, and embroidered, but ill-fitting, and
rasping as the hair-cloth shirt of the devotee. And who but "mother"
remembers whether "that poor child ate any breakfast this morning," or
needs the intervening and comforting bit of bread and butter, for lack
of which, again, its ears are unjustly boxed at school? And does she
not plan her "shopping" and "calling," so that when the little ones
come back from school or play, the house may not seem empty, who else
soever may be there, because "_mother_" is out? No little nose in
_her_ house is flattened on the window-pane, hour after hour, watching
for the presence, which alone fills the house with sunshine--settles
all grievances, or else kisses them away; and always for the tired
little feet substitutes soft slippers in lieu of the heavy boots. And
who, at night, bathes the heated forehead and flushed face, and cools
off the little hands before they are folded to say, "Now I lay me,"
and leaves a kiss on lips that falter with sleep at the last unsaid
syllable, for it may be that in this world it will never be finished.
"Mother" thinks of that.

And now, "_mother_" is "gone"! Oh, how much is in that little word?
There is a "body" down-stairs, but that soon will go too. For the
grown people it leaves behind, there may be solace, but, alas for the
little child, who cannot comprehend why, when mother is "down-stairs,"
she can at the same time be "gone"!--who knows not how, from that
narrow grave, she can "get up" to the far heaven, where they say she
had flown. Alas for the little child who now is overloaded with
clothing when it is warm, and has on far too little when it is needed;
who goes hungry when food is imperative, and is overfed when digestion
clamors for a respite; who breathes all night an already exhausted
atmosphere, and sits perhaps in a deadly draught next morning! The
little child who touches "mother's" work-box, and "mother's" desk, and
"mother's" dresses, but never can find _her!_ who goes to sleep with a
sigh in place of a smile, and wakes up to a lonely house though filled
with voices! In all the wide world there is never so empty a spot as
that little heart.

And what a void is left when it is the little one who goes! "Say
something to comfort you for the loss of your little one." This is
what you asked of me. Nothing I could say _now_, my friend, would
comfort you, because you are stunned, and must have time to lift your
head and look about you. _Then_ you will see myriads of little graves
beside your own darling's, and myriads of mothers who have passed
through the same Gethsemane, where you are now weeping tears of blood.
Each of those mothers has cried out like yourself, "What sorrow was
ever equal to my sorrow?" What is that to me? you ask. Listen. Many of
these mothers are now thanking God, every day of their lives, that
their little ones are safe from the fearful earthly storms that have
since come with desolating sweep over their hearthstones. Humbly they
say, "Ah! I little knew, though my Maker did, when he folded my baby
safely to His protecting breast, what was in the future." Well, some
day _you_ too will cease to weep--growing unselfish--and reaching
forth further each day your supplicating hands towards that heavenly
home where there shall be "no more death." Having your treasure there,
there will be your heart also. Said a sweet young mother to me, "Once
I used to cry always, at twilight, that I must some day die. Now that
my baby is gone, death has no terrors for me, for there I shall be
happy with her again--and _forever_."

Let those who can, rob her of this her beautiful faith. When the sun
shines only on the graves wept over by _others_, they can stand erect
and say, "This world is good enough for me. I don't want any better."
But see, if with the first falling clod on some dear, cold, still
breast, "_My_ God!" will not come as involuntarily to their lips as
"Mother!" to the little child's, when pain overtakes it away from her
protecting side.

The shining lock, the little shoe--my friend, it is long years since I
shed a tear over mine--I can take them out of their wrappings in my
hand, and smile to think that I am so far on my journey that I shall
soon see my little one face to face. _Whether she or I will be the
child_ when we meet again, God only knows; or, what heavenly mysteries
I shall learn, kneeling at my baby's feet, I cannot tell; but this I
know, by the kisses I have given many a little face since she died,
for _her_ dear sake, that a mother's love was meant to reach far
beyond the grave.

       *       *       *       *       *

The bits of conversation one hears in the street, are often very
suggestive. Said a gentleman the other day: "It appears to me, that
the women of to-day are excellent in every department, but that of
_wives_." It occurred to us, that if this were true, what a comment it
was on the stupidity and bad management of the general husband. If in
every other relation of life, woman does excellently well, why should
she not do well in _this_?



_SOME GOSSIP ABOUT MYSELF._


First--my unfortunate NOSE! I think life would be a different thing to
me had I no nose. When you consider that there are twenty disagreeable
odors to one sweet one, you will be at no loss to understand my
meaning; and yet, after all, when we come to definitions, your
_pleasant_ smell might be a very noisome one to me. Your tobacco, sir,
for instance; or your "patchoule," madam, or your musk. Then turnips,
or cabbage, in process of cooking, may not cause _you_ to throw
up--the window! Beefsteak smoke, or mutton-chop smoke, or
buckwheat-cake smoke, may render _you_ quite happy in prospect, while
I only sigh for that far-off millennium when cooking shall be
inodorous. Stay! I meant to except coffee. Hail coffee--_rain_ coffee,
if you will. Ah! I would keep a perpetual pot of coffee steaming on my
kitchen range. Tea smells nice and tastes well, I suppose, to its
lovers, for whom I have little respect. In truth, when I reflect how
my nose curtails my daily bill of fare, I am lost in wonder, and my
butcher no doubt also marvels at its monotony. The whole family of
_Frys_, for instance, except a gentleman I once knew of that name,
are odious to my olfactories.

In the millennium I speak of, no cook will allow a bone to be singed
on the fire, or milk to boil over upon the stove; for let her know
that up three, four, yea, five pair of stairs, I shall immediately be
apprised of the same by this my watchful member. Let her not dream
that her cousin, or uncle, or male "follower" of any degree, can
smoke, or even light his pipe, in the kitchen, without giving me an
impulse toward the bell-wire. Let no grocer boy or ice-man fondly hope
to retain the celestial spark, while he briefly deposits his wares in
my kitchen; and if Terence O'Flaherty thinks he can shovel coal into
my cellar and smoke at the same time, although I may be knee-deep in
an "article" at the top of the house, Terence has reckoned without his
host-ess.

I know you are sorry for me. I am sorry for myself, because it is
obvious that forty times a day I must suffer nasal crucifixion. I get
a comfortable seat in church, or concert-room, or lecture-hall. In
comes Apollo, and sits down at my elbow, in that close, unventilated
place, and finishes the process of strangulation, with dead tobacco
smoke in his clothes and hair. I am quite willing some other lady
should admire him.

But there is a bright side to this nose question. I defy you, who
don't mind tobacco, or the odor of a cooking cabbage, which is much
the same thing, to revel in a rose, or violet, or lily, or a sprig of
heliotrope, or mignonette, as I shall. I defy you to go into a wood
after a rain, and detect, as I shall, every delicate and individual
odor; from the scores of little unseen flowers hiding away under roots
of trees, and in patches of moss, and in crevices of old gray rocks.
_There_--I have the better of you, for that too brief heaven.

Alas! I am very unfortunate. There are my _ears_, too. The squeaking
of a door, the drumming of idle fingers on a table, or tapping of idle
feet on the floor, the scraping of a knife on a bad pencil-point, the
clipping of one's finger-nails with scissors, the continuous biting of
an apple in my presence, the humming of the same idle tune, the sharp
winding of a clock or watch--I fear you will cease to respect me when
I say that I have meditated murder in "the first degree" for the
perpetrators thereof.

If it is any palliation of my crime that I am cold from head to foot
when I hear sweet music; or that the trill of a little bird sends a
tear to my eyes and a prayer to my lips, I confess also to this
weakness. I am quite willing, too, you should ask, as does Mr. Smith,
fifty times a week, "Fanny do you think there ever _was_ a woman born
into the world exactly like _you_?" whatever condemnation that
question may imply for me or--the rest of my sex.

It is said that a certain great statesman, owed much of his popularity
to the fact, that he never forgot the _name_ of a person out of the
thousands who had been presented to him, and would always in shaking
hands say, "I recollect you perfectly; I saw you in such a year, at
such a place, on such an occasion." Of course, his constitutent, from
the village of Frogtown, was immensely flattered, and went home
satisfied that there must be something remarkable about him, which he
had never before found out, that he had made so indelible an
impression on so great a man, with such a press of public care and
business; and didn't this statesman get _his_ constitutent's votes and
good words after that?

Now it is very certain _I_ never should do for a statesman,
notwithstanding my very palpable qualifications apart from this.
I--who persisted for months in calling Mr. Smith Mr. De Peyster
although little pieces of flesh were nipped out of my arms by dismayed
friends, and my toes were trodden on, till there was great danger I
should be crippled for life.

But my last hope was shivered the other day, upon reading, in a public
print, that not only was a person unfit for society, who could not
remember the _names_ of those to whom he had been presented, but that
if he had failed to pronounce that name in the manner the happy owner
of it preferred, it was a mark of low-breeding.

Well, if it has come to that, the question is what is to become of me?
I have done my best, when I am pulled and twitched, to bow and smile
in the direction indicated; but it is a miserable failure. I know it.
I _always_ look the wrong way; I frown at my best friends, and smile
idiotically--to order--on Shem, Ham, and Japheth. I hand a ten-dollar
bill to pay for twenty-five cents' worth of hair-pins, and go out
forgetting my change. I go into the next store, and make a purchase of
a stranger, and depart without alluding in any way to the
remuneration: and when he follows me to the door and meekly inquires
my name and address, I ask him with the dignity becoming a wife and
matron and a grandmother, what business that is of _his_? Last week it
rained, and I left my domicile with an umbrella in _each_ hand.
Yesterday I went out with only one India-rubber shoe on, and feeling
cold in the neglected foot, remarked to my companion that I thought
one of my India-rubbers must have a hole in it to let in the water so
badly. It is very trying to listen, at such a crisis, to the indignant
and oft-repeated query, "_Are_ you going mad?" but I have to endure
it, and, what is worse, I have the sorrowful consciousness of
deserving it.

What troubles me most is, whether I am to pay six cents for car-fare
and ten cents for omnibus, or six cents for car and five for omnibus.
Also, what that gentleman thought of me who was polite enough to hand
up my fare, when, upon presenting me the change, I told him that I had
no occasion for charity. I think the driver was to blame there, in
allowing ten minutes to elapse before making change, during which I
sunk into my customary stupor.

It is useless to enumerate the gloves I have worn in public places,
where the curious spectacle has been presented by the glare of
gas-light, of one _black_ hand and one _green_ one; and, more
marvellous still, when this aberration has been intensified by both
green and black for the _same_ hand.

I have requested my "keepers," when my madness reaches indisputable
lunacy, to pad the walls of my room, and turn the key on me there,
instead of transferring me to a Lunatic Asylum; where my superior and
unapproachable idiocy would so excite the envy of the other inmates,
that my life might be the forfeit. In the meantime, any of my friends
who are shedding salt tears that I have not noticed them, or if any
who are _not_ friends are bristling with indignation because I _have_,
are requested, one and all, to pity my unhappy condition and pass me
by.

The solution of all this is, that I have a new book in press. That the
_proofs_ of the same are sent to snarl me up late in the evening, just
before I go to sleep. That beside this, I am writing--well, you'll see
what, by and by. That I have had sickness in the house for six weeks.
That I am house-keeper. That I have scores of letters to read and
answer; and that I have a little duck of a grandchild, who every hour
or two wants me "to tell her a story that is _new_ and _true_." Am I
excused?

Shall I relate my first theft? Well, I had bought a new muff; that is
nothing surprising in a city where women trim their dresses with
diamonds. But there is a story to that muff. With a wholesome horror
of _female_ shoplifters, I had attached to it a silk cord, which I
could pass over my neck; thus placing beyond their reach the
temptation to appropriate it, should I lay it down temporarily on some
counter, while shopping. Thus armed, I went forth.

Well, as I say, thus armed, I went out to buy some little matters
needed in my household. After paying for them, I took a muff from the
counter before me, placed my hands in it, and pursued my journey. I
had not proceeded more than a block, before a bare-headed clerk came
rushing after me, jostling the crowd on either side, and placing his
hands as I thought very familiarly on my muff, took it from me,
remarking as he did so, "By your leave, madam," and disappeared with
it, instanter. I looked about me for a policeman, when just then my
hand became entangled in the string around my neck. Good heavens! I
had then taken some other lady's muff from the counter! I had walked
out with _two_ muffs. One about my neck, one in my hands. I did not
pursue my search for that policeman. I was also seized with such a
violent fit of laughter at the ludicrousness and novelty of my
position, that I was quite incapable of locomotion.

Just then I met a lady friend, to whom I told the story, as well as my
frequent bursts of merriment permitted. She looked as solemn as a
hearse; she said sepulchrally, "How _can_ you laugh? I should have
died with mortification." And the more solemn she looked the more I
laughed, and I haven't done laughing yet, although it was three days
ago. I am at present looking for the finale--viz., my picture in the
Rogue's Gallery as an accomplished female shoplifter. I may have
stolen other things, but, upon my word, this is the first time I ever
stole a muff. It was so comical, that if a station-house had been my
portion I know I should have laughed all the same; besides, I always
wanted to see a station-house. I might possibly have preferred riding
there _in a carriage_, if the policeman in attendance had no
objection, or if the walking was bad, or it stormed!

Finally, my brethren, a correspondent inquires how I look? Am I tall?
have I dark, or light complexion? and what color are my eyes?

I should be very happy to answer these questions, did I know myself. I
proceed to explain why I cannot tell whether "I be I."

First--one evening I was seated at the opera, waiting patiently for
the performances to begin. In two orchestra chairs, directly in front
of me, sat a lady and gentleman, both utter strangers to me. Said the
_gentleman_ to his companion, "Do you see the lady who has just
entered yonder box?" pointing, as he did so, to the gallery;
"well, that is FANNY FERN."--"You know her, then?" asked the
lady.--"Intimately," replied this strange gentleman--"_intimately_.
Observe how expensively she is dressed. See those diamonds, and that
lace! Well, I assure you, that every cent she has ever earned by her
writings goes straightway upon her back." Naturally desiring to know
how I did look, I used my opera-glass. The lady was tall, handsome,
graceful, and beautifully dressed. The gentleman who accompanied me
began to grow red in the face, at the statement of my "intimate"
acquaintance, and insisted on a word with him; but the fun was too
good to be spoiled, and the game too insignificant to hunt; so, in
hope of farther revelations, I laughingly observed my "double" during
the evening, who looked as I have just described, for your benefit.

Again--in a list of pictures announced to be sold lately, was one
labelled "Fanny Fern." Having lost curiosity concerning that lady
myself, I did not go on a tour of inspection; but a gentleman friend
of mine who did, came back in high glee at the manner in which the
purchaser thereof, if any should be found, would be swindled--as "I
was _not_ I" in that case either.

Some time ago "Fanny Fern" was peddled round California, or at least,
so I was informed by letter. In this instance they had given her, by
way of variety, black eyes and hair, and a brunette complexion. I
think she was also taken smiling. A friend, moreover, informed me that
he had seen me, with an angelic expression, seated upon a rosy cloud,
with wings at my back. This last fact touched me. Wings are what I
sigh for. It was too cruel a mockery.

You will see from the above, how impossible it is, for such a
chameleon female, to describe herself, even to one "who likes my
writings." If it will throw any light on the subject, however, I will
inform you that a man who got into my parlor under cover of
"New-Year's calls," after breathlessly inspecting me, remarked, "Well,
now, I _am_ agreeably disappointed! I thought from the way you
_writ_, that you were a great six-footer of a woman, with snapping
black eyes and a big waist, and I _am_ pleased to find you looking so
soft and so femi_nine_!"

I would have preferred, had I been consulted, that he should have
omitted the word "soft;" but after the experiences narrated above,
this was a trifle.

       *       *       *       *       *

A gentleman requested me not long since "to rebuke those men who did
not rise, when ladies entered a car, and give them a seat." Now this
would come with a bad grace from me, for the reason that I never enter
a full car without having this politeness extended to me. But mind
this, ladies, I never yet forgot to thank the man, as prettily as my
knowledge of such things serves me, for such a gracious act, and
perhaps that is the explanation. At any rate, I have been so disgusted
with the reverse, that I more often wondered that men _do_ get up,
than that they _don't_. I think ladies, too, should not _exact_ such
courtesy by look, or word, or manner, as I have often seen them do. I
find American men most courteous, most obliging to our sex. Now and
then one meets a bear. To such, a woman must of course give a wide
berth, unless she has a muzzle in the shape of a "protector" handy.



_HOSPITALITY._


If each person were asked to define this word, the answers would be
amusing. Emerson says "that we should not turn away wholly from the
routine of our daily life to make our guests welcome." He says "that
every one worthy to sit at our table knows that life has its necessary
duties; and that we should not burden our friends with the thought
that our business is suffering derangement and loss by their coming."

This is common-sense; but if we measure the majority of people by it,
then few "_are_ worthy to sit at one's table." It may be because
insincerity is so much the order of the day, that each so distrusts
the other that a person cannot say frankly to a friend, without giving
offence, I would be glad to stay longer with you, or have you stay
longer, but I really cannot now. A lady said to me, not long since, "I
never dare say truthfully that I am 'engaged' when a caller comes, no
matter how impossible circumstances make it for me to go down. If I
do, it always offends. Therefore I am obliged to send word that I am
out; then the caller leaves without any wound to his self-love." Now
this ought not to be. A straightforward honesty is much better. But
there are so many inconsiderate people, who, provided they gain their
point to see you, care little at what sacrifice on your part of time,
or at what postponement of imperative duties. _They_ have time enough.
So much that they are even puzzled what to do with it; how can it be
that _you_ have none, or so little, at the service of friends? They
cannot comprehend that one's duty, or one's labor, may tread so
closely on the heels of the other, that your remaining vitality needs
the most careful nursing and division to keep your steps from _final_
faltering. What is to be done with such rhinoceros-hided people as
these? You feel no unkindness toward them; but, like the beggar that
accosts you on the last of many curb-stones, you have simply parted
with all your pennies. Your pocket is empty.

I recollect once a lady in the same house with me, to whom I
apologized as civilly as I knew how for being obliged to leave her to
write a promised article. She bowed coolly, and, on my leaving the
room, said to a friend of mine, "I suppose she did that to get rid of
me, don't you?"

It is much easier to get along with men, because _they_ can understand
that life has its unpostponable duties, without any lifting of
eyebrows or incredulous shrugging of shoulders, or a cool salute the
next time you two meet. The intercourse of one man with another in
this regard has always elicited my admiration. They take up a
newspaper or a book, and read in each other's presence, with a tacit
understanding of its perfect propriety. If one has to leave, he often
says no more than "I'm off," or "Good-by, old fellow." Sometimes it is
only a touch of the hat, or a hand laid on the other's shoulder in
passing; and no black eyes follow, no locks of hair fly, nor do any
hard words or looks result in the future.

If ladies smoked,--which the gods forbid!--do you suppose one lady
would allow another to stop her in the street and light a cigar from
her lips, when she _never was introduced_? When she didn't even know
who her dress-maker was, or where she bought her bonnets? Good
heavens!

Did you ever notice, if anything unexpected occurs in the mutual path
of men through the same street, how naturally and frankly they accost
each other, though perfect strangers, and converse about it, and go
their several ways, to their tombstones, after it. Not so sweet woman!
Catch _her_ speaking to "that nasty thing"! How does _she_ know who or
what she is?

Children are so delicious about these matters. I saw two little girls
the other day trying to crack a nut upon the sidewalk, by pressing in
turn their tiny little shoes upon it. Despairing of success, they said
to a gentleman passing, "Man, man, crack this nut for us, will you?"
His handsome face was luminous with fun, as he pressed his polished
boot down upon it, to the delight of the youngsters and myself. Now
these little girls wouldn't have thought of asking a lady to do that,
or if they had, do you think she would have stopped to do it?



_WOMAN AND HER WATCH._


This unnatural partnership is well understood, both by watchmakers and
husbands. Who among the latter has not had occasion to mourn, seventy
times seven, that he was ever such an idiot as to present his wife
with a watch? Of what use was it, when fastening it to her belt, in
its pristine glitter and correctness, that he remarked, with uplifted
finger, "Here, my dear, be sure and remember to wind this up regularly
every night when you take it off." Of what use was it that she
bristled up, and retorted, "As if I shouldn't remember that, John, you
goose!"

Didn't John himself, after she crept into bed, that very night, ask
her had she done it; and didn't she guiltily reply, dodging the
question, "Don't bother me, John, just as I am getting sleepy!" And
didn't it run down? And didn't he face her up, the next day, with the
face of that watch behind time, at the same moment showing her
reproachfully the immaculate time-piece in his vest-pocket, which
never erred, or varied from the path of strict duty, no more than one
of his relatives! And wasn't she glad, when a pickpocket in a
street-car, shortly after, relieved her husband of this finger-post to
her transgressions! Besides, suppose her watch were a little before
or behind time, or suppose it stopped altogether, for the matter of
that; wasn't it _her_ watch, I'd like to know; and didn't his
jurisdiction over it stop when it became such? And didn't she, at
last, get so mad at his asking her every night, when they got into
bed, if it was wound up, that she let it alone from sheer perversity,
and never pretended to prevaricate on the subject, but "riz" right up
in bed, when he asked her the question, and answered boldly, "No, it
isn't!"

And how impertinent it was of the watchmaker, when, after frequent
aberrations from duty, she carried secretly this little trinket to get
it repaired, to ask what she had been doing to it; or to laugh, with
_his_ necessary knowledge of watches and women, when she replied, "I
only dropped it on the hearth." But watchmakers are often
husbands--and when you've seen one husband, you've seen the whole
tribe--always asking you what you've done, and then scolding you for
doing it; thus offering you a premium for lying the next time they
propose such a meddling question.

Do they tell "what they have been doing"? I rather think there'd be
pulling of hair if they did. Then what right have they to catechize
us?

Now I ask any candid person if a lady's watch don't _look_ just as
prettily in her belt, whether it "goes" or not? And can't she always
ask her husband what time it is? And isn't he a brute and a bear, if
he growls at telling her, even supposing he has given her a watch to
obviate that necessity? I'm sure nothing could be plainer; and I hope
nobody will say, after this, that a woman can't reason. Besides, what
right has a lazy animal like man to expect anything perpetually to
"go"? Don't _he_ lay off, on every convenient chance? Isn't he always
prefacing and winding up everything with "Be quiet"? Of course he is.
Every wife from Maine to Florida knows that. I tell you they expect
too much from women and their watches, and it's high "time" they knew
it, and got used to having both run like fury one minute, and stand
still the next.

       *       *       *       *       *

Will people who attend lectures and concerts cease drumming with their
fingers on the back of seats, or with canes or feet on the floor, till
the services begin? One cannot help remarking, in such vicinity, how
few persons are really well-bred. Dress certainly is no indication of
it, judged by this rule. If a tattoo must be performed, why not go out
in the lobby or vestibule, and have the war-dance out? This thing has
come to be such an intolerable nuisance, that the paradoxical
regulation, "No _gentlemen_ are allowed to smoke in the ladies'
cabin," may as well be imitated by--"No _gentleman_, in a concert or
lecture-room, is allowed to drum on the back of a lady's chair before,
or after, or during the entertainment."



"_MY DOCTOR._"


You have one, of course; and of course he never opens his mouth
without dropping pearls. (I hope the printer will not print this last
word _pills_.) _Your_ doctor believes in flannel next the skin, all
the year round. Mrs. Jones' doctor, who "knows much more than your
doctor," thinks that a person of discretion may occasionally, in the
dog-days, lay flannel on the shelf and no coffin be imminent. _Your_
doctor says that young children's necks and shoulders should always be
covered, even in warm weather. Mrs. Smith's doctor, who, she says,
"stands at the head of his profession" says that is all nonsense, and
that children should go through a toughening process, which will
render changes of temperature harmless. _Your_ doctor advises you
never to cross the street, or go down-stairs, unless accompanied by
quinine. Mrs. Smith's doctor tells her if she wants poison she had
better get ratsbane, and then she will know what she is swallowing.

Now each of you believe that "_my_ doctor" is infallible; that is a
great comfort to you, and very satisfactory to them, especially
pocket-wise. "My doctor" hasn't dealt with women so long, and failed
to see their blind side. He knows what "brutes" husbands are, and how
like flints they will oppose the sea-shore, merely because their wives
want to go there. What is the use of "my doctor," unless he comforts
you under this affliction, and declares that to be the only place
where you can regain your lost appetite? No wonder you like him; no
wonder life is a blank to you when his carriage is not before your
door. There is healing in the very sight of his beard and moustache;
and how much handsomer they are than the "brute's." Ah! had you met
"my doctor" years ago, you say; not stopping to reflect, that in that
case he would have been attending women who paid fees, and left you,
his wife, to some medical friend for pills and consolation. It is
better as it is, you see. Well, it _is_ comforting "that he
understands you better than anybody else, and seems to know just what
you want." And then he shows such an absorbing interest in your
symptoms, that you almost feel cured by his sympathy alone, before you
swallow a single powder; and, since my ears are out of your reach, I
will remark, that well you may, when, half the time, nothing in the
world ails you but the want of some absorbing occupation or interest.
Colored water and bread pills are safe prescriptions for that
complaint; meantime it wont hurt the "brute" to pay for the wear and
tear of the doctor's carriage in coming and going. If "my doctor"
laughs in his sleeve, occasionally, when he thinks what funny
creatures women are, you are none the wiser or the angrier for it. He
don't dislike, after all, their little cuddlesome, trusting, confiding
ways; possibly not so much as his wife does, whose acquaintance you
had better not make. As I before remarked, his medical friends can
take care of her; it is no business of yours, her disgusting ails and
aches.

But what a thing it is when "my doctor" was also "_ma's doctor_"! If
he don't know all the ins and outs, then "may the divel fly away
wid--him!"

The moral of all this is, that "my doctor's" life is not without its
consolations, and the most astonishing part of it is, that husbands
are so blear-eyed to this subject. It wont harm them to hint that in
sympathy and courteousness they had better not present too sharp a
contrast to "my doctor."



_A WOMAN AT A LECTURE._


If you want to see a woman act more like a goose than she need, watch
her when she enters a place of public performance, where the seats are
at the mercy of first-comers. Notice her profound survey of the
situation, as she stands, preceding her John, who is supposed to know
nothing about such things, poised on one foot, while she measures
distances, drafts, and acoustics with the eye of a connoisseur. Now
she decides! At last she swoops down on _the_ seat in all the house
which she prefers. John follows, with the shawl and family umbrella.
He faintly suggests the possible obstruction of a pillar between the
seat she has chosen and the speaker, but he follows. Directly she is
seated, and the shawl and umbrella located without inconvenience to
themselves, or infringement of the comfort of their neighbors, when
she coolly remarks, "John, 'tis true, that pillar _is_ right between
me and the speaker." John's ears redden; but he is in public, so he
don't say, "Didn't I tell you so?" but rises with shawl and umbrella,
the former catching by the fringe on every seat as he passes, and the
latter slipping to the floor while he tries to disentangle the shawl.
Meantime my lady is on her triumphal march for that "best seat."

Now she alights! It wont do. There's a tall man in front of her; she
is always fated to sit behind a tall man. She tries another; there's
the phantom pillar again. Yet another; that's the end seat, and every
horrid man that comes along will be treading on her dress and knocking
her bonnet over her eyes all the evening. Meantime John gets redder in
the face; he can't even ease himself with a customary growl. Ah! now
she has got the seat at last, and stands beckoning to John to follow.
Her friend Miss Frizzle is beside her, and she is happy. There is only
one seat, to be sure, but "John can find one somewhere else, or
perhaps he would like to take a walk outside and call for her when
lecture is over--only he must be sure to be back in time." So down she
sits, while John wanders off for a possible stray seat. Now she draws
off the glove that hides her one diamond ring, and settles the
bracelet on the wrist of that hand. Then she tumbles up her front
hair, lest it might have got smooth coming. Then she picks out the
bows of the natty little ribbon under her dimpled chin. It was that
chin that victimized John! Then she draws from her pocket her scented
pocket-handkerchief and gives it a little incense-waft into the air,
magnetizing a young man in front, who turns round to find the owner of
that delicious gale from Araby the blest. Then she takes out her
opera-glass and peeps about, not so much that her sight is defective,
but that her diamond-ring and gold bracelets gleam prettily in the
operation. John, meantime, has found a seat in a draft, and is
sitting with bent brows and a turned-up coat-collar--which last is
sufficient to make a ruffian of a man without any woman's help--in the
back part of the house. Confidences, millinery, mantua-makery, and
matinée-y are meanwhile exchanged between his wife and dear Miss
Frizzle, who is an acknowledged man-killer, and keeps a private
grave-yard of her own for deceased lovers.

Now the lecturer rises. "Pooh! he's an ugly man. Well, they need't
look at him; and perhaps he'll be funny--who knows?" He isn't funny.
He is talking about Plato and Epictetus; who the goodness are they?
But there's an end to all things, and so there is to the lecture. Now,
John is wanted, and, to tell the truth, for the first time thought of!
Ah, there he is! but how sulky, and how ugly he looks with his
coat-collar turned up! He might have some regard to appearances when
he goes with _her_. People will think she has such a horrid taste in
husbands.

"Why don't you talk?" says the little woman, when they get outside.
"It was too bad you couldn't sit by me, John; I missed you so! but,
you see, there was but one seat."--"Not just in that locality, I
suppose," muttered John. But the street-lamp just then shone on that
cunning little dimpled chin, and its owner said, coaxingly, "O-o-h,
now, John! don't be cross with its little wife!" and it's my private
opinion he wasn't. Would you have been, sir?



_CAN'T BE SUITED._


Look at those long-faced Christians coming home from church, says
Find-Fault; "it is enough to make one sick--gloomy, morose-looking
beings. I wonder do they think there is any religion in that? The fact
is, religion is played out." Now, Find-Fault _wants_ religion to be
played out, so he looks at it always through that pair of spectacles.
If he sees a mistake in that direction, he never thinks, as in other
cases, of making reasonable allowance for it. He can understand how
really good men may have narrow views of business, or of politics, or
of any such secular matters; but if they blunder through narrowness of
view on the _religious_ question, he immediately sets them down as
hypocrites and pretenders. Now I believe that there is many a "Worthy
the Lamb" being sung heartily in heaven to-day, by those mistaken
Christians who thought it right to groan and sigh all the time they
were on earth. It is a pity, to be sure, especially in view of such
people as Find-Fault, that they had not occasionally given us a
cheerful chirp before they went, but "religion" still lives all the
same.

Then Find-Fault is not very consistent, even on his own showing.

"_There's_ a pretty minister for you," he says, as he comes out of the
Rev. Mr. Spring-morning's church; "there's a pretty minister for
you--making his congregation smile during the services! A clergyman
shouldn't let himself down that way. It is undignified." You tell him
that the clergyman in question believes in a cheerful religion, and
wishes to do away with the long-faced Christianity which brings
religion into disrepute with just such people as himself. Finding
himself in a corner, he only gives you his stereotyped answer, that
"religion is played out, anyhow."

Find-Fault isn't a bad man: it only pleases him to be thought so. The
other day, in speaking of a man who made great efforts to overcome
intemperate habits, and failed, he said, "Poor fellow! somebody ought
to take hold and help him to help himself." But, mind you, he never
thinks of applying the same rule to a church-member for whom Satan, in
a moment of weakness, is too strong; no matter how sincere his
repentance, he only says, "_there's your religion again!_"

Not long since, when a man of very bad character was requested by
church-members and clergymen to give up his disreputable way of
living, Find-Fault said, "Now just see those Christians taking the
bread out of that poor devil's mouth, and expecting him to sustain
nature on praying and singing."

Afterward, when a purse was made up for just such a person, that he
might be able to defy want, and the better to struggle for honesty,
Find-Fault remarked, sneeringly, "Reform, indeed! what fellow like
that _wouldn't_ reform, even fifty times a year, if the bait of a
well-filled purse were put under his nose."

Now what is the use of talking to a man who applies common sense to
every subject but that of religion?--who has no doubt that genuine
money is in circulation although he has a counterfeit dollar in his
pocket, but still persists in denying the existence of true religion
because he sometimes meets a hypocrite. Oh, pshaw! None so blind as
they who _wont_ see. None so hard to convince as they who are
predetermined _not_ to be convinced, come what will.

       *       *       *       *       *

Would it not be well for the sextons of our churches, to take the
_creak_ out of their Sunday shoes, by wearing them once or twice on a
week-day? Some of the most important points in a clergyman's discourse
are often lost through the music of the sexton's shoes. A pair of soft
slippers, or easy boots, might be raised on subscription and presented
to this functionary. Also, if he would not go out in the vestibule to
smoke, during service, it would be a relief to many lovers of pure
air. Both these suggestions apply equally well to some of the
parishioners.



_AUTOGRAPH-HUNTERS._


If there is an intolerable nuisance, it is your persistent
autograph-hunter--your man or woman who keeps a stereotyped formula of
compliment on hand, "their collection not complete without your
distinguished name," &c.; sending it all over the country, to eminent
and _notorious_ individuals alike, to swell their precious
"collection," as they call it. Now, in the outset, I wish to except
requests for this purpose from personal friends, to whom it is always
a pleasure to say Yes; but to those who torment you from mercenary
motives or from mere curiosity, as they would bottle up an odd insect
for their shelf, to amuse an idle hour, I confess to little sympathy.
Nay more, I am unprincipled enough, having long been a martyr, always
to pocket the stamp they send, and throw the request in the
waste-paper basket. I can conceive that invalids, or very young
school-boys or girls, might amuse themselves in this manner; but how a
sane adult, in the rush and hurry and turmoil of the maelstrom-life of
1868, can find a moment for such nonsense, or can expect _you_ to find
a moment for it, is beyond my comprehension. Now, a lock of hair has
some significance--at least, I hope that man thought so, who received
from me a curl clipped from a poodle-dog, which at this moment may be
labelled with my name. It will be all the same a hundred years hence,
as I remarked when I forwarded it to him.

Your autograph-hunter has a funny way of acknowledging "the
intrusion," and then going on to pile up the agony by asking, beside
your own autograph, that you would "favor him with any from
distinguished individuals that you may happen to have in your
possession, for which he--or she--will be much obliged," etc.; and I
have no doubt they will when I send them!

Now, I know this sounds unamiable; but there is a point when endurance
comes to an end, and that is where persistent impertinence begins. Why
don't they go to my friend Jack Smith? _He_ is eminent. He will write
autographs all day and all night for anybody who wants one, because he
considers it a compliment, which I don't, as autographs go; and
because Henry Clay never refused--and that would be the very reason I
should; and because Jack has the chronic weakness of always saying
Yes, when he should say No, and _vice versa_. I am afraid I shall have
to buy my postage-stamps after this onslaught, instead of having them
found by autograph-hunters, as I have had for some time; but I shall
get off cheaply at that, and save temper, time, and ink beside. The
mischief of expressing one's opinion on this and kindred subjects, in
print, is this: that the rhinoceros-fellows you mean to hit always
dodge it, in favor of some kind-hearted, sensitive soul whose feelings
you wouldn't wound for a bushel of autographs, though you should have
to sit up all night to write them. I didn't mean _you_ at all, my dear
sir or madam, because I know _you_ really like me, good-for-nothing as
I am; and, after all, it may be that I am only "riled" by that
"furniture-polish man," who looked so much like a clergyman that Betty
mistook him for one, and thought I really must go down if I were busy,
and whose nose I should like to have anointed with his miserable
"polish," for wasting one good hour of the morning, trying it on my
furniture.



_THE ETIQUETTE OF HOTEL PIAZZAS._


I am not aware that any one has treated this momentous subject. This
being the case, permit me to inquire what are the rights of persons
occupying rooms on the ground-floors of hotels, or boarding-houses,
with windows opening upon the piazzas of the same. Or, in other words,
_have_ they any exclusive right to that part of the piazza directly
fronting their own windows? May they remonstrate if, while sitting at
their window reading or writing, a person draws a chair in front and
commences singing "Pop goes the Weasel," with variations; or whistles
"Yankee Doodle," for an hour; or _reads aloud_ to a companion some
blood-and-thunder novel? Or worse, when a gentleman(?) draws a chair
in front of the window, and with his heels on the pillar of the
piazza, and his head close to your window, lights an odious pipe, and
commences filling your room with its vileness, compelling your
immediate retreat, because he prefers the spot opposite to your window
to the smoker's end of the piazza: in such case, is it in order for
one to request his speedy exit? Is it piazza-etiquette for strangers,
who have ascertained "that that is _her_ room" to lean close to the
window-sill, the better to observe the habits of the animal inside?
May one, in such circumstances, in self-defence, close a blind, or
drop a curtain, without forfeiting the good opinion of inquiring
minds?

Would it be proper, in those who engage piazza-rooms, first to inquire
of the landlord if he himself is a smoker, the better to calculate
one's chances of sympathy in case of tobacco intruders?

There are alleviations, I am not unaware, to the occupants of
piazza-rooms. For instance, when one's blinds are closed upon the
unwary, it is interesting to hear a narrative of oneself from the
stranger within the gates. Many facts in your history, of which you
were before entirely ignorant, are thus brought to your notice,
without subscribing to any paper. It is also edifying to learn that
your friend, "Mrs. Jones, gives her husband fits;" that "Mr. Smith is
a horrible brute, in his own room, to his wife, although always ready
to pick up gracefully the handkerchief of any other lady, and return
it with the most complimentary little speeches." It is also amusing to
know that Mrs. Jenkins' hair is or is not her own; likewise, her
complexion. Edifying, also, are statistics about family expenses, and
the manner of expending holiday money so as to get the most fun out of
it. But when one young man reposes love-confidences in another,
beneath your lattice, _then_, my sisters, hold your breath and your
sides!--for then shall you know a depth of stupidity in measuring
feminine tactics which should richly entitle its owner to a free pass
into any Lunatic Asylum in the land.

As this is a many-sided subject, let me inquire, were you, the
occupant of a piazza-room, ever awakened at the gray dawn, from lovely
slumber, by the dragging of chairs and stools across it, and the
scratching of mops and brooms? Or were you ever forced to lie in a
perspiration of agony, at twelve o'clock at night, while some
enterprising individual, in the parlor opposite your door, played with
one hand, the inspiring tune of "Lanigan's Ball," or rattled
discordantly through "I love but Thee"?

Lest you should forget it, let me repeat the question with which I
started. Have occupants of piazza-rooms any exclusive rights in the
piece of piazza directly fronting their own windows? If Congress has
not adjourned, perhaps it will stop pulling noses to answer.



_OLD STOCKBRIDGE IN MASSACHUSETTS._


Massachusetts forever! _and thrift, of course_. Doors that will shut.
Blinds that will fasten. Windows that do not dislocate your wrists to
open. Good bread and beef steak. Mountains with cool sloping sides,
and distracting shadows. A river that has coquetted with the meadows,
till one never knows where it will turn up, or disappear. Perfect
roads, even for our precious "Ledger-horses." Trees whose tops pierce
the clouds, with trunks as rugged and gnarled as the theology of the
oldest divine in the place. "Stockbridge!" The name might have been
prettier--the place _couldn't_ be. From my window I can watch the cool
spray of a fountain, as the wind tosses it about, or the sun makes a
rainbow out of it. Or I can look at a little toy of an Episcopal
Church, half hidden in vines, and trees, and roses, through whose open
windows floats faintly to my ear the sweet Sabbath chaunt, to which
the little birds give cheerful response. Bars of sunlight lie across
the wide grassy road, and every door is a picture, with the silver
hair of age serenely biding its time; or the golden locks of
childhood, shading sinless brows, spite of the "hell" which President
Edwards would insist was their inherited portion. In _this_ place,
too, of all other places, where heavenly peace is written in the air,
and so faint is the intimation of life's turmoil, that one might well
doubt whether this were _not_ heaven. I look at the house where this
good, but _I_ think mistaken, man thought and wrote these things, and
wonder that he could not see _my_ God instead of _his--the Avenger_.

I walk under these cathedral trees, and like a dream comes to me the
memory of a bright summer day, when a romping school-girl in
Pittsfield, near by, I came to this very "Stockbridge," to a house a
few rods from my present abode, where a sister's welcome awaited me.
And to-day _her_ trees, _her_ vines, _her_ flowers, give out perfume,
and shade, and bloom, all the same as if she were gliding in and out
beneath them, instead of sleeping, deaf, dumb, and blind, forever to
all their beauty.

_You_, too, must have known those whom you "could not _make_ dead!"
Joyous, beaming creatures, with steps of air, floating _over_--not
walking _on_--the earth; touching everything with brightness, like the
bright-winged birds, which send forth a trill that takes your soul
along with it, as they dart, like a gleam of sunshine, through the
air. _You_, too, have stood over their coffin; but you only remember
the sunny _living_ face. You have touched the cold hand; but you feel
only, through long years of separation, the warm life clasp. And so my
sister was still there, amid her flowers and trees; and when the
present kindly proprietor showed me about the house and grounds, it
was _she_ to whom I listened; it was _she_, not him, whom I followed,
through the well-remembered paths.

And now tread softly, lest you invade the sanctity of yonder Indian
burying-ground, where rest the bones of countless chiefs, whose
descendants make annual pilgrimage to the spot, unmarked, save by the
wild flowers and waving grass. These Indians went by the name of "The
Stockbridge Indians;" and when any of their tribe settled afterward in
any other place, they always insisted on naming it "Stockbridge."
Jonathan Edwards, who was driven from his church in Northampton on a
point of doctrine, was the minister employed by the Government to
Christianize them; and, from all accounts, a hard job he found it.
"The poor Indian" must have passed into his "hunting-ground," for I
meet him nowhere in my twilight walks through his earthly haunts; nor
does the ghost of a single chief cause my hair to stand on end as I
pass, by moonlight, their lonely burying-ground.

MORNING IN THE VILLAGE.--Softly, slowly, the white mist-veil is drawn
back from the cool, green mountains. Now a little bird, raising its
bright head from its nest, sends forth such a welcome to the fragrant
new-born day, that prayer of mine seems superfluous and tame beside
it. Follows another, like a well-trained voice in a choir, till at
last the swelling chorus is complete, and nature's matins have fairly
begun.

How the dew sparkles and trembles on the nodding blades of grass! How
lazily the cows loiter on their shady path to the cool pastures! How
fair look the white daisies and red clover, fresh from their dewy
baths! How still hang the leaves on the trees, as if to enjoy the too
evanescent coolness! Now some little child's sweet voice is heard,
rivaling the birds. There she stands in the doorway, prettier with her
uncombed locks and bare little pink feet peeping from beneath her
loose, white night-dress, than any touch of art could make her. And
now her father, brown and strong, with hoe and rake in hand, goes
forth to his day's work, stopping as he goes to rest his toil-hardened
hand lightly on that little head as he passes it. And whether the hot
noonday sun or the swift lightning-stroke shall paralyze it, that soft
touch, through the slow-coming years, shall be her talisman. And now
the village is fairly astir. None are left in their beds--none are
idle, save the old or the sick. The smoke of the rushing cars curls
out from yonder willows that fringe the river's brink, then
disappears, as, with a parting screech and puff, the train rushes
forth on its errand of life or--death! Now groups gather round the
"store" and "post-office." Ladies who have travelled thither, _with
the city on their backs_, are sauntering under the trees, so occupied
with taking care of their dry-goods that they have neither eyes nor
ears for the beauty and harmony around them. What right have such
women to perpetuate themselves? How _dare_ they be mothers? I don't
know.

NOON IN THE VILLAGE.--How white and hot lies the sun on the dusty
road! The slow, patient oxen are scarce discernible through the cloud
they raise with their huge feet. Their driver has pushed his coarse
straw hat aside, and is mopping his brown face zealously as he
mercifully gives them breath under the shadow of that grand oak-tree.
The voices of the children and the birds are hushed this garish noon.
Each have taken refuge in their nests, to doze the laggard hours away.
The fine city ladies are in loose dresses, deciding whether brown, or
green, or blue shall make us tear each other's eyes out with envy at
dinner. Their husbands lie under the trees in white raiment, insulting
high Heaven with pipes and segars. _Africa_ is flying around in the
dining-hall, regardless of the thermometer, counting spoons, knives,
and noses. Babies afflicted with last night's mosquito-bites howl at
their nurses with distorted faces, while their bigger brothers and
sisters screech for "a drink of _wutter_." Mammas ejaculate "Merciful
heavens!" and keep on surveying their back-hair with the aid of two
looking-glasses. Wonderful beings are women; but don't fear I shall
turn state's-evidence! Not till I can turn female Robinson Crusoe,
with my "man-Friday," to back me in case of onslaught from the
savages.

EVENING IN THE VILLAGE.--Little Bobby stands on the piazza, dressed in
his _fifth_ white robe and sash, since the amorous sun kissed the
tears from nature's face, this blessed morning. Poor Bobby! His
temper isn't improved by it; and as to his nurse, were it not for her
"wages," she would like to fricassee Bobby. Poor wretch! but just wait
till Bobby and his mamma are safe in bed. Wont _she_ enjoy her freedom
in a pink neck-ribbon, flirting by moonlight with Tom--the
head-waiter? So would _you_. I don't blame her. You and I haven't the
monopoly of moonlight; although, 'tis true, they might phrase their
vows more grammatically; and if they _could_ make up their minds not
to kiss so loud under my window, I should sleep better of nights. As
the sun declines, how lovely lie the purple shadows on the grateful
coolness. Ladies are driving past, smiling, and prodigal of sweet
words to the husbands of--_their friends! Their_ husbands are
similarly occupied. "Fair exchange is no robbery," saith the proverb.
Smith used to like black hair, when he married his Belinda; but since
he saw Jones' wife with her blonde locks tied with a blue ribbon he is
a penitent man. Belinda don't care--Mrs. Jones' husband has "such a
way with him!" On they dash!--it's none of my business, as Mischief
remarks, when she has winked and blinked a reputation down. I don't
pretend to be more charitable than my betters. Now those of us who
believe that hoofs should not always be a substitute for human feet,
stroll forth for our evening walk. We are not afraid of dew or dust,
and we get miles away before we remember that we have to return. We
sit on the fences, and dangle our boots, and watch the mountain
shadows and the soft white mist creeping over the valleys, and we
listen to the whip-poor-will. Or we boldly walk up the avenue, under
the dense shade of the trees, to the lovely lawn in front of that big
house, and admire the gardener's skill as displayed in the vivid
patches of bloom nestled in the grass. Or we cross the meadow--to the
tell-tale willows, behind which the river hides, and listen to its
peaceful flow; and say for the thousandth time, that we _will_ own "a
place" in the country; but, nevertheless, it is ten to one, that next
summer will find us staring at the "place" of somebody else, and
allowing him the privilege of keeping it in order for us, and settling
the bills for the same. Alas! that the tools with which scribblers
work can be sharpened and kept from rusting only on that
grindstone--_the city_.



_SUNDAY IN THE VILLAGE._


I am New England born. I want a hymn and a prayer on Sunday. Not that
I do not like both, on other days; but I am always homesick without
them on Sunday. I want them _in church_, too. I said I wanted a hymn
and a prayer. I want a sermon, too; but, alas! I am so often
disappointed _there_, and I so dread being disappointed, that I
generally take a seat near the door, where I can leave at the precise
point when I feel happy, and the sermon begins.

This is naughty, I know, but as I have gone into the confessional, I
will make a clean "_shrive_" of it. I want _what_ I want so much, and
the lack of it spoils my Sunday. I want to know _how to live_; and the
Rev. ---- only tells me that I've "got to die." I want to know how to
manage with _to-day_; and the Rev. ---- only speculates about what may
or what may not be in eternity. I want to be soothed, and helped, and
propped, and comforted; and the Rev. ---- tries to scare me with an
"angry God," and a "sure damnation." I want earnestness in the pulpit;
and instead, I find the Rev. ---- drawling lazily, "And the LUD GED
said unto Adam." I want to know what the Rev. ---- is talking about;
instead--half of the time, I am convinced--he don't even know that
himself.

Perhaps these reasons may be some excuse for my dodging the "sermon"
occasionally; if not, I plead guilty, and only ask you to acquit me of
intentional irreverence. It still remains that who else soever can do
without their Sunday, it is not I--Fanny.

But that's not what I meant to speak about, only that you will insist
on the "prelude" in church. I _meant_ to tell you that the Sunday
before I left New York, I had a genuine Sunday--one of _my_ Sundays;
when, on entering the church of the Rev. Dr. Hall, I did not exchange
the sweet song of birds, the vivid green of the trees, or the blue of
the fair skies, for sulphureous terrors. Since I heard Dr. Payson, of
Portland, when he reached out pleading hands to win wayward feet into
the path of life, I have never been so entirely satisfied with the
delivery of the Master's message. Dr. Hall has the same dignity; the
same pleading earnestness; the same deep, rich voice; the same
appreciative way of reading the hymns; the same _heart_-tone in every
syllable. With him it is no performance. No person present could fail
to feel that he had come there that morning as a fond parent would go
forth, full of tender love, and yearning for the child who had strayed
from home. There was no narrowness, no bigotry, no uncharitable
denunciation; and, at the same time, no blinking of the truth--and the
_whole_ truth. It was the lovely spirit of the Crucified: "Father,
forgive them: they know not what they do."

_I_ had a full meal; and if you could have gone away unsatisfied, I am
sorry for you. It must be that you never had a heart-wrench; that you
never reached out imploring hands in the darkness, only to grasp the
empty air. It must be that the earth never opened at your feet, and
swallowed up your dear ones. It must be that you never--with a sincere
desire to do right, by yourself, and by others--found yourself choking
with distressful tears, that each day's sun should go down with so
poor a record. Oh, you never could have felt thus, or you could not
have gone away from the sound of Dr. Hall's voice, and said, there was
nothing there for me. At least I think you would have admired, as I
did, his noble frankness in telling "church-members" that he did not
blame outsiders for doubting their Christianity, when they were so
swift to pronounce judgment on those who differed from them in
opinion. "This is bigotry," said he; "this is fanaticism--it is not
Christianity. Man's conscience was not given him for this--it was
given him to scrutinize his own shortcomings." This pleased me, in
contrast with the opinion held by many "Christians," that the faults
of such should never be spoken of, "for the possible harm to the
cause."

Now, in conclusion, I would say to Dr. Hall's church, that to allow a
clergyman like him to preach in a place so badly ventilated as was
that church the morning I was present, is a crime. Let them show
their regard for him, while thronging there to hear him, by not
killing him by inches; he is too tall a man to die in that way.

       *       *       *       *       *

WHAT DIFFERENCE CAN IT MAKE WHAT I DO OR SAY?--Now, there is not a man
or woman living, nor ever has been, to whom it "makes no difference."
If you have neither father, mother, brother, sister, child, husband,
or wife, in the wide world, still there is some neighbor, some
companion, whose eye, fixed upon you, is moved, perhaps unknown to
themselves, for good or for evil. You slip an arm through theirs, in
the crowded thoroughfare, or lay a friendly hand on their shoulder,
and, in a leisure moment, saunter along together. _Where?_ It was
_you_ who decided _where_. It is on you that the responsibility falls,
perhaps, of that friend's _first_ downward step. Never say, it "makes
no difference what I do." It makes a difference to _yourself_, even
were it true that it did to no one else.

They who have passed many milestones on the journey of life, with
their faces toward the Celestial City, do not stop to ask those who
pass them on the road, of their creeds or nationalities. They see only
the brother, or sister, to whom the helping hand and sympathizing word
in time may be life or death for this world and the next. This is the
true Christ-spirit.



_SICK IN THE VILLAGE._


I have been sick; safe under the coverlet for seven or eight days at
least. I mention what may be to you but a very ordinary experience,
because I am really quite humiliated: first, that such an unusual
thing should have occurred to me; and secondly, that it should have
been the undeserved penalty of great amiability on my part. It
happened lately that, on a certain public occasion, a seat was
politely assigned me near the orator of the hour, and, unfortunately,
also near an open window, through which came directly upon my throat a
blast of chill air. I felt it clutch me, but I said to myself, I wont
make a disturbance leaving. Hence the necessity of a doctor, and a
total cessation of speech, and a big bunch, the size of an egg, on a
throat which were better without it. The next time I am polite, you
may tell me of it! I am out now, to be sure, under the trees again,
but I can't walk with any spring or unction. I can't eat with any
appetite. I can't ride without being sensible of every inequality in
the road. I hate a bed so that I can scarce bring my mind to get into
one at night, and yet I am, as the expression goes, "_dead tired_" all
the time. I tell you all this, particularly now, however, because I
have received a stack of letters, during this period, which I must
take a little time to answer, and which correspondents might otherwise
suppose were never received, or had been slighted. But, oh! how
beautiful look the green fields to me, now, and how welcome the fresh
air! Still, don't come to Stockbridge _to be sick_. It is heaven for
well people, and kind friends who dwell here are heavenly in kind
deeds, at such and all other times.

This is what ails Stockbridge. It is occupied, mainly, by rich people,
who come here only for their summer sojourn. Most of the houses here
are quite closed in winter; therefore, you see that they are all
consumers: _producers_ are the exceptions. If you have fruit or
squashes in your own garden, thank the sun and the Lord for the same.
If you don't own a garden, and don't want to tire out the generosity
of your friends; in short, if you are a sick pilgrim at a hotel, then
more's the pity. _Then_ you'll lie on your pillow and dream of big
peaches, and luscious pears, and plums, in your native hunting-ground,
the New York markets. You'll think of the stores in Broadway, where
huge bunches of grapes, in purple bloom, lie clustering. Maybe at the
butcher's, near your very door in New York, is the "sweet-bread,"
which, if cooked at the right moment, and in the right way, might
tempt your flagging appetite. Heaven's blessings on the good
Samaritans who brought _me_ nice tit-bits; but one don't want to be a
pauper too long, lest the patience of benevolence might give out.

While I lay sick, I must say a peach-tree seemed more desirable than
the grandest elm; and a pear-tree preferable to ever so magnificent a
maple or chestnut. Grape-vines, also, I thought finer than woodbine,
ivy, or clematis; in short--were my state of invalidism to continue, I
am confident I should become a confirmed utilitarian.

If this bit of experience of mine is any comfort to the forced
sojourner in the hot city, let him hug it to heart. I have had sunsets
here like the glory of "the New Jerusalem." I've wandered under these
trees and been driven over these lovely roads, till my eyes were moist
with happiness I could not voice. I have heard such kindly tones, and
seen such loving faces, and been so hospitably entreated here, that it
would take more physic than was involved in those bed-ridden days of
pain and unrest to give me a grudge against lovely, mountain-girdled
Stockbridge.



_MEN AND THEIR CLOTHES._


The female fashions of to-day are absurd enough; but if anything more
absurd than a man's "stove-pipe hat" was ever invented, I would like
to see it. Mark its victims, when they remove it from their
heads--which they seldom do, the gods know why, unless they are
getting into bed; see the red rim across their foreheads, produced by
its unwieldy weight, and unnecessary inches up in the air; see them
occasionally in the street, giving it a cock backwards, when nobody
but apple-women are looking, to observe how quickly a gentleman, by
that action, may be made into a rowdy; then see them apply their
handkerchiefs to their foreheads, to cool off the heat and the pain,
and then with a stoicism worthy of one of Fox's martyrs, replace it,
and bear the long agony till they get home. Then what garment that
ever woman wore, is more ridiculous than a man's shirt, whether
buttoning before or buttoning behind, or disfigured with puerile
"studs;" whether the stiff collar stands up like a picket on guard, or
lays over, with a necktie to tie it suffocatingly over the jugular
vein.

Then mark that abomination--a swallow-tailed coat. Heavens! how ugly
the handsomest man may look in it! and woe for the plain men, when
they intensify their plainness with it!

Then see the knock-kneed and the crooked-legged advertising their
deformity in tight pantaloons; and short, fat, barrel men wearing
little boys' cloth caps on their heads! Ah, for every female goose
that Fashion makes, I will find you a male mate, even to the wearing
of tight corsets!

But, my friends, on one point there's a difference. "When a
fashionable lady engages a female servant, she stipulates that she
shall wear a cap on her head, and calico on her back, to mark the
difference between herself and that servant--without which, I suppose,
it would not often be recognizable." When her _husband_ gives a dinner,
the male waiters are dressed exactly like himself--in festal white
neckties, white gloves, and hideous swallow-tailed coats.

How is this? It must be that the male creature is very secure of his
position, socially, mentally, morally, and physically, to permit such
presumption--nay, to demand it. Can any philosopher explain to me this
mystery? I was "struck 'midships" with the idea at a festal gathering
not long since; and turning to my male guide, philosopher, and friend,
asked what it meant. His irritating answer to this most proper and
natural question was, "Fanny, don't be silly."

I reiterate my remark that men's dress is to the full as absurd in its
way as women's, and I am only reconciled to the idea that a man was
intended for a human being when I see an athlete of a gymnast, of
glorious chest and calves, and splendid muscular arms, skimming the
air as gracefully as a bird, and as poetically; then I know how
civilization has ruined him! I know, that man if he jumped, and ran,
and wrestled, and walked, instead of sitting stupidly in a chair in
the house, or creeping into an omnibus when out of it, and smoking and
going to sleep in the intervals, would not be obliged to creep into
these ugly tailor's padded fashions to hide his deficiencies, but
could wear what he chose, knowing that the beautiful outlines of his
form would glorify any decent vestment.

I walked several blocks out of my way behind a man, the other day, who
positively "stepped off." What a chest he had! what a splendid poise
of the head! what a free, jubilant swing of the arm! I hope he will
come to New York again some day, for I'm sure he was a stranger to it,
for he neither stopped anywhere to take a drink, buy a cigar, nor did
he hail an omnibus!

Magnificent giant! I wonder what was his name, and had he a mother. If
not--well, it was a pity he shouldn't have.

I wonder what _are_ "good manners"? The question occurred to me the
other evening in a place of public amusement. I was one of a dozen or
so of ladies, wedged in a row of the usual narrow seats. At every
pause in the performance, three _gentlemen_ stepped over the laps of
the ladies in that seat, carrying off in their exit, or knocking upon
the floor, opera-glasses, fans, scarfs, handkerchiefs, and, almost,
the ladies themselves; returning each time wiping their lips, and
introducing with them a strong odious smell of tobacco. I respectfully
submit to any _real_ gentleman who reads this article, if that is
"good manners."

Of course, I know it would be better if all seats at such places could
be so arranged that _gentlemen_ need not clean their boots on ladies'
laps in order to pass out. But also it would be well if gentlemen took
all the sustenance in the way of wine which they needed before
starting from home; and if they _could_ also bring their godlike
minds, to defer smoking till they could annoy only the one lady, whom
they have a legal right to annoy, it would add to the general comfort,
as well as their _public_ reputation for gallantry and politeness. Men
generally object to going out evenings, "because they are so tired."
Why, then, they never embrace the opportunity to sit still when they
get there, is an inconsistency which we must place unsolved, on the
shelf already so well labelled with them. I might suggest also, that
if they will persist in cleaning their boots on our laps, in order to
get out these narrow sets of seats, and if they will carry off in
their exit our gloves and fans and opera-glasses, and if they will
keep on repeating this little pastime all the evening, to say nothing
of occasionally crushing our feet out of all shape, I would venture to
suggest that they should mitigate the suffering by saying,
occasionally, "I beg pardon," or, "Pray excuse me," or by some such
little deference acknowledge the infinite bore of their presence.

Failing in this, I propose that each _gentleman_, on his return,
should bring in his hand a peace-offering to the ladies in the seat,
of a glass of lemonade and a bit of cake. Why shouldn't _we_ be
thirsty too? Mr. Beecher says a woman has a right to--no, I believe he
_didn't_ say that, but he ought to have done so; and if he didn't,
"fair play is a jewel."

Mr. Smith exclaims, on reading this, "Horrible woman!" because, though
a handsome man, he sees himself looking selfish and ugly in the glass
I hold up to him. Now, Mr. Smith wouldn't say that, if he should sit
down beside me and let me talk to him five minutes. Not he! You see I
have him at a great disadvantage, away off at the other end of the
city or over to Brooklyn. I could say the very same things to him I
have just said on paper, sitting here on my sofa beside me, and that
man would go on lying, as men will, to other men's wives' faces, and
be _so_ polite and smiling, that his own wife never would know him, if
she happened in; and he'd tell me that "what I said was all true, and
that men _were_ selfish animals," meaning Tom Jones and Sam Jenkins,
and every other man but just himself. Don't I know them?



_NOTES FROM PLYMOUTH ROCK._


How I ever lived so many years in Boston without coming to see
Plymouth, is one of the sins of omission for which I am at this
present finding doing my best to atone. I trust all of you who are
equally guilty, will come as soon as may be to breathe the fine
Newport air of the place, and take time to visit its interesting
coast, its numerous ponds, its lovely drives through odorous woods,
and all the hallowed spots which ought to be dear to the heart of
every true American. Don't go to Paris or London till you have been to
Plymouth. It were well to "see Niagara" first; but it were better to
have gone with me to the "Record Office" this morning, and seen the
yellow manuscripts, covered thickly with the small German text-looking
handwriting of our Pilgrim Fathers; setting forth, for instance, "the
shares they severally held in a cow," in the simple, honest,
straightforward manner of the time--one signed by "Myles Standish,"
who, it seems, having the primitive ambition to own an _entire_ cow,
kept buying up the shares of the rest as speedily as his means
allowed. I thought of Mr. Bonner's stables, and the thousands of
dollars his horses represented, and wondered how he dared to say his
catechism! Then I saw their veritable "Charter," kept in a dark
cupboard, with a silken curtain drawn across the precious signatures,
lest the unscrupulous sunlight, invading this "Holy of Holies," should
snatch them from posterity. And then and there was exploded for me the
theory that handwriting is indicative of character. Certainly those
effeminate, small, beautiful letters gave no sign or token of the
moral strength, the rugged persistence of purpose, of the Pilgrim
Fathers. Not one modern young lady in a hundred could write so minute
and beautiful a hand. They must have had good eyesight in those days,
when gas and furnaces were not. Sharp men they were; disguising the
very graves of the first little Mayflower band, lest the Indians
should take advantage of the reduction of their numbers. The very
house I am in bears the name of the first Indian who visited
them,--"Samoset." Whether the fair and tender-hearted Rose Standish
quailed before the savage owner of this most musical name, I have not
learned. I do not hesitate to say, that _I_ should have made for the
bushes on his first appearance. It is curious, in walking the streets
of Plymouth, to hear the little children calling to each other, in
their play, and using the old familiar Mayflower names of hundreds of
years ago.

But Pilgrim ancestry does not insure saintliness in all its
descendants, as I found upon visiting the county prison. Within its
walls was pointed out to me a woman who had poisoned her husband,
when sick and helpless on her hands. For thirteen long weary years
she had never been outside those walls; and latterly had declined even
walking in the little paved yard allowed the prisoners. She was a
large, powerfully built woman, with a skin like the parchments I had
been looking at in the Record Office drawn tightly over her high
cheek-bones. She sat sewing at her grated window as we entered; and
when asked "if she were not warm," as the day was very hot, answered
petulantly, "No--I am most always cold; there can't be circulation
where there's no exercise." Outside was bloom and sunlight, and song
of birds, and merry voices, and blue skies, and pleasant hum of labor,
and the faint dirge of the sea. She merited her fate, but I turned
away from her sick at heart, and thought, were it my case, how
questionable were the mercy that abolished hanging for such
slow-dropping torture as this.

In the same room with her were three hard-featured women, placed there
for violation of the liquor laws. Each in that room had a babe in her
arms, or at her knee--poor little innocent victims of maternal
misdoing. One baby was moaning with the teething process, so hard to
endure and survive, even with all the appliances of out-door air and
wholesome surroundings. Its little waxen face showed signs of severe
suffering, and for _three months_ more, if the little life were spun
out that long, it must remain there--its only amusement rocking the
rude box which was allowed for a cradle. The mother answered me
roughly enough when I inquired the age of her baby, but God knows I
forgive her any bitterness she might feel at the difference that
bright day in our respective lots; but could she have read my heart,
and seen how I longed to carry her little one out on the grass, and
among the flowers, and see it smile, she would have known me for its
friend.

I never saw a prison more clean, and neat, and well-ordered; and yet I
could not help thinking there should be a nursery there, that the
little children of these erring mothers need not be punished with
them; but, in the graphic language of the Superintendent, "Its
original intention was _not_ a fancy boarding-house."

I wish here to place on record that Plymouth can make good bread. I
had begun to fear, so long had I been fed on Cape Ann saleratus, that
I might lose the taste of wholesome yeast and flour, just as the
"marasmus" denizens of the Five Points learn to dislike pure air. A
brief heaven of good city bread in blessed old Boston quite set me up;
and its unexpected appearance in Plymouth was more than I dared to
hope.

I presume to this I may attribute the number of hale-looking, cheerful
old people in Plymouth. I have no doubt it has had its effect also on
the religious liberality so prevalent here, as I find that nobody
_makes mouths_ at you for being a Unitarian, or an Episcopalian, or of
any other denomination that happens to suit your complaint. Rev. Mr.
Robinson, the minister of the church in Holland from which "the
Mayflower" Christians came, inculcated upon his flock this bit of pure
gospel, in his parting sermon to them, that, "there was a great deal
of truth coming out ahead that they had not even dreamed of as yet;"
and particularly warned them against that spiritual conceit which
should close their eyes to the perception of it. Now that's what I
call liberal Christianity. Ministers, deacons, and the religious world
generally will please take notice.

Since I came here, Plymouth has distinguished itself by a storm of
rain and wind, the like of which I never saw before. I began to think
over my transgressions; but really there were so many of them, and the
house rocked so, and the trees swirled round at such a furious rate,
that I had no clear idea then, nor have I since, of their number or
enormity. And the very next morning the sun shone out so brightly on
uprooted trees and unroofed barns and tumble-down chimneys, and the
flowers that from their lowliness had escaped the avenger, that I took
heart of grace, and classed myself among the latter!



_NO BEAUX ANYWHERE._


No beaux! Absolutely _no_ beaux! Well, young ladies, stop and
consider, if, after all, you yourselves have not pronounced the
sentence of banishment.

We?--we "banish" them? Good gracious! Is it not for them we have
devised all this elaboration of adornment? We, indeed! Were we not,
for weeks, before we came to these odious mountains, where men are as
scarce as French hair-dressers, closeted with our dress-makers and
milliners to produce these bewitching "suits," long and short, for
morning and evening, out-door and indoor wear? Have we not cool
dresses and warm dresses; dresses for rain, dresses for sunshine,
dresses for neutral weather, with ribbons, gloves, sashes, parasols,
hats and fans to "match," to the minutest shade? For whom should we
take all that trouble but for the beaux? And how are we responsible
for their disgusting absence?

Listen, my dears, for in that which you have just said lies your
offence. Can damsels thus arrayed walk in the woods, climb the
mountains (except in poetry)? Can they take even an ordinary, mild
walk, without mortal terror of perilling their millinery? Must they
not, therefore, "ride," morning, afternoon, and evening, everywhere,
to the delectation of stable-keepers, and the consequent pecuniary
depletion of the "beaux"? These beaux, whose fathers may be rich, but
whose sons have yet to fill their individual coffers; these beaux, who
have just so much to expend when they get away for a summer holiday,
and who do not desire to pour it _all_ into the pockets of the
stable-keepers; these beaux, who can get vastly more fun out of their
purses, and make them last longer, with a party of "the
fellows,"--this is the reason that, with rare exceptions, you have to
throw away these ravishing toilettes on your own sex, when you play
croquet, or sit on the piazza, dreaming of the "coming man."

My dears, he _wont_ come! He knows too much. He has seen his sister's
milliner and mantua-maker bills, and heard the family discussions
thereon; and though he acknowledges your fascinations even through all
the absurd toggery you are doomed by fashion's slavery to have and to
wear, he has yet to make the fortune to enable him to foot his angel's
bills. So he runs away from you, discreetly; runs off fishing, or
gunning, with "the fellows," and, wiser than you, comes home brown,
hale, and hearty for the winter months, instead of perspiring at your
side in tight boots and yellow kids.

Do you begin to understand? Now, my dears, if you have been ushered
into the world in a coach and six, till your feet and hands have
become paralyzed for want of use, that's your _misfortune_, not your
fault, because that necessitates a rich husband. And as there are very
few rich _young_ husbands, you will have to bid good-by to your
girlish ideal, and marry the bald-headed, gouty Mr. Smith, who was
born at the same time as your own father. This, my dears, you will
have to do, or face your nightmare, _single blessedness_.

I have looked at you playing croquet, without a coat-tail among you; I
have seen you driving yourselves out in your pretty little phaetons;
and though you put a brave face on it, I know very well what is going
on under that gay little sash of yours; and I think it is a pity that
you should have been brought up to so many artificial wants, that your
_heart_ must go hungry in life's spring-time because of them.

My dears, _I_ never lacked beaux at your age. But a walk in the woods,
or in the city either, involved no expense to _my_ beaux. I could
climb a fence, where there was no gate, or where there _was_ either; I
was not afraid of dew, or rain, because my dress was simple. My gifts
were not diamonds, but flowers, or books. _My_ mother would not have
allowed me to ride with gentlemen, had they asked me. When they came
to spend an evening, our tray of refreshments did not involve a
"French cook." So you see, my dears, though I had no silk dresses, I
had plenty of beaux, and a gay heart; and I enjoyed a sail with an old
sun-bonnet over my curls, or a moonlight ramble, with a merry party,
much better than you do "the German;" and half an hour was sufficient
warning for me "to dress" for any kind of a party--indoors or
out--because, unlike you, I was not bothered to choose from twenty
dresses which to wear; and I will give you leave to ask any of my
beaux, who are now grandfathers, if I was not able at that time to
settle _their_ accounts! And it is because I had such a good time that
I feel vexed that your youth and prettiness should so often go
a-begging--through no fault of yours; and you may show this to your
mothers and tell them I say so.

In the country, too, matrons, we have full trunks and absent husbands.

It was a quiet little village; just such a place as you, madam, with
your six children, sensibly clad in calico, would like to have enjoyed
the sweet summer days in. There was no "dress;" there were no "hops,"
in hot halls, by gas-light; there were no masquerade balls. Everybody
was in bed by ten o'clock, save a few smokers, who profaned the sweet,
odorous quiet with their vile tobacco fumes. There was plenty of
driving through the bewitching roads, plenty of walking, _some_
gossip,--_which I have ascertained has no sex_--some croquet-ing and
crochetting, but no _coquetting_, because there was a great vacuum
where beaux should be. Altogether, the city residents of Frog-ville
were a sensible set.

But, alas! one unlucky day the shrieking cars landed at the door of
the principal boarding-house a woman. That was not an event of itself,
but this woman was accompanied by many trunks. Nobody knew whence she
came, but conjecture was rife as to the contents of the trunks.
Breakfast, next morning, solved the mystery. Mrs. Fire-Fly--for she
was a Mrs.--none the less dangerous for that--on the contrary!--swept
into the dining-hall in a train about six yards long. The train was
white and spotless; the floor was not. The lady carried her coffee to
her lips, with diamond girdled fingers, _steadily_, with an eye to her
delicate ribbons. Scipio, who handed her beefsteak over her shoulder,
had no time to consider such trifles. Little puddles of milk lay in
wait on the floor for that spotless train, dexteriously coiled, by its
owner, like an anaconda under the table. Pools of milk, tea-drippings,
and bits of omelette, dislodged from their moorings, by hot haste in
serving, were dotted, here and there, in the path she would soon be
called upon to mop on her exit. At _length_ she rose! Her train
followed at a respectful distance. The eyes of the dozen or two
sensible women, clad in sensible raiment, followed that train. Its
dainty owner, with a disdain of economy, born of many trunks, and
their ample contents, did not so much as lift it with one of her
jeweled fingers. On she swept, through the coffee-pools--through the
gravy-drippings--through the milk-puddles, out into the hall.

The sensible women present looked after her spell-bound. Then they
gazed into each other's eyes, and murmured, "Paris!" Alas! the serpent
in fairest guise had entered the primitive Eden of Frog-ville. The
sensible matrons looked now, through different spectacles, at their
alpacas and calicoes. How mean in comparison! Their trimmings, how
"dowdy"! The fit of their bodices, how awkward! Dinner-time came, with
added newness and added splendors. Cobweb tissues, with frost-work
trimmings, and train longer by two yards than the breakfast train. And
such ribbons! And such jewelry! How tasteless was the beef that day;
how disgusting the mutton; how prosaic their gingham-clad, rosy
children; how tame and humdrum was life generally. And then, this
dainty lady had "a maid." _They_ had no "maids." They had never felt
the need of a "maid" till now. How had they ever combed their tresses?
How had they ever fastened their own dresses? Pshaw! their _dresses_!
How unworthy the name--mere wrappers. Gracious! how miserable were
these heretofore happy women. Never till now did they know how
miserable they were. The dainty lady's husband, 'tis true, was not
with her. She had to do without him; while they had theirs with them.
_Her_ husband was in the hot, smoky city, earning more money for more
"Paris" dresses--that is, he was earning money during the day; what he
did with his solitary evenings or nights, the dainty wife did not
inquire. She was satisfied; she was brimming with content, that she
alone, amid all these wives and mothers, had "Paris" dresses.

"I really must have some clothes," said one of the hitherto sensible
matrons, "the next time I go into the country. I didn't know, till
Mrs. Fire-Fly came, how very shabby was my wardrobe."

"I would rather," said a friend at her elbow, "that you, the healthy
mother of six healthy daughters, should have said: 'I didn't know,
till Mrs. Fire-Fly came, how sensible and befitting the country was my
wardrobe; and how proper and right it was that my husband should be
taking his rest in the country with me, instead of divorcing himself
at the risk of our mutual peace, to furnish me with nine trunks full
of Paris dresses.'"

       *       *       *       *       *

"I have done nothing to-day but keep things straight in the house,"
you say wearily at the close of it. Do you call that nothing? Nothing
that your children are healthy, and happy, and secured from evil
influence? Nothing that neatness, and thrift, and wholesome food
follow the touch of your finger-tips? Nothing that beauty in place of
ugliness meets the eye of the cheerful little ones, in the plants at
your window, in the picture on the wall? Nothing that _home_ to them
means _home_, and will always do so, to the end of life, what
vicissitudes soever that may involve? Oh, careworn mother! is all this
nothing? Is it nothing that over against your _sometime_-mistakes and
sometime-discouragement shall be written, "She hath done what she
could?"



_DANIEL WEBSTER'S HOME._


It was not as a mere relic-hunter, that I crossed the threshold of
Daniel Webster's home in Marshfield. As a Bostonian, long years ago, I
had been spell-bound by those wondrous eyes, and that irresistible
eloquence which so seldom failed to magnetize. As to the mistaken
words which, had he lived till now, I firmly believe he would have
grievingly wished unsaid, and which have palsied many hands that would
have been raised over that roof in blessing, I have nothing to say
now. As far as the East is from the West, so far do I differ with him
on that point. But all these thoughts vanished, and the old Boston
magnetism moved me, as I stood in that beautiful library, which, more
than any other room of that lovely home, _his_ presence seemed to fill
and pervade. The beautiful sunlight streamed in upon the favorite
books he loved so well, upon the favorite chair and table, upon the
thousand and one tributes of love and admiration from across the sea,
and from nearer home, which are still carefully treasured. _There_
only, after all these years, could I really "make him _dead_." My last
sight of him was on a public occasion in Boston, sitting in a
barouche, with that grand massive head uncovered, in recognition of
the applause about him. And I am not ashamed, at this distance, to say
that when he kissed the forehead of my little girl--now a woman
grown--as he took from her hand the flowers I sent him, that I looked
upon it as a sort of baptism.

Now, all about his home in Marshfield, are family pictures of the
little children he tenderly loved. And what beautiful children they
are! or _were_, for many of their names are now recorded on marble
beside his own. And above the picture of him--as if such a head as
_his_ could ever be faithfully reproduced!--were his hat and stick. I
stood looking at them, and wondering if, when he used to sit there he
ever thought of _that_--if when resting in that peaceful spot, with
bloom and brightness about him, weary with the ceaseless strife, and
with the din of life, shut out, for a time at least, he ever longed to
lay them aside for ever--thus!

In every house, the individuality of it is that which interests us
most. _These_ household gods all had their little story; all, too,
spoke of taste and refinement and culture, and love of the beautiful
in form, color, and arrangement. It almost seemed an impertinence to
move about from room to room, and gaze at them; and, I think, had it
not been that one of the family recognized and welcomed me as a
remembered Bostonian, I should have felt very much like an inexcusable
intruder there.

All honor to Daniel Webster for having had painted, and hung up in a
conspicuous place in his house, _the portrait of his black cook_. It
is the most unique object in it; and the feeling which prompted this
public recognition of faithful service was most honorable to him.
Alas! had he always been as true to his better instincts!

The simple majesty of Daniel Webster's tomb is very impressive. It is
fit that it should be _there_, at Marshfield, within sound of the
restless sea--restless as his spirit. For inscription--only the name
and date, and those memorable words of his on Immortality. There are
no mysteries to him _now_.

       *       *       *       *       *

Some men--can anybody tell us why?--always gravitate _downward_ in
their male friendships. Their boon-companion is sure to be one
destitute of everything that would seem to constitute an equality. Now
what can be the reason of this? Is it because such persons need to
have their self-respect constantly bolstered up by the flattery of
parasites? Whatever the motive may be, the _result_ is certain
deterioration. Not, on the other hand, that it is not best to meet
with, and know all sorts of persons; but _invariably_ to choose
inferiority, for a bosom-friend, argues a flaw, and a serious one,
somewhere.



_A TRIP TO RICHMOND._


Beautiful Baltimore! I kiss my hand to beautiful Baltimore! Passing
through it only on my way to Washington in days gone by, I had only
flying, and muddy, and back-street reminiscences of it. _Now_ it seems
to me the most elegant of cities. Dear to my New England eyes, above
all, are its polished windows, immaculate and spacious front-door
steps, cleanly gutters, and sidewalks free from defilement of ashes
and garbage. The sweet, wholesome air of the place, with no taint to
offend the most fastidious nose, contrasted pleasantly with our large
New York residences; many of whose occupants, having begun life in
tenement houses, still retain their fondness for tenement-house odors
and dirty sidewalks. I passed through street after street, without
seeing an ash-barrel or box, or anything repulsive to neatness; and
that, not only where the wealthy reside, but where were houses of very
moderate rents and dimensions, yet all shining and clean, and sweet,
as a child's face when newly washed, and framed in its best Sunday
bonnet. Beautiful Baltimore! I came well-nigh forgetting, as I
strolled along, that _you_ ever stood on one side the political fence,
and _I_ on the other; but we wont rake up old grievances, or new ones
either. Instead, I will say that your new "Druid Hill Park" is a gem,
and a big one; and if you don't make the most of it, it will not be
because nature has not fashioned its undulating surface, and grown
giant trees there ready to your hand with a grace and a profusion
which leave you little to do in the way of art. Now, our "Central
Park" was fashioned in the face and teeth of every disadvantage; and
yet see what a joy and beauty and delight it is to us all. So, shame
to you, Baltimore, if you don't far outstrip us! Sure I am, that the
occupants of those tasteful and magnificent private dwellings can need
no hint from me to contribute liberally toward it.

Elegant stores, too, has Baltimore; and in them all the little last
new feminine dodges in the way of adornment, so that no Baltimore
husband need heed his wife's prayer to go to New York to see what is
the last new fashion in gloves, boots, silks, laces, bonnets,
or--hair. Baltimore wives may not thank me for this, but I am not
afraid; for I can truly say that their faces were so bright that sunny
day, as they nodded smilingly to one another, that I trembled for the
wide-spread fame of New York beauties. Little loves of children too, I
saw, with their sable nurses; oh! how I like the sable nurses. No
_French_ caps _shamming_ it over _Celtic_ faces; but instead, the
jolly African physiognomy, framed in its gay turban; and, best of
all--forgive me, fair Baltimore!--_receiving_ as well as _earning_ a
nurse's wages.

I always feel as if a coroner's inquest would be held over me, when I
cross a steamboat gangway, even though there may be blue sky overhead,
and sunshine about me.

Judge, then, of my consternation, as the Baltimore boat pushed off for
Norfolk, Va., and I discovered directly beneath my state-room window
about a dozen barrels of _kerosene_. In vain did the philosopher try
to bamboozle me into the belief that "it was lard." After fifteen
years conjugal acquaintance with my nose, it was a stupidity of which
only a man could be guilty.

"Lard!" I exclaimed; "it is kerosene! and a military company on board
too." Now I _don't_ "love the military." I had one fearful experience
with them, on board the ill-fated Lady Elgin, when, in the midst of a
howling tempest, with thunder and lightning thrown in, their tipsy
howls made a perfect pandemonium.

Military companies smoke too; and there is always fire where there is
smoke, says the old proverb; and sparks and kerosene are things better
divorced. So I didn't undress that night, and had plenty of time to
consider a question which for the first time I asked myself,--whether
a steamboat ought not, in a case like this, to forfeit its insurance.
That part of my education having been neglected at boarding-school, I
was unable to solve it; so I shudderingly recognized the fact, that
men on the upper deck were smoking pipes, and knocking ashes and
sparks from the railing with a verdant innocence and stupidity quite
astounding.

But the "angel aloft," wafted away the sparks from the kerosene; and a
friendly rain coming on, my perturbed spirit had a great calm. So we
got to Norfolk whole and alive--no thanks to that steamboat or its
owners. It was lucky I had my excitement _going_ there, for a more
stagnant, sleepy place--outside of the Dead Sea--never announced
itself. Still, there were peach-trees in blossom, and tulip-trees, and
the pretty blue periwinkle peeped from the hedges and gardens, and the
grass was green, and--so was everything else there! One day sufficed
me, although it was pleasant to sit with open windows. Our coachman
dragged us up and down through the narrow, dilapidated looking
streets, over pavements that forced to our lips the letter O oftener
than any other in the alphabet, while "showing us the city." As the
streets were all alike, we cut short his little fun by requesting to
be set down at our hotel, while one bone remained undislocated.

The grave-yard was, after all, the pleasantest spot through which we
drove in Norfolk. Whole graves there were covered with the blue
flowers of the running myrtle; they were even peeping up under the
little patches of snow. "Five dollars fine for picking a blossom." A
good rule; but I was always unruly, and that blue myrtle is my
favorite flower. Still I don't say I plucked one--of course not; how
could I, inside a carriage?

Norfolk should be named "Sleepy Hollow." I can't conceive of keeping
awake there, unless by help of their corduroy pavements. It was tame,
after living in New York, where there is always "a dreadful _lass_ of
life," as the newsboys express it, or something that is pleasant
happening.

Whoso essays to travel South, and having bade good-by to a certain
hotel in Philadelphia, which don't begin with A or B, and which, if
you have not, you _ought_ to--C, leaves hope and comfort behind;
having then left what, in my opinion, is the perfection of
hotel-keeping, in all its myriad departments. Farewell to clean rooms,
and _genuine_ coffee, and well-cooked meats, and prompt attendance;
and welcome drafts, and cooked poison, in every shape that the fiend
of the gridiron and frying-pan could devise. Having exhausted
Washington three or four different times from a luxurious standpoint,
it only remained on this flying transit through it, for Washington to
exhaust me, between the hours of eight in the evening and seven the
following morning. In one of the principal hotels of the place, I give
you, by way of curiosity, an inventory of the room into which we were
ushered. Imprimis--a bed, with sheets still warm with the print of the
last occupant; wash-bowls grimy with departed paws; dirty towels; and
a broken window pane, through which the snow was sifting; two immense
grease spots, each the size of a two-quart bowl, in the centre of the
dingy carpet; matches scattered round _ad libitum_; a horror of a
spitoon in the middle of the floor; dirty window-curtains, and closets
full of old papers; bureau drawers saturated with grease; bedstead
cracked across the foot-board, and so rickety, that it was suggestive
of a discordant music-box. Sofa dingy, and placed with singular
felicity immediately under the broken window; while the looking-glass
was fastened to the top of a bureau, so high, that one need mount a
stool to look in it, and located, as usual, in the darkest corner of
the apartment; a woollen cloth on the centre-table, approachable only
by a pair of tongs. Finally a chamber-maid was procured, and towels,
sheets, and a fire followed, while we were at tea. Afterward my
companion lay down to rest (?) on the music-box; while I, upon the
dingy sofa, front of the fire, listened, laughing, to the squeaks
produced on it, by his attempts to sleep.

My reflections were various. I didn't wonder that Congressmen lodging
thus, should call naughty names, and tear each other's eyes out at the
Capitol. And what disgraceful, broken-down saloon surroundings are
about the Capitol building! I never look at its beautiful proportions
without incendiary desires to make a clean sweep of the old shanties
about it, and in their place introduce cleanliness and beauty. Who
knows the Christianizing effect it might have on men and measures? I
should like to see it tried.

Well, I went "on to Richmond;" and my first reflection upon getting
into it was, Lord! what a place for two big armies to fight about! A
cold, piercing, rasping wind blew through the dismal streets from the
river--a wind that would have done credit to old Boston at its
fiercest. As to hotels, the deterioration begins at Baltimore, and
"after that the deluge." As the horror-struck man said, when the
tail-board of his cart came out going up hill, and distributed his
potatoes right and left, "No swearing could do justice to it!" Amid
remains of former splendor, dilapidation and stagnation reign.

Two visits I shall never forget. The first was to Libby prison. I
looked through its grated, cobwebbed windows, not with _my_ eyes, but
with the hopeless eyes of hundreds whose last earthly glimpse of the
sunlight was through them. The walls having been whitewashed, we
discovered no marks or writings. Only upon the wooden floor, as the
dirt was cleared away for us, we saw a place chipped out, upon which
the prisoners had played checkers. Not far off was Belle Isle, where,
in just such a biting wind from the river, as excoriated our faces
that day, brave men, without shelter, froze and starved to death!

Yes, I passed through Washington, and I didn't want office either. Had
I, I think my patience would soon have oozed out, in the stifling
atmosphere of that room in the White House, where clamorous lobbyists
sat with distended eyes, watching the chance of their possible
entrance to the President's presence--sat there, too, for weary hours,
a spectacle to gods and men; of human beings willing to sacrifice
self-respect and time, and what little money they had left in their
purses, for the gambler's chance. Anything, everything, but the open
and above-board, and sure and independent, and old-fashioned way of
getting a living!

So I thought as the living stream poured in, and I went out, thankful
that I desired nothing in the gift of the President of the United
States of America. How any man living can wish to be President passes
my solving, I said, as I stepped out into the clear, fresh, bracing
air, and shook my shoulders, as if I had really dropped a burden of my
own under that much-coveted roof. I can very well conceive that a pure
patriot might wish the office, because he sincerely believed himself
able to serve his country in it, and _therefore_ accepted its crown of
thorns; but lacking this motive, that a man in the meridian of life,
or descending its down-hill path, and consequently with the full
knowledge of this life's emptiness, should stretch out _even one hand_
to grasp such a distracting position, I can never understand. The good
dame "who went to sleep with six gallons of milk on her mind" every
night, was a fool to do it. A step-mother's life under the harrow were
paradise to it; only the life of a _country_ clergyman who writes
three sermons a week, and attends weddings at sixpence a piece, and
hoes his own potatoes, and feeds the pigs, and is on hand for church
and vestry meetings during the week, and keeps the run of all the
new-born babies and their middle names, and is always, in a highly
devotional frame of mind, is a parallel case.

I should like to have taken all those lobbyists I saw in the White
House with me the afternoon of that day to "Arlington Heights," and
bade them look there at the thousands of head-stones, gleaming white
like the billows of the sea in the sunlight, far as the eye could
reach, labelled "unknown," "unknown," telling the simple tragic story
of our national struggle more effectually than any sculptured monument
could have done. I would like to have shown them this, to see if for
one moment it had power to paralyze those eager hands outstretched for
bubbles.

"Unknown?" Not to him, in whose book every one of those names are
written in letters of light! Not to him, in whose army of the faithful
unto death, there are no "privates"!

My eyes were blind with tears, as I signed my name in the visitor's
book at the desk of the Freedman's Bureau there, once General Lee's
residence. All _was_ "quiet on the Potomac," as its blue waters
glittered in the sunlight before us. Yet the very air was thick with
utterances. The place on which I stood is now indeed holy ground. And
far off rose the white dome of the Capitol, crowded with men, some of
them, thank God, not forgetting these white head-stones, in their
efforts to keep inviolate what these brave fellows died for; and some,
alas! willing to sell their glorious birthright for a "mess of
pottage."

The sharp contrast of luxury and squalor, in Washington, even
exceeding New York,--the carriages and their liveries, and the
sumptuous dames inside; the pigs which run rooting round the streets;
the tumble-down, shambling, rickety carts, with their bob-tailed,
worn-out donkeys, so expressive of lazy unthrift,--must be regarded
with the eye of a New Englander, trained to thoroughness and
"faculty," to be properly appreciated. I avow myself, cursed or
blessed, as you will, with the New England "bringing up," to which
anything that "hangs by the eyelids" is simple crucifixion, whether it
be in a cart or a statute-book, unhinged door, or a two or a
four-legged dawdle.

"Oh, you'd come into it, and be as lazy as anybody," said my
companion, "if you lived here a while."

Shade of the Pilgrim Fathers!--Assembly's Catechism!--baked
beans--fish-balls--"riz" brown bread! Never!

I didn't see Vinnie Ream's statue of Lincoln. It was boxed for Italy,
Congress having made the necessary appropriation. But I saw Vinnie.
She has dimples. Senators like dimples. And in case the statue is not
meritorious, why--I would like to ask, amid the crowd of lobbying
_men_, whose paws are in the national basket, after the loaves and
fishes--should not this little woman's cunning white hand have slily
drawn some out?



_THE COMING LANDLORD._


It is a marvel to me that country landlords do not better arrange
their houses, with a view to keeping their guests later in the lovely
autumnal days. The absence of gas, and the omnipresence of
bad-smelling kerosene, are great drawbacks to enjoyment in the chilly
evenings which follow these golden days. Fires which get low at the
very moment they are most needed in the sitting-rooms, and a cold
dining-hall, filled with kitchen-smoke, are not incentives to a
prolonged stay; add to this, the utter impossibility of finding one's
way of an evening through a village guiltless of lights and shrouded
in trees, and it is no marvel that city people begin to think of cosey
evenings by their own firesides where are both warmth and light,
without which Paradise itself were a desert.

I think landlords who have an eye to business should take what may
seem to them, perhaps, very _uninfluential_ motives, under serious
consideration. I am very sure that if their own houses were made
comfortable for the autumn, enough lovers of the season would remain
to reward them pecuniarily for any such foresight. Let the fashionists
go--there are plenty left to rejoice in the crisp air, the falling
bright-hued leaves, the glory of sunshine and shadow on the
mountain-tops, and the keen sense of _life at the full_ which comes of
wandering among them.

I think _I_ should understand engineering an hotel! I know just where
the shoe pinches, at least, which is half the battle. In the first
place, I wouldn't smoke a pipe, and then I should not be tempted to
put those halcyon moments before the comfort and convenience of my
guests, how imperative soever the occasion. Then my temper would be
angelic, and I could understand how every lady in the house could
"have her room cleared up" at one and the same moment, though the
lady-guests numbered a full hundred! Then--I should see my way clear
to let every little child on the premises dig deep holes in the gravel
walk which leads to the front door, and fill them with water, for
infantile amusement, and to further the laudable ambition of the
nurses, in reading fourth-rate pamphlet novels. Then I should better
understand my duty in riding ten miles to get a watermelon for one
lady, eleven miles to get a quart of peaches for another, and six
miles for grapes for a third; and, at the same time, be on the piazza,
to be a walking Time-Table for strangers and others who wish
information at short notice on railroad subjects. Were I a non-smoker,
I should be consolable under the necessity of remaining out of my bed
till the latest midnight reveller had gone to his, and up in the
morning before daylight, to be sure that the eggs for the departing
Grumble family were cooked neither too hard nor too soft. Also, I
would have _one pane of glass_ in each _chamber_-window in the house a
looking-glass, immovably inserted, for the benefit of those ladies who
prefer some light while combing their hair. Those who dreaded the
light on that occasion might fall back upon the time-honored
looking-glass which landlords are sure to locate in the darkest corner
of the room. Then I could see my way clear to take files of all the
city papers for the children in the house to make kites of, or for
ladies to wrap parcels or curl their hair in. Also, I should provide
compact and portable lanterns, with an accompanying servant, for the
use of those ladies who fancy evening rambles through a dark village
street.

You will see by this how inexhaustible is this subject, and how much
remains to be done, which only a _female_ mind could foresee, or
suggest. I generously give these hints to unenlightened landlords,
free of charge, and doubt not that my next summer's travels will
attest not only their practicability, but their execution; meantime we
are going home; to coffee, _real_ coffee, praised be Allah for that!
It is bad to leave the mountains, but chiccory is not palatable
either.

It is hard to break up a pleasant summer party, at the close of the
season, for we never can take it up again where we leave off. For some
there will be weddings, for some there will be funerals--good-by, said
so gaily, will surely be final to some of us who utter it. We shall
take up the paper some day, and a well-known name will catch the eye
in that dark list of bereavement. We shall recall its owner on _that_
morning of the party to the "mountain," or the "lake," and the bright
eye, and the flowing hair, and the voice of music--and then the world
will close round us, and all will go on as before, till our turn
comes, too, to be forgotten.

       *       *       *       *       *

We never quite realize how dear any particular face is to us until we
meet it in a crowd of strangers' faces. It is only then that we begin
to know that we do not love it simply for its beauty; that there is
something more in it to us than pure outline and sweet color, or
whatever its particular charm may be. We have been hurrying on perhaps
up Broadway--a stream of unknown people on the left, and another on
the right. We have thought "how beautiful" of some, "how ugly" of
others. Suddenly we think, "It is ----." We do not compare, we do not
criticize. We may vaguely recognize the fact that it is the plainest
or the prettiest face we have met; but that has nothing to do with it.
There comes our friend, blotting out the strangers as though they were
not. Even if we pass and do not speak, our hearts meet and soften; and
we are happier throughout the whole long day, for having met a
friend's face in a crowd.



_OUT ON THE END OF CAPE ANN._


Good-by, City! I'm off! Now that wretched ragman may jingle the six
great cow-bells attached to his miserable hand-cart, to his heart's
content. They have driven me to the verge of distraction with their
monotonous clang--clang--clang, ever since the weather was warm enough
to sit with open windows. How many times I have resolved to call the
attention of the policeman on our "beat" to this illegal disturbance
of the peace; particularly as he chooses _our_ street to meander up
and down in, merely because I am a scribbler, and it drives me
mad--why else does he do it? For Heaven knows, I never did, or would
bestow a "rag" upon him, though I never was to see _paper_ again.
Good-by to the unfeeling wretch; I bequeath him to the unfortunates I
leave behind; who like myself are too lazy to chase up a policeman for
his summary ejection.

Good-by, I say again. I am going out to grass. I shall shortly find a
clover-field where I intend to bury my disgusted nose until October.
So anybody who chooses may leave their odorous dirt-barrels on the
sidewalk till sundown to regale neighborly olfactories. The postman
may pull my bell-wire till it breaks; he will get no response from
me. I don't care who didn't do what; or when it wasn't done. I'm for
_Katy-dids_!

I've done with shopping, thank Heaven! If my clothes or shoes give
out, let 'em. I've done with grocer-boys, and ice-men, and bakers, and
brewers. I'm going back to milk and nature; and I'm going to be
weighed before I go, to see what will come of it.

Perhaps I shall meet you there; and you--and you. If I should, for
Heaven's sake don't talk "shop" to me. Speak of "caows" and
"medder-land," and welcome--but don't mention books, not even my last
new one, "Folly as it Flies," which any of you who can, are welcome to
read--_I_ can't. And don't pump me as you always do, to know "what
sort of a man is Mr. Bonner?" I tell you, once for all, that he is the
_right_ sort, and you couldn't improve on that.

And if you see me coming in to dinner, and think it worth while to
announce the fact, in a place where there is a dearth of news, just do
it quietly, so that I shan't feel like throwing a biscuit at your
head, and don't think, because I am a literary woman, that I live on
violets and dew--I don't. I wear awful thick shoes, and go out in the
mud, and like to get stuck there; and I am horrid old--fifty-six--and
ugly besides; and I shall speak when I feel like it, and when I don't,
I shan't, because it is too much to be on my good behavior all the
year round, and this is my vacation.

Now we have settled all that, I hope, and there's nothing left but to
toss my traps into my trunk, and lock it. I don't care much whether
there is anything inside of it or not, for I'm desperate. These few
last hot days have finished me. I'm almost afraid to trust myself to
"write a character" for my departing chamber-maid, I feel so savage.
You can take her, though; the only crime she will have to "carry to
confession" is, that when she puts my room "to rights," she invariably
turns the table which has a drawer in it, the _drawer-side next the
wall_. To a person of my feeble intellect, this is distracting,
especially in the dark; and I have so many distractions, and am so
much in the dark, that really, Father Malooney, or some other nice
priest, ought to jog her elbow on this point. They who will may abuse
Roman Catholic priests--every _sensible housekeeper_ knows their
value. Long life to the like of 'em, _I_ say.

Good-by! If I am smashed on the railroad, weep over my _pieces_. I
think you told me you had already done that--on less provocation.

Geography never could find a lodgement in my head; but this I will
assert, without fear of being sent to "the foot of the class," that
granite, fish, and sand, are the principal products of Cape Ann. When
you go down Broadway and see those square stone blocks in process of
being pounded down for our mutual benefit, know that I am up here, a
self-constituted superintendent of the work. Said a Cape-Ann-der the
other day, "When you see six hundred ton of granite taken out of a
quarry every week for the whole summer, you'd _not_-erally think that
'twould leave a hole there, but it don't." I mention this remark to
you as a proof of the fertility of the soil.

Needle and thread are not to be despised any more than the deft
fingers which ply them; but you should sit on a big stone at one of
the quarries, and watch four or five of these stalwart fellows, each
muscular hand grasping the hammer, coming down rhythmically, surely,
powerfully, at the same instant, hour after hour, on the same huge
granite block, till it is shaped for its purpose. It was a grand and
suggestive sight to me. The men who did it were heroes; shaping--who
can tell what?--monuments for history--public buildings--that will
stand long after you and I are forgotten. And the other side of these
exhaustless stone caverns rolled the broad ocean, waiting to float off
on its mighty bosom these huge masses of granite to any desired port.
And close by were woods, so filled with song, and perfume, and deep,
cool shadows, and soft hum of insect life, and ancient trees,
moss-coated, where the swell of the ocean and the sound of all this
labor came with muffled breath, as if fearful to bring jarring discord
to all that harmony. This granite, thought I, may stand for our
pilgrim fathers; these woods, with their song and perfume, for their
wives and daughters, who brought to this "rock-bound coast" the
softening influence of their sweet, holy presence.

Away from all this, over the hill, down in the village, are the
stores, and, more important to me, the post-office. I don't know what
our pilgrim fathers did, but I know that to-day their descendants
close them when they go to tea or dinner, while expectant customers
patiently _roost_ on the neighboring fences till their places reopen.
But I am happy to state that the Cape-Ann-ders make up for this
placidity when they get hold not only of granite, but of horse-flesh.
It is their stereotyped rule to race up-hill, at break-neck speed. It
is therefore needless to state how they go _down-hill_ and how
perfectly immaterial to them it is whether the horse fetches up in a
stone-quarry or in the ocean. I ought to know, for I have danced often
enough into the wet grass and dust, and over stone walls, in order to
save my neck, to know. You see the Cape-Ann-ders, being born with oars
in their hands, have not studied horse-flesh like Mr. Bonner. The
ocean is their hunting-ground. One can't excel in all the virtues; but
such fish as they coax out of it, and such chowder as they make of it,
would go far to make one forget their equestrianism. I've seen about
every kind of fish on the table except whales, of which I had my first
astonished view yesterday. That _bulk can be frisky_ was the first
lesson they taught me. As to their spouting, a political meeting is
nothing to it! When they came up out of water to breathe, you might
have heard them in New York--that is, if the rag-man, with his six
infernal jangling cow-bells, hadn't been going through your street.

There is nothing I have sighed for in those streets since I left them,
except some digestible bread. I suppose you know _that_ commodity is
seldom furnished _out_ of the city. If you don't, you may read it in
the faces of nearly every woman, and child too, after a certain age,
in the country. The _men_, by virtue of working in the open air, worry
through with it better. _Saleratus_, _soda_, _shortening_, _grease_,
and sugar! these are as infallibly married to pills, and castor-oil,
and rhubarb, and bitters, as are the sexes to each other. All over New
England, in these lovely leafy homes, with the blessing of sweet,
pure, untainted air, with literally _no_ excuse for sickness, vile
bread vitiates and neutralizes God's best gifts.

The cupboards and closets of these naturally healthy homes are stuffed
full of "physic;" and the country doctor, who _ought_, in these lovely
villages, to be a pauper, thrives on the disastrous consumption of
FRIED _everything_, and clammy bread. Meantime my excellent country
friends put up pounds and quarts of "_jell_" every fall. Now, let them
know that half, or a quarter of the time spent in making these
indigestible sugary concoctions, if spent in learning to make good
bread, would obliterate all traces of dyspepsia both under their belts
and in their faces. If I seem to speak unkindly, I do not feel so;
only it seems to me such a useless waste of material, and what is
infinitely worse, such a criminal waste of health, that I cannot help
entering my earnest protest against it.

I boldly assert that dyspepsia _in the country_ is a disgrace. The
birds' song is not heard by a dyspeptic. The flowers by the road-side
throw out no incense for him. There may be fish in _his_ ocean, but
there is no beauty there. How can there be with _that_ fiend plucking
at his suspenders?

And oh, the country washerwoman! Can anybody tell why she, having
tried her fists only on red flannel, calico, and sheets, should
announce herself as a professional laundress, and up to the mysteries
of bluing, rinsing, clear-starching, and ironing? Trustingly you place
your linen in her hands, and she departs to some spot where sun, fresh
air, clover-blossoms, and plenty of water are all in her favor. In
process of time she returns your clothes. The next morning your
husband reproachfully requests you to examine _that_ shirt-bosom, with
its streaks of bluing, its little globules of starch, and its scorched
spots, presenting a zebra front rivalled only in a menagerie. Now,
perhaps shirt-bosoms are the only part of your husband's apparel in
which he takes any interest; your educatory efforts in behalf of his
gloves, boots, &c., having failed utterly; for that reason you weep,
that this single germ of neatness, thus untimely nipped in the bud,
should cause him to backslide into that normal slovenliness from which
woman alone delivers him.

Well--he struggles into that shirt-bosom, and, with a man's inability
to face disagreeable things, goes off without consulting his
looking-glass; and you sit on the side of the bed, with your hair in
your eyes, contemplating a pair of "clean" stockings just taken from
your drawer.

_That_ streak of dirt, carefully preserved, was got last week down on
the rocks, from contact with seaweed; and that in the meadows, where
you went for ferns and wild flowers; and that, when you slipped one
leg down a deep and treacherous dirt-hole, trying to get a big
blackberry. You can identify every one. You go to your closet for a
gingham dress. When you put it in the wash it was gray, now it is a
sickly green. You get a "clean" collar and cuffs--they are both
saffron color. You are rather particular about the mixing of tints,
and so have to give up the idea of a bow at your neck that will "go"
with this rainbow apparel, and fall back, instead, on a safe jet pin,
as emblematic also of your feelings.

I don't mention in this connection a little habit the country
washerwoman has of returning Mrs. Smith's husband's flannel drawers,
instead of the conjugal pair which generally delight my eyes, well
mended and with buttons on the waistband, (hem!) while _Smith's_ are
in a state of non-repair, disgusting even to "a literary woman." I
don't speak of my cambric under-waist, irretrievably torn down the
back, or Smith's night-gown, about half the length of mine, which last
is probably at that moment quietly reposing beside _Mrs._ Smith; but I
pause to ask you to survey--yes, _survey_, for that is the proper
word--this great table-cloth of a pocket-handkerchief of Smith's
instead of my own dear little hem-stitched one, with a tiny fern-leaf
in the corner. As to Smith's socks, they make it their home in my
room, without any permit from the priest. I'm getting sick of Smith.

Again, my sisters, can you tell me why the country washerwoman
invariably appears with her bundle of "clean" clothes just as you are
starting for a ride, or going down to breakfast? Can one enjoy lovely
scenery, or relish one's coffee and eggs, while this intermarriage of
strange stockings and nightgowns is going on in one's room, and the
fruitless hunt for ten cents to make "even change" is looming up in
the horizon? I am constrained to say that in what light soever I view
the country washerwoman, she is ----. Yes, ma'am!

P.S.--A Cape Ann editor gave me a box on the ear the other day for
some remark I made on country washing. Now be it known that I am so
accustomed to a boxed ear in a good cause, that I have learned to
stiffen up to it, and I can endure it now without even winking.

But to business. This Cape Ann editor inquires, "why, if I do not like
the Cape Ann washing, I do not get out the wash-tub, and wash my
clothes myself." I smile serenely, while I answer, that while Mr.
Bonner pays me enough for my articles to buy out this editor's
printing-office, I prefer to do precisely what _he_ would do, were he
in my place--turn my back on the wash-tub and face the inkstand. Is he
answered? I am sorry also to inform him that all womanhood seems to be
"marching on" to the same or similar results, and that by and by men
will have to choose their words in addressing "women folks;" not, I
hope, for fear of being "knocked down," but because woman, be she
married or single, being able to earn her own living independent of
marriage,--that often hardest and most non-paying and most thankless
road to it,--she will no longer have to face the alternative of
serfdom or starvation, but will marry, when she does marry, for love
and companionship, and for co-operation in all high and noble aims and
purposes, _not_ for bread and meat and clothes; and the men who sneer
at this picture are always sure to be men with souls narrow as a
railroad track, who never look or desire to look beyond the curve and
out into the wide world of progress.

_Then_, if a woman's husband dies, she will not stay to hear his or
her relatives disputing over his dead body which shall contribute
_least_ to her support. No: she will rub the tears out of her eyes,
and taking her children by the hand, pocket the well-earned wages of a
book-keeper; or she will be an architect; or she will write books, or
open a store; or she may even rise to the dignity of editor of a "Cape
Ann" paper--who knows?--or through any one of the open doors through
which the light of woman's millennium is shining, she will pass
serenely to collect her dividends. No more hysterics, sirs! no more
fainting! no more trudging miles to match a ribbon! no more eating her
heart out, trying to bear rough usage! She wont _have_ rough usage!
She will be in a position to receive good treatment, from _motives of
policy_, from those natures which are incapable of better and higher.
She will, in short, stand on her own blessed independent feet, so far
as "getting a living" is concerned, as I do to-day, and able to make
mouths even at Cape Ann, which--blessed be its rocks and
"cunner"!--has not yet found the philosopher's stone, or made, even
out of its vile bread, a "dyspeptic" of me, as its editor asserts.

Me "a dyspeptic"?--me! who could eat a block of its granite for
dinner, and ask for another for dessert?--me! who, at fifty-eight, can
tramp ten miles, every day, over its horrid rocky roads, and come back
red as a peony and fresh as a lark!--me a dyspeptic? I am sorry to
inform "Cape Ann" that I am as "live" as one of its whales, and none
of its harpoons will ever finish me. And that my mission, wheresoever
I sojourn in summer, is to preach down bad country washing, and bad
bread, and country dyspepsia; and Cape Ann might as well, first as
last, burn down its churches, for sal-eratus and sal-vation will never
wed; for the victims of the former will walk this bright earth, so
full of sparkle and sunshine and fragrance and bloom, with bowed
heads, contracted chests, and pallid faces, nursing the dyspeptic's
cherished vision of an "_angry God_"! That's where bad bread lands
them!

As to "washing," bless you! there was a time when I did all my own
washing, and did it well too. That's the way I came to know how to
speak with authority on the starch and flat-iron question; and
besides, as I said before, if Mr. Bonner will insist on paying my
washing bills, whose business is it, save his and mine? He is quite
welcome.

       *       *       *       *       *

There are people who get up in the morning for the express purpose of
making somebody uncomfortable before the day is out. They generally
pitch upon some sunny-faced, happy, singing human lark carolling high
above the ditches and marshes of life, soaring in the blue ether of
his happiness, nearer God and the angels than he himself knows
anything about, and, taking practised aim at some vulnerable point,
bring him plump down, with maimed wing, to flutter in the dust. Now
what is good enough for such a miscreant? The more you flutter the
better he likes it; every writhe of your agonized spirit is delicious
music to this vulture; there is one other person in the world as
uncomfortable as himself. What right had _you_ to be happy when _his_
liver was out of order? It was clearly a piece of impertinent
presumption, and so there you lie moaning and turning, the sunshine
all gone, the chill mist of despondence gathering thick about you, and
your persecutor standing by, turning you over now and then with his
foot, to see if there is life enough left for a fresh attack.



_COUNTRY DIET._


Foreign missions and missionaries. These have their place and their
work. What _I_ want to see is a Home Mission and Home Missionaries,
having for an object the extermination of the unhealthy and _immoral_
bread of New England. When matters have got to that pass that a
perfectly sound, healthy person cannot decline eating this poison
without being supposed to have an imperfect digestion, the climax of
stupidity and ignorance is reached by its makers and defenders. "_The
heathen?_" Great Cesar! who _are_ heathen, if the makers of this bread
are not? I know of a factory where pie, whose principal ingredient is
"lard," is the staple article of food placed before the operatives.
And so imperfectly is it baked, that the lard is not really melted in
the process. This for _breakfast_! with muddy coffee and sour bread!
This for supper, with sour bread. This "pie" taken to the factory for
lunch or dinner also. Imagine a hundred or so of young women feeding
on such poison as that. Future wives, possibly, of hard-working
mechanics, expected to do the family washing, and bear and rear
children, on the results of such an atrocious diet. It were enough to
expect them even to bear themselves, robbed of the vitality and
spring of their youth by these fiendish providers. The man who sets
fire to a house at night, and smothers all the inmates, is a saviour
in comparison. _They_ die at once. _These_ linger weary years,
fighting disease, fighting gloomy thoughts, as truly needing
compassion and sympathy as any victim of delirium-tremens. Now take a
girl, fresh from the old country, her cheeks red with the rich, pure
blood manufactured from sweet-milk, potatoes, and oatmeal, and place
her in one of these factories on this fare. It needs no seer to tell
how long, even with such a stock of health as she brings, that she can
stand this exterminating process; how long before those sound white
teeth will begin to ache and blacken, and the bright clear eyes dim,
and the cheek wear yellow instead of red roses, and the flesh become
flabby, and the whole creature become demoralized. Now, I ask, Is
nobody guilty for all this waste and wreck? Is it any more trouble to
make sweet, wholesome bread, than to manufacture and multiply bad
pies? As a matter of policy, wouldn't these operatives work better on
a piece of beefsteak and a slice of sweet bread, than on pie and
pickles? As a matter of _morality_, ought not such caterers to be held
to strict account? Can _virtue_ even flourish where the whole head is
sick, and the whole heart faint; when morbidness takes the place of
hope, and faith is merged in despair? What wonder that of dyspepsia
should come the suicide's rope?

And as to the usual country boarding-house or hotel fare, for which
the keepers of these places coolly pocket their fees, I propose some
deduction be made by them for the doctor's bills consequent the
ensuing winter; some reduction for the sour milk that the children
have drunk, because the cans in which it was kept were not properly
washed and aired, or the ice-house kept in good order; some reduction
for the state of the stomach caused by taking refuge from bad bread in
poor crackers; some reduction for generating such a disgust of meat,
from the sight of it in its various stages of raw, burnt, and
grease-soaked, that weeks or months even of wholesome food can
scarcely tempt one trial of the article; some reduction for aching
limbs produced by bunchy beds an entire "season;" some reduction for
boarders performing the part of "waiters," through the season, in the
total absence of bell-wires in the establishment; some reduction for
inhaling the noxious gases of refuse kitchen matter, carelessly thrown
around the house, or the nuisance of beating about the country in
search of a washerwoman. Before the bill is finally settled, and the
trunks packed, I would like to see these questions considered by the
country landlord.

But you say, "It is all ignorance; _they don't know any better_." As
if that was not just where the agony came in! As if an "_ignorant_"
person had any right to take such a position, or any right to expect
anything like the same pay as a competent, intelligent one receives.

Now I have made up my mind to "speak in meetin'". I don't care how
many country editors jump on the fence and say, "Silence!" I wont _be_
silent. I intend to fight a crusade against this crying sin of New
England, so long as I can make a pen wag; and anybody whose rustic
feathers get ruffled in the process may take his own time to oil them
down. I persist that I have never yet "boarded" anywhere in the
country that I found wholesome bread there, or meat cooked other than
_fried_, unless it has been through line upon line and precept upon
precept of my own; and that in these awful experiences of mine, Cape
Ann bears off the palm. There! I am going to-morrow to the city to get
some decent bread--the only place where it is to be found--and get
some fish; for if you want fish, never go where they swim. Put that in
your note-book too.

And now, in conclusion, I will add, that in a place where, through
sour bread and sour theology, the element of cheerfulness is
especially needed to keep the young folks from turning into premature
vinegar cruets, it is a very great pity that at a picnic their only
outlet for conviviality--dancing, by the youngsters--should be
considered a sin. "It would break up the whole thing--it would never
do!" was the reply to a philanthropic suggestion of the kind. Heavens!
I wonder they don't fetter the legs of their lambs and calves; and
insist upon all their birds singing, "Hark! from the tombs a dreadful
sound!" Do you know what young people so brought up will do?--that is,
if they don't commit suicide first. They'll just go to the city, and
break every one of the ten commandments smack through, the first day
they get there. Alas! when will "good people" learn that the devil is
never better pleased than when they try to make "religion" a gloomy
thing.

       *       *       *       *       *

Said a little child to her mother, "Shall you live as long as I
do?"--"Perhaps not--but I cannot tell," was the reply; "I have lived a
long while, you know."--"Well," said the little one, skipping about
the room and singing, "I guess there'll be somebody to take care of
me." Oh, ye who are "careful and troubled,"--groping like the mole in
the earth, blind to the brightness overhead, look up! like this little
trusting child, look up! When you have made provision for to-day, as
intelligently as you know how, do not be anxiously forecasting the
morrow.



_FROM MY SEAT ON THE ROCKS._


"Dog-fish, cat-fish, cod-fish, cunner." These are the animals that my
friends paddle round for long hours--happy whether they are rewarded
with the sight of five or fifty. Meantime I sit on the rocks, watching
the pretty picture they make as they go sailing into the sunset, and
am content. _My_ feet are _dry_; so are my skirts. We have only one
thing in common: when they shout, "I have a bite!" I respond,
Amen!--with this difference, that mine is from a mosquito instead of a
fish. The ocean is nice to look at: freaky--therefore I think it must
be a _she_; sometimes dark and lowering, sometimes brightly sparkling;
now smooth as deceit, anon lashing itself like a caged creature to get
out of bounds. Don't you believe I enjoy it more than those damp
people that are always vexing it with rod and line? As I said, they
look well as a part of the picture. Those deluded women, now, with
broad hats tied down with bright bits of ribbon--and didn't they
calculate the picturesqueness of the same when they bought yards of it
a thousand miles away? Certainly. And why do they ruin their best
boots treading on rocks covered with treacherous seaweed? And why is
that scarlet shawl disposed just where it will be effective? Answer me
that. Can it be that they are fishers of men instead of cod? Ah!
"worms" are not the only "bait" in that boat. I wonder do men know how
much more attractive they look in slouched hats and easy jackets? Kid
gloves, shiny hat, and tight boots are nothing to it. A man looks
manly then; and that, I take it, is the first requisite in a man. See
how they dress for _their_ work, my sisters. Sleeves up to the elbow,
not for the purpose of showing a round white arm either; trousers
turned up at the heel; while you--! Wont the laundress rub the skin
off her knuckles when she tries to get the fish-bait off _your_
ruffled skirt, my dear? You can't be made to believe that those
gentlemen would like you just as well in a dress suitable for "worms."
But, all things being equal, I really think they would; or, if they
didn't, their opinion would be a matter of small consequence.

I wish I could understand the difference between a brig, a sloop, a
dory, a schooner, and a yacht. I have had them explained so many times
at the seaside, but it has never yet lodged in my head a minute. I
think the reason is, that before my expounders get half through
telling, my eyes are so enchained by the gliding beauty of a boat's
motion, that I have no ears for technicalities. That's it--and I'm not
such a fool after all! I wish my belt were a little more to be
depended on, for I'd like to drift over to the Isle of Shoals, or to
Newburyport, or some of those places at which the sea-fog plays hide
and seek so temptingly from these rocks. Of course I "can go by land;"
but did _you_ never get possessed to do or to have what the Fates
denied? Well, I'm human too. You may catch those wriggling fish if you
fancy--I don't wonder they make such horrid mouths at you before they
die--if only I could drift dreamily away into that golden sunset?
"Gates of amethyst and pearl!" I'm glad my Bible has "Revelations" in
it. I don't know any poet who comes better to my assistance than
Revelations. Keren Happuch, and Obed, and Jael--and "them" I am apt to
skip; also who "begat Shem;" but the grand old "Psalms" and
Revelations, I tell you, Tennyson, or any other "Son," may in vain
crack their harp-strings trying to rival. Then imagine that watery
dilution of a "Tupper" after reading a chapter in "Proverbs"! Put this
in your note-book--that about all the good things you clap your hands
at were stolen from the Bible. Brush the dust from off yours now, and
see if it is not so; and have the grace to own up, when you do see it.

My heart is torn trying to decide whether my allegiance finally be
given to the mountains or the ocean. I can see with my mind's eye
lovely Brattleboro' and its enchanting mountains, the mist rolling
slowly off their sides at sunrise, crowning their tops with many-hued
wreaths; or I can see one gorgeous cloud at sunset resting lightly on
their summit, and gradually fading away before the growing lustre of
the bright evening star. All these pictures are framed in my memory,
and never a tint has faded out through the busy years. But this later
love of mine--the ocean--whom I perforce must admire at a respectful
distance, sinuous, cold, treacherous, glittering, repelling, yet
fascinating me as does the serpent the bird, I know not how to resist.
Only last night this ocean drew a mist-veil softly over its face, and
by help of a huge black cloud above it, jaggedly notched in and out at
the upper edge, cunningly wooed me, in this mountain shape, to believe
that whatsoever form I liked, that form _it_ could assume to win me.
Surely such devotion should have its reward.



_WISHINGS AND LONGINGS._


Did you never _wish_ you had it? Of course you have, a thousand times.
You never would be miserable any more if it could only be so. You are
sure of that. It may be a fine house, a fine store, a fine carriage.
No matter what; the desire for it has taken the spice and flavor out
of every blessing you possess. I used to play with a little girl once,
who told me in confidence, and in pantalettes, "that she should never
be happy till she had a real _true_ gold watch; and that she meant to
be married, as soon as ever she could, to a rich man who would give
her one." For myself, I had much rather at that time have had a bunch
of flowers, and I didn't suppose she really meant what she said, as
she stood there tying on her doll's bonnet. But she was in dead
earnest, though I _didn't_ know it. Sure enough, she got her rich
husband, and her gold watch; and was sick enough of both, as I have
since found out, before the honeymoon was well over.

One day I heard a boy say to his younger brother, who was crying
lustily, "Now, Tom, I know you don't want anything, but what do you
_think_ you want?" That boy was a philosopher, and went to the root of
the matter. It is not what we really want, but what we _think_ we
want, that frets most of us. Perhaps you tell me that you suffer just
as much as if your longing were a reasonable or a sensible one. That's
true too; but if you only could snatch _to-day's_ legitimate
happiness, instead of wondering if you could not get a great deal
more, for that to-morrow which may never come to you, wouldn't it be
wiser? The other day I went off into the woods, with a dear little
girl, who is much more of a poetess than a philosopher. Not a patch of
soft green moss, not the tiniest bud of a wild flower, or flitting
butterfly, or bird, or tree-shadow on the smooth clear lake, escaped
her bright, glad eyes. The _first_ flower she found enraptured her,
and she climbed quite a steep rock with her mites of feet for the
second, and so on till her tiny hands were full. Just then she found
quite a bunch of bright pink blossoms; and I was so glad for her; when
suddenly she burst into such a grieved, piteous cry, "Oh dear! oh
dear! what _shall_ I do? _I can't hold them all._"

If we'd only think of that! That "we can't hold them all." That in
order to grasp that which is the moment's wish, we must let something
else drop that we prize. Something that we can never retrace our
steps, in life's devious paths, to reclaim. It may be health, or
character, or life itself, for that which is so perishable, so
unsatisfying, so harmful, that we can never cease wondering how the
"glamour" of it could have so dazzled our mental and moral vision. The
little child I speak of, who clambered up the rock to secure that
_one_ flower, was happier in its possession than with the myriads
that she afterwards found lying at her very feet. She had _earned_
that one! She had encountered a fierce briar-bush; she had got her
hands scratched in the conflict; she had tickled her little nose with
a defiant twig; she had tangled her curls; she had scraped her little
fat knee till it was red--and _got it_! All herself, too! I couldn't
elaborate a better moral, if I preached an hour. We don't value
happiness in heaps. It is the one little sweet blossom, that comes
unexpectedly in our way, that we love best after all. Isn't it so?

       *       *       *       *       *

How cheap is advice! Advice is like a doctor's pills; how easily he
_gives_ them! how reluctantly he takes them when _his_ turn comes!
Meantime, it is well to keep one's eyes and ears open; but, after
that, to decide for one's self. He who cannot do this is a human
windmill, always beating the air--a weathercock, veering each minute
to a new point. His life is a succession of experiments, all of which
are predestined to be failures. He has no faith in himself, and people
accept him at his own valuation.



_A TRANSITION STATE._


We seem to be in a transition state all round. Politics, religion,
woman's rights, men's wrongs, all seething in the caldron together;
and everybody's finger is being thrust into the boiling mess, and
pulled scalded out of it--some howling with the experiment, others
closing their pioneer teeth upon the pain, and bearing it for the good
of the cause.

This seems to me to be the situation. For one, I am quite willing to
do humble duty by bringing fagots and kindling to keep the fire going,
no matter who "hollers." Anything is better than letting it go out; at
least so far as the woman question is one of the ingredients in the
caldron. The men having the top round of the ladder at present, may
sit there till we climb up and oust them, which wont be long; or
rather, bless their jackets, till we climb up and oblige them to make
room for us to sit down beside them, which, after all, is what we
really want. I, for one, make no secret of liking the brethren, but I
like them near--intellectually and socially. Not looking down at us
from a dizzy height, careless how we stumble by the road-side, or cut
our weary feet, or bruise our hearts, and stuffing their fingers in
their ears, and then making believe they don't hear our cries; but
helping us along generously after them, like good fellows, with a word
of cheer, and a full hearty belief in our good intentions and desire
to do _all_ our duty. Isn't that reasonable? To be sure it is; and the
only reason they don't always say so is, because, with their natural
impatience, they never can sit still long enough to hear us through,
when we talk common-sense. I believe the last question "up" was
woman's right to wait upon herself to concerts, lectures, theatres,
and the like, when she had no male escort. Now that is a subject that
has been pretty well ploughed over in my mind for years. I have known
so many bright, intelligent women obliged to stay at home when they
needed these relaxations from care and toil and bother, because custom
did not permit their attendance, unless they could lasso a coat and
hat to bear them company. It has seemed to me cruel in the extreme,
that this law should not be changed. As I understand it, in Paris a
respectable woman can do this, without discomfort or molestation, with
a _female_ attendant; and though it may be the deathblow to my
reputation to own that I never saw Paris, it is true, and I cannot
therefore judge how much more safe a woman would be in waiting upon
herself home in Paris, at the hour when public amusements are
generally over, than in New York. This, I presume, is the hitch in the
question. If so, women must wait till the majority of men are more
chivalric and spiritual, and that wont be to-day, nor to-morrow. Now,
a woman, by taking a big basket in her hand, and leaving her hoop at
home, and pinning an old shawl over her head, and tying a calico apron
round her waist, may walk unmolested. I know, because I have tried it
when I felt like having a "prowl" all alone, and a good "think,"
without any puppy saying, at every step, "A pleasant evening, Miss."
But this costume isn't exactly festive for the concert or lecture
room. However, with other ingredients, this topic may be tossed into
the caldron above mentioned, and perhaps, after much boiling, may
deposit some substantial sediment of benefit to women. I see so many
men nowadays who ought to be women, that I am positively ashamed of
usurping the place of one. I am quite willing to abdicate, whenever
any one can be found to take a woman's place; but the joke begins
here, that the silliest man who ever lived has always known enough,
when he says his prayers, to thank God that he wasn't born a woman. So
you see how hopeless the case is.



_WHAT MARY THOUGHT OF JOHN._


There's John, reading his newspapers. You might drive nails into his
temples, and he wouldn't know it. Look at him! Legs up. Head thrown
back. The inevitable and omnipresent pipe in his mouth; the very
picture of absorbed enjoyment. Three papers he has there. He will read
every one, criss-cross, cornerwise, upside down, and inside out, till
he has gleaned every particle of news. One good hour he has been at
it. Now if I say to him, "John, what is the news this morning?" that
man will reply, "Oh, none--nothing in particular; there they are; take
'em, if you would like."

Now nobody in his senses believes that John has been employed one good
hour reading "nothing." He is only too lazy to tell what he has read;
that's the amount of it. Now I had much rather read those papers than
mend this coat of his. It is really too bad in John: he might have
given me something to think about, while I was doing it. An idea!
Suppose I try this lazy system on _him_! Now if there's anything men
like, when their wives come home with a budget of news, it is to have
them sit down and entertain them with it. Not about troubles of
servants and broken crockery, of course; but spicy little bits of
gossip; about their friend Jones' wife, and what the witty Mrs. ----
said on such an occasion, and how the pretty and saucy Miss said if
_she_ were Smith's wife she would ----. How they like to hear all about
it! and how they like to question them as to how women think and feel
on such and such subjects, which information they can only obtain by
their wives turning state's-evidence! Of course they do; and when a
bright little woman has chattered to them an hour or more, and told
them more funny and amusing things than you could count, and they have
laughed and enjoyed it, what return do they make? Why they just
stretch their length on the sofa and go to sleep. Now I for one have
borne this state of things long enough! It is all owing to that vile
lethargic tobacco. Before long women will be expected to cut up their
food and feed them; they will be too lazy even to eat. Now I'll tell
you what I mean to do. I am going to stop giving out, and cut off
supplies, till I get something back. I'll just try the monosyllabic
system on John. He will say to-night, "Well, Mary, where have you been
to-day? and what have you seen?" And I'll answer, bending over my
work, "Oh, I went round a little, and I didn't see anything in
particular." Then John will take a scrutinizing look at me, and ask if
I have the headache; and I shall answer sweetly, "No, dear." Then John
will try again: "Well, Mary, did you go shopping?"--"I? no--oh, no,
dear. I didn't go shopping today." Another look at me, and another
period of reflection. "Have you heard any bad news, Mary?"--"No,
John, I hope not."--"Well--what the mischief makes you so silent? You
generally have so much to tell me, and you sometimes get off a very
bright thing, if you did but know it. _Something_ is the matter with
you; what is it?" and John will come round and peep into my face. "Oh!
pshaw--_I_ know; you are paying me off for not talking," he will say,
half-vexed, half-repentant.

Then I shall get up on a chair, in the middle of the room, and preach
after this course: "Yes, John, that's just it. You haven't an idea how
stupid you've grown. I hate that lethargic tobacco! It is going to
revolutionize society; women are squirrel-like creatures and can't
stand it. No wonder all these spicy trials fill the papers. You
needn't laugh. It takes _two_ to make home bright. Don't you suppose
that a woman is as much perplexed and worried and sick of the
practical, at the end of the day, as a man can be? Do you suppose she
always feels like giving out the last remnant of her vitality to amuse
a statue? she wants a response; and she would have it, too, if a man's
soul and body were not so tobacco-steeped, that every sense and
feeling is merged in the one drowsy desire to let the world and
everything in it, including its wives, go to the dogs. _And they are
going, John!_ Now, lastly and finally, I tell you and all other Johns
who may read this, that it is the worst possible policy on your part,
as you would see if you ever read the papers with an eye to your own
firesides, which you don't. You can wonder how Smith's wife, or how
Jones' wife, could ever have done thus and so; but it never enters
your slow heads to ask, if the homes of these wives were silent and
cheerless, and if their husbands took all their attempts to enliven
them as matters of course, and gave no echo back; and that being the
case, whether the bright sunbeams outside, might not glitter too
temptingly for their weariness." And here I shall jump down from the
chair, and, looking at John, shall see--that he is _fast asleep_!

Sometimes I sit and laugh, all by myself, over the newspapers and
magazines in which the "Woman Question" is aired according to the
differing views of editors and writers. For instance, 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 Staels 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
Stael pattern, propounding her theories on politics, theology, and
literature. The veriest idiot who should entertain him by the hour
with tragic accounts of broken teacups, 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 court-martialling 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.



_TRAVEL-SPOILED AMERICANS._


This is one of my character tests,--to pronounce none of my
fellow-creatures _wise_ until they have gone through the crucible of
"going abroad." So many who started with a fair average of
common-sense have returned from their European tours minus this
article, that I need not apologize for my views on this subject. No
one can be more reverent in their admiration of all that the slow,
busy ages have heaped together in the Old World of the beautiful, and
scientific, and curious, and rare. But having looked at and enjoyed
them,--having breathed the enervating air of luxury the appointed
time,--I think I should gasp again for a strong, crisp breath of that
_New_ World, which is my grand birthright. You may scare up hideous
abuses of to-day, and point to convulsions of all sorts that are
seemingly upheaving us, root and branch. I care not. The greatest of
all crimes, in my eyes, is stagnation. We are _moving_, thank God!
There may be rough roads, and ruts, and stones, and rocks in the way,
and some of us may be crushed, and maimed, and jolted off, and
scarcely know our latitude and longitude for the fogs, and false
guides, and dark clouds, and fierce storms of debate. But still we
_move_! We are thinking of something beside a new way of fricasseeing
frogs, or "rectifying frontiers." We are neither children or slaves.
More! we have a _future_ before us--grander to those who will see it
than has any nation on the face of the earth. For one, I glory in it
all. And when I see an American, male or female, returning to their
native land, sighing for the nice little dishes one gets in Paris,
dilating on its superior costuming, prating forever of "The
Tuileries," and such like, and finding America "so in the rough," I
want to place my arms a-kimbo, my nose within an inch of his, and my
eyes focussed--anywhere--so that it will make him feel uncomfortable,
and address him thus: My beloved Idiot--Did you, while abroad, ever
compare the condition of the "common people," if I may be allowed to
allude in your presence to so vulgar and disgusting a theme--did you
ever compare the condition of the common people there with those of
the same class in your own country? Did you see, in Italy, or France,
or England, any such homes for the working-classes as are to be seen,
for instance, in New England? Those thrifty kitchens, where neatness
proclaims itself from the symmetrical wood-pile in the "shed" to the
last shining pewter-plate and spoon on the well-polished dresser?
Where even the old dog wipes his paws on the mat before stepping on
the snowy floor; where every child can read and write, and "do chores"
instead of begging its bread one half the day and lying in the sun the
rest. Where the women churn, and bake, and brew, and sew, and have
babies, and read books, aye, and _write_ them too. My beloved Idiot,
did you ever think of all _this_? Did you ever think, also, of the
difference it would make in your views of "life _abroad_," if instead
of going there with a pocket full of money to _spend_, you went there
to _earn_ it?

Aha! wouldn't your chances be splendid in _that_ case?

But, Heaven bless us! what is the use of showing a mole the sun? I
wish it here distinctly understood that I pause at this period of my
discourse, that every discontented American, so unworthy of his
glorious birthright, may get his passport, pack his trunk, and go back
to his peppered frogs, and toasted horse-steak, and diseased geese
livers, and liveried flunkeys, and be ingloriously content, while he
makes room here for his betters.



_LIFE'S ILLUSIONS._


Did you ever stop short in the midst of the grind, and toil, and whirl
of life, at the thought. After all, what will this never ceasing fret
of body and soul amount to? Did you ever then begin to reckon upon
your fingers the unfulfilled promises of life within your knowledge,
as if you had but just heard of them? First, there is your
acquaintance, Mr. ----, who, since he came to years of maturity, has
had but this one object: to secure a pecuniary independence for
himself and his children. At fifty he has achieved it; and now he has
nothing to do but to enjoy himself. But _how_? That is the question
which racks his brain day and night. He has his library, to be sure;
that was part of the furnishing of his house; but, alas! he has no
taste for reading. He has fine pictures upon his walls; but he has no
eye for their beauty. He has daughters; but they are devoured with the
love of finery and fashion. He has sons; but they are emulating each
other in spending money, criminally and foolishly; and now he stands
aghast at the goal, to reach which he has sacrificed the better part
of himself and them; his sun is setting, and he has only the ashes of
the Dead Sea Apple of Victory between his fingers.

Then there is Mrs. ----, who has staked all on her beautiful young
daughter. She was educated at home, for fear of the contamination of
associates; she was never from under the watchful eye of her parents,
lest her manners should receive a flaw. She was drilled to speak,
step, look, smile, eat, and drink, according to prescribed rules. She
must perfect herself in music, in the languages, in drawing. Her eyes,
hands, teeth, nails, must undergo a careful supervision each day, lest
any attraction should be prematurely shorn of its glory. At last she
dawns into beautiful womanhood. The evening is fixed for her
triumphant entrance into society. Dress-makers, hair-dressers,
jewellers, and florists are called into requisition. The important
toilette is finished; when suddenly the house is thrown into
consternation by her violent indisposition; and before morning the
young girl sleeps in her shroud.

The anguished woman groans out, "Ye have taken away my idol, and what
have I left?" and she feels that life for her has nothing left but a
dreary waiting for its close.

Then there are the great army of parents, whose heart-strings are
wrung with pity at the little eyes which may never see, the little
ears which may never hear, the little feet which may never skip or
run, and the mute tongues which may never syllable the sweet words,
"Father!" "Mother!" Then there are sons whose god is the wine-cup;
and living daughters whose own mothers had rather look upon their dead
faces. These heart-wrenchings and disappointments, are they not
legion? And yet, like children, whose toys, one after another, are
broken, or taken from them, we still reach out our hands for the
gilded bubble of hope, all the same as if it had never burst between
our fingers. When our dearly-loved children are taken from us, our
torn heart-strings hasten to twine about _their_ children; forgetting
the _little_ feet that have also trod "the dark valley." Surely, by
this love-yearning, which may never die in us, shall we find in
another world than this, its uninterrupted and perfect fruition.



_JACK SIMPKINS._


It is a miserable thing to be born a philanthropist. Jack Simpkins can
tell you that. He thinks that one ought not to be merry, while the
world is so much out of joint. When his sister Betty tells him that
cheerfulness conduces to longevity, and that it is useless to make
one's self miserable about inevitables, Jack lifts his eyebrows and
accuses her of triviality and want of feeling. Not long since this
pair went into a place which shall be nameless, for some refreshment,
after an evening's public entertainment. While they were waiting to be
served, Jack's eye fell on the clerk at the desk, who, pen behind his
ear, was taking money and making change. "Betty," said Jack, "look at
that poor devil; week in and week out, there he stands, seeing other
people eat and counting money. Now, I'll be sworn he has never a
holiday, and not even Sunday. Do you suppose he has, Betty?"--"I am
sure I don't know," Betty replied, looking over a tempting bill of
fare, with the accompaniment of an extended forefinger; "he is a
_man_, isn't he? and that implies every kind of liberty. Were he a
woman, and restricted to the choice of one or two occupations, and
not half paid at that, I might possibly make myself unhappy about it;
as it is, let us have some oysters, and be jolly."--"But," persisted
Jack, "just think of his confined position, and--"--"But I don't
_want_ to think about it," said Betty; "this is a free country; and if
he don't like his place, can't he leave it? Come, Jack, eat your
oysters." To do Jack justice, he _did_ eat with a will; for such a
wide-spread benevolence as his is never supported on an empty stomach.

The oysters eaten, Betty congratulated herself that Jack felt more
cheerful. Not a bit of it. While she stood, like a hen on one leg,
waiting for him to "settle" at the clerk's desk, he remarked to the
latter, in a melancholy, commiserating tone, "Your situation here must
be a very tiresome and confining one; don't you find it so?"--"Not at
all," replied the clerk, blandly; "quite the contrary."--"Do you ever
have a holiday; do you have Sundays?" asked Jack.--"Always when I
wish," replied the clerk; "but I don't care to be away much. I see the
best people in the city here, and I have a great deal of good
conversation." Betty smiled inwardly. It was not in human
nature--certainly not in female human nature--to refrain from crowing
a little over what she considered Jack's Quixotic philanthropy; and
when she laughed at his waste of pity, in this case, that infatuated
man replied, "Is it possible you can make merry over it, Betty? Why,
to _my_ mind, his not '_caring_ for holidays' was the most melancholy
feature of the whole thing; as showing how perfectly benumbed he must
be, by such heartless exaction on the part of his employer."--"But you
don't know anything about his employer," said Betty; "and it is
evident that he _could_ go out, any day he wished." Jack shrugged his
shoulders, and replied, "Ah, yes--I know what that '_could_' means,
when a man's nature is yielding; ah--yes," and he gave another deep
sigh. "Well," said Betty, getting a little irritated, "_I_ don't know
what _you_ may think, but if my fellow-creatures are perfectly
satisfied with their lot in life, I for one am not going to try to
make them miserable about it." Whereupon Jack preached her a long
lecture on the sin of selfishness, which quite stopped the process of
oyster digestion, and sent her to bed to enjoy the horrors of a
well-earned nightmare.

Once, when Betty and Jack were travelling, they stopped at a fine
hotel. Everything was as perfect as skill and system could make it.
Jack paid the bill, and Betty launched out in praise of the
establishment. "Yes," said Jack, his face lengthening; "but I am
afraid that landlord feeds his guests much better than he can afford.
I don't think he charged as much as he ought in that bill of ours. I
really feel as if he had cheated himself." Now, Betty's experience in
this regard was entirely antagonistic to Jack's, so she replied, with
an ironical and not very amiable expression, "that if the gift of a
ten-dollar bill to the landlord would lighten her brother's
conscience, she would be willing to engage that the former would by
no means take offence at it."

Betty says that selfishness is not _her_ besetting sin any more than
it is Jack's; and, if you doubt it, you can ask him to transfer his
glass of ale to you when he cannot get another, or you can read his
daily paper before he does in the morning, and see what will come of
it. She thinks it is not so much philanthropy in Jack, as that the
off-side of a question has such an unconquerable attraction for him;
in other words, that argument is his very breath; and, therefore,
without vexing her spirit any more because he never will agree with
her, she has instead made up her mind, that what side soever of a
question a person takes when conversing with Jack, it is morally
certain that no power in this world or the other will ever prevent
_him_ from going to the opposite.



"_BIDING THE LORD'S TIME._"


If there is one piece of advice more bandied about by irresolution,
imbecility, and moral cowardice than this, I should be glad to know
it. As _I_ take it, the Lord's time is the first chance you get. At
any rate, those who act on this principle have, as a general thing,
done the Lord more service than they who have folded their hands and
sat down upon the stool of conservatism to "bide His time," as they
call it. All the great reformers who have blessed mankind have had
pioneers, who looked upon "the Lord" as a helper, not a hindrance. The
stumbling-blocks which for centuries had impeded progress they
vigorously set about clearing away, without stopping to cross
themselves for doing that which indolent or timid bystanders excused
themselves from, as an irreverence.

This stealing of heaven's livery to serve the devil in, is of all
thefts the most disgusting. This "fearing to offend a weaker brother"
is a plea which self-interest should know by this time is getting to
be transparent. If the weaker brother can't stand on his own
vacillating legs, the rest of the world can't afford to spend their
whole existence in propping him. Let him lie down till he can; or
till the Juggernaut wheels of progress roll sufficiently near to
_force_ him to spring to his feet. I don't believe in weak brothers.
They had better get out of the ranks and join the sisters. It may be
the choice between the frying-pan and the fire; for, after all, the
silliest woman who ever cried for a ribbon knows enough to dislike the
male creature who is neither fish, flesh, nor fowl. But the most
trying time, when the platitude we are considering is thrust into the
face by moral parrots, is when they would not lift a finger to ease
the burden of a fellow-creature who is staggering and fainting before
their very eyes; or when some heart-wrench is being agonized through,
and your stoical consoler, who is himself impervious to every
suffering save that which is purely physical, iterates in your
sensitive ear, a string of such time-worn phrases, because he lacks
heart to say, Poor soul--no wonder you writhe; how I wish I could
comfort you! "_The Lord_"--and I say it not irreverently--is the first
compassionate human arm which is thrown round the quivering sufferer
when he needs it most. "_The Lord_" is the first outstretched human
hand which grasps the moral suicide as the last strand of hope is
parting. "_The Lord_" is the pitying human heart which draws to itself
the poor outcast, and without unrolling his transgressions to the face
of the broad day, stands firmly by his side, till he has won the
self-respect to stand alone.

"Talk _out_!" exclaimed a little puzzled child to a foolish adult who
was speaking to it in a way which it could not possibly comprehend.
Talk _out_! say I, and call things by their right names. Now "_the
Lord_," to my way of thinking, don't murder little babies. If a
careless mother locks one up, with a cotton pinafore and a blazing
fire, and goes away, I should not say over its coffin that it died by
a visitation of Divine Providence. Nor when a drunken husband sends a
wooden chair, and a tea-kettle, and a small table through his wife's
skull, should I say that "the Lord" had seen fit in his inscrutable
will to remove Mrs. Smith from this sublunary sphere. Still--I may be
hypercritical--and after all, of course, I defer to your better
theological judgment--but I will say _this_ much, that _my_ "Lord"
don't do one half the things He is charged with, every day in the
year.



_ONE SORT OF FOOL._


Now I like a fool--a genuine fool, who is obliviously unconscious of
the fact! Life is too dull at best; a fool has his mission, and
where's the harm of laughing, invulnerable as he is in his panoply of
self-conceit? The fool I am thinking of this moment, however, is of
the feminine gender--one who loomed upon my astounded vision in the
cabin of a ferry-boat, gorgeous as a shivered rainbow, or a bed of
variegated tulips, or a garden of staring sunflowers, which challenge
notice, flauntingly forbidding quiet passers-by to go abstractedly on
the winding way of their various duties and avocations. Thus
challenged, I of course surveyed my challenger. Heavens! what an array
of millinery and mantua-making was spread over that human lay-figure.
What a vapid, inane face that gay bonnet framed; what big feet those
cream-colored gaiters betrayed! What a sweep of flounce, and ruffle,
and ribbon and lace. What an all-over consciousness of "go-to-meetin'"
fixins, in every lineament and limb! What a _haven't I done it now?_
in every defying glance? It was astounding. I was mentally knocked
over and stultified. And as if this were not enough, the woman
actually had the sacrilegious presumption to perpetuate herself in a
child which she led by the hand, a little four-year-older, bedizened
in orange and black, and green and blue, and pink and purple,
effectually stifling all the graces of childhood, if such a mother had
bequeathed any. A little tottling bunch of brilliant dry-goods,
happily putting an end to its existence, however, with double handfuls
of sugar-candy, which the mamma was supplying without stint or limit.
Disgusted steady-going business-men gazed and sighed like a pair of
bellows, as they inwardly said to themselves, in the language of that
eminent philosopher, Pop Weasel, "That's the way the money goes."
Young men tittered, and old matrons wondered how her kitchen closets
and cupboards, her pickle and preserve jars, looked at home. Meanwhile
the child, unobserved, strayed from the maternal side to take a survey
of the cabin, looking curiously round, much as you have seen an organ
grinder's monkey. "George Washington!" We all started patriotically at
the sound of this honored name, shouted from lungs that would not have
disgraced an omnibus-driver; only to collapse again, smothering with
laughter, as George Washington's mamma seized him by the belt,
splitting her pea-green glove in the operation, and deposited him
right end up with care upon the seat by her side, well pleased with
her maternal prowess, and putting only a favorable construction upon
the grinning faces around her.

There's a great deal of human nature in ferryboats; but be advised by
me, and don't, if you can help it, get into one early, when the
inveterate expectorators are abroad, and before the ladies, "God bless
'em!" (as the men say when they shut them out after dinner), have done
us the favor to clean the cabin floors with their sweeping silks and
brocades. Don't get into one early in the morning, when fingers are
performing the office of combs, and quill toothpicks are rife. One is
apt to be dainty at the belt at sunrise.

       *       *       *       *       *

I suppose you have met some smooth-faced, plausible wretches, bowing
and smirking you into the hottest purgatory. Now an honest
enemy I know how to meet; but your malicious, mealy-mouthed,
Watts'-Psalms-and-Hymns wretch, who takes your hand with his velvety
palm only to tell you that your pulse is wrong, and that your father
died at your age--I wonder if there _is_ salvation for such?



_THE FIRST BABY._


Heaven help that poor little victim of experiments, the first baby in
a family. Upon whom every new and old nostrum is tried; who is
overloaded with fine clothes, and feeding; who is constantly kept in a
state of excitement by _cluck_ings, and _chuck_ings, and tossings, and
ticklings, till he frets from sheer nervousness; and then--is
blanketed, and physicked, and steamed, till he is as limp as a thread
paper. Who is kept in a gaspingly close apartment six weeks, at the
instigation of one grandmother, and driven out-doors, without regard
to wind or weather, the next six, at the recommendation of the other.
Who is so overburdened with toys, that he would prefer at any time a
chance stick or twig of his own picking from the carpet or sidewalk,
and who takes to fisticuffs from sheer weariness of being fondled.

What a moral millennium to such is the advent of a second, third, and
fourth baby. When young master may sneeze, and the whole neighborhood
not be called to witness the phenomenon. When, if he fall, he may
sprawl there at least two whole minutes without a spoiling condolence,
and make the wholesome discovery that he can pick himself up whenever
he gets ready. When the playthings, over which he has been sole
monarch, are ruthlessly snatched by the new baby's fingers, and he is
taught, what he would never else have learned,--that this world was
not made for _one_. When, fifty times a day, he must wait his turn to
be served, instead of bringing all the household operations to a
standstill, till his real or imaginary wants are satisfied. When an
over busy mother at last clips the boy's long curls, which, pretty as
they were, should have been laid on the altar of common-sense long
ago. No longer do his little playmates call the tears to his eyes, by
shouting after him "_girl-boy_." _Now_ he is one of "the fellows."
There is no danger now of his being called into the parlor to be shown
off to mamma's visitors, and flattered into precocious impertinence,
for there is no knowing what rents are in elbows and knees, or how
many coats of dirt are on his face. But meanwhile, thank heaven, he is
not being spoiled, and the important process of self-education, i.e.,
poking his nose into everything, that he may find out the whys and
wherefores, is going on. This blessed let-alone system, which, with
proper limitations, is so necessary to a child at an age when its
whole business should be to sleep, eat, and grow well, and which every
successive birth in the family helps him to enjoy unmolested.

How surprising is the discovery to papa and mamma, and the whole troop
of adulators, that the second, third and fourth baby, says, "pa-pa,"
"mamma," as well, and as early as that wonderful of a _first_!

How levelling and disgusting the knowledge that everybody's baby in
the United States, without distinction of brown-stone-front houses,
has done just that! And what fond idiots they must have appeared to
lookers on, who had grown old rearing families. With what wonderment
mamma now handles the first baby's robes, where she very nearly
stitched in her life, in the anxiety to have all the absurd frills and
embroidery that a tyrannical precedent has enumerated in such cases.
_And now look at those of Johnny_--the last! Judging by his robes, he
might have been _anybody's_ baby! Well, well, his eyes are as bright,
and his limbs as dimpled, and his cheeks as rosy, as if his clothes
were _not_ sensible and plain. In short, what a thing is experience.
"Let us be careful, dear," says mamma, sagely, "to teach _our_ girls
to do better than _we_ have." As if every young couple must not go
through all these mistakes for themselves, and ten to one kill one
baby, before they learn how to take care of the rest.

There never was a greater mistake made than when childhood is called
the happiest portion of life. I have seen a little child's breast
swell with an anguish as great as would ever agitate it though it
should live to four-score. Call it "a trifle" if you will, that a
playmate jeered before a laughing crowd of boy judges; no verdict of
after-life would be harder to bear; and when, sure of sympathy, he
tells the story to some one whom he fancies will sympathize, and that
man or woman or child listens with indifference, or pooh-poohs it
away--do you suppose that child will ever drink a bitterer drop? I
tell you _nay_, and if the rough grinding heel of the busy, insatiate
world, were not on us all the time, we should know and feel it. Nor is
the suffering _momentary_, as many suppose. How can it be, when some
such juvenile experience often colors a whole life? I say _children
suffer immensely more than is believed_. Take a child's first day at
school; thrust into a crowd of uproarious mischievous little savages,
shrinking, cowering, trembling away from their rude contact, with
heaving chest, and tear-laden eyes, choking down the misery made so
intolerable by suppression, do you tell me that is "a trifle"? Take
the child who sits intensely listening to some story related between
grown-up people, when suddenly his presence is recollected and the
peremptory summons "to bed," is promulgated without a thought of the
_wise clemency_ of a reprieved ten minutes. I well remember in my days
of pinafore and pantalettedom, an old maid who used to say "_that_
child," in a tone that made all my curls stand on end. For years I
agitated my mind with the question whether old maids went to heaven;
because, strong as were my predilections for that blissful state, I
was in no wise content to share them with _her_. Nor, shall I soon
forget the _transition age_, when too tall for short dresses and too
short for tall ones; called "nothing but a child," when I was anxious
to do the stately young lady; and begged to recollect that "I was no
longer a child," when a fit of obstreperous romping overtook me with a
vigor I could not resist; called a goose for blushing if a man spoke
to me, and "did I think he could notice such a child as me?" and
begged to remember "my manners" when I bounced off next time without
noticing the young man. Driven to the verge of desperation by my
inability to define my place in the world, and disgusted enough with
this terrestrial ball to kick it as I would any other. A few more
inches to my stature, however, settled all that. _Then was my time!_

While I am on this subject, I would like to ask, why should not a
child's fancy in the way of food--I refer to their intense dislike of
certain things--be regarded, as much as the repugnance of an adult. I
consider it a great piece of cruelty to force a child to eat things
that are repulsive to it, because somebody once wrote a wise saw to
the effect, "that children should eat whatever is set before them." I
have often seen the poor little victims shudder and choke at sight of
a bit of fat meat, or a little scum of cream on boiled milk; toothsome
enough to those who like them, but in _their_ case a purgatorial
infliction. Whenever there is this decided antipathy, nature should be
respected, _even in the person of the smallest child_; and he who
would act otherwise is himself _smaller_ than the child over whom he
would so unjustifiably tyrannize.

There are people who, having no children of their own, resolve to
adopt one. This is often well, and often ill, too. Ill--when the
self-constituted parent only wants a child as he would a pet dog, and
puts it through no higher course of training; when he feeds it from
his own plate with choice bits, till it becomes too dainty for the
chance wayside bone, and then, getting weary of the pastime, opens the
door and thrusts it out to forage again in gutters and ash-heaps and
street corners. Such things have been. Let none assume this sacred
relation _who are not prepared for its sacrifices as well as its
pleasures_--who have not counted in days of sickness, and hours of
childish waywardness, and possible hereditary moral weeds to be rooted
out; for these little stray waifs of humanity suffer much from these
causes, physically and morally. Let no one, we say, open wide his arms
and doors to it, unless God's patience be in his soul, God's
all-suffering, all-forgiving love, in his heart, to weave a chord from
that child's heart to his own, over which no vibration shall pass
unheeded, no more than if it were bone of his bone and flesh of his
flesh.

       *       *       *       *       *

The phrase, "Vulgar Saints," occurs in a late work of great repute, in
which the author's aristocratic tendencies stick out through some of
the otherwise finest passages ever penned. "Vulgar Saints!" The term
itself is a contradiction: there never was, or will be, a vulgar
saint; true religion is sublimating, etherealizing. "Breeding" has
nothing to do with it; there are vulgar hypocrites, but never a vulgar
saint. We might carry you to old houses that never knew a carpet or
piano, and leading you up the rickety stairs, into a rough chamber,
show you the mother on her knees, pleading with an eloquence no
college could ever teach, for her absent sailor-boy; or show you the
wrinkled grandmother, who never saw a grammar, singing some old hymn
which brings the tears to your eyes, and all your long-forgotten
follies to daylight. _True_ religion banishes vulgarity. It is
calm-eyed, soft-voiced, all-pervading, like the warm sunshine. There
never was a "Vulgar Saint." We don't care what are his antecedents, or
where he lives, or what he eats, or what clothes he wears, or how
rough are his toil-worn hands, he has that in him which lifts him far
beyond turreted libraries, stained-glass windows, and softly carpeted
floors, and allies him with the angels; although through the broken
roof above his head, the stars may nightly look in upon his peaceful
slumbers.


                                THE END.



Transcriber's Note:


Archaic and inconsistent spelling and punctuation retained.


       *       *       *       *       *

    NEW BOOKS

    BY

    FANNY FERN.


     I.--FOLLY AS IT FLIES PRICE $1.50
    II.--GINGER-SNAPS            $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.





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